the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

32 all that said the federalist papers remain an

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32 All that said, the Federalist Papers remain an American masterpiece—mostly Hamilton’s masterpiece —the classical statement for the viability of a nation-size republic. Washington was remarkably prescient on this score. When Hamilton presented him with a two-volume edition in August 1788, Washington offered the following opinion: I have read every performance which has been printed on one side and the other on the question lately agitated and regarded the Production of your Triumvirate as best by far…. When the transient circumstances and fugitive performances which attend this crisis shall have disappeared, that work will merit the notice of Posterity, [because it] identified the principles underlying our noble experiment in permanent and classical form. 33 Posterity has tended to confirm Washington’s prediction, though it required more than a century for it to come true. In the twentieth century Madison’s Federalist 10 became the most analyzed political essay in American history, so convincing in its argument for the viability of a large-scale republic that one is left to wonder why Montesquieu’s argument on the other side was ever taken seriously. Or consider these words from Federalist 51, also an obligatory entry in any modern textbook on the origins of American government: But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the greatest difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is no doubt the primary control on government, but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. 34 Parsing those last two words, “auxiliary precautions,” might require a semester-long course in American political science. Madison was rather elliptically attempting to distinguish between a
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democracy and a republic, suggesting that the structure of the government proposed in the Constitution was designed to sift popular opinion through multiple layers of deliberation in order to distill the long- term interest of the American republic. While how we read Publius today is not irrelevant, for historical purposes it is more relevant to recognize, as Washington suggested, that it was a distinctive voice in the ratification debates. No coordinated effort appeared on the other side. There was no such thing as the Antifederalist Papers. Even more relevant and revealing, almost all opponents of ratification wrote from a state-based perspective, and the vast majority of delegates in the ratifying conventions, including those who voted for ratification, did so for state-based reasons. Only Publius spoke from a national perspective.
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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