the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

The spirit of 76 had served its purpose in justifying

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The “spirit of ’76” had served its purpose in justifying American independence, he thought, but it was now an anachronism because it stigmatized any energetic projection of political power as inherently tyrannical. There needed to be a second founding in which the “spirit of ’87” replaced the “spirit of ’76,” establishing and institutionalizing a national political framework capable of functioning on a much larger scale, yet doing so without threatening the hard-won liberties of the first founding. Madison realized that he was asking his fellow Americans to abandon their local and state-based orientation, to regard themselves as fellow citizens in a much larger enterprise, and to modify their view of government as an alien force. The federal government must become “us” rather than “them.” One might credibly call this change a second American Revolution. 16 Madison’s third area of thinking and reading in preparation for the Philadelphia convention is more difficult to categorize. It was not driven by the need to anticipate and counter the arguments of the confederationists. It was more a question of language or vocabulary, how to talk about the principle of representation in a large republic. For there were no precedents. The state governments, to be sure, were mini-republics, but their limited size sustained the sense of proximity between representatives and voters that obviously did not translate to a nation-size republic. And the current Confederation Congress did not work as the model for a republican government, since it had never been designed to be a representative government or even a government at all. Moreover, Madison did not believe that the orthodox answer to the problem was tenable. Once they had rejected the authority of George III, so the story went, sovereignty had shifted from a monarchy
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claiming to derive its authority from God to a legislature claiming to derive its authority from “the people.” Political power flowed not downward from the heavens but upward from the citizenry. Indeed, this was the fundamental change that had made the war for independence a revolution. But experience during and after the war had demonstrated beyond any doubt that romantic descriptions of “the people” were delusional fabrications, just as far-fetched as the divine right of kings. Madison’s experience at both the state and the federal level had convinced him that “the people” was not some benevolent, harmonious collective but rather a smoldering and ever-shifting gathering of factions or interest groups committed to provincial perspectives and vulnerable to demagogues with partisan agendas. The question, then, was how to reconcile the creedal conviction about popular sovereignty with the highly combustible, inherently swoonish character of democracy. Perhaps the most succinct way to put the question was this: How could a republic bottomed on the principle of popular sovereignty be
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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