James Madison also referred to as the father of the constitution developed Federalist numbers 10 and 51 in an attempt to ratify the Constitution. He felt as if this was necessary to correct what he described were the fatal flaws of the Article of Confederation. On the other hand, the Declaration of Independence was composed and mainly focused on liberty and natural rights. Many major ideas of the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist papers #10 and # 51 influenced the development of the American government established by the Constitution of the United States.
The Constitution was created and ratified by conventions in each state by “The People” on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. The purpose of the constitution was to replace the old faulty government which was under the Articles of Confederation. There were many problems associated with the Articles of confederation. Congress had difficulty passing laws because 9 out of the 13 states were required to agree on the laws for them to become ratified.
Another problem that occurred was after the American Revolution financial and economic struggles soon followed. In addition, the Articles of Confederation prohibited the government to impose taxes on the state, so they had accumulated large amounts of debts. The states refused to give the government any money, so as a result government had to print more money which drove the income straight into inflation. This was one of the major reasons George Washington was pro ratification of the constitution. He didn’t approve of the way government was being orchestrated because the Articles had made them weak.
The declaration as stated before was composed mainly because the colonist wanted liberty. They believed that they had God-Given rights that couldn’t be revoked, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights were called natural rights or natural law. Natural law is a body of unchanging moral principles regarded as a basis for all human conduct. “We the People of the United States, to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”( Preamble Constitution).
The preamble displays natural law and how “We the People” have rights and every citizen is born with these rights that cannot be taken away by any man. In addition, the Declaration of Independence also begins to talk about the “right of revolution” stating that if government happens to violate these rights, then the people have the right to remove, change, or rebel against that government. Everyone can agree without a doubt that a government is necessary to maintain stability in the country. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness “(Declaration of Independence).
In 1787, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison created articles in an attempt to ratify the Constitution. These articles provided multiple reasons to support the new plan of government foreseen in the US Constitution. In the federalist papers number 10, James Madison talks about how a large and strong republic would be a better defense against factions and their interests that are completely different from the rights of others and/or the interests of the whole community, better than smaller republics could. Thus becoming the most important essay out of the 85 articles printed. “Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority” (Fed. 10). These rival parties are known as factions; factions are groups of individuals who form a minority in the majority and they don’t share the same insight as to the majority. Madison stated that the best way to prevent factions was a republican form of government because of the high number of representatives. “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion, and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence”(sec. 4 constitution). Challengers of the Constitution begged to differ from his position, which can be found in the notes of Montesquieu. Just like Montesquieu, Madison was a firm believer in the separation of powers. In the federalist number 51, Madison states “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great 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 great way to regulate the power of elected government officials should be monitored by a system of checks and balances. Checks and balances play an important role in the US Constitution.
This system prevents one branch of government from getting too powerful. The branches are allowed to check one another so that power remains at equilibrium. He says it best here “No man is allowed to be a judge in his cause; because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men, are unfit to be both judges and parties, at the same time; yet, what are many of the most important acts of legislation, but so many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concerning the rights of large bodies of citizens”(Fed #10).
In Federalist #51 Madison stated something that reald out upon reading. He said, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition”(fed. 51). In my opinion, I believe that he meant that if one person is in control then he will only have his interest in mind, instead of the whole. Madison is saying that with more people in control, the interest of the people will be the trending topic and priority. This is contrary to just the interest of the individual over the whole. In addition, this was a major reason for the Declaration of Independence. The states couldn’t take being forced to do what Britain and King James commanded them to do.
King James had only his interest in mind not those of the statesmen. As documented in the Declaration of Independence “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States–A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.” Furthermore, in the declaration of independence, the statesmen have a list of oppressions against the king and how he has fouled them in many different ways. The US government under the US constitution establishes justice, provides for the common defense, and secures the blessing of liberty. It possesses laws and regulations to keep the country civilized and non-savage-like. These laws should be made by wise men that refine the public view.