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The Federalist Papers (1787-1789)


Federalist Essays No.45 - No. 46

Summary Federalist Essays No.45 - No. 46

The powers granted to the federal government are few and specific and will be exercised towards external parties. Powers granted to the states are many and general and focused solely on internal affairs. The federal government will be the most important in times of war and danger, the state government in times of peace and security. The more powerful the federal government is to deal with war and danger, the less likely the will need to be most active.

The proposed plan of government does not propose new powers, but a strengthening of the original powers that were vested in it under the Articles of Confederation. The change does not enlarge powers, just proposes a new way of administering those powers. The federal power to tax seems to be the most contested, but it only differs from the previous power to tax in that it is a quota on an individual rather than a state.

If the states had complied more successfully with the Articles, there would have been no reason to change them.

Will the people support the federal government or the state government more? To answer this question it is important to remember that each has very different powers. The two are not two competing and equal forms of government, but they are different agents of the people and designed to work together. Additionally, the ultimate authority rests with the people, and neither will be able to expand its authority without the approval of the people.

People are more likely to be more supportive of state governments, which are geographically closer to them and in which they may have relatives or neighbors. Experience under the Articles demonstrates that people were more inclined to support their state, rather than the central government. If the people are to become more attached to the central government in the future it would only be through an improved administration by the central government, and the people should be allowed to place their authority where they have the most confidence.

Both the federal and state governments have authority to check the power of the other. The state governments clearly have an advantage because the people are more attached to them and the federal government depends on the states for elections. A local spirit will inevitably control the members of Congress, and make them inclined to focus more on local rather than national goals.

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