the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

And local views prevail over that liberal policy

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and local views prevail over that liberal policy & those mutual concessions which our future tranquility and present reputation call for.” 32 To say that Madison became a full-blooded nationalist in that moment would be an exaggeration. His Virginian roots were deep and never really died. But from that time onward he concluded that the current arrangement under the Articles was obviously and desperately in need of reform, though he was unsure how and when that should occur: “The question therefore is, in what mode & at what moment the experiment for supplying the defects [of the Articles] are to be made. The answer to that question cannot be given without a knowledge greater than I possess.” At this stage of his evolution, in late 1783 and early 1784, Madison seemed to believe that the Articles needed to be revised, not replaced. 33 His evolution continued apace in a more radical direction over the next three years. Hamilton, Jay, and Washington had reached that conclusion by an earlier and faster route. Madison arrived at the same destination more gradually and grudgingly, because a national perspective did not come to him naturally. Though obvious in retrospect, it came as a revelation to him that a state-based confederation could not regulate interstate commerce because each state had its own economic agenda. “They can no more exercise this power separately,” Madison now recognized, “than they could separately carry on war, or separately form treaties.” And yet cooperation on the economic front was unlikely, because it would appear “unpalatable on minds unaccustomed to consider the interests of their state as interwoven with those of the Confederacy.” The great strength of the confederation model was its flexible accommodation of multiple and diverse interests under one canopy. The great weakness, now being embarrassingly
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exposed, was its inherent incoherence. The center could not hold because it did not exist. And it did not exist because local, state, and at best regional allegiances remained more potent than any larger sense of national unity. Madison understood that problem viscerally because up until then he had thought of himself as a Virginian rather than an American. 34 While Washington tended to emphasize the great opportunity that was being lost by the failure to function as a coherent collective, Madison stressed the horrific consequences that would ensue if and when the confederation imploded. “The question whether it is possible and worthwhile [to preserve] the union of the States must be speedily decided some way or other,” he wrote to Monroe. “Those who are indifferent to the preservation would do well to look forward to the consequences of its extinction.” 35 But indifference continued to haunt the halls of Congress, which failed to muster a quorum in January and February 1787. Madison customarily kept extensive notes on the deliberations of the delegates but stopped doing so, scribbling “nothing worth noting” in his journal.
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