the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

16 the progressive school of historians interpreted

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16. The Progressive School of historians interpreted the adoption of the Constitution as an elitist betrayal of the democratic impulses inherent in the American Revolution. It seems abundantly clear that, in the months before the Constitutional Convention, Madison believed that he was trying to rescue the American Revolution, not so much from democracy as from a fatal aversion to government itself. His novel argument about large-scale republics was a centerpiece of that rescue operation because it claimed that geography and demography would obviate the need for coercive government. 17. One can see Madison groping toward this pluralistic view of American society as a swirling collection of interest groups and factions in “Vices,” but his clearest and fullest expression of the idea came after the convention in a remarkable letter to Jefferson. See JM to TJ, 24 October 1787, MP 10:212–13. 18. David Hume, Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth (London, 1754), 7–20. For the Madison quotation and an excellent exegesis of the “filtration” argument, see F. H. Buckley, The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America (New York, 2014), 18–20. 19. TJ to Edmund Pendleton, 26 August 1776, JP 1:506–7. 20. Editorial note on “James Madison at the Federal Convention,” 27 May–17 September 1787, MP 10:3–10. 21. Madison’s version of their preconvention conversations is summarized in JM to TJ, 6 June 1787, MP 10:29–30.
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22. “Virginia Plan,” 29 May 1787, MP 10:15–17. 23. Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the General Convention…Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920), 27–31. Hereafter cited as Debates . 24. My version of the debates in the convention draws upon Madison’s notes in Debates and on five secondary accounts by distinguished historians: Max Farrand, The Framing of the Constitution of the United States (New Haven, Conn., 1913), which is old and venerable; Catherine Drinker Bowen, Miracle at Philadelphia (Boston, 1966), which lacks notes but possesses the most narrative verve; Jack N. Rakove, Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (New York, 1996), which is not so much a narrative as a first-rate, topically organized analysis; Carol Berkin, A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution (New York, 2003), which is written with a nice edge and is the most succinct account; and finally Richard Beeman, Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (New York, 2009), which is a superb scholarly synthesis that also ranks up there with Bowen’s Miracle for readability. 25. Debates , 18–21. Buckley, Once and Future King , 13–14, called my attention to the implications of the one-state-one-vote decision, though I make more of it than he does. 26. Debates , 21. 27. In the summer of 2013 I spent two days taking the tour of Independence Hall multiple times and talking with tourists about their impressions. Three common features dominated their responses: this was sacred space; it was much smaller than they had imagined; and it was unbearably hot.
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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