The successful creation of the Constitution
is a suspense story. The Summer of 1787
takes us into the sweltering room in which delegates struggled for four months to produce the flawed but enduring document that would define the nation -- then and now.George Washington
presided, James Madison
kept the notes, Benjamin Franklin
offered wisdom and humor at crucial times. The Summer of 1787
traces the struggles within the Philadelphia Convention
as the delegates hammered out the charter for the world's first constitutional democracy. Relying on the words of the delegates themselves to explore the Convention's sharp conflicts and hard bargaining, David O. Stewart lays out the passions and contradictions of the often painful process of writing the Constitution.It was a desperate balancing act. Revolutionary principles required that the people have power, but could the people be trusted? Would a stronger central government leave room for the states? Would the small states
accept a Congress
in which seats were alloted according to population rather than to each sovereign state? And what of slavery? The supercharged debates over America's original sin led to the most creative and most disappointing political deals of the Convention.The room was crowded with colorful and passionate characters, some known -- Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris
, Edmund Randolph
-- and others largely forgotten. At different points during that sultry summer, more than half of the delegates threatened to walk out, and some actually did, but Washington's quiet leadership and the delegates' inspired compromises held the Convention together.In a country continually arguing over the document's original intent, it is fascinating to watch these powerful characters struggle toward consensus -- often reluctantly -- to write a flawed but living and breathing document that could evolve with the nation.
The United States Constitution is the written document by which both the federal government was instituted. George Washington fought in both the French and Indian and the Revolutionary wars, and was his country's first President. James Madison helped draft the Constitution, collaborated on the Federalist Papers and became Americ'as Fourth President. Benjamin Franklin was America's most famous scientist, a successful businessman, and its chief diplomat during the Revolution. The Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia in 1787 to produce a successor to the inadequate Articles of Confederation. The Congress of the United States was created by the U.S. Constitution and consists of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Gouverneur Morris was a New York patriot during the American Revolution who served his country as a diplomat and public servant.