“Woody Holton’s book represents a sophisticated modern attempt to resuscitate the thesis of Charles Beard’s famous Progressive-era classic, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913) . . . In his study, Holton seeks to redirect the discredited focus on the bondholding pattern among elites and turn to examine the sentiments and interests of more ordinary people, the ‘thousands of Americans who rejected the Framers’ view that the Constitution was the only way out of the economic crisis of the 1780s.’ Drawing on a rich variety of newspapers, pamphlets, and political tracts, Holton does a fine job of elucidating the conflict between the people’s desire to regain their economic footing in the aftermath of war at the same time that Congress, working through the states, attempted to impose new taxes. He shows the various ways in which complex economic problems vexed individuals, states, and the nation.”—Rosemarie Zagarri, American Historical Review
"The small farmer takes center stage in this defiant but scrupulously researched and documented history of the American Constitution's much-debated genesis. Economic interpretations of the document are no doubt far from rare, but University of Richmond associate professor of history Woody Holton may be the first author to attempt to dispel, for a nonacademic audience, common, antiseptic myths about the Framers' intent and, at the same time, to champion the ordinary, uneducated, and occasionally destructive citizens who, in the end, were largely unsuccessful in their position to then-privileged and now-legendary figures like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton . . . A clearly better-than-competent history."—Kenneth W. Krause, Wisconsin Lawyer
Woody Holton is an associate professor of history at the University of Richmond and the author of the award-winning book Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia.