Publius Papers – The Purpose
When Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote their essays (ultimately titled the Federalist) it was to persuade the citizens of New York to ratify the New Constitution. Those published essays explained the structure of the new proposed central government and why it was so important. Hamilton, Madison, and Jay addressed the original Articles of the Constitution specifically the separation of powers amongst the three branches of the new central government. The Federalist became the go to document to understand the framer’s intent.
There were many forces at the time working against this new form of government. Those against the New Constitution feared a strong central government because of the oppression experienced at the hands of the British monarchy of the time. A push for a “Bill of Rights” defining the individual liberties was one of the knocks against the New Constitution. Ultimately once the New Constitution was ratified the quest to put checks on the new central government led to the ratification of the Bill of Rights as a protection of the people against the new “Federal” government.
James Madison understood a greater danger. He knew because of history that the power of the majority was a greater danger. His enlightened insight into the hearts of men and the corruption that majority power can wield drove him to seek more individual protections. Knowing that uncheck majority power would only lead to the oppression of the minority of the people. He saw the new “Federal” government as a check to the power of the majority. His articulation of the fear of the majority having power over the minority was not fully captured and protected against until it was too late. The bigger danger was in the individual states and their citizens exercising majority domination over the minority. Such unchecked majority power led to the Civil War. The thirteenth, fourteen, and fifteenth amendments to the New Constitution ultimately realized the vision that James Madison had to protect the minority of the the people from the unchecked power of the majority. Today, we time and time again witness the importance of the rights of the individual (minority) being protected from the power wielded by the majority. The Amendments to the Constitution erect a bulwark of individual citizen protection that is unparalleled in history.
I am writing these Publius Papers as a renewed call to the People of the United States of America to educate themselves about the Constitution of the United States and more specifically (1) the body of the Constitution and how the United States Supreme Court has interpreted those provisions; and (2) the Amendments to the Constitution and how the United States Supreme Court has interpreted those amendments.