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Would America be a nation of bankers or a nation of farmers? The debate between the Federalists and the Antifederalists reflected two competing visions of America in the 18 th Century. Should America embrace commerce and the aristocracy or a democratic, agrarian way of life? While the Constitution does not mention political parties, the legacy of the Federalist —Antifederalist debate was the birth of the party system with the new Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties.

To avoid the problem of unanimous consent, something that hamstrung the execution of law under the Articles of Confederation, only nine states had to ratify the Constitution. In June of , New Hampshire was the ninth to approve the Constitution; the success of the overall system remained far from secure. The national government would fail without New York and Virginia signing on, being powerful economic and political centers, and their ratification conventions were deadlocked.

The issue of a bill of rights was the turning point. The promise of its addition resulted in ratification by Virginia and New York. In the fall of , Congress approved twelve amendments and ten were ratified by the states in Columbia College Search Enter a keyword Search. Instructor Log In. Historical Context for the Federalist Papers. Significantly, these first State constitutions, like all the early State declarations of independence, were written by legislative assemblies. The decision in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut to keep the old charters was also made by legislative fiat.

In no State was the new constitution drafted by a specially elected constitutional convention, nor did any of the States submit their new constitutions to the people for ratification. Three of the ten States that adopted a new constitution New Jersey, Virginia, and South Carolina did not even call a special election to draft the document, leaving the matter entirely to the discretion of their incumbent legislators.

Thus it may be seen that, in spite of the American revolutionary doctrine of popular sovereignty embodied in the Declaration of Independence proclaiming the right of the people to self-government, the American people did not participate directly in the formation and ratification of either the Articles of Confederation or the first State constitutions. Indeed, they did not even have a voice in the writing Edition: current; Page: [ xxvi ] or adoption of the Declaration of Independence that heralded their new coming.

In spite of these apparent inconsistencies, the American Revolution and the various political regimes that sprang from it were all part of an evolving democratic movement. Even before the States completed ratification of the Articles and joined the Union, there was growing dissatisfaction with the first constitutions in most States. Much of this discontent may be attributed to defects discovered in the constitutions after they went into effect, caused mostly by inexperience in the art of constitution making and a general lack of familiarity with new constitutional concepts that had not yet been tested, especially the idea of separating the powers of government among three branches.

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Many of these early attempts at self-government, for example, called for a pure separation of powers and failed, in one way or another, to establish effective, limited government because they lacked a check-and-balance system and allowed the legislatures to usurp the powers of the other branches. What they invariably produced was legislative supremacy rather than constitutional supremacy.

In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, however, there was an additional concern almost from the outset: a claim that self-government had been subverted because the people had not played a direct role in designing their constitutional systems. Not content with their new constitutions, disgruntled voters in these states conceived the idea that a constitution should be drafted by a special, independent constitutional convention rather than a legislative Edition: current; Page: [ xxvii ] assembly and that any fundamental law proposed by this convention should be submitted to the people for ratification.

A number of early attempts to democratize the process regarding both the drafting and the ratification of the Constitution met with resistance. One of the first proposals for a special convention to write a new constitution was made by the town of Concord, Massachusetts, on October 21, , but State leaders were opposed to the idea.

Even earlier, the town of Norton had unsuccessfully urged the State to consider the special convention as an alternative to legislative action. Berkshire County, in western Massachusetts, became the first local government to call for the popular ratification of a new constitution. Benjamin Balch, who later fired the first shot at the Battle of Bennington , Berkshire citizens held a mass meeting in Pittsfield and sent a memorial to the State legislature demanding that new constitutions be submitted to the people.

Offering a rationale that would soon be repeated in most of the other States, they contended that the people were the true fount of all power, that a revolutionary legislature had no right to impose a constitution upon them, and that the only valid constitution was one based on the consent of the majority. Before the Massachusetts authorities could make a final determination on how to proceed toward devising and establishing a new constitution, the New Hampshire legislature stepped forward in the spring of to summon a constitutional convention of its own.

