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Federalist Papers (1788) - a series of essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison to convince readers to ratify the Constitution in New York State. The essays were later used to promote the ratification of the Constitution in other states. The Federalist Papers stand as a primary on what the writers of the Constitution had in mind when they were creating the document.

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Federalist No. 10

Federalist No. 10 is an essay written by James Madison as the tenth of The Federalist Papers, a series of essays initiated by Alexander Hamilton arguing for the ratification of the United States Constitution. Published on November 22, 1787 under the name "Publius", Federalist No. 10 is among the most highly regarded of all American political writings. [1]

No. 10 addresses the question of how to reconcile citizens with interests contrary to the rights of others or inimical to the interests of the community as a whole. Madison saw factions as inevitable due to the nature of man—that is, as long as people hold differing opinions, have differing amounts of wealth and own differing amount of property, they will continue to form alliances with people who are most similar to them and they will sometimes work against the public interest and infringe upon the rights of others. He thus questions how to guard against those dangers. [ citation needed ]

Federalist No. 10 continues a theme begun in Federalist No. 9 and is titled "The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection". The whole series is cited by scholars and jurists as an authoritative interpretation and explication of the meaning of the Constitution. Historians such as Charles A. Beard argue that No. 10 shows an explicit rejection by the Founding Fathers of the principles of direct democracy and factionalism, and argue that Madison suggests that a representative republic is more effective against partisanship and factionalism. [1] [2]

Madison saw the federal Constitution as providing for a "happy combination" of a republic and a purer democracy, with "the great and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local and particular to the State legislatures" resulting in a decentralized governmental structure. In his view, this would make it "more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried."

Historical Context for the Federalist Papers

Portrait of Hamilton by John Trumbull, 1802. (Wikimedia Commons) Hamilton wrote the lion's share of the Federalist Papers. The framers of the Constitution have in a felicitous turn of phrase, been described as well read, well bred, and well fed. All three are correct. On September 17, 1787, thirty-nine delegates signed the Constitution, yet ratification by the states was necessary. State conventions, not legislatures, met in 1788 for this purpose. The supporters of the Constitution took the moniker, “Federalists.” The choice was savvy, as federalism was understood to be in opposition to centralized power. Federalists, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, took to the newspapers under a pseudonym Publius, to explain the Constitution and advocate its adoption by the states. Together they wrote eighty-five essays which were collected and comprise The Federalist Papers . Alexander Hamilton wrote fifty-one of the essays, Madison, twenty-nine, and Jay, five.

In another savvy choice, critics of the Constitution were dubbed “Antifederalists” by the Federalists, making it seem that challengers had little in the way of positive proposals and were simply naysayers. Antifederalists, such as Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry, argued that the Constitution would favor elites over the common people, weaken state governments and increase taxes. Antifederalists have been described as agrarian populists, who were worried that the Constitution would entrench the power of economic and political elites. Would America be a nation of bankers or a nation of farmers? The Antifederalist’s pressing objection was the absence of a list of individual rights, to limit the powers of the state.

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? The choice was between Jefferson and Hamilton’s competing visions of America. 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. Madison and Jefferson (Democratic-Republicans) by the late 1790’s came to think Hamilton and his Federalists had become a faction.

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 1788, 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 issue was: Should the powers of the Federal government be limited by a specific enumeration of the rights held by individuals and smaller political units within the whole? The promise of its addition resulted in ratification by Virginia and New York. In the fall of 1789, Congress approved twelve amendments and ten were ratified by the states in 1791.

Written by Seth David Halvorson, Department of Philosophy, Columbia University

Key political principles

More than half of the essays emphasized the need for a stronger central government. The Federalist arguments for this were based on the need to preserve liberty while maintaining domestic order, and the essays sought to modify the political ideas of republicanism in light of the lessons of the Revolution. Republican ideology held that the virtue of the people would insure their commitment to the common good, but wartime experience had convinced the Federalists that people were more likely to ignore political ideals to pursue selfish ends at the expense of the public interest.

During the Revolution power had remained in the hands of Congress and the states. Because state and sectional interests were often in conflict, the United States had found it difficult to formulate and carry out policy even in times of crisis. States had refused to contribute the taxes and troops demanded by Congress, jeopardizing the war effort. Sectional disputes over the goals sought in peace negotiations had caused difficulty in settling the treaty with Great Britain. American farmers had refused to sell grain to their own troops for Continental paper money, yet sold food to their British enemies for gold. Without an executive strong enough to carry out the mandates of Congress, or a mechanism to compel either states or individuals to comply with congressional decisions, it proved nearly impossible to execute any coherent policy. This was demonstrated again after the war, when the Confederation government was unable to respond effectively to Spain's closure of the Mississippi River to American commerce, or to Britain's refusal to evacuate forts as required by the peace treaty.

The authors of the Federalist Papers explained at length how the Constitution would remedy these deficiencies. In Federalist No. 26, Hamilton declared that an energetic government was not the enemy of liberty, but rather the best means of securing people's rights. For Hamilton, the energy of this government was centered in the executive. A strong president, he asserted in Federalist No. 70, is necessary for government to be effective. "A feeble executive implies a feeble execution of the government," he wrote, and this was equivalent to "a bad execution and a government ill executed… must be in practice, a bad government."

Hamilton also refuted claims that because the Constitution granted the federal government direct power over citizens, it threatened liberty. He noted in Federalist No. 21 that the Confederation's inability to enforce its own laws was a "striking absurdity." This weakness was a greater threat to liberty than the power granted to the national government, for the current Confederation government was powerless to intervene if a tyrant should gain control of a state and oppress the citizens. Furthermore, Hamilton explained in Federalist No. 31, without the power to collect taxes, the national government would be unable to meet even its ordinary financial needs. The Revolution had shown that the states could not be relied upon to supply requested funds—only the authority to collect taxes directly from the people could provide the revenues that were the "essential engine" of effective government.

In a glaring break with republican beliefs, Hamilton argued in favor of the Constitution's provision for a standing army. The idea that a professional army could be employed to oppress the people was a key element of republican thought, and the Constitution's creation of a powerful federal government combined with the possibility of a standing army at its disposal frightened many Americans opponents of the Constitution found this to be a powerful argument against ratification. Hamilton maintained that a standing army would not be an instrument of tyranny, but instead leave citizens free to pursue their livelihoods to their benefit and that of the United States. In Federalist No. 24 he stated that taking people from their farms and businesses for extended militia service "would be as burdensome and injurious to the public as ruinous to private citizens." Hamilton dismissed the idea of the army being used to oppress the people in Federalist No. 26, noting that such a scheme would require the unlikely collusion of the executive and legislative branches, while in Federalist No. 27 he stated that there would be no need to use the army to enforce the laws, as the Constitution granted that power to the federal judiciary.

The Federalist Number 10

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.1 The friend of popular governments, never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice. He will not fail therefore to set a due value on any plan which, without violating the principles to which he is attached, provides a proper cure for it. The instability, injustice and confusion introduced into the public councils, have in truth been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have every where perished as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations. The valuable improvements made by the American constitutions on the popular models, both antient and modern, cannot certainly be too much admired but it would be an unwarrantable partiality, to contend that they have as effectually obviated the danger on this side as was wished and expected. Complaints are every where heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty that our governments are too unstable that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice, and the rights of the minor party but by the superior force of an interested and over-bearing majority. However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no foundation, the evidence of known facts will not permit us to deny that they are in some degree true. It will be found indeed, on a candid review of our situation, that some of the distresses under which we labour, have been erroneously charged on the operation of our governments but it will be found at the same time, that other causes will not alone account for many of our heaviest misfortunes and particularly, for that prevailing and increasing distrust of public engagements, and alarm for private rights, which are echoed from one end of the continent to the other. These must be chiefly, if not wholly, effects of the unsteadiness and injustice, with which a factious spirit has tainted our public administration.

By a faction I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: The one, by removing its causes the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: The one by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it is worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction, what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

The second expedient is as impracticable, as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to an uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results: And from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man and we see them every where brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have in turn divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other, than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions, and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions, has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold, and those who are without property, have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a monied interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of government.

No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men, are unfit to be both judges and parties, at the same time yet, what are many of the most important acts of legislation, but so many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concerning the rights of large bodies of citizens and what are the different classes of legislators, but advocates and parties to the causes which they determine? Is a law proposed concerning private debts? It is a question to which the creditors are parties on one side, and the debtors on the other. Justice ought to hold the balance between them. Yet the parties are and must be themselves the judges and the most numerous party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction must be expected to prevail. Shall domestic manufactures be encouraged, and in what degree, by restrictions on foreign manufactures? are questions which would be differently decided by the landed and the manufacturing classes and probably by neither, with a sole regard to justice and the public good. The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property, is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality, yet there is perhaps no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party, to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they over-burden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets.

It is in vain to say, that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm: Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all, without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another, or the good of the whole.

The inference to which we are brought, is, that the causes of faction cannot be removed and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects .

If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote: It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the constitution. When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government on the other hand enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest, both the public good and the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good, and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our enquiries are directed. Let me add that it is the great desideratum, by which alone this form of government can be rescued from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.

By what means is this object attainable? Evidently by one of two only. Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time, must be prevented or the majority, having such co-existent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression. If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered to coincide, we well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control. They are not found to be such on the injustice and violence of individuals, and lose their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together that is, in proportion as their efficacy becomes needful.2

From this view of the subject, it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society, consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole a communication and concert results from the form of government itself and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party, or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is, that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed, that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized, and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.

A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure, and the efficacy which it must derive from the union.

The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic, are first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.

The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice, will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good, than if pronounced by the people themselves convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests of the people. The question resulting is, whether small or extensive republics are most favourable to the election of proper guardians of the public weal and it is clearly decided in favour of the latter by two obvious considerations.

