To Form A More Perfect Union: A New Economic Interpretation of the United States Constitution

Oxford University Press, 27.03.2003 - 416 Seiten
Many important questions regarding the creation and adoption of the United States Constitution remain unresolved. Did slaveholdings or financial holdings significantly influence our Founding Fathers' stance on particular clauses or rules contained in the Constitution? Was there a division of support for the Constitution related to religious beliefs or ethnicity? Were founders from less commercial areas more likely to oppose the Constitution? To Form a More Perfect Union successfully answers these questions and offers an economic explanation for the behavior of our Founding Fathers during the nation's constitutional founding. In 1913, American historian Charles A. Beard controversially argued in his book An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States that the framers and ratifiers of the Constitution were less interested in furthering democratic principles than in advancing specific economic and financial interests. Beard's thesis eventually emerged as the standard historical interpretation and remained so until the 1950s. Since then, many constitutional and historical scholars have questioned an economic interpretation of the Constitution as being too narrow or too calculating, believing the great principles and political philosophies that motivated the Founding Fathers to be worthier subjects of study. In this meticulously researched reexamination of the drafting and ratification of our nation's Constitution, Robert McGuire argues that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, George Mason and the other Founding Fathers did act as much for economic motives as for abstract ideals. To Form a More Perfect Union offers compelling evidence showing that the economic, financial, and other interests of the founders can account for the specific design and adoption of our Constitution. This is the first book to provide modern evidence that substantiates many of the overall conclusions found in Charles Beard's An Economic Interpretation while challenging and overturning other of Beard's specific findings. To Form a More Perfect Union presents an entirely new approach to the study of the shaping of the U.S. Constitution. Through the application of economic thinking and rigorous statistical techniques, as well as the processing of vast amounts of data on the economic interests and personal characteristics of the Founding Fathers, McGuire convincingly demonstrates that an economic interpretation of the Constitution is valid. Radically challenging the prevailing views of most historians, political scientists, and legal scholars, To Form a More Perfect Union provides a wealth of new findings about the Founding Fathers' constitutional choices and sheds new light on the motivations behind the design and adoption of the United States Constitution.

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Ausgewählte Seiten


The Evolution of the Prevailing Interpretation
Economics and the Constitution
The Philadelphia Convention of 1787
The Choice of Specific Clauses in the Constitution
Another Look at the Choice of Specific Clauses
The Choice of the Basic Design of the Constitution
The Ratification of the Constitution 17871790
The Overall Ratification Vote in the Nation
The Data and Their Sources
Full and Parsimonious Voting Models for the Philadelphia Convention
PersonalInterest and ConstituentInterest Voting Models for the Philadelphia Convention
Alternative Voting Model and Hypothesis Tests for Nationalism at the Philadelphia Convention
Voting Models for Pooled Samples of the State Ratifying Conventions
Voting Models for Massachusetts North Carolina and Virginia Ratifying Conventions

The Ratification Vote within Individual State Conventions
The Lessons of 1787 and Ratification

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Beliebte Passagen

Seite 216 - FREEDOM of speech and debate in congress shall not be impeached or questioned in any Court, or place out of Congress...
Seite 235 - No person held to service or labour in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due. Section 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State ; nor any State be formed by the junction of two or more...
Seite 215 - America agree to certain articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the States of Newhampshire, Massachuse'tts-Bay, Rhodeisland and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina and Georgia in the Words following, viz. " Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the States of Newhampshire, Massachusettsbay, Rhodeisland and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania,...
Seite 235 - The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States ; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular State. SECTION 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion, and on application of the Legislature, or of the Executive...
Seite 215 - The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other for their common defence, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever.
Seite 221 - ... of the said articles of confederation and perpetual union, and all and singular the matters and things therein contained: and we do further solemnly plight and engage the faith of our respective constituents, that they shall abide by the determinations of the United States in congress assembled, on all questions, which by the said confederation are submitted to them; and that the articles thereof shall be inviolably observed by the states we respectively represent, and that the union shall be...
Seite 220 - ... borrow money or emit bills on the credit of the United States, transmitting every half year to the respective states an account of the sums of money so borrowed or emitted : to build and equip a navy : to agree upon the number of land forces, and to make requisitions from each state for its quota, in proportion to the number of white inhabitants in such state...
Seite 216 - The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in this Union, the free inhabitants of each of these States, (paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted,) shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States...
Seite 217 - States in Congress assembled, for the defence of such State or its trade ; nor shall any body of forces be kept up by any State in time of peace, except such number only as, in the judgment of the United States in Congress assembled, shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts necessary for the defence of such State...
Seite 221 - ... or military operations, as in their judgment require secrecy ; and the yeas and nays of the delegates of each state on any question shall be entered on the journal, when it is desired by any delegate ; and the delegates of a state, or any of them, at his or their request, shall be furnished with a transcript of the said journal, except such parts as are above excepted, to lay before the legislatures of the several states.

Über den Autor (2003)

Robert A. McGuire was born in Long Beach, California, and educated at Long Beach State and the University of Washington. A professor of economics at the University of Akron, he is the author of many studies that have appeared in academic journals, including the American Economic Review, American Journal of Political Science, Economic History Review, Journal of Economic History, and Public Choice. Among his most recent research is a study of the Confederate constitution appearing in Economic Inquiry and an ongoing study of the role of diseases in American economic history funded with a National Science Foundation grant in 2000.

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