the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

9 the litany of failures went on for thirteen pages

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9 The litany of failures went on for thirteen pages: the states had refused to honor their tax obligations during the war and their promises to fund veterans’ pensions after the war; they had also refused to cooperate on internal improvements like roads and canals and had even imposed domestic tariffs on trade among themselves; they had encroached on federal authority by signing separate treaties with various Indian tribes, essentially stealing Native American land to line the pockets of local land speculators; they had violated provisions of the Treaty of Paris that required payment of prewar debts to British creditors and that forbade persecution of loyalists who had never borne arms on behalf of the Crown; their obsession with local and state interests had prevented any coherent foreign policy and also created a bewildering variety of county and state laws that rendered any uniform system of justice impossible. Taken together, the multiple failures of the Confederation Congress had demonstrated that any state-based confederation was an inherently inadequate political arrangement, incapable of fulfilling the full promise of the American Revolution. Any delegates coming to Philadelphia intending to defend the political record under the Articles could now expect to be buried under an avalanche of informed Madisonian arguments. 10 Third, based on his analysis of the state delegations, Madison realized that the central debate at the convention would pit confederationists against nationalists. And he also anticipated that the chief weapon in the arsenal of the confederationists would be the claim, articulated in The Spirit of the Laws (1748) by the great Montesquieu, that republican governments could function only in small geographic areas like Greek city-states and Swiss cantons, where representatives remained close to the interests of the citizenry who elected them. Madison knew he needed an answer to this argument, which had achieved the status of a self-evident truth during the American Revolution, when the colonists insisted that only their colonial legislatures could comprehend their interests, and that parliamentary authority was too distant and
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disconnected to represent them. The most potent implication of this size-based argument was that any national government was inherently incompatible with the political principles and the more proximate version of representation on which the American Revolution was based. 11 The size argument, then, was obviously going to be a key ingredient in the agenda of those opposing any kind of national government, so Madison knew that he needed to have a rebuttal prepared, designed to disarm the opposition of one of its most potent weapons. Believing that the best defense was a strong offense, he decided to attack on two fronts.
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