the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Same vision somewhat earlier but washingtons

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same vision somewhat earlier, but Washington’s substantive and not just symbolic role in making the case for a federal government capable of securing the energies released by the American Revolution was crucial, in part because his vision turned out to be right, in part because no one could deliver the message with greater credibility. He was the Foundingest Father of them all because of his central role in winning both independence and American nationhood. Second, the brand of leadership exhibited by the four most committed nationalists came to them naturally, because it represented a repetition of the roles they had all played just a few years earlier in winning American independence. In both instances they were prepared to make an all-or-nothing wager on behalf of a cause that appeared highly problematic at the time. In 1776 they were risking their lives. In 1787 they were risking their reputations and their place in American history. They were accustomed to winning such wagers, and in both instances their confidence was buoyed by the belief that they knew where history was headed. Indeed, they all regarded nationhood as the second chapter in the same larger story about American destiny in a script that had been written by what both Washington and Jay called providence. Although hagiographic depictions of the founders as quasi-divine creatures with supernatural powers of mind and heart are no longer credible, the quartet of unbridled nationalists central to this story all believed that, while they themselves were not gods, the gods were on their side. Third, the success that these mere men enjoyed in imposing their more expansive definition of the American Revolution was the beneficiary of history in another, more time-bound sense of that term. While modern-day critics of the founders and the constitutional settlement they brokered often deliver their
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critical judgments from our present perspective, and the politically correct posture it permits, the more historically correct conclusion is to begin with the recognition that the founders inhabited a premodern world that cannot be understood, much less judged, in modern terms. More specifically, the founders occupied a transitional moment in the history of Western civilization that was postaristocratic and predemocratic. On the one hand, this meant that politics in America was open to a whole class of talented men—women were still unimaginable as public figures—who would have languished in obscurity throughout Europe because they lacked the proper bloodlines and inherited wealth. Hamilton is the best example of this egalitarian ethos, and even Washington would never have risen beyond the rank of major in the British army. The presentistic tendency to contrast egalitarian assumptions at that time and now, and then to find the founding generation hopelessly elitist, is deeply flawed historically. Measured against the political and social standards of their own time, the founding
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