Book Review: The Quartet by Joseph J. Ellis (Two Stars)

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Book Review: The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution: 1782-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis

Two Stars

“Americans needed to think continentally.” A. Hamilton

Revisionist history at is best … and worst. Making use of newly available correspondence and biographies of his principles, Ellis reconstructs the efforts leading up to the 1787 constitutional convention in Philadelphia and the battle to ratify the new charter. However, his uneven handling of its modern meaning exposes his biases.

“It is indispensable you should lend yourself to its [the government’s] first operation.” A. Hamilton to G. Washington, 1788

Writing history is tricky. The historian must present the truth in a way that the reader can understand, even though the world view and values of their time may differ. Even if sources are cited, the reader seldom has access to them. He must trust the integrity of the writer. And if internal evidence betrays bias or false reporting, then the reader Continue reading

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Constitutional Convention?

conventionFolks asking for a Constitutional Convention need to consider what happened the last time we “amended” our national governing document in 1787: we threw it out and started over.

Yes, I know Michigan’s recent request restricted the convention to considering a balanced budget amendment. Well, the convention of 1787 was supposed to just amend the Articles of Confederation. They ignored their guidance and started afresh.

Do we really want to do that? Sure, each side can think of all sorts of pet projects they’d like to accomplish, but most of those would never pass two-thirds.

What would pass? We don’t know.

Be careful what you wish for.