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How did the federalists win ratification of the Constitution?
I would ask those, who reason thus, to define what ideas are included under theterms, to provide for the common defense and general welfare? Are these termsdefinite, and will they be understood in the same manner, and to apply to thesame cases by everyone? No one will pretend they will. It will then be matterof opinion, what tends to the general welfare; and the Congress will be the onlyjudges in the matter. To provide for the general welfare, is an abstractproposition, which mankind differ in the explanation of, as much as they do onany political or moral proposition that can be proposed; the most oppositemeasures may be pursued by different parties, and both may profess, that theyhave in view the general welfare and both sides may be honest in theirprofessions, or both may have sinister views. Those who advocate this newconstitution declare, they are influenced by a regard to the general welfare;those who oppose it, declare they are moved by the same principle; and I have nodoubt but a number on both sides are honest in their professions; and yetnothing is more certain than this, that to adopt this constitution, and not toadopt it, cannot both of them be promotive of the general welfare.
In this week’s Discussion, you analyzed founding documents of American democracy to determine how democratic concepts and principles are manifested in those early writings, including the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution. For this Assignment, you are asked to shift your thoughts to the Federalist Papers. The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay supporting the ratification of the Constitution. Although often overlooked in mainstream education in favor of The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution, The Federalist papers are the best description of the founders’ intent for governance of their new nation. The proposed Constitution was sent to the states for ratification in September 1787. Articles soon appeared and became known as the “Anti-Federalist Papers” which became critical to the new Constitution. In response, Hamilton decided to defend ratification of the new Constitution and began an extensive explanation.
Alexander Hamilton and the Ratification of the Constitution
A writer in the Pennsylvania Packet, under the signature of A Freeman, haslately entered the lists as another champion for the proposed constitution. Particularly he has endeavored to show that our apprehensions of this plan ofgovernment being a consolidation of the United States into one government, andnot a confederacy of sovereign independent states, is entirely groundless; andit must be acknowledged that he has advocated this cause with as much show ofreason, perhaps, as the subject will admit.
The city, and all the places in which the union shall have this exclusivejurisdiction, will be immediately under one entire government, that of thefederal head, and be no part of any state, and consequently no part of theUnited States. The inhabitants of the federal city and places, will be as muchexempt from the laws and control of the state governments, as the people ofCanada or Nova Scotia will be. Neither the laws of the states respecting taxes,the militia, crimes of property, will extend to them; nor is there a singlestipulation in the constitution, that the inhabitants of this city, and theseplaces, shall be governed by laws founded on principles of freedom. Allquestions, civil and criminal, arising on the laws of these places, which mustbe the laws of congress, must be decided in the federal courts; and also, allquestions that may, by such judicial fictions as these courts may considerreasonable, be supposed to arise within this city, or any of these places, maybe brought into these courts. By a very common legal fiction, any personalcontract may be supposed to have been made in any place. A contract made inGeorgia may be supposed to have been made in the federal city; the courts willadmit the fiction. . . . Every suit in which an inhabitant of a federal districtmay be a party, of course may be instituted in the federal courts; also, everysuit in which it may be alleged and not denied, that a party in it is aninhabitant of such a district; also, every suit to which a foreign state orsubject, the union, a state, citizens of different states in fact, or byreasonable legal fictions, may be a party or parties. And thus, by means ofbankrupt laws, federal districts, etc. , almost all judicial business, Iapprehend may be carried into the federal courts, without essentially departingfrom the usual course of judicial proceedings. The courts in Great Britain haveacquired their powers, and extended very greatly their jurisdictions by suchfiction and suppositions as I have mentioned. The constitution, in thesepoints, certainly involves in it principles, and almost hidden cases, which mayunfold and in time exhibit consequences we hardly think of. The power ofnaturalization, when viewed in connection with the judicial powers and cases,is, in my mind, of very doubtful extent. By the constitution itself, thecitizens of each state will be naturalized citizens of every state, to thegeneral purposes of instituting suits, claiming the benefits of the laws, etc.
Constitutional Convention timeline. Key US History events and dates
Having premised this much, I shall now proceed to the examination of theproposed plan of government, and I trust, shall make it appear to the meanestcapacity, that it has none of the essential requisites of a free government;that it is neither founded on those balancing restraining powers, recommended byMr. Adams and attempted in the British constitution, or possessed of thatresponsibility to its constituents, which, in my opinion, is the only effectualsecurity for the liberties and happiness of the people. But on the contrary,that it is a most daring attempt to establish a despotic aristocracy amongfreemen, that the world has ever witnessed. . . .
