the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

32 all that said the federalist papers remain an

Info icon This preview shows pages 102–104. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
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
Image of page 102

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
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.
Image of page 103
Image of page 104
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern