• Federalist 1

     |  Rethinking Union and Government

    Federalist 1 Federalist 1 1 Alexander Hamilton By the time the members of the New York ratifying convention gathered in June 1788, ratification had succeeded in eight states—only one shy of the nine required. The pro-ratification Federalist Party in New York was weak, outnumbered at the convention by more than two to one. Hamilton, sensing the danger posed by attacks on the Constitution that had been published in newspapers across the state, suggested to James Madison and John Jay that the three of them write a series of essays defending and explaining the Constitution. Published under the pen name "Publius" in three New York City newspapers beginning in October 1787, The Federalist was called by Thomas Jefferson "the best commentary on the principles of ...
  • Federalist 10

     |  Rethinking Union and Government

    Federalist 10 Federalist 10 1 James Madison Whereas democracy entails direct rule of the people, in a republic the people rule indirectly, through their representatives. A republic can therefore encompass a greater population and geographical area. This difference is decisive in the American experiment, Publius argues, for an expansive republic is able to control the inherent danger of majority faction. November 22, 1787 The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their ...
  • Federalist 15

     |  Rethinking Union and Government

    Federalist 15 Federalist 15 1 Alexander Hamilton Echoing earlier critiques of the Articles of Confederation, Publius disputes the notion that the national government must be weak in order for liberty to be secured. December 1, 1787 The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union In the course of the preceding papers I have endeavored, my fellow-citizens, to place before you in a clear and convincing light the importance of Union to your political safety and happiness. I have unfolded to you a complication of dangers to which you would be exposed, should you permit that sacred knot which binds the people of America together to be severed or dissolved by ambition or by avarice, by jealousy or by misrepresentation. In ...
  • Federalist 40

     |  Rethinking Union and Government

    Federalist 40 Federalist 40 1 James Madison In creating the Constitution, the Constitutional Convention overstepped its mandate, which was to amend the Articles of Confederation. Publius cannot dispute this. Instead, he appeals to the principles of the Declaration of Independence to support the Convention's work. January 18, 1788 The Powers of the Convention to Form a Mixed Government Examined and Sustained The second point to be examined is whether the convention were authorized to frame and propose this mixed Constitution. The powers of the convention ought, in strictness, to be determined by an inspection of the commissions given to the members by their respective constituents. As all of these, however, had reference either to the ...
  • Federal Farmer I and II

     |  Rethinking Union and Government

    Letters I and II Letters I and II 1 Federal Farmer Alexander Hamilton acknowledged the Federal Farmer—believed to be either New Yorker Melancton Smith or Virginian Richard Henry Lee—as "the most plausible" Anti-Federalist. Here, the Federal Farmer argues that the federalism of the Constitution is a mirage, for it sets up a structure in which all power will flow to the center. October 8, 1787 Letter I Dear Sir: ...The present moment discovers a new face in our affairs. Our object has been all along, to reform our federal system, and to strengthen our governments—to establish peace, order and justice in the community—but a new object now presents. The plan of government now proposed is evidently calculated totally to change, in time, our ...
  • Federalist 47

     |  Rethinking Union and Government

    Federalist 47 Federalist 47 1 James Madison Anti-Federalists argued that the Constitution violated the maxim of the French political philosopher Montesquieu that the three branches of government should be "separate and distinct" in order to guard against tyranny. Using Montesquieu's own examples and the examples of American state constitutions, Publius refutes the idea that partial overlap of the branches is dangerous to liberty. January 30, 1788 The Particular Structure of the New Government and the Distribution of Power Among its Different Parts Having reviewed the general form of the proposed government and the general mass of power allotted to it, I proceed to examine the particular structure of this government, and the distribution ...
  • Federalist 51

     |  Rethinking Union and Government

    Federalist 51 Federalist 51 1 James Madison Publius argues that the Constitution will maintain separation of powers by means of its "interior structure." The "great security" against tyranny is to give the members of each department the "necessary constitutional means" combined with the requisite "personal motives" to resist encroachments on their power. The fact "that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government" is a "reflection on human nature." February 6, 1788 The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments To what expedient, then, shall we finally resort, for maintaining in practice the necessary partition of power among the several departments as ...
  • Federalist 84

     |  Rethinking Union and Government

    Federalist 84 Federalist 84 1 Alexander Hamilton Although New York had ratified the Constitution by the time this essay was published, the debate it addresses lived on. The original Constitution did not include what came to be known as the Bill of Rights. Many Anti-Federalists ended up supporting the Constitution because of the concession made in some states that the first Congress would adopt a Bill of Rights. Publius here makes no such concession, arguing that a listing of rights would be potentially dangerous. In the end, Publius lost this battle, and even James Madison, despite his earlier opposition, ended up championing the Bill of Rights. August 9, 1788 Certain General and Miscellaneous Objections to the Constitution Considered and Answered ...
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