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...
Cited: "Federalism." Encyclopedia Britannica. 1994: 712.
Schmidt, Steffen, Mack C. Shelly II, Barbara A. Bardes. American Government and
Politics Today. New York: west publishing, 1995-1996 ed.
Hamilton, Alexander. "Federalist Paper 78." Feder16.txt.
Madison, James. "Federalist Paper 10." Feder16.zip.
Sobran, Joseph. "Founding fathers thought the federal government should be kept
on a short leash." Http://emanon.net/~vroberts/sobran.html.
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