Wisconsin Historical Society Press
The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, Volume X, Ratification by the States: Virginia, No. 3
By John P. Kaminski, Gaspare J. Saladino; Senior Associate Editor: Richard Leffler; Associate Editor: Charles H. Schoenleber
768 pages, 6 x 9"Buy
"The most important editorial project in the nation." -Leonard W. Levy, constitutional historian
The debate over the Constitution reached a climax in Virginia during June 1788 as a closely divided Convention vigorously debated the merits of the new frame of government. Virginians, like many other Americans, realized the importance of the Old Dominion in the ratification process. Without Virginia's approval, the Union would be incomplete and divided. This third Virginia volume contains the last two-thirds of the Convention debate, which turned on whether to adopt the Constitution unconditionally with recommended amendments, or to adopt the Constitution conditionally with a list of required amendments. The sources for Virginia's ratification reveal as never before the intricacies of the debate and the preeminence of Virginia to the ratification process.
Browse the entire Ratification series
John P. Kaminski is the founder and director of the Center for the Study of the American Constitution in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A professor emeritus from the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he is the author or editor of twenty-five other books on early American history.
The following text is excerpted from an article by Gordon S. Wood in “The New Republic” on December 24, 2010. To see the full article, please click this link.
At the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, one of the greatest editorial projects in American history has been under way for nearly thirty-five years. Since 1976, the successive editors of the "Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution" have published twenty-three volumes, and there are at least eight more to come. These volumes contain every scrap of evidence the editors have been able to find relating to the debates over the ratification of the Constitution in 1787 - 1788. These editors, beginning with Merrill Jensen and continuing at present with John P. Kaminski, Gaspare J. Saladino, and others, have put together one of the greatest collections of debates over the basic issues of politics and constitutionalism that the Western world possesses. The political debates in fifth-century Athens or seventeenth-century England may have been richer and more wide-ranging, but we will never know, because the records of those earlier disputations are either lost or fragmentary. They are certainly not as complete as the records we have for the ratification of the Constitution. Rarely will we find a more profound or more comprehensive discussion of the problems of power, liberty, representation, federalism, rights, and all the other aspects of politics than we have in these volumes. This record is not only a national treasure, it is a world treasure.