By Douglass Adair, John Allphin Moore, John Edwin Murphy
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Additional info for A grand experiment: the constitution at 200 : essays from the Douglass Adair Symposia, Volume 1986
But the Founders shared with the thinkers of their time, as we apparently share with them, the conviction that a republic can be sustained only if its people are virtuous, act with commitment and concern for the public interest, and are capable of reflecting on their condition as well as of making choices to assure a better future. This is the injunction Hamilton proffered in The Federalist No. 1. It is the challenge taken up by the Douglass Adair Symposia. In fact, Professor Adair would instruct us to share the Founders' insistence, remembering that a democratic republic is a grand yet fragile experiment, demanding the best of every citizen.
Civic virtue is intended to refine individual passion and interest, majority-powered conformity, and potential tyranny into selfless action for the common good. How, then, does the Constitution guarantee this desired refinement? Madison might say that the Constitution ensures this through the ameliorative effects of institutions, particularly institutions that balance and check one another, thereby making it possible but not easy to act. When action is taken, there is a consensus among several groups about the action rather than agreement only among a like-minded majority faction.
Thereafter, the populous wealthy states had no interest in supporting a strong national government that could be controlled by the votes of lesser states. After the nationalist spurt of 1776 proved insufficient to produce the Articles, the states crippled the Confederation. Even as colonies the states had been particularistic, jealous, and uncooperative. Centrifugal forces originating in diversityof economics, geography, religion, class structure, and raceproduced sectional, provincial, and local loyalties that could not be overcome during a war against the centralized powers claimed by Parliament.
A grand experiment: the constitution at 200 : essays from the Douglass Adair Symposia, Volume 1986 by Douglass Adair, John Allphin Moore, John Edwin Murphy