the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Personal confessions that he regarded as

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personal confessions that he regarded as inappropriate, Washington took refuge behind a scheduling conflict. A meeting of the Society of the Cincinnati had been scheduled in Philadelphia in early May 1787, and he had already apprised the members of that venerable, if controversial, organization that he was unable to attend. “I could not appear at the same time & place on any other occasion,” he explained to Madison “without giving offence to a very respecting & deserving part of the Community—the late officers of the American Army.” 17
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Madison claimed to understand Washington’s awkward predicament but urged him not to decline the Virginia nomination, so that “at least a door could be kept open for your acceptance hereafter, in case the gathering clouds should become so dark and menacing as to supersede every consideration but that of our national existence and safety.” His sense of loyalty to the Society of the Cincinnati was understandable, Madison explained, but Washington needed to weigh that loyalty against the survival of the republic. Left unsaid, but obvious to all, was that Washington’s inclusion instantly transformed a highly problematic cause into something suddenly serious. With Washington on board, the embarrassment at Annapolis would not be repeated at Philadelphia. And if the assembled delegates decided not just to revise the Articles but to replace them altogether with a new government, Washington’s presence would provide an invaluable veneer of legitimacy for extensive reform that was, strictly speaking, a violation of the mandate soon to be issued by the Confederation Congress. 18 Jay rejoined the campaign to lure Washington out of retirement in January 1787 with a long letter arguing that nothing less than root-and-branch reform would do. “Would the giving any further degree of power to congress do the Business?” he asked rhetorically. “I am much inclined to think it would not.” The structure of government provided by the Articles was inherently inadequate, almost designed to be so. There were, to be sure, occasions that required caution and prudence, but this was not one of them. As in 1776, this was the time for leaders to step forward. 19 This message harmonized with the patriotic notes Washington was hearing from several quarters. “From the gloomy prospect still admits one ray of hope,” wrote Edmund Randolph from Richmond, “that those who began, carried on & consummated the revolution, can yet rescue America from impending ruin.” Madison chimed in, adding that “having your name at the front of the appointments [serves] as a mark on the earnestness of Virginia.” Even if he eventually decided to withdraw his name, allowing it to stand for the present had immeasurable political advantages, virtually ensuring robust attendance at the convention in May. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Madison was spreading the word that Washington was on board, and at the same time he was conferring privately to have Benjamin Franklin appointed as chair of the convention if Washington backed out.
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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