Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Monday, October 27, 2008

An anniversary worth noting

Readers of our site know how much we love the Constitution and how ardently we defend it. This is a most important date in this nations history. Why, you ask? Because 27 October marks the day that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay published the first of 85 Federalist Papers.

From the online Encyclopedia Britannica:

The authors of the Federalist papers presented a masterly defense of the new federal system and of the major departments in the proposed central government. They also argued that the existing government under the Articles of Confederation, the country’s first constitution, was defective and that the proposed Constitution would remedy its weaknesses without endangering the liberties of the people.

As a general treatise on republican government, the Federalist papers are distinguished for their comprehensive analysis of the means by which the ideals of justice, the general welfare, and the rights of individuals could be realized. The authors assumed that the primary political motive of man was self-interest and that men—whether acting individually or collectively—were selfish and only imperfectly rational. The establishment of a republican form of government would not of itself provide protection against such characteristics: the representatives of the people might betray their trust; one segment of the population might oppress another; and both the representatives and the public might give way to passion or caprice. The possibility of good government, they argued, lay in man’s capacity to devise political institutions that would compensate for deficiencies in both reason and virtue in the ordinary conduct of politics. This theme was predominant in late 18th-century political thought in America and accounts in part for the elaborate system of checks and balances that was devised in the Constitution.

In one of the most notable essays, "Federalist 10," Madison rejected the then common belief that republican government was possible only for small states. He argued that stability, liberty, and justice were more likely to be achieved in a large area with a numerous and heterogeneous population. Although frequently interpreted as an attack on majority rule, the essay is in reality a defense of both social, economic, and cultural pluralism and of a composite majority formed by compromise and conciliation. Decision by such a majority, rather than by a monistic one, would be more likely to accord with the proper ends of government. This distinction between a proper and an improper majority typifies the fundamental philosophy of the Federalist papers; republican institutions, including the principle of majority rule, were not considered good in themselves but were good because they constituted the best means for the pursuit of justice and the preservation of liberty.

All the papers appeared over the signature “Publius,” and the authorship of some of the papers was once a matter of scholarly dispute. However, computer analysis and historical evidence has led nearly all historians to assign authorship in the following manner: Hamilton wrote numbers 1, 6–9, 11–13, 15–17, 21–36, 59–61, and 65–85; Madison, numbers 10, 14, 18–20, 37–58, and 62–63; and Jay, numbers 2–5 and 64.

Next to the Constitution itself, the Federalist Papers were the first real political writings I ever read, and it was due to the fact that I wanted to learn more about the Constitution itself. They are a fascinating read, if you haven't read them, and I would've been remiss had I not read their opposition, the Anti-Federalist.

The Federalist Papers was the motivation for changing our blog from our original site to this new site. At the time, there were three of us here, and while Sabrina doesn't blog here any longer, the door is always open for her to return should he find the time. This was the reason behind the name of this site -- Hamilton, Madison, and Jay. And while all three of the original Federalist authors signed their pieces with the pseudonym "Publius" in honor of Publius Valerius Publicola, I am the only one that took that pseudonym; I have used it for years in honor of those three men. (Some have accused me of being egotistical in using the name in an effort to compare myself to them, and that is a fallacy. Those men were brilliant. I'm just plain yogurt.)

HT to Joe Gringo for reminding me of this anniversary.

Publius II


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