CAMERICAN SOVEREIGNS: THE PEOPLE AND AMERICA'S CONSTITUTIONAL TRADITION BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR - Reviews

Professor Christian Fritz

"This is a superb and radical book, radical in the sense that it goes to the roots of the American constitutional tradition, pushes aside the crusty generations of constitution worship that have enshrined the federal constitution as a fixed, settled and static resolution of the nation's constitutional tradition and complicates matters enormously."

Ronald Formisano
William T. Bryan Chair of American History
University of Kentucky

"Professor Fritz's American Sovereigns tells a complicated story of constitutional development from the period of the Revolution to the Civil War. It is not a conventional account that takes its beginning from 1787 and a focus on the Federal Constitution; rather it offers an intimate account of change that reckons with the extraordinary role of the people as sovereigns. To be sure, Fritz discusses many questions that usually enter accounts of constitutions, but he gives these questions an unusual twist, and adds a fresh perspective through analysis of state constitutions, federal action with constitutional meanings; popular behavior in extraordinary events such as the Whiskey Rebellion and the Rhode Island crisis. In all of this intricate story, the people as sovereigns, a much contested proposition as he demonstrates, serves to give his study its coherence. His book is not only a revisionist account; it is a beautifully written piece of history that illuminates a supremely important field."

Robert Middlekauff,
Preston Hotchkis Professor of American History Emeritus
University of California, Berkeley