the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Regretted and is yet more unaccountable that mankind

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regretted, and is yet more unaccountable; that mankind left to themselves are unfit for their own government. I am mortified beyond expression whenever I view the clouds which have spread over the brightest morn that ever dawned upon my Country…. For it is hardly to be imagined that the great body of the people can be so enveloped in darkness, or short sighted as not to see the rays of distant sun through all this mist of intoxication and folly. 10 Perhaps the best explanation for all this melodramatic excess is that both Madison and Washington had been warning that the confederation was on the verge of collapse for so long that they were poised to impose that verdict on whatever crisis appeared. Alongside their sincere misperception of Shays’ Rebellion, the correspondence of some delegates in the Confederation Congress suggests more manipulative motives, urging that the political turmoil it created “must be used as a Stock upon which the best Fruits are to be engrafted.” Most advocates for reform of the Articles still embraced some version of the “ripened fruit” metaphor, counseling patience until some providential event made the time appropriate for such an effort. In the wake of Shays’ Rebellion, that time seemed more imminent. 11 The watchword for those predisposed toward apocalyptic scenarios was anarchy , the complete collapse of the confederation leading to civil wars between the states and predatory intrusions by European powers, chiefly Great Britain and Spain, eager to carve up the North American continent in the
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conventional imperialistic European mode. The more realistic scenario was dissolution into two or three regional confederacies that created an American version of Europe. New England would become like Scandinavia, the middle states like western Europe, the states south of the Potomac like the Mediterranean countries. The New England press enhanced the credibility of such prophecies, observing that the attempt at a national union was obviously a failure because regional differences made political consensus impossible. The only option was a union of the five New England states, “leaving the rest of the continent to pursue their own imbecilic and disjointed plans.” The prevailing assumption was that the attempt to sustain some semblance of a national union after the war had failed because allegiances remained local and, at best, regional, and no government could convincingly represent this diversity of interests once common cause against Great Britain was removed from the political equation. 12 Jay had alerted Washington that he had a crucial role to play if and when some crisis forced a choice between political dissolution and some new version of national union. Madison had insisted that Shays’ Rebellion constituted just that crisis, interpreting the insurrection as symptomatic of looming anarchy or dissolution of the current confederation into a series of smaller sovereignties. Hamilton had, quite boldly
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