the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

As jefferson put it to madison there seemed no way to

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legislature. As Jefferson put it to Madison, there seemed no way to deal with Henry “except to ardently pray for his imminent death.” 40 The Virginia convention was destined to become one of the most significant and consequential debates in American history. The Virginia press, sensing the historical implications, had hired stenographers to record the words of all speakers, making it the most fully preserved of all the ratifying conventions. The two sides appeared evenly divided, especially when Edmund Randolph, the sitting governor, came over to the “Pro” side, while George Mason, one of the most respected constitutional thinkers in the state, had become a conspicuous spokesman and strategist for the “Antis.” Everyone realized, though, that the two titans in the Richmond debates were going to be Henry and Madison. To describe Madison as a “titan” seems incongruous, since he was a diminutive physical presence and on his feet was barely audible, speaking like a stilted professor who kept referring to notes stuffed in his hat, the oratorical opposite of the unscripted, free-floating Henry. Appearances, however, were deceptive. Madison was accustomed to being the most fully prepared speaker in the room, the kind of frustrating opponent who somehow seemed to understand the implications of your argument better than you did. Unlike Henry, he had been present to hear all the debates in Philadelphia, and he possessed the fullest set of notes on those debates. Then the act of drafting twenty-
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nine essays as Publius had given his thoughts a final gloss. It was, in fact, an equal contest between a great orator and a great thinker. As Marshall so nicely put it, “Mr. Henry had without doubt the greatest power to persuade, [but] Mr. Madison had the greatest power to convince.” 41 Thanks largely to Henry’s bravura performance, plus his instinctive desire to attack the central assumptions of Publius, the debate in the Virginia convention achieved a singular status: it subordinated the local concerns of most delegates to the periphery and focused on the larger national issues at stake. Ironically, scholars have questioned the influence of Publius beyond New York. In Virginia, Publius was front and center but primarily as a target for all that the “Antis” opposed. In his maiden speech on June 5, Henry fired a full salvo at the core premises of Publius. First, Henry claimed that the Constitutional Convention had itself been an unconstitutional gathering, because the delegates had exceeded their instructions by replacing the Articles rather than amending them. On this issue, he clearly had the historical facts on his side. 42 Next, Henry questioned the alarmist presumption that America was on the verge of anarchy, with the Articles about to expire and dissolution into several regional confederacies the likely outcome. As far as Henry could tell, most Virginians were getting on with their lives with conspicuous serenity. The
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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