Plain, Honest Men

Plain, Honest Men

The Making of the American Constitution

Book - 2009
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"While some have boasted it as a work from Heaven, others have given it a less righteous origin. I have many reasons to believe that it is the work of plain, honest men."
--Robert Morris, delegate from Pennsylvania to the Constitutional Convention

From distinguished historian Richard Beeman comes a dramatic and engrossing account of the men who met in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787 to design a radically new form of government. Plain, Honest Men takes readers behind the scenes and beyond the debate to show how the world's most enduring constitution was forged through conflict, compromise, and, eventually, fragile consensus.

The delegates met in an atmosphere of crisis, many Americans at that time fearing that a combination of financial distress and civil unrest would doom the young nation's experiment in liberty. When the delegates began their deliberations in May 1787, they discovered that a small cohort of men, led by James Madison, had prepared an audacious plan--revolutionary in its view of the nature of American government. The success of this bold and brilliant strategy was far from assured, and the ultimate outcome of the delegates' labors--the creation of a frame of government that would enable America to flourish--was very different from what Madison had envisioned when he launched his grand scheme.

Beeman captures as never before the dynamic of the debate and the characters of the men who labored that summer in Philadelphia, among them James Madison, as brilliant as he was unprepossessing; the mercurial Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania, arrogant, combative, but ultimately effective in shaping the language of the completed Constitution; Maryland's Luther Martin, a pugnacious (and often inebriated) opponent of a strong national government; Roger Sherman, the straightforward Connecticut delegate who helped broker some of the key compromises of the Convention; and General George Washington, whose quiet dignity and forceful presence helped keep under control the clash of egos and words among the delegates.

Virtually all of the issues the delegates debated that summer--the extent of presidential power, the nature of federalism, and, most explosive of all, the role of slavery--have continued to provoke conflict throughout the nation's history. Plain, Honest Men is a fascinating portrait of another time and place, a bold and unprecedented book about men, both grand and humble, who wrote a document that would live longer than they ever imagined. This is an indispensable work for our own time, in which debate about the Constitution's meaning still rages.
Publisher: New York :, Random House,, 2009.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781400065707
Branch Call Number: 342.73029 BE
Characteristics: pages cm


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Jun 10, 2015

A great book about the writing of the constitution. Restored my faith an Arica's ability to self-govern.

Jan 31, 2014

Repudiates the fake history propaganda of David Barton (WallBuilders) and company.

EuSei Feb 13, 2013

If you read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence--these sublime documents--you know what the Founders meant, so you most likely will not want to waste time reading this book. But, again, reading it might help reinforce your core beliefs!


rwh77 Jul 14, 2011

If anyone tells you what the Founding Fathers meant or what the Constitution says, ask if he has read this book. If not, you can probably ignore him.

I was surprised at what I learned and how little I really knew about our Constitution and how it came to be.

This is a timely book: the Constitution was born out of frustration with the lack of a strong, central, national government and the strong possibility that the new country would default on its debts, and the disastrous results that would have for the United States AND the US business community. Anyone that cares about politics today should read and study this book.


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