Michael Klarman’s The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution is a marvel. It’s an 850-page tome that draws us in even though we all know what happens in the end. Indeed, for most readers, the broad outlines of its narrative are ones that we’ve heard many times: in grade school, again in high school, perhaps in college, and, for a lucky few, once again in graduate school. The book’s seven chronological chapters tell our nation’s origin story: the flaws of the Articles of Confederation; the politics of the pre-constitutional period; the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia; the debate over the constitutional status of slavery; the hard-fought political battles between Federalists and Antifederalists at the state ratifying conventions; ratification itself; and the drafting and adoption of the Bill of Rights.
Yet Klarman manages to give us a story that demands reading despite its familiarity. . . .And a bit more:
Thus, Klarman’s story of the framing is not one of brilliant political philosophers collaborating on a document to preserve their republican revolution. Instead, it is one of “ordinary politics” (p. 8) in which each side attempted to create a federal government that would further its mundane political interests. . . .Read on here.