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Righteous Anger at the Wicked States
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  • Cited by 2
  • Cited by
    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Einhorn, Robin L. 2013. A Companion to American Legal History. p. 349.

    2012. A Companion to George Washington. p. 612.


Book description

This book is a history that explains the adoption of the US Constitution in terms of what the proponents of the Constitution were trying to accomplish. The Constitution was a revolutionary document replacing the confederation mode with a complete three-part national government supreme over the states. The most pressing need was to allow the federal government to tax to pay off the Revolutionary War debts. In the next war, the United States would need to borrow again. The taxes needed to restore the public credit proved to be quite modest, however, and the Constitution went far beyond the immediate fiscal needs. This book argues that the proponents' anger at the states for their recurring breaches of duty to the united cause explains both critical steps and the driving impetus for the revolution. Other issues were less important.


‘It may seem hard to imagine that anything new could be said about the relative weights of federalism and nationalism in the formation of the Constitution. Calvin Johnson has defeated that expectation by writing an intellectually honest, incredibly erudite description of the Constitution as an intensely nationalist instrument, crafted almost from first to last for the express and understood purpose of a supreme and extremely powerful central government. Especially important is Johnson's identification of Madison as in truth the architect of this nationalist Constitution and Madison's subsequent endorsement of states’ rights as a turn away from constitutional original meaning. Johnson has put the historical ball back in the anti-nationalist court.’

H. Jefferson Powell - Professor of Law, Duke University

‘Righteous Anger at the Wicked States powerfully illuminates the under-appreciated fiscal and nationalist origins of the Constitution. Everyone who is interested in the Founding Era can learn something valuable from it.

Gary S. Lawson - Professor of Law, Boston University

‘Calvin Johnson provides a most persuasive analysis of why the Founders sought to create a national government with ample power to govern the country. Using state-of-art data retrieval technology to gain a finely textured view of the Founders grappling with the exigencies of creating a viable government, the author makes particularly clear just how strong the nationalist focus of the Federalists was, and how little the particular views of the Anti-federalists rose to the occasion. This book is highly recommended to all concerned with what the past has to say to the present and future of our constitutional order.’

Walter Dean Burnham - Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Centennial Chair, Department of Government, University of Texas

‘Righteous Anger at the Wicked States restores the Federalist perspective on the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. Like Hamilton and the Madison of 1787, Professor Johnson recognizes that leading framers were committed to a strong state and tolerated federalism only to the degree that states would not interfere with vital national purposes. This is an important corrective to a literature on the founding that has recently too often viewed events from a decidedly anti-Federalist frame.’

Mark A. Graber - University of Maryland

‘Calvin Johnson has carefully retraced the story of the writing, ratification and implementation of the U.S. Constitution to put forth a fresh and arresting explanation for the drive to replace the Articles of Confederation.’

Joyce Appleby - Professor Emerita, UCLA Department of History

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