The Second Inauguration of Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis. By: Louis Mathieu Didier Guillaume.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis, on the 130th anniversary of George Washington’s birthdate, was due to be inaugurated for a second time. Davis ran unopposed in the first (and only) presidential election in the Confederate States of America and was set to begin his six-year term on February 22, 1862. His daily responsibilities as president left him more involved in paperwork than any other activity, and the beginning of the day of his second inauguration was scarcely different from any other day for Davis: he did an hour of paperwork before preparing for the ceremony.[i] Read more

Constitution Sunday: “Cato” V

“Cato” V

New York Journal, November 22, 1787

Following are excerpts from an anonymous article published in the New York Journal:

To the Citizens of the State of New-York.

In my last number I endeavored to prove that the language of the article relative to the establishment of the executive of this new government was vague and inexplicit, that the great powers of the President Read more

Constitution Sunday: Answers to Mason’s “Objections”: “Marcus” [James Iredell] II

Answers to Mason’s “Objections”: “Marcus” [James Iredell] II

Norfolk and Portsmouth Journal (Virginia), February 27, 1788

Following are excerpts from James Iredell’s responses to George Mason’s “Objections” to the Constitution:

IVth. Objection. The Judiciary of the United States is so constructed and extended, as to absorb and destroy the Judiciaries of the several States Read more

The Image of Democracy

Alexis de Tocqueville. By: Theodore Chasseriau.

America, in the early part of the 1800s, developed a reputation for being an experimental society. It was a prime example of popular rule, which brought a unique perspective to the world stage. See Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 304.

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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.

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Preserving the Health of the Constitution

General George Washington at Trenton. By: John Trumbull.

Corruption was rife in England in the decades leading up to the American Revolution, and Americans were keenly aware of that fact. For many individuals, the English Constitution was viewed as a hollow document, as the crown had taken the power away from all other sources. See Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 34-35. Americans knew that this corruption “always begins amongst the Rich and the Great” and would spread to the common people, leaving them “enfeebled and their souls depraved.” Id. at 35 quoting Pinkney’s Wmsbg. Va. Gazette, June 15, 1775; Phila. Pa. Packet, May 29, 1775, Aug. 8, 1774; Purdie and Dixon’s Wmsbg. Va. Gazette, Sept. 5, 1771. Read more

The Rebuttal to Common Sense

Charles Inglis. By: Robert Field.

Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was a hugely influential pamphlet that has been cherished by several generations of Americans. However, it had its detractors who did not believe that “republicanism for America was a matter of common sense.” Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 94.

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The Greatest Republic

John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Bowdoin Drafting the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. By: Albert Herter.

As the colonies went through the Revolution, it became clear that republicanism would take the place of English imperialism. Americans were aware that republicanism put “social and moral demands” upon the people, which would change how people lived. Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 91.

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