In the wake of the American Revolution, both the citizens as well as the political leaders of the recently independent United States of America were determined to establish a process of government that contrasted with the previous monarchical rule of British King, George II. Though multiple ruling bodies were instated, none had either the resiliency or the functionality to maintain that which served the interest of the citizens. As a result, the Constitution was penned. This document ensured that absolute, totalitarian power would no longer exist.
The Constitution separated governing power into three parts: executive, legislative, and judicial. The Federalist Papers were considered the prime advocates of the ratification of the Constitution, thus ensuring a government based on serving the needs of its citizens rather than a single ruling body.
Authorship and Purpose
The Federalist Papers are a collection of 85 politically-charged essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay between the years 1787 and 1788. In 1787, the ratification of the Constitution was contingent on each of the thirteen states’ acceptance and approval of its contents as the dogmatic doctrine under which the United States would be ruled. The Federalist Papers were published and disseminated in order to bolster support, educate, and advocate for the ratification of the Constitution; a document that would instate a democratic government in the United States of America. The Federalist Papers were written in the hopes of contrasting the previous monarchical government under King George II with a newly-formed democracy that both served its citizens while limiting the amount of power that anyone gubernatorial faction could possess.
Arguments & Purpose
The purpose of The Federalist Papers was to ensure the democratic government in the United States of America. Though Hamilton, Madison, and Jay collectively authored The Federalist Papers, the three were not in full agreement on the future of the nation under the Constitution. Both Hamilton and Jay agreed that the creation of a Bill of Rights – a collection of Amendments to the Constitution – would place a limitation on the number of rights afforded to its citizens.
Calls for Federalism
Alexander Hamilton, considered to be the most prominent Federalist of his day, was adamant about revamping the governmental structure set forth in the Articles of Confederation. Due to the injustices suffered by the colonists under the British monarchy of King George II, individual State legislation sought out to establish a weak central government that was devoid of power over each of the individual 13 states.
Writings on Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances
Between the years 1776 and 1787, the authors of the Federalist Papers had witnessed two failed governmental regimes: the British monarchy under both King George II and King George III, as well as a fallacious central government, rendered powerless by flawed stipulations set forth in the Articles of Confederation. Determined to retain the positive aspects of each governmental structure, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay created a system of checks and balances in order to ensure the separation of powers between the 3 branches of the central government.
In order to solidify a central government that was both strong, yet controlled, required the strategic disbursement of power throughout its 3 branches. Each branch would have a set amount of power, which would exist in a symbiotic fashion with the other branches. In essence, each branch’s power and functionality would be commensurate with the power and functionality of its fellow branches.
The concept of republicanism was rooted in the philosophy of Plato, the Greek philosopher who composed his text of the same name – The Republic – in 380 B.C. Plato hypothesized that an ideal form of government is one in which the interest of its citizens is prioritized. Federalist James Madison, who introduced the concept of republicanism in the Federalist Papers, shared in the ideology set forth by Plato over more than one-thousand years prior.
However, James Madison expanded on Plato’s ideology, proposing a form of government in which the citizens not only controlled the body that governed them but also was given the opportunity to allow themselves to be governed by it. Rather than a ruling body primarily concerned with the needs of the privileged aristocracy, a minority in every nation, republicanism called for a governing body to be in servitude to the interests of its citizens, who were considered the majority.
Writings on Representation and the Legislature
In order to solidify a methodology of representation that was both functional and unbiased, the authors of the Federalist Papers employed a Congressional or legislative, system that would dissolve any arbitrary advantages that states had over one another strictly due to size. Under the Articles of Confederation, larger states were concerned about their smaller counterparts forming alliances and swaying elections. However, smaller states were initially opposed to the Federalist proposal of nationwide legislation for fear that representation would be commensurate on population. As a result, smaller states were uneasy about resigning their individual sovereignty and potentially allowing their power to be usurped.
In order to address the various concerns of every State, both large and small, the Federalists introduced a nationwide methodology of Congressional representation that would allow 2 representatives for every state, regardless of the size of its population. The added benefit would be two-fold: Firstly, states would no longer be able to form unjust, subjective alliances since representation would not be reliant on the population of the respective State. Secondly, nationwide tariff legislation would be instated so that every State of the Union would be subject to identical taxation.