This assembly was nevertheless the first constitutional convention in the United States—and in the world. It was not until the fall of , however, in a fourth and final effort, that the citizens of New Hampshire adopted a permanent constitution. Meanwhile, the people of Massachusetts were progressing steadily toward a constitutional system that would have a permanent impact on all future constitutions, including the Federal Constitution of On May 5, , the legislature called upon the electorate to choose representatives who would not only serve as legislators but would also work with the twenty-eight members Edition: current; Page: [ xxviii ] of the Council, or upper house, to draft a new constitution for submission to the voters.

Despite widespread opposition to using the State assembly as a constitutional convention, the assembly approved the constitution on February 28, , only to see it flatly rejected less than a week later by a vote of 9, to 2, This became the first time in American history in which all the free adult male citizens were allowed to participate in the ratification of a proposed constitution. During the course of this referendum, some returns from towns in Massachusetts were drafted to explain local objections to the proposed constitution. The most important of these was the celebrated Essex Result of Essex County, written mainly by Theophilus Parsons, a young lawyer who later became the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts supreme court.

The Essex Result, an essay in political and constitutional theory, has often been compared favorably to The Federalist because of its learned and insightful treatment of political subjects, particularly the separation of powers principle. Rejecting legislative supremacy and a pure separation of powers, the Essex Result advocated a complex, carefully balanced form of government that provided a check-and-balance system to prevent one branch of the government, particularly the legislative, from encroaching upon the powers of the other branches.

An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and Edition: current; Page: [ xxix ] balanced among several bodies. With the defeat of the constitution, the Massachusetts House of Representatives called for another referendum.

In town meetings across the State a majority of the electorate now voted in favor of calling a State convention to draft a new constitution. The legislature thereupon announced new elections on June 21, , for a constitutional convention, which met in Cambridge on September 1. In sharp contrast to the Federal Convention of that met in Philadelphia, in which there was widespread participation among the delegates in the framing of the document, the Massachusetts convention appointed a committee of thirty delegates to perform the task. This committee then appointed a subcommittee consisting of James Bowdoin, Samuel Adams, and John Adams to do the work.

This group then proceeded to turn the whole matter over to John Adams, who singlehandedly wrote both a new constitution and a declaration of rights. These documents were accepted with only minor revisions after four months of deliberation, and a proposed text was presented to the towns in March They approved the document and on October 25, , the new constitution went into effect. The Massachusetts Constitution of stands today as a tribute to the political genius of John Adams.

It is thus the oldest written constitution in the world that is still in force. The influence of the Massachusetts experience on American constitutional development, at both the State and national levels, has been substantial. The convention of — was the first successful constitutional convention in which the people participated not only in the selection of delegates to a special convention but also in the ratification of the finished document. It thereby established democratic principles of procedure for the formation and acceptance of constitutions based on the sovereignty of the people.

With few exceptions, the Massachusetts precedent became the accepted template throughout the Union after and also provided the procedure that the Framers of the American Constitution would follow in Likewise, the Massachusetts Constitution had an enormous impact on American constitutional theory, for it was in this constitution that the new theory of separation of powers, a theory based on the realization that separated powers must be checked and balanced if they were to remain separate, was first implemented.

This is the uniquely American system that the several States adopted when they began rewriting their constitutions after and the one that the Framers incorporated into the new Constitution drafted in Philadelphia. On the eve of the Federal Convention, it may thus be seen, the American Edition: current; Page: [ xxxi ] people had clearly outgrown the constitutional immaturity of their revolutionary youth.

Through trial and error, they had advanced to a whole new understanding of constitutionalism, republicanism, and popular sovereignty in just ten years. Now it was seen as something more—as a written document originating with the people that authorized the establishment of a government with limited powers. For the first time, constitutions were readily seen as distinct from, and superior to, statutes enacted by legislative assemblies. The spell of legislative supremacy cast by Parliament and the English constitutional system had been broken, at least in theory if not always in practice.

Constitutions were now entitled to the elevated status of a higher or supreme law because they sprang not from the legislature but from the people, through constitutional conventions creating them and ratifying conventions approving them. What sparked the proceedings that led to the drafting of the Constitution was a commercial dispute between Edition: current; Page: [ xxxii ] Virginia and Maryland over the taxing of shipping on the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. There they were able to settle their differences, but left unresolved questions regarding the interests of other States bordering Virginia and Maryland.

