Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture (2011)
* Harlow Giles Unger. The Last Founding Father - James Monroe and
a Nation’s Call to Greatness (2009)
In 1786, Webster went to Virginia to continue his copyright law efforts. On his way to to the Virginia Assembly, Webster once again visited Mount Vernon. Washington gave Webster letters of introduction to the Virginia Governor and the speakers of the two houses . . . Washington made sure he mentioned in the letters that he supported a copyright law.
Of all the southern locations, Webster took a liking to Annapolis (MD), due to the "more elegant" houses. Also, Webster (like Washington) loved to dance, and Annapolis afforded many pleasant opportunities with socially prominent ladies. But even in Annapolis, Webster still had the tendency to see himself as a beleaguered outsider when he was a respected insider. Once in Dover (DE), Webster would never visit the south again; while in Delaware and then Pennsylvania, Webster made meaningful connections with people that either already were, or would become, very powerful and/or influential.
Benjamin Franklin in his fold as well. Webster knew how to flatter prominent people, of which Franklin (and Washington) was susceptible. Franklin grew fond of Webster, since Franklin was also obsessed with language and education; Franklin would eventually anoint Webster as his intellectual heir.
Webster was thrilled with the possibility of collaboration with Franklin; Webster wanted to serve his nation and also to find "patrons" to support his work . . . dropping the names of Washington and Franklin would be beyond-useful. On 27 February 1786, Webster was introduced to Thomas Paine, a fellow man-of-words, and on 25 March 1786, Webster arrived in New York City. NYC was still suffering from the aftereffects of Britain's seven year occupation during the Revolutionary War.
On 16 October 1787, Webster turned 29 years old, but his self-esteem was at a low-ebb due to serious financial matters (he hadn't yet made the money he eventually would with his speller). On 23 July 1788, Webster became the organizer and "Go-To-Guy" for the New York Ratification (of the Constitution) Parade. The parade was designed to bolster support in Upstate New York, since the state legislature remained deadlocked.
Webster was also the chief chronicler of the event; Webster was recruited to be the parade's organizer since he was the driving force behind the New York Philological Society that included influential literary scholars. For Webster, the parade meant that he would be able to show his patriotism, and it was also a way to promote his speller. Webster wanted a virtual educational monopoly with his speller (meaning a national copyright law), and for that to occur, Webster needed the Constitution to be ratified, especially in New York and in New England.
Webster sold about one million spellers by the time he filed for copyright protection in 1790. Webster's speller was the one "Yankee Book" that was treasured by Southerners. Webster's speller also gave rise to the Spelling Bee, America's first national pastime.
On 17 September 1787, 32 delegates signed the Constitution; by signing the document, the delegates in effect enacted a bloodless coup d'etat . . . and most of the nation was outraged. Monroe was sympathetic to Henry's many objections concerning the proposed Constitution, but he sided with Washington and Madison at first. Soon, Monroe came under the spell of the Anti-Federalists, especially since his uncle was a supporter of Patrick Henry.
The largest fear of the Anti-Federalists was the President's Commander-in-Chief powers specified in Article Two, believing it was a short-line to tyranny. Monroe was also concerned about a lack of a Bill of Rights; Monroe spoke at the Virginia Ratification Convention, but was drowned out by Henry, who spoke for an astounding 20% of all the words spoken on the record at the convention.
After Monroe laid out his objections for the record, his long-time friend John Marshall stood up, and shredded Monroe's objections. Madison backed up Marshall, focusing on the inability of the Articles of Confederation to protect citizens from invasion (the fear of an external invading force would not dissipate until 1815). Madison then stunned the convention by saying he would author the proposed Bill of Rights . . . the Virginia Ratification Convention voted 89 - 79 in favor of the Constitution in June 1788.
Madison's support (and authorship) of the upcoming Bill of Rights meant that the moderate Anti-Federalists would not be part of Henry's radical voting bloc arrayed against him in Congress. Monroe's defeat against Madison once again placed him in the Land-of-Obscurity for awhile, and it was back to his law practice. On Christmas 1789, Jefferson was back at Monticello; Jefferson told Monroe that he was going to New York City to be the first Secretary of State. In the fall of 1790, Monroe was selected by the Virginia Assembly (it wouldn't be until the 17th Amendment that U.S. Senators would be elected by popular vote) to fill a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate due to a death in office. On 6 December 1790, James Monroe took the oath and became a U.S. Senator from the state of Virginia.