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7 - The Positive Founding (II)

The People as One and Many

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 July 2021

Alin Fumurescu
Affiliation:
University of Houston
Anna Marisa Schön
Affiliation:
University of Houston
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Summary

Chapter 7 covers the federal constitutional debates and public debates on ratification, respectively. Substantial selections from Madison’s Notes of the Debates offer insight into the main subject of disagreement: Were the American people to be apprehended in their corporate capacity, at state level, or as a collection of individuals that happened to live various states? Corresponding to this theoretical dilemma, some delegates proposed the equal representation of the states in the national legislature, while others argued that the number of representatives should be based upon the population of each state. In the end, the Connecticut Plan offered a compromise between the two understandings of the people. In some respects, one could claim that the framers managed to recuperate and make permanent the Puritan legacy of the bi-dimensional covenant at a scale previously difficult to imagine. The second part of the chapter presents selections from both the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalists’ writings. These excerpts demonstrate the unique combination of theoretical perspectives in the American Constitution as well as lingering doubt about its practicality and legitimacy.

Type
Chapter
Information
Foundations of American Political Thought
Readings and Commentary
, pp. 226 - 271
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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References

Suggested Readings

Hamilton, Alexander, Madison, James, and Jay, John, The Federalist Papers, especially Nos. 1, 9, 40, 47–9, 78, 84 (1787).Google Scholar
Webster, Noah, An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (Philadelphia: Richard Hall, 1787).Google Scholar
Madison, James, “Letter to Thomas Jefferson (October 24, 1787)” and Jefferson, ’s response “Letter to James Madison (December 20, 1787)” in Rutland, R. A., Hobson, C. F., Rachal, W. M. E., and Teute, F. J. (eds.), The Papers of James Madison, Vol. X: 27 May 1787–3 March 1788 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977), pp. 205–20, 335–9. Both letters are also available at https://founders.archives.gov/.Google Scholar
Yates, Robert, “Essays of Brutus,” esp. Essays I and V [1787], in Storing, H. J. (ed.), The Anti-Federalist: Writings by Opponents of the Constitution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), pp. 103–98.Google Scholar
Address of the Minority of the Pennsylvania Convention” in Breading, Nathaniel, Oswald, Eleazer, et al., The Address and Reasons of Dissent of the Minority of the Convention, of the State of Pennsylvania, to Their Constituents (Philadelphia: Printed by E. Oswald, 1787).Google Scholar
Jefferson, Thomas, “Letter to James Madison (September 6, 1789)” in Hobson, C. F. and Rutland, R. A. (eds.), The Papers of James Madison, Vol. XII: 2 March 1789–20 January 1790 and supplement 24 October 1775–24 January 1789 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1979), pp. 382–8.Google Scholar

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