the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Second moving in exactly the opposite direction

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Second, moving in exactly the opposite direction, Madison proposed an amendment of his own that no state had recommended: “No state shall violate the equal rights of conscience, or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases.” At the Constitutional Convention he had tried and failed to enact a provision allowing for a federal veto of state laws. Now he was trying to smuggle that same principle into his bill of rights under the guise of ensuring federal standards for agreed-upon human rights at the state level. It would take the Supreme Court over a century to recognize federal jurisdiction in the Madisonian manner. And history proved Madison right when, as he had predicted to Jefferson, more abuses of individual rights would occur at the state than at the federal level. 33 But the Senate deleted this proposed amendment for the same reason that the delegates in Philadelphia had rejected its earlier version. They were not ready for such a conspicuous projection of federal power over the state governments. Madison deeply regretted this rejection, saying that he regarded it to be “the most valuable amendment on the whole list.” Nevertheless, a clear majority in both branches of Congress believed it went too far. 34 Third, and not wholly unrelated, Madison criticized the part of the Constitution that declared that “the number of representatives shall not exceed the proportion of one for every thirty thousand persons…. It is the sense of the people of America that the number of representatives should be increased.” Here he referred to recommended amendments from several states on this score, all of which were rooted in the conviction that the new version of representation as defined in the Constitution lacked the personal
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familiarity they had experienced at the state level under the Articles. 35 Madison was attempting to convey the honest concerns of delegates in several state ratifying conventions that the geographic size of congressional districts needed to be reduced and the number of representatives increased in order to sustain a meaningful sense of representative government as they understood it. But as Madison surely realized, the problem was inherently unsolvable, because any federal legislature that contained as many representatives as these critics wanted would be an impossibly unwieldy body that would only become more so as the population increased. What had to change was not the ratio of representatives to constituents but the way those constituents thought about representation. It was a problem of scale. Once you moved from a local and state to a national orientation, basic attitudes toward government itself needed to change. Nothing came of this proposal because, in truth, nothing could, but the issue exposed the most palpable and practical way the transition from confederation to nation required a radical change in thinking about how the political architecture of an American republic should be configured.
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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