Creating the Constitution: The Convention of 1787 and the First Congress

By Thornton Anderson | Go to book overview

4 Economic Motivations

The Annapolis Convention, forerunner of the Philadelphia gathering, had been called for commercial purposes. If the nationalists of 1783-84, centered around Robert Morris, were clearly commercial, was this also true of the more broadly based movement of 1786-87? There can be no doubt that the Founding Fathers were very aware that political and economic forces and motives were closely intertwined. James Harrington had told them so. Experience with the state legislatures also had taught them--both that power follows property and that political power could be used to redistribute property. May it not be that they were more impressed with the political problems and possibilities than with the potency of economic power? May it not be that the Marxian idea of the primacy of economics is anachronistic when applied to them? After all, an economic effect of an action, or even the expectation of an economic effect as suggested by Charles A. Beard, does not establish that effect as the primary motive for the action.

So much has been written on the economic backgrounds and motivations

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