European States, American Contexts

Max. M Edling

in A Revolution in Favor of Government

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780195148701
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835096 | DOI:
European States, American Contexts

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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

Chapter.  5617 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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