Cover

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Title page, Copyright, Dedication

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Acknowledgments

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p. vii

All but two of the essays in this volume were initially presented at a conference in Philadelphia in October 1984, "The Creation of the American Constitution." That conference was jointly sponsored by the American Philosophical Society, the Philadelphia Center for Early American Studies, and the Institute of Early American History and Culture and was partially funded by the National Endowment...

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction

RIchard Beeman

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pp. 3-20

The bicentennial of the United States Constitution is upon us, and we are, as a consequence, already hearing a good many pieties about the "living Constitution" and the "legacy" laid down for us by the framers of that document. It may be, though, as we approach the end of the twentieth century, that the founding fathers appear more removed from the lives of most Americans than ever before. Their motives, always a source of controversy among scholars, seem no clearer...

PART I: IDEOLOGIES

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The American Constitution: A Revolutionary Interpretation

Stanley N. Katz

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pp. 23-37

The year 1987 promises to be easier for Americans than 1976. The Constitutional Bicentennial should be more persuasive than the Revolutionary commemoration more than a decade ago. Is that because the first revolutionary new nation is not eager to think of itself as revolutionary? The Constitution, on the other hand, symbolizes stability and continuity, more comfortable values these days, values...

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The Constitution of the Thinking Revolutionary

Ralph Lerner

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pp. 38-68

The quickened interest among students of American history in the political writings of the Revolutionary and early national periods may fairly be traced to the influential work of Bernard Bailyn and Gordon S. Wood. Reinforced by the historical and methodological researches of J. G. A. Pocock and Quentin Skinner, a regiment of scholars has for the past quarter-century traversed the historical landscape...

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Interests and Disinterestedness in the Making of the Constitution

Gordon S. Wood

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pp. 69-110

During our bicentennial celebrations of the Constitution we will gather many times to honor the makers of that Constitution, the Federalists of 1787-1788. We have certainly done so many times in the past. We have repeatedly pictured the founders, as we call them, as men of vision—bold, original, open-minded, enlightened men who deliberately created what William Gladstone once called "the most...

PART II: ISSUES

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Shays's Rebellion and the Ratification of the Federal Constitution in Massachusetts

Richard D. Brown

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pp. 113-127

From the time that the Constitution was written, Shays's Rebellion has been regarded as a catalyst in the movement for the Constitution and for its ratification. Washington and Madison saw it that way, and historians from George Bancroft, John Fiske, and John Bach McMaster in the last century down to Forrest McDonald, Jackson Turner Main, and Gordon Wood in our own era have followed their lead. Emphases have varied, but there has been general agreement that...

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Money, Credit, and Federalist Political Economy

Janet A. Reisman

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pp. 128-161

It is well known that members of the Constitutional Convention disapproved of the state paper emissions of 1785 and 1786, but the reasons for their disapproval and for the sweeping provisions incorporated in Article I, Section 10, of the Federal Constitution are obscure. Those provisions can be understood only as the culmination of a decade-long, at times acrimonious debate about how to retire the debt spawned during the American Revolutionary war. The debate was acrimonious...

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The Practicable Sphere of a Republic: James Madison, the Constitutional Convention, and the Emergence of Revolutionary Federalism

Lance Banning

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pp. 162-187

James Madison made three distinctive contributions to the writing of the Constitution. Together, these distinguished him as first among the framers. He was primarily responsible for the preliminary resolutions that served throughout the summer of 1787 as the outline for reform, proposals that initiated the Constitutional Convention's transformation of the old Confederation into a republican...

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Slavery and the Constitutional Convention: Making a Covenant with Death

Paul FInkelman

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pp. 188-225

For the nineteenth-century abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, the Constitution was the result of a terrible bargain between freedom and slavery. The American states were, in Garrison's words, united by a "covenant with death" and "agreement with Hell." Garrison and his followers refused to participate in American electoral politics, because to do so they would have had to support this "covenant with death." Instead, under the slogan "No Union with Slaveholders," the...

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James Madison and Visions of American Nationality in the Confederation Period: A Regional Perspective

Drew R McCoy

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pp. 226-258

On September 3, 1789, a scant six months after the inception of the new federal government he had labored so hard to create, Congressman James Madison was furious. For days he had listened with mounting frustration as his colleagues discussed what he considered a momentous issue. Finally he exploded. Baited by John Lawrence of New York, who had alluded to his prominent role at the Virginia ratifying convention of the previous year, Madison sent shock waves through...

PART III: AFTERMATH

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The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George Washington

Jack N. Rakove

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pp. 261-294

In the summer of 1785, the Newburyport merchant Jonathan Jackson wrote John Adams a long letter recording his thoughts on the political situation of the United States. Having just completed an unsuccessful commercial voyage to England, Jackson was in no mood to be optimistic, either about his own affairs or the current state of politics. "As I went away so have I returned," he noted, "tired of Politics...

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The Persistence of Antifederalism after 1789

Richard E. Ellis

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pp. 295-314

The Antifederalists, like most of history's losers, have not been treated very kindly. Until fairly recently, the tendency has been either to ignore them or simply to dismiss them as "men of little faith," who have only a peripheral place in the American political or constitutional tradition.1 In the past two decades, however, a growing number of professional scholars have taken a fresh look at the Antifederalist opposition to the Constitution; they have concluded that they were an articulate...

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Religious Dimensions of the Early American State

Stephen Botien

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pp. 315-330

When the "surprise issue" of the 1984 presidential election first attracted notice on front pages and covers of American periodicals, most professional historians were caught as unprepared as most political pundits.1 Although the constitutional relationship of "church and state" promised to enliven late twentieth-century public debate, this was a historical subject that in its very wording seemed quaintly...

EPILOGUE

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A Roof without Walls: The Dilemma of American National Identity

John M. Murrin

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pp. 333-348

The United States Constitution, as we have come to realize, provided an innovative answer to the legal problem of sovereignty within a federal system. This difficulty had destroyed the British Empire by 1776, and by 1787 it seemed likely to reduce the Congress of the United States to impotence. The Federalists solved this dilemma by applying on a continental scale the new principles of revolutionary constitutionalism that the states had explored and developed between...

Index

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pp. 349-364

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 365-366