Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Konig on John Adams, Constitution Monger

David Konig, Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law, has just posted John Adams, Constitution Monger.  Here's the abstract:
Library of Congress
John Adams never ceased defending his work as “Constitution monger.” As author of the Massachusetts constitution of 1780, he had successfully devised a governmental structure of separated powers and fixed, express limitations that became an enduring model for modern American constitutionalism. Even so, he continued to believe this structure – resting on a bicameral legislature, a strong executive, and an independent judiciary – to be in constant danger. The threat, he feared, began with human nature itself, which he viewed as prone to irrationality and disorder. Men in the abstract might be trusted and their sovereignty acknowledged, but in reality it was necessary to create a “government of laws, and not of men.” This essay examines his experience in the tumultuous world of Massachusetts politics and his efforts to embody the will of the people and simultaneously to protect it from itself.

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