The Constitutional Convention of 1787

A Reference Guide

by Stuart Leibiger


Today, the United States Constitution is the world's oldest written national constitution still in use. It has shaped United States history and influenced world history for more than 225 years.

Print Flyer
Cover image for The Constitutional Convention of 1787

June 2019


Pages 323
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics American History/General
  Politics, Law, and Government/History

This history of the 1787 Constitutional Convention uses a chronological narrative format to capture the complexity, messiness, and unfolding daily drama behind the writing of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the role of contingency in that process.

The Framers of the U.S. Constitution designed a novel republican form of government to replace the failing Confederation, one that would divide power between the federal government and the states, launching a new phase of the American "experiment" in representative democracy. Not until the end of the American Civil War, nearly a century later, would it become clear, as Abraham Lincoln put it in his Gettysburg Address, "that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

The Constitutional Convention of 1787: A Reference Guide provides an invaluable guide covering the background to the convention, the convention itself, the ratification of the Constitution, and the adoption of the Bill of Rights. In addition to the narrative itself, the story of the convention is supplemented with a detailed chronology, a rich selection of primary source documents, 15 biographical sketches of convention delegates, and a comprehensive bibliographical essay. Based largely on primary sources, the book also weighs in on some of the historiographical debates that have taken place among scholars about the convention.


  • Captures the drama, complexity, and contingency of the Constitutional Convention through chronological narrative
  • Is accessible to readers in terms of length and writing style
  • Finds its basis in trustworthy and citable primary sources
  • Includes a background chapter on events leading up to the convention, as well as a concluding chapter that covers the ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
  • Includes 15 primary source documents, 15 biographical sketches of convention delegates, a chronology, and a bibliographical essay
Series Description

Guides to Historic Events in America

Making sense of the American experience demands attention to critical moments—events—that reflected and affected American ideas and identities. By drawing on the latest and best literature, and bringing together narrative overviews and critical chapters of important historic events, the books in this series function as both reference guides and informed analyses to critical events that have shaped American life, culture, society, economy, and politics and fixed America's place in the world.

Each book follows a common format, with a chronology, historical overview, topical chapters on aspects of the historical event under examination, a set of biographies of key figures, selected essential primary documents, and an annotated bibliography. As such, each book holds many uses for students, teachers, and the general public wanting and needing to know the principal issues and the pertinent arguments and evidence on significant events in American history. The combination of historical description and analysis, biographies, and primary documents also moves readers to approach each historic event from multiple perspectives and with a critical eye. Each book in its structure and content invites students and teachers, in and out of the classroom, to consider and debate the character and consequences of the historic event in question. Such debate invariably will bring readers back to that most critical and never-ending question of what does, and must, 'America' mean.

—Randall M. Miller
Author Info

Stuart Leibiger, PhD, is professor of history at La Salle University. He is author of Founding Friendship: George Washington, James Madison, and the Creation of the American Republic, and editor of A Companion to James Madison and James Monroe. In 2015, he won the George Washington Memorial Award, a lifetime achievement award for the study of George Washington given annually by the George Washington Masonic Memorial Association in Alexandria, Virginia. In 2016, he received La Salle University's Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award.



"Avoiding the oft-used topical approach, Stuart Leibiger deftly traces the drafting of the Constitution through a chronological prism that allows the reader to comprehend and appreciate the complex fluctuations faced by the fifty-five delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Leibiger's narrative is lively, engaging, and factual. His appended list of speech makers, biographical essays, and critical documents significantly enhance the story, making it valuable both to general readers and for classroom adoption."—John P. Kaminski, Director, Center for the Study of the American Constitution, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Leibiger's work uniquely combines both the topical and chronological approaches to the debates in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. This nuanced narrative, combined with the inclusion of important primary sources materials, and biographies offers a critical addition to the historiography of the Philadelphia Convention."—Timothy D. Moore, Deputy Director, Center for the Study of the American Constitution

Look Inside

Other Titles of Interest

The War for American Independence cover imageReconstruction cover imageThe Progressive Era cover image
America in the Cold War cover imageAndrew Jackson and the Rise of the Democrats cover imageLincoln, the Rise of the Republicans, and the Coming of the Civil War cover image

Product Search

Product Search

Publication Year



Need Help? Try our Search Tips