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The Federalist Papers - Wikipedia
A few pieces under the signature of An American Citizen' were publishedimmediately after the Constitution broke the shell, and the hydra made its wayfrom the dark conclave into the open light. In the first number the writer, intouching on the President, endeavored to conceal his immense powers, byrepresenting the King of Great Britain as possessed of many hereditaryprerogatives, rights and powers that he was not possessed of; that is, he showswhat he is not, but neglects to show what he really is. But so flimsy apalliative could scarce escape the censure of the most ignorant advocate forsuch an officer; and since [then] we hear of no further attempts to prove thenecessity of a King being set over the freemen of America.
I also was of opinion, that the States considered as States, in their political capacity, are the members of a federal government; that the States in their political capacity, or as Sovereignties, are entitled, and only entitled originally to agree upon the form of, and submit themselves to, a federal government, and afterwards by mutual consent to dissolve or alter it - That every thing which relates to the formation, the dissolution or the alteration of a federal government over States equally free, sovereign and independent is the peculiar province of the States in their sovereign or political capacity, in the same manner as what relates to forming alliance or treaties of peace, amity or commerce, and that the people at large in their individual capacity, have no more right to interfere in the one case than in the other: That according to these principles we originally acted in forming our confederation; it was the States as States, by their representatives in Congress, that formed the articles of confederation; it was the States as States, by their legislatures, ratified those articles, and it was there established and provided that the States as States, that is by their legislatures, should agree to any alterations that should hereafter be proposed in the federal government, before they should be binding - and any alterations agreed to in any other manner cannot release the States from the obligation they are under to each other by virtue of the original articles of confederation. The people of the different States never made any objection to the manner the articles of confederation were formed or ratified, or to the mode by which alterations were to be made in that government - with the rights of their respective States they wished not to interfere - Nor do I believe the people in their individual capacity, would ever have expected or desired to have been appealed to on the present occasion, in violation of the rights of their respective States, if the favourers of the proposed constitution, imagining they had a better chance of forcing it to be adopted by a hasty appeal to the people at large, who could not be so good judges of the dangerous consequence, had not insisted upon this mode - nor do these positions in the least interfere with the principle, that all power originates from the people, because when once the people have exercised their power in establishing and forming themselves into a State government, it never devolves back to them, nor have they a right to resume or again to exercise that power until such events takes place as will amount to a dissolution of their State government: - And it is an established principle that a dissolution or alteration of a federal government doth not dissolve the State governments which compose it. It was also my opinion, that upon principles of sound policy, the agreement or disagreement to the proposed system ought to have been by the State legislatures, in which case, let the event have been what it would, there would have been but little prospects of the public peace being disturbed thereby - Whereas the attempt to force down this system, although Congress and the respective State legislatures should disapprove, by appealing to the people, and to procure its establishment in a manner totally unconstitutional, has a tendency to set the State governments and their subjects at variance with each other - to lessen the obligations of government - to weaken the bands of society - to introduce anarchy and confusion - And to light the torch of discord and civil war throughout this continent. All these considerations weighed with me most forcibly against giving my assent to the mode by which it is resolved this system is to be ratified, and were urged by me in opposition to the measure.
What are the purpose of the federalist papers
I have seen enough to convince me very fully, that the new constitutionis a very bad one, and a hundred-fold worse than our present government. And Ido not perceive that any of the writers in favor of it (although some of themuse a vast many fine words, and show a great deal of learning) are able toremove any of the objections which are made against it. Mr. [James] Wilson,indeed, speaks very highly of it, but we have only his word for its goodness;and nothing is more natural than for a mother to speak well of her own bantling,however ordinary it may be. He seems, however, to be pretty honest in onething - where he says, "It is the nature of man to pursue his own interest,in preference to the public good" for they tell me he is a lawyer, and hisinterest then makes him for the new government, for it will be a noble thing forlawyers. Besides, he appears to have an eye to some high place under it, sincehe speaks with great pleasure of the places of honor and emolument beingdiverted to a new channel by this change of system. As to Mr. Publius [TheFederalist], I have read a great many of his papers, and I really cannot findout what he would be at. He seems to me as if he was going to write a history,so I have concluded to wait and buy one of his books, when they come out. Theonly thing I can understand from him, as far as I have read, is that it isbetter to be united than divided - that a great many people are stronger than afew - and that Scotland is better off since the union with England than before.
