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Radical Propositions The politics of naming, creating social and governmental structures, and the role self- interest and the creation of personal wealth.

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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:

1 Radical Propositions The politics of naming, creating social and governmental structures, and the role self- interest and the creation of personal wealth

2 Important questions  What would a unified social structure (society) look like?  Where should power reside?  Whose authority is predominant?  Chaos and jubilance!

3 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

4 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

5 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

6 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

7 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

8 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

9 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.)

10 U.S. Constitution Useful tool, but for whom? Wealthy men Landed men Slave owners Manufacturing or shipping Usurers Bond holders

11 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

12 Who wasn’t present at the Constitutional Convention? SlavesIndentured servants

13 Who wasn’t present at the Constitutional Convention? Women Men without property

14 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

15 Should we be surprised? These men ended up with their faces on our currency?

16 A brief film clip on the crafting the U.S. Constitution  ge/key-constitutional-concepts ge/key-constitutional-concepts

17 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?


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