“Timing is everything, in education as in many other fields. It’s not enough to teach well. You have to teach well to kids who are ready to learn, kids who are developmentally ‘ripe’ for learning.”
- Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax

Saturday, July 5, 2008

RTH: The Federalist Papers

For June we read The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, and The Federalist Papers

It was good for me to read through these documents. It's been a long time since I have read The Declaration of Independence or The Constitution. I was actually on the “Constitution Bowl” when I was in school, so I used to know a lot of details about this time period, but I have forgotten a lot of it. It was nice to study these documents, and to be able to explain the 4th of July to my son. I had a better appreciation and understanding of the holiday after reading through the Declaration. I am so grateful for the sacrifices and bravery of our forefathers, to make this country what it is.

The thing that was of more interest for me was The Federalist Papers. I have never read them before, and I wasn't able to read all of them; I'm still working on that, but I’ll tell you some of the parts that stuck out to me.

In the very first paper, Hamilton says, “I will not amuse you with the appearance of deliberation, when I have decided. I frankly acknowledge to you my convictions, and I will freely lay before you the reasons on which they are founded. The consciousness of good intentions disdains ambiguity.” This was a good way to begin the papers. He admits that he is in favor of adopting the constitution. He obviously is an honest guy, who isn’t going to try to trick you by being vague, or trying to “sway voters”. There aren’t many politicians who are like this today. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was?! The founders of our nation truly were amazing leaders, who only wanted the best for this new land.

The section that I liked in No. 2 was when John Jay said, “This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous and alien sovereignties.” I am of the mindset that the hand of God was pertinent in the foundation of this country. I am so grateful for the freedoms that we enjoy, and it is obvious that it was the design of providence. That is why it bugs me so much when people want to remove God from the money and the Pledge of Allegiance. That is what this country was founded on, and I do not think it should be changed, just because we are concerned about being “politically correct”.

I had also never realized that there were a lot of people who wanted to keep the states separate. I can’t imagine how many wars and conflicts that would have created by having 13, or even just 3 or 4, separate governments. There were obviously many advantages to being a united government, which they pointed out in several of the papers. In terms of safety, commerce, war, treaties, and more.

I heard that number 10 is a pretty popular one. It was an interesting concept that made a lot of sense to me. Factions are very dangerous to a people and their government. By having a united, single government, it protects the people from outrageous factions taking over and denying the citizens of their basic rights. It is easier for a faction to take over when there is a smaller populous, but by uniting all of the colonies into one, those factions will not have the power or ability to assume control. Madison said that one of the ways to prevent faction is to remove the cause. He admitted that this would be dangerous, and not a good option. “Liberty is to faction, what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.” It is better to have the possibility of faction, that to take away the liberty and freedom of man.

He went on to say, “As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves.” We all have our opinions, and that is okay, but it is our nature to form into groups and create animosity. It is better to be a united nation, because it is harder for those people with the same passions to all unite and overthrow the government. If there had been several confederacies, they probably would have been overthrown multiple times because of the swaying of the factions.

I also liked No. 84, it talked about the Bill of Rights. The constitution didn’t have a Bill of Rights in the beginning, these were added later. We always talk about how important the Bill of Rights is, but Hamilton argued that we shouldn’t need bills of rights. Bills of rights are necessary in a monarchy, when you have a King holding power and authority over his subjects, to guarantee their basic human rights. He said that it could be dangerous to include bills of rights in the constitution because it would give exceptions to powers which are not granted. “Why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?” It was something that the citizens really wanted though, I think they were probably scared that it could turn into a monarchy of some sort, or that the government would try to take too much power. I think the Bill of Rights is a good thing, but even today we argue over what they really mean and what the interpretation of each amendment really means.

Well, I think I went on long enough. Thanks for setting this up, it has been good for me to have something to work on and study. It was fun to read your comments and look at it through your perspective. See you next time!

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