The history of the 1788 Virginia Ratification Convention explores the Constitutional debates that decided the nation’s fate and still resonate today.
In May 1788, elected delegates from every county in Virginia gathered in Richmond where they would either accept or reject the highly controversial United States Constitution. The rest of the country kept an anxious vigil, keenly aware that without Virginia—the young Republic’s largest and most populous state—the Constitution was doomed.
In The Fate of the Revolution, Lorri Glover explains why Virginia’s wrangling over ratification led to such heated political debate. Virginians were roughly split in their opinions, as were the delegates they elected. Patrick Henry, for example, the greatest orator of the age, opposed James Madison, the intellectual force behind the Constitution. The two sides were so evenly matched that in the last days of the convention, the savviest political observers still couldn’t predict the outcome.
Mining an incredible wealth of sources, including letters, pamphlets, newspaper articles, and transcripts, Glover brings these political discussions to life, exploring the constitutional questions that echo across American history.