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Federalist Paper #9—For Central Government Over The Powers Of The States

Federalist Paper #9, written by Alexander Hamilton, is a winner.

In Federalist #9, Hamilton speaks for the Union of the States under a central government.

The intent of the Federalist Papers was to help win ratification of the Constitution in the New York State and elsewhere in the nation.

The 85 Federalist Papers were written by Hamilton, James Madison  and to a lesser extent, John Jay.   

(Above–Hamilton as painted by John Trumbull in 1806.  A book to consider reading about Hamilton is Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Please click here for the review. The review also includes the names of other authors who have written about Hamilton.)

A central government strong enough to aid the people in a central thought of political liberalism as it is defined in the United States today. 

Hamilton was a not a liberal in the sense we now understand it in America, but we owe him a debt for his advocacy of the powers of the federal government in relation to the powers held by the individual states.   

Here is information about the life and works of Alexander Hamilton.

Here is information about the Federalist Papers.

 Here are all the Federalist Papers from the Emory University Law School.

You can also buy a cheap mass-market book copy of the Federalist Papers that would fit in your purse or back pocket.

It is up to you learn about your history. As much as you may respect your teachers, your parents, your co-workers or whoever is in your life, you can’t count on anyone but yourself  to learn about your past. 

Here is Federalist 9—

A firm Union will be of the utmost moment to the peace and liberty of the States, as a barrier against domestic faction and insurrection. It is impossible to read the history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy without feeling sensations of horror and disgust at the distractions with which they were continually agitated, and at the rapid succession of revolutions by which they were kept in a state of perpetual vibration between the extremes of tyranny and anarchy. If they exhibit occasional calms, these only serve as short-lived contrast to the furious storms that are to succeed. If now and then intervals of felicity open to view, we behold them with a mixture of regret, arising from the reflection that the pleasing scenes before us are soon to be overwhelmed by the tempestuous waves of sedition and party rage. If momentary rays of glory break forth from the gloom, while they dazzle us with a transient and fleeting brilliancy, they at the same time admonish us to lament that the vices of government should pervert the direction and tarnish the lustre of those bright talents and exalted endowments for which the favored soils that produced them have been so justly celebrated.

From the disorders that disfigure the annals of those republics the advocates of despotism have drawn arguments, not only against the forms of republican government, but against the very principles of civil liberty. They have decried all free government as inconsistent with the order of society, and have indulged themselves in malicious exultation over its friends and partisans. Happily for mankind, stupendous fabrics reared on the basis of liberty, which have flourished for ages, have, in a few glorious instances, refuted their gloomy sophisms. And, I trust, America will be the broad and solid foundation of other edifices, not less magnificent, which will be equally permanent monuments of their errors.

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June 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Who I Would Have Supported For President—1788-1820

If I’d been around, who would I have supported for President between the years 1788 and 1820?

( Here is part two of this series–1824-1852)

Without knowing the past, we can’t grasp the present.

In the years 1788-1820, I would have been looking for a strong federal government, an expansion of our new found freedoms to include all people, and just treatment of Native Americans.

As it turned out, by 1820 there was little doubt that America was one nation united, it’s just that this unity often came at the expense of the freedoms and just treatment I would have hoped for.

Elections in these days were not decided by popular vote. Candidates were often nominated by caucuses of sitting members of Congress. This was the so-called King Caucus. Electoral votes were won by votes in state legislatures.  

1788—In the first Presidential election, I’d have backed George Washington of Virginia (above as painted by Gilbert Stuart.) I would have felt the new nation needed a solid start, and that General Washington would be best to provide that foundation. Also, General Washington had no opponent in 1788.

1792—Washington was again the only candidate. Though by this point an opposition was emerging to the ruling Federalists.

1796—While I would have been concerned by the elitist tendencies of Federalist Alexander Hamilton, I would have supported Federalist Party Vice President John Adams of Massachusetts. In part this is because I’m a native New Englander. More meaningfully, Thomas Jefferson’s vision of an agrarian slave holding republic would not have held much appeal. Adams beat Jefferson of Virginia in 1800.

Jefferson’s candidacy can be seen as a beginning of the very successful Democratic-Republican Party.

1800—While I would have been turned off by Adams’ Alien & Sedition Acts, I would have supported President Adams over repeat challenger Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s view against standing armies in peacetime and his advocacy of slavery and states rights would have gone against my support of strong central government and a move towards the end of slavery. Jefferson won the election. 

1804—The Federalist party was in disarray in 1804 and there was hardly a contest. I would have softened on Jefferson to a degree because of the Louisiana Purchase. This was an act of an assertive federal government no matter what Jefferson put forth as the official line. The Federalist was Charles Pinckney of South Carolina. Pinckney had a record of work and support for a strong federal government. By 1804 though, he had moved towards a more southern influenced view of these questions. I don’t think I would have backed either candidate.

( Below—The Louisiana Purchase and what America was in 1810.)

1808—This time it was Pinckney against Secretary of State James Madison of Virginia. At this point it would have all seemed useless. Many Virginia Federalists bolted and supported Madison. The narrowing of the Federalist party gave the party an increasingly aristocratic tint. I would have been frustrated in 1808.

Where were the champions of an America both more free and not looking towards the South? Madison won the election.

1812—Opposition to the Democratic-Republicans and the Virgina Dynasty got a moderate lift from debate over war with England. This is what would become known as the War of 1812. I would of have had a tough call in 1812. Democratic-Republican dissident DeWitt Clinton of New York was endorsed by Federalists to run against President Madison.

