the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Resembling those little dirty stinking insects that

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resembling those little dirty stinking Insects that attack us only in the dark, disturbing our Repose, molesting and wounding us while our Sweat and Blood is contributing to their Subsistence. Benjamin Franklin to Robert Morris JULY 26, 1781
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I f anyone harbored the hope that the recently ratified Articles would function as a viable American government, that hope was exposed as an illusion in the first year of its existence. The most glaring problem was attendance. At the first session of the Confederation Congress, it was decided that nine states constituted a quorum, with two delegates necessary for a state to qualify as present. But on multiple occasions throughout the spring and summer of 1781, no official business could be done because five or more state delegations were either absent altogether or only partially represented. Part of the problem lay with the state legislatures, which were often slow to select their delegates; part of the problem was that the leading candidates refused to serve, preferring to perform their public duties at the state level. John Witherspoon of New Jersey became the most frequent and vocal critic of this sorry situation, waiting around with nothing to do because his erstwhile colleagues had failed to show up, but the attendance problem accurately reflected the political priorities of the most prominent American leaders. In truth, it would be misleading to say that local and state concerns trumped the national interest, because in most minds no such thing as the national interest even existed. 1 A second source of systemic malfunction was the coordination of foreign policy. All business came before the full Congress, an unwieldy arrangement at best, rendered more maddeningly chaotic because the membership of state delegations kept changing. When Arthur Lee joined the Virginia delegation, for example, his inveterate suspicion of Benjamin Franklin’s ties to the French court—Lee, it soon became clear, was suspicious of everyone, especially non-Virginians—split the Virginia vote on almost every foreign policy issue, essentially negating the largest state’s voice. 2 In the late spring of 1781 word arrived in Philadelphia of some grand European conclave, led by France, Russia, and Austria, that purportedly intended to put an end to the war and impose a peace based on the current status of forces. Diplomats cited the venerable doctrine of uti possidetis , loosely translated as “keep what you currently control,” which at the moment meant the British could claim parts of New York and Virginia as well as the Carolinas and Georgia, where, all in all, there were still twenty-five thousand British troops on the ground. Nothing came of this typically imperious European initiative, and the Confederation Congress ought not be blamed for the communication problem posed by the Atlantic Ocean, but the political reality was that there was no decisive American presence in the foreign policy
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