Creating the Constitution
Benton, Wilbourn E. 1787: Drafting the Constitution. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986. A collection, in two volumes, of the delegates’ notes and draft texts.
Bowen, Catherine Drinker. Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention, May to September, 1787. Boston: Little, Brown, 1966. A classic study of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention.
Bradford, M. E. Original Intentions: On the Making and Ratification of the United States Constitution. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993. A skeptical analysis of the framers’ “idealism.”
Butzner, Jane, ed. Constitutional Chaff: Rejected Suggestions of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, with Explanatory Argument. 1941. Reprint, Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat, 1970. Proposals that did not make it into the Constitution.
Collier, Christopher, and James Lincoln Collier. Decision in Philadelphia: The Constitutional Convention of 1787. New York: Random House, 1986. A study of the Constitutional Convention with an emphasis on the Connecticut Compromise.
Faber, Doris and Harold Faber. We the People: The Story of the United States Constitution (New York: Scribner’s, 1987). A basic history of the Constitution.
Kurland, Philip B., and Ralph Lerner, eds. The Founders’ Constitution. 4 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. A collection of the thoughts, opinions, and arguments of the framers of the Constitution. Also accessible online at http://presspubs.uchicago.edu/founders/
National Archives. Our Documents: 100 Milestone Documents from the National Archives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. The Constitution and other basic documents of American democracy.
Rakove, Jack. James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic. New York: Longman, 2002. A biography of the principal author of the Constitution.
Rakove, Jack. Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution. New York: Knopf, 1996. A rebuttal of the doctrine of “original intent.”
Rodell, Fred. 55 Men: The Story of the Constitution, Based on the Day-by-Day Notes of James Madison. 1936. Reprint, Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 1986. The story of the delegates and their debates at the Constitutional Convention.
Rossiter, Clinton. 1787: The Grand Convention. 1966. Reprint, New York: W.W. Norton, 1987. A perceptive retelling of the Constitutional Convention.
Ratifying the Constitution
Alexander, John. The Selling of the Constitutional Convention: A History of News Coverage. Madison, Wis.: Madison House, 1990. How the press covered the Constitution.
Cornell, Samuel. The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788–1828. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999. The loyal opposition’s viewpoint.
Cooke, Jacob E., ed. The Federalist. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1961. An authoritative text of the essays that helped win ratification of the Constitution. The Federalist is also accessible online at: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fedpapers.html
Jensen, Merrill. The New Nation: A History of the United States during the Confederation, 1781–1789. 1950. Reprint, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1981. The tumultuous years leading to the Constitutional Convention.
Kaminski, John P., and Richard Leffler, eds. Federalists and Antifederalists: The Debate over the Ratification of the Constitution. Madison, Wis.: Madison House, 1989. The arguments on both sides of the ratification fight.
Ketchum, Ralph, ed. The Anti-Federalist Papers; and, The Constitutional Convention Debates. New York: New American Library, 1986. Arguments of the opponents of the Constitution.
Morris, Richard B. Witnesses at the Creation: Hamilton, Madison, Jay, and the Constitution. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1985. The story of the authors of The Federalist.
Sheehan, Colleen A., and Gary L. McDowell, eds. Friends of the Constitution: Writings of the “Other” Federalists, 1787–1788. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998. Other defenders of the Constitution beyond the authors of The Federalist.
Wills, Gary. Explaining America: The Federalist. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1981. An analysis of the writings of Madison, Hamilton, and Jay.
Amending the Constitution
American Political Science Association and American Historical Association. This Constitution: From Ratification to the Bill of Rights. Washington: Congressional Quarterly, 1998. Historical essays on the writing, ratification, and early amending of the Constitution.
Berger, Raoul. The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989. How one amendment changed the others.
Bernstein, Richard B., with Jerome Agel. Amending America: If We Love the Constitution So Much, Why Do We Keep Trying to Change It? New York: Times Books, 1993. A survey and analysis of the many proposed amendments to the Constitution.
Cortner, Richard C. The Iron Horse and the Constitution: The Railroads and the Transformation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1993. How the railroads changed a Reconstruction Era amendment.
Flexner, Eleanor, and Ellen Fitzpatrick. Century of Struggle: The Woman’s Rights Movement in the United States. Enlarged ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996. A history of the long protest movement leading to the Nineteenth Amendment.
Kyvig, David E. Explicit and Authentic Act: Amending the U.S. Constitution. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996. An authoritative study of the substance and process of amending the Constitution.
Meyer, Howard N. The Amendment that Refused to Die: Equality and Justice Deferred: The History of the Fourteenth Amendment. Updated ed. Lanham, Md.: Madison Books, 2000. The tortuous history of defining the Fourteenth Amendment.
Monk, Linda R. The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution. New York: Hyperion, 2004. A guided tour of the Constitution’s various parts and their historical impact.
Patrick, John J. The Bill of Rights: A History in Documents. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Key documents relating to the first ten amendments to the Constitution.