I am sure they were fully impressed with the necessity of forming a greatconsolidated government, instead of a confederation. That this is aconsolidated government is demonstrably clear; and the danger of such agovernment is, to my mind, very striking. I have the highest veneration forthose gentlemen; but, sir, give me leave to demand: What right had they to say,We, the people? My political curiosity, exclusive of my anxious solicitude forthe public welfare, leads me to ask: Who authorized them to speak the languageof, We, the people, instead of, We, the states? States are the characteristicsand the soul of a confederation. If the states be not the agents of thiscompact, it must be one great, consolidated, national government, of the peopleof all the states. I have the highest respect for those gentlemen who formedthe Convention, and, were some of them not here, I would express sometestimonial of esteem for them. America had, on a former occasion, put theutmost confidence in them - a confidence which was well placed; and I am sure,sir, I would give up any thing to them; I would cheerfully confide in them as myrepresentatives. But, sir, on this great occasion, I would demand the cause oftheir conduct. Even from that illustrious man who saved us by his valor, Iwould have a reason for his conduct. . . . That they exceeded their power isperfectly clear. . . . The federal Convention ought to have amended the oldsystem; for this purpose they were solely delegated; the object of their missionextended to no other consideration. You must, therefore, forgive thesolicitation of one unworthy member to know what danger could have arisen underthe present Confederation, and what are the causes of this proposal to changeour government.
The main purpose of The Federalist Papers was to ..
The conduct of several legislatures, touching paper money, and tender laws,has prepared many honest men for changes in government, which otherwise theywould not have thought of - when by the evils, on the one hand, and by the secretinstigations of artful men, on the other, the minds of men were becomesufficiently uneasy, a bold step was taken, which is usually followed by arevolution, or a civil war. A general convention for mere commercial purposeswas moved for - the authors of this measure saw that the people's attention wasturned solely to the amendment of the federal system; and that, had the idea ofa total change been started, probably no state would have appointed members tothe convention. The idea of destroying ultimately, the state government, andforming one consolidated system, could not have been admitted - a convention,therefore, merely for vesting in congress power to regulate trade was proposed.
Since the peace, and till the convention reported, the wisest men in the UnitedStates generally supposed that certain limited funds would answer the purposesof the union. And though the states are by no means in so good a condition as Iwish they were, yet, I think, I may very safely affirm, they are in a bettercondition than they would be had congress always possessed the powers oftaxation now contended for. The fact is admitted, that our federal governmentdoes not possess sufficient powers to give life and vigor to the politicalsystem; and that we experience disappointments, and several inconveniences. Butwe ought carefully to distinguish those which are merely the consequences of asevere and tedious war, from those which arise from defects in the federalsystem. There has been an entire revolution in the United States withinthirteen years, and the least we can compute the waste of labor and property at,during that period, by the war, is three hundred millions of dollars. Ourpeople are like a man just recovering from a severe fit of sickness. It was thewar that disturbed the course of commerce introduced floods of paper money, thestagnation of credit, and threw many valuable men out of steady business. Fromthese sources our greatest evils arise. Men of knowledge and reflection mustperceive it. But then, have we not done more in three or four years past, inrepairing the injuries of the war, by repairing houses and estates, restoringindustry, frugality, the fisheries, manufactures, etc. , and thereby laying thefoundation of good government, and of individual and political happiness, thanany people ever did in a like time? We must judge from a view of the countryand facts, and not from foreign newspapers, or our own, which are printedchiefly in the commercial towns, where imprudent living, imprudent importations,and many unexpected disappointments, have produced a despondency, and adisposition to view everything on the dark side. Some of the evils we feel, allwill agree, ought to be imputed to the defective administration of thegovernments.
