fbpx

Senator Sanders, Meet James Madison

My typical opening lecture on the Madisonian view of faction goes something like this: How many of you would vote to wipe out your student loan debt right now? Nine in 10 hands go up, I call the rest pathological liars, we chuckle and then, having reflected on the fact that the debts were honestly contracted and canceling them would dry up future credit and so forth, most hands go down. That is how Madison’s theory on factions works: Start with a boneheaded idea, stop and think about it, and common sense usually prevails.

James Madison never met Bernie Sanders.

Sanders—who attended James Madison High School in Brooklyn, for crying out loud—appears not to have read his alma mater’s namesake before leading the Democratic presidential field in proposing the cancelation of student loan debt. The locus classicus for factious legislation is right there at the end of Federalist 10:

[A] rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the union, than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire state.

One suspects reading Madison would not have dissuaded either Sanders or imitators like Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The real question is why Madison failed to predict either. The essential reasons are two: First, the architecture of Federalist 10’s argument assumes a national government limited to Congress’ enumerated powers rather than one involved in personal material welfare or detailed economic distributions. Second, he assumes an inability of impassioned ideas to spread on a national scale because the time required to do so will also dissipate the frenzies fueling them. Contemporary conditions moot both assumptions.

Limited government is implicit in Madison’s simple assumption—what he calls “the republican principle”—that majorities will outvote minorities. For this reason, Madison says, we need not worry about minority factions angling for economic advantage.

That is true as long as the national government is not involved in microeconomic distributions. Once it is, the political calculus changes. As Mancur Olson taught, the benefits of these distributions are concentrated while the costs are diffuse, so the incentive of majorities to engage in these debates in the first place is diminished. Simply caving and paying one’s portion of a small subsidy may cost less than the postage on a letter of protest to one’s member of Congress. The result is an inversion of the extended-republic theory of Federalist 10: The larger the republic, the more diffuse the costs of subsidies and the less the incentive to oppose them.

Moreover, the more complex government grows, the less voters can afford to spend their single votes endorsing or objecting to one among many items of government business. That diminishes the power of majority rule insofar as representatives who cast several hundred votes a year have no reason to associate a constituent’s ballot with any one of them. This dilution of the majority’s voice is a result not of the size but rather of the complexity of government. (I make this case in more detail in National Affairs here.)

Because benefits, once established, are difficult to revoke, this first assumption is unlikely to unwind. The second—that passions spread slowly in a large republic, giving them time to burn out—is certain not to. The reason is that technology and media have accelerated passions to warp speed and, crucially, enabled them to be sustained.

Sanders can stoke them constantly, and at no charge, simply by asking his Twitter followers such asinine questions as what it would be like for them if student loan debt was canceled. (What would it be like if ice cream was free? What would it be like to live in zero gravity? What would it be like to live in a John Lennon song?)

As a result, the nation is larger but passions spread more readily. Not only does the media environment allow passions to be sustained, it requires that they escalate. Declarative statements that used to end in periods slide into exclamation points and then multiple ones, all to express the same degree of intensity. Thanks. Thanks! Thanks!!!

The combined result is an emotional immediacy between elected officials and constituents that was foreign to Madison. For him, one advantage of an extended republic would be that the representatives could be chosen from among be the best of the best. Their job was to “refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice, will be least like to sacrifice it to temporary and partial considerations.”

Madison proceeded explicitly to endorse a political elite whose judgment would exceed the public’s: “Under such a regulation, it may well happen, that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good, than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose.”

Those passages remind us that conservative populism is a dicey business, if not a contradiction. Denunciations of a particular elite are one thing; forsaking the very notion of an elite—the natural aristocracy of a Thomas Jefferson or a John Adams—is another. President Trump—whose latest Twitter broadside suggested that the Speaker of the House did not include bribery among the articles impeaching him because “her teeth were falling out of her mouth, and she didn’t have time to think!” (note the obligatory exclamation point)—may be appointing good judges, but he is not calling us to a Madisonian ideal.

Did Madison? If there is a flaw in Federalist 10, it is its reliance on political autopilot: Crank up the mechanism to the scale of a large republic, and the gears will operate from there. No virtue, not even any particular constitutional mechanism beyond representation, is required. George W. Carey, forgiving Madison for not anticipating contemporary developments, nonetheless wondered whether this assumption was enough:

Certainly Madison cannot be faulted for not having seen the true dimensions of the problems associated with factions. Perhaps more clearly than other theorists who preceded him, he saw their root causes. Yet, he can be faulted for not having urged upon his audience the observance of that morality necessary for the perpetuation of the regime he envisioned.

