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"The Second Philadelphia Convention" by Steve Payne

Author says: what if Abraham Lincoln tried to change the fundamentals in his second term? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).


1866: the second Philadelphia Convention opened on this day under the Chairmanship of Walter Bagehot.

Less than a century before, another English journalist, Thomas Paine had stood at the apex of American political thought. But unlike Paine, Bagehot had never crossed the Atlantic, and perhaps this remoteness provided the broad perspective that enabled him to discern the constitutional issues that lay behind the outbreak of the American Civil War.

America's stability had depended upon a voluntary union of the states. This was no longer true by the time Andrew Jackson left office. The result was a string of ineffectual Presidencies, because in the absence of broad agreement on issues of which the Constitution was largely silent, notably secession, the Chief Magistrate was simply unable to wield the kind of extra-legal authority envisaged by James Madison et al at the Philadelphia Convention. Quite simply, a sacred document and an unhereditary substitute for an uncrowned king was not a strong enough framework for the US Government.

That was the theory at least, a luxury Bagehot enjoyed whilst he wrote "The English Constitution" in 1865. And then he received the historic invitation from President Abraham Lincoln.

Author says, original content has been repurposed to celebrate the author's genius Prochaska, Frank "The View from Albion: Bagehot and the American Constitution" published in Today in History, February 2010 Edition

Steve Payne

Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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