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Short Synopsis
In this lively book, Fergus M. Bordewich tells the little-known story of perhaps the most productive Congress in U.S. history, the First Federal Congress of 1789–1791.

Full Synopsis
The First Congress was the most important in U.S. 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 ten 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.

"[T]he colorful machinations of our first Congress receive a delightful account that will keep even educated readers turning the pages." ---Kirkus Starred Review

"This engaging and accessible book sheds new light on the meaning of constitutionality." ---Library Journal

"Bordewich's noteworthy exploration of the foundation for a working constitutional government provides an important perspective on American history." ---Publishers Weekly
Kirkus Review

The First Congress

How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government

Author Fergus M. Bordewich

Narrated by Sean Runnette

Publication date May 12, 2016

Running time 13 hrs 1 min

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