Exhibits on the American Founding

Constitutional Convention – The year was 1787. The place: the State House in Philadelphia, the same location where the Declaration of Independence had been signed 11 years earlier. For four months, 55 delegates from the several states met to frame a Constitution for a federal republic that would last into “remote futurity.” This is the story of the delegates to that convention and the framing of the federal Constitution.

The Federalist-Antifederalist Debate – Between 1787 and 1788, a vigorous public debate occurred between the proponents of the ratification of the Constitution of 1787, and those in opposition. Organized by Alexander Hamilton and aimed primarily at the people of New York, the Federalist Papers offer arguments in favor of ratification as well as a guide to interpretation of the new Constitution. Though less organized, a series of essays would be published by various opponents, ultimately known as the Anti-Federalist Papers, which warned Americans of the threat the Constitution posed to their newly won liberties. This is the story of that “out-of-doors” debate and how the United States is still guided by these opinions offered more than 200 years ago.

The Ratification of the United States Constitution – The years were 1787 and 1788. The places: “out-of-doors” in newspapers and pamphlets throughout America’s thirteen states and “in-doors” in the state ratifying conventions. Following the Constitutional Convention, a great debate took place throughout America over the Constitution that had been proposed. This is the story of the debate over the ratification of the United States Constitution.

The Bill of Rights – This site chronicles the creation and adoption of the U. S. Bill of Rights starting with the English and Colonial tradition, and working its way through the American Revolution, the State Ratifying Conventions, and finally ending with the debates over Madison’s 39 Proposals in the First Congress. With the assistance of original sources, secondary commentaries, visual aides, modules, and Excel print outs, the site offers us the opportunity to rethink a number of issues connected with the original and refined Bill of Rights.


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