Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Published in: Founding Moments in Constitutionalism, 2019.


This chapter investigates the relations of revolutionary consolidation to the American constitutional founding. The concepts of consolidation and augmenta- tion have received little attention in relation to the central question of constitutional legitimacy. Hannah Arendt’s theory of revolution is paradigmatic in this respect. Notwithstanding her influential discussion of foundation, Arendt gives relatively little attention to the pragmatic role of consolidation in acts of constitutional founding. Further, scholarly analyses of Arendt on revolution rarely offer critiques of her concept of foundation in this respect. I focus on Arendt partly owing to her influential theories regarding founding of bodies politic and partly because I believe that within her political thought on what for her was the uniquely success- ful consolidation of the American Revolution lies an explanation for that success that she herself does not expressly offer. Further, Arendt’s thinking may be a useful launchpad in considering the dynamics of founding moments.