Third Party & Independents Archives

The Federalist Papers : No. 1

General Introduction
For the Independent Journal.

To the People of the State of New York:

AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind. This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good men must feel for the event. Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good. But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected. The plan offered to our deliberations affects too many particular interests, innovates upon too many local institutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits, and of views, passions and prejudices little favorable to the discovery of truth.

Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished the obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument, and consequence of the offices they hold under the State establishments; and the perverted ambition of another class of men, who will either hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusions of their country, or will flatter themselves with fairer prospects of elevation from the subdivision of the empire into several partial confederacies than from its union under one government.

It is not, however, my design to dwell upon observations of this nature. I am well aware that it would be disingenuous to resolve indiscriminately the opposition of any set of men (merely because their situations might subject them to suspicion) into interested or ambitious views. Candor will oblige us to admit that even such men may be actuated by upright intentions; and it cannot be doubted that much of the opposition which has made its appearance, or may hereafter make its appearance, will spring from sources, blameless at least, if not respectable--the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived jealousies and fears. So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question. Were there not even these inducements to moderation, nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.

And yet, however just these sentiments will be allowed to be, we have already sufficient indications that it will happen in this as in all former cases of great national discussion. A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty. An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.

In the course of the preceding observations, I have had an eye, my fellow-citizens, to putting you upon your guard against all attempts, from whatever quarter, to influence your decision in a matter of the utmost moment to your welfare, by any impressions other than those which may result from the evidence of truth. You will, no doubt, at the same time, have collected from the general scope of them, that they proceed from a source not unfriendly to the new Constitution. Yes, my countrymen, I own to you that, after having given it an attentive consideration, I am clearly of opinion it is your interest to adopt it. I am convinced that this is the safest course for your liberty, your dignity, and your happiness. I affect not reserves which I do not feel. I will not amuse you with an appearance of deliberation when I have decided. I frankly acknowledge to you my convictions, and I will freely lay before you the reasons on which they are founded. The consciousness of good intentions disdains ambiguity. I shall not, however, multiply professions on this head. My motives must remain in the depository of my own breast. My arguments will be open to all, and may be judged of by all. They shall at least be offered in a spirit which will not disgrace the cause of truth.

I propose, in a series of papers, to discuss the following interesting particulars:


In the progress of this discussion I shall endeavor to give a satisfactory answer to all the objections which shall have made their appearance, that may seem to have any claim to your attention.

It may perhaps be thought superfluous to offer arguments to prove the utility of the UNION, a point, no doubt, deeply engraved on the hearts of the great body of the people in every State, and one, which it may be imagined, has no adversaries. But the fact is, that we already hear it whispered in the private circles of those who oppose the new Constitution, that the thirteen States are of too great extent for any general system, and that we must of necessity resort to separate confederacies of distinct portions of the whole.1 This doctrine will, in all probability, be gradually propagated, till it has votaries enough to countenance an open avowal of it. For nothing can be more evident, to those who are able to take an enlarged view of the subject, than the alternative of an adoption of the new Constitution or a dismemberment of the Union. It will therefore be of use to begin by examining the advantages of that Union, the certain evils, and the probable dangers, to which every State will be exposed from its dissolution. This shall accordingly constitute the subject of my next address.


1 The same idea, tracing the arguments to their consequences, is held out in several of the late publications against the new Constitution.

Posted by Weary_Willie at March 8, 2019 10:55 AM
Comment #439454

The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays arguing in support of the United States Constitution. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay were the authors behind the pieces, and the three men wrote collectively under the name of Publius.

The Federalist Papers were successful in achieving their goal. One month after Federalist No. 85 was published, New Hampshire ratified and the Constitution went into effect; Virginia and New York ratified soon after.

That last Federalist paper (#85) is worth reading, which states (about Article V):

    “By the fifth article of the plan, the Congress will be obliged ‘on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the States which at present amount to nine, to call a convention for proposing amendments, which shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof.’ The words of this article are peremptory. The Congress ‘shall call a convention.’ Nothing in this particular is left to the discretion of that body. And of consequence, all the declamation about the disinclination to a change vanishes in air.”
Article V states: The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight [1808] shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Congress has been violating the Constitution for many decades, since more than two-thirds of the states have already submitted hundreds of Article V applications. More about that can be found H E R E.

