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Federalist Papers Summaries
Terms in this set (21)
Those that signed the drafted Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787, agreed that only after being ratified by nine of thirteen states would the document take affect. Fearing that their hard work would be wasted by the disapproval of the powerful states, Virginia and New York, actions were taken to get the Constitution approved. Alexander Hamilton of New York asked James Madison of Virginia and John Jay to help him persuade the New York convention to ratify the Constitution. Together, they wrote a series of letters, under the name "Publius", to New York newspapers, defending the Constitution.
Having just won the American Revolution against the unjust English monarchy, the former American colonists were cautious to replace it with another centralized, unrestrained power. It is for this reason that Hamilton creates a new definition of Federalism. He eliminates the importance of nationalism and emphasizes how federalism allows the states to be distinct and independent. He suggests a "concurrency" of powers in which the identity and autonomy of the separate states remain, however, the national government still holds the highest power.
Hamilton stresses the importance of checks and balances as a way of restricting governmental power and preventing its abuse.
The Federalist Papers depicts The Separation of Powers in which the different branches of government have a specific role in which they develop an expertise and become proud of. Hamilton deems this essential to defend the country against foreign attacks, administer the laws fairly, and protect property and individual liberty. The letters also convey how the difference of needs between the States support the need to place executive authority in the hands of one person, the president.
The Federalist 1
In 1787 the newly-drafted US Constitution was sent to the thirteen states for ratification. Soon, however, Anti-Federalists essays disapproving what the document contained began to surface later that month. It is in Federalist No. 1 that Alexander Hamilton expresses his motives to change the Anti-Federalists' opinion and get the document ratified. Though his intentions are not to bash any persons or processes, Hamilton expresses his opposition to the Articles of Confederation, and he does so with bias. Hamilton clearly states in the first letter that opinions will always contain bias when it comes to important matters such as the US Constitution. The essay's main purpose is to force citizens to acknowledge that their current government is not worth keeping compared with the ideas of the Constitution. However, Hamilton knows the difficulty of convincing someone to replace something they are comfortable with. He reminds the people of how they "depend for their political constitutions on accident and force" and presents them with the opportunity to choose the establishment of a "good government". Hamilton even states that if the Constitution was not ratified, the existing Union would be completely destroyed. He tries his hardest to make citizens see how bizarre the Anti-Federalists' views were. At the end of the essay, Hamilton gives an outline of six concepts that he, Madison, and Jay will discuss in the upcoming Federalist Papers.
The Federalist 2
In the second Federalist essay, John Jay discusses how though the Americans had won The Revolutionary War, they were far less superior, militarily, then European nations like England and France. There was concern amongst the Americans of the European powers attempting to regain control, and Jay stressed that the best defense was a strong union of the American states. Jay notes that his essay will support the politicians who have lately rejected the present conception that the prosperity of the people of America depend on the states being firmly united. He borrows ideas from the Enlightenment Thinkers John Locke and Thomas Hobbes and depicts how citizens must give up some of their natural rights to allow themselves to be guided and governed by the national government. Jay conveys how it is through the will of Providence that a people so connected in background, language and religion must have a Union. In the Federalist No. 2, Publius continues to note how the Articles of Confederation, though established with the citizens in mind, lacks the proper deliberation, and experience of individuals, that was present at the convention in Philadelphia. Jay continues by recalling how the 1774 congress, which had drafted the Declaration of Independence, had been attacked wrongfully by opponents who used realpolitik to gain more power. He concludes with a warning, saying that if the Constitution fails to be ratified, the nation's union would be jeopardized and may crumble altogether.
