(2) Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence

John Jay, author of five of the Federalist Pap...

John Jay

Author: John Jay

To the People of the State of New York:

WHEN the people of America reflect that they are now called upon to decide a question, which, in its consequences, must prove one of the most important that ever engaged their attention, the propriety of their taking a very comprehensive, as well as a very serious, view of it, will be evident.

Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers. It is well worthy of consideration therefore, whether it would conduce more to the interest of the people of America that they should, to all general purposes, be one nation, under one federal government, or that they should divide themselves into separate confederacies, and give to the head of each the same kind of powers which they are advised to place in one national government.

It has until lately been a received and uncontradicted opinion that the prosperity of the people of America depended on their continuing firmly united, and the wishes, prayers, and efforts of our best and wisest citizens have been constantly directed to that object. But politicians now appear, who insist that this opinion is erroneous, and that instead of looking for safety and happiness in union, we ought to seek it in a division of the States into distinct confederacies or sovereignties. However extraordinary this new doctrine may appear, it nevertheless has its advocates; and certain characters who were much opposed to it formerly, are at present of the number. Whatever may be the arguments or inducements which have wrought this change in the sentiments and declarations of these gentlemen, it certainly would not be wise in the people at large to adopt these new political tenets without being fully convinced that they are founded in truth and sound policy. (more…)

(1) General Introduction

Portion of a portrait of Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

AFTER the disruptive experience of diverging philosophies concerning the role of federal government in our society, we are all called upon to deliberate anew the Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks to its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it has been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question: whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on their passions and forces beyond their control. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we have arrived may, with propriety, be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind. (more…)

The Federalist and the Anti-Federalist

Federalists like Alexander Hamilton supported a strong federal government. Some who are calling themselves New Federalists are actually anti-federalists – those who support strong states and a weak federal government. This leads to confusion when talking about the Founding Fathers and the intent behind the Constitution of the United States.

For purposes of this blog, a Federalist is understood to be in favor of a strong federal government and an anti-Federalist is in favor of strong state governments and a minimal federal government.

Notes on General Introduction

I began by lifting the text from the original Federalist Papers, and a thesaurus. Some of the language of the time is no longer in popular use, and I made some changes to modernize the wording without changing the meaning.

My second act as editor centers around the obvious: The original papers were written to encourage acceptance of a substantially new form of government. The present problem is not that a new form of government has been proposed, but that two schools of thought have evolved concerning the interpretation of the Constitution and the role of government in society.

With that in mind, I reworded a sentence here and there to reflect the change in circumstance and removed some text that no longer applies.

I have italicized my modifications to the original text.

A New Beginning

An advertisement for The Federalist.

Image via Wikipedia

The Federalist, commonly referred to as the Federalist Papers, is a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison between October 1787 and May 1788. The essays were published anonymously, under the pen name “Publius,” in various New York state newspapers of the time.

The Federalist Papers were written and published to urge New Yorkers to ratify the proposed United States Constitution, which was drafted in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. In lobbying for adoption of the Constitution over the existing Articles of Confederation, the essays explain particular provisions of the Constitution in detail. For this reason, and because Hamilton and Madison were each members of the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers are often used today to help interpret the intentions of those drafting the Constitution.

The Library of Congress: About the Federalist Papers

Considerable division has arisen over the proper interpretation of the Constitution. This dramatic disagreement has contributed to what amounts to a political civil war. Instead of resolution, the problem is getting worse.

The New Federalist is intended to embrace the spirit of the original Federalist Papers and replicate them in modern terms, to propose a singular interpretation and understanding of the U. S. Constitution and the government it envisions, and to urge general acceptance of a common understanding of the Constitution and our country that could lead to closing the political rift.

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