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1818: The Congress Thinks about Internal Improvements

1818: The Congress Thinks about Internal Improvements

Chapter:
XIII. 1818: The Congress Thinks about Internal Improvements
Source:
A Community Built on Words
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226677224.003.0014

Madison's veto message, both by its source and by its reasoning, was an implicit reminder that the Republican Party's constitutional origins were rooted in opposition to the federalist nationalism of the 1790s. The Republicans' political triumph over federalism as a political force in Congress had been so complete that the battles of the 1790s seemed to many in 1818 rather ancient history, and the old language of opposition an unfamiliar idiom. (Speaker Clay remarked at one point that he had not even seen a copy of Madison's Virginia Report for years and had not remembered its language until an opponent of internal improvements had showed him a copy.) Nonetheless, the Republican nationalists were aware of the tension between the constitutional vision underpinning their legislative program and the older Republican perspective Madison's veto reflected.

Keywords:   Republican Party, veto, federalist nationalism, federalism, Republican nationalists, Madison

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