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Madison’s Hand

Madison’s Hand

Revising the Constitutional Convention

Mary Sarah Bilder

ISBN 9780674979741

Publication date: 08/21/2017

Winner of the Bancroft Prize
Winner of the James Bradford Best Biography Prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic
Finalist, Literary Award for Nonfiction, Library of Virginia
Finalist, George Washington Prize

James Madison’s Notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention have acquired nearly unquestioned authority as the description of the U.S. Constitution’s creation. No document provides a more complete record of the deliberations in Philadelphia or depicts the Convention’s charismatic figures, crushing disappointments, and miraculous triumphs with such narrative force. But how reliable is this account?

“[A] superb study of the Constitutional Convention as selectively reflected in Madison’s voluminous notes on it…Scholars have been aware that Madison made revisions in the Notes but have not intensively explored them. Bilder has looked closely indeed at the Notes and at his revisions, and the result is this lucid, subtle book. It will be impossible to view Madison’s role at the convention and read his Notes in the same uncomplicated way again…An accessible and brilliant rethinking of a crucial moment in American history.”
—Robert K. Landers, Wall Street Journal

Praise

  • [A] superb study of the Constitutional Convention as selectively reflected in Madison’s voluminous notes on it…Scholars have been aware that Madison made revisions in the Notes but have not intensively explored them. Bilder has looked closely indeed at the Notes and at his revisions, and the result is this lucid, subtle book. It will be impossible to view Madison’s role at the convention and read his Notes in the same uncomplicated way again…An accessible and brilliant rethinking of a crucial moment in American history.

    —Robert K. Landers, Wall Street Journal

Awards

  • 2015, Winner of the SHEAR Book Prizes
  • 2016, Winner of the Bancroft Prize

Author

  • Mary Sarah Bilder is Founders Professor of Law and Michael and Helen Lee Distinguished Scholar, Boston College Law School.

Book Details

  • 384 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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