the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

In part because he came at the start he is generally

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restore American credit internationally. In part because he came at the start, he is generally regarded as the greatest secretary of the treasury in American history. By the time he came under the fatal gaze of Aaron Burr on the plains of Weehawken in 1804, however, his commanding presence within the Federalist Party was in decline, as was the party itself. Washington so respected Jay that he offered him any post he wished in the new government. Jay turned down the opportunity to become the first secretary of state—Jefferson then got that job—in favor of an appointment as the first chief justice of the Supreme Court. But his major contribution was in foreign policy, where he negotiated an agreement that avoided war with Great Britain in a landmark treaty that
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bore his name. He later went on to serve as governor of New York, where his foremost achievement was a law putting slavery on the road to extinction in what had begun to call itself the Empire State. Madison was the exception. In the early months of Washington’s presidency, Madison continued to serve as his closest confidant and liaison in Congress. But for reasons that have baffled historians ever since, by 1791 Madison had switched sides and joined with Jefferson to lead the opposition against Hamilton’s financial plan as well as the entire domestic and foreign policy agenda of the Federalist Party. The former champion of an ultranationalist vision now embraced a Virginia-writ-large conception of the union. This conversion process culminated in Madison’s Virginia Resolutions (1798), where he articulated a states-rights interpretation of the Constitution, essentially making the same arguments that Patrick Henry had made and Madison had opposed at the Virginia convention, and that later became the position of the Confederacy in 1861. It was one of the most breathtaking turnarounds in American political history, and the easiest way to explain it is to observe that, upon Jefferson’s return from France, Madison chose to harness all his formidable powers of argument to the political agenda of his mentor and hero. That is surely part of the explanation but hardly the whole. One would need to explore Madison’s sudden realization that Hamilton’s financial plan favored the commercial North over the agrarian South and his sense of loyalty to his constituents in Virginia. But that is another Madison and, as they say, another story. 42 Looking back at this story with all the advantages of hindsight, certain features that were invisible or blurry at the start become clearer for all to see at the end. 43 First, while Washington was an invaluable trophy without whom the Constitutional Convention never could have succeeded, he was also more than that. His assessment of America’s prospects in his Circular Letter of 1783 was the clearest argument for a national government as the essential prerequisite for harnessing America’s nearly infinite potential. Both Jay and Hamilton had glimpsed the outlines of the
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