Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Among the politically active classes of late-eighteenth century America were well-educated men intimately familiar with the most important ancient pagan and modern European political theorists and leading thinkers in philosophy, British and international law, history, and theology (see, for example, the remarkably expansive list of texts included in James Madison's original plan for the Library of Congress). Yet, it would be wrong to assume that any of these authors largely shaped the political thinking of those Americans most active in molding the new state and national political institutions. Instructive in this matter is John Dickinson, a controversial but highly regarded author and mid-Atlantic political figure of the time. Near the end of the 1787 Convention in Philadelphia where the U.S. Constitution was, with difficulty, put together, Dickinson explained the intellectual process that had guided Americans in their move toward independence and the creation of a new state. According to notes ...