In the first place it is to be remarked, that however small the republic may be, the representatives must be raised to a certain number, in order to guard against the cabals of a few and that however large it may be, they must be limited to a certain number, in order to guard against the confusion of a multitude. Hence the number of representatives in the two cases not being in proportion to that of the constituents, and being proportionally greatest in the small republic, it follows, that if the proportion of fit characters be not less in the large than in the small republic, the former will present a greater option, and consequently a greater probability of a fit choice.

In the next place, as each representative will be chosen by a greater number of citizens in the large than in the small republic, it will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practise with success the vicious arts, by which elections are too often carried and the suffrages of the people being more free, will be more likely to centre on men who possess the most attractive merit, and the most diffusive and established characters.

It must be confessed, that in this, as in most other cases, there is a mean, on both sides of which inconveniencies will be found to lie. By enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the representative too little acquainted with all their local circumstances and lesser interests as by reducing it too much, you render him unduly attached to these, and too little fit to comprehend and pursue great and national objects. The federal constitution forms a happy combination in this respect the great and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local and particular to the state legislatures.

The other point of difference is, the greater number of citizens and extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of republican, than of democratic government and it is this circumstance principally which renders factious combinations less to be dreaded in the former, than in the latter. The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other. Besides other impediments, it may be remarked, that where there is a consciousness of unjust or dishonourable purposes, communication is always checked by distrust, in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary.

Hence it clearly appears, that the same advantage, which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic—is enjoyed by the union over the states composing it. Does this advantage consist in the substitution of representatives, whose enlightened views and virtuous sentiments render them superior to local prejudices, and to schemes of injustice? It will not be denied, that the representation of the union will be most likely to possess these requisite endowments. Does it consist in the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest? In an equal degree does the encreased variety of parties, comprised within the union, encrease this security. Does it, in fine, consist in the greater obstacles opposed to the concert and accomplishment of the secret wishes of an unjust and interested majority? Here, again, the extent of the union gives it the most palpable advantage.

The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular states, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other states: A religious sect, may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the confederacy but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it, must secure the national councils against any danger from that source: A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the union, than a particular member of it in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire state.3

In the extent and proper structure of the union, therefore, we behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government. And according to the degree of pleasure and pride, we feel in being republicans, ought to be our zeal in cherishing the spirit, and supporting the character of federalists.

McLean description begins The Federalist, A Collection of Essays, written in favour of the New Constitution, By a Citizen of New-York. Printed by J. and A. McLean (New York, 1788). description ends , I, 52–61.

1 . Douglass Adair showed chat in preparing this essay, especially that part containing the analysis of factions and the theory of the extended republic, JM creatively adapted the ideas of David Hume (“‘That Politics May Be Reduced to a Science’: David Hume, James Madison, and the Tenth Federalist,” Huntington Library Quarterly , XX [1956–57], 343–60). The forerunner of The Federalist No. 10 may be found in JM’s Vices of the Political System ( PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (10 vols. to date Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IX, 348–57). See also JM’s first speech of 6 June and his first speech of 26 June 1787 at the Federal Convention, and his letter to Jefferson of 24 Oct. 1787.

2 . In Vices of the Political System JM listed three motives, each of which he believed was insufficient to prevent individuals or factions from oppressing each other: (1) “a prudent regard to their own good as involved in the general and permanent good of the Community” (2) “respect for character” and (3) religion. As to “respect for character,” JM remarked that “in a multitude its efficacy is diminished in proportion to the number which is to share the praise or the blame” ( PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (10 vols. to date Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IX, 355–56). For this observation JM again drew upon David Hume. Adair suggests that JM deliberately omitted his list of motives from The Federalist . “There was a certain disadvantage in making derogatory remarks to a majority that must be persuaded to adopt your arguments” (“‘That Politics May Be Reduced to a Science,’” Huntington Library Quarterly , XX [1956–57], 354). JM repeated these motives in his first speech of 6 June 1787, in his letter to Jefferson of 24 Oct. 1787, and alluded to them in The Federalist No. 51.

3 . The negative on state laws, which JM had unsuccessfully advocated at the Federal Convention, was designed to prevent the enactment of “improper or wicked” measures by the states. The Constitution did include specific prohibitions on the state legislatures, but JM dismissed these as “short of the mark.” He also doubted that the judicial system would effectively “keep the States within their proper limits” (JM to Jefferson, 24 Oct. 1787).

The Founding Fathers Explain The Second Amendment -- This Says it ALL

There’s a lot going around about the Second Amendment. Some on the left have been spreading a little rumor that it isn’t necessarily about protecting any right of the individual. Some say it doesn’t hold water compared to the government’s ideas on ensuring public safety.

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Let’s not forget that the Amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” isn’t our only clue to determine what the founders thought of the right to bear arms. They’ve left behind plenty of writings which outline the purpose of the 2 nd Amendment.

