Conspiracy and the Making of the Constitution
By Dr. Curtis E. Grassman
Looking back over the two hundred years of the Republic’s history, we can find few documents that have been as venerated and hallowed as the Constitution. Perhaps only the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address have been able to rival it in public esteem.
Certainly a large measure of the unstinting praise heaped upon the Constitution and those who wrote it has been deserved. At a time when the fledgling Union appeared to many in grave danger of disintegrating, fifty-five delegates gathered together in Philadelphia during May, 1787, locked themselves up in the Pennsylvania statehouse, and worked throughout a long, hot summer to produce the Constitution. Their private travail brought immense public benefit. When the founding fathers emerged in September the cooling winds of Fall were not long off, and the new fundamental law they had written provided the framework for a self-government that withstood not only the immediate crisis, but every critical period since.
For well over a century few, if any, critics arose to question what had occurred at the constitutional convention. Scholars and laymen alike were in general accord concerning the disinterested nature and wisdom of the founding fathers at Philadelphia in 1787. Throughout the 19th century the hallowed names of Washington, Franklin, Madison and others could not be mentioned in anything but revered tones. Perhaps this was due in part to the fact that as a young nation we sorely needed national heroes to convince ourselves that we had a particular mission and destiny in the world as its only example of a modem, representative democracy. But with the birth of the twentieth century there came a new viewpoint concerning the origins of the Constitution, a viewpoint skeptical in tone and based upon historical research which made it difficult to accept the standard interpretation so uncritically.
During the first decades of this century “debunkers of our national heritage,” as the first critics of the founding fathers were called, attempted to remove the haloes from around the heads of our country’s leaders during the 1780′s and 1790′s. Textbook history for them had become too much a story of national self-congratulation and too little an attempt at critical, constructive self-examination. This new generation of historians suggested that gods had not made manifest the Constitution of 1787, but rather men, human beings actuated by the temper of the times and their own human natures. In short, they argued that the founding fathers were men who could and did at times act out of normal human passions of self-interest and ambition.
America in the early twentieth century had just come through the so-called “Gilded Age” (1865-1900), a period in which urbanization, industrialization, and immigration wrought changes so quickly that old institutions, values and ways of living crumbled or became outmoded. We moved into an era of a national market economy, revolutionary developments in transportation and communications, and at the same time, tremendous anxiety over the state of public morality and economic opportunity. By 1900 America was deeply concerned with the flagrant political corruption that had characterized the “Gilded Age.” It was a time of machine bossism in the cities and states, when the Senate was sneeringly referred to as the “Millionaires’ Club,” and lackluster presidents reigned. Every politician, it seemed, had his price, and political democracy appeared a sham. Economic mobility by 1900 also looked highly restricted, for big businessmen, sometimes called “robber barons,” had piled up huge personal fortunes and apparently had monopolized most of the nation’s wealth.
Political immorality and economic monopoly were the primary issues responsible for ushering in the Progressive Reform Era from 1900 to 1916. They brought Teddy Roosevelt, with his “Square Deal,” and Woodrow Wilson, with his “New Freedom,” into the presidency, caused experimentation with new laws to regulate big business, and, simultaneously, prompted a re-investigation of our historical past. Historians now began to ask whether our early national leaders were also politically ambitious, self-interested, and motivated by economic considerations in their careers. In due time even the founding fathers and their work at Philadelphia in 1787 came under close scrutiny, and the debate started by these historians would not die down until almost our own time.
The opening attack against the founding fathers was launched in 1907 by J. Allen Smith in The Spirit of American Government: A Study of the Constitution. Smith claimed that it was not a forum of disinterested statesmen but “the property-owning class who framed and secured the adoption of the Constitution.” This elite, made up of southern planters and northern merchants, he argued, had become greatly alarmed during the 1780′s by the state legislatures passing laws in the interest of debtors instead of creditors. The country was largely in a state of depression after the Revolution, and in numerous instances the lower houses in state legislatures (elected annually by the people and responsible for initiating fiscal bills) had taken steps to relieve the distress of the common people. For example, stay laws were passed to prevent creditors from seizing the homes of those defaulting on their mortgages, and often paper money had been issued at an inflated value. Governors and elite groups in the states often found themselves confronted with legislative mandates and laws from which there was no recourse. Under the Articles of Confederation, the central government was so weak that it had virtually no control over the nation’s fiscal affairs or the powerful assemblies representing the people in the states. Smith, studying the backgrounds of the 55 delegates at Philadelphia, believed they constituted an economic elite. The new Constitution erected at Philadelphia greatly enhanced the fiscal powers of the national government, and so he concluded the founding fathers were acting out of natural, economic self-interest.
Smith was even more alarmed by what he thought were the antidemocratic sentiments of the delegates. Whereas he had only intimated at a possible conspiracy along economic lines, he more fully developed the notion that there was a political conspiracy. He charged that “democracy … was not the object which the framers of the American Constitution had in view, but the very thing they wished to avoid … the efforts of the Constitutional Convention were directed to the task of devising a system of government which was just popular enough not to excite popular opposition and which at the same time gave the people as little as possible of the substance of political power.”1 Here Smith took particular note of the nature of the new central government. Whereas under the Articles its laws could do little to interfere with the internal workings of the states, the Constitution designated federal law as the supreme law of the land. Only the federal government, for example, could pass tariff legislation or issue currency. The powers of the states had been reduced and, consequently, so had that of the people through their state legislatures. Moreover, Allen viewed the check and balance system of the federal government as largely an attempt to restrict the influence of the new House of Representatives, the institution closest to the people on the federal level.
Where Smith had taken the first tentative steps towards working out an economic and political conspiracy thesis concerning the establishment of the Constitution, Algie Simons in 1912 presented this new interpretation quite forcefully, saying:
“The organic law of this nation was formulated in secret session by a body called into existence through a conspiratory trick, and (it) was forced upon a disfranchised people by means of dishonest apportionment in order that the interests of a small body of wealthy rulers might be served.”2
Simons’ statements were based upon certain known historical facts. The Philadelphia convention had, after all, met behind locked doors. Then, too, historians knew that from colonial times to the 1820′s voting rights had been restricted to white, adult males who met a property qualification. And, frequently, established seacoast areas had maintained their political power in the state legislatures at the expense of the growing western frontier. However, these facts had not been pictured in a conspiratorial light before, and Simons’ influence was therefore limited. Historians had generally agreed that secrecy at the convention had been invoked so that the founding fathers could speak their minds openly, make compromises freely, prohibit partisan press coverage, and avoid all chances of a public clamor over difficult issues that might break up the convention. Executive, or closed door sessions of government bodies, moreover, were nothing new at the time, and property restrictions on the right to vote were not then considered prohibitive. Most adult, white males met the qualification, and it was justified on the basis that owning property signified one’s stable, virtuous nature, concern for his community, and vested interest in its welfare. Non-property owners were often transients or men of such small means that the community thought they should have no influence over local affairs. Finally, Simons’ views were not given much credence because of his self-confessed socialist and Marxist beliefs.
In 1913 the most fully developed conspiracy thesis, primarily economic in nature, was put forth by Charles A. Beard. Beard’s interpretation seemed to be based on solid historical evidence, and over the years he and others elaborated upon it until it became a viewpoint accepted by many historians down until the 1950′s.
What gave Beard’s writing the appearance of particular credibility was the fact that he had just unearthed new historical evidence on which he based his indictment of the founding fathers. He had found some old Treasury Department records of the 1790′s which listed the names of several prominent Federalist leaders and also those of many other delegates to the Constitutional Convention. He discovered that several of these leaders held varying amounts of old Continental notes, the paper money used to pay the colonial militia in the Revolutionary War. These had rapidly depreciated from the outset because the Continental Congress had not secured them with gold or silver. During the 1780′s, there existed a large national debt, and few if any steps were taken to pay it off or to redeem the Continental notes. They consequently decreased in value to only about twenty cents on the dollar. This produced a rash of speculation, wherein many people bought up the paper money for a fraction of its original worth, hoping that the federal government might someday pay off the bills at a higher rate. Now Beard had found a number of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention who held the notes in the early 1790′s, just when Alexander Hamilton, as Secretary of the Treasury, proposed a fiscal program which included paying them off at full face value. Of course, Beard noted that Hamilton had been at Philadelphia in 1787, and that one of the new central government’s first steps was to make good the paper money it had issued during the Revolutionary War. And it was made good at one hundred percent face value, something which few people had dreamed would occur. The implications of vested financial interest and conspiratorial action on behalf of the founding fathers were fully developed in Beard’s work and appeared to be solid because of his new historical evidence. At the end of his landmark book he drew some thirteen conclusions, among which are the following:
1) The members of the Philadelphia Convention who drafted the Constitution were, with a few exceptions, immediately, directly, and personally interested in, and derived economic advantages from, the establishment of the new system.
