the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Madison saw it as a small scale experiment in

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trade with one another. Madison saw it as a small-scale experiment in political reform. “If it succeeds,” he wrote Monroe, “it can be repeated as other defects force themselves on the public attention, and as the public mind becomes prepared for further remedies.” Then he added: “…I am not in general an advocate of temporizing or partial remedies. But rigor in this respect, if pushed too far, may hazard everything.” 4 In effect, since all previous efforts at a more comprehensive reform of the Articles had failed miserably, perhaps a more limited approach focusing only on commercial reform was worth trying. “To speak the truth,” Madison confessed to Jefferson, “I almost despair that if it [Annapolis] should come to nothing, it will I fear confirm Great Britain and all the world in the belief that we are not to be respected, nor apprehended as a nation in matters of commerce.” 5 The Annapolis convention justified Madison’s worst fears. Both he and Hamilton were appointed as delegates to the convention, but only five states showed up (Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey). All the delegates could do was meet and then adjourn. “Your co-missioners,” explained Hamilton, “did not conceive it advisable to proceed on the business of their Mission, under Circumstances of so partial and defective a recommendation.” 6 It was now clear that even modest attempts at political reform were impossible in the current context. The state legislatures were staunch opponents of any federal government that challenged their sovereignty, and that inchoate congregation called “the people” were indifferent to any political project that required them to think outside their own local orbits. At this dispiriting moment, Hamilton rose to the occasion in a display of almost preposterous audacity. Before the delegates at Annapolis dispersed, they gathered for one final conversation and reached the conclusion that, as Hamilton put it, “the Situation of the United States [is] delicate and critical, calling for an exertion…of all the members of the Confederacy.” There was, Hamilton intoned, a prevailing sense that the confederation was on the verge of dissolution, and reforms were necessary “to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union.” In order to address and resolve these outstanding issues, Hamilton claimed there was unanimous support within the Annapolis delegation for “a future Convention” with a roving mandate to address all the most salient issues, scheduled to meet in Philadelphia on the second Sunday in May 1787. 7 This was Hamilton’s out-front brand of leadership in its most flamboyant form. A convention called to address the modest matter of commercial reform had just failed to attract even a quorum, and now Hamilton was using this grim occasion to announce the date for another convention that would tackle all the problems affecting the confederation at once. It was as if a prizefighter, having just been knocked out by a journeyman boxer, declared his intention to challenge the heavyweight champion of the world. Given
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