the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

28 this was the most important political indicator of

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Continental Army, and forty-two had served in the Continental or Confederation Congress. 28 This was the most important political indicator of all, for it meant that a sizable majority of the delegates had had intimate experience with the inadequacy of the Articles as a makeshift government during and after the war. Army veterans could testify more poignantly than anyone else that the very structure of the state-based government under the Articles had relegated their sacrifices to oblivion. Whether you served in the Continental Congress or the Continental Army, you tended to understand more palpably how the current arrangement under the Articles was not working. For the next fifteen weeks, from May 25 to September 17, an ever-shifting collection of delegates from
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twelve states met in general sessions, on appointed committees, and in informal gatherings at City Tavern. Important if unrecorded conversations also occurred at Robert Morris’s mansion on Market and Sixth Streets, where Washington was staying. An important procedural decision was made early on to conduct most debates in a committee-of-the-whole format, which enhanced the seminar-like atmosphere in which delegates could try out arguments, then change their minds after listening to different opinions, without being forced to register a formal vote. Since it proved to be the most consequential political gathering in American history, historians, political scientists, and constitutional scholars have gravitated to this moment in great numbers, generating a massive body of scholarship almost designed to discourage the faint of heart. The earliest historians, elegantly synthesized by George Bancroft in the late nineteenth century, tended to cast a spiritual haze over the proceedings, describing the delegates under “divine guidance,” and the Constitution itself as a product of “the divine power which gives unity to the universe, and order and connection to events.” This supernatural emphasis was probably inevitable given the tendency of most new nations to shroud their origins beneath a mystical veil of elevated omniscience. 29 The potency of the Progressive interpretive tradition in the first half of the twentieth century derived in great part from the easy exposure of such a mythical and hagiographic depiction as patriotic nonsense. What the Progressives proposed as an alternative perspective might be described as quasi-Marxist nonsense, but it at least had the advantage of demolishing the mystical haze surrounding the Constitutional Convention. 30 Our current twenty-first-century perspective demands that we regard the convention as a secular rather than a spiritual occasion, but also recognize that any purely, or even primarily, economic understanding of the founders’ behavior does a gross injustice to their political motives and to the larger ideological issues at stake as they understood them. For if you go back to the correspondence of the most prominent nationalists on the eve of the Constitutional Convention, it becomes abundantly clear that Madison,
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