Recreating the American Republic: Rules of Apportionment, Constitutional Change, and American Political Development, 1700-1870

By Charles A. Kromkowski | Go to book overview

4
Union over Multiplicity: A Bond of Words,
a Confederation in Speech, and the Constitutional
Rule of Equal State Apportionment

The structural conditions described in Chapter 2 and the sequence of decisions analyzed in Chapter 3 constitute the remote and immediate causes of the collapse of the British-colonial order in 1776. This chapter completes this new story of the American Revolution with an account of the subsequent series of political debates, deliberations, and decisions that produced a constitutional consensus for a new national rule of apportionment and the first American constitution, the Articles of Confederation.

This chapter concentrates on the set of political actors who assumed the authority to define the governmental armature of the new American order, including its national rule of apportionment. The terms of this new rule were heavily contested. Many supported or contested other components of the proposed national order with reference to their expectations concerning the likely effect of different rules of apportionment. The latter phenomenon suggests a dynamic familiar to many constitutional transitions: constitution makers with positive expectations concerning the strength of their interests under a proposed rule of apportionment generally tend to support a more broadly empowered national government, whereas constitution makers with less positive expectations concerning the strength of their interests tend to support more limited forms of government. If, therefore, the set of constitution makers consists of individuals who do not share approximately similar interests and expectations, then the creation and maintenance of an order based on the consent of these individuals turns on the formulation of a rule of apportionment and a governmental structure capable of satisfying a multiplicity of interests and expectations. This, it is not difficult to imagine, is no simple task.

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