On line at 35 an hour
CJohnson at law.utexas.edu
Fri Aug 24 14:00:22 PDT 2007
Elliot is available on line, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/hlawquery.html
You can therefore search by word, find it on the page, copy
the full paragraph and edit down to two lines, without lifting your
quill pen. Finding and editing nuggets at the rate of 35 an hour means
you go back to the original sources more often and check to make sure.
Never trust a secondary source when you can collect a big sample
yourself at 35/hr You can call up the specters of Madison and
Washington by KWIC, who will talk to you on point KWIC.
Jensen, Kaminski & Saladino are good, but you
are lucky to collect 35 a day, especially if you have to hand copy and
then type the quotes. When you had to visit the individual archives,
35 nuggets a year was not bad year's work.
Law of large numbers is the best way to correct historical errors. Lots
of historians misjudgments come from trying to generalize from too few
Johnson, Really Cool Stuff: Digital Searches into the Constitutional
Period. Constitutional Commentary (Aug 2007)
2. On NC &RI. Best remedy for misinterpretation is not to exclude
evidence, but to scratch the bottom of the barrel for every available
scrap. You get judgment that Gallatin is making it up, but only with
more evidence. Since RI was the first target of the Constitution --
that despicable corner of the continent who had done more damage to the
nation than the whole state was worth (by vetoing federal tax on imports
needed to pay the war debts), I can not imagine knowing what the C was
about without knowing something about RI. The C was once a weapon in a
hard fought war, and if you do not know the battle you can not know its
Best as always.
Calvin H. Johnson
Andrews & Kurth Centennial Professor of Law
The University of Texas School of Law
727 E. Dean Keeton (26th) St.
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 232-1306 (voice)
FAX: (512) 232-2399
For reviews, chapters, discounts and news on Johnson, Righteous Anger at
the Wicked States: The Meaning of the Founders Constitution (Cambridge
University Press 2005) see
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
[mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Jack Rakove
Sent: Friday, August 24, 2007 2:59 PM
To: conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: Early American Voting Demographics (responding to
ProfessorRakove responding to himself)
My historian colleagues in the document-editing trade routinely wonder
(as I think Paul Finkelman recently noted) why anyone keeps citing to
Elliot's somewhat suspect Debates when the Jensen, Kaminski & Saladino
edition of The Documentary History of Ratification is so far along.
Volume III is devoted to Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut.
If there is extant material for those states, that's where to look. Or
to put it another way: Elliot, Schmelliot.
On the technical side of interpretation, I have wondered about the value
of citing to either the NC or RI debates, either in 1788 or afterward,
as evidence of original understanding or "public meaning" (whatever that
is). How could the original understanding of rejecting parties (as of
1788) be a guide to interpretation? And wouldn't any gloss derived from
the moment after the Constitution took effect be better regarded as
subsequent interpretation rather than original understanding?
Historian by day
Cubs fan all the days of my life (therefore potentially including the
messianic days as well; and for other possibilities, cf. William
Kinsella, "The Last Pennant Before Armageddon.")
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2007 15:12:21 -0700 (PDT)
From: seth tillman <sbarretttillman at yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Early American Voting Demographics (responding to
Just to clarify a point Professor Rakove made about Rhode Island
As I understand it, although R.I. did not "originally" call a
convention in 1788, at a time when other states did so, it did call a
ratification convention in 1790 -- after the Constitution had already
gone into effect among the ratifying states. That convention, at the
conclusion of its second session, ratified the Constitution.
The R.I. Convention's debates are not available in Elliot's Debates.
As a result many (otherwise well informed) people believe no such
debates or records have survived from R.I. until today. In fact, the
debate of the first session of the R.I. convention can be found in:
Cotner, Robert C., ed. Theodore Foster?s Minutes of the Convention Held
at South Kingstown, Rhode Island, in March, 1790, Which Failed to Adopt
the Constitution of the United States . 1929. Reprint. Freeport, NY:
Books for Libraries Press, 1970. The record of the debates, such as it
is, is not very detailed, and unfortunately, the R.I. debates are not a
treasure trove of useful tidbits for making novel arguments about
original public meaning.
My understanding is that when the Ratification Project publishes its
volume on Rhode Island, these debates will be reproduced. (For all I
know this volume is already out.)
And in the event anyone might be interested, a record of the New
Jersey convention has also survived -- another state not reported in
Elliot's Debates. But only minutes have survived, no substantive
debate. Again, not a treasure trove of useful tidbits. There are also
some records of the Vermont's 1790 ratification. I believe Elliot's
Debates does not report any Delaware or Georgia debates, and as far as I
know none now exist, but I should be very glad to hear otherwise if
anyone has different information.
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