25 April 2015

The Federalist Papers Series - Economic Excerpts

The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 articles advocating the ratification of the United States Constitution. Published between October 1787 and August 1788, the articles were written by Alexander Hamilton , James Madison and John Jay . Madison is generally credited as the father of the Constitution and became the fourth President of the United States. Hamilton was an active delegate at the Constitutional Convention, and became the first Secretary of the Treasury. John Jay became the first Chief Justice of the United States. George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States April 1789.

An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States by Charles A. Beard, 1913, Edited Excerpts

The Federalist presents the political science of the new system as conceived by three of the profoundest thinkers of the period, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay. They are compelled to convince large economic groups that safety and strength lie in the adoption of the new system. The most philosophical examination of the foundations of political science is made by Madison. “The first object of government,” he declares, is the protection of “the diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate.”

What are the chief causes of these conflicting political forces with which the government must concern itself? Madison answers “the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distributions of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination.”

Alexander Hamilton: “All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well born, the other the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct, permanent share in the government.”

Yes, I actually read the Federalist Papers, an exercise of self-flagellation. Madison, Hamilton, and Jay produced voluminous articles that must have kept an army of typesetters employed. The intended audience would be peers of wealth and education, not the Shays Rebellious types. No doubt these three men were deep thinkers, writing and pontificating, till the ink ran dry. And buried in this abundance of enlightenment are key economic doctrines, which I have painfully excerpted and highlighted for your perusal.

Site for Original Text of Federalist Papers

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