Madison then persuaded the Virginia legislature to call a meeting of all the States to discuss trade problems, hoping that the participants might consider the larger issue of giving the Continental Congress the power to regulate commerce. Although the other states including Maryland, curiously enough did not send a representative, and little was actually decided, the Annapolis Convention proved to be important in that it set the stage for the Federal Convention the next year.

Conspicuous for their leadership at the Annapolis Convention were James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, who would later figure prominently in the drafting and adoption of the Constitution. At this juncture, the Continental Congress could have assumed a leadership role by officially sponsoring the convention, or at least endorsing it. Instead, it remained a passive observer and took no action.

Seizing the initiative, the Virginia legislature stepped forward with a resolution in November urging the other States to send delegates to Philadelphia. The Virginia General Assembly passed the resolution unanimously, acceded to the proposal from Annapolis, and appointed seven delegates to the convention. Thus did Virginia prepare the way not only for the Federal Convention but for the State ratifying conventions as well. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Delaware promptly followed suit, and by February five States had already appointed their delegates.

Faced with this development, the Continental Congress on February 21, , reluctantly endorsed the Philadelphia Convention. This removed all doubt as to the legality of the Convention, and seven more States promptly appointed delegates. Rhode Island, by its own choice, was the only member of the Confederation not represented at the Convention. The inability of the Continental Congress to play a role in the drafting of the new Constitution was probably a blessing.

The men to whom the American people had been accustomed to look in great emergencies—the men who were called into the convention, and whose power and wisdom were signally displayed in its deliberations—were then engaged in other spheres of public life, or had retired to the repose which they had earned in the great struggle with England.

The delegates to the Federal Convention, all of them appointed by their State legislatures, began assembling in early May Lacking a quorum—that is, a sufficient number of delegates from at least seven States—on the appointed day May 14 , the Convention did not convene for business until May Its task was completed nearly four months later, on September Although the Continental Congress had authorized these proceedings, the delegates confronted a number of political and legal difficulties in seeking to change the Articles of Confederation.

In the first place, the authorizing resolution adopted by the Congress, even though it did not purport to define the powers or specify the procedures of the convention which thus gave the delegates the freedom they needed to apply their own knowledge and wisdom , nevertheless limited the scope of their proceedings to a revision of the Articles.

From the outset, then, the architects of the Constitution confronted seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their efforts to establish a new government. But the solution to these difficulties was already provided by the Virginia resolution of November that had forced the hand of Congress and encouraged the States to act independently.

This right of self-government, as the reasoning of the Declaration makes clear, is anterior to, and more fundamental than, any act of the Continental Congress or even the Articles. James Wilson of Pennsylvania, one of the most influential members of the Federal Convention, put the matter succinctly when he later addressed the Pennsylvania ratifying convention.

This, I say, is the inherent and unalienable right of the people. This is the broad base on which our independence was placed. On the same certain and solid foundation this [new] system is erected. In the first days of the convention, Governor Edmund Randolph presented the Virginia Plan to the delegates, a proposed constitution, much of it apparently written by Madison, that served as the principal focus of debate during the early stages of the Convention.

The legislatures have no power to ratify it. They are the mere creatures of the State constitutions and cannot be greater than their creators. This doctrine should be cherished as the basis of free government. This was the case in Virginia. Some of the best and wisest citizens considered the constitution as established by an assumed authority. A National Constitution derived from such a source would be exposed to the severest criticisms.

As a concession to the States, the Framers provided under Article V that two-thirds of both houses of Congress or the States could in the future propose amendments to the Edition: current; Page: [ xxxviii ] Constitution, but that ratification would require the approval of the States—either three-fourths of the State legislatures or three-fourths of the States meeting in convention.


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The inclusion of these provisions gave the new Constitution an important democratic element it lacked under the Articles while at the same time preserving the principle of State representation in the amendment process. By giving the States the last word at the ratification stage, the Framers also made the States the final arbiters of any major constitutional conflict that might trigger the amendment device.

