Professor Freeman discusses the debate over the Constitution at the Federal Convention of 1787 - a convention that by no means had an inevitable outcome. Indeed, even attending the Convention at all was a subject of debate in the individual states; many people feared that the Convention would produce a pseudo-monarchical form of government that would abandon the true significance of the Revolution. Ostensibly called to revise the Articles of Confederation, the meeting ultimately produced an entirely new form of government, in part, thanks to the influence of James Madison's "Virginia Plan" of government. Professor Freeman focuses on three subjects of debate among the many that occupied the Convention: the debates over representation, slavery, and the nature of the executive branch.
Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution, chapters 13-19
Raphael, A People's History of the American Revolution, chapter 7
Brown, Major Problems in the Era of the American Revolution, pp. 1-25, 306-309, 494-521
The American Revolution entailed some remarkable transformations--converting British colonists into American revolutionaries, and a cluster of colonies into a confederation of states with a common cause--but it was far more complex and enduring then the fighting of a war. As John Adams put it, "The Revolution was in the Minds of the people... before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington"--and it continued long past America's victory at Yorktown. This course will examine the Revolution from this broad perspective, tracing the participants' shifting sense of themselves as British subjects, colonial settlers, revolutionaries, and Americans.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.