With the advent of the Revolution -- taking a somewhat arbitrary date, say the convening of the Second Continental Congress in 1775 or the Declaration of Independence in 1776 -- the problem of representation appears again. What had been a conflict over the community of interests and desires between the British Empire and the individual colonies now turns into a conflict over the community of interests between the collectivity of the colonies and the individual colonies. The history of the revolutionary and constitutional generation of the United States is at the same time a process of discarding one unsuitable, unstable, and, despite a hundred traditional factors, inadequate consensus, and a process of acquiring another one more in conformance with the state of social facts. To say that the structure of the new consensus brings a state which is half armed, prey to various incapacities, and non-inspiring in its humble republicanism is only to say that such a state is capable of being successful. And when there is added to such qualities, a capacity for development which will conform to a succeeding consensus of subsequent generations, the statement of that consensus as expressed in the Constitution deserves high intellectual admiration.
Historians have demonstrated the sectionalism and factionalism which existed prior to, during, and after the Revolution. They have also described in detail the decline of English loyalty and the growth. of Americanism. We must now inquire what happened to ideas of representation during this time, and whether all consistency of theory was lost in the process of adaptation to immediate political problems. Our conclusions are these:
1. Federalism, with its active dual sovereignty, joined with the general propagation of individualist doctrines to prevent a development of any organic theory of representation/ "Federalism" soon became to all intents "sectionalism," and it is also as sectionalism that ideas of representation are employed.
2. The commercial and landed classes agitated originally for close control of representatives and a rational, responsible representative structure, but they now turned their attention to the protection of property and public order. The change begins with writings and speeches against popular turbulence and in support of restrictions on the direct control of government acts by the whole population. The excellent economic logic of a central government makes them nationalist. At the same time, they have formulated a view of American society in terms of interests; representation is recognized as a means of controlling and accommodating interest groups.
3. The "Western groups," allied with some farmer-urban elements and with strong allies among intellectuals like Jefferson, began to assume a monopoly of direct representative procedures in order to fulfill egalitarian goals. One aspect of the growing strength of the direct democrats was the consistently individualistic role played by the doctrines of the social compact and natural rights. Another general characteristic of their thought lay in their defense of state rights, although here again inconsistencies arose out of the sovereignty-representation confusion. The events surrounding the admission of the western state and the Hartford Convention are good examples of the new division over representative principles. Statists turned nationalist and nationalists became statist; majoritarians rejected mandates, and aristocrats criticized them for it.