That regime depends, perhaps more than Madison recognized but certainly more than we do, on virtue. It depends, too, on an elite. In the absence of either, the logic of Federalist 10 collapses. We will have, at least, the anesthetics of presidents either abolishing our debts or encouraging our coarseness. Conservatives should beware either.

Reader Discussion

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.

on January 27, 2020 at 08:30:03 am

The greatest blind-spot of the classical liberals was the assumption of the sustainability of limited government. There simply is no incentive within that structure to stay limited, as the history of the US from the Union's invasion of the CSA to present day confirms...

read full comment
Image of OH Anarcho-Capitalist
OH Anarcho-Capitalist
on January 27, 2020 at 10:32:32 am

Ditto OH Anarcho-Capitalist's comment. Also, if there is a case to be made for a Jeffersonian natural aristocracy, American elites definitely do NOT exemplify it.

read full comment
Image of Publius
Publius
on January 27, 2020 at 11:25:49 am

Indeed, offering equal opportunity through representation is a challenge. Student loans were supposed to provide equal opportunity to education for all. Consider this, that when filing bankruptcy, all debts can be erased EXCEPT student loans. Then after ten years, the credit card people think you've learned your lesson and start to send weekly ads to please sign up. At the same time, the pressure to get higher education as the opportunity card in our society has caused this student loan crisis. Sure go to college, we will get you in there if income is a challenge, and then, good luck getting a job with your degree. (the market is flooded with graduates) So the loan forgiveness, maybe recognizes that the promised dream is not happening, and we can be forgiven for falling into the illusion. It's possible not to suffer the rest of your life for trying and completing your courses. Guaranteed student loans was a government dream, now you want to blame the people for buying into it?

read full comment
Image of Marcia Kresge
Marcia Kresge
on January 27, 2020 at 13:06:03 pm

Well, I think that blind spot afflicts every principled political order. To this day there are self-proclaimed socialists who willfully blind themselves to the historical falsification of socialism as a viable political order. "If thy eye offend thee, pluck it out. . . ."

But at least the Founders designed a political structure capable of offering the maximum amount of resistance to the irresistible force of human nature.

read full comment
Image of QET
QET
on January 27, 2020 at 13:18:56 pm

Well, I think that blind spot afflicts every principled political order. To this day there are self-proclaimed socialists who willfully blind themselves to the historical falsification of socialism as a viable political order. "If thy eye offend thee, pluck it out. . . ."

But at least the Founders designed a political structure capable of offering the maximum amount of resistance to the irresistible force of human nature.

read full comment
Image of QET
QET
on January 27, 2020 at 13:19:47 pm

Double post, sorry.

read full comment
Image of QET
QET
on January 27, 2020 at 16:12:39 pm

" Guaranteed student loans was a government dream, now you want to blame the people for buying into it?"

Well, what does one then do with Guaranteed government mortgages, such as those provided under the GI Bill?
Yep, why blame the homeowner who bought into the American Dream of home ownership!

You do the crime, you do the time?
You buy the car, you pay for the car?
You are dumb enough to major in gender / ethnic studies, you pay the price!

read full comment
Image of Guttenburgs Press and Brewery
Guttenburgs Press and Brewery
on January 27, 2020 at 17:40:34 pm

Surprisingly few people have read Mancur Olson, who should be required reading for all politicians. It is interesting to note that his overview of depressed growth through legislation counted the quantity of legislation rather than its content, so his hypothesis applies to all governments of laws.

read full comment
Image of xkz
xkz
on January 27, 2020 at 21:12:26 pm

It wasn't a lack of incentives; it was an activist court 1937-42.

read full comment
Image of anony mous
anony mous
on January 28, 2020 at 07:38:59 am

Do not malign Madison! He was well aware that a certain amount of virtue was required for the function of a republic: : “I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom. Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks - no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea”. Federalist #55

read full comment
Image of Alan Kahan
Alan Kahan
on January 28, 2020 at 10:19:27 am

Professor Weiner enjoys a confidence in his judgement that appears to license contempt for his fellow citizens and facile manipulation of his students. I would urge him to reconsider these. He also seems to miss one of the anchoring insights of Federalist 51: that radical economic inequality is dangerous to republics. Preventing that is difficult, remedying it more difficult yet. As Robert Nozick recognized it may require an abandonment of ideological rigidity.

read full comment
Image of Anne Norton
Anne Norton
on January 29, 2020 at 08:04:39 am

