Revolution & Foundation:Articles of Confederation, Federalist vs. Anti-Federalist “What is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” (Political Science 565)
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union • Approved for ratification by Second Continental Congress Nov. 2, 1777. • During the war. Became de facto system of gov’t until ratified March 1, 1781.
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union • “To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed to our Names send greeting.” • Unlike the Declaration, this is written in the voice of the various states, not in that of a unified, national people.
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union • 1. Officially names the new nation the United States of America • This is really pretty self-explanatory. • 2. Each state remains sovereign except as limited by the Articles • Internally, each state is effectively independent of the rest. Very strong state powers. • 3. The US is a new nation united “in perpetuity” for the preservation of the rights and security of the various states. • Unlike the Declaration of Independence, the Articles explicitly guarantee the rights and security of states more than they do those of individuals. • The individual is understood to be represented be his or her (that is to say, his) community/State.
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union • 4. Unrestricted movement between states for all except “paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives.” • Local law applies • Extradition • 5. Each state gets one vote in the Congress of the Confederation • Unicameral legislature • Disproportionately favors small states. Large states asked to contribute more for only an equal share of legislative power.
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union • 6. Powers of war and foreign relations exclusive domain of central government • Internal powers largely remain with states, but the US deals with the outside world as a single political unit. • Standing armies & navies only for central gov’t, but states may have militias • 8. Central government will be paid for via funds raised by the states • No taxation powers or abilities to make funding compulsory • Could only request funding from the states, to be paid on essentially voluntary basis. • Freerider problem
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union • 9. Powers of central government: • Adjudicate between states • War • Weights, measures, currency • 13. Articles of Confederation are perpetual, can only be altered by unanimous consent of all states. • Unanimity is a hard thing to get. This gives each state immense veto powers.
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union • Problems: Central government • Could not enforce requests for funding • Had no draft powers, could not compel states to comply w/requests for troops. • Often was unable to pay soldiers, much less fulfill promise of life pensions to them.
A Revolution Divided • Points of conflict • What is America? • One people or many? • Both agree that ultimate source of political authority lies in the people, but is that authority expressed in their laws or in their voices? • To what extent a democracy, to what a republic? • Which is better, a small or a large republic? • How should the will of the people be mediated?
Federalist Papers • 1787-88 • Authorship: • Usually credited as follows: • Alexander Hamilton: #1, 6–9, 11–13, 15–17, 21–36, 59–61, and 65–85 • James Madison: #10, 14, 37–58 and 62–63 • John Jay: #2–5 and 64
James Madison • 1751-1836 • Lifelong politician • Slaveholder • Jefferson’s Secretary of State • Deist • 4th president: 1809-1817 • War of 1812 • Initially favored strong central gov’t, later advocated states’ rights • Worked w/Jefferson on Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom • Author & advocate of Bill of Rights
Alexander Hamilton • 1755 (‘57?)-1804 • Born out of wedlock in East Indies, orphaned at 11 • King’s College (Columbia) • Christian (no denomination) • War service, Washington’s Treasury Secretary, Federalist Party • Served in Whiskey Rebellion • Affair & blackmail • Author of 51 editions of Federalist • Strong opponent of slavery • Opposed Jefferson & Adams in 1800 • Central gov’t & 1st Bank of the U.S. • Killed from wounds in duel w/Aaron Burr
John Jay • 1745-1829 • First Chief Justice (1789-95) • Governor of New York (1795-1801) • 1799: signed gradual emancipation act that freed all slaves in NY state by 1829 • Diplomat • Episcopalian
Federalist Papers • Why kept secret? Why attributed to a single pseudonym? • Publius Valerius Publicola • A leader of the Roman revolt, which ended the line of the kings of Rome • Wrote popular series of laws, helped to structure Roman Republic • Called “the friend of the people”
Anti-Federalist Papers • 1787 • Unlike Federalist papers, not an organized project. • “Anti-Federalist” a label that got attached to the position in these essays • Numbers assigned by later researches. We use those of Morton Borden, meant to match roughly w/Federalist Papers • Authorship: • Cato (~George Clinton): Senator of the late Roman Republic, known for his moral integrity & opposition to the coup by Julius Caesar • Brutus (~Robert Yates): most famous of Caesar’s assassins • Centinel (Samuel Bryan): Sentinel, guardian • A Federal Farmer (~Richard Henry Lee? ~Melancton Smith?): Source of agrarian virtue
