the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

The second decision was merely symbolic but this is

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The second decision was merely symbolic, but this is an instance when the word merely is not helpful. The venue chosen for the convention was the East Room of the redbrick Pennsylvania State House. Modern tourists are often surprised at the small size of the room, with its Windsor chairs arranged in arcs facing Washington’s high backed semi-throne, the tall windows with green drapes and small tables with green coverings. More a seminar room than an amphitheater, it created an atmosphere of intimacy that interacted nicely with the preferred policy of confidentiality and secrecy. 27 Most significantly, it was the same room in which the Declaration of Independence had been debated and signed. No one at the time commented on the implications of that coincidence, but it is too glaringly obvious to be overlooked. Opponents of any new political framework to replace or significantly revise the Articles believed that doing so would constitute a repudiation of the core values of the American Revolution. By choosing the same city, the same building, even the same room where those values were first discovered and declared, the delegates were making a statement—whether they knew it or not—that whatever they produced should be regarded as a continuation rather than a rejection of “the spirit of ’76.” This made the convention a new chapter in a continuing story—not a break with the past but an expression of its full meaning. And no less a figure than Washington himself seemed to be nodding in agreement with this story line as he sat in that high-backed wooden chair. All efforts to impose a monolithic set of motives on the assembled delegates at Philadelphia, whether economic or ideological, have been discredited. And the very effort to do so misses the most salient point, which is that the vast majority of delegates came as representatives of their respective states, so that no single interpretive category could do justice to their bafflingly complex angles of vision. What needs to be remembered and recovered is that no collective sense of an American identity yet existed in the populace at large. Even outright nationalists like Madison, Washington, and Hamilton recognized that they were arguing for a political framework that would consolidate the states into a union in which a truly national sense of allegiance would develop gradually over time. In effect, the national government they sought to establish would provide a political structure for a nation-in-the-making, thereby facilitating and accelerating the “making” process, much like an incubator for a newborn child. Looked upon as a collective, the fifty-five delegates to the Constitutional Convention were surprisingly young—average age forty-four—and disproportionately well educated. Twenty-nine had college degrees, and the same number had studied law. Their educational backgrounds were more conspicuous than their wealth, making them more an intellectual than an economic elite. Thirty-five had served as officers in the Continental Army, and forty-two had served in the Continental or Confederation Congress.
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