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Creating the Constitution: About

Creating the Constitution

As a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, Alexander Hamilton found some of his ideas about how to structure a federal government soundly rejected. Yet he liked the resulting Constitution enough to become chief advocate for its approval by the states. Hamilton wrote the bulk of the essays that argued most convincingly for ratification. These essays were first published as a series in New York newspapers, under the title The Federalist.

Hamilton did not attend the entire four-month Constitutional Convention that began in May 1787 in Philadelphia. He had been one of the strongest advocates for that convention, but he was outvoted by the other two New York delegates, who did not share Hamilton's enthusiasm for a strong federal government to unite the thirteen states. In these early years after the revolution, the former colonists were just beginning to understand how to operate outside the confines of British rule.

Hamilton's best moment as a delegate came when he outlined his ideas for government in a six-hour speech on June 18. He called for senators who would serve "during good behavior" and a chief executive, or national governor, who would appoint state governors. This "elective monarch" (in the words of note-taker James Madison), would also serve "during good behavior," meaning indefinitely, without a set elective term. Madison's reference to royalty was apt because in the same speech Hamilton declared that Britain's government was "the best in the world." Though some other delegates shared Hamilton's views about electing a long-serving, king-like president and concentrating power in an elite class of elected federal officials, it was a far more centralized plan than most people supported. Continue reading from PBS

The Constitutional Convention of 1787

Four years after the United States won its independence from England, 55 state delegates, including George Washington, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin, convene in Philadelphia to compose a new U.S. constitution.

The Articles of Confederation, ratified several months before the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781, provided for a loose confederation of U.S. states, which were sovereign in most of their affairs. On paper, Congress—the central authority—had the power to govern foreign affairs, conduct war, and regulate currency, but in practice these powers were sharply limited because Congress was given no authority to enforce its requests to the states for money or troops. By 1786, it was apparent that the Union would soon break up if the Articles of Confederation were not amended or replaced. Five states met in Annapolis, Maryland, to discuss the issue, and all the states were invited to send delegates to a new constitutional convention to be held in Philadelphia. On May 25, 1787, delegates representing every state except Rhode Island convened at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania State House for the Constitutional Convention. Continue reading from History

Link to The Constitutional Convention: A Narrative History by James Madison in the catalog
Link to The Framers' Coup by Michael J Klarman in the catalog
Link to Decision in Philadelphia by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier in Hoopla
Link to The Constitution: An Introduction by Michael Stokes Paulsen in the catalog
Link to The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation by Jonathan Hennessy in the catalog
Link to The Constitional Convention by George H. Smith in Hoopla
Link to The US Constitution: The Bill of Rights and Additional Amendments by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel in Hoopla
Link to Creating The Constitution by Christopher Collier in Hoopla

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