The First Congress

The First Congress

How James Madison, George Washington, and A Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government

Book - 2016
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"The First Congress was the most important in US history says prizewinning author and historian Fergus Bordewich, because it established how our government would actually function. Had it failed--as many at the time feared it would--it's possible that the United States as we know it would not exist today,"--NoveList.
Publisher: New York :, Simon & Schuster,, 2016
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781451691931
1451691939
Characteristics: xv, 396 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm

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pokano
Aug 04, 2017

Interesting account of the First Congress. Imagine--they were writing from a completely clean slate. Although the members of Congress held vastly differing opinions about many important issues, they were cognizant of the precedent that they would set and were willing to compromise. First up was the Bill of Rights--few, if any, in Congress thought that their passage would amount to much. The author of the book definitely takes the position the Second Amendment was intended to apply only to militias, now known as the Nat'l Guard. Since the book was published in 2016, presumably the author intended to rebut the 5-4 decision in Heller, in which SCOTUS rejected this longheld belief. Other weighty issues were whether the federal govt should assume the Revolutionary War debts of the states, the permanent location of the US Capitol, and the establishment of the financial system designed by Alexander Hamilton incl the National Bank (although the natl Mint had to wait until a later Congress). Congress did take a pass on slavery, a question raised by the Quakers. One shocking fact was the conflicts of interest the Virginia Founding Fathers had in advocating placing the capital city on the Potomac--many, incl George Washington, stood to reap sizable appreciation in nearby properties they owned. This book was consistent with the Washington biography I read that made clear that the Founding Fathers disagreed on what the Constitution meant, possibly raising substantial questions as to today's SCOTUS conservatives' "original intent" doctrine.

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