Therefore, as different orders in government will not produce the good ofthe whole, we must recur to other principles. I believe it will be found thatthe form of government, which holds those entrusted with power in the greatestresponsibility to their constituents, the best calculated for freemen. Arepublican, or free government, can only exist where the body of the people arevirtuous, and where property is pretty equally divided. In such a governmentthe people are the sovereign and their sense or opinion is the criterion ofevery public measure. For when this ceases to be the case, the nature of thegovernment is changed, and an aristocracy, monarchy or despotism will rise onits ruin. The highest responsibility is to be attained in a simple structure ofgovernment, for the great body of the people never steadily attend to theoperations of government, and for want of due information are liable to beimposed on. If you complicate the plan by various orders, the people will beperplexed and divided in their sentiment about the source of abuses ormisconduct; some will impute it to the senate, others to the house ofrepresentatives, and so on, that the interposition of the people may be renderedimperfect or perhaps wholly abortive. But if, imitating the constitution ofPennsylvania, you vest all the legislative power in one body of men (separatingthe executive and judicial) elected for a short period, and necessarily excludedby rotation from permanency, and guarded from precipitancy and surprise bydelays imposed on its proceedings, you will create the most perfectresponsibility. For then, whenever the people feel a grievance, they cannotmistake the authors, and will apply the remedy with certainty and effect,discarding them at the next election. This tie of responsibility will obviateall the dangers apprehended from a single legislature, and will the best securethe rights of the people.
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Ratification of the Constitution
In Art. I, Sect. 8, of the proposed constitution, it is said, "Congressshall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises. "Are you then, Virginians, about to abandon your country to the depredations ofexcisemen, and the pressure of excise laws? Did it ever enter the mind of anyone of you, that you could live to see the day, that any other government butthe General Assembly of Virginia should have power of direct taxation in thisstate? How few of you ever expected to see excise laws, those instruments oftyranny, in force in your country? But who could imagine, that any man but aVirginian, were they found to be necessary, would ever have a voice towardsenacting them? That any tribunal, but the courts of Virginia, would be allowedto take cognizance of disputes between her citizens and their tax gatherers andexcisemen? And that, if ever it should be found necessary to curse this landwith these hateful excisemen, any one, but a fellow citizen, should be entrustedwith that office?
supporting the ratification of the Constitution
For my part, I cannot discover the necessity there was of allowing Congressto subject us to excise laws, unless - that considering the extensiveness of thesingle republic into which this constitution would collect all the others, andthe well known difficulty of governing large republics with harmony and ease it was thought expedient to bit our mouths with massive curbs, to break us, bridled with excise laws and managed by excisemen, into an uniform, sober pace, and thus, gradually, tame the troublesome mettle of freemen. This necessity could not, surely, arise from the desire of furnishing Congress with a sufficient revenue to enable it to exercise the prerogatives which every friend to America would wish to see vested in it. As it would, by unanimous consent, have the management of the impost, it could increase it to any amount, and this would fall sufficiently uniform on every one, according to his ability. Or, were this not found sufficient, could not the deficiency be made up by requisitions to the states? Could it not have been made an article of the federal constitution, that, if any of them refused their quota, Congress may be allowed to make it up by an increase of the impost on that particular state so refusing? This would, surely, be a sufficient security to Congress, that their requisitions would be punctually complied with.
and John Jay supporting the ratification of the Constitution
In the lst article, 8th section, it is declared, "that Congress shallhave power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay thedebts, and provide for the common defense, and general welfare of the UnitedStates. " In the preamble, the intent of the constitution, among otherthings, is declared to be to provide for the common defense, and promote thegeneral welfare, and in this clause the power is in express words given toCongress "to provide for the common defense, and general welfare. " Andin the last paragraph of the same section there is an express authority to makeall laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution thispower. It is therefore evident, that the legislature under this constitutionmay pass any law which they may think proper. It is true the 9th sectionrestrains their power with respect to certain subjects. But these restrictionsare very limited, some of them improper, some unimportant, and others not easilyunderstood, as I shall hereafter show. It has been urged that the meaning Igive to this part of the constitution is not the true one, that the intent of itis to confer on the legislature the power to lay and collect taxes, etc. , inorder to provide for the common defense and general welfare. To this I wouldreply, that the meaning and intent of the constitution is to be collected fromthe words of it, and I submit to the public, whether the construction I havegiven it is not the most natural and easy. But admitting the contrary opinionto prevail, I shall nevertheless, be able to show, that the same powers aresubstantially vested in the general government, by several other articles in theconstitution. It invests the legislature with authority to lay and collecttaxes, duties, imposts and excises, in order to provide for the common defense,and promote the general welfare, and to pass all laws which may be necessary andproper for carrying this power into effect. To comprehend the extent of thisauthority, it will be requisite to examine
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