Here’s just a few quotes from buckeyefirearms.org:

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“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined…” – George Washington, First Annual Address, to both House of Congress, January 8, 1790

“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” – Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Constitution, Draft 1, 1776

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787

“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787

“The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” – Thomas Jefferson, Commonplace Book (quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria), 1774-1776

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“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 19, 1785

“The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824

“On every occasion [of Constitutional interpretation] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying [to force] what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, [instead let us] conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, 12 June 1823

“I enclose you a list of the killed, wounded, and captives of the enemy from the commencement of hostilities at Lexington in April, 1775, until November, 1777, since which there has been no event of any consequence … I think that upon the whole it has been about one half the number lost by them, in some instances more, but in others less. This difference is ascribed to our superiority in taking aim when we fire every soldier in our army having been intimate with his gun from his infancy.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to Giovanni Fabbroni, June 8, 1778

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“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

“To disarm the people…[i]s the most effectual way to enslave them.” – George Mason, referencing advice given to the British Parliament by Pennsylvania governor Sir William Keith, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adooption of the Federal Constitution, June 14, 1788

“I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.” – George Mason, Address to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 4, 1788

“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.” – Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 1787

“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.” – James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789

“…the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone…” – James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants it is the creed of slaves.” – William Pitt (the Younger), Speech in the House of Commons, November 18, 1783

“A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves…and include, according to the past and general usuage of the states, all men capable of bearing arms… “To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” – Richard Henry Lee, Federal Farmer No. 18, January 25, 1788

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined…. The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun.” – Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778

“This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty…. The right of self defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.” – St. George Tucker, Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1803

“The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian while on the other hand, arms, like law, discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. And while a single nation refuses to lay them down, it is proper that all should keep them up. Horrid mischief would ensue were one-half the world deprived of the use of them for while avarice and ambition have a place in the heart of man, the weak will become a prey to the strong. The history of every age and nation establishes these truths, and facts need but little arguments when they prove themselves.” – Thomas Paine, “Thoughts on Defensive War” in Pennsylvania Magazine, July 1775

“The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” – Samuel Adams, Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 1788

“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.” – Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833

“What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty …. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.” – Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, I Annals of Congress 750, August 17, 1789

“For it is a truth, which the experience of ages has attested, that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 25, December 21, 1787

“If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource except in their courage and despair.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28

“[I]f circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28, January 10, 1788

“As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.” – Tench Coxe, Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789

Did the founders make themselves clear? Let us know what you think and sound off in the comments below.


Introduction The U.S. Constitution establishes a system of federalism that allocates power, authority, and sovereignty between the federal government at the national level and its constituent units at the state and local levels. However, nowhere in the Constitution does the word federalism appear, so the term remained undefined. Nonetheless, Articles I through III expressly delegate certain powers to the three branches of the federal government, while the TENTH AMENDMENT expressly reserves to the states those powers not delegated to the federal government. The EQUAL PROTECTION and DUE PROCESS Clauses of the FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT have been interpreted to make most of the BILL OF RIGHTS applicable to the states, while the NINTH AMENDMENT preserves for "the people" those rights not enumerated in the Constitution.

So while the term federalism is nowhere to be found in the text of the U.S. Constitution, the principles underlying this theory of government are deeply embedded throughout the national charter. The Framers left it for subsequent generations of Americans to work out the details, allowing them, in effect, to provide their own definition of federalism in what best can be described as an ongoing national dialogue. Over the last 200 plus years, Americans have carried out this dialogue by speaking to each other through their state and federal institutions and by amending the Constitution as a last resort.

The most visible federal institutions participating in this national dialogue have been the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress. Typically, cases involving federalism-related issues have come before the Supreme Court after Congress has enacted a law that a state believes encroaches on its sovereignty. Until the late twentieth century, the Supreme Court leaned heavily in favor of allocating power to Congress at the expense of state sovereignty, and not surprisingly the states often took issue. But from 1993 to 2003, the jurisprudential pendulum of the Supreme Court took a very noticeable swing back in favor of STATES' RIGHTS. To understand just how pronounced this swing has been, it is important to place a spate of Supreme Court cases in historical context.

The First 200 Years of Federalism in the United States In CHISHOLM V. GEORGIA, 2 U.S. 419, 2 Dall. 419, 1 L.Ed. 440 (U.S. 1793), the Supreme Court ruled that Article III of the federal Constitution gives the Court original jurisdiction over lawsuits between a state government and the citizens of another state, even if the state being sued does not consent. The decision generated immediate opposition from 12 states, and led to the ratification of the ELEVENTH AMENDMENT, which gives states SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY from being sued in federal court by citizens of other states without the consent of the state being sued. Thirty-eight years later the Court again overstepped its bounds when it invalidated a Georgia state law regulating Cherokee Indian lands on the grounds that the law violated several U.S. treaties. Georgia ignored the Supreme Court's decision, and President ANDREW JACKSON, an ardent states' rights proponent, refused to deploy federal troops to enforce the Court's order. Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 30 U.S. 1, 5 Pet. 1, 8 L.Ed. 25 (U.S. 1831).

