James Madison’s record of the Constitutional Convention traces day by day the debates held from May to September, 1787, and presents the only complete picture we have of the strategy, interests, and ideas of the founding fathers at the Convention itself.
In this indispensable primary document, Madison not only provides detailed insights into one of the great events of our history, but clearly sets forth his own position on such issues as the balance of powers, the separation of functions, and the general role of the federal government. More than in the Federalist, which shows the carefully formalized conclusions of his political thought, we see in the Debates his philosophy in action, evolving in daily tension with the viewpoints of the other delegates. It is for this reason that the Debates are invaluable for placing in perspective the incomplete records of such well-known figures as Rufus King and Alexander Hamilton, and the constitutional plans of such men as Edmund Randolph and Charles Pinckney.
Madison’s contemporaries regarded him as the chief statesmen at the Philadelphia Convention; in addition to this, his record outranks in importance all the other writings of the founders of the American Republic. He is thus identified, as not other man is, with the making of the Constitution and the correct interpretation of the intentions of its drafters.
New to this edition of the Debates us a thorough, scholarly index of some two thousand entries.