the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Washington scheduled his own meeting on march 16 and

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Washington scheduled his own meeting on March 16, and all five hundred officers showed up at a large auditorium called the Temple to hear him deliver what has come to be regarded as the most important speech of his life. Here is the most salient passage: But as I was among the first who embarked in the Cause of our common Country. As I have never left your side for one moment…. As I have been the constant companion and witness of your distress, and not among the last to feel and acknowledge your Merits. As I have ever considered my own Military regulation as inseparably connected with that of the army…it can be scarcely be supposed at this stage of the War that I am indifferent to its interests. And let me conjure you, in the name of our Common Country, as you value your own sacred honor—and as you regard the Military and National Character of America, to express your utmost horror and detestation of the Man who wishes, under any pretences, to overturn the liberties of our Country, and who wickedly attempts to open the flood Gates of civil discord, and deluge our rising Empire in Blood. 47 The audience sat in frozen silence for several seconds after Washington had finished, momentarily obscuring their reaction to his words. Then Washington pulled out of his waistcoat a recently acquired pair of spectacles and said: “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only
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grown grey, but almost blind in service to my country.” Several officers began to sob, then came a smattering of applause, then resounding applause, then a standing ovation. All prospects for a military coup died at that moment. Within the long arc of American history, Washington’s speech is significant because it prevented the American Revolution from descending the path taken by previous and future revolutionary movements, from republican ideals to military dictatorships. Which is to say that Washington did not do what Julius Caesar and Oliver Cromwell had done before him and Napoleon would do after him. In the crucible of that moment, however, the more immediate significance was that the army ceased to be a pawn in a plot to expand the powers of the Congress. The failure of the Newburgh Conspiracy meant that whatever dim prospects for a revision of the Articles it had created were now dead. Henry Knox, trying to sound an upbeat note, proposed an elegantly simple solution. “As the present constitution [the Articles] is so defective,” he observed, “why do not you great men call the people together and tell them so. That is, to have a convention of the states to form a better constitution.” This suggestion must have generated a bemused smile from Hamilton, who viewed the political prospects from his cockpit in Philadelphia. He had reached the conclusion that even holding the current confederation together would prove “arduous work, for to borrow a figure from mechanics, the centrifugal is much
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