A few much-needed amendments might be:

  • term-limits for Congress
  • judicial term-limits
  • one-purpose-per-bill
  • tax reform
  • apportionment of representatives
  • balanced budget requirement (except in time of emergencies)
  • campaign finance reform
  • birth-right citizenship
  • revenue sharing
  • etc…
A list of about 500 AVC (Article V Convention) Applications are listed H E R E.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 8, 2019 12:25 PM
Comment #439456
It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.

Today’s environment seems to be we are dependent on accident and force. Many of the amendments ratified after the Civil War depend on force. For instance: The 16th amendment uses force to confiscate property from certain citizens. The 19th amendment used force to decimate individual business practices concerning alcohol production and consumption. the 22th amendment forces the electorate to abandon a successful president after 8 years. The 27th amendment forces the electorate to pay congress as a matter of fact, instead of a matter of merit.

None of the first 10 amendments forced the citizen to do anything.

Posted by: Weary Willie at March 8, 2019 12:56 PM
Comment #439467

I’m OK with term-limits for the office of President.
I think you meant the 18th amendment regarding prohibition of alcohol (not the 19th for right to vote regardless of gender)?
Regarding the 16th amendment, I am OK with an income tax, but IF you think a flat percentage is fair (above the poverty level), then that’s the way it should be. Someone making $60K per year should not be paying 38% in payroll taxes, while someone making $40 Million pays 15% in income taxes. The current tax system is regressive. Many property taxes in many states are also regressive (i.e. the tax per square foot decreases as the total square footage increases).

Amendments of the U.S. Constitution:

  • 1st Prohibits Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the right to petition the government; Submitted:September 25, 1789 Completed:December 15, 1791
  • 2nd Protects the right to keep and bear arms; September 25, 1789 December 15, 1791
  • 3rd Places restrictions on the quartering of soldiers in private homes; September 25, 1789 December 15, 1791
  • 4th Prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and sets out requirements for search warrants based on probable cause; September 25, 1789 December 15, 1791
  • 5th Sets out rules for indictment by grand jury and eminent domain, protects the right to due process, and prohibits self-incrimination and double jeopardy; September 25, 1789 December 15, 1791
  • 6th Protects the right to a fair and speedy public trial by jury, including the rights to be notified of the accusations, to confront the accuser, to obtain witnesses and to retain counsel; September 25, 1789 December 15, 1791
  • 7th Provides for the right to trial by jury in certain civil cases, according to common law; September 25, 1789 December 15, 1791
  • 8th Prohibits excessive fines and excessive bail, as well as cruel and unusual punishment; September 25, 1789 December 15, 1791
  • 9th Protects rights not enumerated in the Constitution; September 25, 1789 December 15, 1791
  • 10th Reinforces the principle of federalism by stating that the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the states or the people through the Constitution; September 25, 1789 December 15, 1791
  • 11th Makes states immune from suits from out-of-state citizens and foreigners not living within the state borders; lays the foundation for sovereign immunity; March 4, 1794 February 7, 1795
  • 12th Revises presidential election procedures by having the president and vice president elected together as opposed to the vice president being the runner up in the presidential election; December 9, 1803 June 15, 1804
  • 13th Abolishes slavery, and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime; January 31, 1865 December 6, 1865
  • 14th Defines citizenship, contains the Privileges or Immunities Clause, the Due Process Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and deals with post–Civil War issues; June 13, 1866 July 9, 1868
  • 15th Prohibits the denial of the right to vote based on race, color or previous condition of servitude; February 26, 1869 February 3, 1870
  • 16th Permits Congress to levy an income tax without apportioning it among the various states or basing it on the United States Census; July 12, 1909 February 3, 1913
  • 17th Establishes the direct election of United States Senators by popular vote; May 13, 1912 April 8, 1913
  • 18th Prohibited the manufacturing or sale of alcohol within the United States
    (Repealed December 5, 1933, via the 21st Amendment); December 18, 1917 January 16, 1919
  • 19th Prohibits the denial of the right to vote based on se*x; June 4, 1919 August 18, 1920
  • 20th Changes the date on which the terms of the president and vice president and of members of Congress end and begin (to January 20 and January 3 respectively); March 2, 1932 January 23, 1933
  • 21st Repeals the 18th Amendment and makes it a federal offense to transport or import intoxicating liquors into U.S. states and territories where such transport or importation is prohibited by the laws of those states and territories; February 20, 1933 December 5, 1933
  • 22nd Limits the number of times that a person can be elected president: a person cannot be elected president more than twice, and a person who has served more than two years of a term to which someone else was elected cannot be elected more than once; March 24, 1947 February 27, 1951
  • 23rd Grants the District of Columbia electors (the number of electors being equal to the least populous state) in the Electoral College; June 16, 1960 March 29, 1961
  • 24th Prohibits the revocation of voting rights due to the non-payment of a poll tax or any other tax; September 14, 1962 January 23, 1964
  • 25th Addresses succession to the Presidency and establishes procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, as well as responding to Presidential disabilities; July 6, 1965 February 10, 1967
  • 26th Prohibits the denial of the right of US citizens, eighteen years of age or older, to vote on account of age; March 23, 1971 July 1, 1971
  • 27th Delays laws affecting Congressional salary from taking effect until after the next election of representatives; September 25, 1789 May 5, 1992

