The Federalist Papers


Was, then, the American Revolution effected, was the American Confederacy formed, was the precious blood of thousands spilt, and the hard-earned substance of millions lavished, not that the people of America should enjoy peace, liberty, and safety, but that the government of the individual States, that particular municipal establishments, might enjoy a certain extent of power, and be arrayed with certain dignities and attributes of sovereignty? We have heard of the impious doctrine in the Old World, that the people were made for kings, not kings for the people. Is the same doctrine to be revived in the New, in another shape that the solid happiness of the people is to be sacrificed to the views of political institutions of a different form? It is too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting that the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the attainment of this object. Were the plan of the convention adverse to the public happiness, my voice would be, Reject the plan. Were the Union itself inconsistent with the public happiness, it would be, Abolish the Union. In like manner, as far as the sovereignty of the States cannot be reconciled to the happiness of the people, the voice of every good citizen must be, Let the former be sacrificed to the latter. How far the sacrifice is necessary, has been shown. How far the unsacrificed residue will be endangered, is the question before us.

Federalist 45, James Madison

Our Founding Fathers were an odd combination of men of action and men of words, often times being both.  In The Federalist Papers we encounter hard thinking on government as fresh as tomorrow, as relevant as today and as timeless as yesterday.  No American can consider himself or herself educated unless an attempt is made to read these essays.  They are not an easy read, especially if one is unfamiliar with the history of the ratification fights in the states over the Constitution, but they are worth the effort.  Mercifully the essays are written in superb English, free of the cant and jargon that so disfigure so much writing in our time.

If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.

Federalist 33, Alexander Hamilton

Published in: on July 28, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Federalist Papers  
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