A Revolution Divided • Classical pseudonyms reveal the extent to which Federalists & Anti-Federalists differ in their points of view • Is the republic being born, or threatened with destruction? • Though they take strongly opposed positions, each side of the Constitution debate speaks the same political language. • Thus, this is not an issue of what ideals and principles apply, but of their interpretation. • Many revolutions, lacking established authority by definition, suffer internal conflict • American political institutions may have helped to prevent American divisions from causing major political violence
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union • Fed. #1: “After an unequivocal experience of the inefficacy of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America.” • Recognition of these problems led to the first major political factionalization of the newly independent United States • Federalists: want fundamental reform of the structure of gov’t, creating a far stronger central government • Anti-federalists: believe that this would infringe on freedoms of the states, and thus of the individuals that they represent.
Federalists & Anti-Federalists agree: • Our opponents are self-interested, & can’t be trusted • 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 (F. #1) • These violent partisans are for having the people gulp down the gilded pill blindfolded, whole, and without any qualification whatever. These consist generally, of the NOBLE order of C[incinnatu]s, holders of public securities, men of great wealth and expectations of public office, B[an]k[er]s and L[aw]y[er]s: these with their train of dependents form the Aristocratick combination. The Lawyers in particular, keep up an incessant declamation for its adoption; like greedy gudgeons they long to satiate their voracious stomachs with the golden bait. (AF #1) • Reason vs. interest
Anarchy or Tyranny? • The problem with factions • Fed. #10 • Republics are prone to factionalization • Factions: groups within the republic united by interest or passion • "There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects” • But: “The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man”
Anarchy or Tyranny? • Fed #10: “The inference to which we are brought is, that the causes of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects.” • “If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution.” • “When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens.” • Pure, direct democracy cannot address this problem
Anarchy or Tyranny? • Difference between democracy and republic: Representation • Works to “refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose.” • The is only one public good, the good of the republic (res publica) • Representation also allows for governing greater territory than does direct democracy
Anarchy or Tyranny? • “A Farmer” AF #10: “An union purely federal is what the reasonable and dispassionate patriots of America must bend their views to. My countrymen, preserve your jealousy-reject suspicion, it is the fiend that destroys public and private happiness. • I know some weak, but very few if any wicked men in public confidence. And learn this most difficult and necessary lesson: That on the preservation of parties, public liberty depends. Whenever men are unanimous on great public questions, whenever there is but one party, freedom ceases and despotism commences.
Anarchy or Tyranny? • “The object of a free and wise people should be so to balance parties, that from the weakness of all you may be governed by the moderation of the combined judgments of the whole, not tyrannized over by the blind passions of a few individuals.” • Faction prevents the emergence of tyranny • Multiple, competing goods • The proposed republic is a ploy to give power to the ‘natural’ aristocracy (AF #10)
Nation or Confederacy? • F. #14:On the feasibility of central governance • Representative gov’t will allows republican governance of large area • Federal gov’t will not make all policy, much left to local gov’t • Roads and improvements will make intercourse among the states and with the federal gov’t much easier • While it might be inconvenient for distant states to sends representatives to the central gov’t, it would be much more inconvenient for them to have to defend themselves alone
Nation or Confederacy? • The United States is one, national people • "Shut your hearts against the poison which it conveys; the kindred blood which flows in the veins of American citizens, the mingled blood which they have shed in defense of their sacred rights, consecrate their Union, and excite horror at the idea of their becoming aliens, rivals, enemies.” (F. #14)
Nation or Confederacy? • AF #14 Cato: “whoever seriously considers the immense extent of territory comprehended within the limits of the United States, together with the variety of its climates, productions, and commerce, the difference of extent, and number of inhabitants in all; the dissimilitude of interest, morals, and politics, in almost every one, will receive it as an intuitive truth, that a consolidated republican form of government therein, can never form a perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to you and your posterity, for to these objects it must be directed. • This unkindred legislature therefore, composed of interests opposite and dissimilar in their nature, will in its exercise, emphatically be like a house divided against itself.”
