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The Virginia Convention


The Virginia Convention

Compromising for the Constitution

The Virginia Convention to ratify the constitution brought to life the fundamental differences between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. On one side it reveals Patrick Henry's relentless battle for individual liberty against what he felt was a constitution that would usher in a new era of tyranny. On the other side it is the story of James Madison's persuasive argument for an effective central government, whose power could be checked through the creation of multiple branches of government, each with specific delegated powers. This disagreement ultimately forced both sides to compromise, inspiring the Bill of Rights and leading to a debate over the size and role of government that still goes on today.

The Virginia Convention Comes Alive

We found this little-known but innovative recording produced by CBS Radio back in 1948. It simulates coverage of the Virginia ratifying convention as if  modern media existed at such time. Complete with breaking news reports, interviews with the major players of the convention and “man on the street” interviews live from convention hall, this entertaining audio from CBS’ “You Are There” broadcast series is definitely worth a listen.

In Their Own Words…

While we think our story does a great job capturing the essence of the debate, nothing can ever substitute for reading the actual words of the men who debated our country’s future. To read Madison, Henry and others in their own words, the full text of the debates from the Virginia Convention on ratification of the Constitution can be found at

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