Most Americans know the first line of the Preamble to the Constitution. “We the People of the United States . . .” Fewer know it in its entirety, and even fewer have read or studied the Constitution. In “The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution” David Stewart goes behind the closed doors of the Constitutional Convention to tell the story of the intricate and sometimes tedious process of crafting our founding document.
Each member of the Convention played a unique role that reflected their individual personality and background. This is their story, and it is ultimately the story of our country. E Pluribus Unum – “Out of many, one.” From the well-known (Washington, Madison, and Franklin) to the unknown (Brearley, Spaight, and Baldwin), Stewart highlights each one, as he weaves their stories into the diverse, yet unified story of the Constitution.
The document that has stood for over two hundred years, was birthed in the heat of the Summer of 1787. In this story you’ll meet Abraham Baldwin, a little-known delegate from Georgia who surprisingly sided with the smaller states at a key moment; Gouvernour Morris of Pennsylvania as he delivers the first abolitionist speech in American political life; George Washington and Ben Franklin as they influence the entire Convention while rarely standing to speak. You’ll see the alliances as they form and then fall apart, the personality differences rise with the heat, and the sometimes ridiculous ideas that almost became a part of our nations government.
As might be expected, Stewart’s personal opinions occasionally peek through in the story (for example, his obvious dislike for the electoral system becomes evident before Appendix 2 which confirms it), but overall it is an objective account that will appeal to both the general and serious readers. If you thought you knew American history, you need to read this book. If you think you don’t know American history, you should certainly read this book.