The Debate on the Constitution
(2 volumes) edited by Bernard Bailyn, Library of America
Without this collection, to get what it contains you would have to read The Grand Convention alongside The Federalist Papers and What the Anti-Federalists Were For and then spend countless bleary hours going through hundreds of old pamphlets. And you would miss not only the elegance and clarity of the Library of America’s production but also the sense it contains of the ferment of argumentation at the time the Constitution was proposed. The two-volume work restores the debate’s original uncertainty and includes small newspapers’ opinions as well as those of the victorious Federalists. It follows the national argument like the transcript of an unbelievably eloquent electronic town hall.
The Federalist Papers are reprinted in full and with many of their counterpart responses. The volumes contain a first-rate index, useful chronologies, and biographies of known and little-known figures.