But a massive subsidy for the college-educated is not likely to do much about economic inequality. UBI might, and many conservatives and libertarians have been talking about that solution for years.

read full comment
Image of Ryan Robert Hurl
Ryan Robert Hurl
on January 29, 2020 at 08:13:04 am

James Madison in writing among the Federalist Papers did not realize that Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury would produce the Hamiltonian Man of risk who would found banks, life or maritime insurance companies, the stock market and the administrative appointed state. Hamilton's reports on banking and manufacture created multiple eras of disruptive change that has produced this country. Paper money was banned by the Constitution, but state banks ended up printing it anyway. With banks like his Bank of New York infrastructure could be built like the Erie Canal. There is also the Jeffersonian Man built on the Townships of New England and a meritocracy through education. The Washingtonian man revered the Republic built on the image of Augustus Caesar of the Pax Romana. Washington's Constitution, our constitution of Roman ideas, has proved too limited to control excess spending into debt or presidents who fight the long wars. Our failure is not having control over our administrative agencies, which descend from Alexander Hamilton being able to appoint hundreds of men to a supportive group of Hamiltonians in office and beyond. The Jeffersonian man of the Township was elected. Think of a Jeffersonian Constitution for the states and a Washington Constitution for the Republic, but no constitution to control Hamilton's progeny. Until we have a separate supreme court for the headless fourth branch of government and business corporations or a privy council, as Col. George Mason suggested, surrounding the president we will continue not to be able to solve our problems.

Friedman

read full comment
Image of LEONARD FRIEDMAN
LEONARD FRIEDMAN
on January 29, 2020 at 10:11:30 am

The "Great Man" theory of history?

read full comment
Image of OH Anarcho-Capitalist
OH Anarcho-Capitalist
on January 29, 2020 at 12:56:08 pm

The problem is when the average thinking citizen sees how banks are bailed out at the tax payers expense and rich corporations like Amazon pay no federal tax, then all bets are off. Our current system of selective socialism only for the rich is unsustainable.

read full comment
Image of Wes
Wes
on January 30, 2020 at 09:30:14 am

In response to someone who read the above paragraph believing I was advainicing a Great Man theory of history, I reply.
There were a number of Great Men at the time of the Founding fathers. There is Col. George Mason who taught his neighbor George Washington a lot, including military strategy and who created new units for the army, like George Roger Clarke's conquest of the Northwest Territories. Clark specifically complimented Col. Mason for his knowledge. All individuals called him colonel for his Revolutionary war contributions. While Col. Hamilton took time off to be a lawyer apprenticed to James Kent, so did Col. James Monroe, apprentice to Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton was upset at Monroe and challenged him to a duel. When he found out that Monroe was one of the best shots in the army, he apologized. Col. Monroe stayed at Valley Forge with his youthful companion John Marshall, later for 36 years Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as well as Gen., the Marquis de Lafayette, who wrote the first Constitution for France. I do not exclude Thomas Jefferson or John Adams or George Washington. Without George Washington believing in the triumph of Augustus Caesar being the greatest of Romans, did he apply himself to creating a senate, the first tribune, a house of tribunes etc. with powers equivalent to Caesar with the military and with foreign affairs. Add to the list the Archbishop of Baltimore John Carroll and you find out his effort to keep Catholics for the Revolution and beyond in founding Georgetown and George Washington Colleges. John Carroll's mother donated the land for Washington, DC. Our Founding Fathers, including Benjamin Franklin, may have contributed to Great Men theory of history.
Leonard Friedman, MD Middleton, MA.

read full comment
Image of LEONARD FRIEDMAN
LEONARD FRIEDMAN
on January 30, 2020 at 09:32:57 am

In response to someone who read the above paragraph believing I was advancing a Great Man theory of history, I reply.
There were a number of Great Men at the time of the Founding fathers. There is Col. George Mason who taught his neighbor George Washington a lot, including military strategy and who created new units for the army, like George Roger Clarke's conquest of the Northwest Territories. Clark specifically complimented Col. Mason for his knowledge. All individuals called him colonel for his Revolutionary war contributions. While Col. Hamilton took time off to be a lawyer apprenticed to James Kent, so did Col. James Monroe, apprentice to Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton was upset at Monroe and challenged him to a duel. When he found out that Monroe was one of the best shots in the army, he apologized. Col. Monroe stayed at Valley Forge with his youthful companion John Marshall, later for 36 years Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as well as Gen., the Marquis de Lafayette, who wrote the first Constitution for France. I do not exclude Thomas Jefferson or John Adams or George Washington. Without George Washington believing in the triumph of Augustus Caesar being the greatest of Romans, did he apply himself to creating a senate, the first tribune, a house of tribunes etc. with powers equivalent to Caesar with the military and with foreign affairs. Add to the list the Archbishop of Baltimore John Carroll and you find out his effort to keep Catholics for the Revolution and beyond in founding Georgetown and George Washington Colleges. John Carroll's mother donated the land for Washington, DC. Our Founding Fathers, including Benjamin Franklin, may have contributed to Great Men theory of history.
Leonard Friedman, MD Middleton, MA.

