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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.
John Jay
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.