the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Misguided because the interaction of interest groups

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misguided, because the interaction of interest groups in a large republic would prove self-regulating, making a coercive federal government unnecessary. 14 Where did the inspiration for this novel idea come from? Because political scientists have identified Madison’s argument, most fully expressed later in Federalist 10, as one of the earliest expressions of a pluralistic version of modern politics, the answer to that question has attracted considerable scholarly attention. Some of the histories of David Hume, which were included in the “literary cargo” Madison received from Jefferson, contained an embryonic version of the idea. Madison had also read Adam
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Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (1776), which provided an economic argument—the self-regulating character of a laissez-faire marketplace—that he might have transported to the political arena. And Madison’s battle for religious freedom in Virginia had exposed him to the argument that the sheer proliferation of religious sects and denominations made toleration politically preferable because no single creed could achieve dominance. All these intellectual influences are eminently plausible. 15 But they all assume that Madison was functioning as a philosopher most interested in exploring the frontiers of political thought. Instead, in the spring of 1787 he was behaving as a highly sophisticated political partisan, mobilizing his considerable resources to defend the prospects for a truly national government. He knew he needed to counter Montesquieu’s classic condemnation of large republics because the confederationists were sure to deploy it as a centerpiece of their agenda in Philadelphia. So his research that spring was highly selective. He harbored no desire to make a contribution to modern political science. His primary goal was to win the argument for a new constitution. That said, Madison’s tactical motivations ought not obscure his courage in taking on the dominant assumptions about the limitations of republican governments. Montesquieu’s case against large republics was not just a theoretical argument. During two thousand years of European history, no republic of the scale and size of the United States had ever survived for long. And the political arguments that American patriots had thrown at Parliament and George III stigmatized any political power that was not proximate to its constituents. So Madison was implicitly arguing that the meaning of the American Revolution had to be revised. He did not put it that way explicitly, since such a statement would have alienated delegates still basking in the afterglow of those revolutionary embers. But that was the inescapable thrust of his argument. Once you moved from a local and state to a national scale, the definition of political representation would have to change.
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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