The Federalist Papers And Federalism Essay

This essay has a total of 980 words and 5 pages.

The Federalist Papers And Federalism

The Federalist Papers and Federalism


The Federalist Papers were mostly the product of two young men:
Alexander Hamilton of New York, age 32, and James Madison of Virginia, age 36.
Both men sometimes wrote four papers in a single week. An older scholar, John
Jay, later named as first chief justice of the Supreme Court, wrote five of the
papers. Hamilton, who had been an aide to Washington during the Revolution,
asked Madison and Jay to help him in this project. Their purpose was to
persuade the New York convention to ratify the just-drafted Constitution. They
would separately write a series of letters to New York newspapers, under the
pseudonym, "Publius." In the letters they would explain and defend the
Constitution.
Hamilton started the idea and outlined the sequence of topics to be
discussed, and addressed most of them in fifty-one of the letters. Madison's
Twenty-nine letters have proved to be the most memorable in their balance and
ideas of governmental power. It is not clear whether The Federalist Papers,
written between October 1787 and May 1788 had any effect on New York's and
Virginia's ratification of the Constitution.
Encyclopedia Britannica defines Federalism as, "A mode of political
organization that unites independent states within a larger political framework
while still allowing each state to maintain it's own political integrity" (712).
Having just won a revolution against an oppressive monarchy, the American
colonists were in willing to replace it with another monarchy style of
government. On the other hand, their experience with the disorganization under
the Articles of Confederation, due to unfair competition between the individual
states, made them a little more receptive to an increase in national powers. A
number of Federalist Papers argued that a new kind of balance, never achieved
elsewhere was possible. The Papers were themselves a balance or compromise
between the nationalist ideas of Hamilton, who wrote more for the commercial
interests of New York, and the uneasiness of Madison, who shared the skepticism
of distant authority widely held by Virginia farmers.
In American Government and Politics Today, Madison proposed that,
instead of the absolute sovereignty of each state under the Articles of
Confederation. The states would retain a residual sovereignty in all areas
which did not require national concern. The very process of ratification of the
Constitution, he argued, symbolized the concept of federalism (77). He said:
This assent and ratification is to be given by the people, not as
individuals composing one entire nation, but as composing the distinct and
individual States to which they respectively belong... The act, therefore,
establishing the Constitution, will not be a national but a federal act (qtd in
American 85).
The Federalist Papers also provide the first specific mention we have of
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