"When the delegates left the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in September 1787, the new Constitution they had written was no more than a proposal. Elected conventions in at least nine of the thirteen states would have to ratify it before it could take effect. There was reason to doubt whether that would happen. The document we revere today as the foundation of our country’s laws, the cornerstone of our legal system, was hotly disputed at the time. Some Americans denounced the Constitution for threatening the liberty that Americans had won at great cost in the Revolutionary War.
"From Pulitzer Prize–winning American historian Joseph J. Ellis, the unexpected story of why the thirteen colonies, having just fought off the imposition of a distant centralized governing power, would decide to subordinate themselves anew.
"History tends to cast the early years of America in a glow of camaraderie, when there were, in fact, many conflicts between the Founding Fathers—none more important than the one between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Their disagreement centered on the highest, most original public office created by the Constitutional Convention: the presidency. It also involved the nation's foreign policy, the role of merchants and farmers in a republic, and the durability of the union. At its root were two sharply different visions of the nation's future.
"Americans revere their Constitution. However, most of us are unaware how tumultuous and improbable the drafting and ratification processes were. As Benjamin Franklin keenly observed, any assembly of men bring with them "all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests and their selfish views." One need not deny that the Framers had good intentions in order to believe that they also had interests.
"The little known story of perhaps the most productive Congress in US history, the First Federal Congress of 1789–1791.
The First Congress was the most important in US history, says prizewinning author and historian Fergus Bordewich, because it established how our government would actually function. Had it failed—as many at the time feared it would—it’s possible that the United States as we know it would not exist today.