Founding Fathers
Colonial America
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What was the sequence of events that lead from the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth rock to the Declaration of Independence?

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2011-09-13 16:46:27

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"The_Foundation_of_Colonial_America">The Foundation of Colonial


I can only answer with two chapter summaries of my book The Never

Realized Republic: Political Economy and Republican Virtue. These

two chapter summaries appear on and are inclusive of

footnotes. If you link to my book on Amazon more chapter summaries

will be appearing. Here is the link, just copy and paste into


Chapter II: European Heritage and Civil Government:The Virtues

of Custom, Law, and Liberty, would be a great help to your question

but I can't get the footnotes in because I have to copy them one at

a time. Good Luck!

Chapter I

The Foundation of Colonial America:

Perpetuating Freedom and Justice

Introducing the reader to concepts of law and liberty brought to

the mainland American Colonies, Chapter I introduces principles of

liberty and justice that were peculiarly English . It provides an

overview of demographics for the colonies, i.e., North and South

being essentially English with the middle colonies representing

western Europe.

Chapter I also references colonial charters as legal and binding

documents, that were the recognition not the source of English

liberty. By the time the colonies had been established, with their

civil government, and societies, there was a foundation of law.

English laws were English, but the colonists were immersed in

classical education, and "learning was respected by many of those

who wanted no part of it themselves."1

It is here we introduce Hamilton�s views referencing colonial

charters as he began to enter the world�s stage as an advocate for

(colonial) Americans. "...besides the clear voice of natural

justice in this respect, the fundamental principles of the English

Constitution are in our favor."2 "In British North America,

however, Englishmen ruled over Englishmen according to English

principles, and this fact helps to explain the unique political,

social, and economic developments that shaped the future American



1Marvin Meyers, eds., et al., Sources of the American Republic:

A Documentary History of Politics, Society, and Thought; rev.ed.,

(Glenview, Ill: Scott Foresman and Co., 1967), Vol. 1, Doc. #37,

108. Hereinafter cited as Meyers, eds., et al., Sources of the

American Republic.

2Alexander Hamilton,, A Full Vindication of the Measures of the

Congress, &c. New-York [December 15] 1774, in Harold C. Syrett

and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, (New

York: Columbia University Press, 1961), I, 47. Hereinafter cited as

Syrett and Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton.

3Meyers, eds., et al., Sources of the American Republic. Vol. 1,



Chapter III

Revolution, Confederation and the Constitution:

Social Progress and Civil Government

Chapter III does not by-pass the American Revolution. It is here

we turn from foundation and principle to introducing polity. The

Revolution is central to the theme as a cause and motivation, not

an historical event. The reader is brought directly to the

Constitutional Convention as means to explain in Montesquieu�s

words, "There is this difference between the nature and principle

of government, that the former is that by which it is constituted,

the latter that by which it is made to act. One is its particular

structure, and the other the human passions which set it into


The foundation of the federal Constitution is demonstrated as an

on-going development, attempting to preserve the principles of

European heritage, the Declaration of Independence, and the

Articles of the Confederation. Here we begin to demonstrate

Alexander Hamilton�s private and public vision for the American

Empire that was intended to replace England�s supremacy.

America�s revolution was a lawful and legitimate one. As the

Articles of Confederation and its central government failed to

maintain the requisite fiscal policies that would maintain

government which maintains liberty, taxation and other "extraction

policies" were imperative in strengthening the "central state


What was the "traditional republican heritage that Hamilton had

so successfully discarded."? Why was the traditional republican

heritage credited as "so heavily [influencing] the Revolutionary

mind."?3 Liberty was central to that republican heritage and

central to the purpose of government as well. Moreover, increased

political participation was central to the colonists� perception of

active citizenship and it was this participation that refused to

allow them to become, in Hamilton�s words, "vassals of their fellow

subjects in Great Britain."4

In the Constitutional Convention, classical and modern wisdom

prevailed. The foundation of this wisdom, as discussed earlier,

rested upon a faith in heritage, law, and education that clothed

its principles in the dire hopes for a fully realized and hybrid

republic. Inasmuch as Hamilton�s and others� educations were cut

short by the war,5 there were sages present at Philadelphia. The

Revolutionary generation was certainly represented in those

hallowed halls when Hamilton spoke eloquently of "our Country" and

"that we owed it to our Country, to do on this emergency whatever

we should deem essential to its happiness... The great question" he

asked "is what provision shall make for the happiness of our

Country?"6 It is an all too familiar maxim of Hamilton�s

biographers that, to him, the British government was the best in

the world. This Madison notes, was Hamilton�s "private


Hamilton was certainly a part of one of these groups. "Early

interested in finance, he worked to secure from the states the

power for Congress to levy an impost in order to secure a national

income. The effort failed by 1783 and he then began working for a

stronger union."7 Beard recognized Hamilton�s organizing ability

and, though "he had little part in the formation of the

Constitution, it was his organizing ability that made it a real

instrument bottomed on all the substantial economic interests of

the time."8

Yet the goals of the Revolution were still wanting. There were

two major arenas in which political thought moved: the Age of

Enlightenment and a growing sense of nationalism. British practices

served more to reinforce this nationalism than to create a threat

requiring protection.9 This growing nationalism was "inseparable

from preserving the gains of the Revolution,"10 of which republican

virtue; the desire to do good for the public good � was clearly an

intended gain. "Happily for America, happily we trust for the whole

human race, they [the Revolutionary generation] pursued a new and

noble course."11

The means of this social progress, born of the potential of

human progress of the founding father�s heritage and classical

education, to the hopes of virtuous statesman for economic and

social development, was realistic expectations accompanying the

Revolutionary generation and their nearly realized republic.

The aggrandizing of government and the increase of a central

authority to utilize and exploit those interests that were most

"constant and active," seeking "attachment," through "the

dispensation of those regular honors & emoluments,"12 is the

subject of the remaining chapters.


1Charles De Secondat, Baron De Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws,

ed., Robert Maynard Hutchins, trans. Thomas Nugent, (Chicago:

William Benton, 1748, 1952), Book III, sec. 1, 9.

2Dall Forsythe, Taxation and Political Change in the Young

Nation, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977), 14.

3Drew R. McCoy, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in

Jeffersonian America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina

Press, 1980), 132.

4[Alexander Hamilton], A Full Vindication of the Measures of

Congress...(N.Y., 1774), in Syrett and Cooke, eds., The Papers of

Alexander Hamilton, I, 53.

5Carl J. Richard, The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome,

and the American Enlightenment, (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard

University Press, 1994), 26.

6Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, Reported by

James Madison, with an Introduction by Adrienne Koch, (N.Y.: W.W.

Norton & Co.), 130. 7Stanley D. Rose, "Alexander Hamilton and

the Historians," Vanderbilt Law Review, II, (1958), 854.

8 Charles Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution,

(New York: MacMillan, 1946), 100.

9Robert E. Brown, Charles Beard and the Constitution,

(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1956), 59.

10Frank Bourgin, The Great Challenge: The Myth of Laissez-faire

in the Early Republic, (N.Y.: George Braziller), 33.

11The Federalist Papers, Clinton Rossiter, ed., (New York: Nal

Penguin Inc., 1961), No. 14, 104.

12See Hamilton�s statements during the Constitutional

Convention. One was a list of five "great & essential

principles necessary for the support of government," and that

number two was "the love of power. Men love power." Madison, Notes

of the Debates in the Federal Convention, 131.

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