— Carl Van Doren American biographer 1885 - 1950
Context: The most momentous chapter in American history is the story of the making and ratifying of the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution has so long been rooted so deeply in American life — or American life rooted so deeply in it — that the drama of its origins is often overlooked. Even historical novelists, who hunt everywhere for memorable events to celebrate, have hardly touched the event without which there would have been a United States very different from the one that now exists; or might have been no United States at all.
The prevailing conceptions of those origins have varied with the times. In the early days of the Republic it was held, by devout friends of the Constitution, that its makers had received it somewhat as Moses received the Tables of the Law on Sinai. During the years of conflict which led to the Civil War the Constitution was regarded, by one party or the other, as the rule of order or the misrule of tyranny. In still later generations the Federal Convention of 1787 has been accused of evolving a scheme for the support of special economic interests, or even a conspiracy for depriving the majority of the people of their liberties. Opinion has swung back and forth, while the Constitution itself has grown into a strong yet flexible organism, generally, if now and then slowly, responsive to the national circumstances and necessities.