the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

E up or down and the successful outcome broadly ie

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define the options narrowly (i.e., up or down), and the successful outcome broadly (i.e., nine states). And despite their built-in advantages, it was still a close call. A shift of six votes in Virginia would have probably produced a shock wave that left four states—Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island—out of the union. And even though nine states had ratified, so that the Constitution was legally adopted, it is difficult to imagine an American nation surviving in such a geographically splintered
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condition. The chart also obscures the fact that the ratification debate in each state was driven by local and state- based concerns rather than by the larger question of confederation or nation. It seems almost sacrilegious to think it, much more to say it, but in the Great Debate overarching political principles became a minor theme in large part because the vast majority of delegates did not know how to think nationally, since nothing in their experience had prepared them to do so. In that sense, they were more representative of the American populace than their predecessors in Philadelphia. The net result was a twelve-ring circus— Rhode Island remaining an outlier—in which each state convention became a separate arena filled with performers playing to local constituencies. In Massachusetts, for example, the outcome was much closer than Madison or Washington had predicted, partly because some delegates from the Maine district believed that ratification would endanger their looming bid for statehood, partly because farmers from the western towns and counties, some of them former Shaysites, preferred the vastly inflated state currency to pay off their debts and instinctively opposed any political initiative coming from Boston. The narrow margin of victory was rendered possible when John Hancock proposed a procedure that was subsequently copied by five other states: namely, the delegates would vote on ratification, then vote on recommended amendments to the Constitution. This allowed delegates with doubts to endorse ratification while still expressing their state- based reservations. In the end, six states submitted 124 proposed amendments, most of which were intended to impose restrictions on federal authority. 29 While all states were different, among the big states New York was the most different of all. Governor George Clinton, the most popular politician in the state, was an adamant opponent of ratification, with patronage powers in the upstate counties that ensured an overwhelming majority in the convention. New York’s economy was flourishing, in part because of a state tariff on imports that it did not wish to share, in part because of its policy of foreclosing on loyalist estates in violation of the Treaty of Paris. Ratification, therefore, would have undermined Clinton’s power base and restricted New York’s two major streams of revenue. Though both Jay and Hamilton were poised to deliver their eloquence to the New York ratification convention, Clinton’s followers were impervious to argument.
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