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Dark Bargain

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  47 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
On September 17, 1787, at the State House in Philadelphia, thirty-nine men from twelve states, after months of often bitter debate, signed America's Constitution. Yet very few of the delegates, at the start, had had any intention of creating a nation that would last. Most were driven more by pragmatic, regional interests than by idealistic vision. Many were meeting for the ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Walker Books Ltd (first published 2005)
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The desire of the southern states to keep slavery going was the biggest driver of what ended up in our Constitution, argues Goldstone convincingly. That idea you had about how high-minded and idealistic the Founding Fathers were - well, put it away. Most of them were motivated by the economic interests of their own state and region, far more than by the idea of forming a union. James Madison was seemingly one of the few who was motivated solely or mostly by his wishes for union, and it was preci
Lady Jane
Sep 05, 2014 Lady Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating examination of the development of the US Constitution, reminding us once again why there are two things -- legislation and sausage--we'd prefer not to see made. Includes really interesting character and background sketches of convention delegates and focuses heavily on those that most participated and were most influential, rather than history's heavy hitters, such as Washington and Franklin. Displayed how slavery, our national sin, was a driving force and dealbreaker in the proceedi ...more
Mar 19, 2011 Kristin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Smartly written and carefully researched. A recommended read to anyone -- particularly those who often invoke "what the Founders intended." As Goldstone proves, the Constitution isn't an infallible document sprung out of the founders' head, but instead a record of compromise and self-interest. Very very engaging.
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Welcome to the second entry in my self-imposed reading project, the History of Slavery in America. First and foremost, this project is part of my commitment to overacting to things that happen to me on the internet. Secondly, I hope to learn a few things, and to curate a list of books that can transport an interested reader through the history of slavery in America (hence my on-the-nose, passively-styled project title).

I detailed the genesis of this project in my review of Robert Pierce Forbes’
Charles Berteau
Jul 11, 2016 Charles Berteau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review carried forward from "I'm Reading"

I really enjoyed this book, a detailed but brief look at how the topic of slavery wove through the Constitutional Convention.

Firstly, the book is an enjoyable overall primer on the convention itself, and its evolution over the summer of 1787 - from an expansive, gentlemanly discussion to a pragmatic, self-interested, knockdown negotiation.

Madison, usually credited as the father of the Constitution because of his role in bringing the convention together a
Philip Mckenzie
Dark Bargain has an interesting premise, to dig into the framing of the Constitution by evaluating it from an economic perspective which of course would be tied to our predominant trade, slavery. The book does a good job, of confronting the realities of building a free nation on the backs of enslaved people. It fleshes out characters beyond the usual suspects i.e. Madison, Jay, etc. It fails however in humanizing enslaved peoples and shedding a real light on the human toil of slavery. It's a goo ...more
Fraser Sherman
Feb 11, 2016 Fraser Sherman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Goldstone's thesis is that slavery had a huge impact on the Constitutional Convention. It shaped not only the three-fifths clause, but debates over tariffs, westward expansion (the South always had an eye to whether future states would be free or slave), and even the definition of treason (earlier drafts could have made it possible for states to define abolitionism as treason). I've seen some of this touched on elsewhere (Gary Wills The Negro President shows the impact of the three-fifths clause ...more
DJ Yossarian
I think Goldstone's argument that slavery played a crucial role in the outcomes of the Constitutional Convention holds up well throughout this short book, and I learned an incredible amount about the participants and the circumstances of that seminal event in U.S. history. Still, there was something not quite rigorous enough about it that sort of nagged at me now and again. In any event, it's not going to stop me from delving into his "Inherently Unequal" when I get the chance.
Oct 26, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
Well written and a good example of what went on in the early days of our nation and how the institution of slavery shaded even one of our founding documents. The seeds of dissent and disagreement that would blossom into the Civil War are clearly already planted before Washington even took office as President.
Sep 19, 2013 Msualumni33 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book contains the kind of information that every American student should learn in school but sadly does not. It explains clearly and concisely the bargains that were made between large states and small states and north and south with regard to slavery. Utterly fascinating reading. IN fact, I am getting ready to re-read this book. I highly recommend it.
Apr 18, 2012 Rae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
so sensible that it fails to challenge readers' illusions or to provoke thought beyond the text. maybe i'd've been more surprised if i was a honky.

recommended for: honkies
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Lawrence Goldstone is the author of fourteen books of both fiction and non-fiction. Six of those books were co-authored with his wife, Nancy, but they now write separately to save what is left of their dishes.
Goldstone's articles, reviews, and opinion pieces have appeared in, among other publications, the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Hartford Courant, and Berkshi
More about Lawrence Goldstone...

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