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Whitman, Dickinson, and Melville occupy the heart of this anthology of approximately 300 poems, spanning the process the century, from Joel Barlow to Edwin Arlington Robinson, in terms of Bryant, Emerson, Longfellow, Whittier, Poe, Holmes, Jones Very, Thoreau, Lowell, and Lanier.

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Yes. Did it favor established elites? Yes. Was it antidemocratic? Yes, to the extent that it assured that politics would be primarily the business of prominent men, with each state possessing only two senators and each House member representing some 30,000 people, with long terms—six and two years, respectively—and the Senate, along with the presidency, elected only indirectly by the People. But it was certainly a republican government, democratic in the sense that ultimately the governors could rule only with the consent of the governed.

To adjust the clashing pretensions of the large and small States. Each of these objects was pregnant with difficulties. The whole of them together formed a task more difficult than can be well conceived by those who were not concerned with the execution of it. 5 This acknowledgment of the “this-worldly” political origin of the Constitution, only to be followed by an almost-assertion of its miraculous quality is a surprisingly typical response. 6 Even a simple assertion of the secularity of the Constitution’s framing often feels the need to begin with an explicit denial of a divine inspiration, as Robert Morris does in concluding with what seems the obvious: “While some have boasted it is a work from Heaven .

When the history involves so primal a realm as a people or a state’s foundation, the lure of the mythic becomes almost irresistible. 9 For however vigorously some historians have adopted a perspective critical of the Constitution as a fulfillment of the promises of the Revolution, no organized political force after the ratification ever did. As Lance Banning summarized the political conditions of the new Union’s first decade: As early as the spring of 1791 the Constitution was accepted on all sides as the starting point for further debates.

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