the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Madison that the convention would adopt no

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Madison that the convention would “adopt no temporizing expedient, but probe the defects of the Constitution to the bottom, and provide radical cures, whether they are agreed to or not.” The goal must be replacing the Articles, not just revising them. 27 Once they had captured the great prize, Jay and Madison, soon joined by Hamilton and Knox, formed an informal council of advisers to give Washington a tutorial in political theory. Washington had a firm grasp of the big picture—the new government needed to possess expanded powers sufficient to make laws for the nation as a whole—but its political architecture had never attracted his full attention. Since it was a foregone conclusion that he would be chosen president of the convention, he needed an education in the basic vocabulary of republican government. Jay and Madison were both sophisticated political thinkers eager to provide Washington with an intellectual road map to reach the destination that all of them already agreed upon. For his part, Washington was accustomed to leading by listening, having chaired countless councils of war in which junior officers presented options to the commander in chief. He spent
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much of April taking notes on the letters from Jay and Madison. Jay believed that the core debate at the convention would be between those who wished to reform the Articles and those who wished to replace them. Washington did not need to be coached on this issue, having long since declared himself a radical rather than a reformer. The preferred framework for the new government, as Jay saw it, was the tripartite model embodied in most of the state governments: executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The executive branch would generate the greatest opposition, because critics would claim that any energetic exercise of executive power was monarchical. This debate would be fierce, because “the spirit of ’76” stigmatized a potent executive as the second coming of George III, but it was a battle that had to be won. In order to ensure federal sovereignty over the states, Jay believed that the national government should have a veto over all state laws, much like the British king’s veto over colonial legislation, another crucial principle that would prove extremely controversial but could not be compromised. The knotty question of sovereignty—did it reside in the states or in the federal government?—was the central issue requiring a clear resolution. If the federal veto proved impossible, an alternative argument, an artful finesse, might be that sovereignty was located in “the people,” a somewhat ambiguous formulation that bent the shape of the new constitution in a national direction. 28 Madison predicted that the big fight would come on the question of representation in the legislature, which would be bicameral. Would it be by state or by population? A successful outcome depended on the rejection of the state-based system in the Articles, because only a Congress that accurately reflected the population as a whole could claim to be a national government. Like Jay, Madison wanted a federal veto
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