Literature and History: The Development of American Culture to 1865

The Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers, although a difficult read, interests me most of some of the readings we have done so far this semester.  It interests me so because it was written to persuade reluctant New Yorkers to adopt the proposed new Constitution.  They consist of persuasive essays almost, which to me is a great feat of its writers to persuade some of these reluctant people, because obviously they were successful in persuading enough to want to pass the Constitution.  Just thinking of how well these men wrote, particularly Madison and Hamilton, that had to change one’s strongly opinionated mind about individual’s rights.  The Federalist papers stressed that an individual has a natural right to “liberty, dignity, and happiness” and that to ensure these rights government must “secure the public good, and private rights against the majority”.  To us, who live the effects of the Constitution on a daily basis, think that this way of government is of common sense, the only way.  Clearly at this time there were differences (as I’m sure there are still now), and The Federalist Papers succeeded in persuading and completely change stubborn New Yorker’s minds.  I think that Hamilton discusses many interesting points in his paper No. 1.    He brings up a question that could determine the fate of the Constitution and America-whether “societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection or choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.”  This is the ultimate question of whether men can make or break the new America.   Are we capable of establishing a just and fair government on our own through reflection of our morals and rights and making fair and well thought out choices, or does a government have to be instituted by force, out of our control, or simply by accident, without much though of justice or rights in mind?  Hamilton, although he writes of those who are involved in factions, addresses those who are capable of creating a strong and energetic government that is essential to the security of liberty.


3 responses

  1. I think the writers of the Federalist Papers methods of persuasion were important in changing the minds of The United States. They presented their audience with the problems of present government and asked them to consider a new one. Alexander Hamilton knew that while they would undoubtedly be opposed to change, the people were not fully satisfied with their government as it stood and he incorporated that into his argument; particularly, when he presented the people with a challenge, “whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice.” He admits that while his motives for urging ratification of the Constitution are personal, his arguments are open. In doing so, the people were able to decide whether they should take on this challenge or resist change. He presented this idea in the best way possible by giving confidence and power to his audience when they chose to have the security of liberty in their government. Of course there remained opposition and a lot of people felt threatened by this, as I have seen in the Anti-Federalist Papers. These theories were mostly supported by individualism and did not present as strong an argument as the federalists thus ultimately losing in this debate. Their efforts were still recognized though, as later on the Bill of Rights was created to eliminate remaining doubt of ratification by supporting freedom in our country.

    October 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    • jacquibonaventure

      I think the denial of these papers is a reflection of a common theme of new ideas in any country. Though there’s always a group of people looking for change in a society, that change usually requires some kind of public action and people are afraid to take that step. Those who are on the fence about this change tend to deny it right away because it isn’t of the norm and people are scared to take that chance. It’s great to see that authors of the Federalist Papers were apart of the making of the Bill of Rights because it shows how much they believed in what they were fighting for. Even though their initial addresses of their ideas weren’t the most popular or supported, they believed in what they were talking about so much that they continued to address it and were determined to convince people it is a change to be embraced and not one to be feared.

      November 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm

  2. I found these papers to be a great idea to convince New Yorker’s into the state of change with the new Constitution since they were being the most stubborn of them all. It constantly repeats that these changes are for the safety and welfare of the people. I feel that New York just wasn’t educated enough on these issues and topics for them to lean toward the new decisions right away. That’s why I believe that the Federalist papers were a great “targeting campaign” (that’s what i’m calling it) and way to reach out to all New Yorker’s and educated them on this new positive change. That this new form of government was going to be helpful and useful. What I found to be most interesting and probably very influential was that these papers were signed Publius. I thought as a reader and depending on my background, I would read these papers with more of an open mind. Instead of these papers being signed by an official or someone dealing with this new forming government, it’s kind of mysterious in a way, yet a clear way for judgement and no previous pretenses. Even though at points it was hard to understand, in a whole, I was able to grasp the concept and found it intriguing that there was such a focus on New Yorker’s and to persuade them into the new forming government and Constitution

    December 16, 2011 at 12:53 pm

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