Federalist Papers Summary No. 23


Federalist Papers Summary No. 23


Federalist Papers Author Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton

Federalist Essays Summary Number 23

The Federalist Papers Summary No 23:  Hamilton
December 18, 1787

Having enumerated some defects with the Articles of Confederation in the last paper, this paper provides a discussion of the solutions needed in a Constitution that will preserve the Union.  The question of interest here is, what are the responsibilities of the Federal Government, what powers are needed to accomplish these responsibilities and what persons shall have these powers.

The basic argument is that “the means aught to be proportioned to the end” so that if it is agreed that the Federal Government is responsible for the safety of the people for example, then it must have the unrestricted power “to raise armies, to build and equip fleets, to prescribe rules for government of both, to direct their operations and to provide for their support”.  The reader is reminded that the Articles provided for the national Government to be responsible for the common defense and general welfare of the people but did not provide for the means achieve it.  Two other arguments are repeated; the laws of the Federal Government must be extended to the people, and we must discard the fallacious scheme of quotas and requisitions.

He returns to the question of the responsibilities of the Federal Government; raising and supporting armies, the supreme judiciary, and regulation of commerce and argues that an energetic government with these powers must be provided the means to achieve them in the constitution.  If a free people find a government unfit for delegation of these powers then such a government would not be in the national interest.  However, “the powers are not too extensive for the objects of Federal administration, or in other words for the management of our National Interests”.  “For the absurdity must continually stare us in the face of confiding to a government the direction of the most essential nation interests, without daring to trust it with the authorities which are indispensable to their proper and efficient management”.

Summary Written by Donald Mellon


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