Founding is an individual activity, not the work of a committee. This consideration led Machiavelli to excuse the actions of Romulus, who famously murdered his brother Remus. Founding a new mode and order is an enormously difficult task requiring an extraordinary degree of authority.
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Yet a founder often begins without holding an office of any kind. His authority derives from taking advantage of an "opportunity," a situation in which people face dire circumstances already in place or else created by the founder. Under such conditions, people are disposed to follow a strong leader. But this spontaneous inclination only lasts so long. Sooner or later, people will grow discontented and wish to be rid of the founder, as when Moses faced rebellions in the desert from those who had willingly followed him out of Egypt. At some point, Machiavelli observes, a founder will need to ensure his authority by compelling obedience.
For Machiavelli, founding takes place on different levels.
It can refer to changing the frame of government within an existing state; creating an altogether new unit or nation; or, beyond politics in the literal sense, transforming an entire culture or civilization from, say, the pagan era to the Christian era, or the Christian era to the Enlightenment. Founding in the last case is a project beyond what any single person can ever accomplish in a lifetime. Only an invisible founder, a thinker endowed with religious authority or theoretical persuasiveness, can launch the enterprise. The thinker induces others, long after the introduction of his idea and often without their direct knowledge, to carry out parts of the project.
The invisible founder becomes, as it were, the real founder, exercising his control across generations or centuries. The greatest examples would include Jesus or perhaps Paul and Machiavelli himself. Early in the Discourse on Method , Descartes describes his ideal city planner, which is his stand-in for a founder: "[T]here is not so much perfection in works created Thus we see that the buildings which a single architect has undertaken and completed are usually more beautiful and better ordered than those which several people have tried to refurbish by making use of old walls built for other purposes.
Descartes's lawmaker is again a single person who seeks to tear everything down and begin de novo. Relying on a science likened to engineering, which supplies exact answers, the founder acts, unconstrained by custom or ancient structure. The scenes of violence in which Machiavelli delighted are omitted. The founder builds the city if possible from scratch. Descartes's model is the technocrat's dream of founding with complete rational control, unimpeded by the wishes and views of the many. Finally, there is Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who depicts the lawgiver in the most fantastic terms.
Rousseau imagines the founder as acting on his own and seeing farther than all others. Founders establish in advance an entire system, far surpassing the accomplishments of statesmen who only put into effect and maintain what the founder has created. Rousseau emphasizes that a plan of founding must be fitted carefully to meet the needs of each place, which vary greatly. A general science can only help so much compared to a kind of artistic talent. The task of founding requires unusual authority that exceeds what reasoned argument alone could ever persuade a people to do.
It must be viewed as having divine sanction. It may be that these schools of thought deliberately dismissed the idea of the lawgiver in order to discourage would-be Machiavellian leaders from unsettling the political world. Or perhaps they held that the whole concept was a kind of artifice or fiction, especially in modern times. Whatever the case, each school presented a new type of political science that did not include the figure of the lawgiver. Americans, as we shall see, relied greatly on British political thinking, but decidedly not in the case of founding.
The creation of a sound political order is assisted by a science of politics that, becoming known in simple form to the public, helps in the actualization of this process. The science explains how people living in a state of nature, without government, would logically transition to civil governance. This model should eventually be adopted everywhere.
John Locke – A Philosophical Founder of America
Setting up such a society can be done without a great founder endowed with extraordinary authority; the origination of society is accomplished through the reasonable and semi-automatic process of creating a social compact. Contract theory is a replacement for the model of founding.
Resting on the logic of reason and interest ascribed to all, it eliminates reliance on chance. Waiting for a great and heroic lawgiver, a singular person of astonishing political ability, is no longer necessary. Organic theory or Whig jurisprudential history , the other major form of political science in Britain, taught that the English constitution had formed gradually, a product of accident and piecemeal adjustment.
England by this account never had a single moment of origin. It had no founding or founders. It began somewhere back when, whether in the famed "forests of Germany" among the Gothic tribes, or at some other "time immemorial" prior to the advent of known records.
England's magnificent constitution grew by trial and error. Human intelligence allowed for what Edmund Burke called "reform" along the way, which introduced partial correction, but there was no wholesale transformation or beginning anew. Organic theory further argued that a science of politics is unequal to the task of founding. The process is far too complex, beyond what any human being, regardless of intelligence, could manage. In any case, the tremendous authority needed to carry out the task of founding inevitably undermines liberty.
Founding destroys restraints and centralizes power. It is usually achieved by force or fraud.
The example of this kind of beginning will live on and help sanction later attempts to destroy free government. Proponents of organic theory presented their account of English constitutional development as actual history. This assertion may reflect their best understanding, but it may also represent a deliberate narrative designed to conceal and help people forget the enormity and radical quality of the Glorious Revolution. In the guise of history, the organic school seems to have been less concerned with perfect accuracy than with presenting the teachings of its political philosophy.
Organic theory sought to dampen the enthusiasm Machiavelli had encouraged regarding clean slates and new beginnings. Moderation was the watchword. To that end, organic theory eliminated the idea of founding. Burke explained that the British constitution indeed all "the states of the Christian world" had not been formed "upon a regular plan or with any unity of design," but instead grew "in a great length of time, and by a great variety of accidents.
As for celebrating founders, Burke noted: "The very idea of the fabrication of a new government is enough to fill us with disgust and horror. American political thought in the 18th century broke with both British schools of thought and returned the theme of founding to political science. Alexander Hamilton and the Duty and Obligation of.
James Madison - Wikipedia
Immersed in an age old educational system, theRevolutionary generation placed no uncertain value on virtue Immersed in an age old educational system, theRevolutionary generation placed no uncertain value on virtue and duty. This education was also a social conditioning which existed on both sides of theAtlantic for hundreds of years.
Religion and education served the Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth. Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth explores the shifting reputation of our most controversial Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth explores the shifting reputation of our most controversial founding father. Since the day Aaron Burr fired his fatal shot, Americans have tried to come to grips with Alexander Hamilton's legacy. Stephen Knott surveys Alexander Hamilton: Documents Decoded. An indispensable resource for all readers, this book summarizes the founding of America alongside the An indispensable resource for all readers, this book summarizes the founding of America alongside the personal and public life of one of America's most influential Founders through a comprehensive investigation of Hamilton's extensive writings.
Alexander Hamilton Notebook. Scribble, brainstorm, or sketch your own big ideas alongside the most inspiring words of Alexander Scribble, brainstorm, or sketch your own big ideas alongside the most inspiring words of Alexander Hamilton in this elegantly designed Signature Notebook. Alexander Hamilton on Finance, Credit, and Debt. While serving as the first Treasury Secretary from to , Alexander Hamilton engineered a While serving as the first Treasury Secretary from to , Alexander Hamilton engineered a financial revolution.
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Hamilton established the Treasury debt market, the dollar, and a central bank, while strategically prompting private entrepreneurs to establish securities markets and stock But none of those—or any others, for that matter—were as fervent, and certainly none were more consequential, than the competitive coexistence of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Though they may have been sparring over economic and foreign policy issues like so many politicians who succeeded them, nothing less than the shape of a new nation was at stake.
And both of them knew it. Before George Washington appointed them to his cabinet—Hamilton as Treasury secretary, Jefferson as secretary of state—they barely even knew of one another. Initially, the two men enjoyed a cordial relationship. Jefferson invited Hamilton to dinner on a couple of occasions, and they seldom clashed during their first year in the administration.
But they were never close.