2) The leaders who supported the Constitution in the state ratifying conventions represented the same economic groups as the members of the Philadelphia convention, and in several instances they were also directly and personally interested in the outcome of their efforts.
In two more conclusions Beard drew a connection between the vested economic interests of the founding fathers and the idea that a conspiracy also existed against democratic rule. Here is what he had to say:
3) The Constitution was essentially an economic document based upon the concept that the fundamental private rights of property are anterior to government and morally beyond the reach of popular majorities.
4) The entire process, from the calling of the Philadelphia Convention to the ratifying of the Constitution, was unrepresentative and undemocratic; there was no popular vote on calling the convention; the masses of small property holders were not represented at Philadelphia; and only a small minority in each state voted for delegates to the ratifying conventions.3
Because Beard had relied on new historical evidence, wrote in a restrained, unpolemical style untinged with any personal belief in Socialism or Communism, his work had tremendous impact upon the historical profession. In his own time he achieved quick fame since the Progressive reformers and muckraking journalists had been forcefully presenting the argument that big businessmen with vested economic interests in collusion with corrupt politicians had been engaged in a kind of conspiracy against popular, democratic rule by the people.
Throughout the late Twenties and early Thirties Vernon L. Parrington’s Main Currents in American Thought helped spread the notions of the “Master Historian,” as Beard was sometimes called. And in the New Deal Years, when Franklin Roosevelt was greatly concerned about a conservative Supreme Court which might and did overturn important legislation, Beard’s notion that the Constitution should not be held in such high veneration gained wider acceptance. The idea that the Constitution merely reflected the economic interests of a particular class in the 1780′s and 1790′s meant for the New Dealers that the Constitution should be susceptible to new interpretations, to a newer flexibility to make it more responsive to the needs of twentieth century America.
A variety of scholars added embellishments to the writings of Beard over the years. One of the more important was Merrill Jensen, who wrote The Articles of Confederation (1940) and The New Nation (1950). Both books added new grist for the Beardian interpretation of the Constitutional period. Jensen discovered, for example, that the 1780′s was what he called a “Critical Period” in our history, when there was some serious economic difficulty and also a considerable amount of local and state democratic rule by the people. He concluded that this was just what the founding fathers were against – too much democratic rule and too much economic instability. Most of them, he declared, believed in executive and judicial rather than legislative control of state and central governments, favored the rigorous collection of taxes and strict payment of public and private debts. “They deplored the fact that there was no check upon the actions of majorities in state legislatures; that there was no central government to which minorities could appeal from the decisions of such majorities, as they had done before the Revolution.”4
So Jensen advanced the notion that not only were the founding fathers conspirators with selfish economic and political interests, but that at Philadelphia in 1787 they launched a counterrevolution contrary to the interests of the people and against the very spirit of the War for Independence itself. He argued that the Articles of Confederation were too successful, that they encouraged popular democratic rule through the state legislatures. All this was changed by the new Constitution, the administration of George Washington, and Hamilton’s financial program in the 1790′s. The new central government dominated the states in numerous ways and credit was much harder to come by. A new order had come about, and indeed it did seem from Jensen’s work that a counter-revolution had been achieved at Philadelphia.
By 1950 the Beardian conspiracy thesis had become elaborated well beyond what Beard himself had originally said, and research by other scholars had filled in some of the gaps in his original study. A full statement of the conspiracy thesis by 1950 would contain the following points:
1) A small band of highly organized men with particular economic and political interests shaped and directed the drive towards holding a Constitutional Convention.
2) When the convention was held at Philadelphia in 1787 it was under strict instructions from the Continental Congress only to prepare a list of amendments to the Articles of Confederation; the convention was not authorized to draw up a whole new Constitution, but only to advise the Continental Congress about what it should do to meet the needs of the Union. Therefore the delegates had exceeded their instructions and were acting illegally.
3) The delegates at Philadelphia wrote a document which was in their direct economic and political interests; the new government would be in their hands and its fiscal policy helped directly to enrich the personal fortunes of the original Philadelphia delegates.
