the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Again the most salient point to notice is that the

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Again, the most salient point to notice is that the debate over American nationhood in the ratifying conventions was driven by state and local concerns that were maddeningly diverse, thoroughly provincial, and utterly oblivious to the larger issues at stake. (Virginia, as we shall see, was somewhat of an exception.) Only one modern historian, Pauline Maier, has been willing and able to master the twelve separate stories in their excruciating detail. But the fact that there are twelve distinct stories is, in truth, the most revealing story of all, for it exposes the elemental fact that the vast majority of Americans were not yet capable of a national conversation as a coherent collective. Local and state borders were as far as they could see and, for the opponents of ratification, as far as any meaningful version of representative government should reach. 30 The same men who had instigated the calling of the Constitutional Convention, recruited Washington to the task, and imposed the national agenda in Philadelphia now took the lead in attempting to orchestrate the ratification process. Between November 1787 and March 1788, Hamilton (51), Madison (29), and Jay (5), wrote eighty-five essays under the common pseudonym Publius entitled the Federalist Papers. It was a project conceived by Hamilton, who recruited Jay and Madison to the task. Over the ensuing centuries the Federalist Papers have assumed the stature of an iconic text, the classic expression of the great
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deliberation about the viability of a nation-size republican government. In several senses, this reputation is both unwarranted and misleading. The Federalist Papers were, in fact, perhaps the supreme example of improvisational journalism, composed against tight deadlines without much time for deliberation at all. Madison later claimed that he was making changes as the printer set the type. And Hamilton, whose phenomenal output in such a brief time almost defies credibility, began the series writing on scrap paper atop a wooden box while traveling on a sloop between New York City and Albany. 31 Even our modern inclination to see the Federalist Papers as the seminal statement of “the original intentions” of the framers is historically incorrect, since Publius represented only one side of the ratification debate—the winning side, to be sure, but a wholly partisan perspective. Finally, the Federalist Papers were aimed not at posterity but at a limited audience of the moment. As Madison later explained, Publius was intended “to promote the ratification of the new Constitution by the State of N. York, where it was powerfully opposed, and where success was deemed of critical importance.” Scholarly studies of its distribution beyond New York suggest a very limited influence. It is highly likely the Federalist Papers have exercised a larger effect on our later perceptions of the debate over ratification than they did over the debate itself.
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