The Federalist Papers Summary No 46: Madison
January 29, 1788
This paper continues the discussion of the last paper by considering whether the Federal Government or State Governments will have the support of the people. Almost every argument assumes that the State Governments being closer to the people will obtain their support rather than the Federal Government should the Federal Government attempt to encroach upon State's authority. It is also assumed that the lives and interests of the people will be provided for by the States and therefore the people will be more friendly and conversant with those in the State Government. The argument is made that with the last Congress under the Articles of Confederation the attachment and attention of the people was toward their own particular Government.
A comparison is then made of the ability of federal and State governments to resist and frustrate the measures of the other. Points made above and in the last paper favor the State governments in this manner. Added to this is the bias that members will carry to the federal Government which will certainly favor the States from which they come whereas it would be rare that the bias would be in favor of the federal Government. More arguments are made using the theme that since the people are closer to the State Government the Federal Government will be unable to take authority from the States.
An hypothesis of interest today is suppose a regular army equal to the resources of the country was formed entirely devoted to the Federal Government. Madison argues that State Governments with people on their side in militias and armed would have more firepower than the regular army. He considers being armed an advantage that Americans have over the people of almost every other nation and that it “forms a barrier against the enterprizes of ambition more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of”. Obviously our founders considered the right of the general population to bear arms as protection against dangers from an internal Federal Government as well as from attacks by external foes.
He summarizes the last two papers by saying “Either the mode in which the Federal Government is to be constructed will render it sufficiently dependent on the people, or it will not.” If it is “it will be restrained by that dependence from forming schemes obnoxious to their constituents”. If it isn't “it will not possess the confidence of the people and its schemes of usurpation will be easily defeated by the State Governments who will be supported by the people”. Isn't this last sentence written 223 years ago exactly what is beginning to take place to thwart the schemes from Washington that are obnoxious to the constituents. Perhaps Madison's foresight extends to today and it will be the people through the State Governments that will end the usurpation of our rights and return the liberties to the people.
Summary Written by Donald Mellon
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