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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 02:59 PM

29. All of America is based on myth

 

Most Americans know that the framers met for three months in closed session, but this is generally forgiven on the grounds that the then Congress of the United States had not commissioned them to write a new Constitution, and neither revolutionaries nor counter-revolutionaries can do all their work in the open. What few modern-day Americans realize, however, is that the framers did their best to ensure that we would never know the details of their deliberations. All the participants in the convention were sworn to life-long secrecy, and when the debates were over, those who had taken notes were asked to hand them in to George Washington, whose final task as chairman of the convention was to get rid of the evidence. American's first president, it appears, was also its first shredder.

Fortunately, not all the participants kept their vows of silence or handed in all their notes. But it wasn't until 1840, a half century after the Constitution was put into effect, with the posthumous surfacing of James Madison's extensive notes, that the American people could finally read what had happened in those three crucial months in Philadelphia. What was revealed was neither divine nor diabolical, but simply human, an all-too-human exercise in politics. Merchants, bankers, ship-owners, planters, slave traders and slave owners, land speculators, and lawyers, who made their money working for these groups, voiced their interests and fears in clear, uncluttered language; and, after settling a few, relatively minor disagreements, they drew up plans for a form of government they believe would serve these interests most effectively. But the fifty years of silence had the desired myth-building effect. The human actors were transformed into "Founding Fathers." Their political savvy and common sense were now seen as all-surpassing
wisdom, and their concern for their own class of property owners (and, to a lesser, extent, sections of the country and occupational groups) had been elevated to universal altruism (in the liberal version) or
self-sacrificing patriotism (in the preferred conservative view).

The founding documents were designed to reign in the "mob" - the mob that had actually fought and won the Revolution.

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xchrom Jan 2013 OP
DeSwiss Jan 2013 #1
xchrom Jan 2013 #2
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LineNew Reply All of America is based on myth
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