Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution

Front Cover
Macmillan, Oct 2, 2007 - History - 370 pages
2 Reviews
Average Americans Were the True Framers of the Constitution
Woody Holton upends what we think we know of the Constitution’s origins by telling the history of the average Americans who challenged the framers of the Constitution and forced on them the revisions that produced the document we now venerate.  The framers who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 were determined to reverse America’s post–Revolutionary War slide into democracy. They believed too many middling Americans exercised too much influence over state and national policies. That the framers were only partially successful in curtailing citizen rights is due to the reaction, sometimes violent, of unruly average Americans. 
 
If not to protect civil liberties and the freedom of the people, what motivated the framers? In Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution, Holton provides the startling discovery that the primary purpose of the Constitution was, simply put, to make America more attractive to investment. And the linchpin to that endeavor was taking power away from the states and ultimately away from the people. In an eye-opening interpretation of the Constitution, Holton captures how the same class of Americans that produced Shays’s Rebellion in Massachusetts (and rebellions in damn near every other state) produced the Constitution we now revere. Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution is a 2007 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

Unruly Americans and the origins of the Constitution

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Economic interpretation of the Constitution is not new, but Holton's (history, Univ. of Richmond;Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

A revelation. Not an action packed drama but a methodical adding of detail upon detail that provides a whole new picture of the U.S. Constitution. The conventional picture of the founding fathers has been touched up to hide some unflattering facts as to their elitist intentions at the Constitutional Convention. Holton documents their contempt for the common man and how fear of rebellion limited their push for an authoritarian central government. The roles of the major players are described. James Madison's role is particularly interesting. Early on he strongly supported extreme central government powers but later ardently supported adding the Bill of Rights.
This is a story that every American should read. The same political battles are eternal.
 

Contents

Introduction
3
Grievances
21
Rebuttals
46
Quarrels
85
Economics
96
Redemption
108
Disenchantment
127
Rebellion
145
Revenue
213
Ratification
227
Taxes
239
Consolidation
254
The Underdogs Constitution
272
Notes
279
Acknowledgments
355
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Woody Holton is an associate professor of history at the University of Richmond and the author of the award-winning book Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia.

Bibliographic information