OUR CHANGING CONSTITUTION by Charles Leedham

OUR CHANGING CONSTITUTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The 24 current amendments to the document upon which our federal government is based should really, as this author is quick to point out, be termed ""additions,"" since all but six of them do not amend the original, they merely extend it to cover areas formerly considered the province of the states. The story of the Constitution has been told innumerable times, but Mr. Leedham has managed to give it a new dimension by relating step by step the hows and whys of its growing powers. The first three chapters review the 1787 Convention, the struggles to achieve ratification, and the Bill of Rights passage. Then we move on to the articles limiting judicial procedures and the Jefferson-Burr-Hamilton wrangle which led to Amendment XII. The olition of slavery and Negro rights merit two chapters, while the remaining additions, from the power to levy tax on incomes to the forbidding of poll taxes, get one chapter apiece. A brief concluding section describes changes now being worked towards or worried over. The treatment throughout is unobtrusively solid, fair, and gently debunking. Mr. Leedham is well aware that governments aren't made in heaven, either, and that even those principles of ours of which we can be most proud were usually obtained through rather dubious means with at least a few questionable motives. But, as he remarks, ""One major test of the soundness of any system of government may fairly be said to be its ability to survive its own defects."" Ours has so far, notably if sometimes only barely, and he for one is confident that it will continue to, somehow.

Publisher: Dodd, Mead