Liberty's Blueprint: How Madison and Hamilton Wrote the Federalist Papers, Defined the Constitution, and Made Democracy Safe For the World
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Aside from the Constitution itself, there is no more important document in American politics and law than the Federalist Papers—the series of pamphlets written by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison to explain the meaning of the proposed Constitution to the American people and persuade them of its importance. These papers provide a window into the framers’ thoughts on the most divisive issues of American government—the powers of the President, the dividing line between Congress’s authority and that of the states, the role of the Supreme Court, and the importance of the Bill of Rights. Liberty’s Blueprint offers an essential introduction to how the Federalist Papers were written, the philosophical thinking that shaped the Constitution, how the framers meant the various clauses to be understood, and why they are still vitally important today.
ca. 24-26 Dec. 1785,” PJM 8:457-461. The Virginia Senate approved the bill on Dec. 30, 1785. James Madison to James Monroe, Dec. 30, 1785, PJM 8:465-466. 46 “advantage should be taken”: Edward Coles, “Letters of Edward Coles,” Wm. and Mary Q., 7 (1927): 158-173. 46 Madison added a provision: “Resolution Calling for the Regulation of Commerce by Congress,” Nov. 14, 1785, PJM 8:413-414. 46 “I think it better to trust”: James Madison to George Washington, Dec. 9, 1785, PJM 8:438-440. 46 “the
turning. On June 29 he left Philadelphia and returned to New York and his legal practice. On July 3 he wrote to Washington, describing his mood: “I am seriously and deeply distressed at the aspects of the Councils which prevailed when I left Philadelphia.” Hamilton complained that the convention was in danger of letting “slip the golden opportunity of rescuing the American empire from disunion, anarchy and misery.” A week later, Washington wrote back. While sharing Hamilton’s concerns,
debate over who should be selected to represent the state in the Senate, Henry led the opposition to Madison. On the floor of the assembly, Henry thundered that Madison was “unworthy of the confidence of the people” and that his “election would terminate in producing rivulets of blood throughout the land.” On November 6, Madison was defeated in the vote for one of Virginia’s two Senate seats by two allies of Henry, Richard Henry Lee and William Grayson. Henry also tried to prevent Madison from
great principle in free government, analogous to that which separates the sword from the purse, or the power of executing from the power of enacting laws.” The problem for Madison was that Hamilton had crafted an argument that was perfectly consistent with this view of the separation of powers. Madison was never able to answer Hamilton’s deeper point, that both the congressional authority to declare war, and the system of separation of powers in general, were best served by the president’s
happened in other places at other times. “Experience is the oracle of truth,” Madison said, “and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be conclusive and sacred.” Despite the unqualified nature of this statement, Madison understood that there were important limitations on the use of history. Sometimes the best that a review of the past can reveal is what path to avoid. Just because one can ascertain what has previously failed, does not mean that a more successful approach is obvious.