the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Jay believed that the incoherent course of the

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it.” Jay believed that the incoherent course of the current confederation was suicidal: “It will unless checked Scatter our Resources and in every View enfeeble the Union.” As he saw it, his role was to avoid that fate by deploying the imperatives of a coherent American foreign policy to galvanize support for a singular sense of a truly United States. 31 Most critics of the Confederation Congress wanted specific reforms, chiefly the authority to make its tax requisitions mandatory rather than voluntary, and equivalent federal authority over foreign and interstate commerce. Jay, however, did not just want the Articles reformed. He wanted them replaced: It is my first wish to see the United States assume and merit the character of one great nation, whose territory is divided into different states merely for more convenient government, and the more easy and prompt administration of justice, just as our several States are divided into countries and townships for like purposes. Until this be done, the chain which holds us together will be too feeble to bear much opposition or exertion and we shall be daily mortified by seeing the links of it give way. 32 Jay assumed that Spain was doomed as an imperial power in North America, and he also assumed that the current confederation was a mere way station on the road to full-blooded American nationhood. These were heady prophecies, both of which proved correct in the long run but were highly problematic at the time. This was made painfully obvious at the outset, when Jay sent a letter to all the governors, requesting the states to forward all correspondence relating to foreign policy to him so that he might consolidate diplomatic affairs in his office. Few of the governors responded, none complied, and none of the delegates in Congress found that objectionable. “I have some Reason, Sir, to apprehend,” he complained to Richard Henry Lee, then serving as president, “that I have come into the Office of Secretary for foreign affairs with Ideas of its Duties and Rights somewhat different from those which seemed to be entertained by Congress.” 33 That bracing—and depressing—insight was only reinforced when Jay objected to the presence of British troops garrisoned in several forts just south of the Canadian border on the Great Lakes, a clear violation of the Treaty of Paris. But the British justified this violation as a response to the American violation of Article IV of the treaty, which required payment of all prewar debts to the British creditors, nearly £4 million, more than half of it owed by Virginia planters. The British also objected to the
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violation of Article VI of the treaty, which forbade punitive action against American loyalists who had not borne arms on the British side during the war. In effect, the British would remove their troops, who were hovering in anticipation of an expected collapse of the American confederation, only if and when the Americans honored their own treaty obligations.
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