The Constitution in American Political Development - Discussion questions for
September 8 (Monday): Aspirations for the Constitutional Convention
N. Rakove, "The Perils of Originalism," from Original Meanings:
Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution
(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), pp. 3-22 [on Reserve]
Charles Beard, Selections from An Economic Interpretation
of the Constitution (New York: Macmillan, 1935) [on Reserve]
James Madison, "Vices of the Political System of the United States"
James Madison to George Washington, letter, April 16, 1787
David B. Robertson, Constituting American Politics,
drafts of Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 & Chapter 4
1. How do constitutions affect political behavior, and who cares?
2. What is the meaning of the Constitution? Is it possible to interpret the Constitution separate from today’s politics?
3. How do you know a bad government when you see one? Was the U.S. Confederation a bad government?
4. What would have happened had the U.S. not altered the Articles of Confederation in 1787?
5. What would have happened had the Constitutional Convention adopted the entire Virginia Plan? Could Madison have done a better job of disarming his political opposition?