the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

The people to be sure must have their say but their

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into one of two preordained categories: confederation or nation. “The people,” to be sure, must have their say, but their vote must be either aye or nay. The diverse histories of the ratifying conventions had one thing in common: namely, an effort by opponents of ratification to create a middle course that defied that up-or-down option. That strategy first became clear in late October, when the Virginia legislature was drafting its charge to the state convention. Patrick Henry, who was expected to lead the opposition, argued that the delegates be urged “to adopt— reject—or amend the proposed Constitution.” A spirited debate then followed in which advocates of the Constitution successfully insisted on removal of the word amend . Although there were obviously huge political issues at stake in the ratification debates, tactical issues in the contested states determined the outcome, and the chief tactical goal of the nationalists was the refusal to permit critics of the Constitution to make ratification conditional upon amendments. As long as it remained a clear choice between the Articles and the Constitution, the nationalists enjoyed a distinct advantage. 5 Three additional advantages also came their way, even before the ratification debates began. The Confederation Congress forwarded the Constitution to the state governments as requested and, after some confusion, did so unanimously. Many observers misinterpreted the unanimity of the vote as an endorsement of the Constitution itself rather than of the ratification process. “The appearance of unanimity will have its effects,” Washington commented to Madison, knowing that the true intentions of the Confederation Congress were being misconstrued: “Not every one has opportunities to peep behind the curtain, and as the multitude often judge by externals, the appearance of unanimity in that body, on this occasion, will be of great importance.” 6 Second, ratification became much more likely when the Confederation Congress silently accepted Article VII of the Constitution, which declared that the new government would go into effect after nine states had ratified. Technically, this was an illegal provision, since the procedural rules under the Articles required a unanimous vote for any amendments. The delegates in Philadelphia, many of them veteran observers of the gridlock in the Confederation Congress, most especially Rhode Island’s recalcitrance on the impost, realized a unanimous requirement for ratification would have been politically suicidal, since
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Rhode Island had already declared its intention to boycott the ratification process, just as it had boycotted the convention. They simply decided on their own that nine states constituted a sufficient consensus, probably drawing on the provision in the Articles requiring nine votes for all major legislation.
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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