These principles were further extended to the new bicameral Congress under the Constitution, with the House of Representatives serving to represent the people and the Senate the States. Ironically, the creation of the Constitution in is the only instance in which the State legislatures have initiated a change of the fundamental law since the Constitution was adopted. All the amendments since then have been proposed by Congress, and only one of these—the Twenty-first, repealing the Prohibition Amendment—has been ratified by State conventions.

All the rest have been approved by State legislatures. The document that ultimately emerged from the Federal Convention resembled the State constitutions more than it did the Articles of Confederation, although a few provisions involving such matters as interstate relations were carried over to the new system. Like the newer State constitutions, the American Constitution was created by a special convention, not a legislative assembly. It would be proposed for ratification not by the State legislatures but by the people of each State sitting in convention.

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In this respect, the Constitution rested on a unique form of divided sovereignties, with ultimate political sovereignty residing in the people and legal sovereignty shared by the States and the national government. Under the Constitution the people retain certain undefined rights and powers. The enumeration of certain rights in the Constitution shall not be construed to deny others retained by the people, and those powers which the people did not retain for themselves they delegated to the States or to the national government.

Critics of the Constitution were quick to argue that sovereignty cannot be divided and that the proposed system would therefore fail.

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To be sure, as a constitutional, democratic, and federal republic of delegated powers, the new American system of government was an experiment in politics without historical parallel. Given the unavoidable controversy surrounding the legality of writing a new constitution and the opposition of many important political leaders, there Edition: current; Page: [ xl ] was considerable doubt when the delegates left Philadelphia whether nine States could be persuaded to ratify the proposed Constitution.

The first hurdle was the Continental Congress. Could it be counted on to vote itself out of power? Thus began the ratification struggle. All thirteen States ultimately ratified the Constitution, and by June it had become the law of the land. The first State to ratify was Delaware, which voted unanimously in favor of the new Constitution on December 7, Five days later, Pennsylvania accepted the document by a vote of 46 to New Jersey and Georgia soon joined these States, both by unanimous votes, followed by Connecticut, which accepted the Constitution on January 9, , by a vote of to From this time forward, however, the struggle over ratification intensified and the possibilities for failure increased.

In some State ratifying conventions the Constitution was approved by narrow pluralities, particularly in the larger States of Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York. Massachusetts became the sixth State to ratify, on February 6, , but by the slim margin of to Maryland ratified, 63 to 11, on April 28, and South Carolina voted in favor of the Constitution on May 23 by to New Hampshire became the ninth State to ratify, on June 21, , thereby putting the Constitution into effect.

The vote there was perilously close, however: 57 to Thus, when Virginia ratified the Constitution on June 25 and New York Edition: current; Page: [ xli ] followed suit on July 26, , the Constitution was already in place. The margin of victory in both states was nevertheless a narrow 89 to 79 in Virginia and a breathtaking 30 to 27 in New York.

North Carolina, the only State to reject the Constitution, voted a second time and on November 21, , finally agreed to join the Union, by a vote of to The great debate over the Constitution extended beyond the walls of the ratifying conventions, of course, and throughout the nation there was an outpouring of pamphlets, sermons, and newspaper essays on the new plan of government.

A wide variety of views was expressed, ranging from complete to conditional acceptance with amendments to flat rejection. Alexander Hamilton, who had been a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention, was the leader of the ratification forces in New York. Though only thirty years old, he had already acquired a national reputation. After distinguishing Edition: current; Page: [ xlii ] himself as a leader in battle during the early stages of the Revolution, he was selected by General Washington to be an aide-de-camp.

He served in this capacity for four years. Later, upon resuming command in the field, he once again demonstrated his bravery and leadership in in the Battle of Yorktown. After this decisive event, he served briefly — in the Continental Congress as a delegate from New York. Hamilton was an ardent nationalist who believed in a strong national government, far stronger than that provided for by the Articles of Confederation. Hamilton was also instrumental in persuading the New York legislature to participate in the Constitutional Convention.

