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A Revolution in Favor of GovernmentOrigins of the U.S. Constitution and the Making of the American State$
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Max. M Edling

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195148701

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195148703.001.0001

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European States, American Contexts

European States, American Contexts

(p.47) 3 European States, American Contexts
A Revolution in Favor of Government

Max. M Edling

Oxford University Press

In order to interpret the debate over the ratification of the US Constitution as a debate over state formation, it is necessary to know something both about the development of the European state in the early modern period and about the ideological response that this development generated. The aim of this chapter is therefore to provide a historical sociology of state building. The first three sections discuss the development of the British state after the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89 (the deposition of James II and the accession of William III and Mary II to the English throne), concentrating on Britain not because it was by far the most common point of reference in the ratification debate, but rather because no other government was nearly as successful as the British when it came to raising taxes and mobilizing resources and men. The emphasis on discussion of Britain is not meant to imply that the Constitution was adopted in order to introduce a British “fiscal‐military state” in America, but rather to demonstrate that there were certain limits to the expansion of the central government in the USA that did not apply in Britain. Precisely for this reason, the state created by the Federalists was very different from the contemporary British state, and the last two sections of the chapter address the basis of these differences.

Keywords:   British history, British state, central government, debate, European state, Federalism, historical sociology, public debate, ratification, state formation, US Constitution, USA

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