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The Articles of Confederation notes

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Boston College
Political Science
POLI 1042

The Federalist Papers • Questions regarding the form of government and the best way of life o Best government should lead to the best way of life  Need to clarify human nature first • Anti-Federalists  in favor of small government, suspicious of a large government, appealed to the ancients’ sense of virtue • Publius = cocky because he believes he is right  obviously won in the end o Political philosophy, journalism, propaganda • Articles of Confederation o Each state retained its sovereignty o Single Congress which cast a single vote to each state o Appeared to be inadequate (couldn’t pay debts, Shay’s Rebellion, etc.) • Hamilton and Madison held a convention in 1787 o Proposed changes to the Articles to try and perfect it  Ended up ditching the articles entirely o Met in secret because lead to greater thoughtfulness  Embedded elitist view • Proposed Constitution was ratified by special state meetings with representatives elected by the people • Federalists papers rose out of New York o Hamilton wrote 2/3 of the Federalist papers • Articles of Confederation end with a lot of talk about God o God’s Will  God has a political role  New Constitution, by not making an explicit claim, would lead to godlessness  great fear of Anti-Federalists • No religious test o Publius must respond to their objections Number 1 • Momentous question meant to be addressed: Is government by man possible? Can people live under a government whose laws they create? o Reflection and choice VS accident and fate  Sense that new form of government will allow people to govern by reflection and choice, not accident and fate • Brand new idea • Accident and Fate  monarchy, government appealing to God/gods and the divine right of kings o Emphasis is now on “We the People” • Convince people by appealing to human reason, not threatening with Hell and punishment • Publius says that people who claim to be acting for the people often have selfish self- interests they’re fighting for • New government = zealous and enlightened Number 2 • Natural rights = rights we as people are born with o Where do rights come from? Could be from or a Lockean state of nature  Disagreement over what is meant by natural rights when mentioned • Rights are inventions and advancements of government o Rights are a human phenomenon • Slamming the Articles  didn’t have reflection and thought time to think up a new government right after the war o Now, with the Constitution, those who created it had time to think and reflect on what would be the best government Number 6 • Possibility of individual states fighting each other • Isolating themselves from other countries • Response to Anti-Federalist argument that the republic, how it currently is, won’t break out into fights • Evaluation of what human nature is • Anti-federalists are naïve on what motivates humans o Federalist/Publius’ view emphasizes the role of ambitiousness, selfishness, very Machiavellian  “Ambitious, vindictive, rapacious” • Government is going to be realistic in regards to human nature o Ugly but reliable truths • People also want virtue and happiness • Republic can still go to war as often as a country ruled by a monarchy o Have ideas but only motivated by certain things  Humans do as human does • Everyone is selfish • Uses historical examples of cities that were both commercial and republic and went to war o Athens and Carthage  England, Venice, and Holland also went to war (more recent examples) • Needed to go to war because of competition, avarice, ambition, desire to acquire Number 9 • Principles of classic Republicanism o Classical republicanism missed the boat in regards to human nature  Sense of revulsion and disgust when looking back, according to Publius • Dissolution, agitation • Politics has improved o Condemning the government from Ancient Greece/Rome and the political science of Plato, Averroes, etc. • Critics = Anti-Federalists o Believed small, homogenous government/communities were better and believed them to be more efficient, more democratic  Worried new Federal system would be elitist, trying to breed virtuous politics, feared the lack of God and didn’t want Him to become a rival • Written as Publius (cofounder of Roman Republic) to be less partial, to protect themselves from persecution, associate themselves with a noble person, noble anonymity • Science of politics has received great improvement o Checks and balances, district departments, distribution of power, judges holding office, representation of the people, enlargement of the orbit (expansion of the government and powers/size of the country)  Federalists want a large, expansive republic • Anti-Federalist argument = classic, medieval though on the need for virtue o Nice, but there’s a big world out there and those communities are small and vulnerable  Way to failure and warfare • Federalist POV emphasizes foreign policy and national defense • Mention the French philosopher Montesquieu o Position  factions can only be controlled in small orbit  Publius thinks Anti Federalists are taking Montesquieu’s quotes out of context • Means infinitely small states, smaller than any of the colonies • Ambiguous relationship with Montesquieu Number 10 • About factions and regulating them o Factions are inevitable  Federal government will do a better job controlling factions • Question of whether a widespread republic can retain factions • Faction = interests, interest groups, minority or majority, political or social goal, usually negative o Frustrate factions by extending the sphere of government  Factions