Allocation of power to the federal government probably reached its zenith under the Supreme Court's expansive interpretation of congressional lawmaking power exercised pursuant to the COMMERCE CLAUSE, which gives Congress authority to regulate matters affecting interstate commerce. In GIBBONS V. OGDEN, 22 U.S. 1, 6 L.Ed. 23, 9 Wheat. 1(U.S. 1824), the Supreme Court ruled that the Commerce Clause power of Congress is "supreme, unlimited, and plenary," acknowledging "no limitations, other than those prescribed in the Constitution." More than a hundred years later Congress applied this plenary power to regulate a farmer's personal consumption of his own privately grown wheat because Congress had found that the effects of such use, when aggregated with that of other farmers, would have a substantial effect on prices in the national wheat market. The Supreme Court ruled that Congress had not exceeded the bounds of its authority under the Commerce Clause. Wickard v. Filburn, 317U.S. 111, 63 S.Ct. 82, 87 L.Ed. 122 (U.S. 1942).

The Supreme Court deviated from its pattern of enlarging the powers of the federal government in decisions involving race relations. In DRED SCOTT V. SANDFORD, 60 U.S. 393, 19 How. 393, 15L.Ed. 691 (U.S. 1856), the Court invalidated the Missouri Compromise, a federal law that outlawed SLAVERY in the northern Louisiana Territory, on the grounds that under the Constitution Congress was intended "to be carefully limited in its powers, and to exercise no authority beyond those expressly granted by the Constitution, or necessarily to be implied from [it]." This decision exacerbated the antagonism between the slave-holding states, the free states, and the territories, antagonism that eventually culminated in the U.S. CIVIL WAR. Similarly, the Supreme Court deferred to local lawmakers in PLESSY V. FERGUSON, 163 U.S. 537, 16 S.Ct. 1138, 41 L.Ed. 256(U.S. 1896), which upheld the constitutionality of JIM CROW LAWS that had created a legal regime of racial SEGREGATION in the South.

Federalism Since 1990 Beginning in the 1990s, however, the Supreme Court began revisiting the relationship between the state and federal governments on issues other than race-relations. In New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 112 S.Ct. 2408, 120 L.Ed.2d 120 (U.S.1992), the state of New York brought a suit challenging parts of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act. 42 U.S.C.A. § 2021e(d)(2)(C). The Supreme Court held that the act's "take title" provision, which required states either to regulate low-level radioactive waste according to congressional regulations or to take ownership of the waste, was unconstitutional. The Court reasoned that the "take title" provision was outside the authority delegated to Congress under the Constitution and that the regulation was an attempt to "compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program." Such attempts to compel state behavior, the Court said, violate the federal structure of the government as embodied in the Tenth Amendment.

Three years later the Supreme Court invalidated the Gun-Free School Zones Act in United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 115 S.Ct. 1624, 131 L.Ed.2d 626 (U.S.1995). The act had made it a federal offense for any individual to knowingly possess a firearm in a place that the individual knows or has reasonable cause to believe is a school zone. 18 U.S.C. § 922(q). Without explicitly overruling Wickard v. Filburn, the Court ruled that Congress exceeded its authority under the Commerce Clause, since possession of gun in a local school zone was not economic activity that might, through repetition elsewhere, substantially affect any sort of interstate commerce, and the statute contained no jurisdictional element to ensure, through a case-by-case inquiry, that possession of firearm had any concrete tie to interstate commerce.

In Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898, 117 S.Ct. 2365, 138 L.Ed.2d 914(U.S. 1997), a sheriff sought to enjoin provisions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. Pub.L. 103-159, 107 Stat. 1536. The act established a system of national instant background checks. Local authorities were required to participate in the system by performing background checks on behalf of the federal government. The Supreme Court ruled that Congress had no authority under the Commerce Clause to enlist local authorities to enforce the provisions of a federal law.

That same year the Supreme Court continued chipping away at Congressional power in Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 116 S.Ct. 1114, 134L.Ed.2d 252 (U.S. 1997), a case in which an Indian tribe filed suit against Florida to compel the state to negotiate under the federal Indian Gambling Regulatory Act. 25 U.S.C. § 2710(d)(7). The act required states to negotiate in GOOD FAITH towards the creation of a compact between the tribe and the state allowing for certain gambling activities. States could be sued in federal court for violating the act and compelled by federal courts to comply with its mandates. The Supreme Court found that, while Congress intended to abrogate the states' sovereign immunity in the statute, the "Eleventh Amendment prohibits Congress from making the states capable of being sued in federal court."