The Federalist 3
In Federalist No. 3, John Jay argues that a strong national government, opposed to thirteen separate States or multiple confederacies, could better preserve peace between foreign nations, and safety amongst citizens. He states that a "united America" would be less likely to provoke war between other nations. For instance, the United States would be less likely to violate treaties treaties or use direct violence, whereas states immediately bordering foreign territories may act on impulse for any minor infraction. The national government's responsibility is to look out for the safety of its citizens, and headed by the most educated and experienced men in the nation, the likeliness of war is minimal. With this in mind, Jay portrays the inconsistency of state officials and the possibility of treachery. He depicts how judicial decisions of the national government will be "more wise, systematical, and judicious than those of individual States," and, thus, more satisfactory with respect to other nations and the citizens. Jay also argues that, in the event of conflict with an international power, a foreign power would be more likely to come to terms with a strong united America, then an individual state that would be manipulated without the ability to settle causes of war.
The Federalist 4
Jay argues that a singular government speaking for all states cause war with foreign countries to become a rarity. He depicts how the safety of the people of america depends upon how inviting the nation is to hostility or insult because other countries will generally make war whenever there is a possibility of gaining anything by it. jealousies and uneasinesses may gradually slide into the minds and cabinets of other nations, and that we are not to expect that they should regard our advancement in union, in power and consequence by land and by sea, With the advancement of the union, will come power over land and sea and the people of America are aware that inducements to war may arise out of these circumstances. Again, Jay conveys how one government is composed of the talents and experience of the most intelligent and experienced men. He ends with a caution that if the people were to leave America divided, armies would not be raised, paid, or maintained as easily. With the strength that comes from a union, countries will be more likely to be more open to friendship than provoke resentment.
The Federalist 5
Jay begins by alluding to when Queen Anne of England wrote to the Scotch Parliament declaring the importance of a union. She stated that citizens would still worship and live how they pleased, however, the animosities between kingdoms, and the jealousies and differences, would be eliminated. Jay goes on to highlight how England was divided into three distinct sections and how jealousies were kept inflamed, and how for years they were far more in disagreement than they were useful and assisting to each other. Jay coaxes the readers by portraying those nations that embrace the union as gaining political importance much above the degree of her neighbors. He tries to gain followers by haring how the North is generally the region of strength, unquestionably more formidable than any of the others and how they must teach their neighbors. Again, at the end Jay warns of how an alliance between independent states is not often plausible as different sides are often created.
The Federalist 6
Hamilton tries to highlight that a divided country would have frequent and violent contests with each other. Leaders of the individual sections would compete to rule their society and their neighbors as well. In too many instances, this power has been abused by those who possess it for personal advantage or personal gratification. He uses examples such as Pericles to convey a leader that became corrupt and whose actions would lead to the ruin of the Athenian commonwealth. Hamilton argues for the passivity of the republic and how they have the ability to extinguish those inflammable humors which have so often kindled into wars. He tells his readers that their country cannot afford to share a resemblance to the divided-foreign countries because it shall only lead to jealousy and war. He knows that mutual commercial interest will bring the States together and keep them in a peaceful accord. He reiterates that nations existing as neighbors will be natural enemies of one another, unless brought together in a confederate republic with a constitution which will promote harmony without competition.
The Federalist 7
Hamilton begins by arguing how territorial disputes are of the most fertile sources of hostility among nations. He highlights that without a Union to interpose between the contending parties for the vacant land of the West, hostility is bound to form between nation. The competitions of commerce would be another source of contention. An individual State might wish to neglect regulations of trade and endeavor to secure exclusive benefits to their own citizens. Hamilton warns of this leading to outrages, and these to wars. There are even dissimilar views among the States as to the general principle of discharging the public debt; conflicting opinions would only delay the process of fixing the country's economy.
The Federalist 8
Hamilton portrays to his readers that with the separation of states, aggression between neighboring nations is created and there becomes a need for domestic armies and fortifications. Additionally, stronger states may become motivated by greed and plunder weaker states for their resources. By implementing a military deterrent, strong states achieve an overly militaristic culture that diminishes the civil and political rights of the people. Standing armies are not discouraged against in the new Constitution and it is inferred that they may exist under it. The Union ensures ready protection in a moment's need for defense. However, Hamilton warns that extreme defense would likely give rise to oppressive government practices.
The Federalist 9
In the ninth Federalist Paper, Hamilton strives to correct the common Anti-Federalist argument based on the theories of Montesquieu. The famous Enlightenment Thinker once stated: "[I]t is natural to a republic to have only a small territory, otherwise it cannot long subsist," and the Anti-Federalist took his arguments to mean that the federal Union was bound to fail. Hamilton argues that Montesquieu's comment was directed to those territories far smaller even than those of the states, and that the Americans would have to split themselves into "an infinity of little, jealous, clashing tumultuous commonwealths." Because of its confederated, rather than centralized, design, Hamilton supports the federal system described in the proposed Constitution and invalidates the assumptions of Montesquieu. He goes on to highlight that Montesquieu himself proposed a union of republics as the resolution to internal jealousy and war.
The Federalist 10
In Federalist Paper No. 10, James Maddison addresses the question of how to guard against "faction", or groups of citizens with interests that oppose the rights of others or the interests of the whole community. Madison argues that a large republic would be a better defense against those dangers than smaller republics, such as individual states. From the beginning, he labels diversity of opinion in political life the most serious of factions as it could lead to fundamental issues such as what religion should be practiced. He saw direct democracy as a danger to individual rights and advocated a representative democracy in order to protect a citizen's liberty from majority control. He then describes the two impracticable methods to removing faction: first, destroying liberty, and the second, creating a society homogeneous in opinions and interests. Madison particularly emphasizes that economic stratification prevents everyone from sharing the same opinion. Madison concludes that the damage caused by faction can be limited only by controlling its effects. Maddison depicts how with pure democracy, every citizen votes directly for laws, and, with republic, citizens vote for an elite of representatives who then vote for laws. He indicates to his readers that the voice of the people pronounced by a body of representatives is more adaptable to the interest of the community.
The Federalist 11
Hamilton begins by admitting that the potential of America has already made the European countries uneasy about engaging in trade; this will hinder the economy of the States. Hamilton conveys how a Union would counteract that problem by making regulations that are uniform throughout the states and forcing foreign countries to negotiate with the Union as a whole and bid against each other for trading rights. He then discusses the importance of establishing a federal navy. This would put the Union in commanding position over foreign trade by increasing their access and control of the trade opportunities in the West Indies, thus allowing the Union to set prices for the Europeans in America. Hamilton will also highlight how the naval presence will allow the States to protect trade among themselves and help promote mutual gains. The economy will not falter due to a State's misfortune, they may rely upon the Union for assistance.
The Federalist 12
In Federalist No. 12, Alexander Hamilton promises greater wealth for the states through the formation of a Union. By establishing an effective currency, the government would encourage industry and all citizens would benefit. Hamilton reassures his readers that, rather than having a rivalry, commerce and agriculture benefit from each other. To ease the burden upon those who toil on land, Hamilton suggests levying taxes on commerce and he highlights how the union will be much more efficient than the states at collecting revenue. Though successful in parts of Europe, Hamilton claims that direct taxation is not an efficient way to gain revenue for the country. Instead, taxes should be placed indirectly such as on imports. As a Union, the federal government would only need to protect the Atlantic coast rather than each state having to protect its borders.
The Federalist 13
In Federalist No. 13, Hamilton persuades his readers to see that a Union would give their country more economic support than separate States. He explains that rather than having many separate governments to support, a Union would have only one national government to support. The money saved may be applied to other projects and there will be less taken from the pockets of citizens. Hamilton further highlights that in defending themselves, separate States would get caught in jealousies and their support of one another would be disjointed. Thus, a Union will provide the best defense for all the States through military establishments and fewer taxes.
The Federalist 14
Maddison begins this essay by comparing the gathering a democracy to that of a republic. In a democracy, the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic, they assemble and administer it through representatives. Thus, a democracy is confined to a small spot while a republic may be extended over a large region. Maddison highlights how the sheer size of the United States would make it impossible to govern justly as a single country. Opposed to a democracy where remote citizens assemble as often as their public functions demand, a republic will barely allow the representatives to meet as often as may be necessary for the administration of public affairs. Maddison is sure to share that if remote colonies should maintain less participation in Union affairs, compared to less distant States, they will derive greater benefit from it in other respects, such as maintaining a stronger military for greater protection.
The Federalist 15
In Federalist No. 15, Hamilton warns citizens that the states are on the verge of national humiliation. To prevent the impending anarchy, Hamilton suggests that the states begin to solidify their dignity and reputation by creating a new government with a more energetic executive. It is highlighted that under the Articles of Confederation, the national government does not have the power or authority to issue penalties to individuals that break the law. Without the power to throw states in jail, and without an army, the national government cannot enforce laws or taxes on states. Punishment of individuals is necessary, not only to maintain order and justice, but because consequences have a greater effect upon one person, rather than divided amongst a number of people.
The Federalist 16
Alexander Hamilton begins this essay by stating that the present confederation will lead the country to civil war. From this Hamilton proceeds to highlight the consequences of not having a large, standing, national army. Hamilton believes that the end would be a war between the states, as the strongest state would be likely to prevail in any disagreement with no national army. He then reminds his readers that the country needs a national constitution that has provisions for a large army, "continuously on foot to execute the ordinary requisitions or decrees of the government." From this argument for a standing army, Hamilton proceeds to discuss the necessity of not governing merely the states, but of the government having power over the individual. Hamilton concludes his essay by claiming that no government can always avoid or control those who will be disorderly, but it would be useless to expect a government to protect against events that were out of their reach.
The Federalist 17
In Federalist No. 17, Alexander Hamilton seeks to invalidate concerns that with the new Constitution, the national government will abuse their power and take advantage of the states. He argues that it is unlikely for those in the national office to be concerned with the "undesirable cares" of a general government. Hamilton proposes that even if the national government were to try and take power from the states, the state governments have far more influence over and support from the people. Essentially, since states deal with issues that more directly impact the lives of citizens, like criminal and civil justice issues, they are more likely to connect with the people.
The Federalist 18
In this essay, James Madison establishes the weaknesses of a system in which there is a relatively powerless central government. Madison uses the Amphyctionic council of the Ancient Greeks as historical evidence for why the Articles of Confederation would ultimately lead to disaster in America. Without an unquestioned higher authority to keep all the republics in check, the council was soon torn apart by various divisions as the more powerful members sought to intimidate the weaker ones.
Eventually, the republics, in the midst of corruption, would fall under the control of foreign powers. On the contrary, Madison highlights the success of the Achaean League. The members of this league sacrificed self-government to the confederation and were able to experience fewer disturbances and divisions.
The Federalist 19
To support a strong national government, James Madison highlights the crippling of the German confederacy as a result of inadequate authority being granted to the central government. He conveys the violence between districts and how this caused instability in Germany's feudal system. Principally, the subjects who constituted the German empire were given too much liberty and became too powerful to be controlled by the emperor. In the period that the Federalist Papers were written, Germany has adopted a federal system that resembles that of the American Articles of Confederation. However, made up of individuals who believed that they held supreme power, the emperor is unable to efficiently and reliably control the empire. Unable to organize a united defense, civil war became common in the state of Germany. Madison concludes by suggesting the approval of the Constitution to diminish the chances of civil war and national unrest.
The Federalist 20
As in the two previous essays, James Madison tries to gain support for a Union by highlighting the crippling of other confederacies. In Federalist No. 20, he discusses the United Netherlands, which he describes as a confederacy of aristocracies. Though authority is granted to the central governing body (the states-general), the confederacy is marked by "imbecility" as the governing system is based on "a sovereignty over sovereigns, a government over government, a legislation for communities, as contradistinguished from individuals." With a constitution such as the Netherlands, the central government becomes pressured to go beyond its constitutional authority to respond to crises created by contradicting opinion of authority. Madison uses the weak constitution of the Netherlands to depict how aware and prepared the national government of the United States is.
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