Friday Roundup, November 15th

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  • Did the American Constitution help Americans create the condition of statelessness for others? That’s the question taken up by David Hendrickson in our feature review essay this week. Hendrickson’s evaluation of Eliga Gould’s Among the Powers of the Earth notes that the book

is a welcome addition to what the author styles as the internationalist or unionist interpretation of the revolution, of which my own scholarly work forms a part. Gould is at pains to say that nothing in his interpretation is inconsistent with the view which sees the Constitution as a peace pact, but his main emphasis is how it worked to the detriment of excluded groups. The book is notable for its exceptional use of little known sources, introducing a whole new cast of characters to the historical narrative and making, for this reason alone, a brilliant contribution. That choice of lens, however, comes at a price, making his story less “how Americans experienced and understood the revolution” and more “how the nations and peoples with whom they were most closely connected experienced and understood it.” The latter is an extremely good thing to know, but it not the same as what one gets from an “inside out” perspective.