Hamilton did not speak frequently in the Convention and was absent much of the time because of personal business and political differences with the other members of the New York delegation. Hamilton first left the Convention on June 29, returned briefly in mid August, and then resumed his seat in early September until the work of the Convention was completed. Despite these absences and the futility of his vote, Hamilton was present long enough to get his views before the Convention and occasionally join in the debate.

It was during the ratification struggle that Hamilton exerted the greatest influence, however, and not in the Philadelphia Convention. This he accomplished in two ways: as the moving force behind The Federalist and as the leader of the Federalists in the New York ratifying convention. Only weeks after the Philadelphia Convention had finished its work, Hamilton perceived the need to answer Anti-Federalist attacks on the proposed Constitution that had already appeared in various New York newspapers. They first appeared in early October in the New York Journal and are among the best of the Anti-Federalist essays, particularly on the structure and powers of the Federal judiciary.

To this end he enlisted the help of James Madison and John Jay, two avid and very prominent supporters of the new Constitution. No less conspicuous was his leadership in the Continental Congress and in the Federal Convention itself, to say nothing of his role in the ratification struggle in — and in the creation of the Bill of Rights in Though only forty-two years of age, John Jay was the senior member of the triumvirate that produced The Federalist. He brought a wealth of experience to the task.

During the American Revolution, Jay had served on the Committee of Correspondence and in both the first and second Continental Congresses. Upon his return to the Continental Congress in , Jay was appointed to a number of diplomatic posts. Between late October and the end of May , Hamilton, Madison, and Jay wrote eighty-five essays favoring adoption of the proposed Constitution. These essays were published in four New York newspapers at irregular intervals well into the summer of , and some were reprinted in Virginia and New England.

While controversy over the authorship of certain essays has persisted for decades, recent scholarship confirms that Hamilton wrote fifty-one Nos. What is the significance of The Federalist, and why have generations of Americans relied so extensively on the essays of Publius in order to understand and appreciate the genius of the American political regime? To answer this question we must look beyond the ratification struggle to the historical development and interpretation of the Constitution. This is so because the Constitution had already been ratified by nine States and was in effect when New York and Virginia finally got around to joining the Union in the summer of The Federalist, then, is important not because of its immediate impact on the ratification struggle but because of its contributions to our understanding of the constitutional system.

Within the pages of The Federalist is the whole theory of American constitutional government. Here Publius explains the structure upon which the Constitution is built and the rationale of the Framers in constructing a republican form of government based on a separation and division of powers. Why did the Framers favor two legislative chambers a bicameral system over a single one a unicameral system? What interests were to be represented in these assemblies? Why did they provide for a single instead of a plural executive? Why did they grant certain powers to the central government and reserve others to the States?

More fundamentally, why did they fear a concentration of power and prefer limited government? The answers to these and other important questions about the nature and purpose of the constitutional design, and the meaning of virtually every political principle and clause in the Constitution, will be found in these essays. The Federalist is thus a window through which we may view the proceedings Edition: current; Page: [ xlvii ] of the Philadelphia Convention and see how the system is supposed to work.

It sheds light on the deliberations of the Framers, helping us know and understand and appreciate their reasoning and political theories and the original intentions behind the Constitution they created. It is not too much to say that a reading of The Federalist is indispensable to an understanding of the American Constitution. At the same time, we should be mindful that The Federalist does not tell the complete story or provide all the answers. It is not a treatise on political philosophy concerned with natural law, the origin and nature of the state, or the best form of government in the abstract.

Although it is timeless in the sense that it rests on fixed principles and enduring truths concerning such matters as the threat to liberty that is created by a consolidated government, The Federalist is a commentary on the American Constitution, a collection of essays on the theory of American government that is in many respects inapplicable to other political systems. Moreover, the essays of Publius are only one of many original sources on the thinking of those who participated in the formation and adoption of the Edition: current; Page: [ xlviii ] Constitution.

There are the debates in the Philadelphia Convention, dutifully recorded by James Madison and other delegates; 46 the voluminous debates in the State ratifying conventions; 47 and the various essays, newspaper accounts, and correspondence of other participants who took a stand on the new Constitution. Among these would be the State constitutions previously discussed; 50 the practices, institutions, and ordering documents of Anglo-Americans during the colonial period; 51 many political Edition: current; Page: [ xlix ] writings and sermons of earlier periods, particularly those dealing with the legitimate functions and ends of government; the character, rights and duties of the English people, and their relation as British citizens to the sovereign; as well as the dangers to be avoided in constructing governments.

