The First Congress: How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government

Fergus M. Bordewich. Simon & Schuster, $30 (416p) ISBN 978-1-4516-9193-1
Historian and journalist Bordewich (America’s Great Debate) addresses a less-discussed institution of the Revolutionary period in this mainstream history of America’s first Congress. Tasked with making the promise of the recently minted U.S. Constitution a functioning reality, the first Congress began its work in 1789. At the time the Constitution, still absent the Bill of Rights, was a work in progress, with a long list of difficult questions lurking in its aspirational text. The legislator players included Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, John Adams, and Washington, as well as a colorful mix of others, many of whom Bordewich skillfully brings to life through brief biographical sketches. Bordewich doesn’t tie then-dominant issues to current politics, but the constancy of fundamental political issues is striking: the question of congressional power versus presidential power, the nature of the federal courts, the powers that the Constitution respectively conveys to federal and state governments, taxes and finances, citizenship, and the intractable challenges of slavery and race. Additionally, the first Congress also debated the pivotal issues included in the Bill of Rights. Bordewich’s noteworthy exploration of the foundation for a working constitutional government provides an important perspective on American history. Agent: Elise Cheney, Elise Cheney Literary Associates. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/14/2015
Release date: 02/09/2016
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-4516-9213-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5159-5652-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-5159-0652-0
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-5094-1387-4
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-1-4516-9211-2
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