read full comment
Image of LEONARD FRIEDMAN
LEONARD FRIEDMAN
on January 30, 2020 at 09:34:16 am

The problem of the Hamiltoninan man is both in business and in the administrative state. In the picture the Circle the heroine, Emma Watson predicts that transparency in business would be an answer. I would suggest that employees be able to elect a council which would elect two or more members as the Directors of the corporation. The employee council would have full access to the transparency of the corporation. Workers leadership would then comment on or plan for new moves with insight into company directions. It is a start. Now in addition to appeals from corporations I would suggest an Article I Supreme Court to take challenges to Article I judges. Their decisions would be appeal-able to the Article III Supreme Court. This is a quick shorthand. In addition a further suggestion of a Privy Council to the President would be able to introduce to the Article I Supreme Court their considered opinions

Friedman.

read full comment
Image of LEONARD FRIEDMAN
LEONARD FRIEDMAN
on January 31, 2020 at 20:47:11 pm

With respect to Mr Weiner he attacks a straw man. James Madison never said that the national government would be immune to factional animosities and perverse ideologies. Rather his thesis was that the likelihood of the national government succumbing to such pathologies would be much less than that of state and local governments. As he himself observed:

A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the union, than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire state.

Note his use of the words "will be less apt". He did not say that such things would not happen; merely that they would be less likely to. And he was right. In the history of federations it is usually the states and provinces that have shown themselves more prone to violating people's rights than the nation as a whole. Rather than being wrong Madison was remarkably prescient and continues to deserve his reputation as one of America's greatest political thinkers.

read full comment
Image of Bradley Row
Bradley Row
on February 05, 2020 at 08:14:44 am

James Madison served as providing the Virginia Resolutions to the Philadelphia Congress and in acting as Prime Washington's Prime Minister for the first Congress of Legislative Bills in New York. He was given a task by Washington and, used Thomas Jefferson to send him books from France to utilize Montesquieu's thinking in support of Washington's Augustus Caesar role in Republican Rome. Washington did not have to look further than the rule of Augustus to find another Roman to emulate. This was that Washington like Augustus controlled the military and our foreign policy and had a veto power over the Senate and the House of Tribunes or Representatives. I am not impressed that this is enough to consider Madison great, as Washington did reject a number of Madison's proposed writings for Washington's speeches, Madison had a limited period of a role in America's history. .

I am more impressed by wait-listed James Monroe to the Virginia Delegation to Philadelphia. Monroe should have taken the place of Jefferson's legal teacher, who left the convention early. Thus Monroe was to be George Mason's whip in supporting the Anti-federalist position which achieved our Bill of Rights at the Virginia and other states ratifying Conventions. Monroe had previously to the Convention had been a past Chairman of the Northwest Territorial Ordinances which were not allowed entrance to the Constitutional Convention due to Washington's orders for secrecy and to control discussion. This act was the only act to be passed by James Madison in the first congress from the previous Article of Confederation Congress.

Monroe was unanimous acclaimed as a French Citizen. For what? My guess is that he help write the French Constitution of 1795. Like Jefferson, Monroe's legal teacher, who supported the Marquis de Lafayette in writing the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man, Monroe wrote of the duties of a Citizen in protecting the Rights of man.
Man had a duty to protect the rights of man.
Monroe, as a French Citizen, did gain us the Louisiana Purchase. From 1790 to 1811 Monroe had been been a member of the House of Representatives, a four times Governor of Virginia, a Senator, an ambassador to France Spain and England. Madison was a poor President who had to be helped by Monroe as a Secretary of State and as a Secretary of War. The defense of Baltimore and New Orleans happened during the time Monroe was Secretary of War. As President his reign was called the Era of Good Feelings, an appellation not afforded any other President.

Simply, the six foot two inch Monroe was even much taller than the diminutive Madison.

