Last Best Hope of Earth

A Blog Covering US History and Politics


The Revolution

The Erosion of Separation of Powers

Thomas Jefferson. By: Mather Brown. 1786.

In the 1780s, there began to be a distinct erosion of the doctrine of separation of powers.

Continue reading “The Erosion of Separation of Powers”


Guarding Against an Evil

Benjamin Franklin. By: Joseph Siffred Duplessis.

Americans’ political beliefs were rapidly changing as the American Revolution progressed into the early years of the Republic. In fact, those beliefs were “constantly in flux, continually adapting and adjusting to ever-shifting political and social circumstances.” Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 438.

Continue reading “Guarding Against an Evil”

The Conventional Debate

Dr. William Smith
William Smith. By: Gilbert Stuart. 1801-02.

In Pennsylvania, extraordinary events were transpiring that would shape how people expressed their will. William Smith (“Cato”) and a group of individuals, led by James Cannon (“Cassandra”) in 1776, debated the issue of how institutions should reflect the people’s will, given the Radical Political Experiment unfolding in Pennsylvania.

Continue reading “The Conventional Debate”

The Genesis of the Bill of Rights

Magna Carta.

Prior to the American Revolution, the colonists had become familiar with the concept of charters. Charters, whether royal, corporate, or proprietary, operated “as the evidence of a compact between an English King and the American subjects.” Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 268; see also Leonard Krieger, The Politics of Discretion: Pufendorf and the Acceptance of Natural Law (Chicago, 1965), 121.

Continue reading “The Genesis of the Bill of Rights”

A Check on Dangerous Usurpations

Samuel Chase. By: John Beale Bordley.

While an upper house of state legislatures was desirable to some, as explained in The Birth of the Senate, it also had its detractors. Those detractors argued that it was a mere redundancy, wholly irrelevant to the founding of a stable government. In taking that position, the detractors ignored many of the benefits of having a second house in the legislature.

Continue reading “A Check on Dangerous Usurpations”

A Moral Reformation

Imacon Color Scanner
Patrick Henry. By: George Bagby Matthews.

As eluded to in Virtue as a Principle and Foundation, vices had come to plague American society shortly after the American Revolution. Patrick Henry said, in 1780, that he “feared that our Body politic was dangerously sick,” as from top to bottom, society appeared to be embracing vice. Patrick Henry to Jefferson, Feb. 15, 1780, Boyd, ed., Jefferson Papers, III, 293.

Continue reading “A Moral Reformation”

The Delegation of Sovereignty

Noah Webster. By: James Herring.

Prior to the creation and ratification of the Constitution, Americans struggled with legislatures who had run rampant. This, however, was the doing of the people themselves.

Continue reading “The Delegation of Sovereignty”

Carrying Liberty to Excess

David Ramsay. By: Rembrandt Peale.

While there were perceptions that America was suffering from a malaise in the 1780s, the political theory at the time had an explanation: licentiousness.

Continue reading “Carrying Liberty to Excess”

A Perceived Burden of Intolerable Evils

John Quincy Adams. By: John Singleton Copley.

After the American Revolution and after the war with Britain, America was suffering what appeared to be a crisis.

Continue reading “A Perceived Burden of Intolerable Evils”

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