In the summer of 1787, fifty-five delegates met in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation. The convention instead went far beyond this stated purpose and crafted a new governing document for the young nation: the Constitution. Both during the Constitutional Convention and in the subsequent ratification debates from 1787-1789, Americans deliberated the form and function of the federal government, the responsibilities and rights of citizens, how to protect those rights, and critically, who was entitled to those rights in the new nation. This kit will allow you to explore the process of creating and ratifying the Constitution by reading the journals of prominent politicians and the vibrant public debates between those who supported and opposed the document. –Prof. Lauren Duval
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Primary Sources: Original Documents from the Time
“’All Men Are Born Free and Equal’: Massachusetts Yeomen Oppose the ‘Aristocratickal’ Constitution, January, 1788.” History Matters. George Mason University.
Federal Farmer. “Federal Farmer IV,” October 12, 1787. TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Ashland University.
“Gerry, Mason, and Randolph Decline to Sign the Constitution.” Constitutional Convention, September 10, 12, 15, 17, 1787. TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Ashland University.
Hamilton, Alexander (Publius). “Federalist No. 84,” July 16, 1788. TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Ashland University.
Hamilton, Alexander. “Letter to James Madison,” July 19, 1788. TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Ashland University.
Hamilton, Alexander. “Speech on the Compromises of the Constitution,” June 20, 1788. TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Ashland University.
Lee, Richard Henry. “Letter to Edmund Randolph with Objections to the Constitution,” October 16, 1787. TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Ashland University.
Madison, James. “Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention.” 1787. The Avalon Project. Yale Law School.
Madison, James. “The Federalist Papers : No. 10.” 1787. The Avalon Project. Yale Law School.
Randolph, Edmund. “The Virginia Plan,” May 29, 1787. TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Ashland University.
“The Revised Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan.” Constitutional Convention, June 13, 1787. TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Ashland University.
“The Rules of the Convention.” Constitutional Convention, May 28, 1787. TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Ashland University.
United States House of Representatives. “Bill of Rights, The House Version,” July 28, 1789, August 13, 1789, August 24, 1789. TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Ashland University.
United States Senate. “Bill of Rights, The Senate Version,” August 25, 1789 and September 9, 1789. TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Ashland University.
Secondary Sources: What Historians Have Written
Boonshoft, Mark. “Doughfaces at the Founding: Federalists, Anti-Federalists, Slavery, and the Ratification of the Constitution in New York.” New York History 93, no. 3 (2012): 187–218.
Finkelman, Paul. “A Well Regulated Militia: The Second Amendment in Historical Perspective. Symposium on the Second Amendment: Fresh Looks.” Chicago-Kent Law Review, no. 1 (2000-2001): 195–236.
Holton, Woody. “Did Democracy Cause the Recession That Led to the Constitution?” The Journal of American History 92, no. 2 (2005): 442–69.
Holton, Woody. “‘Rebel against Rebel’: Enslaved Virginians and the Coming of the American Revolution.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 105, no. 2 (1997): 157–92.
Spencer, Mark G. “Hume and Madison on Faction.” The William and Mary Quarterly 59, no. 4 (2002): 869–96.