the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

There are also sound reasons why madison should share

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There are also sound reasons why Madison should share the title with Gouverneur Morris. He was the only delegate to speak more frequently than Madison, and because of his massive ego, flamboyant style, and utter disregard for giving offense to his political enemies, the most forceful advocate for the national vision. He also delivered some of the most eloquent harangues against slavery, a topic on which Madison was mostly mute. More important, while the Constitution was clearly the creation of many hands, Morris was the man who actually wrote it. Both Hamilton and Madison served with him on the Committee on Style and Arrangement in mid-September, but Madison later testified that it was Morris who gave the final draft of the document its “finish,” adding that “a better choice could not have been made, as the performance of
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the task proves.” 44 Morris took the earlier draft prepared by the Committee on Detail and compressed the twenty-three articles in that somewhat legalistic and tangled version to seven, giving the final draft of the Constitution a clarity and accessibility that it had not previously possessed. Morris’s Constitution does not quite sing like Jefferson’s Declaration, which had the rhetorical advantage of being about founding principles rather than about the political structure to implement those principles. But Morris’s language cast the Constitution into an elevated format that rose above the nettlesome details of its content. Finally, Morris revised the preamble of the previous draft in a fashion that has continued to echo through the ages. The Committee on Detail had written “We the people of the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island…” and then down the Atlantic coast on a state-by-state basis. Morris single- handedly chose to change that to “We the People of the United States.” This was not just a stylistic revision, for it imposed, at least verbally, a crucial and clear presumption that the rest of the document was designed to finesse: namely, that the newly created government operated directly on the whole American citizenry, not indirectly through the states. Just as Jefferson had smuggled an expansive liberal mandate into the Declaration, Morris smuggled the national agenda into the preamble of the Constitution. In retrospect, this was probably the most consequential editorial act in American history, the political equivalent at the end of the convention of Madison’s bold decision to impose a national agenda at the start. 45 But the last word must go to the oldest and most venerable delegate at the convention, who captured with perfect pitch and homespun wisdom the mood of the moment. Benjamin Franklin was eighty-one, afflicted with kidney stones and gout, but he was one of the few delegates to attend every session, carried in on an elaborate sedan by four husky prisoners from the local jail. Most of his comments during the debates needed to be read by James Wilson, his Pennsylvania colleague, and they were often off-point or politically eccentric. He remained enamored, for example, with a single-house legislature in the mode of
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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