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The Federalist Papers (1787-1789)

The Founding Fathers

Federalist Essay No.37 - No. 40

Federalist Essay No.30 - No.36

Federalist Essay No.37 - No. 40, page 2

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Summary

Readers of the U.S. Constitution should be conscious that the framers know it not to be faultless, and that no one expected a faultless plan.

The first difficulty faced by the convention was that they had no examples of confederacies to follow, only examples of failed confederacies that helped them figure out what not to do.

The biggest challenge was to balance the forces of an energetic government with a protection of civil liberties, to balance powers between the federal and state government and between the small and the large states. It is amazing that unanimity was arrived upon. This is either because the delegates were not torn apart by vastly different political factions, or that they all understood the importance of compromise for the preservation of the union.

With all the criticisms of the new document, there is no comparison between the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution. Since the old one was not supposed to be perfect, the same can hardly be expected of the new one. The worst mistake of the old one is that it all the federal power to a single branch of a federal government.

Critics argue that the powers of the old one will never threaten individual liberty, however, because the power of congress depends on the authority of the states to carry it out. Therefore the government is nothing but a lifeless mass, with the semblance of responsibility but no authority to carry it out.

Only a republican form of government is suitable for America, its founding principles and its fundamental belief in self-government. A republic can be defined as a government that derives its authority from the great body of the people, and is administered by people holding office through the selection of those people.

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