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Common Sense

Common Sense. Rule of Law (sect. 5) “Let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God;

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Common Sense

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  1. Common Sense • Rule of Law (sect. 5) • “Let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; • let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS KING. • For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is. A government of our own is our natural right.”

  2. Common Sense • American exceptionalism: • “The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. 'Tis not the affair of a city, a country, a province, or a kingdom, but of a continent of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe. 'Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected, even to the end of time, by the proceedings now.” (sect. 1) • The city on a hill & cause of all humanity

  3. Revolution & Foundation:Thomas Jefferson & Samuel Adams “A decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind” (Political Science 565)

  4. Declaration of Independence • Should the 13 Colonies declare independence from Britain? • July 1, 1776: vote 9 yes (New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, Rhode Island) 3 no (Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Delaware) 1 abstaining (NY lacked permission) • July 2: Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Delaware change votes. “Unanimous” • Can a revolution be democratic?

  5. Thomas Jefferson • 1743-1826 • Declaration of Independence • 3rd president: 1801-1809 • “Revolution of 1800” • Louisiana Purchase • Lewis & Clark • Treason trial of VP Aaron Burr • University of Virginia, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom • Republican virtue, agrarian republics • Friendly to farmers, states’ rights, education; hostile to bankers, political institutions • Religion, “Jefferson Bible” • Freedom & slavery

  6. Declaration of Independence • A Declaration by the Representatives of United States of America, in General Congress Assembled • Vs. • The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

  7. Declaration of Independence • “When in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station • to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, • a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.”

  8. Declaration of Independence • “WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” • First draft, “equal and independent” • Who are “we”? • If the truths are self-evident, why bother saying them? • Why then do they need to be “held”? • How does this influence the nature of the American state? • Written in the voice of a single, national people • The US is not a community of shared blood or culture, but of shared belief. • Political rights are an intrinsic part of being human. • The Sovereign People • The Popular Sovereign is a transtemporal entity

  9. Declaration of Independence • “That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, • deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, • that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, • and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

  10. Separate nation • 1st draft: “Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. we have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over these our states” etc • “these facts have given the last stab to agonizing affection, and manly spirit bids us to renounce forever these unfeeling brethren. We must endeavor to forget our former love for them, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends. we might have been a free and a great people together; but a communication of grandeur and of freedom it seems is below their dignity.”

  11. Declaration of Independence • Won’t revolution lead to permanent instability? • “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

  12. Slavery in the Drafts • The king “has incited treasonable insurrections of our fellow citizens with the allurements of forfeiture and confiscation of our property: • he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it's most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemispere, or to incure miserable death in their transportation hither. this piratical warfare, the opprobium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain.”

  13. “Savages” • “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions”

  14. Slavery in the Drafts • [determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold,] he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce : • and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he had deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

  15. Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union • Approved for ratification by Second Continental Congress Nov. 2, 1777. • During the war. Became de facto system of gov’t until ratified March 1, 1781. • “To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed to our Names send greeting.” • Unlike the Declaration, this is written in the voice of the various states, not in that of a unified, national people.

  16. Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union • Problems: Central government • Could not enforce requests for funding/Taxation • Had no draft powers, could not compel states to comply w/requests for troops. • Often was unable to pay soldiers, much less fulfill promise of life pensions to them. • Unicameral legislature w/equal representation of states • Disproportionately favors small states. Large states asked to contribute more for only an equal share of legislative power

  17. A Revolution Divided • Points of conflict • What is America? • One people or many? • Both agree that ultimate source of political authority lies in the people, but is that authority expressed in their laws or in their voices? • To what extent a democracy, to what a republic? • Which is better, a small or a large republic? • How should the will of the people be mediated?

  18. Federalist Papers • 1787-88 • Authorship: • Usually credited as follows: • Alexander Hamilton: #1, 6–9, 11–13, 15–17, 21–36, 59–61, and 65–85 • James Madison: #10, 14, 37–58 and 62–63 • John Jay: #2–5 and 64

  19. Federalist Papers • Why kept secret? Why attributed to a single pseudonym? • Publius Valerius Publicola • A leader of the Roman revolt, which ended the line of the kings of Rome • Wrote popular series of laws, helped to structure Roman Republic • Called “the friend of the people”

  20. Anti-Federalist Papers • 1787 • Unlike Federalist papers, not an organized project. • “Anti-Federalist” a label that got attached to the position in these essays • Numbers assigned by later researches. We use those of Morton Borden, meant to match roughly w/Federalist Papers • Authorship: • Cato (~George Clinton): Senator of the late Roman Republic, known for his moral integrity & opposition to the coup by Julius Caesar • Brutus (~Robert Yates): most famous of Caesar’s assassins • Centinel (Samuel Bryan): Sentinel, guardian • A Federal Farmer (~Richard Henry Lee? ~Melancton Smith?): Source of agrarian virtue

