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Publisher's Summary

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.
The Constitution was a broad set of principles. It was left to the members of the First Congress and President George Washington to create the machinery that would make the government work. Fortunately, James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and others less well known today rose to the occasion. During two years of often fierce political struggle, they passed the first 10 amendments to the Constitution; they resolved bitter regional rivalries to choose the site of the new national capital; they set in place the procedure for admitting new states to the union; and much more. But the First Congress also confronted some issues that remain to this day: the conflict between states' rights and the powers of national government; the proper balance between legislative and executive power; the respective roles of the federal and state judiciaries; and funding the central government.
©2016 Fergus Bordewich (P)2016 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"[T]he colorful machinations of our first Congress receive a delightful account that will keep even educated readers turning the pages." ( Kirkus)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Larry J. Seltzer on 10-07-16

A critical story, well-told

I've wanted to read more on the subject for years. In spite of the era being well covered, I've not before seen a focus on the first congress, which operated with no precedent on which to lean. I personal learned a lot. The writing is very good and the spoken version well done.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful


By David Kopel on 07-15-16

Often excellent, sometimes flawed

Many interesting facts. Excellent combination of legislative history and biography. Fascinating portrayals of many congressmen, including some who are not well-known today. Too simplistic and too many errors when attempting to contextualize the 1st Congress regarding later developments in constitutional law or US politics.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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