Leonard Friedman, MD

read full comment
Image of LEONARD FRIEDMAN
LEONARD FRIEDMAN
on February 06, 2020 at 13:43:31 pm

Professor Weiner needs to chill ... His essay/screed is flawed on at least two levels. One is that his analysis is selective and thus intellectually negligent: he focuses on the abolition of debts but ignores the first part of Madison's quote about "a rage for paper money." Has Weiner never used an ATM or made any purchases with cash? Our entire economy is now built on paper money! The other flaw in this essay is deeper: Weiner fails to give Madison his due. Even if Bernie is able to get elected as president, our Madisonian system of checks and balances (two legislative chambers, independent courts, and the states) will make it difficult, if not impossible, for Bernie to enact the most far-reaching and dangerous of his proposals.

read full comment
Image of F. E. Guerra-Pujol
F. E. Guerra-Pujol
on March 07, 2020 at 16:14:39 pm

I think the most relevant comment of our founders was by the founder (whose name escapes me right now) who, when asked what he had done at the Constitutional Convention said they had created "a Republic, if you can keep it". Well, we have done a better job of "keeping it" than probably any other nation in history, but we are certainly in danger of losing it now. Again, another founder warned that once people discovered they could use government to vote themselves largess the Republic was doomed. Another prophetic comment the effect of which we avoided for a century and a half (and we managed to live with for another half century plus without major ill-effects), but is poised to do us in now.

So what is to be done? Given the sorry state of economic education of most of the electorate, its not obvious there can be any solution. The founders were absolutely correct to place high value on an educated electorate. Since the 1960's we have witnessed a dramatic deterioration of public education, and not surprisingly this correlates well with the start of the significant declines noted above. And, not surprisingly, those most resistant to fundamental change in our public educations systems (pre school to college and beyond) are precisely those who benefit the most from this general lack of understanding.

Yes, Senator Sanders would benefit greatly from meeting James Madison, as would the vast majority of his followers.

read full comment
Image of Tom Terwilliger
Tom Terwilliger
on March 08, 2020 at 00:26:01 am

I believe that we have written and unwritten constitutions. Simply the British raise the role of various legislation to the role of being part of the countries constitution. In 1775, before Bunker Hill both the British General and the American leadership referred to different documents as part of the British Constitution. The Americans included court cases such as by Sir Edward Coke according to Revolutionary historian Bernard Bailyn.
Previously I talked of a Republican Constitution or a Washingtonian Constitution which increased the power of the executive to handle the military as well as foreign affairs through the Presidential appointment of a Secretary of State and his ambassadors. Washington's control over the senate and house of tribunes or representatives was a veto, known to Augustus Caesar as his new role model.

The second Constitution, or the Jeffersonian/ Monroevian Constitution was the model for the states. One starts with the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginian and other state Constitutions prior to the 1787 Northwest Territorial Ordinances. Thomas Jefferson talked of the importance of the Town governments in New England where all officers were elected. This corresponds to Pericles Speech commenting on the nature of the democracy of Athens in which all civic duties were filled by the elected. Pericles knew that most of the elect would not have the financial where with all of the Oligarchs, but they were easily matched by the elected democracy of Pericles. The banning of slavery and the nature of future state constitutions were outlined by the Third Northwest Territorial Ordinances. Monroe was at times Chairman of the Committee offering the Ordinances. These stated that with Constitutions and a certain population new states could enter the union with the same privileges and immunities of the original 13 states.

The third, or unwritten constitution is the Hamiltonian Constitution. These are the corporate creation of the Bank of New York (Mellon Bank), Life and Maritime Insurance companies, and the stock market as initially the Curb Exchange. WE have the Reports of Manufactures and on Debt as well. Basically Hamilton understood RISK better than anyone since his intelligence lit the skies. Hamilton also believed in the British Constitution in which appointment of the bureaucracy would lead to the more easy acceptance of his plans. Basically this is benign corruption by the man controlling customs and post offices for the government. This has led to unlimited government and our problem through this Fourth headless part of our government.

I would consider the nature of Washingtonian and Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian Constitutions as arising at the diner table kept by General Washington and Martha for his officers during the winter at 1777-78 Valley Forge. These included later Col. Monroe, General Lafayette, Captain John Marshall, later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Col. Alexander Hamilton. Monroe and Hamilton were heroes at the Battle of Trenton and Lafayette at Brandywine and in the future Yorktown. Although Washington allowed all officers could go home, these men discussed the play Cato. the Constitution of Virginia, The Declaration of Independence, Paine's Common Sense and the local newspapers. Lafayette did take time to go to France and ended up with France entering the Revolution on the American side.