During the first half-century of the American republic, however, The Federalist was clearly the most significant, if not the only meaningful, resource for understanding the intent of the Framers other than the words of the Constitution itself. It is true, of course, that The Federalist is polemical.

It is forthrightly a campaign tract intended to persuade the electorate to support the Constitution. As such it occasionally exaggerates the perceived strengths of the Constitution and downplays or ignores its weaknesses. But this bias hardly detracts from its great merit as a faithful expositor of the meaning of the Constitution from the perspective of those who made it. Immediately recognized as authoritative, The Federalist became a classic even before it was completed.

The first thirty-six essays were published in New York by J. The remainder appeared in a second volume on May In a French edition, which appeared in Paris, became the first to reveal the true identity of the authors. Since then The Federalist has been translated into more than twenty foreign languages, and nearly a hundred editions and reprintings of it in English have appeared over the past two hundred years.

Between and the McLean edition was reprinted on four occasions, the first being a edition published by John Tiebout in New York. Hopkins to undertake a new edition in The first two—the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution—were intended to facilitate a reading of The Federalist in that they are the texts upon which The Federalist is a commentary.

Writing as Pacificus, Alexander Hamilton defended the Declaration against the charge that the President had exceeded his powers. This particular edition proved to be most unsatisfactory, because it was published not as a separate work but as the second and third volumes of the collected Works of Hamilton. The great turning point in the publishing history of The Federalist was the appearance of the Jacob Gideon edition in Printed in Washington, D.

Hamilton and Mr. Jay, but the numbers written by Mr. Madison still remained in the state in which they originally issued from the press and contained many inaccuracies. The Gideon edition, upon which this Liberty Fund edition is based, was reprinted ten times, the last appearing in In , Henry B. For reasons of space, and because the letters of Pacificus and Helvidius are now readily available from other sources, 58 the editors of this new Gideon edition have also elected to exclude these essays.

Moreover, it should be kept in mind that there are many other writings of Hamilton and Madison that might appropriately be included in an appendix on the ground that they modify in one way or another the views expressed in The Federalist. The inclusion of all this extraneous material would, quite obviously, render this edition unwieldy, particularly since it already contains headnotes, an appendix, a glossary, and an extensive index.

We should be mindful, too, that The Federalist does not represent the final thoughts on the American Constitution of the men who wrote in the name of Publius. During the course of American history, then, various provisions of the Constitution have been amplified, altered, or even nullified by different generations as a result of Supreme Court interpretations, laws and amendments, Edition: current; Page: [ liv ] and political custom.

When read against the backdrop of these changes, The Federalist often provides an important standard by which to evaluate them and determine their merit. In this regard, The Federalist, like a political compass, helps each generation steer the ship of state in the intended direction. This is what gives The Federalist its enduring strength and continued relevance, and explains why American political leaders, especially members of the Supreme Court, have traditionally turned to The Federalist for guidance when interpreting the Constitution and trying to ascertain the intentions of the Framers.

The high esteem accorded The Federalist is not attributable, however, solely to its explanation of the Constitution. Many observers give it a high ranking among the classics of political thought, despite its limited application outside the United States, because it identifies and speaks frankly to the problems and difficulties associated with the establishment of a popular or republican government.

I know not of any work on the principles of free government that is to be compared in instruction and in intrinsic value. In this respect The Federalist is a unique document, unparalleled in the literature of the Western political tradition. In Federalist No. Publius warns his readers that those who would seek to persuade them one way or the other with regard to ratification may be motivated by ambition, greed, partisanship, or simply mistaken judgment.

In particular, he cautions, the people should be on guard against demagogues who preach against the proposed Constitution in the name of the people. They speak zealously of the need to protect rights but forget that weak government can be just as much a threat to liberty as one that is too strong. History will teach us, that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism, than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career, by paying an obsequious court to the people.

