Federalist Papers Summary No. 37

 

Federalist Papers Summary No. 37

 
 

Federalist Papers Author James Madison
James Madison

Federalist Papers Summary Number 37

The Federalist Papers Summary No 37:  Madison
January 11. 1788

This paper recounts the major difficulties encountered in making the choices for some of the controversial parts of the proposed Constitution but gives no reasons at this time for the choices made.  Part of the problem is that people have biases and some will study the proposal with an open mind while others are predetermined adversaries.  The papers it is stated “solicit the attention of those only who add to a sincere zeal for the happiness of their country a temper favorable to a just estimate of the means of promoting it”.  Not only are people biased but they are fallible being human and the writing of such a constitution giving sovereignty to the people has never been attempted. 

One difficulty encountered by the convention was in combining the requirement for an energetic and stable Government with the due consideration to liberty and to the Republican form.  Energy is essential for security and stability is essential to national character and for the confidence of the people.  Republican form requires frequent elections to maintain control by the people but that is counter to stability.  Energy in Government requires duration in power and the execution of it by a single hand and that threatens liberty.

Another arduous task was making the proper line of partition between the authority of the general and that of the State Governments.  Partition lines are present in nature between vegetable and animal but they are hard to draw by man whose own mind has difficulty establishing boundaries between sense, perception, judgment, desire, volition, memory, and imagination.  No government has been able to discriminate and define with sufficient certainty its three great provinces, the Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary or even the privileges and powers of each or to separate the extent of common law, the statue law, maritime law, the ecclesiastical law, the law of corporations and other local laws and customs. The task is further complicated because of the use of the medium of words whose meaning can be equivocal and obscure.

Another difficulty may be added, “the interfering pretensions of the larger and smaller States” with regard to population, wealth and geographical location. 

The real wonder is that, given all these difficulties, they have been surmounted with an unprecedented unanimity.  “It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution”.  There are two important conclusions that must be made with respect to the writing of the Constitution; there was an exemption from party animosities and that private opinions and partial interest to the public good were put aside. 

 

Summary Written by Donald Mellon

 

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