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Original Meanings

Cover of Original Meanings

Original Meanings

Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution
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What did the U.S. Constitution originally mean, and how can we recover the intentions of its framers? These questions, which resound throughout today's most heated legal and political controversies, lie at the heart of Jack N. Rakove's splendidly readable work of historical analysis. In Original Meanings, he traces the complex weave of ideology and interests from which the Constitution emerged and shows how Americans have attached different meanings to their founding document from the moment it was published.

Original Meanings examines the classic issues that the framers of the Constitution had to solve: federalism, representation, executive power, individual rights, and the idea that the Constitution itself should become supreme law. Rakove pays particular attention to James Madison, the Constitution's presiding genius, whose brilliance shaped the document's framing, ratification, and amendment. The result is a major work of reinterpretation that should be read by every student of American history, law, and politics.

What did the U.S. Constitution originally mean, and how can we recover the intentions of its framers? These questions, which resound throughout today's most heated legal and political controversies, lie at the heart of Jack N. Rakove's splendidly readable work of historical analysis. In Original Meanings, he traces the complex weave of ideology and interests from which the Constitution emerged and shows how Americans have attached different meanings to their founding document from the moment it was published.

Original Meanings examines the classic issues that the framers of the Constitution had to solve: federalism, representation, executive power, individual rights, and the idea that the Constitution itself should become supreme law. Rakove pays particular attention to James Madison, the Constitution's presiding genius, whose brilliance shaped the document's framing, ratification, and amendment. The result is a major work of reinterpretation that should be read by every student of American history, law, and politics.

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About the Author-
  • JACK N. RAKOVE was born in Chicago in 1947. Since 1980 he has taught at Stanford University, where he is currently Coe Professor of History and American Studies. He is the author of The Beginnings of National Politics and James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic. He is the editor of Interpreting the Constitution: The Debate over Original Intent.

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  • New York Times Book Review "A deeply satisfying account of the political world from which the United States Constitution issued."
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    Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution
Jack N. Rakove
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Jack N. Rakove
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