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Jack N. Rakove has 1 media appearance.

Jul
6
Jack N. Rakove
Booknotes, Sunday, July 6, 1997
Jack N. Rakove discusses Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution.

WHAT DID THE U.S. Constitution originally mean, and who has understood meaning best? Do we look to the intentions its framers at the Federal Convention of 1787, or those of its ratifiers in the states? Or should we trust our own judgment in deciding whether original meaning of the Constitution should guide its later interpretation? These are the recurring questions in the ongoing process of analyzing and resolving constitutional issues, but are also questions about the distant events of eighteenth century. In this book, Jack Rakove approaches the debates surrounding the framing ratification of the Constitution from the vantage point of history, examining the range of concerns that shaped the politics of constitutionmaking in the late 1780's, and which illuminate the debate about the role that "originalism" should play in constitutional interpretation. In answering these questions, Rakove reexamines the classic issues that the framers of the Constitution had to solve: federalism, representation executive power, rights, and the idea that a constitution somehow embodied supreme law. In of these cases, Original Meanings suggests that Americans of the early Republic held a spectrum of positions, some drawn from the controversial legacy of Anglo-American politics, others reflecting the course of events since 1776, the politics of the Federal Convention, or the spirited debate that followed. Rakove's narration of the story of the great sources of contention also reveals the character of the central actors: George Washington, reserved yet charismatic; James Wilson, brilliant but arrogant; Benjamin Franklin, witty and wise; Roger Sherman, a crabbed speaker but dogged parliamentarian; Alexander Hamilton, the candid iconoclast. By describing the ratification controversy Rakove gives both Federalists and Anti-Federalists their due. And throughout he pays close attention to the concerns of James Madison, who went to Philadelphia in the grip of a great passion to remedy the vices of the American political system, and who exerted the greatest influence not only over the entire process of adopting the Constitution, but also over the controversies of interpretation that have continued into our day. —from the publisher's website (timspalding)… (more)
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