Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Revolution in Favor of Government

I find myself reading this book by Max Edling, which explores the ratification debates and the early Federalist government.  He takes on a more pedantic tone, which can be a bit irritating, but offers a number of valuable insights.  He looks at the Constitution in relation to contemporary views, particularly those held by historians like Bailyn and Wood.  In this sense it is a historiography, exploring the Constitution's "original intent," and how it has been interpreted.  Looks like a complete on-line copy here.


  1. Interesting book and more along the lines of what I enjoy reading -- although it does have all the trappings of the dissertation. Still, he makes some interesting points and zeroes in on some of what I found frustrating with the Maier book -- focusing on what the anti-federalists objected to (standing armies and taxation) partially at least in relation to their view of Europe states.

    Unless he changes his argument later in the book, he does seem to agree that even the anti-federalists at the ratifying conventions were the educated and affluent and often did not reflect or even really represent the population as a whole. They looked to them, according to Edling, to use their advantages to make informed decisions.

    It helps to see the primary sources that Maier uses reflected here in his analysis. Makes me wish now that I had read Beard and some of the other progressives.

  2. Read some more in this last night -- fascinating the role tax policy played in state formation. One of the interesting things about Edling is that he's writing from the outside looking in. It's not a great read, but really fascinating material.