A Union of Interests
Political and Economic Thought in Revolutionary America
American Political Thought
Sales Date: January 15, 1990
248 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: January 1990
From the onset of the Revolution in 1776 to the inauguration of the federal government in 1789, the American political culture was transformed. The movement for an effective continental republic is here linked to the groundswell for development and economic freedom set off by the Revolution. A Union of Interests reconstructs the discourse of American federalism, a discourse grounded in the debate over the role of government in the regulation of the economy.
Cathy Matson and Peter Onuf integrate analyses of economic ideas and interests with many of the critical problems facing the union after the war—such as jurisdictional disputes, threats of secession, and new prospects for frontier settlement. The revolutionary ideology that had justified the creation of sovereign states under the Articles of Confederation seemed increasingly “artificial” in light of the pressing need to create a “natural,” extended republic that would be truer to the changing circumstances of the American people. The authors demonstrate that the movement for the Constitution drew upon increasingly popular political-economic ideas that sought to reconcile the apparent conflicts between a national interest and the “enlightened” self-interest of citizens. A pivotal chapter argues that the Constitutional Convention was itself both a product of this broad public discussion about America’s future and a contribution to it in which the founders debated the limits to which they should compromise their distinct goals to fit this emerging vision.
"Makes an important and original contribution to a field already distinguished by unusually high standards of scholarship."—Journal of the Early Republic
"A significant work for those with a professional interest in the founding and early national periods of American history."—North Carolina Historical Review
"In all, this is a valuable, even necessary work that builds upon the strengths of both Progressive and neo-Whig historians. It opens doors, and it suggests a direction for future studies of the early Republic."—Journal of Southern History
"A valuable contribution to the further understanding of the creation of the new federal government."—American Historical Review
"This book is a major contribution to our understanding of the history of the Confederation, of the emergence of a new concept and structure of federalism, and of the relationship of changing understandings of union to the evolving political culture of the Revolutionary age. It is clearly written and characterized by exhaustive, absolutely up-to-date research."—Lance Banning, author of The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology
1. Interest and Ideology in Revolutionary America
2. State Governments and the Economy, 1776-1785
3. Interstate Conflict and the Expansion of the Union
4. Commercial Crises and Regional Development
5. Union or Disunion?
6. Constitutional Convention
7. Republicanism and Federalism
8. Federalists, Antifederalists, and the Economy
Epilogue: The Test of Experiment