Persuaded that it would be in the best interests of the American people to Edition: current; Page: [ lviii ] adopt the Constitution, Publius promises that he will be candid and truthful in presenting his arguments. He discloses the subjects he will cover, beginning first with a discussion of the advantages to be gained by forming a more perfect union. To this end, in Federalist No.

Publius argues in essays 3 and 4 that one clear and obvious advantage of having closer ties among the States is greater national security. It is not unrealistic to suppose, he suggests in Federalist No. The present circumstances are such, Publius concludes in Federalist No. Of particular importance in these early essays are Nos. In No.

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He explains how the conditions associated with extensiveness will operate to cure the disease of majority factions—i. A loose confederation of wholly independent States, he suggests, invites commercial weakness, European control of American markets, and domestic jealousies. A strong Union, he adds, would also make it possible for the American people to create a navy and a merchant marine and improve navigation for the protection of American commercial interests.

Likewise, he contends in No. One national government, he observes in Federalist No. Federalist No. Publius concludes by noting the continuity between the ideals and spirit of the American Revolution and the present struggle for a new government. The Framers of the new Constitutions are, he suggests, simply improving and perpetuating the goals of the American Revolution and the early constitutional systems that arose from it. There is scarcely anything that can wound the pride, or degrade the character, of an independent people, which we do not experience.

Publius explains why the situation is so desperate. Understandably, Publius has to turn his attention to answering the charges of the Anti-Federalists that such a powerful national government will swallow up the States. This he does in Federalist No. Those in charge of the broad and general responsibilities of the national government, he argues, will have no need or desire to encroach upon the residual powers of the states. Thus, there is unlikely to be any clash of basic interests between the two levels of government.

In the first of these essays, he surveys the structure, workings, and eventual disintegration of the major confederacies of ancient Greece. He suggests there are parallels between these Edition: current; Page: [ lxii ] confederacies and the condition of the States under the Articles of Confederation, and sees a lesson to be learned from the fact that foreign intervention and internal dissensions among the member States, rather than oppression on the part of the central governments, were primarily responsible for their demise. Here again he finds a weakness and disunity fostered by a lack of central authority over the member states.

Continuing with his analysis of modern confederacies in Federalist No. In the final two essays of this section Nos. He then concentrates on both the structural and the procedural defects of the Articles. Equality of State suffrage in the Congress, coupled with the need to secure the approval of nine States for the passage of a law has, he asserts, created a situation that allows for a minority veto, contrary to the republican principle of majority rule.

To do so would either cause its breakdown or, if not that, an accumulation of power in one body that would amount to tyranny. Finally, he emphasizes the importance of having a popularly based Constitution, noting that, under the proposed Constitution, the new government, unlike the Articles, will rest on the consent of the people. Federalist essays 23 through 36 are devoted to showing that the powers delegated to the national government by the proposed Constitution are necessary for a government that is to overcome the difficulties inherent in the Articles and to preserve the Union.

At various places, Publius also endeavors to show that the powers delegated to the national government, particularly those relating to the national defense and taxation, will pose no dangers to the existence of the States or the liberties of the people. In paper No. In the case of the national defense, he concludes that the powers of the national government must be virtually unlimited, because the means of defense depends upon factors and circumstances that cannot be fully anticipated.

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Publius applies this reasoning in Federalist No. But his response to the Anti-Federalists does not rest upon this ground alone. He notes that only two States have such provisions against standing armies in their constitutions Edition: current; Page: [ lxiv ] and that, moreover, there is no such provision to be found in the Articles. Beyond this, he can see no need for any such provision, given that the proposed Constitution places the authority for raising armies in the hands of the representatives of the people, thereby providing a check on the military establishment.

In essay No. In Federalist Nos. In a more philosophical vein, he touches upon a basic theme that recurs throughout the essays: that the concern for private rights and liberty must always be balanced against the imperative need for an energetic government, one capable of defending the nation against foreign and domestic enemies. In addition, he emphasizes that any successful conspiracy or scheme to usurp the liberty and rights of the people through force of arms would require time to develop and mature, a virtual impossibility given the accountability of the members of Congress and the anticipated vigilance of the States.

