Building a Nation from Thirteen States: The Constitutional Convention and Preemption

18 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2009

See all articles by Edward Larson

Edward Larson

Pepperdine University School of Law

Date Written: 2005


This article is adapted from a talk Professor Larson gave at Pepperdine’s symposium on federal preemption of state tort law - the problem of medical drugs and devices. Professor Larson begins with a discussion of the Constitutional Convention and James Madison’s role in the creation of the U.S. Constitution. He relates how fifteen resolutions, developed by Madison and the other Virginia delegates, became known as the Virginia Plan, and served as the foundation for the Constitution. Professor Larson continues by examining Madison’s notes of the Convention. Specifically he shares what the notes relate about the deliberations at the Convention regarding the national preemption of state laws. Fixing the proper balance between state and national authority stood out as one of the delegates’ major concerns. Professor Larson concludes that the clear majority of delegates shared a vision for a strong national government that held the power to oversee the country’s commerce.

Keywords: federal premption, tort law, Constitutional Convention, James Madison, Virginia Plan, Constitution, national authority, state authority, commerce

JEL Classification: K40

Suggested Citation

Larson, Edward J., Building a Nation from Thirteen States: The Constitutional Convention and Preemption (2005). Pepperdine Law Review, Vol. 33, No. 7, 2005. Available at SSRN:

Edward J. Larson (Contact Author)

Pepperdine University School of Law ( email )

24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States

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