the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Congress which he now regarded as a political arena

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Congress, which he now regarded as a political arena in which the states came together to display their mutual jealousies, almost a laboratory for the triumph of parochialism and provincialism. To say that something snapped in Jay would not be accurate; he was temperamentally incapable of losing his composure. But something shook his faith that providence had plans for America, that the current confederation of states was destined to cohere into a single nation-state if one waited patiently for the providential forces to align themselves. In that somber mood, he unburdened himself to Washington: “Our affairs seem to lead to some Crisis, some Revolution, something that I cannot foresee or Conjecture. I am uneasy and apprehensive, more so than during the war. Then we had a fixed Object, and though the Means and Time of attaining it were often problematical, yet I did firmly believe we would ultimately succeed because I was convinced that Justice was with us. The case is now altered, we are going and doing wrong, and I therefore look forward to Evils and Calamities.” Achieving nationhood, he now believed, was a more challenging task than winning independence. 46 During more optimistic moments, Jay had expressed his belief that the inadequacies of the government under the Articles would prove so obvious over time that they would be corrected incrementally, from within, without recourse to dramatic interventions. Now he reached the conclusion that the very structure of the Articles of Confederation was fatally flawed, inherently incapable of self-correction. He shared this diagnosis with Adams, his former colleague in Paris, who he knew would agree with him: I have long thought and become daily more convinced that the Construction of our federal Government is fundamentally wrong. To vest legislative, judicial, and executive Powers in one and the same Body of Men, and that too in a Body daily changing its members, can never be wise. In my opinion these three great Departments of Sovereignty should be forever separated, and so distributed as to serve as checks on each other. But these are Subjects that have long been familiar to you and on which you are so well informed to anticipate every thing that I might say on them. 47 Jay was referring to Adams’s Thoughts on Government (1776), which had proposed the basic framework subsequently embodied in the state constitutions, now suggesting that the same three-branch framework should be established at the federal level. Given the current political context in the Confederation Congress, there was not the slightest possibility that such a fundamental reform would occur from within; indeed, any proposal to establish a more energetic federal government would be eviscerated by the state and sectional voting blocs it sought to replace.
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It followed logically, then, that root-and-branch reform was necessary, and that the leadership for such a movement must come from outside the currently gridlocked Congress. In a separate letter, Jay shared
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