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The_Advantages_of_Union_and_the_Dangers_ - The Advantages...

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The Advantages of Union and the Dangers of Faction Introduction Good morning. This is the first of three lectures on The Federalist Papers . I have divided today’s lecture into two parts. In the first part, I will discuss the historical and political context of The Federalist Papers . In particular, I will discuss the period leading up to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 as well as the heated debates between proponents and opponents of the Constitution prior to its ratification in 1789. In the second part, I will briefly discuss Hamilton’s arguments in Federalist Papers 1,6, and 9 for the advantages of union and the dangers threatening the United States if they should fail to establish a strong national government. And I will examine in greater detail Madison’s famous argument in Federalist 10 that faction, especially majority faction, is perhaps the greatest danger inherent in democracy and that the scheme of government proposed under the new Constitution solves the problem of faction in so far as it can be humanly solved. The Historical and Political Context of the Federalist Papers The Federalist Papers originally appeared as a series of articles published in four New York newspapers between October 1787 and the end of May 1788. They were published under the pseudonym of “Publius,” a reference to a ancient Roman general and statesman who was famous for his devotion to republican principles. Publishing under an assumed Roman name was the usual practice of political polemicists in the founding period. Two of the most famous anti-Federalists, i.e., critics
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of the proposed Constitution, wrote under the names of Brutus and Cato, both heroes of the Roman Republic. Brutus took part in the assassination of his friend Julius Caesar, who had overthrown the Roman Republic while Cato took his own life when it became clear there was no possibility of restring the Roman Republic. Unfortunately, we do not have time to discuss the anti-Federalists critique at length, but I will allude to some of their criticisms in this lecture. I have also put a copy of Brutus’ First Letter, which is widely regarded as the most trenchant statement of the anti-Federalist position, on the MC 201 Merged Course site. Interested students are invited to read it. Behind the pseudonym of Publius were three men, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, although Jay only wrote five of the papers. Hamilton and Madison were later to find themselves bitter political enemies, but in this period they were united in the common cause of persuading the citizens of New York to ratify the new Constitution, which had been hammered out in Philadelphia the previous summer. I will come back in a minute to the question of Hamilton and Madison’s true views on the Constitution, but first I need to fill in some of the historical detail.
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