Historical context necessary for understanding
A political history debate is good, but a March 4 letter writer who criticized my Feb. 26 letter about “The Federalist Papers” seems to have missed my point: One cannot understand a historical writing without knowing the historical context in which it was written. I’m not sure how he disagrees. Putting aside the ad hominem comment, I again read the numbers that he cited but was left unclear as to his point.
The “Papers” were political commentary designed to persuade New Yorkers to ratify the Constitution, since Gov. George Clinton was against it.
Alexander Hamilton’s Nos. 28 and 29 were essentially arguments for a strong national government able to use military force against “insurrections” by having the states’ militias subject “to the direction of the national authority.” James Madison’s No. 46 must be read with No. 45, in which he alludes to the Greek confederations’ failures due to weak national governments. Madison distrusted state governments. Such that he had originally proposed that the Senate have the authority of an “absolute negative” by which it could cancel out any state legislation deemed inconsistent with the national interest.
Hamilton envisioned a national government promoting national business interests. Madison envisioned a national government promoting the national interest of the people. Both thought the Constitution established their respective visions. The historical irony is that after the Constitution’s ratification and the installation of a national government, Hamilton and Madison became political enemies over its meaning and purpose. That is a longer story.