Perhaps the best way to break through the perplexities which arise when we compare Charles Beard’s simple view of the Founding Fathers with the more complex view that closer inspection reveals is to start, once again, free of his categories. Let us start with the proposition, at first almost too obvious to be interesting, that their main object was to form what they often called a “more energetic” government—that is, a true national state with all the customary powers—without losing the liberties they had. Let us assume, in short, that they were nationalists first of all, whose purpose was neither to restrict nor to enlarge democracy.
This will help us to remember that what we say about the relation of the C...
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