I have often thought that Judge Frank M. Coffin is one of a handful of statesmen of recent times I could easily imagine in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 (indeed, as a central figure in a David McCollough biography). If he had been, as competing factions struggled to find solutions to thorny issues, Madison’s Notes would inevitably and often have recorded: “With negotiations on the verge of collapse, all eyes turned to Frank Coffin, who found not only the key to compromise, but also the better way.”

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