4) The delegates at Philadelphia met in secrecy and not in an open forum which was subject to public scrutiny. Moreover they never wanted publication of their debates or even the minutes of the convention. All the records were given to George Washington to take home with him at the end of the meeting in the belief that the great patriot of the Revolution would never be challenged for them. Conspiracy historians point out that by getting Washington into their camp, the pro-Constitution forces went a long way in fending off critical opposition. In fact Washington is portrayed as a pawn in the hands of those organizing the drive for holding a convention in Philadelphia.
5) The kind of government established was in fact not a democracy, although a fledgling democracy had been developing under the Articles of Confederation. The founding fathers wished to curb and restrain majority will and found the notion of popular sovereignty acceptable only when so indirect as to make a mockery of the concept.
6) The ratification procedure was patently illegal: According to the Articles of Confederation, which was the fundamental law of the land at the Constitutional convention, any change in the powers of the central government had to have the unanimous approval of all thirteen states as represented in the Continental Congress. The founding fathers changed this because they knew they could not get ratification under this procedure, so they said that the new Constitution would take effect for all the states when nine of them had registered their approval. The Continental Congress was completely sidestepped, it being asked to send the proposed Constitution along to the states immediately and without any debate or discussion.
7) The ratification procedure was also clearly undemocratic: The most Democratic procedure would have been to have each state hold a popular referendum on the Constitution, with the people merely asked to indicate acceptance or rejection. Instead, the people were not directly consulted in any of the states. State constitutional conventions were held which decided the question of whether to approve the Constitution or not. In most instances the people were asked to elect the delegates to these conventions, but this was not universal. Under these schemes it has been estimated that only about 15 to 25% of the people even voted in the elections held to send delegates to the state conventions.
Finally, with regard to ratification , it has been pointed out by several historians that in key states like New York and Virginia those opposing the Constitution were in a clear majority at the beginning of the state conventions, but in the end were outvoted. What happened? Some say bribery and other illegal or at least immoral tactics were used to push the Constitution through.5
Thus stands the fully elaborated conspiracy thesis concerning the making of the Constitution. By 1950 its advocates had achieved a considerable following although they did not necessarily predominate in the historical profession. The historical debate still raged on.
What is the present status of the debate? Does it still progress, or has it mostly been settled one way or another? Have historians debunked the “debunkers” or have they been forced to admit that the case of the conspiracy-minded historians is convincing? In 1956 a major attack was made on the conspiracy notion by Robert E. Brown in his landmark book, Charles Beard and the Constitution. Brown challenged the very basis of Beard’s work, declaring that the old master had misused the treasury records he had discovered. These, he noted, only indicated those who redeemed the notes in 1792, not those who held them in 1787. It was quite possible, therefore, that the delegates at Philadelphia held few if any notes when they wrote the Constitution and had only acquired them afterward. This would mean that even if the founding fathers were speculators after 1787, they would have had to compete for the old continental notes like everyone else. Moreover, Brown pointed out that Beard was selective in his use of evidence and generalized too much. At the time of redemption of the notes, in 1792, it was true that several of the founding fathers held Continental notes, but most of them in fact held only very small quantities of them. Brown said that, with regard to their overall wealth, measured in terms of land and their general estates, the paper money formed an insignificant portion of their personal wealth. He went even further, noting that those few people who held large amounts of the bills in 1792 had not been the leaders of the Philadelphia Convention in 1787. They had said little if anything in the debates in the Convention and had not taken a strong hand in the ratification process.
Brown had one final point to make concerning the ratification process: He argued that it was not undemocratic at all. The idea that a popular referendum was necessary to fairly approve or reject the Constitution is a modern notion of democracy, he declared. It had, after all, been the colonial practice, when deciding a particular issue, for the people to elect delegates to state conventions authorized to act in their behalf. There was, also, nothing unusual with only a twenty to twenty-five percent voter turnout for these elections because that figure was quite typical of the day, especially considering the fact that it was quite difficult to get to the polls due to the rough condition of roads and other normal factors.6
Brown’s book was well received, and there was little inclination to dispute his well grounded arguments. Moreover, no champions arose to defend Beard, who had passed on a few years before. Still, no one, including Brown himself, stated flatly that there was absolutely no basis for some kind of conspiracy thesis in all of its ramifications.
