The Constitutional Convention of 1787
A Reference Guide
by Stuart Leibiger
June 2019, 323pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6296-0
$69, £54, 60€, A95
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6297-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

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.

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
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.


"Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates, high school students, and general readers."—Choice, February 1, 2020

"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
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