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CHILD OF FORTUNE by Jeffrey St. John
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CHILD OF FORTUNE

by Jeffrey St. John

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This book is the second in a trilogy beginning with Constitutional Journal. In this book the topic is the ratification of the Constitution and the author has expanded to a weekly news format.
The ratification process was longer and more involved than the writing of the Constitution. The author sets out the major issues that were debated and identifies the major states and individuals involved. The format portrays the events as they happened without anticipating the result. This makes the story much more interesting and actually adds some suspense about the outcome.
The Constitution was first sent to the Continental Congress who forwarded it to the state ratification conventions. Nine states were required to ratify the document before it became effective. Any state which did not ratify would be left out of the Union. Delaware was the first state to ratify and did so by unanimous vote of their convention. The Constitution was then ratified by seven more states prior to the conventions of Virginia, New Hampshire and New York. The primary issue that developed was the lack of a bill of rights. This was used by the Anti-Federalists as a strong argument against ratification.
The other major issue was the diminution of the power of the states. Under the Articles of Confederation the central government was a compact between the states that had no direct relationship to the citizens of the country. The Constitution created a central government that had national powers derived from the citizens that were exercised directly. This change was seen by many as the path to monarchy or tyranny.
Virginia was the largest state at that time and James Madison had multiple debates with Patrick Henry over ratification in that convention. Madison and Alexander Hamilton were also involved in writing a series of articles in a New York newspaper in favor of the constitution under the name "Publius" Those have now been collected as The Federalist Papers. The author points out that Madison was at a disadvantage in his debates with Henry since he was only 5'4" and 130 pounds while Patrick Henry was about 6' and two hundred pounds. There were also times when Madison was very difficult to hear.
Patrick Henry was still the preeminent orator of his time and spent hours talking about the tyranny that the Constitution would bring and demanding a bill of rights. Massachusetts and South Carolina ratified with a recommendation for amendments and Henry wanted to make the ratification conditional upon the passing of a bill of rights. In the end Virginia ratified with a ten vote majority and a recommendation for amendments. They then found out that New Hampshire had become the ninth state to ratify the day before. New York was the last large state to ratify. The new government came into office and Congress began work on the bill of rights which is covered in the next book.
The author's factual information is correct and he uses the news format to tell the story as it happens. I couldn't list all of the details used by the author that make this a good story. This is an interesting book that it a painless way to learn about a very important event in history. Two items of trivia. Rhode Island was the last state to ratify the Constitution on May 29, 1790, after the election of George Washington as President and the election of the First Congress. The The 27th Amendment to the Constitution ratified on May 18, 1992 was first proposed in the Bill of Rights drafted by James Madison proposed to the states by Congress on September 25, 1789. It provides that no law varying the pay of the Senate or House of Representatives can take effect until an election of Representatives has intervened. ( )
1 vote wildbill | Mar 12, 2009 |
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In this exciting audio production, prize-winning journalist and historian Jeffrey St. John simulates day-by-day reportage to make you a first-hand witness to the 1787-1788 political battle to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Discover how close both sides of the debate came to resorting to violence and rigged elections and witness Patrick Henry's challenge to a pistol duel at the Virginia convention. Observe the Constitution's sanction of slavery and the delegate revolts it produced, Massachusetts Governor John Hancock's secret deal to deliver his state in return for support of his candidacy for the presidency, and how the soft-voiced James Madison defeated America's greatest orator. Vastly entertaining, this book is both a popular history and an important contribution to the study of the founding of the American Republic.… (more)

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