the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Like jay madison wanted a federal veto over state

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population as a whole could claim to be a national government. Like Jay, Madison wanted a federal veto over state laws, and he also thought that this would be a hard-fought battle in which defeat would mean failure of the entire enterprise. On the sovereignty question, Madison suggested a subtler and in the end more ingenious solution, which was to abandon the belief that it must be singular and indivisible: “I have sought for some middle ground, which may at once support a due supremacy of the national authority, and not exclude the local authorities when they can be subordinately useful.” Instead of arguing about the ultimate location of sovereignty, Madison was suggesting that no such place existed. In purely rhetorical terms, Jay’s resort to “the people” worked well, but in practical terms it might prove preferable to embrace some version of shared sovereignty that blurred the line between federal and state authority. Madison was inventing what came to be called “federalism,” a government in which sovereignty was a matter of ongoing negotiations between the state and federal governments on a case-by-case basis. The genius of Madison’s formulation was that it imposed a national grid in lieu of the state-based Articles but left room for local, state, and regional loyalties to remain relevant. 29 This was actually Madison’s “fallback” position, a compromise on the all-important sovereignty question that he was prepared to share, in confidence with Washington in the spring of 1787, but then vigorously oppose during the deliberations in Philadelphia. He would embrace it again during the ratification debates of 1787–88, once the delegates at the Constitutional Convention had rejected his more radical insistence that the sovereignty question be clearly resolved. Since it turned out to be a defining principle of federalism and perhaps Madison’s central contribution to American political thought, it is interesting to note that the germ of the idea was there from the start. While Washington remained the central prize in the spring of 1787, Madison had become the central player. Although Jay had initiated the seduction of Washington, Madison had consummated his capture by demonstrating, on the basis of state-by-state assessments of the delegates, that the prospects for success in Philadelphia were plausible. He had also demonstrated the intellectual agility to move comfortably
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between the nitty-gritty world of practical politics and the more rarified world of political theory. Currently serving his second term as a member of the Virginia delegation in the Confederation Congress, Madison was also perfectly positioned to orchestrate the political strategy that would maximize the prospects for success at the looming convention in Philadelphia. And as it turned out, he was thoroughly prepared for that task both intellectually and emotionally. Though he still signed all his letters “James Madison, Jr.,” at thirty-six years of age he was a veteran political operative at both the state and
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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