the Creation of an American Culture (2011)
* Harlow Giles Unger. The Last Founding Father - James Monroe and a Nation’s
Call to Greatness (2009)
Webster's method of instruction was the most user-friendly to date, simple-yet-rigorous, and it spoke directly to children. Webster did more than publish a speller: he also helped give birth to a new language, which would in turn help unite a fledgling nation. Webster's speller was a linguistic Declaration of Independence . . . it was an English unique to America. Webster divided words based on their pronunciation rather than the abstract principle of Latin from previous spellers. Webster saw the publication of his speller as a necessary follow-up, and even a continuation, of the American Revolution.
To protect his speller (and to maximize his profits), Webster took it upon himself to become the 'Father of US Copyright Law". Webster found out from Thomas Jefferson and James Madison that the Articles of Confederation had no authority to pass a national copyright law. Webster used the Connecticut legislature to pass America's first copyright law, and New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island followed suit. Only then did Webster start to arrange for the publication of his speller, negotiating a deal with a publishing company that also issued a newspaper titled The Connecticut Courant.
Webster convinced friends to invest, and after enough money had been raised, he wrote an IOU, which the company accepted in return for the ability to publish future editions. On 16 September 1783, just two weeks after the Treaty of Paris was signed, Webster placed an ad in the Courant, which gushed about his speller, offering discounts for those that bought in bulk. Webster also included testimonials from several key local officials.
The special convention in Connecticut knew that it could thwart the will of the other twelve states. Webster sided with Madison's view, insisting that Connecticut vote in support of the amendment in dozens of editorials. Webster labeled those that disagreed with him as enemies to his country, violent thugs, even traitors. Webster also wrote in his editorials about the need for a stronger national government . . . by the spring of 1784, Webster had started to directly appeal, and directly act with his speller, for American unity. On 19 May 1784, the Connecticut convention voted in favor of the "national impost",
93 - 42; Webster was credited by influential people on both sides of the issue as being a difference-maker.
Monroe and Marshall were warmly welcomed to the Assembly, and Monroe was appointed to the eight-member Executive Council, which actually governed Virginia (the Governor was designed to be a figurehead with little power, which made many of the criticisms leveled at Jefferson all the more ironic and hypocritical). Monroe compensated for his less-than-stellar conversational skills by being a very good listener, featuring thoughtful nods and pleasant smiles. Monroe also wrote many meaningful letters; he was winning over people across Virginia and beyond.
In June 1782, Monroe was admitted to the bar, as was Marshall, but there were few opportunities to practice law in post-Revolutionary War Richmond (as Webster discovered in Connecticut). As for the Executive Council, Monroe discovered that it was nothing more than a Gentleman's Club of sorts, with games and conversation. No decisions were made, mainly so the ruling Planter Class would continue to dominate the politics and economics of Virginia.
However, most Americans relied on "imaginary money" for most transactions, such as IOU's and entries in account books. Demand for western lands increased due to "crowding-out" in the East, also in part due to a significant increase in immigration from Europe. "Imaginary money" included land certificates, and with demand for land certificates increasing, so did their value. Every citizen of substance invested in these land certificates.
Scams were on the increase as well, with people/groups selling land certificates, but those certificates represented land that was already owned, or not even in existence. Monroe, the son of a carpenter, became proud of the land certificates that he held, and strongly supported expansion west. Monroe had much time to speculate on land certificates, in that after one year as a state legislator, the Assembly had accomplished nothing of significance.
Jefferson insisted that Monroe be with him as much as possible, which meant not only lodging with him often, but also meeting many important and powerful people, and making many quality connections. On 23 December 1783 on the floor of the Continental Congress in Annapolis, Monroe witnessed Washington surrender his commission. A great general that led his nation to victory in a war went home, refusing to take power . . . it was unprecedented in history. With the Continental Congress every bit as inactive like the Virginia Assembly, Monroe had the time to become almost as fluent in French as Jefferson.
While Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe supported a stronger national government, that issue was hotly debated in the Continental Congress as well as across the nation. Congress became a "Debating Society" with no subsequent actions, which led to sparse attendance, and few quorums . . . the government under the Articles of Confederation was at stalemate, unable and unwilling to act.