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The Federalist Papers Flashcards | Quizlet
Some persons as object to this amendment, in fact say, that it is safer togive a man an irrevocable power of attorney, than a revocable one; and that itis right to let a representative ruin us, rather than recall him and put a realfriend of his country, and a truly honest man in his place, who would rathersuffer ten thousand deaths than injure his country, or sully his honor andreputation. Such persons seem to say, that power ought not to originate withthe people (which is the wish, I fear, of some among us); and also that we arenot safe in trusting our own legislature with the power of recalling suchsenators as will not abide by such instructions - as shall be either given them,when chosen, or sent to them afterwards, by the legislature of this or any otherstate, or by the electors that chose them, although they should have mettogether in a body for the purpose of instructing or sending them instructionson a matter on which the salvation of the state depends. That we should insiston the amendment respecting this matter taking place, which the state of NewYork has proposed, appears to me to be absolutely necessary, the security ofeach state may be almost said to rest on it. For my own part, I would ratherthat this amendment should take place and give the new government unlimitedpowers to act for the public good, than give them limited powers, and at thesame time put it out of our power, for a certain term of years, to recall ourrepresentatives, although we saw they were exceeding their powers, and were benton making us miserable and themselves, by means of a standing army - a perpetualand absolute government. For power is a very intoxicating thing, and has mademany a man do unwarrantable actions, which before he was invested with it, hehad no thoughts of doing. I hope by what I have said I shall not be thought tocast even the shadow of a reflection on the principles of either of the membersof the federal convention - it is far from being my intention. I wish for nothingmore than a good government and a constitution under which our liberties will beperfectly safe. To preserve which, I think the wisest conduct will be to keepthe staff of power in our own hands as much as possible, and not wantonly andinconsiderately give up a greater share of our liberties with a view ofcontributing to the public good, than what the necessity of the case requires.
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But this we could not find. For although it is said, that "the House ofRepresentatives shall be chosen every second year, by the people of the severalstates," etc. , and that "the times, places and manner of holdingelections for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each state bythe legislature thereof," yet all this is wholely superseded by asubsequent provision, which empowers Congress at any time to enact a law,whereby such regulations may be altered, except as to the places of choosingsenators. Here we conceive the people may be very materially injured, and intime reduced to a state of as abject vassalage as any people were under thecontrol of the most mercenary despot that ever tarnished the pages of history. The depravity of human nature, illustrated by examples from history, willwarrant us to say, it may be possible, if not probable, that the congress may becomposed of men, who will wish to burden and oppress the people. In such case,will not their inventions be fruitful enough to devise occasions for postponingthe elections? And if they can do this once, they can twice; if they can twice,they can thrice, so by degrees render themselves absolute and perpetual. Or, ifthey choose, they have another expedient. They can alter the place of holdingelections. They can say, whatever the legislature of this state may order tothe contrary, that all the elections of our representatives shall be made atMechias, or at Williamstown. Consequently, nine-tenths of the people willnever vote. And if this should be thought a measure favorable to theirreelection, or the election of some tool for their mercenary purposes, we doubtnot it will be thus ordered. But says the advocates for the constitution, "itis not likely this will ever happen; we are not to expect our rulers will everproceed to a wanton exercise of the powers given them. " But what reasonhave we more than past ages, to expect that we shall be blessed with impeccablerulers? We think not any. Although it has been said that every generationgrows wiser and wiser, yet we have no reason to think they grow better andbetter. And therefore the probability lies upon the dark side. Does not theexperience of past ages leach, that men have generally exercised all the powersthey had given them, and even have usurped upon them, in order to accomplishtheir own sinister and avaricious designs, whenever they thought they could doit with impunity? This we presume will not be denied. And it appeared to usthat the arguments made use of by the favorers of the constitution, in the lateconvention at Boston, proceeded upon the plan of righteousness in those who areto rule over us, by virtue of this new form of government. But these arguments,we confess, could have no weight with us, while we judge them to be foundedaltogether upon a slippery perhaps.
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