LS 500: Legal Methods and Process
January 12, 2013
The Internal Fight for an Effective Government
In the eighteenth century, three men found themselves searching for answers to reform the then, powerless Articles of Confederation, to include a more secure national government that would help stabilize the afforded freedoms and liberties the American citizens already had declared to them on July 04, 1776—Independence Day. The quest for these answers appeared in eighty-five anonymously, written essays that came to be known as the Federalist Papers, each one signed with the pseudonym “Publius” (Hamilton, 1787). This paper embarks on Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay’s journeys (the anonymous authors of the Federalist Papers) in juxtaposition of ratifying the Constitution amid answering the following questions: why did the Articles of Confederation fail; what was the purpose of the Federalist Papers; and who was the attended audience for the Federalist Papers? Furthermore, this paper answers the question of why the Federalist Papers had, ironically, minimal influence over the ratification of the U.S. Constitution among the People of New York—the attended audience. To begin, a brief history of the Articles of Confederation is manifested to bring intellectual insight into three of our founding fathers’ journeys to overcome the Antifederalist’s protestation to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Brief History of the Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation provided the first “U.S. Constitution” in 1777, by the First Continental Congress. This agreement was drafted during the Revolutionary War between thirteen states in America thereby granting sovereign power to each individual state (Articles of Confederation, n.d.). Instead of separation of powers between an executive, legislative, and judicial branch of government, this agreement offered a committee of delegates—one legislative branch—for each state to decide important factors such as, foreign affairs, domestic affairs, declaration of war, and military affairs. Consequently, the Federalists soon learned after several years of insufficient acts that this agreement was ineffective and incompetent (e.g. weak federal government), most of all, that this agreement lacked in the power to enforce laws upon a nation that was quickly becoming divided. George Washington stated that this form of government was “little more than the shadow without the substance” (Confederation, Articles of, 2011, para. 3). Mr. Washington—America’s first President---was a prominent Virginian delegate in the Second Continental Congress whom ferociously advocated for the refurbishing of the Articles of Confederation due to its incompetence in foreign policy (Beshloss & Sidey, 2009, para. 4, 7-8). Also at this time, the Anti-Federalists started to notice that the Articles of Confederation did not have enough power for one entity to enforce alone, yet fear prevented them from succumbing to a better alternative (Articles of Confederation, n.d.). Trials and Tribulations of the Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation were created to give thirteen states sovereignty, except in matters concerning foreign nations and the military; the unequal distribution of this power would eventually pit the states and Union against one another. Article II of this declaration succinctly states, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation, expressly delegated to the United States in Congress is assembled” (National Archives, n.d., para. 3). Although the Articles relinquished power to the individual states, this power did not support or parallel the powers given to Congress, which were the powers to negotiate treaties, handle financial and foreign matters, and provide for a military force. The...