After they won the revolutionary war, the newly independent colonies had a new kind of battle ahead of them, setting up a new government to unite under. Their first attempt was the Articles of Confederation. This plan gave a lot of power to the states and did not set up a strong central government. It ultimately failed which caused the framers to hold another Continental Congress to decide on a new way to set up the government. From this was born our great Constitution.
However the Constitution did not have a smooth start in the new nation. Great controversy surrounded its ratification and many people found fault in the way it set up such the national government. During this time a group of people called Federalists, among them John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, tried to convince the public of the greatness in the constitution. John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote a series of essays titled The Federalist Papers which discuss the different factors of the Constitution and why they are needed. In answer to the Federalist Papers a group of Anti-Federalist published papers discussing why the Constitution was too strong, unnecessary and even dangerous.
Each of the parties that were involved in the ratification of the constitution, either pro or against its acceptance, used pseudonyms. Chief among them, on the pro ratification side was, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. They presented their argument in the Federalist papers under the pseudonym Publius after the Roman consul Publius Valerius Publicola, who was involved in overthrowing the monarchy in Rome and instating the new republic. The constitution mirrored what Publius had then been trying to do. The anti-ratification opinion, was presented by Robert Yates, under the name Brutus the Roman republican involved in the assassination of Caesar (immortalized by the Caesars famous last words, “e tu Brute”) (Storing). They argued over many things, but one of the main sources of tension was how powerful the federal government should be. After 22 papers introducing the weaknesses of Articles of Confederation, which had failed due to its lack of strong governmental power, Alexander Hamilton wrote the 23rd essay explaining why a strong central government is so needed. Hamilton titled his paper, “The Necessity of a Government as Energetic as the One Proposed to Preserve the Union.” His primary reason was that in order for a government to protect and serve its citizens it must have the ability to do so. For example if they are expected to protect their citizens’ interests internationally, the federal government must have the ability to levy and collect taxes so as to afford an army. Furthermore they must also have control of a strong army, which they did not under the Articles of Confederation. However, there was a lot of fear that the new government would be as dominating as the British control they just fought to escape from, Hamilton tried to quell this popular fear by saying the purpose of the Union is to give its citizens the best safest life, and that is what the Federal Government would use its power for. Hamilton felt that, “improvidently to trust the great interests of the nation to hands which are disabled from managing them with vigor and success,” meaning that the government will always be out for the good of its people but to do that they needed that totalitarian like power. The major argument here was that “the means aught to be proportioned to the end,” (Hamilton, Madison and Jay). The government needs complete power to provide complete protection.
Not everyone felt this was. One major opposition to this was Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson may not have been a very strong antifederalist but he did take fault in Hamilton’s reasoning here. Jefferson said, in a letter to James Madison, that a strong Federal Government does not necessarily mean any not having any insurrections or...
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