Copyright (c) 2004 University of San Diego School of Law
Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues
DIRECT DEMOCRACY: Direct Democracy and the Protestant Ethic
13 J. Contemp. Legal Issues 411
MARCI A. HAMILTON*
While study of the Constitutional Convention is necessary to explain the constitutional structure that resulted, it is far from sufficient. An equally important object of investigation is the decade preceding the Convention, including the governing structures established during and after the Revolutionary War. Those include the Articles of Confederation, and the separate state constitutions and systems. Evaluation of the decade before the Convention reveals a downward spiral from the ebullience of the Declaration of Independence to Shays' Rebellion, which was waged by Revolutionary War veterans against the very governments they had originally fought to create. As often happens, the failure is in many ways more revealing than the success that follows.
The movement from the failures following the Revolution to the successful Constitution was significantly furthered by pervasive theological constructs of the era. 1 For legal theory, the most underinvestigated source of ideas and principles available to the Framers as they constructed the Constitution lies in theology. The reasons for this studied ignorance are complex, but the roots of this phenomenon include overspecialization, a false notion that religion is distinct from politics, and a tendency to ascribe political sources only to those who declare their project as one of political philosophy. Hence, one reads a great deal about Edmund Burke, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Baron de Montesquieu (and they deserve the attention, just not exclusive attention) in the legal literature, but next to nothing about John Calvin, Martin Luther, or John Knox, all ...
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