"Thomas Paine, a native of Thetford, England, arrived in America's colonies with little in the way of money, reputation, or prospects, though he did have a letter of recommendation in his pocket from Benjamin Franklin. Paine also had a passion for liberty in all its forms, and an abiding hatred of tyranny. His forceful, direct expression of those principles found voice in a pamphlet he wrote entitled Common Sense, which proved to be the most influential political work of the time. Ultimately, Paine's treatise provided inspiration to the second Continental Congress for the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. 46 Pages is a dramatic look at a pivotal moment in our country's formation, a scholar's meticulous recreation of the turbulent years leading up to the Revolutionary War, retold with excitement and new insight."
"Rather than seizing the personal opportunity posed by his pamphlet's success, he instead pursued every chance to leverage the success to service of the American cause."
The American Revolution's Final Battle
"During the bitter winter of 1786-87, Daniel Shays, a modest farmer and Revolutionary War veteran, and his compatriot Luke Day led an unsuccessful armed rebellion against the state of Massachusetts. Their desperate struggle was fueled by the injustice of a regressive tax system and a conservative state government that seemed no better than British colonial rule. But despite the immediate failure of this local call-to-arms in the Massachusetts countryside, the event fundamentally altered the course of American history. Shays and his army of four thousand rebels so shocked the young nation's governing elite—even drawing the retired General George Washington back into the service of his country—that ultimately the Articles of Confederation were discarded in favor of a new constitution, the very document that has guided the nation for more than two hundred years, and brought closure to the American Revolution."
"Washington, Knox, and Bowdoin may not have taken these words seriously. But others did. To them,the people's obligation to "throw off" destructive and tyrannical governments not only was clear, but it had been further sanctified by the thousands who fought and died for the Revolution. It had become a sacred trust, a moral imperative, an "indispensable duty" as Judge William Whiting put it."
"One of the most important collections of documents pertaining to the formation of the Constitution of the United States. Notes on the convention taken by Robert Yates, Chief Justice of New York, and copied by John Lansing, Jun. Esquire, late chancellor of that state, members of that convention. Including "The Genuine Information," laid before the Legislature of Maryland, by Luther Martin, Esquire, then attorney-general of that state, and member of the same convention. James Madison thought that Yates and Martin "appear to have reported in angry terms what they observed with jaundiced eyes." It must be added that in many particulars Yates' notes were fuller than Madison's own. Luther Martin's Genuine Information is a general summary of the course of the Debates, with a running criticism on the provisions of the Constitution. Also contains an appendix with documents by Edmund Randolf, and others."
"One party, whose object and wish it was to abolish and annihilate all State governments, and to bring forward one general government, over this extensive continent, of monarchical nature, under certain restrictions and limitations. Those who openly avowed this sentiment were, it is true, but few; yet it is equally true, Sir, that there was a considerable number, who did not openly avow it, who were by myself, and many others of the convention, considered as being in reality favorers of that sentiment; and, carry into effect what they well knew openly and avowedly could not be accomplished."
The Other Founders
"The struggle over the U.S. Constitution in 1788 pitted the Federalists, supporters of a stronger central government, against the Anti-Federalists, the champions of a more localist vision of politics."
"Regarding the Constitutional Convention, he echoed a common Anti-Federalist complaint: the framers deliberately employed ambiguous language to facilitate their aristocratic designs. He confidently asserted, "The Convention who made it intended to destroy our free government by, or they neaver would have spent 4 Months in making such an inexpliset thing." The Constitution was "made like A Fiddle, with but few Strings," so that those in power might "play any tune upon it they pleased."
"The federalists were for ratifying the Constitution as it stood, and the others not until amendments were made. Their names then aught not to have been distinguished by federalists and anti-federalists, but rats and anti-rats."
Anti Consolidated Government Papers
"The dissenting opinions of Patrick Henry and others who saw the Constitution as a threat to our hard-won rights and liberties."
"If this be true, and if the state can raise money only by permission of the general government, it follows that the state governments will be dependent on the will of the general government for their existence."
"A number of characters, of the greatest eminence in this country, object to this government for its consolidating tendency. This is not imaginary. It is a formidable reality. If consolidation proves to be as mischievous to this country as it has been to other countries, what will the poor inhabitants of this country do? This government will operate like an ambuscade. It will destroy the state governments, and swallow the liberties of the people, without giving previous notice. If gentlemen are willing to run the hazard, let them run it; but I shall exculpate myself by my opposition and monitory warnings within these walls. But then comes paper money. We are at peace on this subject. Though this is a thing which that mighty federal Convention had no business with, yet I acknowledge that paper money would be the bane of this country. I detest it. Nothing can justify a people in resorting to it but extreme necessity. It is at rest, however, in this commonwealth. It is no longer solicited or advocated."
"When President George Washington ordered an army of 13,000 men to march west in 1794 to crush a tax rebellion among frontier farmers, he established a range of precedents that continues to define federal authority over localities today. The "Whiskey Rebellion" marked the first large-scale resistance to a law of the U.S. government under the Constitution. This classic confrontation between champions of liberty and defenders of order was long considered the most significant event in the first quarter-century of the new nation"
"Whiskey was an item of barter like grain or milk or cattle. Where could the frontiersmen secure the cash necessary to pay this tax?"
"When such as tax was payable in cash at the point of production, the injustice was effectively doubled."
Reclaiming the American Revolution
"This book examines the struggles for political ascendancy between Federalists and the Republicans in the early days of the American republic viewed through the lens of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions authored by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and demonstrates the Resolutions' relevance to current politics."
"But Hamilton wanted to go farther than debt assumption. He believed a funded national debt would assist in establishing public credit. By funding national debt, Hamilton envisioned the Congress setting aside a portion of tax revenues to pay each year's interest without an annual appropriation. Redemption of the principal would be left to the government's discretion. At the time Hamilton gave his Report on Public Credit, the national debt was $80 million. Though such a large figure shocked many Republicans who saw debt as a menace to be avoided, Hamilton perceived debt's benefits. "[I]n countries in which the national debt is properly funded, and the object of established confidence," explained Hamilton, "it assumes most of the purposes of money." Federal stock would be issued in exchange for state and national debt certificates, with interest on the stock running about 4.5 percent. To Republicans the debt proposals were heresy. The farmers and planters of the South, who were predominantly Republican, owed enormous sums to British creditors and thus had firsthand knowledge of the misery wrought by debt. Debt, as Hamilton himself noted, must be paid or credit is ruined. High levels of taxation, Republicans prognosticated, would be necessary just to pay the interest on the perpetual debt. Believing that this tax burden would fall on the yeoman farmers and eventually rise to European levels, Republicans opposed Hamilton's debt program.
"To help pay the interest on the debt, Hamilton convinced the Congress to pass an excise on whiskey. In Federalist N. 12, Hamilton noted that because "[t]he genius of the people will ill brook the inquisitive and peremptory spirit of excise law," such taxes would be little used by the national government. In power, the Secretary of the Treasury soon changed his mind and the tax on the production of whiskey rankled Americans living on the frontier. Cash was scarce in the West and the Frontiersmen used whiskey as an item of barter."