Presentation on theme: "Radical Propositions The politics of naming, creating social and governmental structures, and the role self- interest and the creation of personal wealth."— Presentation transcript:
Radical Propositions The politics of naming, creating social and governmental structures, and the role self- interest and the creation of personal wealth
Important questions What would a unified social structure (society) look like? Where should power reside? Whose authority is predominant? Chaos and jubilance!
Smallpox outbreak Began during the war (1776), spread throughout North America Began in MA, contagion “spread more widely than warfare” Reached New Orleans, Mexico City, and Canadian outposts Ravaged Amerindians in Northwest Coast, Baja California, as well as VA, FL, and other southern colonies
Concerns about the military 1776 – 1783 War of Independence 1780 – Continental Congress agrees to half pay for life to officers 1781 – Articles of Confederation, ratified 1782 – Officers attempt to receive compensation 1783 – talk of military takeover Shay’s Rebellion (MA) – matters of taxation, farmers faced foreclosure, 1,500 farmers march on court
Washington: Plows to Ploughshares Washington had returned to his farm, after defeating the most powerful military in the world Washington was trusted, seen as one who could bring people together without self-interests guiding his view Boundary disputes between MD and VA that he was attempting to resolve in 1785 1786 – convention to refine and revise the Articles of Confederation
Renaming and Reframing Build a national culture with a shared identity ~ E pluribus unnum Rename towns and public venues Christopher Columbus + George Washington = Washington, District of Columbia
Noah Webster (1758 – 1843) Born in the U.S. in CT. Attended Yale College in between fighting War of Independence Taught briefly, studied law, studied for and received a masters degree, opened a school Unsuccessful in this endeavor, he began to write for a newspaper Wrote a “speller,” a grammar and a reader for elementary grades Determined that there needed to be an intellectual foundation for American nationalism
Independent Culture Noah Webster: Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) “As an independent nation, our honor requires us to have a system of our own, in language as well as a government.” Creates lexicon of 5,000 words that reflect the reality of American life: tomahawk, rattlesnake
Say what? Spelling matters Spelling of words changed (Br > Am) Colour – ColorLabour – Labor Theatre – TheaterPlough – Plow Centre – CenterHonour - Honor Grammar and the use of punctuation change “We must go to the market today”, she said. (British) “We must go to the market today,” she said. (U.S.)
U.S. Constitution Useful tool, but for whom? Wealthy men Landed men Slave owners Manufacturing or shipping Usurers Bond holders
Direct economic interest in strong federalist government Manufacturers: protective tariffs Moneylenders: stop use of paper money Land speculators: protection for invasion Amerindian lands Slave owners: security against revolts and runaways Bondholders: raise money through national taxation
Who wasn’t present at the Constitutional Convention? SlavesIndentured servants
Who wasn’t present at the Constitutional Convention? Women Men without property
Founding Fathers: Money making and self-interest Benjamin Franklin - family fortune ($150,000) Alexander Hamilton – developed banking system James Madison – large owner, slaves and plantations George Washington – landlord
Should we be surprised? These men ended up with their faces on our currency?
A brief film clip on the crafting the U.S. Constitution ge/key-constitutional-concepts ge/key-constitutional-concepts
Consider this question … How do you imagine the U.S. Constitution would be framed if the excluded classes of people were participants in the development of the guiding principles put forth in this document?