Veit, Helen E., Kenneth R. Bowling, and Charlene Bangs Bickford, eds. Creating the Bill of Rights: The Documentary Record of the First Federal Congress. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991. Documents how Congress enacted the Bill of Rights.
Zacharias, Gary, and Jared Zacharias, eds. The Bill of Rights. San Diego, Calif.: Greenhaven, 2003. Aspects of civil rights and civil liberties under the Bill of Rights.
Implementing the Constitution
Abraham, Henry J. Justices and Presidents: A Political History of Appointments to the Supreme Court. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. Two centuries of struggle between the executive and the legislature over the judiciary.
Amar, Akhil Reed. America’s Constitution: A Biography. New York: Random House, 2005. Reviews the long life and changing times of the Constitution as a legal and political document.
Beth, Loren P. The Development of the American Constitution, 1877–1917. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. Constitutional law in the Gilded Age.
Crabb, Cecil W., Jr., and Pat M. Holt. Invitation to Struggle: Congress, the President, and Foreign Policy. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1992. How the Constitution inspires constant struggle between the White House and Capitol Hill over foreign policy.
Cunliffe, Marcus. The Nation Takes Shape: 1789–1837. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959. A compact history of the early years of constitutional government.
Currie, David P. The Constitution in Congress: The Federalist Period, 1789–1801. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. How Congress initially implemented the Constitution.
Dahl, Robert A. How Democratic Is the American Constitution? New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2001. An essay on the lapses of democracy in the Constitution.
Fisher, Louis. The Politics of Shared Power: Congress and the Executive. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998. The overlapping areas of responsibility resulting from the separation of powers.
Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877. New York; Harper & Row, 1988. Includes the history of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments and related laws and court cases, as well as the struggle between the President and Congress over Reconstruction policy.
Foner, Eric. The Story of American Freedom. New York: W. W. Norton, 1998. An analysis of how well the Constitution secured the “blessings of liberty.”
Garraty, John A. Quarrels that Have Shaped the Constitution. Rev. ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1987. Historical case studies of landmark Supreme Court decisions.
Greenberg, Jack. Crusaders in the Courts: How a Dedicated Band of Lawyers Fought for the Civil Rights Revolution. New York: Basic Books, 1994. The story of the lawyers for the NAACP and their efforts to convince the courts to reinterpret the Constitution.
Hall, Kermit L., ed. The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Entries on the functioning and decisions of the Supreme Court.
Hobson, Charles F. The Great Chief Justice: John Marshall and the Rule of Law. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996. The long-lasting impact of Chief Justice Marshall.
Hyman, Harold M., and William M. Wiecek. Equal Justice under Law: Constitutional Development, 1835–1875. New York: Harper & Row, 1982. The Constitution from slavery to freedom, through the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Kammen, Michael G. A Machine that Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture. New York: St. Martin’s, 1994. A social and cultural history of the Constitution.
Klarman, Michael J. From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. The evolution of judicial thinking on civil rights.
Levy, Leonard W., Kenneth L. Karst, and Dennis J. Mahoney, eds. Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. 6 vols. New York: Macmillan, 2000. Interpretive essays on every aspect of the Constitution.
Morris, Richard B. The Forging of the Union, 1781–1789. New York: Harper & Row, 1987. The United States under the Articles of Confederation.
Murphy, Paul L. The Constitution in Crisis Times, 1918–1969. New York: Harper & Row, 1972. A history of the Constitution in the critical years of the twentieth century.
Patrick, John J. The Supreme Court of the United States: A Student Companion. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Entries on how the Supreme Court operates, including constitutional case law.
Patrick, John J., and Gerald P. Long, eds. Constitutional Debates on Freedom of Religion: A Documentary History. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1999. Understanding the First Amendment.
Pious, Richard M. The Presidency. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1996. The evolution of the office of President of the United
Pious, Richard M. The Presidency of the United States: A Student Companion. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Entries on the operations of the American Presidency.
Rehnquist, William H. All the Laws but One: Civil Liberties in Wartime. New York: Knopf, 1998. A chief justice reviews the history of civil liberties in wartime.
Rehnquist, William H. The Supreme Court. New York: Knopf, 2001. A chief justice examines the evolution of the Supreme Court.
Ritchie, Donald A. The Congress of the United States: A Student Companion. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Entries on aspects of how Congress operates.
Ritchie, Donald A. The U.S. Constitution. New York: Chelsea House, 1988. A bicentennial summary of constitutional history.
Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. The Imperial Presidency. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973. The growth of Presidential power from the founders to Watergate.
Simon, James F. What Kind of a Nation? Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create the United States. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. Two polar opposites in the interpretation and implementation of the U.S. Constitution.
Stone, Geoffrey R. Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terror. New York: Norton, 2004. Wartime tests to the First Amendment.
Warren, Earl. The Memoirs of Earl Warren. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1977. A major twentieth-century chief justice explains how the Court changed under his leadership.
White, G. Edward. The Marshall Court and Cultural Change, 1815–1835. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. How the Supreme Court applied the Constitution to an evolving nation.