The Constitution

(The Dark Roast)

The Constitution (The Dark Roast)

Many people today believe that the Constitution is a “living” document that can evolve over time to fit the needs of changing times. While the Constitution can be amended, advocates of a “living” Constitution want the federal government and courts to interpret it differently from how it was understood by the Framers and those who ratified it, without any official amendment. This raises questions about how we determine the original intent of the Constitution. If the people agreed to a particular understanding of the Constitution and have not officially amended it to reflect their evolved ideas, then how can the government unilaterally change the terms of the contract with the people? This concept of a “living” Constitution is problematic because it allows the government to interpret the Constitution in any way they want, and historically this has led to the abuse of government power. To protect against this, we must understand the original interpretation of the Constitution.

The Federalist And Anti-Federalist Papers

During the ratification of the Constitution, two groups emerged with different perspectives. Alexander Hamilton’s group, known as “The Federalists,” supported the ratification of the Constitution and wanted a strong federal government, while their opposition, referred to as “anti-federalists,” believed that the Constitution as written would not effectively limit the government’s power and protect citizens’ rights. In hindsight, it is clear that the anti-federalists’ concerns were justified, as the government has grown in size and power. However, it is still crucial to study the Constitution’s original meaning to understand its intended purpose.



The State Ratifying Conventions

The state ratifying conventions were crucial in determining the original intent of the Constitution. These conventions were held to determine not only whether a state would ratify the Constitution, but also what the state understood the Constitution to mean when they entered into the contract. Therefore, studying the records and debates of these conventions is essential for understanding the original meaning of the Constitution. While there are many other sources available for this purpose, the state ratifying conventions provide valuable insight into the thoughts and intentions of the Framers and the citizens who ratified the Constitution.


Jonathan Elliot published in 1827 (the documents are available in the following formats – HTML, HTML by Chapter, Simplified HTML, Facsimile PDF, MARC Record, Kindle, EBook PDF, & E-pub).

Volume 1 – The Debates in the Several State Conventions of the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Journal of Federal Convention)

Volume 2 – The Debates in the Several State Conventions of the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (Mass., Conn., NH, NY, Penn,Maryland)

Volume 3 – The Debates in the Several State Conventions of the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (Virginia)

Volume 4 – The Debates in the Several State Conventions of the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (North and South Carolina, Resolutions, Tariffs, Banks, Debt)

Volume 5 – The Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution in the Convention held at Philadelphia in 1787 (Debates in Congress, Madison’s Notes, Misc. Letters)


This landmark work in historical and legal scholarship draws upon thousands of sources to trace the Constitution’s progress through each of the thirteen states’ conventions. The digital edition allows users to search the complete contents by date, title, author, recipient, or state affiliation and preserves the copious annotations of the print edition.Edited by John P. Kaminski, Gaspare J. Saladino, Richard Leffler, Charles H. Schoenleber and Margaret A. Hogan is HERE


Max Farrand published in 1911 (the documents are available in the following formats – HTML, HTML by Chapter, Simplified HTML, Facsimile PDF, Kindle, EBook PDF, & E-pub).

The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 – Volume 1

The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 – Volume 2

The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 – Volume 3

The Sovereign States

“The Sovereign States” is a well-written and thoroughly researched book that provides a clear and understandable explanation of the founding of our Constitutional Republic, its history, and the current challenges we face in preserving our liberties under the law. While the book was written during a period of racial tension in the South surrounding the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the tone and language may be unsettling to some readers. However, the book offers an excellent review of the relationship between the states and the federal government and provides valuable insights into this important topic. Overall, “The Sovereign States” is a valuable resource for anyone interested in understanding the origins and evolution of our federal system of government.

You can either read the book online HERE or you may download the book in several formats HERE.  We have also taken the time to compile the book into a searchable pdf that you may download HERE. (The file is 193 MB so please allow time for it to download)

Conceived In Liberty

“Conceived in Liberty” is an extensive 1,616 page book that provides a comprehensive history of the Colonial period in American history. This period is often overlooked in modern education, where students are taught that American history begins with the US Constitution. This single volume covers a wide range of topics, including the discovery of the Americas and the establishment of colonies in the 17th century, the period of “salutary neglect” in the first half of the 18th century, the path to revolution from 1760-1775, and the political, military, and ideological history of the revolution and its aftermath. Overall, “Conceived in Liberty” is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to deepen their understanding of the rich and complex history of America’s colonial period.

You can download it in pdf version HERE or you can download and listen to it in Mp3 format HERE.

Additional Resources:

Federalism:  The Founders Design

Author:  Raoul Berger 
Hardcover: 223 pages
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press; 1st edition (July 1987)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0806120592
ISBN-13: 978-0806120591

Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

  • Author:  Pauline Maier
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Simon & Schuster; 1st Printing edition (June 7, 2011)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 608 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0684868555
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0684868554

States’ Rights and the Union:  Imperium in Imperio, 1776-1876

Author:  Forrest McDonald
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: University Press Of Kansas; Edition Unstated edition (November 1, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0700612270
ISBN-13: 978-0700612277

The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787

Author:  Gordon S. Wood
Paperback: 675 pages
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press (March 18, 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0807847232
ISBN-13: 978-0807847237

A Brief Enquiry Into the True Nature and Character of Our Federal Government: Being a Review of Judge Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States

Author:  Abel Parker Upshur
Print Length: 158 pages
Publisher: Constitution Society; 1868 edition (March 7, 2009)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

The American Republic:  Constitution, Tendencies and Destiny

Print Length: 174 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: B004HW83N8