A More Perfect Union (film)

A More Perfect Union

DVD and video cover
Directed by Peter N. Johnson
Produced by Peter N. Johnson
Nicholas J. Gasdik
Screenplay by Tim Slover
Music by Kurt Bestor
Edited by Peter G. Czerny
Release dates
Running time
112 minutes
Country United States
Language English

A More Perfect Union: America Becomes a Nation is a 1989 American feature film dramatizing the events of the Constitutional Convention. The film was produced by Brigham Young University to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the drafting of the United States Constitution, and many professors from BYU's School of Fine Arts and Communications were involved in its production either as actors or in other capacities. After its release, the film was officially recognized by the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution as "of exceptional merit".[1]

Plot summary

The film depicts events surrounding creation of the United States Constitution, focusing mainly on James Madison, the person who wrote most of that document.[2]

The period immediately following the American Revolutionary War was marked by intense political unrest, owing to huge debts, the interruption of trade and business, shortages of labor, and personal turmoils, all created by the War. It soon became painfully evident that the Articles of Confederation were insufficient to address the country's needs. A movement was soon afoot to upgrade or replace the Articles, and Madison was foremost in the movement. However, he needed the support of George Washington; he needed to show that a new government would be sufficient to address such challenges as Shays' Rebellion and the growing trade problems between the independent States.

Madison was strongly opposed by those who feared a strong central government, people known either as States Rights Advocates or as Anti-Federalists, such as Roger Sherman and John Dickinson. Madison was in favor of a bicameral congress, but envisioned both houses being elected according to proportional representation. In this he was strongly opposed by the States Rights Advocates, and he eventually accepted the compromises necessary to address their concerns. The film highlights the basis for these compromises.

The film also depicts their debate about the slave trade.


Production notes

The movie was filmed on location at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Williamsburg, Virginia and other historical sites. The film is shot almost entirely from the viewpoint of James Madison, with the script being based primarily on his writings. These include the copious minutes he took during the Constitutional Convention, which were published as Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787.


  1. "A More Perfect Union - Education Package". National Center for Constitutional Studies. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  2. "A More Perfect Union: America Becomes a Nation". IMDb. Retrieved 11 October 2013.

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