Every so often, a book comes out that shatters orthodox perspectives concerning the American founding. By challenging standard narratives, including previously undiscovered context, and contrasting the political system of the United States to other examples in the world, Aaron Coleman’s The American Revolution, State Sovereignty, and the American Constitutional Settlement, 1765-1800 does just that. Undoubtedly, Coleman definitively establishes that the foundation of the United States was not what it has often thought to have been.
The American Revolution, State Sovereignty, and the American Constitutional Settlement, 1765–1800 reveals the largely forgotten importance of state sovereignty to American constitutionalism.
Contrary to modern popular perceptions and works by other academics, the Founding Fathers did not establish a constitutional system based upon a national popular sovereignty nor a powerful national government designed to fulfill a grand philosophical purpose. Instead, most Americans throughout the period maintained that a constitutional order based upon the sovereignty of states best protected and preserved liberty.
Enshrining their preference for state sovereignty in Article II of the Articles of Confederation and in the Tenth and Eleventh Amendments to the federal constitution, Americans also claimed that state interposition—the idea that the states should intervene against any perceived threats to liberty posed by centralization—was an established and accepted element of state sovereignty.
- Paperback: 294 pages
- Publisher: Lexington Books; Reprint edition (August 8, 2017)
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.