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1787: Madison’s Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention

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James Madison's "Notes" or "Journal" made during the debates about the adoption of the Federal Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787 are an important source of information about the diversity of opinion on matters concerning the proposed constitution which were held in the colonies at this time. We have at the Online Library of Liberty 3 sources which can be profitably used to explore these debates (in order of publication):

  1. the 5th and supplementary volume to the collection edited by Jonathan Elliot in 1836: Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution in the Convention held at Philadelphia in 1787 with a Diary of the Debates of the Congress on the Confederation, revised and newly arranged by James Madison by Jonathan Elliot. Complete in One Volume. Volume V Supplemantary to Elliot's Debates (1836).
    1. in the Library: the 5 volume set edited by Elliot
    2. in the Library: the table of contents page for vol. V which contains Madison's Notes
    3. in the Forum: the analytical table of contents to vol. V (Madison's Notes) - in HTML
    4. in the Forum: the analytical index to vol. V (Madison's Notes) - in HTML
  2. Volumes 3 and 4 of The Writings of James Madison, comprising his Public Papers and his Private Correspondence, including his numerous letters and documents now for the first time printed, ed. Gaillard Hunt (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900). Vol. III (1787. The Journal of the Constitutional Convention I) and Vol. IV (1787. The Journal of the Constitutional Convention I).
    1. in the Library: the 9 volume set edited by Hunt
    2. in the Library: the table of contents page for vol. III which contains part 1 of Madison's Journal
    3. in the Library: the table of contents page for vol. IV which contains part 1 of Madison's Journal
    4. in the Forum: the analytical index to vols. III and IV (Madison's Journal) - in HTML
  3. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911). 3 vols. This volume includes Madison's notes as well as the notes of many other participants.
    1. in the Library: the 3 volume set edited by Farrand

These works can be consulted in the Library in a variety of formats. The facsimile PDF versions often contain detailed analytical tables of contents or indexes with page references which are not reproduced in the HTML versions of the books. It is recommended that you use the powerful search engine to find the material you want in the HTML versions. For example, if you go to the table of contents page for the Farrand set you can search all three of those volumes (the "set") by using the search engine box at the top on the right hand side of the page.

Here in the Forum, we provide in HTML format the indexes and table of contents from the Elliot and Hunt editions which are not reproduced in the HTML in the Library (see above for links).

For additional material we also recommend the 5 volume collection, The Founders' Constitution, edited by Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001), which is available at another site. A detailed table of contents of this collection is available at this site with links to the documents in the collection. This collection can also be purchased from Liberty Fund's online catalog.

Last modified April 10, 2014