Folks! I strongly object to the contempt for The Federalist Papers which is displayed in the "Notes and Analysis" posted on this site! These "Notes and Analysis" also display a profound ignorance of what The Federalist Papers actually say!
The Federalist Papers were written during 1787-1788 to explain the proposed Constitution to The People in order to induce them to ratify it. The Federalist Papers are thus THE authoritative commentary on the meaning of The Constitution.
The fundamental issue respecting "interpretation" of The Constitution is this: Is there an objective standard for finding its meaning? Or, do our representatives in Congress, those in the executive branch, and federal judges have the right to do whatever they want?
When one heaps contempt upon The Federalist Papers & misrepresents what they say, one deprives us of our objective standard for interpretation of The Constitution! That is a very serious matter, indeed.
Furthermore, as anyone can see who studies ALL the Papers, Hamilton & Madison were geniuses in political philosophy! But whoever wrote the "Notes and Analysis" thinks he has a more profound understanding of political philosophy than Hamilton & Madison? And is qualified to nit-pick every paragraph they wrote? Oh my!
Yes, the authors' 18th century style of writing does take some getting used to. But the greater problems in understanding The Federalist Papers are these:
(1) We have forgotten that we must search for the authors' meaning, instead of inserting our own interpretations and understandings into the Text.
(2) With complex works, we can't understand any one part without understanding the whole. If you read Federalist No. 1, then read the first three paragraphs of Federalist No. 2, you will not, by the time you get to the third paragraph, understanding what Jay is saying in that paragraph! And such complete lack of understanding of Jay's writing is displayed in Note # 2 of the "Notes and Analysis" which follows Federalist No. 2. That Note reads:
[Quote] "2. John Jay unmistakably argues on behalf of one national government and juxtaposes divided separate confederacies as the alternative. This is again the same bivalent reasoning we saw with Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 1. The alternative of a truly federal government, which the so-called "Anti-Federalists" sought is brushed aside." [end quote]
Wrong, wrong, wrong! The Federalist Papers are filled with explanations of the proposed federal system. I'll quote just three:
James Madison said in The Federalist No. 39 (14th Para):
[quote]"...the proposed government cannot be deemed a national one; since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several States a residuary and inviolable sovereignity over all other objects." [end quote]
Madison said in The Federalist No. 45 (9th Para):
[quote] "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people…" [end quote]
Alexander Hamilton said in The Federalist No. 32 (2nd Para):
[quote] "An entire consolidation of the States into one complete national sovereignty would imply an entire subordination of the parts; and whatever powers might remain in them would be altogether dependent on the general will. But as the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, exclusively delegated to the United States..." [end quote] (italics in original)
So! Do you see? The Federalist Papers are quite clear that the "national" aspect of the proposed federal government is very limited & is restricted to those few enumerated powers delegated to that new gov't!
I hear much ignorant twaddle about how the "Anti-Federalists" were the ones with the right idea; whereas the authors of The Federalist Papers wanted a big national government. It simply isn't true.
Fifty years ago, I learned how to read complex stuff: You have to read it through to the end; and THEN start re-reading. As you re-read, your understanding increases. You have to keep your mind open so the new information can get in! I made outlines for the really hard stuff. Finally, you get it! And then, your reading of one part is enlightened by your understanding of the other parts.
But if you make up your mind about Hamilton, Madison & Jay's views on "federalism" by the 3rd paragraph of Federalist No. 2, your mind will be closed to what they really say when - if - you get that far. And if you think you are smarter than they were, well, then .....that is hubris!
The Notes & Analysis are seriously misleading; they are factually wrong; they are contemptuous of the most brilliant exposition of a limited civil government ever written; and they trash our primary source for determining the objective meaning of The Constitution. And without The Federalist Papers, what standard do we have for determining the objective meaning of The Constitution? There is no standard! We're left with whatever the gang in power says.
Well! I must go now and pull out the score to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and comment on Beethoven's shortcomings, line by line, measure by measure. And while I'm at it, I'll nit pick Schiller's "Ode to Joy". Of course, I can't read music very well, and I'm not that fluent in German, but why should that stop me? PH