James's Reviews > Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution

Plain, Honest Men by Richard Beeman
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's review
Aug 17, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: amer-history, political-science, study-group
Read from July 30 to August 14, 2011

The history of the making of the Constitution is presented here as it was created by an impressive group of individuals. Richard Beeman's excellent detailed account of the summer of 1787 relates the revolutionary results of these individuals in the context of their time. I was impressed with the character of the men who were able to work in secrecy for months even though their views were passionate and varied from state to state and even within some delegations. Holding the group together were the well-known personages of Washington, Madison and Franklin. But there were many others who made major contributions and put forward ideas that, even when rejected, spurred the debate. Some of the other notables included Gouvernor Morris who shaped the language of the document, Roger Sherman, Alexander Hamilton, James Wilson, Edmund Randolph and others.
The character of the delegates was impressive as was their camaraderie, for the time spent socializing was important as well. The partisan debates, especially between the small versus large states, mirrored partisan politics that is still with us today. The resolution of the structure of the Constitution was not always assured but achieved through compromise and hard work. This is a scholarly yet readable history that succeeds in providing you with the feeling as you read it that you are there with these plain, honest men.

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