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Lift your lamp beside the golden door, Break not the golden rule, avoid well the golden calf, know; not all that glitters is gold, and laissez faire et laissez passer [let do and let pass] but as a shining sentinel, hesitate not to ring the bell, defend the gates, and man the wall

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Federalist Papers by Publius

James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay (Publius)

The Federalist Papers [Read Online] (Blog) are a series of 85 articles advocating the ratification of the United States Constitution. Seventy-seven of the essays were published serially in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet between October 1787 and August 1788. A compilation of these and eight others, called The Federalist; or, The New Constitution, was published in two volumes in 1788 by J. and A. McLean.[1] The series' correct title is The Federalist; the title The Federalist Papers did not emerge until the twentieth century.

The Federalist remains a primary source for interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, as the essays outline a lucid and compelling version of the philosophy and motivation of the proposed system of government.[2] The authors of The Federalist wanted both to influence the vote in favor of ratification and to shape future interpretations of the Constitution. According to historian Richard B. Morris, they are an "incomparable exposition of the Constitution, a classic in political science unsurpassed in both breadth and depth by the product of any later American writer."[3]

At the time of publication, the authorship of the articles was a closely-guarded secret, though astute observers guessed that Hamilton, Madison, and Jay were the likely authors. Following Hamilton's death in 1804, a list that he drew up became public; it claimed fully two-thirds of the essays for Hamilton, including some that seemed more likely the work of Madison (Nos. 49-58, 62, and 63). The scholarly detective work of Douglass Adair in 1944 postulated the following assignments of authorship, confirmed in 1964 by a computer analysis of the text:

  • Alexander Hamilton (51 articles: nos. 1, 6–9, 11–13, 15–17, 21–36, 59–61, and 65–85)
  • James Madison (29 articles: nos. 10, 14, 37–58 and 62–63)
  • John Jay (5 articles: 2–5 and 64).
  • Nos. 18–20 were the result of a collaboration between Madison and Hamilton.[1]
The authors used the pseudonym "Publius," in honor of Roman consul Publius Valerius Publicola.[4] 

Madison, whom posterity generally credits as the father of the Constitution despite his repeated rejection of the honor during his lifetime, became a leading member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia (1789-1797), Secretary of State (1801-1809), and ultimately the fourth President of the United States.[5] 

Hamilton, who had been a leading advocate of national constitutional reform throughout the 1780s and represented New York at the Constitutional Convention, in 1789 became the first Secretary of the Treasury, a post he held till his resignation in 1795. 

John Jay, who had been secretary for foreign affairs under the Articles of Confederation from 1784 through their expiration in 1789, became the first Chief Justice of the United States in 1789, stepping down in 1795 to accept election as governor of New York, a post he held for two terms, retiring in 1801.

There are many highlights among the essays comprising The Federalist

Federalist No. 10, in which Madison discusses the means of preventing rule by majority faction and advocates an extended republic, is generally regarded as the most important of the 85 articles from a philosophical perspective; it is complemented by 

Federalist No. 14, in which Madison takes the measure of the United States, declares it appropriate for an extended republic, and concludes with a memorable defense of the constitutional and political creativity of the Federal Convention.[6] 

In Federalist No. 84, Hamilton makes the case that there is no need to amend the Constitution by adding a Bill of Rights, insisting that the various provisions in the proposed Constitution protecting liberty amount to a bill of rights. 

Federalist No. 78, also written by Hamilton, lays the groundwork for the doctrine of judicial review by federal courts of federal legislation or executive acts.  

Federalist No. 70 presents Hamilton's case for a one-man chief executive. 

In Federalist No. 39, Madison presents the clearest exposition of what has come to be called "Federalism." 

In Federalist No. 51, Madison distills arguments for checks and balances in a memorable essay often quoted for its justification of government as "the greatest of all reflections on human nature."
No. 2http://dauthazbeechphagein.blogspot.com/2011/06/federalist-no-02.html
John Jay, Excerpt, Page 32

   With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people—a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who by their joint council and arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established their general liberty and independence.

   This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.

No. 20 http://dauthazbeechphagein.blogspot.com/2011/07/federalist-no-20.html

No. 62 http://dauthazbeechphagein.blogspot.com/2011/06/federalist-no-62.html

The Anti-Federalist Papers are a collection of articles, written in opposition to the ratification of the 1787 United States Constitution. Unlike the Federalist Papers written in support of the Constitution, the authors of these articles, mostly operating under pen names, were not engaged in a strictly organized project. Thus, unlike the Federalist Papers, it is a matter of opinion what writings specifically are included and in what order they are best presented. One notable presentation is that by Morton Borden, who collected 85 of the most significant papers and arranged them in an order closely resembling that of the 85 Federalist Papers, e.g. #10 in Borden's arrangement argues against Federalist No. 10. The most frequently cited modern collection, The Complete Anti-Federalist, was produced by Herbert Storing and is considered the authoritative compendium on the publications.
Major Anti-Federalist authors included Cato (likely George Clinton), Brutus (likely Robert Yates), Centinel (Samuel Bryan), and the Federal Farmer (either Melancton Smith, Richard Henry Lee, or Mercy Otis Warren). Speeches by Patrick Henry and Smith are often included as well.

One of the major points of the articles was the danger the new Constitution would bring without a statement of individual rights. Some of the Anti-Federalist concerns were addressed in the Bill of Rights, which was added later.


John Jay's Letter To George Washington 6-27-1786

John Jay letter to George Washington, 27 June 1786

Philadelphia, 27 June, 1786.

Dkir Sir,

Being deputed, by the Church Convention of New York, to attend a general one, convened here, I brought with me your obliging letter of the 18th ultimo, that I might devote the first leisure hour to the pleasure of answering it.

Congress having freed the papers, of which the inclosed are copies, from injunctions of secrecy, and permitted the Delegates to make and send extracts from them to their different States, I think myself at liberty to transmit copies to you. These papers have been referred to me. Some of the facts are inaccurately stated, and improperly colored ; but it is too true that the treaty has been violated. On such occasions, I think it better fairly to confess and correct errors, than attempt to deceive ourselves and others by fallacious, though plausible, palliations and excuses. To oppose popular prejudices, to censure the proceedings, and expose the improprieties of States, is an unpleasant task ; but it must be done.

Our affairs seem to lead to some crisis; some revolution ; something that I cannot foresee, or conjecture. I am uneasy and apprehensive ; more so than during the war. Then we had a fixed object, and, though the means and time of attaining it were often problematical, yet I did firmly believe that we should ultimately succeed, because I was convinced that justice was with us. The case is now altered. We are going and doing wrong ; and therefore I look forward to evils and calamities, but without being able to guess at the instrument, nature, or measure of them. That we shall again recover, and things again go well, I have no doubt ; such a variety of circumstances would not almost miraculously have combined to liberate and make us a nation, for transient and unimportant purposes. I therefore believe we are yet to become a great and respectable people ; but when, or how, the spirit of prophecy only can discern.

There doubtless is much reason to think and to say, that we are wofully, and, in many instances wickedly, misled. Private rage for property suppresses public considerations; and personal, rather than national interests, have become the great objects of attention. Representative bodies will ever be faithful copies of their originals, and generally exhibit a checkered assemblage of virtue and vice, of abilities and weakness. The mass of men are neither wise nor good ; and the virtue, like the other resources, of a country, can only be drawn to a point by strong circumstances ably managed, or strong government ably administered. New governments have not the aid of habit and hereditary respect ; and, being generally the result of preceding tumult and confusion, do not immediately acquire stability or strength. Besides, in times of commotion, some men will gain confidence and importance, who merit neither ; and who, like political mountebanks, are less solicitous about the health of the credulous crowd, than about making the most of their nostrums and prescriptions.

New York was rendered less federal by the opinions of the late President of Congress. This is a singular, though not unaccountable fact. Indeed, human actions are seldom inexplicable. What I most fear is, that the better kind of people (by which I mean the people who are orderly and industrious, who are content with their situations, and not uneasy in their circumstances) will be led, by the insecurity of property, the loss of confidence in their rulers, and the want of public faith and rectitude, to consider the charms of liberty as imaginary and delusive. A state of uncertainty and fluctuation must disgust and alarm such men, and prepare their minds for almost any change that may promise them quiet and security.

Your letter to Mrs. Macaulay Graham is on the way to her, inclosed in one from me to Mr. Adams. I forget the name of the vessel. Be pleased to make my compliments to Mrs. Washington; and be assured that I am, with the greatest respect and esteem.

Dear Sir, &c.,
John Jay.

George Washington's Reply

George Washington's Letter To John Jay 8-15-1787

George Washington to John Jay 15 August 1786

 Mount Vernon 15th Augt 1786

Dear Sir [John Jay]

I have to thank you very sincerely for your interesting letter of the 27th of June, as well as for the other communications you had the goodness to make at the same time.

I am sorry to be assured, of what indeed I had little doubt before, that we have been guilty of violating the treaty in some instances. What a misfortune it is the British should have so well grounded a pretext for their palpable infractions?--and what a disgraceful part, out of the choice of difficulties before us, are we to act?
Your sentiments, that our affairs are drawing rapidly to a crisis, accord with my own. What the event will be is also beyond the reach of my foresight. We have errors to correct. We have probably had too good an opinion of human nature in forming our confederation. Experience has taught us, that men will not adopt & carry into execution, measures the best calculated for their own good without the intervention of a coercive power. I do not conceive we can exist long as a nation, without having lodged somewhere a power which will pervade the whole Union in as energetic a manner, as the authority of the different state governments extends over the several States. To be fearful of vesting Congress, constituted as that body is, with ample authorities for national purposes, appears to me the very climax of popular absurdity and madness. Could Congress exert them for the detriment of the public without injuring themselves in an equal or greater proportion? Are not their interests inseperably connected with those of their constituents? By the rotation of appointment must they not mingle frequently with the mass of citizens? Is it not rather to be apprehended, if they were possessed of the powers before described, that the individual members would be induced to use them, on many occasions, very timidly & inefficatiously for fear of loosing their popularity & future election? We must take human nature as we find it. Perfection falls not to the share of mortals. Many are of opinion that Congress have too frequently made use of the suppliant humble tone of requisition, in applications to the States, when they had a right to assume their imperial dignity and command obedience. Be that as it may, requisitions are a perfect nihility, where thirteen sovereign, independent[,] disunited States are in the habit of discussing & refusing compliance with them at their option. Requisitions are actually little better than a jest and a bye word through out the Land. If you tell the Legislatures they have violated the treaty of peace and invaded the prerogatives of the confederacy they will laugh in your face. What then is to be done? Things cannot go on in the same train forever. It is much to be feared, as you observe, that the better kind of people being disgusted with the circumstances will have their minds prepared for any revolution whatever. We are apt to run from one extreme into another. To anticipate & prevent disasterous contingencies would be the part of wisdom & patriotism.

What astonishing changes a few years are capable of producing! I am told that even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government without horror. From thinking proceeds speaking, thence to acting is often but a single step. But how irrevocable & tremendous! What a triumph for the advocates of despotism to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal & falacious! Would to God that wise measures may be taken in time to avert the consequences we have but too much reason to apprehend.

Retired as I am from the world, I frankly acknowledge I cannot feel myself an unconcerned spectator. Yet having happily assisted in bringing the ship into port & having been fairly discharged; it is not my business to embark again on a sea of troubles. Nor could it be expected that my sentiments and opinions would have much weight on the minds of my Countrymen--they have been neglected, tho' given as a last legacy in the most solemn manner. [1] I had then perhaps some claims to public attention. I consider myself as having none at present. With sentiments of sincere esteem & friendship I am, my dear Sir, Yr most Obedt & Affecte Hble Servant
Go: Washington


We have probably had too good an opinion of human nature in forming our confederation. Experience has taught us, that men will not adopt and carry into execution measures the best calculated for their own good, without the intervention of a coercive power.
Many are of the opinion, that Congress have too frequently made use of the suppliant, humble tone of requisition in applications to the States, when they had a right to assert their imperial dignity and command obedience....If you tell the [State] legislatures they have...invaded the prerogatives of the confederacy, they will laugh in your face. George Washington to John Jay, August 1, 1786 (2/5).
Kenneth W. Royce paraphrases Washington's quotation thusly:
People refuse to accept what we say is best for them unless we can force them to submit. Even though we have through Congress de jure power, we're ignored de facto. We're tired of placating these unruly States, only to be laughed in our face! 

View the emboldened section here referred to in its context above, both simply within the letter and an illustration as to the times for which it was written. Doing so should grant illumination as to how one could manipulate or mispercieve writings out of context.