the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

13 a distinctively different voice then entered the

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boundless prospects as a providential solution to America’s debt crisis. 13 A distinctively different voice then entered the conversation, less interested in the revenue to be acquired than in the values that should guide American western expansion. In the deed ceding its claims to land northwest of the Ohio River, the Virginia delegation proposed the following principles: “The Territory so ceded shall be laid out and formed into states containing a suitable extent of Territory not less than one hundred or more than one hundred and fifty square miles…and that the states so formed shall be distinctive Republican States and admitted members of the Federal Union, having the same rights of Sovereignty, Freedom, and Independence as the other states.” These words were written by Thomas Jefferson, and it is possible to argue that, apart from his more famous phrases in the Declaration of Independence, they are the most historically consequential words he ever wrote, since they defined the political and legal framework that would shape American expansion across the entire North American continent for the next century. 14 It was only by accident, really a series of accidents, that Jefferson was present at this propitious moment. As noted earlier, he was supposed to be in Paris as part of the American negotiating team, but he had declined the appointment, citing the recent death of his wife in childbirth. Once recovered, he reluctantly agreed to brave the Atlantic voyage to join the ongoing peace negotiations, only to discover that the British navy had imposed a more stringent blockade of American ports, making his capture on the high seas extremely likely. (Indeed, that is what happened to Henry Laurens, sent as Jefferson’s replacement.) Though he preferred to remain in splendid isolation at Monticello, the Virginia legislature decided that a man of his proven talents should not be allowed to retire from public life, so it elected him as a delegate to the Confederation Congress. He took his seat in November 1783, just in time to guide the Virginia cession through Congress and then be appointed chair of the committee that would prepare a plan for developing and governing the western lands. The result was the Ordinance of 1784, in all respects save one a thoroughly Jeffersonian document. There was no need to encourage migration. The flow of settlers over the Alleghenies already threatened to become a flood. The challenge was to channel it in accord with republican principles. For Jefferson, that meant westward expansion should benefit settlers rather than speculators; that each new territory, once sufficiently populated at twenty thousand souls, should decide on what form of republican government it wanted; and then, when its population matched that of the smallest state, it could apply for admission into the confederation. There would be no permanent colonies in the expanding American republic. If you decided to carry your family west, you would know that there was a plan in place to ensure that you and your descendants would be folded into the United States as equal citizens.
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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