Federalist Papers Summary 17
The Federalist Essays Summary No 17: Alexander Hamilton December 5, 1787
In the last paper it was stated that legislation from the national government must extend to the individual and not just to the States. This paper addresses the concern that this power would be used to usurp the authorities which were proper to leave with the States. It would be improbable for the Federal Government to usurp the powers, such as private justice between citizens of a State, the supervision of agriculture and of other concerns of a similar nature, because the attempt to do so would be troublesome and unenforceable and add nothing to the dignity, importance, or splendor of the national government.
The primary reason that States rights will be preserved is because these governments have greater influence over the people who will always be more connected to their local government than a national government. This is “upon the same principle that a man is more attached to his family than to his neighborhood, to his neighborhood than to the community at large, the people of each State would be apt to feel a stronger bias towards their local governments than towards the government of the Union”. Again the point is made that a national government would have diffuse interests being made of representatives from a wide area and therefore not interested in local affairs. The greatest advantage to the States is the administration of criminal and civil justice; “this great cement of society” would ensure them a decided empire over their citizens and render them “rivals to the power of the Union”.
The concept, that it is the people being more interested in local politics that will allow the States to maintain their rights, is rationalized by several examples from the past. The discussion is; given a prince, baron and the people, or kingdoms, nobles, and clans that when the people sided with the barons or nobles the monarch was without power over the aristocracy. Thus if the States maintain the support of the people, the States will retain their rights regardless of any attempt of the national government to increase its power. A promise to review additional examples in the next paper is given.
Federalist Papers Summary 17 Written by Donald Mellon