UMSL political scientist to discuss US Constitution’s origin at book-signing event

Washington at Constitutional Convention of 1787

The signing of the U.S. Constitution at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was depicted in this 1856 painting by Junius Brutus Stearns. The painting is also used for the cover of “The Original Compromise,” a book by UMSL political scientist David Robertson. (Image via Wikimedia Commons).

“The Federalist Papers,” 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, form the lens through which the U.S. Constitution is typically viewed. But doing so is wrong, says University of Missouri–St. Louis political scientist David Robertson in his book “The Original Compromise: What the Constitution’s Framers Were Really Thinking” (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Robertson will discuss and sign copies of his new book at 7 p.m. June 6 in the auditorium of the University City (Mo.) Public Library, 6701 Delmar Blvd. Missouri Rep. Rory Ellinger will introduce Robertson. Don Marsh, host of “St. Louis on the Air” on St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU, will interview Robertson, who will also take questions from the audience. The event is free and open to the public.

In “The Original Compromise” Robertson presents a provocative new account of the framing of the Constitution with the “The Federalist Papers” representing only one side of a fierce argument ultimately settled by multiple compromises. On one side of the argument, leaders from large states pursued an ambitious vision of a robust government with broad power. On the flip side, leaders from smaller states wanted a weaker central government so as to avoid threatening the governing systems within their own states.

In the book, Robertson examines each contentious debate between the two sides over the course of three arduous months as the Constitution emerged piece by piece. The book explores the arguments over the balance of power between the federal states, slavery, war and peace and more.

“’The Original Compromise’ combines profound scholarship with remarkably accessible writing to make more clear than ever before just how and why the Constitution emerged in the form that it did,” said Rogers M. Smith, the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. “Robertson is attentive to the framers’ ideas and their intertwined interests, and he traces persuasively the initiatives, negotiations and compromises that led to their imperfect but enduring achievement.”

Robertson, Curators’ Teaching Professor of Political Science at UMSL, has written extensively on national politics and policy, political history, federalism and public policy. In addition to “The Original Compromise,” his books include “The Constitution and America’s Destiny” and “Federalism and the Making of America.”

The University City Public Library and University City-based Subterranean Books are sponsoring Robertson’s discussion and book signing. Books will be available for $30 each.

Media coverage:
St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU


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