Saturday, October 29, 2011

December 2, 2011 -- The Federalist Papers, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay

Our next meeting:
Friday, December 2, 2011, 7:00 PM
Kansas City Public Library/Plaza Branch, Small Meeting Room
4801 Main Street Kansas City, MO

We plan to discuss the Federalist Papers which are a series of 85 essays written in 1787 and 1788 to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution.

The following is a discussion of the contents of the Federalist Papers. As you read them and note items of interest, you all are invited to add comments to this post. Perhaps these comments can then serve as a guide regarding which to give priority in case you don't have time to read them all. (I've already added the first two comments regarding Papers 10 and 84.)

Structure and Content of the Federalist Papers

In Federalist No. 1, Hamilton listed six topics to be covered in the subsequent articles:

"The utility of the UNION to your political prosperity" – covered in No. 2 through No. 14

"The insufficiency of the present Confederation to preserve that Union"—covered in No. 15 through No. 22

"The necessity of a government at least equally energetic with the one proposed to the attainment of this object"—covered in No. 23 through No. 36

"The conformity of the proposed constitution to the true principles of republican government"—covered in No. 37 through No. 84

"Its analogy to your own state constitution"—covered in No. 85

"The additional security which its adoption will afford to the preservation of that species of government, to liberty and to prosperity"—covered in No. 85.

As the series grew, this plan was somewhat changed. The fourth topic expanded into detailed coverage of the individual articles of the Constitution and the institutions it mandated, while the two last topics were merely touched on in the last essay.




Clif Hostetler said...

Federalist No. 84
Opposition to the Bill of Rights

Since the Bill of Rights is considered very important to most Americans today, it is interesting to note the reasons why they were not included in the original constitution. The Federalist Papers (specifically Federalist No. 84) are notable for their opposition to what later became the United States Bill of Rights.

The idea of adding a Bill of Rights to the Constitution was originally controversial because the Constitution, as written, did not specifically enumerate or protect the rights of the people, rather it listed the powers of the government and left all that remained to the states and the people.

Alexander Hamilton, the author of Federalist No. 84, feared that such an enumeration, once written down explicitly, would later be interpreted as a list of the only rights that people had.

Clif Hostetler said...

Federalist No. 10
Causes of factions and republican versus democratic government

Some things I found of interest about No. 10 is that it mentions some to the causes of factions between citizens and discusses the differences between a democracy and a republic.

I found the following quotation regarding disparity of wealth of particular interest in light of recent statistics showing that the disparity has become greater in recent years:

”But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property.”

Regarding democratic government, the following quotation is of interest:

”The other point of difference is, the greater number of citizens and extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of republican than of democratic government; and it is this circumstance principally which renders factious combinations less to be dreaded in the former than in the latter.”

Note that “former” is referring to “republican” and “latter” is referring to democratic government.

Clif Hostetler said...

An on going discussion of possible books for our group's schedule for 2012 can be read at .

Clif Hostetler said...

The Library of Congress provides the Federalist Papers free as on-line e-text based on archives from Project Gutenberg

Clif Hostetler said...

I've prepared a tabulation of the books suggested so far with them grouped by category. I'm suggesting that a list such as this could be used to help make the selection of books for 2012.
I plan to update the list as required. A separate list will need to be made of the books that our group has discussed in the past.

Clif Hostetler said...

Here's a link to information about twelve lectures about the Federalist Papers:
The Mid-Continent Library system has one audio and two video copies of the lectures. Last time I checked one of the video copies was not checked out. I plan to download a copy from The Great Courses.

Clif Hostetler said...

On our group's web site, Christopher left the following message:

I don't quite know what this amounts to:

"as on-line e-text based on archives from Project Gutenberg."

"Based on" seems to me to mean something like "created with the original as a starting point but different from the original." It seems to suggest that the Thomas version is different from the Gutenberg version. Is this the case? If so, what is the relationship of the Thomas text to the "original" Gutenberg text on which it is "based"?

