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

By Thornton Anderson | Go to book overview

2
Ideas from England

During and after the Revolutionary War the problems of representative government continued to accumulate. The failure of various efforts to strengthen the central government, and the outbreak of Shays's Rebellion in Massachusetts, stimulated a widespread rethinking of the easy acceptance of republicanism that had characterized the 1770s. Those like Alexander Hamilton, who did not "think favorably of republican government," were anticipating the prospect that "excesses" of democracy would bring a public revulsion that would destroy it ( Farrand, 1:424, 288). Others, who were less pessimistic about republicanism, still searched for ways to reduce its seeming tendency toward dangerous volatility. Such searches perhaps inevitably led to a revival of interest in, and appreciation for the merits of, the British system of government.

There were, of course, obvious and formidable obstacles to the application of British solutions to American problems. The vast size of the American continent, occupied and unoccupied, had already led to a greater number

-17-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents vii
  • Convention Chronology ix
  • The Delegates xi
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Ideas from England 17
  • 3 - Political Motivations 43
  • 4 - Economic Motivations 85
  • 5 - An Anti-Demoscratic Convention? 117
  • 6 - The Convention Congress 173
  • Appendixes 207
  • Works Cited 239
  • Index 251
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