Posted by: d.a.n at March 8, 2019 2:13 PM
Comment #439470

Weary the first ten amendments are the bill or rights. 11 and 12 cleared up some items that were not thought of early on. Although you could say they used force as much as the 16 or 19th or any of the rest for that matter. I know you guys like to claim the “force” is used to collect taxes but that is wrong.

We are a nation of laws and the Constitution allows Congress to lay and collect taxes. It is only when the rule of law is violated that “force” could become an issue. Does liberty extend beyond the rule of law or have some people abused the meaning of liberty? The law is known and enforced fairly. One is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The law applies to everyone and all of us are protected from excessive fines and punishment as the bill of rights requires.

With that in mind perhaps the latest tax law is in violation of the Constitution or at the least the rule of law but that is another matter….isn’t it?

“The liberty of man, in society, is to be under no other legislative power, but that established, by consent, in the commonwealth; nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of any law, but what that legislative shall enact, according to the trust put in it.”

John Locke

Posted by: j2t2 at March 8, 2019 2:48 PM
Comment #439471

All 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights were ratified separately. The 27th was dropped from consideration in the original 12 proposed amendments. The Congressional Apportionment Amendment, the 12th proposed amendment was never ratified but is still pending.

The federal government can get it’s funding from the states as originally proposed and practiced for 150ish years. The states are not prohibited from laying an income tax on it’s citizens. The 16th amendment is not necessary for the operation of a federal government.

Posted by: Weary Willie at March 8, 2019 3:06 PM
Comment #439472

There’s a very interesting chart of the process of elimination the original amendments went through.

I discussed 2 of these amendment is prior posts.

Posted by: Weary Willie at March 8, 2019 3:16 PM
Comment #439473

The evolution of the fifth article toward the 2nd amendment is interesting.

Posted by: Weary Willie at March 8, 2019 3:18 PM
Comment #439475
j252 wrote: I know you guys like to claim the “force” is used to collect taxes but that is wrong.
HHMMMmmm … the IRS will not put you in jail for not being able to pay your taxes if you file your return, but it will levy penalties and interest for failing to pay.
However, any action taken to evade the assessment of a tax, such as being able to pay your taxes, but choosing not to pay those taxes, and/or filing a fraudulent return, can result in penalties and interest, and land you in prison for 5 years.
Posted by: d.a.n at March 8, 2019 4:55 PM
Comment #439487

The federal government used force to collect excise tax on alcohol. It was called the Whiskey Rebellion.

Yea, force isn’t used to collect taxes. Force is used to take your property, even before they prove you haven’t paid your “fair share”.

Force is used when you don’t cut your grass in this land of the free, j2t2.

Posted by: Weary Willie at March 8, 2019 6:26 PM
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