I replied as follows:

If you go to the following link you will find a discussion of the fact that there are "many available versions of the papers."
I take this to mean that since multiple sources vary that some judgement is used by the compilers on what is made available for public downloading. Thus what the Library of Congress provides is what the scholars at Project Gutenberg have decided to make available. They have used the term "based on" to describe its source, and to explain why others may have a slightly different version.

Clif Hostetler said...

Here'a A LINK to some interesting questions with answers about The Federalist Papers.

Clif Hostetler said...

Here's A LINK to a listing of the dates that various states ratified the Constitution.

Eleven of the thirteen States approved The Constitution by the summer of 1788. It's interesting to note that North Carolina did not enter the Union until Nov. 21, 1789 or a year later after the new government was well on its way. The first N.C. convention (July, 1788) refused, by a vote of 184 to 84, to ratify the Constitution because of the lack of a Bill of Rights and in the fear that the strong National government would in time overbear State authority.

Rhode Island, which did not send delegates to the Constitutional Convention, was last of all by approving it on May 29, 1790, two years after the first eleven. By that time the new U.S.A. government began to deal with it as a foreign country and subjected it to taxes on its exports.

Clif Hostetler said...

How about the Anti-Federalist?
In case you'd like the see the other side of the debate, the following is a link to a collection of the Anti-Federalist Papers:

It's interesting to note that many of the very dire predictions made by the Anti-federalists has proven correct, although some took longer than others for their realization. On the other hand, if the Constitution had not been adopted the dire predicted consequences made by the Federalists would have probably been proven correct.

Clif Hostetler said...

Why were pseudonyms used?
Here's LINK TO A LIST of pseudonyms used in the American constitutional debates. I can find no rational explanation why everybody (both Federalists and Anti-Federalists) used pseudonyms. Apparently it was simply established practice in the 18th and 19th centuries for political articles to be signed with pseudonyms. Since our book group has read "Plutarch's Lives," we are already familiar with Publius Valerius Publicola after which the Pseudonym "Plublius" was taken by Hamilton, Madison and Jay.

Clif Hostetler said...

Did the Federalists believe that the States had the right to secede?
A little-known fact of the Constitution is that two of the largest states -- Virginia and New York -- made the right to withdraw from the union explicit in their acceptance of the Constitution. -Source-

Also, Alexander Hamilton in paper 28 appeals to what he calls in his words “that original right of self defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government and against the usurpation of the national rulers may be exerted by the states.” And then in paper 60 Hamilton refers to, “an immediate revolt of the great body of the people headed and directed by the state governments,” as the means of checking the central government.

And in civil war or revolutionary language with a similar meaning is found in Madison’s later restatement of his claim that the states have a checking power over the national government. As Madison puts it in paper 46, “Ambitious encroachments of the federal government on the authority of the state governments would not excite the opposition of a single state or of a few states only, they would be signals of general alarm. Every government would espouse the common cause. A correspondence would be opened, plans of resistance would be concerted,” he says.

Clif Hostetler said...

The following is a link to an edited excerpt from Lecture 7 “The Madisonian Republic” by Thomas L. Pangle, published as part of the series, “Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution,” published by The Teaching Company

Clif Hostetler said...

The following is a link to an edited excerpt from Lecture 8 “The Argument over Representation” by Thomas L. Pangle, published as part of the series, “Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution,” published by The Teaching Company.

Clif Hostetler said...

This is an interesting quotation from Paper 55:
"Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob."

Clif Hostetler said...

A political message:

Clif Hostetler said...

Report on December 2 meeting:
Ten people were in attendance at our meeting on December 2. Those in attendance were Bernard, Ward, Kensy, Tim, Potts, Marty, Jan, Tim, Clif, and Brian.

Clif Hostetler said...

This is a link to my review of the twelve lectures, "Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution" by Thomas Pangle.