Nation or Confederacy? • AF #14: Central gov’t too far to govern well • It will use a standing army to trample the liberty of state gov’t • “It may be suggested, in answer to this, that whoever is a citizen of one state is a citizen of each, and that therefore he will be as interested in the happiness and interest of all, as the one he is delegated from. But the argument is fallacious, and, whoever has attended to the history of mankind, and the principles which bind them together as parents, citizens, or men, will readily perceive it.” • The U.S. is an alliance of many peoples
Revolution preserved or betrayed? • Solution to faction (Fed. #51) • Separation of powers • Legislature • Executive • Judiciary • Checks & balances • By setting factions & branches of gov’t against each other, none will be able to dominate • Protection of minority groups
Revolution preserved or betrayed? • F. #51: Basic principle of new gov’t is division of power "where the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other that the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights.” • “It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part... In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature, where the weaker individual is not secured against the violence of the stronger.”
Revolution preserved or betrayed? • Different electors for each office: direct for House, state legislature for Senate, electoral college for Presidency • Setting ambitious groups & individuals against one another • “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” (F #51) • Human nature is bad
Revolution preserved or betrayed? • AF #51: Satire • Proponents of new gov’t believe themselves a higher order of person, trying to seize aristocratic power • Trying to “make the people attend to their own business, and not be dabbling in politics - things they are entirely ignorant of; nor is it proper they should understand. But it is very probable that the exercise of this power may be opposed by the refractory plebeians, who (such is the perverseness of their natures) often refuse to comply with what is manifestly for their advantage. But to prevent all inconvenience from this quarter the congress have power to raise and support armies. This is the second thing necessary to render government independent.” • Tyrannical, aristocratic central gov’t • Anti-democratic, excluding the people
Legislature • F. #39: Legislature “the sources from which the ordinary powers of government are to be derived:” • “The House of Representatives will derive its powers from the people of America; and the people will be represented in the same proportion, and on the same principle, as they are in the legislature of a particular State. So far the government is national, not federal.” • “The Senate, on the other hand, will derive its powers from the States, as political and coequal societies; and these will be represented on the principle of equality in the Senate, as they now are in the existing Congress. So far the government is FEDERAL, not NATIONAL”
Legislature • “The difference between a federal and national government, as it relates to the OPERATION OF THE GOVERNMENT, is supposed to consist in this, that in the former the powers operate on the political bodies composing the Confederacy, in their political capacities; in the latter, on the individual citizens composing the nation, in their individual capacities. On trying the Constitution by this criterion, it falls under the NATIONAL”
Legislature • AF #39: All the prerogatives, all the essential characteristics of sovereignty, both of the internal and external kind, are vested in the general government, and consequently the several States would not be possessed of any essential power or effective guard of sovereignty. • Thus I apprehend, it is evident that the consolidation of the States into one national government (in contra- distinction from a confederacy) would be the necessary consequence of the establishment of the new constitution, and the intention of its framers-and that consequently the State sovereignties would be eventually annihilated, though the forms may long remain as expensive and burdensome remembrances of what they were in the days when (although laboring under many disadvantages) they emancipated this country from foreign tyranny, humbled the pride and tarnished the glory of royalty, and erected a triumphant standard to liberty and independence.