Founding America: Documents from the Revolution to the Bill of Rights (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Founding America: Documents from the Revolution to the Bill of Rights (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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Founding America: Documents from the Revolution to the Bill of Rights, by Various, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. Modern American politicians refer to “the founders” so often that they’re in danger of becoming clichés. But Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abigail and John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, and the other authors included in this new collection were a wholly unique—and complex—group of individuals, graced with extraordinary intellectual powers, a profound dedication to their ideals, and a striking ability to articulate those ideals in clear and passionate prose. This original anthology of their writings, many of them far less familiar to us than they should be, demonstrates the depth of their thinking—and of their disagreements. It covers the full range of events from 1773 to 1789: that is, from the early debates about whether the North American colonies should declare their independence from England, to the ratification of the Constitution and the first ten amendments (the Bill of Rights). Among the documents included are papers from the first and second Continental Congresses, the Articles of Confederation, Washington’s Farewell Address to his armies, and extensive excerpts from the Federalist papers and the Madison–Jefferson correspondence on the Constitution. Jack N. Rakove is W. R. Coe Professor of History and American Studies and Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, where he has taught since 1980. He is the author of four books on the American Revolutionary era, including The Beginnings of National Politics: An Interpretive History of the Continental Congress, James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic, and Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution, which received the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in History.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593082307
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 04/01/2006
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 672
Sales rank: 105,436
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.68(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Jack N. Rakove's Introduction to Founding America

A decade after signing the Declaration of Independence, the Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush made an important observation that historians are fond of citing. “There is nothing more common than to confound the terms of the American revolution with those of the late American war,” Rush wrote in 1786. “The American war is over; but this is far from being the case with the American revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the great drama is closed.”

As Rush recognized, the events he consciously called a revolution had two main elements. The first, the one that had ended successfully only three years earlier, was to secure political independence from Great Britain. That story hinges on two great questions. First, how did the colonists move from resistance to revolution, from seeking to maintain their rights within the British Empire to renouncing its authority entirely? Second, once the last hopes for reconciliation had evaporated, how did the Americans prevail in a long and difficult military struggle against the greatest power in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world?

But winning independence, Rush also recognized, was only one part of the story. In his mind, the Revolution was more than a struggle for independence and home rule. It had also become a movement to establish new forms of government, modeled on republican principles that made the people the only proper source of political authority. Rush devoted the remainder of his essay to discussing how this new form of government could be “perfected.” Within a year, this effort culminated in the form of the federal Constitution drafted at Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, a Constitution whose first stated purpose was “to form a more perfect union.”

These two great themes—the achievement of independence and the “perfection” of republican governments—are the subject of the documents collected in this volume. These documents cannot capture the experience of the Revolution in its totality. No single volume, however carefully edited, could illustrate the diversity of experience and the range of issues that were felt and voiced during the quarter century of history that separates the beginning of the crisis with Britain in the mid-1760s from the adoption of the Constitution in the late 1780s.

When Benjamin Rush spoke of the Revolutionary War, he meant both the movement that led to independence and the military struggle that secured it. Defined in this way, the revolution really began in the mid-1760s, when the colonists first argued that Parliament had no authority to impose taxes or other laws on a people who sent no representatives of their own to distant London. In the crises over the Stamp Act (1765–1766) and the Townshend duties (1767–1770), Americans and Britons defined and sharpened their arguments about the nature of the British Empire and the rights and duties of its American colonies.

Table of Contents

Founding America: A Timeline     vii
General Introduction   Jack N. Rakove     xi
Founding America: Documents from the Revolution to the Bill of Rights
The Imperial Dispute     3
First Continental Congress     37
Second Continental Congress     51
"Remember the Ladies"     65
Inventing a Republic     77
Independence     115
Drafting the Articles of Confederation     143
Reforming the Articles of Confederation     169
George Washington     231
Political Reformers     261
The Road to Philadelphia     305
Rival Visions of Union     331
Getting Down to Details     369
The Constitution     395
A More Perfect Union     413
The Case Against the Constitution     433
Publius Replies     477
The Problem of Declaring Rights     545
Proposing Amendments     589
Framing the Bill of Rights     611
For Further Reading     641
List of Sources     643

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