become despotic  prevent the growth of tyranny • Scared they will eradicate the allowance of opinion if they become too strong • Oppose the common good • All governments have been afflicted by factions o For the first time a solution to factions is offered  Don’t consider eradicating the causes of factions because people are motivated by self-interest • Can’t remove liberty from the Republic, can’t force everyone to have the same opinion o Harmony between reasoning capacity and the love you have for yourself  Protection of property and acquisition of property • Philosophy of John Locke and the retention of property o Fundamental right of all humans and the first protection of government • Anti-Federalists hope to create “angels” but men are not angels o Must deal with humans as they are • Unequal distribution of property  faction o Jealousy, resentment  Principle of the modern legislature • State government isn’t sufficient enough to control the distribution of property o Because enlightened statesmen can’t be relied on, the system of government (institution) will succeed • Representative Republic (large)  Representative democracy, not a direct democracy (which would be the rule of the majority) o Have representatives who stand in for us to work on our behalf • Representative will be wiser, patriotic, not meddling with their self interests  an ennobled form of government o Attractive, diffusive, established • Religion appears in the form of factional representation/interest, not as a moral guideline/truth o Shouldn’t be a driving force in the new government • Republican remedy for a republican disease o Solution = representation, extending sphere, combating the ills of faction through the new institution itself Number 14 • All previous governments have failed but we have emerged with a solution to the ills that have plagued other governments • Democracy vs. Republic o Democracy = small, governed by the people o Republic = large, governed by representatives • America’s greatest innovation: discovery of unmixed and extensive republics o Enlarging sphere = prevent factions, less likely to elect an incompetent leader, diverse population, more security  Need a grand economy, powerful military to hold its own and become powerful in the world • Manly spirit that won’t back down against those who don’t want a new form of government o Government experiment is not just good for the US but for all of humanity  No model to it Number 23 • Pg 149 = tasks needed for government • “Energy”  willingness and ability to carry out tasks o Involved government with world and internal affairs • What limitations is Publius willing to place on new governments’ ability to carry out tasks? o No limits  unlimited power  Do what is in the best interest for citizens Number 37 • Difficulties of constructing Constitution, proportional representation, energy and stability • Sticks to republicanism  elect representatives who serve short terms o Short terms = instability • How energy and stability cohere o Achieve a union that is consonant with republican liberty  Republican liberty = balancing act that is part of a new political science • Difference between political and natural science o One’s metaphysical and one’s physical  Political science = unpredictability, can’t investigate, humans are complicated, science of politics recognizes limitations of that science, political sobriety Number 38 • Most past civilizations had 1 dictator/monarch making laws and constitution for people o Now founding fathers met together and discussed how regime should work/be founded • We are the new doctors here to cure the illness that afflicts America and other countries in the past • Tone of argument = angry, frustrated, condemning o Anti-Federalists are weak, predatory  Anti-federalists respond that Federalists are a dictatorship, empire, tyrannical • Federalists are departing from the old model of government o Notion of representative government o District branches • Older forms of government promoted God’s participation o US Constitution not written by God, but by “We the People” • Republican form  representatives instead of direct democracies, larger geographical scope, checks and balances o How it looks like, how it’s broken down  Has certain qualities o Liberty among citizenry • Anti-Feds are scared of unlimited power to create war by raising armies and supplying arms through taxation (which is also unlimited) o No limits to this power because it is impossible to foresee the dangers that will emerge in the future Number 39 • Going into the Convention o How and why we’re holding onto a new definition of Republicanism  Distinction between national and federal government • Will not extract power from just wealthy people o Thinking in pre-modern society are that people are stupid  New radicalism of Publius  people aren’t stupid • Republican government must ignore titles of nobility • Bold and radical innovation = national government that acknowledges consolidation of state o Combined national and federal form • Establishing Constitution is a federal characteristic because it relies on the states and representatives o Federal Characteristic = the state is acting for the will of the people • National Characteristic = relation of people is directly to the national government as opposed to the state government o National in operation of powers because it applies to all the people  Federal in the extent of its powers in the enumeration of those powers Number 47 • Separate powers can’t be completely separate • Tyranny  all powers (Legislative, Judicial, Executive) all fall in same hands • Montesquieu revered British Constitution o Powers weren’t terribly separated
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