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Title page for ETD etd-07282014-111959

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Jóhannesson, Sveinn Máni
Author's Email Address smjohannesson@gmail.com
URN etd-07282014-111959
Title Securing the State: Public Coercion, Constitution-Making and the Problem of Rebellion in the Post-Revolutionary United States, 1786-1788
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Gary Gerstle Committee Chair
  • Republicanism
  • Ideology
  • Rebellion
  • Coercion
  • Security
Date of Defense 2014-07-01
Availability unrestricted
This essay places domestic security of the state at the heart of the debate over the framing and ratification of the Federal Constitution. Motivated by widespread domestic insurrection, the Federalists sought to create legal, institutional and conceptual powers to control popular rebellion. These coercive powers of the central government were new to the United States but were assembled from a set of new as well as old properties of sovereignty. Constitutionally, the Federalists looked to the experience of other confederacies. Granting the federal government the authority to repress popular rebellion, the new Constitution would increase the power not only of the central government but augment the authority of the states as well. Institutionally, the Federalists drew on the technologies of the 18th century manifestation of the fiscal-military state to give the new central authority effect. Through an independent and unlimited power to tax, borrow money and raise armies, ample resources could be mobilized by the central government to suppress insurrections. And conceptually, James Madison’s work to legitimize the federal coercive powers was a transformative intervention into the nature of republican ideology. Madison offered a new formulation of the problem of rebellion and, in so doing, transformed the meaning of republicanism into constitutional liberalism.
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