With the narrow approval of the Constitution in Virginia and New York, in June and July 1788, respectively, the Federalists seemed to have won an all-out victory. The relatively small states of North Carolina and Rhode Island would hold out longer, but with 11 states ratifying and all the populous ones among them, the Federalists had successfully waged a remarkable political campaign of enormous significance and sweeping change.
Federalist Number 10, of The Federalist, also know as the Federalist Papers, is the artifact I have opted to criticize (I will refer to this artifact as No. 10 throughout my critique). The Federalist Papers were written and published between October 1787 and May 1788 in several New York newspapers in an attempt to persuade voters to ratify the newly drafted Constitution. The Constitution sought to establish a new style of government, a Republic Democracy, and the Federalist Papers specifically sought to justify this new and possible governing doctrine. Naturally, the people of the United States were skeptical about the nature of this new government and doubted its stability. This is exactly the exigence that the Federalist Papers addressed, the public fear of the collapse of the new government. No. 10 addresses the confusions that factions have imposed on past democracies, and how the new government plans on controlling its effects. James Madison, a distinguished politician and Federalist (supporters of the Constitution were often referred to as Federalists), authored No. 10 with the intention of provoking assenting votes for the ratification of the Constitution.
Perhaps no state was as deeply divided as New York, where the nationalist-urban artisan alliance could strongly carry New York City and the surrounding region, while more rural upstate areas were strongly Antifederalist. The opponents of the Constitution had a strong majority when the convention began and set a tough challenge for , the leading New York Federalist. Hamilton managed a brilliant campaign that narrowly won the issue (30-27) by combining threat and accommodation. On the one hand, he warned that commercial down state areas might separate from upstate New York if it didn't ratify. On the other hand, he accepted the conciliatory path suggested by Massachusetts; amendments would be acceptable after ratification.
Federal judges, when interpreting the Constitution, frequently use as a contemporary account of the intentions of the framers and ratifiers. They have been applied on issues ranging from the power of the federal government in (in ) to the validity of laws (in the 1798 decision , apparently the first decision to mention ). By 2000, had been quoted 291 times in Supreme Court decisions.
Avalon Project - The Federalist Papers
Only 19 Federalists were elected to New York's ratification convention, compared to the Anti-Federalists' 46 delegates. While New York did indeed ratify the Constitution on July 26, the lack of public support for pro-Constitution Federalists has led historian John Kaminski to suggest that the impact of on New York citizens was "negligible".
The Federalist Papers - Wikipedia
Today, the Federalist Papers in their entirety give us a glimpse into the thought process behind why the Constitution is set up the way it is, with insights from statesmen who were there while it was being created. It's like a time capsule…except, thankfully, it doesn't contain a grubby CD of Now! That's What I Call Music from 1998.
The Avalon Project : The Federalist Papers No. 1
And the ideas James Madison and the other Federalists put on the table weren't shoe-ins for success. They, like everyone else, were building a government out of nothing in a room of people who were trying to do the exact same thing. And they also all had wildly different ideas on how to do it.