I would have liked Clinton for his role as “Father of the Erie Canal.” The canal helped unify the country. I would have been suspicious of the motives behind the War of 1812. I would have seen the war as about protecting the Southern cotton trade and as a vehicle to stop British assistance to Native Americans resisiting the advance of the United States across their lands.

On the other hand, I would have noted the nationalist sentiments behind the war and seen these feelings as, over the long haul, likely leading to the undermining of the states rights position.

( Below–The Erie Canal at Kirkville, New York. Looks like a nice place for a picnic.)  

I think I would have gone with Clinton. Madison won the election.

General Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812 helped set off an agressive white man’s democratic nationalism that I would have seen as a logical extension of Jefferson’s views many years earlier.

1816—I would have sat 1816 out. Opposition to the Democratic-Republican Party took the form of 1814’s Hartford Convention. Secession was an option considered at this meeting by some of the leading remaining Federalists. I could have never had gone for that program. Secretary of State James Monroe of Virginia won the White House in 1816. In this so-called Era of Good Feelings election, Monroe won easily. 

1820—Monroe was reelected without opposition. This would be the last election before the popular vote of eligible white males become the deciding factor.

David Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Electionsis the best online source of Presidential election history.   

The Penguin History of the USA by Hugh Brogan is a great one volume history of the nation.

Next up will be my Presidential choices for the years between 1824 and 1852.

( Below–White House portrait of James Monroe. I don’t think he is gazing out at the future. Monroe was the last of the Virginia Dynasty.)

October 16, 2008 Posted by | Who I Would Have Supported For President | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Summary Of Second Obama-McCain Debate—Dolley Madison Was Best Looking First Lady

I watched the second debate this evening between John McCain and Barack Obama. Here is my summary of this second debate.

During the debate my mind wandered and I can’t clearly recall what was said. 

I became terrified that people who remain undecided could decide the election and I could not concentrate. The debate hall in Nashville was, it was claimed, filled with these so-called undecided voters. I support democracy. Yet sometimes I run from the implications of my support for democracy. How could one not?

Who could be undecided at this point? After eight years of George W. Bush and the clear contrast between John McCain and Barack Obama, who could still be undecided? Should these folks be allowed to provide the final margin of victory for either of the candidates?

What did I think about while my mind was wandering from whatever it was the candidates were discussing?

Dolley Madison (below) for one thing. I think she was our best looking First Lady. The best biography I am aware of James Madison is James Madison–A Biography by Robert Louis Ketcham. Dolley gets a good write-up in this account of Mr. Madison’s life. 

A portrait of First Lady Dolley Madison, wife of President James Madison

During the debate, I thought about giant whales smashing the boats of whalers. 

A great book to read is Leviathan–The History of Whaling in America by Eric Jay Dolin.

My debate haze was broken for a few moments when Senator McCain referred to Senator Obama as “That one.” This was good because it seemed just the kind of gaffe that would nag Mr. McCain the rest of the way. I was relieved that other guy made the mistake instead of the candidate I was supporting.

Issues? Yeah—I guess they have a place. Just not in one of these debates.

During the debate I felt I could hear airplanes roaring inside my head.

Biplanes do not make a roaring sound? In that case, what I was hearing in my head? 

Most of all during the debate, I thought to myself that I sure hope Senator Obama can hold on to his lead in the polls and win the election next month.

It is this thought that best sumarizes the debate in my mind. Just hold on and wait for Election Day to arrive.

For a longer view, read the excellent America’s Three Regimes–A New Political History by Morton Keller. Every minute we spend following this campaign is time we don’t spend learning something that will have value after November 4.

October 8, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Politics, Sea Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dolley Madison—A Helluva First Lady

A portrait of First Lady Dolley Madison, wife of President James Madison

Dolley Madison, the former Dolley Payne, was maybe the first First Lady to be public figure on her own account.

She was smart enough to land James Madison and he was smart enough to listen to her counsel.

From her White House profile

With her charm and her laughing blue eyes, fair skin, and black curls, the young widow attracted distinguished attention. Before long Dolley was reporting to her best friend that “the great little Madison has asked…to see me this evening.”……Dolley’s social graces made her famous. Her political acumen, prized by her husband, is less renowned, though her gracious tact smoothed many a quarrel. Hostile statesmen, difficult envoys from Spain or Tunisia, warrior chiefs from the west, flustered youngsters–she always welcomed everyone. Forced to flee from the White House by a British army during the War of 1812, she returned to find the mansion in ruins. Undaunted by temporary quarters, she entertained as skillfully as ever.”

From Mrs. Madison’s profile at the American President Series at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center–

After the War of 1812, Dolley devoted her energies to improving the welfare of orphaned children in Washington, D.C. She assumed leadership of the cause, donated her time and money, and encouraged other women to follow her example. Many women did, not only in support of her cause, but in attending public events such as luncheons and orations, and in conversing with men at her receptions. They viewed her as a role model, adopting her fashions and asking her for advice.

Although a social icon, Dolley Madison was also interested in contemporary political issues. Her dove parties, while social in nature, had political overtones as she used them to gain information for her husband. When President Madison was disabled from sickness in May 1813, Dolley might well have assumed some of his official responsibilities, though there is little hard evidence to support such a claim. 

The first presidential spouse to renovate the White House, Dolley Madison was revered as a hostess and fashion trendsetter. Likewise, her exploits during wartime carved out new responsibilities for presidential wives. Separately and collectively, each of these actions would help redefine the role and responsibilities expected of future First Ladies.

Dolley Madison lived 1768-1849.

June 12, 2008 Posted by | History, Political History, Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment