Federalist 26 – Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton continues his series of papers on the nature of the legislative power concerning national defense with Federalist 26.  Here he concerns himself with the idea of restraining the legislature with respect to the common defense.  Though he specifically addresses the contrast between states that have placed such limits (Pennsylvania and North Carolina) and those that have not, there is an interesting theoretical undercurrent.  Hamilton is concerned about striking an appropriate balance between granting extensive legislative authority and preserving liberty, something he alludes to in the opening paragraph of this essay.

It was a thing hardly to be expected that in a popular revolution the minds of men should stop at that happy mean which marks the salutary boundary between power and privilege, and combines the energy of government with the security of private rights. A failure in this delicate and important point is the great source of the inconveniences we experience, and if we are not cautious to avoid a repetition of the error, in our future attempts to rectify and ameliorate our system, we may travel from one chimerical project to another; we may try change after change; but we shall never be likely to make any material change for the better.

In the next paragraph, Hamilton hints that we are moving too far in one direction. (more…)

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 4:57 pm  Comments Off on Federalist 26 – Alexander Hamilton  

Federalist 25 – Hamilton

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I am going to try to make it my mission to post more regularly in general, but also to get through the Federalist Papers in a timelier manner, otherwise this series of posts will have occupied more time than the actual writing of the papers.

Anyway, with Federalist 25, Hamilton returns to the topic of national defense.  Previously he argued that the federal government was the proper place for the power of defense to be lodged.  In so doing, he rejects the idea that the states could handle this important duty.

It may perhaps be urged that the objects enumerated in the preceding number ought to be provided for by the State governments, under the direction of the Union. But this would be, in reality, an inversion of the primary principle of our political association, as it would in practice transfer the care of the common defense from the federal head to the individual members: a project oppressive to some States, dangerous to all, and baneful to the Confederacy. (more…)

Published in: on December 29, 2009 at 4:27 pm  Comments Off on Federalist 25 – Hamilton  

Alexander Hamilton and the building of the American economy

Here is an excellent column from Business Week detailing how Alexander Hamilton built the American economy.  It’s a very well-written piece, and worth reading in full.  I’ll only excerpt a bit that relates to my series of posts on the Federalist Papers.

Hamilton didn’t create America’s market economy so much as foster the cultural and legal setting in which it flourished. A capitalist economy requires certain preconditions to take root. It must establish a rule of law through enforceable contracts, respect private property, create a trustworthy judiciary to arbitrate legal disputes, and offer patent protections to promote invention. The abysmal failure of the Articles of Confederation to provide this stable business climate was one of Hamilton’s main incentives for espousing a new Constitution.

That is something to keep in mind when reading Hamilton’s contributions to the Federalist Papers, as it certainly serves as the prime motivation for his support for the Constitution.

H/t: Shawn at Rerum Novarum.

Published in: on December 10, 2009 at 1:10 pm  Comments (3)  
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