To Form a More Perfect Union: A New Economic Interpretation of the United States Constitution

Hardcover | August 15, 2002

byRobert A. Mcguire

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Many important questions regarding the creation and adoption of the United States Constitution remain unresolved. Did slaveholdings or financial holdings significantly influence our Founding Fathers' stance on particular clauses or rules contained in the Constitution? Was there a division ofsupport for the Constitution related to religious beliefs or ethnicity? Were founders from less commercial areas more likely to oppose the Constitution? To Form a More Perfect Union successfully answers these questions and offers an economic explanation for the behavior of our Founding Fathersduring the nation's constitutional founding. In 1913, American historian Charles A. Beard controversially argued in his book An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States that the framers and ratifiers of the Constitution were less interested in furthering democratic principles than in advancing specific economic andfinancial interests. Beard's thesis eventually emerged as the standard historical interpretation and remained so until the 1950s. Since then, many constitutional and historical scholars have questioned an economic interpretation of the Constitution as being too narrow or too calculating, believingthe great principles and political philosophies that motivated the Founding Fathers to be worthier subjects of study. In this meticulously researched reexamination of the drafting and ratification of our nation's Constitution, Robert McGuire argues that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, George Mason and the other Founding Fathers did act as much for economic motives as for abstract ideals. To Form a More PerfectUnion offers compelling evidence showing that the economic, financial, and other interests of the founders can account for the specific design and adoption of our Constitution. This is the first book to provide modern evidence that substantiates many of the overall conclusions found in CharlesBeard's An Economic Interpretation while challenging and overturning other of Beard's specific findings. To Form a More Perfect Union presents an entirely new approach to the study of the shaping of the U.S. Constitution. Through the application of economic thinking and rigorous statisticaltechniques, as well as the processing of vast amounts of data on the economic interests and personal characteristics of the Founding Fathers, McGuire convincingly demonstrates that an economic interpretation of the Constitution is valid. Radically challenging the prevailing views of most historians,political scientists, and legal scholars, To Form a More Perfect Union provides a wealth of new findings about the Founding Fathers' constitutional choices and sheds new light on the motivations behind the design and adoption of the United States Constitution.

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Many important questions regarding the creation and adoption of the United States Constitution remain unresolved. Did slaveholdings or financial holdings significantly influence our Founding Fathers' stance on particular clauses or rules contained in the Constitution? Was there a division ofsupport for the Constitution related to relig...

Robert A. McGuire was born in Long Beach, California, and educated at Long Beach State and the University of Washington. A professor of economics at the University of Akron, he is the author of many studies that have appeared in academic journals, including the American Economic Review, American Journal of Political Science, Economic ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:416 pages, 6.18 × 9.41 × 1.18 inPublished:August 15, 2002Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195139704

ISBN - 13:9780195139709

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Table of Contents

Prologue: A New Economic Interpretation1. The Evolution of the Prevailing Interpretation2. Economics and the ConstitutionPart I: The Philadelphia Convention of 17873. The Choice of Specific Clauses in the Constitution4. Another Look at the Choice of Specific Clauses in the Constitution5. The Choice of the Basic Design of the ConstitutionPart II: The Ratification of the Constitution, 1787-17906. The Overall Ratification Vote in the Nation7. The Ratification Vote within Individual State ConventionsEpilogue: The Lessons of 1787 and RatificationAppendixesAppendix 1: DocumentsAppendix 2: The Data and Their SourcesAppendix 3: Full and Parsimonius Voting Models for the Philadelphia ConventionAppendix 4: Personal-Interest and Constituent-Interest Voting Models for the Philadelphia ConventionAppendix 5: Alternative Voting Model and Hypothesis Tests for Nationalism at the Philadelphia ConventionAppendix 6: Voting Models for Pooled Samples of the State Ratifying ConventionsAppendix 7: Voting Models for Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Virginia Ratifying ConventionsNotesReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"This is an important book that will be of great interested to any student of American political-economic history."--EH.NET, Keith Poole, Department of Political Science, University of Houston