Preface: The Generation
Some people thought that American independence was Manifest Destiny, '"'Tom Paine, for example, claimed that it was simply a matter of common sense that an island could not rule a continent.'"' But for the most part, triumph of the American revolution was improbable, and therefore it is a remarkable event in history. No one expected that Britain, the strongest country in the world would be defeated by the colonies, and that America"'"s Republic, a government uncommon in those monarchial days, would survive, yet it did.
It is only now in retrospect that the American Revolution seems inevitable. To the participants it seemed to be a long-shot. They were not expecting victory, always fearing execution for treason. Rightly so, too, since the British could have easily won the war if they had fought more forcefully in its earliest stages.
Once the Americans won, it was widely predicted that if America did survive, it would become a very strong nation due to its abundance of natural resources, space, and isolation. The short-term question, though, was whether or not it would survive. One of the biggest problems in its beginnings was in organizing a national government. The national government was what the Americans had escaped from. They knew though, that without a unifying entity, the country would not be able to live up to its full predicted potential.
The founding brothers wanted America to live to its potential so the minority who wanted a unified nation organized the Constitutional Convention in 1787 with the purpose of drafting a national scale constitution. The Constitutional Convention is often criticized for its secrecy, extra-legality, and the fact that its members were of the elite¡ªhardly a good representation of the masses. Others, though, call it '"'the miracle of Philadelphia'"' for the fact that it accomplished the seemingly impossible goal of creating a union of states.
A few compromises were made during this convention: interest of small v. large states, federal v. state jurisdiction, and sectional slavery. Nevertheless, still a '"'work-in-progress'"' in 1789, the US had several things going for it. It was youthful, expansive, and the first President, George Washington, was unanimously chosen. The next decade would be the most important in the country"'"s history.
There are two ways to view events in this stage of history. The '"'pure-Republicanism'"' interpretation, or '"'the Jeffersonian interpretation'"'. The Republicanism view on history claims the revolution to be a liberation movement from everything British, and dislike the take-over of the Federalists (moneymen) in 1790 of which Hamilton was the Chief Culprit
The alternative interpretation views Washington, Adams, and Hamilton as the heirs to the revolutionary legacy and Jefferson as the chief culprit. This view is more collectivistic rather than individualistic.
The book will look at this time in history through several stories that show us the times. The stories will be of political leaders that include (in alphabetical order of course) Abigail and John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.
There will be four common themes throughout these stories:
1) The achievements of the revolution were collective, only succeeding because of the balance of personalities involved. 2) All the politicians knew one another. The politics were vis-¨¤-vis and those involved could not avoid the personal interactions and the emotion 3) They took the most threatening issue off the agenda: slavery. Who knows, America may not have succeeded without it taken out. 4) The politicians knew that their actions were writing history and that they would be looked up to and read about in the future. They therefore kept to their best behaviors, and in a way were performing for those who live after them to look back on them. They were actors in a...
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