  21. A Revolution Divided • Classical pseudonyms reveal the extent to which Federalists & Anti-Federalists differ in their points of view • Is the republic being born, or threatened with destruction? • Though they take strongly opposed positions, each side of the Constitution debate speaks the same political language. • Thus, this is not an issue of what ideals and principles apply, but of their interpretation. • Many revolutions, lacking established authority by definition, suffer internal conflict • American political institutions may have helped to prevent American divisions from causing major political violence

  22. Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union • Fed. #1: “After an unequivocal experience of the inefficacy of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America.” • Recognition of these problems led to the first major political factionalization of the newly independent United States • Federalists: want fundamental reform of the structure of gov’t, creating a far stronger central government • Anti-federalists: believe that this would infringe on freedoms of the states, and thus of the individuals that they represent.

  23. Anarchy or Tyranny? • The problem with factions • Fed. #10 • Republics are prone to factionalization • Factions: groups within the republic united by interest or passion • "There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects” • But: “The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man”

  24. Anarchy or Tyranny? • Fed #10: Controlling factions • Minority factions will be controlled by the democratic voting mechanism • “The inference to which we are brought is, that the causes of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects.” • “It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution.” • But pure democracy cannot control a faction if that faction is a majority • “the form of popular government ... enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens.”

  25. Anarchy or Tyranny? • A republic works on the principle of representation • Works to “refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. • Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose.” • The is only one public good, the good of the republic (res publica) • Representation also allows for governing greater territory than does direct democracy

  26. Anarchy or Tyranny? • “The object of a free and wise people should be so to balance parties, that from the weakness of all you may be governed by the moderation of the combined judgments of the whole, not tyrannized over by the blind passions of a few individuals.” • Faction prevents the emergence of tyranny • Multiple, competing goods • The proposed republic is a ploy to give power to the ‘natural’ aristocracy (AF #10)

  27. Nation or Confederacy? • F. #14: Proposed gov’t will: • allows republican governance of large area • not make all policy, much left to local gov’t • Build roads roads and improvements will to make internal travel, trade & communication easier • Organize collective defense • While it might be inconvenient for distant states to sends representatives to the central gov’t, it would be much more inconvenient for them to have to defend themselves alone • Recognize that the US is a single, national people • “the kindred blood which flows in the veins of American citizens, the mingled blood which they have shed in defense of their sacred rights, consecrate their Union”

  28. Nation or Confederacy? • AF #14 Cato: US so diverse centralized government cannot unite it, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, or secure liberty • The legislature would be divided against itself, as different irreconcilable regional interests competed • AF #14: Central gov’t too far to govern well • It will use a standing army to trample the liberty of state gov’t • No one will ever be as loyal to distant central gov’t as they are to state government • The U.S. is an alliance of many peoples

  29. Revolution preserved or betrayed? • Solution to faction (Fed. #51) • Separation of powers • Legislature • Executive • Judiciary • Checks & balances • By setting factions & branches of gov’t against each other, none will be able to dominate • Protection of minority groups • “In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature, where the weaker individual is not secured against the violence of the stronger.”

  30. Revolution preserved or betrayed? • Different electors for each office: direct for House, state legislature for Senate, electoral college for Presidency • Setting ambitious groups & individuals against one another • “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. • It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” (F #51) • Human nature is bad

  31. Revolution preserved or betrayed? • AF #51: Satire • Proponents of new gov’t believe themselves a higher order of person, trying to seize aristocratic power • “To prevent all inconvenience from [the people] the congress have power to raise and support armies. This is the second thing necessary to render government independent.” • Tyrannical, aristocratic central gov’t • Anti-democratic, excluding the people

  32. Legislature • F. #39: Legislature “the sources from which the ordinary powers of government are to be derived:” • The House of Representatives will derive its power from the American people, and so be national • The Senate will derive its power from the equal states, so is federal • Federal: The operations of central gov’t affect states • National: The operations of central gov’t affect individuals • “On trying the Constitution by this criterion, it falls under the NATIONAL”

  33. The Legislature • AF #39: All the characteristics of sovereign governments, in both the foreign and domestic spheres of politics, will be concentrated in the federal government • Though state governments liberated the US from England, they will be reduced to shadows of themselves • They may continue to exists, but only as irrelevant, “expensive and burdensome” relics of the revolution

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