the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

And since washington was the one man embodiment of

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them of failing to grasp the almost mystical meaning of “The Cause.” And since Washington was the one- man embodiment of all the semi-sacred reverberations that term conveyed, his endorsement of the national agenda provided a crucial veneer of legitimacy for their bold and slightly illegal project. It also helped that all four of them had served in the Continental Army or the Continental (then Confederation) Congress, which meant that they had experienced the war for independence from a higher perch than most of their contemporaries. They were accustomed, as Hamilton put it, to “think continentally” at a time when the allegiances and perspectives of most Americans were confined within local and state borders. Indeed, the very term American Revolution implies a national ethos that in fact did not exist in the population at large. Perhaps the best way to understand the term American Revolution is to realize that it describes a two- tiered political process. The first American Revolution achieved independence. It was a mere, or perhaps not so mere, colonial rebellion. It also created a series of mini-republics in the former colonies, now states, but it did so in ways that were inherently incompatible with any national political agenda. The second American Revolution modified the republican framework existent in the states in order to create a nation-size republic. The overly succinct way to put it is that the American Revolution did not become a full-fledged revolution until it became more expansively American. Or even more succinctly, the first phase of the American Revolution was about the rejection of political power; the second phase was about controlling it. More practically, the United States could not become the dominant model for the liberal state in the modern world until the second American Revolution of 1787–88. Several ongoing editorial projects have made it possible to recover the thoughts, doubts, fears,
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and anxieties of the founding generation more fully than ever before, to include the four men featured in these pages. Though Jay is somewhat of an exception, the most prominent founders are the focus of massive multivolume collections over the last half century that provide the fullest documentation of any political elite in recorded history. The recently published correspondence of the delegates of the Continental and the Confederation Congress has provided an equally exhaustive account of the inherent disarray within that flimsy framework called the Articles of Confederation. It now seems abundantly clear, more so than ever before, that by 1787 the confederation was on the verge of dissolution. And the full record of all the debates in the state ratifying conventions, which has been proceeding at a stately pace and is nearing completion, offers a level of documentation on the ratification process that almost defies comprehension in its state-by-state specificity.
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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