the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Authority but instead to provide a political arena in

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authority) but instead to provide a political arena in which arguments about those contested issues could continue in a deliberative fashion. The Constitution was intended less to resolve arguments than to make argument itself the solution. For judicial devotees of “originalism” or “original intent,” this should be a disarming insight, since it made the Constitution the foundation for an ever-shifting political dialogue that, like history itself, was an argument without end. Madison’s “original intention” was to make all “original intentions” infinitely negotiable in the future. 28 The following chart provides a succinct summary, in chronological order, of the ratification process in all thirteen states:
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STATE DATE YAY / NAY Delaware December 7, 1787 30–0 Pennsylvania December 12, 1787 46–23 New Jersey December 18, 1787 38–0 Georgia December 31, 1787 26–0 Connecticut January 8, 1788 128–40 Massachusetts February 6, 1788 187–168 (with amendments) Maryland April 26, 1788 63–11 South Carolina May 26, 1788 149–73 New Hampshire June 21, 1788 57–47 (with amendments) Virginia June 29, 1788 89–79 (with amendments) New York July 26, 1788 30–27 (with amendments) North Carolina November 21, 1789 194–77 (with amendments) Rhode Island May 29, 1790 34–32 (with amendments) At first glance, this list suggests that ratification of the Constitution enjoyed widespread popular support. Participation was broad-gauged, involving 1,646 delegates from all the states. In the end, not a single state refused to ratify, and majorities in seven states were overwhelming. In that sense, the Great Debate produced a resounding vote for American nationhood that approximated the resounding vote for American independence in the summer of 1776. A closer look, however, tends to undermine such a comfortable conclusion. The vote in three of the largest states—Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York—was extremely close. A clear majority actually opposed ratification in New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island, which grudgingly came along late in the game, after the nine-vote quota had been reached. The insistence on amendments in six of the states reflected a deep dissatisfaction with the all-or-nothing terms of the debate. The major achievement of the pro-ratification side was to insist that all amendments were only recommendations, that ratification could not be made contingent on their adoption. (Holding that line was Madison’s all-consuming political goal throughout the ratification process.) A near majority in Massachusetts and Virginia, and a large majority in New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island, preferred their amendments to be conditional, with ratification occurring only after a second convention took them into account. To say, then, that ratification represented a clear statement about the will of the American people in 1787–88 would be grossly misleading. What ratification really represented was the triumph of superior organization, more talented leadership, and a political process that had been designed from the start to define the options narrowly (i.e., up or down), and the successful outcome broadly (i.e., nine states). And
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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