Charles Brown CharlesB at
Thu Apr 18 13:47:52 MDT 2002

I did not suggest that the US revolution was not a revolution. I stated
that the imposition of the US Consitution and the abolition of the regime
established by the Articles of Confederation was a coup d'etat. This
occured AFTER the revolution.


CB: What exactly was the revolution in your view ? The war ?

If the result of the revolution was a reactionary change in the fundamental law, why was it still a revolution ?

Are you saying the Constitution coup was a successful counterrevolution >?


The Articles of Confederation went into effect on March 1, 1781 - five
years after the Declaration of Independence was signed by the Second
Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The revolutionary war had been going
on even longer, since at least April 9, 1775 (when the battles of Lexington
and Concord took place.)

The last important, and the really decisive battle that sealed the colonial
victory over the British empire was the battle of Yorktown on October 19,
1781. The Treaty of Paris, which officially ended the war was signed on
September 3, 1783. The Articles of Confederation remained in effect until
at least September 17, 1787 when the Constitution was signed.

In other words, it was the Articles of Confederation NOT the Constitution
that was directed against the British.

The British had not been around for six years, and had not even claimed
sovereignty over the US for four years, when the Articles were dumped in
favor of the Constitution.

The Constitution was directed against slaves, small farmers, workers, etc.
that I mentioned in my original post - but it was directed first and
foremost against the Indigenous peoples.


CB: Are you saying that under the Articles of Confederation the slaves, small farmers , workers,  Indigenous peoples , women were the ruling class ? That their representatives controlled the state power or had more influence on it under the Articles of Confederation ?   WHO exactly "directed" the Articles of Confederation against the British  ?


I apologize for the omission.

The Constitution was intended to benefit large landowners and land
speculators, commercial capitalists, and slave owners.


CB: I can see that the Constitution federalized or centralized the state power more than the Articles of Confederation. I don't see how the Articles of Confederation represented the working classes and oppresssed peoples' controlling the state power more than the monied classes.

What was the Bill of Rights ? A counter coup ?


How it did so was to provide for a centralized national government, which
had not existed.

This centralized government was absolutely necessary for expansion westward
in the 'Indian Wars' because you needed to organize, arm and pay for an
army. This was central to the plans of the large landowners and land

Centralized government also allowed for things like slaveowners passing
laws which allowed them to chase and capture escaped slaves in free states
(this came later, but would have been impossible under the Articles of


CB: Why would it have been impossible under the Articles of Confederation ?


Slaves, who did not have the right to vote under the new Constitution, were
counted as 2/3s of a human being for purposes of allotting members of
Congress to the various states - thus increasing the political power of the

Anyone who seriously studies the Constitution, what it says, and how it
came into existence, can not possibly conclude anything other than that it
was written against the people, and for the rich.


CB: Whereas the Articles of Confederation were written for the people and against the rich ?


Without going into all of the details here, I suggest anyone interested
read (or reread) the famous book by Charles and Mary Beard titled something
like 'An Economic Interpretation of the US Constitution.'


CB: There's also _Early Years of the Republic_ by Herbert Aptheker. He criticizes the Beard thesis as vulgar materialist, for treating the Constitution as a simple reflex of the ruling class and not the result of a class struggle between rich and poor, and thereby a mixed document in terms of progress. The Bill of Rights would be the major evidence of struggle by oppressed and exploited classes.


As for the imposition of the Constitution, and the abolition of the
confederation being a coup, not a revolution - you need to look at how it
was organized and accomplished. A national convention was organized by
Alexander Hamilton (a Federalist who was a closet monarchist) more or less
legally under the Articles. It had the authority to revise the articles.
Meeting in complete secrecy the delegates - virtually all drawn from the
classes who were to benefit from the new regime, decided to scrap the
articles completely and reorganize the government as a unified Republic -
overriding many of the rights and privileges of the individual states, and
the citizens of those states.

Since the convention did not have the legal authority to do this, I call it
a coup.


CB: It was ratified by a vote of the states. As this approval was not based on force, ... This vote could be interpreted as a retroactive ratification of the authority the Convention took.


I realize that this does not match Charles' defintion of a coup, but I
think his definition is not very precise. My definition is that a coup is a
'palace revolution' in which changes in personnel or institutions are made
without mobilizing masses of people in political or social struggle.

It certainly was not a revolution, since it did not mobilize any masses to
impose the constitution, instead everything possible was done to prevent
the masses from knowing about the new Constitution.


CB: What about  the passage of the Bill of Rights as a condition for passing the Constitution ?

To me a coup must involve use of force to change the personnel. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were submitted for a vote .


When they found out, some of them rebelled, you can study that rebellion if
you want, it was called Shays Rebellion (or the whiskey Rebellion).


CB: What was Shays' attitude toward the Indians ?

I can see your overall point relative to the Indians, in that the more federal and centralized the state established, the more powerful and successful it was at usurping the land, waging genocidal war ,etc. By default, not necessarily by aim, the Articles of Confederation were a weaker basis for the Euros to challenge the Indians,

It is less clear to me that the other oppressed and exploited classes would have fared better under a Confederation or several different nation states , than under one.  The Southern states may have united to form their own slave holding nation sooner than the Civil War Confederacy, and thereby slavery might have lasted longer. In actual U.S. history, states rights, a legacy of the Articles of Confederation, has represented a reactionary ideology .

Also, if the colonies had not federalized, wouldn't some  have been likely reconquered by the British ? I don't know how that cuts , and I am way into historical counterfactuals.

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