Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution
The next coupl ...more
Through close and scrupulously fair attention to the arguments of both those who drafted the Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787 and the anti-Federalists who opposed its ratification, Rakove brings to life the political issues and conflicts that shaped the provisions of the Constitution and informed the often conflicting meanin ...more
The book is comprehensive: it covers James Madison and his political philosophy writings preceding and during the making of the Constitution; the period preceding and leading to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, ...more
Jack N. Rakove
A.A. Knopf, 1996 - 439 pages
What did the U.S. Constitution originally mean, and who has understood its meaning best? Do we look to the intentions of its framers at the Federal Convention of 1787, or to those of its ratifiers in the states? Or should we trust our own judgment in deciding whether the original meaning of the Constitution should still guide its later interpretation? These are the recurring ...more
Though very dense in many chapters, and I did skip a lot of esoteric legal and political stuff, this was instructive. I am glad I read it. It describes the reasons why we have a tradition of looking at the constitution for direction on difficult legal issues.
What does the notion of the Constitution's 'Original Meaning' really mean? Rakove's books is a methodical, but still readable, exploration of that subject through historical analysis. Rakove shows what a tricky concept 'original meaning' actually amounts to.