Creating the Constitution

The Convention of 1787 and the First Congress

Paper or softback
Thornton Anderson
Published 15 Nov 1993
List Price £25.95

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“In a lucid discussion that compares the debates in the Constitutional Convention with those in the First U.S. Congress, Anderson very effectively combines factor analytical techniques with close textual analysis to uncover the presence of a hitherto undetected group in the Convention that he labels ’state Federalists.’ This third group, which defended a middle ground between the state sovereignty and nationalist positions, was highly influential and largely responsible for the creation of a balanced federal system. The weakness of this group in the First Congress, Anderson argues, led to legislation and an evolved ideology that irrevocably changed the operation of the U.S. Constitution to a system significantly at variance with that agreed upon at the Convention. This is an original, interesting, and useful analysis of the role of the First Congress in the founding of the American political system. Anderson’s book will undoubtedly engender some controversy, but it should also lead to a reconsideration of the Constitutional Convention as the defining moment in the creation of the American republic.”

—Donald S. Lutz, University of Houston

Creating the Constitution presents a different interpretation of the Convention and the First Congress, derived largely from a close reading of Farrand's Records and the Annals of Congress. Among its special features are a critical perspective on the Framers, an examination of Court Whig influence on the Federalists, the identification of a third group—the state Federalists—between the nationalists and states' righters, and a view of the First Congress as distorting the aims of the Convention.

Thornton Anderson is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Maryland and author of several books, including Russian Political Thought (1967) and Brooks Adams: Constructive Conservative (1951).