Early American Voting Demographics (responding to Professor Rakove responding to himself)
matthewhpolsci at aol.com
matthewhpolsci at aol.com
Fri Aug 24 15:47:01 PDT 2007
Point 1.?? It is easy to find original words.? They are written. What is the methodologically valid way of getting original "understanding"??? Is original understanding the same thing as original "meaning?"
Point 2.?? Words are sometimes chosen to allow a majority to come together, when nobody knows exactly what they mean.? Why is this not true for the 1787 Constitution?
Point 3.? To Professor Rakove's question, the opinions of objectors become part of "how we will make this thing work, because if we do not accept some of what those guys have to have they will upset the whole deal."
Point 4.? This is just to restate a position I stated a year or two.? The Federalist, ?which a year or two ago on this list someone taught me that the properly educated historians call it, not The Federalist Papers,?is -- as a statement of original meaning or intention-- is a judicially imposed fiction.? It was political propaganda by an odd coalition, one member of which was not in Philadelphia at all, and one member of which had little to do with anything and spent most of his time back home in New York.?
Later on the Supreme Court (per CJ Marshall) adopted The Federalist and we know that anything have legal authority at that level becomes the legal version of "truth."
Matthew Holden, Jr.
Matthew Holden, Jr.
Henry L. and Grace M. Doherty Professor Emeritus of Politics, University of Virginia
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From: Jack Rakove <rakove at stanford.edu>
To: conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Sent: Fri, 24 Aug 2007 2:58 pm
Subject: Early American Voting Demographics (responding to Professor Rakove 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 ratification.
? 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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