In 1789, the crashing failure of the Philadelphia delegates to "chain the dogs of war" was ruthlessly exposed when a long-running border dispute in the Wyoming Valley escalated into armed conflict between the Sovereign Republics of Virginia, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Uber Alles
Ed, Eric Lipps & Scott PalterWith the European monarchies locked in a cycle of violence that had spilled out onto the American continent itself, the delegates had feared the emergence of an over-powerful head of state who would draw the infant nation into unnecessary warfare with foreign powers. Instead of a belligerent European-style monarch, they dreamt of a Patriot King who would be a brilliant manager of military affairs, yet constrained by a Constitution that would expressly reserve the power to declare war for the Congress.
In seeking to contrive a compromise on this particular issue (as with so many others) the delegates were dividing themselves into two irreconciable parties. And as the summer drew on, visionaries such as George Mason concluded that a re-invigorated central government would undermine their hard-fought liberty. At the last, these so-called Anti-Federalists attempted to head off this threat by tabling a Bill of Rights, but the delegates were too exhausted to continue and the Convention broke-up with a fatally flawed Constitution. Appointed to represent the States, Mason et al. returned to their own "countries" as outspoken critics of the agreement, making sure that the ratification process miscarried.
Trouble was, time was running out for the Confederation. Throughout the 1780s it was apparent at least to the Federalists that a strong central authority was needed not just to regulate trade, but to ensure that commercial disputes did not lead to war. Frustrated, they were forced to watch the dogs of war unchained not by a Federal head of state, but by the new States Presidents that were taking office throughout the former colonies. Unprincipled politicians driven by short-term expediency who even now were reaching out to the European monarchies in the expectation of gaining lines of credit and military assistance.
All hopes now rested on the shoulders of the great man many had hoped would be that Patriot King. Who was now making camp with the Virginian Army on the bank of the Susquehanna River. Who now realised that a Federal State could only be established by a war of conquest.