Virtue was supported by the rise of the Methodist, the Baptist and the Presbyterian churches during the Revolution as they supported the Revolution and its ideas. In most cities on State and Main you will find these stalwarts of the cause. One can not give enough credit to Father John Carroll of uniting American Catholics behind the Revolution and providing one third of Washington's troops. As Romanish churches were banned prior to the Revolution, the Catholic Churches are behind the Protestant churches. Parts of the Quakers, Congregationalists and Anglicans broke off to support the revolution. I see religious thought now falling to secular causes. Should they preach the importance of the Federal Republic and the Rights of individuals under democracy this would restore religious values in this country.

Basically as a military historian I do see the world of Constitutionalism through is heroic American innovators and this include his staff at Washington's diner table at Valley Forge.

read full comment
Image of LEONARD FRIEDMAN
LEONARD FRIEDMAN
on March 08, 2020 at 00:28:44 am

This expands on previously written documents in explaining why James Madison is a limited choice for being one of our Founding Fathers.

I believe that we have written and unwritten constitutions. Simply the British raise the role of various legislation to the role of being part of the countries constitution. In 1775, before Bunker Hill both the British General and the American leadership referred to different documents as part of the British Constitution. The Americans included court cases such as by Sir Edward Coke according to Revolutionary historian Bernard Bailyn.
Previously I talked of a Republican Constitution or a Washingtonian Constitution which increased the power of the executive to handle the military as well as foreign affairs through the Presidential appointment of a Secretary of State and his ambassadors. Washington's control over the senate and house of tribunes or representatives was a veto, known to Augustus Caesar as his new role model.

The second Constitution, or the Jeffersonian/ Monroevian Constitution was the model for the states. One starts with the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginian and other state Constitutions prior to the 1787 Northwest Territorial Ordinances. Thomas Jefferson talked of the importance of the Town governments in New England where all officers were elected. This corresponds to Pericles Speech commenting on the nature of the democracy of Athens in which all civic duties were filled by the elected. Pericles knew that most of the elect would not have the financial where with all of the Oligarchs, but they were easily matched by the elected democracy of Pericles. The banning of slavery and the nature of future state constitutions were outlined by the Third Northwest Territorial Ordinances. Monroe was at times Chairman of the Committee offering the Ordinances. These stated that with Constitutions and a certain population new states could enter the union with the same privileges and immunities of the original 13 states.

The third, or unwritten constitution is the Hamiltonian Constitution. These are the corporate creation of the Bank of New York (Mellon Bank), Life and Maritime Insurance companies, and the stock market as initially the Curb Exchange. WE have the Reports of Manufactures and on Debt as well. Basically Hamilton understood RISK better than anyone since his intelligence lit the skies. Hamilton also believed in the British Constitution in which appointment of the bureaucracy would lead to the more easy acceptance of his plans. Basically this is benign corruption by the man controlling customs and post offices for the government. This has led to unlimited government and our problem through this Fourth headless part of our government.

I would consider the nature of Washingtonian and Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian Constitutions as arising at the diner table kept by General Washington and Martha for his officers during the winter at 1777-78 Valley Forge. These included later Col. Monroe, General Lafayette, Captain John Marshall, later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Col. Alexander Hamilton. Monroe and Hamilton were heroes at the Battle of Trenton and Lafayette at Brandywine and in the future Yorktown. Although Washington allowed all officers could go home, these men discussed the play Cato. the Constitution of Virginia, The Declaration of Independence, Paine's Common Sense and the local newspapers. Lafayette did take time to go to France and ended up with France entering the Revolution on the American side.

Virtue was supported by the rise of the Methodist, the Baptist and the Presbyterian churches during the Revolution as they supported the Revolution and its ideas. In most cities on State and Main you will find these stalwarts of the cause. One can not give enough credit to Father John Carroll of uniting American Catholics behind the Revolution and providing one third of Washington's troops. As Romanish churches were banned prior to the Revolution, the Catholic Churches are behind the Protestant churches. Parts of the Quakers, Congregationalists and Anglicans broke off to support the revolution. I see religious thought now falling to secular causes. Should they preach the importance of the Federal Republic and the Rights of individuals under democracy this would restore religious values in this country.

Basically as a military historian I do see the world of Constitutionalism through is heroic American innovators and this include his staff at Washington's diner table at Valley Forge.

read full comment
Image of LEONARD FRIEDMAN
LEONARD FRIEDMAN

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.