the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

One partial exception to the rule on the anti side

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One partial exception to the rule on the “Anti” side was Centinel, an otherwise obscure Philadelphia writer named Samuel Bryan. Centinel attacked a core assumption of Publius’s, made most forcefully by Hamilton in Federalist 1, that the current government was about to dissolve into a series of regional confederacies: “This hobgoblin appears to have sprung from the deranged brain of Publius, a New York writer who, mistaking sound for argument, has with Herculean labour accumulated myriads of unmeaning sentences and mechanically endeavored to enforce conviction by a torrent of misplaced words…. The writer has devoted much time in combating chimeras of his own creation.” 35 Even Centinel, however, delivered his criticism from a Pennsylvania perspective. As far as he could tell, most of the citizens of his state were perfectly content with the current arrangement under the Articles. This did not meet the crux of Hamilton’s argument about the growing national debt and the currently moribund condition of the Confederation Congress, because Centinel was essentially arguing that most Pennsylvanians did not care about such things. By insisting that the central issue required a national vision that transcended state and local mentalities, Publius was assuming that the Constitutional Convention had created a new political context within which local and state opinions needed to be subordinated. The new Constitution, then, was like a new ship of state prepared to carry most Americans to a more expansive definition of their identity, whether they wanted to go there or not. By April 1788 it had become abundantly clear that Virginia would be the decisive state. Apart from its own importance and its keen sense of self-importance, the verdict in Virginia now loomed much larger because the early momentum for ratification had stalled when two states, New Hampshire and North Carolina, decided to postpone their conventions, and Maryland threatened to join them in order to await Virginia’s decision. There was an interactive dimension to the ratification process. If Virginia did not ratify, the political momentum would shift dramatically against ratification. Although Washington had taken a vow of abstinence after the Constitutional Convention—he would play no active role in the debates—he broke that vow, probably under prodding from Madison, by writing to friends in Maryland, urging a vote rather than a postponement. “An adjournment of your convention… will be tantamount to the rejection of the Constitution,” he warned, because it would strengthen the opposition in Virginia, which was already perilously close to a majority. Any request of this sort from Washington was equivalent to a command, and Maryland voted for ratification (63–11) within the week.
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