Constitution Sunday: “Publius,” The Federalist XLI [James Madison]

Independent Journal (New York) January 19, 1788 Engineering a coup can be difficult. Usually, it requires a military to not only lose faith in the civilian government but to organize an overthrowing of that government. Democratic republics fear this prospect as much as any other type of government. Although democratic republics are better suited for […]

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Constitution Sunday: Rawlins Lowndes and Edward Rutledge Debate in the South Carolina Legislature

January 16, 1788 A government must provide its people—all of its people, varied as they are—with a structure that fosters self-preservation. In the South, for a long stretch of time, that sense of self-preservation was crucial. There was no denying that the slave economy was central to its existence that it was therefore always going […]

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Constitution Sunday: John Hancock’s Final Observation

February 6, 1788 Massachusetts Ratifying Convention At the conclusion of the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, John Hancock requested to “close the business with a few words.” He began with an endorsement: the Constitution—amended or not—was destined to deliver political freedom and dignity to the country. This was particularly so given the exhaustive debate that the draft […]

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Constitution Sunday: Nathaniel Barrell, a “Plain Husbandman,” Warns of the Passion for Power, but Favors Ratification

February 5, 1788 Massachusetts Ratifying Convention The draft Constitution had its parts that inspired and other parts that terrified. Nathaniel Barrell, either as a sign of his modesty or as a way to relate to his fellow residents of Massachusetts, claimed that he would not speak with the eloquence of a Cicero but would articulate […]

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