New York State Writers InstituteGo to Department of History
Lawyer & Author
David O. Stewart
David O. Stewart

April 26, 2007

History Department Fossieck Lecture
3:30 p.m.
Standish Room, Science Library
8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
The Summer of 1787

David O. Stewart's much-anticipated first book is "The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution" (2007), an original and lively work of legal history. Stewart applies decades of experience as a constitutional lawyer, and his skills as a prizewinning writer of short fiction, to craft an insightful and entertaining reexamination of the birth of America's founding document. The book presents the fiery debates and furious political bargaining that characterized the Philadelphia Convention, as well as the rich cast of characters that helped to create the world's first constitutional democracy. Leading personalities include the one-legged aristocrat, Gouverneur Morris; the slave-owning abolitionist, George Mason; Scottish immigrant and legal philosopher James Wilson; elder statesman and peacemaker Benjamin Franklin; pro-slavery advocate John Rutledge; and George Washington himself.

"Since Catherine Drinker Bowen's 'Miracle at Philadelphia' appeared in 1966, no work has challenged its classic status. Now, Stewart's work does. Briskly written, full of deft characterizations and drama, grounded firmly in the records of the Convention and its members' letters, this is a splendid rendering of the document's creation. All the debates are here, as are all the convention's personalities... a fast-paced narrative of a long, hot summer's work.... Stewart's excellent book will appeal to those looking for descriptive history at its best." - "Publishers Weekly"

"David O. Stewart made clearer to me than ever the tensions and bargains that produced our Constitution at the Convention of 1787. Especially the bargain over slavery, with all its terrible, lasting consequences. It is an irresistible drama." - Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Anthony Lewis

"Crafting the Constitution was one of the most amazing collaborations in human history. David O. Stewart's book is both a gripping narrative on how it was done and a useful guide to how we should regard that wonderful document today." - Biographer Walter Isaacson

Stewart is a trial lawyer, former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, and a partner in the national law firm of Ropes & Gray. He has argued two cases before the U. S. Supreme Court, and served as lead defense counsel in the Senate impeachment trial of Judge Walter L. Nixon, Jr. He is the author of a monthly column on the Supreme Court that appears in the "American Bar Association Journal," as well as a short story, "When They Did It," a finalist for the Pushcart Prize.