Sir, Mr Robin Howard (letter, March 26) is mistaken in his history of the United States. At the time of the Philadelphia Convention, the 13 states were indeed sovereign, with all the trade wars, border disputes and military tension that that implies.
For example, New York had imposed tariffs on wood from Connecticut and butter from New Jersey. Massachusetts was boycotting grain from Rhode Island. Soldiers from Pennsylvania had attacked settlers from Connecticut. New York State and Vermont squared up to fight over their border. As Thomas Paine observed at the time (Rights of Man, 1792):
“If there is a country in the world, where concord, according to common calculation, would be least expected, it is America. Made up, as it is, of people from different nations, accustomed to different forms and habits of government, speaking different languages, and more different in their modes of worship, it would appear that the union of such a people was impracticable; but by the simple operation of constructing government on the principles of society and the rights of man, every difficulty retires, and all the parts are brought into cordial unison.”
Is it too much to hope that the Europeans can now do the same?
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