Describes how the Bill of Rights came into existence, detailing how the Founders argued over the contents of the document, reflecting an ideological divide between the power of the federal versus state governments that still exists to this day. Those who argue that the Bill of Rights reflects the Founding Fathers' "original intent" are wrong. The Bill of Rights was actually a brilliant political act executed by James Madison to preserve the Constitution, the federal government, and the latter's authority over the states. In the skilled hands of award-winning historian Carol Berkin, the story of the Founders' fight over the Bill of Rights comes alive in a drama full of partisanship, clashing egos, and cunning manipulation. In 1789, the young nation faced a great ideological divide around a question still unanswered today: should broad power and authority reside in the federal government or should it reside in state governments? The Bill of Rights, from protecting religious freedom and the people's right to bear arms to reserving unenumerated rights to the states, was a political ploy first and a matter of principle second. The truth of how and why Madison came to devise this plan, the divisive debates it caused in the Congress, and its ultimate success in defeating Antifederalist counterplans is more engrossing than any of the myths that shroud our national beginnings. By pulling back the curtain on the political, short-sighted, and self-interested intentions of the Founding Fathers in passing the first ten amendments, Berkin reveals the anxiety many felt that the new federal government might not survive---and shows that the true "original intent" of the Bill of Rights was simply to oppose the Antifederalists who hoped to diminish the government's powers.--Adapted from book jacket.
Bibliography, etc. Note
Includes bibliographical references and index.