Two hundred years ago this summer a handful of genius-touched gentlemen farmers met to hammer together what has turned out to be the oldest written constitution still going. In the next issue we mark its bicentennial with a special section. Here are some of our offerings:
The framers of the Constitution were proud of what they had done, but they would probably be amazed to find their words still carry such weight. In an essay that reflects his lifelong study of the great charter, the distinguished historian Richard B. Morris examines how and why the men who drafted it built so much better than they knew.
What article do you like best in the Constitution? How would you change the Constitution? The editors put these two questions to hundreds of historians, authors, and public figures, including the former Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter. Their replies form a fascinating spectrum of informed opinion from left to right—and taken together they make up a lively, provocative, and sometimes amusing commentary on self-rule in America.
Impossible, of course. But the political historian Carry Wills has taken the influential though little-remembered James Wilson and, with a novelist’s skill, has put a child of the Age of Reason in confrontation with the slam and bustle of twentieth-century Philadelphia.
The square mile the Constitution makers knew still speaks of the city’s eighteenth-century glory. But there is another Philadelphia—more elusive, more intimate, nearly as rich historically, perhaps more beguiling—and it is this town that John Lukacs reveals to us in a highly personal tour.
In an elegant essay, England’s former ambassador to Washington, Oliver Wright, discusses the document that, he feels, civilizes the entire world by its very existence.
Andrew Wyeth talks intimately about his father, the great illustrator N. C. Wyeth … the steamboat Yellow Stone carries an extraordinary freight of history during her brief life … and, with a breadth of vision that might have impressed the framers themselves, even more.