Publius makes clear No. Indeed, he believes, force will rarely be required once the proposed Edition: current; Page: [ lxv ] system is put into operation. As soon as the operations of the national government become part of the ordinary life of its citizens, their attachment to it will grow.

Even State officers will find themselves integrated into the national system through their obligation to uphold legitimate national laws. Nevertheless, Publius does acknowledge No. Among the reasons for this, he maintains, is that the vast majority of the militia will consist of ordinary citizens whose attachment to the community will not allow them to participate in any plot to subvert popular rights and liberties. Starting with Federalist No. At the outset, he makes it clear that the national government must possess unfettered authority to raise revenue in order to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.

Repeating the line of argument used in No. Thus, he shows that, save for duties on imports, the States possess a concurrent and discretionary power to tax the same sources as the national government. He demonstrates No. Such a division, he warns, might prevent the national government from fulfilling its critical responsibilities.

In the final two essays Nos. While he holds No. In addition, he rejects No. He notes that the information needed for this purpose can easily be obtained with respect to the imposition of indirect taxes, such as import duties and excise taxes. Federalist Nos. Here Publius Madison provides an overview of the complexity and enormity of the task confronting the Founding Fathers at the Philadelphia Convention.

After stressing the enormous obstacles that must be faced in establishing a new government by pointing to examples from ancient history No. He notes the lack of consensus among them about what is wrong with the proposed system and their clamor for amendments before the proposed system has even had a chance to operate. He faults them for quibbling over supposed defects in the proposed Constitution while ignoring the highly dangerous and unbearable political situation under the Articles.

Finally, in Federalist No. He answers by arguing that the delegates appropriately accorded priority to that part of their mandate which instructed them to provide for a government capable of preserving the Union and meeting its needs. Such a government, he maintains, simply could not be fashioned through any conceivable revision of the Articles.

To answer the first question he surveys Nos. He answers the second of these questions, regarding foreign commerce, in the last two essays Nos.


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  4. In his discussion of the common defense No. They will in fact be ever determined by these rules and by no others. Likewise, in No. Relatively little controversy surrounds the powers Publius surveys in Federalist Nos. Publius turns his attention to this clause in No. In both Nos. He does concede No. The first sentence of Federalist No. Thus, he believes that for the proposed Constitution to succeed it is imperative that no one branch be able to exercise the whole power of another.

    In the remaining papers in this group, Publius sets out to canvass the means by which the departments can be kept separate in order to prevent tyranny. In the first of these No. He next turns his attention No. The Jefferson plan called for appeals to the people whenever two-thirds of the membership of two branches of government so requested. Upon such an appeal a popularly elected convention would meet to resolve the conflict. Aside from certain technical difficulties that he notes, Publius finds the plan seriously Edition: current; Page: [ lxxi ] deficient from a theoretical point of view.

    The favorable opinion of the people upon which the authority of government ultimately rests would then, he maintains, suffer a serious, if not complete, erosion. Consequently, the legislators would be the judge of their own cause. Publius then considers No. Again he sees fatal flaws in any such scheme. He notes that the experience of Pennsylvania with its Council of Censors bears out his observations concerning the ineffectiveness of this barrier. Having rejected paper barricades, and occasional and periodic appeals, Publius proceeds in Federalist No.

    With Federalist No. This survey runs through No. Essay No. In this particular paper, Publius remarks on the propriety of the constitutional provisions relating to the qualifications for voting for members of the House and the qualifications for membership in this chamber.

    He then takes up the more controversial matter of whether the two-year term for members of the House will endanger the liberties of the people. Publius resumes his discussion of the appropriateness of a two-year term No. The major portion of the essay deals with the necessity and utility of two-year terms. Publius next No. Among those he cites are that the laws regard slaves as both property and persons; that the Southern States would regard it as inequitable to count slaves for purposes of taxation but not for representation; and that there should be some allowance for the comparative wealth of the States in apportioning seats.

    That is, the disposition to reduce the number of inhabitants for purposes of taxation will be counteracted by the potential loss of representatives. Moreover, he cannot conceive of this body, subject to election every two years, as betraying the trust of the people.