George A. Rutherglen, University of Virginia School of Law, is publishing In What Sense a Coup? A Review of the Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution by Michael J. Klarman in the Journal of Law and Politics. Here is the abstract.
In his majesterial history of the fraught and compromised origins of the Constitution, Professor Klarman explores in absorbing detail all the dimensions of the tumultuous events that led to the drafting, ratification, and amendment of the Constitution by the Bill of Rights. The book aspires, in the author’s words, to put the entire history of these developments “between two covers.” This vast panorama of issues, actors, and historical context unfolds before the reader as each of the crises of the years from 1787 to 1791 comes into focus. Klarman invites the reader to relive the making of the Constitution in all its contingencies, some predictable and perennial, like the opposition between large and small states, some nearly forgotten, like disputes over navigation of the Mississippi River. Klarman gives the reader the good, the bad, and the ugly: the good in the farsighted vision of the Framers; the bad in their tolerance of slavery and general distrust of democratic government; the ugly in the often cynical processes of ordinary politics that led to ratification of the Constitution. If you want a history unencumbered by hagiography of the Framers—and by the same token, of their Antifederalist opponents—this is the book for you. And it should be the book for everyone who wants a comprehensive and unvarnished look at the framing of the Constitution.Download the essay from SSRN at the link.