Synopses & Reviews
The mention of 1789 evokes images of the storming of the Bastille and of the French Revolution -- the peaceful ratification of the American Constitution. Nothing on the American political scene the drama of the overthrow of the French monarchy and the clarion call of the Declaration the Rights of Man and the Citizen -- "ignorance, forgetfulness or contempt of the rights of man the only causes for public misfortunes and the corruption of governments".
Foolish oversimplification and exaggeration, the American constitution makers must have said to this French rhetoric -- still to this day in the preamble to the French Constitution. The American Founding Fathers considered and defended the nation against a multiplicity of causes of misgovernment. The result is a constitution that has endured for more than two hundred years; the French document lasted fewer than three years, before France descended into the Terror.
As Robert Goldwin demonstrates in lucid, accessible narrative, the task of making the Constitution of the United States was not complete until the Bill of Rights was added. Lingering problems lasting beyond the ratification struggle threatened to undermine popular acceptance of the Constitution. But James Madison -- originally an opponent of the notion of amendments -- had the vision and insight to recognize the necessity of a bill of rights, to unite the support of "the great mass of the people" for the Constitution. Index.