A History of the Federalist Papers on the American Constitution

Influence of the Federalist Papers on the Constitution

The Federalist papers were written and ratified in the years 1787 to 1788. They were created mostly by two of the most influential men of the post-Revolution period. It helped the budding nation create a unified and agreeably strong central government: Alexander Hamilton, a Federalist who wrote fifty-six papers, and James Madison, a Democratic-Republican who wrote twenty-one papers; John Jay also had a hand in the writing of five papers. Every paper was written under the pen name Publius.

However, today it is known that it was these three men who were the genius behind the works. Hamilton and Madison diligently worked together to write these papers. As time went on, they divided into two different political parties and a strong rivalry ensued. Although their opposition surfaced during the second presidential term, their separate papers foreshadow their eventual contention. Through their papers, it became evident that they interpreted the Constitution much differently. Either through loose construction in the form of a strong federal government or strict construction in the idea that states’ rights should be the most important factor of the new national government.

They also foresaw Hamilton and Madison’s splitting disagreements.

Alexander Hamilton was a strong-willed Federalist, who had the genius necessary for becoming president. However, he was tragically killed by Aaron Burr in a duel. He was the most influential Federalist of his time and his National Debt still stands today. However, it has increased greatly since his time. Hamilton believed that the Constitution needed a loose construction or interpretation.

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This belief in the national government was evident in his Federalist writing. In paper No. 23, “The Necessity of a Government as Energetic as the One Proposed to the Preservation of the Union”, he explains that there are principle purposes with which the national government was obligated to do. These purposes were the common defense of its members, the preservation of the public peace against both internal and external attacks, the regulation of commerce with other nations and interstate trade, and the supervision over discussions and problems stemming from political or commercial intercourse with foreign countries. He believed that the government should be in charge of the States in that they protected while governing. He also asked his fellow countrymen how insufficient their present balances were for each department to keep other departments in their proper places. He believes that every department should have its own free will. However, the other departments should be able to step in and question problematic decisions within that department. His reasons for this belief come from the theory that human nature is fallible, and since the government is a reflection of human nature that it must also be fallible. Thus, the government must be able to control the governed but also be obliged to control itself. This showed that the power allotted to the government was in turn the power of the people and the people should use it, as they see fit with the central government as its spokesperson.

Due to their differences in opinions over how the Constitution should be interpreted, Hamilton and Madson were at the heads of opposing forces. Hamilton was on the side of the federalists. While Madison, along with Jefferson was at the head of the Democratic-Republicans. The documents grouped in the Federalist papers show the disagreement between these two men in subtle terms over the desire for either a strong central government or States’ rights. By showing the difference in opinions over how power should be allotted, the Federalist papers were influential in foreshadowing their division. Madison strongly wanted a weaker central government but knew that if the government was strengthened, it would need regulations. Hamilton wanted a strong nation but believed that if the states were given more rights, the federal government would also need a way to have power and control over the states. Both wanted what was best for their opinionated parties and in time this led to their separation and rivalry, which erupted into the party divisions between the voting bodies.

The Federalist papers were the most influential works concerning the construction of the Constitution. They were also the basis for the eventual formation of separate political parties headed by their mutual creators. Madison and Hamilton both loved their new country but differed on how they believed it should be run. This disagreement was evident in their papers and their rival political factions. The most outright discordance was their interpretation of how the Constitution had been constructed. Hamilton believed that loose construction was key so that the government could look at a law and then decide how they believed it applied to them. However, Madison believed that it needed strict construction because the letter of the law is a better teacher and manual for government than the assumption of how powers should be dictated. Because of these disagreements, political parties emerged, and they have been existent for many years and will be for years to come.

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A History of the Federalist Papers on the American Constitution. (2022, Jun 25). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/a-history-of-the-federalist-papers-on-the-american-constitution/

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