On 21 June 1788, New Hampshire ratified the draft US Constitution and, as the ninth of nine states necessary, thus formally established it. A thousand men paraded through the streets of Philadelphia, ‘bearing aloft a Greek temple with thirteen pillars; solemn speeches were delivered and cannon fire sounded’. But it had not been all plain sailing, as Luuk van Middelaar reminds us in this enjoyable analysis of how a European Union has gradually come into being. In the case of both the United States and the European Union, in his view, states have been the crucial players. Van Middelaar looks to the Philadelphia Convention and the ratification process because of the wizardry (he calls it a ‘magic spell’ – a mixture of statecraft, oratorical prowess and sense of destiny that brought the American people, as a concept, into being) that allowed for a majority of the founding states to impose a federal constitution over the previous Articles of Confederation, despite the latter’s requirement of unanimity. (All 13 states eventually ratified the new constitution but, as van Middelaar points out, the more recalcitrant states had, in the end, little choice.)
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Enjoying Susan Owens’s essay on English attitudes to nature in @Lit_Review. Turns out the early moderns were positively repulsed by hills, as described in this poem by Isaak Walton’s fishing chum Charles Cotton.
In this month's Silenced Voices, @lucyjpop shines a light on the tragic case of Shady Habash, a filmmaker who died in an Egyptian prison in May.
One study found that hoarders 'had lesions on the mesial prefrontal cortex of their brains ... Collecting and hoarding, in other words, are the results of brain damage.'
James Delbourgo explores the psychology of minimalists & collectors.