Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Madison’s theory of the large republic—that better government decision-making would occur over a larger geographic area, both because a greater multiplicity of interests would exist and because representatives would have greater opportunities to “refine and enlarge” their constituents’ views through a system of indirect elections, large constituencies, and lengthy terms in office—was in fact mainly inspired by his wish to design a system that would suppress paper money emissions and debtor relief laws. Madison essentially admitted as much during one very candid moment at the convention, when he noted that the fundamental challenge facing a republican form of government was figuring out how to prevent power “slid[ing] into the hands” of those who “sigh for a more equal distribution of [property].”
The above is an excerpt from Michael Klarman's new book "The Framers' Coup." I haven't read any of Klarman's books and I'm not sure I should. He's very distinguished and won the Bancroft Prize in 2005. Yet his thesis sounds like a more sophisticated version of Charles Beard. For Madison, he seems to claim, it was all about the treatment of debts and maintaining inequality. Bad, Framers, bad, bad. You may also notice that feeling of trudging uphill with a heavy weight on your back as you read this excerpt. That's not the feeling good writing gives you.
UPDATE: Well, I bought the book anyway on Kindle and long story short, it seems terrific! And well written too. I don't know where the excerpt above comes from, but it's not characteristic of the book so far. It's fascinating; one of the few books out so far based in part on the remarkable Documentary History of the Ratification out from University of Wisconsin. So, ignore what I said before. If you're interested in the Constitution (and who isn't) you might want to buy this book. Maybe I'll write a review of it.