In 1958 another re-interpretation of the Constitutional period, We the People, appeared under the authorship of Forrest McDonald. McDonald, like Brown, was also interested in disproving the conspiracy thesis. A highly sophisticated economic analyst, his findings were even more impressive than Brown’s because of the latter’s strident tone. Brown condemned Beard’s research and even implied that he had distorted his material. McDonald’s work was sober in contrast and quite thorough. He, too, concluded that Beard had been mistaken in asserting that the delegates to Philadelphia had been overly concerned about their personal wealth. He noted, for example, that seven men had either walked out of the Constitutional Convention or refused to put their signatures on the completed document, yet these seven figures held the largest concentrations of Continental notes. He concluded that personal wealth simply did not play a decisive role at Philadelphia; for, if these men had been selfishly motivated, they would have remained or taken an active role in the convention.
Nevertheless, McDonald was not ready to completely discard an economic interpretation of the making of the Constitution or its ratification. Instead of using Beard’s categories of personal wealth of the delegates, McDonald asked a broader set of questions of the men of the times. Doing a state by state analysis of economic conditions, and studying the backgrounds of the delegates to the state ratifying conventions, he was able to show that there had been a “community of economic interests” or reasons for making the Constitution in its present form and for its ratification. For example, he did not disagree with Beard and others before him that the delegates to the state conventions and at Philadelphia composed an elite, he just argued that economic considerations other than personal wealth actuated them. He demonstrated that particular economic conditions in each state motivated the men to cast votes for ratification. For example, the smaller states often ratified quickly (such as New Jersey, Delaware and Georgia) because their leaders were convinced that they could not survive and prosper as independent entities under the old Articles of Confederation. In a larger state, such as Massachusetts, economic conditions proved decisive as well. Boston merchants during the 1780′s, for example, had been frozen out of the lucrative West Indies trade by England because our own national government had not been able to forcefully represent the interests of the United States. In sum, McDonald found no real conspiracy among the founding fathers nor among the state delegates, just a community of interest to protect the nation and a concern over distressed economic conditions. Only indirectly did any one profit.7
Although Brown and McDonald did much to lay at rest the economic side of the conspiracy thesis, Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick advanced a novel political conspiracy thesis in 1962. They did not argue that the founding fathers were selfish about their personal fortunes, but rather that they were greatly concemed about their political careers. In The Founding Fathers: Young Men of the Revolution, they studied the career backgrounds both of the leading figures at Philadelphia who favored ratification of the Constitution and those who opposed it. The nine foremost Federalists were Robert Morris, John Jay, James Wilson, Alexander Hamilton, Henry Knox, James Duane, George Washington, James Madison, and Gouverneur Morris. In opposition there were nine leading Anti-Federalists: Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, George Clinton, James Warren, Samuel Bryan, George Bryan, George Mason, and Elbridge Gerry. Elkins and McKitrick noted some striking differences between the two groups in their backgrounds. The Federalists were generally young men who had gotten their careers started in the Revolution, while only three Anti-Federalists served in Congress from 1776 to 1787, and two of the three consistently fought against any effort to give Congress stronger powers. The Anti-Federalists were concerned primarily with state sovereignty, and several had served long terms as governors of their states or in other high state posts.
Essentially, Elkins and McKitrick pointed out that the Federalists, who averaged in age ten to twelve years younger than the Anti-Federalists, had national political careers which had begun in the hectic days of the Revolution. During the 1780′s they saw a diminution of their powers under the Articles of Confederation. The national government, quite weak in its delegated rights, was a dead end politically. Even at the height of the troubles facing the country during the depression of the 1780′s, Congress could rarely muster enough of its members for a quorum. Most of the political prestige in the country went to strong, powerful state leaders, who had begun their political careers well before the Revolution. Elkins and McKitrick argued forcefully, then, that the founding fathers wrote the Constitution in such a manner that it would assure a strong national government and give their own careers new life. They thus presented what might be called a “generational conflict” conspiracy thesis, saying the Federalists were young men who had partly taken on national political office because the older Anti-Federalists had already monopolized the best state offices.
Although interesting and novel in interpretation, the Elkins and McKitrick conspiracy thesis never attained a wide audience in the historical profession. Neither historian ever uncovered any correspondence between the founding fathers which indicated a conscious, determined plan to overturn the Articles of Confederation simply for advancement of their political careers. Although individual Federalists were highly ambitious, such as Alexander Hamilton, the analysis breaks down when the careers of several other figures are scrutinized. Washington, for example, would have gladly basked in semi-retirement at Mount Vernon rather than assume the presidency had he been given the choice.
