Signing Their Rights Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the United States Constitution

Denise Kiernan, Author, Joseph D'Agnese, Author
Denise Kiernan and Joseph D'Agnese. Quirk (Random, dist.), $19.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-59474-520-1
Reviewed on: 06/06/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Open Ebook - 197 pages - 978-1-59474-531-7
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Kiernan and D'Agnese (coauthors of Signing Their Lives Away) return with an identical format for this companion volume. Opening with a brief historical background, they trace events before the creation of the U.S. Constitution, when the fledging United States was on the verge of political collapse due to the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. Amid fears of a civil war, distrustful delegates gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to expand the Articles of Confederation, but in such a "contentious environment," many quit. The 39 who stayed are featured in minibiographies that do not always flatter them. Thomas Mifflin was a drunkard, Robert Morris "the signer who went to debtor's prison," while other signers, more gloriously, "overcame religious discrimination" or, mundanely, "lived the longest." At the end of lengthy heated debates, Benjamin Franklin urged everyone to set aside his dissatisfactions with the final document and "make manifest our unanimity" by signing it. All 39 delegates did so. This is a lightweight introduction to a crucial moment in American history that might appeal more to younger readers. (Sept.)
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