In 1787 Alexander Hamilton wrote that Americans had the opportunity to demonstrate "whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection or choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force." These essays explore six issues in constitutional framing and interpretation that have compelled Americans to confront Hamilton's bold challenge. The first three essays focus on the Founding period, examining the original understanding of war-making powers, compulsory military service under the Constitution, and the origins of the Tenth Amendment. The remaining three essays unfold 20th-century episodes, including Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes's denial in Missouri v. Holland that the Tenth Amendment limits the treaty power, erroneous claims for presidential authority in the Curtiss-Wright case, and Harry S. Truman's "police action" in Korea. Closely analyzing the debates of the Founders and their successors, Lofgren offers a wide ranging evaluation of the American constitutional experiment and makes a vital contribution to informed public debate in the present.