Novus Ordo Seclorum
The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution
Finalist: Pulitzer Prize
This is the first major interpretation of the framing of the Constitution to appear in more than two decades. Forrest McDonald, widely considered one of the foremost historians of the Constitution and of the early national period, reconstructs the intellectual world of the Founding Fathers—including their understanding of law, history political philosophy, and political economy, and their firsthand experience in public affairs—and then analyzes their behavior in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in light of that world. No one has attempted to do so on such a scale before. McDonald's principal conclusion is that, though the Framers brought a variety of ideological and philosophical positions to bear upon their task of building a "new order of the ages," they were guided primarily by their own experience, their wisdom, and their common sense.
“A witty and energetic study of the ideas and passions of the Framers.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Bristles with wit and intellectual energy.”
—Christian Science MonitorSee all reviews...
“A masterpiece. McDonald’s status as an interpreter of the Constitution is unequalled—magisterial.”
“Thoroughly impressive. A book that is consistently enlightening and one that, more than any of McDonald’s previous works, stands as a monument to his remarkable talents.”
—William and Mary Quarterly
“As provocative as it is difficult to put down.”
—Georgia Historical Quarterly
“The best single volume on the origins of the Constitution.”
“An important, comprehensive statement about the most fundamental period in American history. It deals authoritatively with topics no student of America can afford to ignore.”
—Harvey Mansfield, author of The Spirit of LiberalismSee fewer reviews...