The Federalist Papers: The Constitution Deciphered

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The more I write these Liberty Belle posts, the more I realize just how fundamentally important the U.S. Constitution really is.

When I was younger I used to say, with all the fervency I could muster: “The government must follow the Constitution!”. I’ll be honest, I really had no clue what I was talking about. It wasn’t until more recently that I’ve been able to say that statement and know what I mean.

Not just what I mean, but why. Why the Constitution matters.

It’s amazing what a little time and research can reveal. Frankly, up until my series on the Bill of Rights, I never really comprehended just how unneeded the Bill of Rights were or the gravity of the fact that they are so needed now. This realization made me all the more aware of just how important the enumerated, defined and confined powers of the Constitution are.

Have y’a’ll been experiencing anything similar? Have you been experiencing this journey of revelation and increased enlightenment with me too? Have you gone from believing the Constitution is of upmost importance to actually truly understanding its significance in a new way?

I truly hope so, and I hope that you are bringing as many of your friends and family along with you as possible. You see, if people would stop to listen and consider what we’re saying about the Constitution, they’d realize that we’re all pretty much on the same page.

No one wants government to have arbitrary or limitless power (except maybe…government 😉). It’s just that most people have never realized that many of the “policies” they are demanding of government would require government to break the one barrier in between government and arbitrary power.

So, given the significance and the weight of the Constitution, I believe that it would do all of us some good to take a few weeks to revisit my posts on the Federalist Papers. We should look at what the creators of the Constitution meant when writing the Constitution.

And the best way to do this is to read the papers they wrote in defense of their document.

James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay collectively wrote 85 essays, now called the Federalist Papers, in defense of the new Constitution.

These three men did something extraordinary. I remember asking my students about the founders and they said, “It’s just a bunch of old guys!”. Everyone laughed, as did I, before dispelling the fallacy that our country was founded by a bunch of old guys.

No. Friends, Madison, born in 1751, was around 36 when writing the Federalist papers. Hamilton, born in 1757, would have been right around 29-30 and John Jay, born in 1745, would have been around 41-42.

us a flag on wall

Imagine that. The constructors and defenders of the U.S. Constitution were not old men but young men, driven by passion and zeal for a cause. They didn’t know if what they were doing was going to work, but they knew that the cause of liberty was worth whatever fight they had in them.

And no, I don’t mean the fight for liberty during the Revolutionary War, but rather, the fight for the Constitution.

Madison and Hamilton, secretly met at Hamilton’s house—at his kitchen table—for months on end and feverishly wrote essays supporting the Constitution they had put together to replace the failing Articles of Confederation. (If you want a more personal telling of their story, I’d highly recommend reading the fantastic historical fiction book My Dear Hamilton. I’ll be posting a review here soon).

Their essays were published between 1787 and 1788 as the new Constitution was traveling from state to state for ratification.

The Federalist Papers were published under the name, Publius.

Hamilton, an avid Roman romantic, chose the name Publius after the name of the Roman Publius Valerius Publicola who was a pivotal figure in the founding of the Roman Republic. Hamilton must have had the sneaky suspicion that he, and the papers, were going to be instrumental in the founding of the American Republic…a Republic that had the potential to be as great or greater than his beloved Roman Republic.

Little did he know just how great a Republic she would be.

So, these men, fervently wrote their defense of the Constitution, in an attempt to alleviate the concerns of their fellow countrymen. They desperately wanted to convince the state legislatures to vote favorably for their new Constitution. In doing so, they gave us the most comprehensive, incredibly brilliant and carefully thought out explanation of the Constitution itself.

Why we don’t reference these documents more is something I’ll never understand.

So, moving forward, for the next few weeks, I will be deeply digging into the thoughts and minds of the creators of the Constitution in hopes of learning more and more about this critical, era changing document: the U.S. Constitution.

I hope you join me in this endeavor.

The Liberty Belle


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