Scholars, historians, and other commentators disagree over the long-term impact of the Court's recent decisions that revisit the concept of federalism. New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse responded to several of the federalism-related decisions by opining that "it is only a slight exaggeration to say that &hellip the Court [is] a single vote shy of reinstalling the Articles of Confederation." Joseph Biden (D-Del.) took to the Senate floor to proclaim that "the imperialist course upon which the Court has embarked constitutes a danger to our established system of government."

Other commentators contend that these decisions are likely to have minimal lasting effect. Congress has at its disposal, these commentators argue, a variety of mechanisms by which it can blunt the effects of these rulings. For example, Congress can fund studies that will offer proof that the subject matter of proposed federal laws intimately touch upon interstate commerce, thereby defeating in advance any arguments to the contrary. In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., other commentators have predicted that the pendulum of federalism would swing in the other direction to allow the federal government to more adequately address concerns over homeland security.

Amid these competing views over the Court's direction, one thing remains certain: each year the court is asked to review an increasing number of decisions relating in one way or another to federalism. Sometimes the Court can influence the balance of power between the state and federal governments even by declining to grant certiorari. For example, in December 2002 the Court refused to intervene after the New Jersey Supreme Court allowed Democrat Frank Lautenberg to replace U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli on the fall ballot, even though the state's legal deadline had passed. Forrester v. New Jersey Democratic Party, Inc., ___ U.S. ___, 123 S.Ct. 673, 154 L. Ed. 2d 582 (2002). By declining review, the Court allowed the state leeway in interpreting its own laws. Such "federalism" issues are bound to resurface in other cases, including one that had not yet reached the court: Attorney General JOHN ASHCROFT's bid to prosecute doctors assisting in suicides under Oregon law. Oregon v. Ashcroft, 192F.Supp.2d 1077 (D.Or. 2002).


"Commerce Clause: Past, Present, and Future." 2003. Arkansas Law Review 55 (winter).

"Congressional Power in the Shadow of the Rehnquist Court: Strategies for the Future." 2003. Indiana Law Journal 78 (winter-spring).

"Conservative Judicial Activism." 2002. University of Colorado Law Review 73 (fall).

"Federalism and Rights." 2002. Human Rights. 29 (fall).

"Perspectives: Federal Jurisprudence, State Autonomy." 2003. Albany Law Review 66 (spring).

The Federalist No. 511 By James Madison or Alexander Hamilton

TO what expedient then shall we finally resort for maintaining in practice the necessary partition of power among the several departments, as laid down in the constitution? The only answer that can be given is, that as all these exterior provisions are found to be inadequate, the defect must be supplied, by so contriving the interior structure of the government, as that its several constituent parts may, by their mutual relations, be the means of keeping each other in their proper places. Without presuming to undertake a full development of this important idea, I will hazard a few general observations, which may perhaps place it in a clearer light, and enable us to form a more correct judgment of the principles and structure of the government planned by the convention.

In order to lay a due foundation for that separate and distinct exercise of the different powers of government, which to a certain extent, is admitted on all hands to be essential to the preservation of liberty, it is evident that each department should have a will of its own and consequently should be so constituted, that the members of each should have as little agency as possible in the appointment of the members of the others. Were this principle rigorously adhered to, it would require that all the appointments for the supreme executive, legislative, and judiciary magistracies, should be drawn from the same fountain of authority, the people, through channels, having no communication whatever with one another. Perhaps such a plan of constructing the several departments would be less difficult in practice than it may in contemplation appear. Some difficulties however, and some additional expence, would attend the execution of it. Some deviations therefore from the principle must be admitted. In the constitution of the judiciary department in particular, it might be inexpedient to insist rigorously on the principle first, because peculiar qualifications being essential in the members, the primary consideration ought to be to select that mode of choice, which best secures these qualifications secondly, because the permanent tenure by which the appointments are held in that department, must soon destroy all sense of dependence on the authority conferring them.

It is equally evident that the members of each department should be as little dependent as possible on those of the others, for the emoluments annexed to their offices. Were the executive magistrate, or the judges, not independent of the legislature in this particular, their independence in every other would be merely nominal.

But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department, the necessary constitutional means, and personal motives, to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defence must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to controul the abuses of government. But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controuls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to controul the governed and in the next place, oblige it to controul itself. A dependence on the people is no doubt the primary controul on the government but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

This policy of supplying by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public. We see it particularly displayed in all the subordinate distributions of power where the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other that the private interest of every individual, may be a centinel over the public rights. These inventions of prudence cannot be less requisite in the distribution of the supreme powers of the state.

But it is not possible to give to each department an equal power of self defence. In republican government the legislative authority, necessarily, predominates. The remedy for this inconveniency is, to divide the legislature into different branches and to render them by different modes of election, and different principles of action, as little connected with each other, as the nature of their common functions, and their common dependence on the society, will admit. It may even be necessary to guard against dangerous encroachments by still further precautions. As the weight of the legislative authority requires that it should be thus divided, the weakness of the executive may require, on the other hand, that it should be fortified. An absolute negative, on the legislature, appears at first view to be the natural defence with which the executive magistrate should be armed. But perhaps it would be neither altogether safe, nor alone sufficient. On ordinary occasions, it might not be exerted with the requisite firmness and on extraordinary occasions, it might be perfidiously abused. May not this defect of an absolute negative be supplied, by some qualified connection between this weaker department, and the weaker branch of the stronger department, by which the latter may be led to support the constitutional rights of the former, without being too much detached from the rights of its own departmen[t]?

If the principles on which these observations are founded be just, as I persuade myself they are, and they be applied as a criterion, to the several state constitutions, and to the federal constitution, it will be found, that if the latter does not perfectly correspond with them, the former are infinitely less able to bear such a test.

There are moreover two considerations particularly applicable to the federal system of America, which place that system2 in a very interesting point of view.

First. In a single republic, all the power surrendered by the people, is submitted to the administration of a single government and3 usurpations are guarded against by a division of the government into distinct and separate departments. In the compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the people, is first divided between two distinct governments, and then the portion allotted to each, subdivided among distinct and separate departments. Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will controul each other at the same time that each will be controuled by itself.

Second. It is of great importance in a republic, not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. Different interests necessarily exist in different classes of citizens. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure. There are but two methods of providing against this evil: The one by creating a will in the community independent of the majority, that is, of the society itself the other by comprehending in the society so many separate descriptions of citizens, as will render an unjust combination of a majority of the whole, very improbable, if not impracticable. The first method prevails in all governments possessing an hereditary or self appointed authority. This at best is but a precarious security because a power independent of the society may as well espouse the unjust views of the major, as the rightful interests, of the minor party, and may possibly be turned against both parties. The second method will be exemplified in the federal republic of the United States. Whilst all authority in it will be derived from and dependent on the society, the society itself will be broken into so many parts, interests and classes of citizens, that the rights of individuals or of the minority, will be in little danger from interested combinations of the majority. In a free government, the security for civil rights must be the same as for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other, in the multiplicity of sects. The degree of security in both cases will depend on the number of interests and sects and this may be presumed to depend on the extent of country and number of people comprehended under the same government. This view of the subject must particularly recommend a proper federal system to all the sincere and considerate friends of republican government: Since it shews that in exact proportion as the territory of the union may be formed into more circumscribed confederacies or states, oppressive combinations of a majority will be facilitated, the best security under the republican form, for the rights of every class of citizens, will be diminished and consequently, the stability and independence of some member of the government, the only other security, must be proportionally increased. Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been, and ever will be pursued, until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit. In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign, as in a state of nature where the weaker individual is not secured against the violence of the stronger: And as in the latter state even the stronger individuals are prompted by the uncertainty of their condition, to submit to a government which may protect the weak as well as themselves: So in the former state, will the more powerful factions or parties4 be gradually induced by a like motive, to wish for a government which will protect all parties, the weaker as well as the more powerful. It can be little doubted, that if the state of Rhode Island was separated from the confederacy, and left to itself, the insecurity of rights under the popular form of government within such narrow limits, would be displayed by such reiterated oppressions of factious majorities, that some power altogether independent of the people would soon be called for by the voice of the very factions whose misrule had proved the necessity of it. In the extended republic of the United States, and among the great variety of interests, parties and sects which it embraces, a coalition of a majority of the whole society could seldom take place on5 any other principles than those of justice and the general good and6 there being thus less danger to a minor from the will of the major party, there must be less pretext also, to provide for the security of the former, by introducing into the government a will not dependent on the latter or in other words, a will independent of the society itself. It is no less certain than it is important, notwithstanding the contrary opinions which have been entertained, that the larger the society, provided it lie within a practicable sphere, the more duly capable it will be of self government. And happily for the republican cause , the practicable sphere may be carried to a very great extent, by a judicious modification and mixture of the federal principle .

The [New York] Independent Journal: or, the General Advertiser , February 6, 1788. This essay appeared on February 8 in New-York Packet and on February 11 in The [New York] Daily Advertiser . In the McLean description begins The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, As Agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787. In Two Volumes (New York: Printed and Sold by J. and A. McLean, 1788). description ends edition this essay is numbered 51, in the newspapers it is numbered 50.

Essay 51, like essay 50, was claimed by H and Madison. The internal evidence presented by Edward G. Bourne (“The Authorship of the Federalist,” The American Historical Review , II [April, 1897], 449–51), strongly indicates Madison’s authorship. Bourne printed in parallel columns sentences from essay 51 which correspond very closely, sometimes exactly, to earlier writings by Madison. For other reasons why Madison’s claim to the authorship of this essay outweighs (but does not necessarily obviate) that of H, see “The Federalist. Introductory Note,” October 27, 1787–May 28, 1788.

2 . “it” substituted for “that system” in Hopkins description begins The Federalist On The New Constitution. By Publius. Written in 1788. To Which is Added, Pacificus, on The Proclamation of Neutrality. Written in 1793. Likewise, The Federal Constitution, With All the Amendments. Revised and Corrected. In Two Volumes (New York: Printed and Sold by George F. Hopkins, at Washington’s Head, 1802). description ends .

3 . “the” inserted at this point in Hopkins.

4 . “or parties” omitted in Hopkins.

5 . “upon” substituted for “on” in McLean description begins The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, As Agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787. In Two Volumes (New York: Printed and Sold by J. and A. McLean, 1788). description ends and Hopkins.

6 . “Whilst” substituted for “and” in McLean and Hopkins.

Federalist No. 63

Federalist No. 63 is an essay by James Madison, the sixty-third of The Federalist Papers. It was published on March 1, 1788 under the pseudonym Publius, the name under which all The Federalist papers were published. Continuing what Madison began in Federalist No. 62, it is the second of two essays detailing and justifying the organization of the United States Senate. No. 63 is titled "The Senate Continued". This essay is the last of Madison's contributions to the series.

In this paper, Madison lays out more reasons for the necessity of the Senate. He argues that the Senate, a strong and the most stable member of the government, is needed to ensure lasting relations with foreign nations. He also notes that because Senators are elected to six-year terms, they will have sufficient time to be responsible for their actions. The Senate can also serve as a check on the people since, although during most times their will is just, they too are "subject to the [periodic] infection of violent passions."

Madison also gives examples of past long-lived republics, all of which had a Senate. They, however, had senates elected for life, which, if followed, could threaten the liberty of the people. It is for this reason why the Senate proposed in the constitution has six-year terms. In this way, the Senate in the Union blends stability with the idea of liberty.

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Federalist Papers - History

To the People of the State of New York:

The mode of appointment of the Chief Magistrate of the United States is almost the only part of the system, of any consequence, which has escaped without severe censure, or which has received the slightest mark of approbation from its opponents. The most plausible of these, who has appeared in print, has even deigned to admit that the election of the President is pretty well guarded.1 I venture somewhat further, and hesitate not to affirm, that if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent. It unites in an eminent degree all the advantages, the union of which was to be wished for.

It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture.

It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief. The choice of several, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of one who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office. No senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States, can be of the numbers of the electors. Thus without corrupting the body of the people, the immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task free from any sinister bias. Their transient existence, and their detached situation, already taken notice of, afford a satisfactory prospect of their continuing so, to the conclusion of it. The business of corruption, when it is to embrace so considerable a number of men, requires time as well as means. Nor would it be found easy suddenly to embark them, dispersed as they would be over thirteen States, in any combinations founded upon motives, which though they could not properly be denominated corrupt, might yet be of a nature to mislead them from their duty.

Another and no less important desideratum was, that the Executive should be independent for his continuance in office on all but the people themselves. He might otherwise be tempted to sacrifice his duty to his complaisance for those whose favor was necessary to the duration of his official consequence. This advantage will also be secured, by making his re-election to depend on a special body of representatives, deputed by the society for the single purpose of making the important choice.

All these advantages will happily combine in the plan devised by the convention which is, that the people of each State shall choose a number of persons as electors, equal to the number of senators and representatives of such State in the national government, who shall assemble within the State, and vote for some fit person as President. Their votes, thus given, are to be transmitted to the seat of the national government, and the person who may happen to have a majority of the whole number of votes will be the President. But as a majority of the votes might not always happen to centre in one man, and as it might be unsafe to permit less than a majority to be conclusive, it is provided that, in such a contingency, the House of Representatives shall select out of the candidates who shall have the five highest number of votes, the man who in their opinion may be best qualified for the office.

The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue. And this will be thought no inconsiderable recommendation of the Constitution, by those who are able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration. Though we cannot acquiesce in the political heresy of the poet who says: ``For forms of government let fools contest That which is best administered is best,'' yet we may safely pronounce, that the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.

The Vice-President is to be chosen in the same manner with the President with this difference, that the Senate is to do, in respect to the former, what is to be done by the House of Representatives, in respect to the latter.

The appointment of an extraordinary person, as Vice-President, has been objected to as superfluous, if not mischievous. It has been alleged, that it would have been preferable to have authorized the Senate to elect out of their own body an officer answering that description. But two considerations seem to justify the ideas of the convention in this respect. One is, that to secure at all times the possibility of a definite resolution of the body, it is necessary that the President should have only a casting vote. And to take the senator of any State from his seat as senator, to place him in that of President of the Senate, would be to exchange, in regard to the State from which he came, a constant for a contingent vote. The other consideration is, that as the Vice-President may occasionally become a substitute for the President, in the supreme executive magistracy, all the reasons which recommend the mode of election prescribed for the one, apply with great if not with equal force to the manner of appointing the other. It is remarkable that in this, as in most other instances, the objection which is made would lie against the constitution of this State. We have a Lieutenant-Governor, chosen by the people at large, who presides in the Senate, and is the constitutional substitute for the Governor, in casualties similar to those which would authorize the Vice-President to exercise the authorities and discharge the duties of the President.

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