In recent years most historians have returned to the notion that the founding fathers, although not gods as portrayed in 19th century texts, were largely disinterested patriots. The country in the 1780′s was in a distressing economic condition, and it seemed to many (not just the elite) that it was about to break up. Violence and rebellion even seemed in the air. On the very eve of the Philadelphia convention in 1787 a short-lived revolt occurred in Massachusetts, where western farmers were up in arms about the high level of taxes which they were required to pay in specie. This was quelled when an army was raised against them by the Bay State and the old tax policy was reinstituted. But, even so, the merchants of Boston and state and national political leaders had been given quite a scare. They knew that if the farmers had been more determined, they might well have been able to seize the state capitol. The weak national government had no army or authority to put down a rebellion successfully. Thus when the founding fathers gathered in Philadelphia they were mostly concerned about the state of the union and the general economic conditions of the day.8
In the overall analysis, the various conspiracy theses have not been very convincing. The historical proof or evidence offered by this school of historians has almost always been found wanting upon further investigation. The conspiracy-minded historians have more recently attempted to make the founding fathers ordinary mortals by psychoanalyzing them. The motivations of the delegates at Philadelphia will never be completely made known to us, however. They can not be, since as mortals, they did pass on to their final reward. We can not call them back and question them under oath. In our present-day mood of skepticism concerning public leaders and government institutions, however, the implication that our national leaders of the 1780′s might have had some selfish ends in mind when they wrote the Constitution will find at least a small, receptive audience.
Still, one cannot end this essay on a totally optimistic note. Legal historians and constitutional scholars always point out one nagging fact concerning the delegates to the Constitutional convention. They exceeded their instructions; at least many of them did so. The states sent representatives to Philadelphia under the Continental Congress’ dictum that they were only to gather there to suggest amendments to the Articles of Confederation. Congress, on the eve of the convention, declared that it only had the authority to propose changes to the Articles, and even then a unanimous vote of the states was necessary for any amendment to be approved. Congress said the convention could meet, but then any suggestions to come out of it would not have the force of law. The delegates at Philadelphia were aware of this, but they pushed ahead anyway with their design to replace the Articles of Confederation with a completely new constitution. They even changed the rules of the game for ratification by declaring that the new constitution would take effect when only nine of the states gave their approval rather than all thirteeen. Constitutional scholars generally agree that this proviso was actually illegal, even though the Continental Congress finally agreed to abide by it.9 In fact the Congress did not have the authority under the Articles of Confederation to do so. In this sense one might be warranted in saying a conspiracy took place at Philadelphia. The Articles in truth were replaced by the Constitution due to some trickery or chicanery on behalf of the delegates. But even so, the motivation to do so was not selfish, it was patriotic. No proposed amendment to the Articles of Confederation had ever been ratified during the 1780′s. The amending process was an impossible, unreasonable one. The union was in a disastrous state, perhaps ready to come apart, and the delegates took upon themselves the responsibility to create a whole new government that was capable of meeting the crisis. In this they were successful, so successful that the Constitution has stood the test of time for every crisis since as well. Thus in the strictest sense a kind of conspiracy did take place at Philadelphia in 1787, but it was a conspiracy in the national interest and justified by time and history.
1J. Allen Smith, The Spirit of American Government (New York, 1907). The quotation attributed to Smith is drawn from a critique of his work in Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, The Founding Fathers: Young Men of the Revolution (Baltimore, 1962), p. 8.
2Ibid., p. 8. Original source, Algie Simons, Social Forces in American History (New York, 1912).
3Charles Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution (New York, 1913), passim, but especially the first and last chapters.
4Merrill Jensen, The New Nation (New York, 1950). Quotation of Jensen in Elkins and McKitrick, The Founding Fathers, p. 12.
5The best summary of the “Beardian view” can be found in Forrest McDonald, We the People: The Economic Origins of the Constitution (Chicago, 1958), Chapter 1.
6Robert E. Brown, Charles Beard and the Constitution (Princeton, 1956), passim, but especially first and last chapters.
7McDonald, We the People, Chapters III, IV, IX, and X
8Edmund Morgan, The Birth of the Republic, 1763-1789 (Chicago, 1956), p. 128. For George Washington’s attitude on the convention and first years of his presidency, see Marcus Cunliffe, George Washington: Man and Monument (New York, 1958), pp. 120-132.
9The best review of this issue by legal scholars is contained in Earl Latham, ed., The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (Boston, 1952), especially the selection by Robert Schuyler.