the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

The proposed constitution therefore required a

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The proposed Constitution, therefore, required a fundamental political and psychological shift in the meaning of the American Revolution. With one crucial exception, all the arguments that American colonists had made against Parliament and the king in 1776 applied equally to the government created in the Constitution in 1787. The obvious difference was that the colonists had not been represented in Parliament, whereas they were represented in the House and the Senate under the Constitution. But were they? It came back to how you defined representation. Given the local orientation of the vast majority of Americans, the Constitution was proposing the creation of a strange new world that defied their limited horizons. The enemies of ratification, then, were speaking for the original impulse of the American Revolution. By all rights, to the extent that the ratification process accurately reflected the will of the American citizenry, the opponents should have enjoyed a clear political advantage. But they did not, because the framework for the debate had been controlled by a small group of nationalists, who were overrepresented
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in most of the state ratifying conventions. As a result, on the eve of the ratification debates, the momentum belonged to the nationalists. 10 Despite the political and tactical advantages they enjoyed, none of the chief instigators of the political process that produced the Constitution was fully satisfied with the result. Washington, like Madison, preferred a clearer delineation of federal over state sovereignty, but after witnessing the debates in Philadelphia, he realized that compromise on that crucial question was unavoidable. “I am fully persuaded it is the best that can be obtained at the present moment,” he explained to Benjamin Harrison, “under such diversity of ideas as prevail.” 11 His posture of studied indifference was just that, a posture. (Conspicuous aloofness came so naturally to Washington that it is often difficult to know when he was acting and when he was just being himself.) Throughout the fall of 1787 he was clearly acting, since his private correspondence is dominated by letters to and from Hamilton, Madison, Knox, and Lafayette on the prospects of ratification, most especially in the key states of Virginia and New York, where the opposition was likely to include some powerful figures. He and Madison shared their disappointment in the defection of George Mason to the other side, which Madison found bizarre and Washington found unforgivable. Mason had been a close neighbor and long-standing friend, but all communication now ceased between Mount Vernon and Gunston Hall. Washington had purchased an English translation of Don Quixote before leaving Philadelphia, an odd choice for a man indisposed to tilt at windmills; it was more appropriate for Mason, who was now making himself the Don Quixote of the ratification process.
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