Constitutional Myths – Book Giveaway


March 27, 2013
by Editors Also by this Author


Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. We feature smart, groundbreaking research and well-written narratives from expert writers. Our work has been featured by the New York Times, TIME magazine, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, NPR, and more. Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches

conmythToday we’d like to thank our loyal readers with a book giveaway. We will randomly select a winner to receive a free copy of acclaimed historian Ray Raphael’s newest volume Constitutional Myths: What We got Wrong and How to Get It Right. To enter, simply leave a comment below before noon EST on Friday, March 29.

Americans love to reference the Constitution as the ultimate source of truth. But which truth? What did the framers really have in mind? In Constitutional Myths, Raphael places the document in its historical context, dispensing little-known facts and debunking popular preconceived notions. For instance, the Constitutional Convention started on May 25 and ended on September 17. If it had ended only two weeks earlier, our government would have looked very different. The president would be chosen by Congress to serve a seven-year term, and he could not be re-elected. There would be no vice president. The Senate, not the president, would negotiate treaties and make appointments. These major alterations were made in committee on September 4, and the rest of the delegates were too weary to challenge them.

To sort out truth from fiction, Ray Raphael takes a balanced approach. For each myth, he first notes the kernel of truth it represents, since most myths have some basis in fact. Then he presents a big “BUT” — the larger context that reveals what the myth distorts. Finally, and this is the heart of the story, he offers a complete chronological rendering of each subject. Only by entering the world of the framers can we understand how and why they fashioned the United States Constitution.

Leave your comment below to be entered to win this book! Friday afternoon (March 29) we will randomly select the winner and notify them via the comments below. Good luck!


  • I think it is amazing what people will come up with regarding American History. There is always that little seed from which the myths spring forth and isolating those goes a long way to explaining what is fact and what is fiction. There are plenty of times when I would love to see more works like Ray’s out there in use to debunk the myths. The problem lies in that people really hate to have a belief driven interpretation revealed to be erroneous. I definitely want to read this book.

  • I agree, this sounds like an interesting read.. Anytime we can look at something in the CONTEXT in which it happened is a good thing.. Today, it’s all too easy to take a “sound bite” from history and misinterpret it (intentionally?) and use it to support a particular idea or platform of today.

  • I agree with the concept – we cannot know unless we were actually there at that time. It does sound like an interesting read and a great addition to my ever growing library.

  • This sounds like a book that is very relevant today, especially the way so many people reference the constitution and its writers in a similar way that they reference the bible. It will be a good learning experience to read this!

  • With a passion, bordering on a vice?, I would love to win a copy of the book. One needs to “study” history to sort and sift through varied view points in an attempt to get the real story and take away the lessons that should be learned!

  • I have a passion for American History. Being an avid reader I love expanding my knowledge about the Constitution.This book really peeked my interest.I love authors that find a hook to keep the facts inbedded in my brain so I can share them with my students.

  • This would be a perfect resource for a High School AP Government class! I would love to expand my knowledge base with this book.

  • Tangentially, myth creation is happening today and is most instructive. Currently, a most deceptive ‘Constitutional Myth’ is being promulgated by a largely co-opted Fourth Estate. It is that President Obama sees the Constitution as anything but an obstacle to his ideological agenda. This is one myth we can observe as to how it ‘plays’ over time.

  • I would love to see how this version of the Constitution compares to the interpretation we had in Civics class, many years ago with one of the best teachers ever, Mr. Fabre.

  • I am forever trying to keep the record straight on both sides of the argument, with friends, concerning the intentions of the founders. This book should help greatly.

  • “But that time is not lost which is employed in providing tools for future operation: more especially as in this case the books put into the hands of the youth for this purpose may be such as will at the same time impress their minds with useful facts and good principles. If this period be suffered to pass in idleness, the mind becomes lethargic and impotent, as would the body it inhabits if unexercised during the same time.”
    – T. Jefferson (c. 1781)

  • As a child, I remember having some wonderful history teachers who made history and (then) current events, like the conflict in Vietnam, come alive. I was fortunate to live in states where history was considered an important part of one’s education, and where the Bill of Rights was discussed, analyzed, and a major part of the curriculum. I have taken a number of history courses over time, and read many books about various times in our history. I am still amazed at the depth and breadth of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution,and am thankful that I live in a country such as ours, despite our imperfections.

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