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The Fate of the Revolution

Virginians Debate the Constitution

In May 1788, the roads into Richmond overflowed with horses and stagecoaches. From every county, specially elected representatives made their way to the capital city for the Virginia Ratification Convention. Together, these delegates—zealous advocates selected by Virginia’s deadlocked citizens—would decide to accept or reject the highly controversial United States Constitution, thus determining the fate of the American Republic. The rest of the country kept an anxious vigil, keenly aware that without the endorsement of Virginia—its largest and most populous state—the Constitution was doomed.

In The Fate of the Revolution, Lorri Glover explains why Virginia’s wrangling over ratification led to such heated political debate. Beginning in 1787, when they first learned about the radical new government design, Virginians had argued about the proposed Constitution’s meaning and merits. The convention delegates, who numbered among the most respected and experienced patriots in Revolutionary America, were roughly split in their opinions. Patrick Henry, for example, the greatest orator of the age, opposed James Madison, the intellectual force behind the Constitution. The two sides were so evenly matched that in the last days of the convention, the savviest political observers still could not confidently predict the outcome.

Mining an incredible wealth of sources, including letters, pamphlets, newspaper articles, and transcripts, Glover brings these remarkable political discussions to life. She raises the provocative, momentous constitutional questions that consumed Virginians, echoed across American history, and still resonate today. This engaging book harnesses the uncertainty and excitement of the Constitutional debates to show readers the clear departure the Constitution marked, the powerful reasons people had to view it warily, and the persuasive claims that Madison and his allies finally made with success.

About the Author

Lorri Glover is the John Francis Bannon Endowed Chair in the Department of History at Saint Louis University. She is the author of Founders as Fathers: The Private Lives and Politics of the American Revolutionaries.

Reviews

"... This work provides a fresh and informative account, despite slighting portions of the story. Recommended. All academic levels/libraries."

- Choice

"Readers unfamiliar with the basic outline of the arguments in Richmond will understand them clearly after reading Glover’s text."

- Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

Endorsements

"The best account of Virginia's ratification now available. Glover succeeds in giving readers a tightly focused and comprehensive narrative of Virginia's ratification that centers on key personalities. An astute introduction to the history of the American founding."

- Peter S. Onuf, University of Virginia, author of Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood

"This well-written and thoroughly researched account of the Virginia ratifying convention not only tells a great story filled with key individuals and their debates over fundamental issues, it also explains why ratification in Virgina worked the way it did and why it mattered so much to the new nation."

- Todd Estes, author of The Jay Treaty Debate, Public Opinion, and the Evolution of Early American Political Culture

"Glover’s page-turning account of the Virginia ratification... does provide a short, readable book that emphasizes the moment’s contingency... This is an excellent book, perfect for undergraduate seminars and surveys that hope to introduce students to this pivotal moment in American history."

- H-Net Reviews

"... Lorri Glover's much-needed work fills a hole in the literature and would serve as an excellent text for undergraduates interested in the conceptual and political bridges bindng the Confederation period to the early republic."

- The Journal of Southern History
Johns Hopkins University Press
Witness to History
From 13 To 17

9781421420011 : the-fate-of-the-revolution-glover
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