Lastly we must determine if the duty they had to suggest improvements to the form of government justified going beyond their specific instructions. In order to determine the real character of the proposed government we will consider the foundation on which it is to be established; the sources of its powers; the operation of those powers; the extent of those powers; and the authority to make future changes.
The Constitution is to be founded on the assent and ratification of the people of America. This assent is to be given by delegates elected for this specific purpose. The ratification is not to be done by the people of the whole nation considered as one body but by the people in each state considered as separate independent entities.
It is to be the assent and ratification of the several States, derived from the supreme authority in each State, the authority of the people themselves. The act therefore establishing the Constitution will not be a national but a federal act. The ratification by the people separately from so many independent states will be a federal and not a national act.
It is obvious from this single consideration that it is to result neither from the decision of a majority of the people of the Union, nor from that of a majority of the states. It must result from the unanimous assent of the states that are parties to it. This is no different than their ordinary assent to matters of their states other than it is being expressed, not by the legislative authority, but by the authority of the people themselves.
If the people were regarded in this transaction as forming one nation, the will of the majority of the whole people of the United States, would bind the minority; in the same manner as the majority in each state must bind the minority. The will of the majority would have to be determined either by counting the individual votes nationwide or by considering the will of a majority of the states, as evidence of the will of a majority of the people of the United States.
Neither of these rules has been adopted. Each state in ratifying the Constitution is considered as a sovereign body independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this regard the new Constitution will be a federal and not a national Constitution. Let us next discuss the sources from which the ordinary powers of government are to be derived.
The House of Representatives will derive its powers from the people of America. The people will be represented in the same proportion, and on the same principle, as they are in the legislature of a particular state. In this respect the government is national not federal. The Senate on the other hand will derive its powers from the states, as political and co-equal societies; and these will be represented on the principle of equality in the Senate, as they now are in the existing Congress.
In this respect the government is federal, not national. The executive power will be derived from a very compound source. The nomination of the presidential candidates is to be made by the states in their political characters. The electoral votes allotted to the states, are in a compound ratio, which considers them partly as distinct and co-equal societies; partly as unequal members of the same society.
The final election of the President is to be made by that branch of Congress which consists of the national representatives. In this election however, they are to be considered individual delegations from so many distinct and co-equal political bodies.
From this view of the government, it appears to be of a mixed character possessing at least as many federal features as national features. The difference between a federal and a national government in its operation is: In a federal government, the powers operate on the political bodies composing the confederacy [in our case, the states]. In a national government, the powers operate on the citizens of the nation, as individuals.
In this respect, the Constitution is national, not federal ; though perhaps not as completely, as has been presumed. In cases to which states are parties, they must be considered and action taken against them in their collective and political capacities as states. In this respect the national nature of the government seems to be distorted by a few federal features.
But this is perhaps unavoidable in any plan; and the ordinary operation of the government is on the people as individuals.
In this regard it may be considered a national government. But even though the government is national with regard to the operation of its powers, its nature changes again when we look at the extent of its powers.
The concept of a national government involves, not only authority over individual citizens; but total supremacy over all entities, subject to lawful government. Among a people consolidated into one nation, this supremacy is completely vested in the national legislature.
Among communities united for particular purposes, it is vested partly in the general, and partly in the local legislatures. In a national structure, all local authorities are subordinate to the supreme; and may be controlled, directed or abolished by it as it desires.
In a federal structure, the local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy [shared sovereignty]. They are no more subject within their respective spheres to the general authority [national level], than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere. In this regard the proposed government cannot be deemed a national one; since its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects only. Sovereignty over all other objects is left totally to the states.
It is true that in controversies relating to the distinction between the two jurisdictions, the tribunal which ultimately will decide is to be established under the general government. But this does not change the principle. The decision is to be made impartially, according to the rules of the Constitution; and many carefully defined precautions are taken to secure this impartiality. In order to prevent an appeal to the sword, and the dissolution of the compact, some such tribunal is clearly essential.
It is safe to say that the tribunal ought to be established under the general, rather than under the local governments. If we consider the authority by which amendments are to be made to the Constitution, we will find that it is neither wholly national, nor wholly federal.
If it were wholly national, the supreme and ultimate authority would reside in the majority of the people of the Union without restriction; like that of a majority of every national society, to alter or abolish its established government.
If it were it wholly federal on the other hand, the concurrence of each state in the Union would be essential to every alteration that would be binding on all.
The method established by the plan of the Convention is not founded exclusively on either of these principles. By requiring more than a majority, and specifically, in determining the proportion by states, not by citizens, it moves from the national, toward the federal nature: In requiring the concurrence of less than the whole number of states, it loses again the federal nature , and takes on the national nature. The proposed Constitution therefore is in strictness neither a national nor a federal constitution; but a composition of both.
In its foundation, it is federal, not national; in the sources from which the ordinary powers of the Government are drawn, it is partly federal, and partly national: In the extent of them again, it is federal, not national: And finally, in the authoritative mode of introducing amendments, it is neither wholly federal, nor wholly national.
Under the Lincoln-theory of government, the US government is wholly national, since federal limitations on government are purely nominal and powerless. Love your website — intend to pursue it some more.
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Should the form of government be strictly republican? Power to govern must be consented by the people. Works Cited Madison, James. Constitution Society, 18 Oct. The Framers believed in having a republican government because it meshed well with the ingenuity of the American people. James Madison, however, was not exactly sure what a republic consisted of. A republic, by definition, has to do with a form of government in which its power comes from the people and elected people from office.
Controversy over this type of government spread as the states felt they were not given enough power. Ultimately, this essay goes on to explain how Madison and others created a free government where the majority of people were satisfied as national and federal government saw a balance of powers. What makes up a "republic?
The Federalist Papers Summary No Madison January 16, Madison begins the “candid survey of the plan of government reported by the Convention” by defining a republican form of government and then answering critics concerning whether the proposed plan is federal or national, that is, a confederacy of States or a consolidation of States.
Essays for The Federalist Papers. The Federalist Papers essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison.
Summary This section of four chapters deals with a wide miscellany of subjects, some of which are touched on only briefly. In Chapter 37, it was a sad commentar. Home / Founding Documents and Resources / Primary Source Documents / The Federalist Papers / Federalist Papers No. 39 Federalist No. 39 Madison explains why the United States government is partly national in character (meaning a government over a consolidation of all the states and the whole of the American people) as well as partly federal (a.
Federalist 39 was written for the Independent Journal, a New York newspaper, on January 16, by James Madison. In this essay Madison starts by defining and describing a republican government. In this essay Madison starts by defining and describing a republican government. THE last paper having concluded the observations which were meant to introduce a candid survey of the plan of government reported by the convention, we now .