Federalist Paper Number 1
Number 1: Call to Study New Constitution
You are asked to study and consider adopting a new Constitution for the United States of America to replace the current, ineffective federal government. This is a very important decision. Our country's existence depends on it. So does the safety and welfare of its people, communities, and States. We will decide the fate of a nation that is, in many respects, the most interesting in the world.
The people of this country will decide important questions: Can societies establish a good government by careful thought and choice? Or are people destined to be governed only by accident and force? The answers depend on our response to the current crisis. And the wrong decision will be unfortunate for all of mankind.
Special Interests, Prejudices will Influence Debate
2 Conscientious patriots understand the importance of deciding whether to adopt the new Constitution. And they know their decision will affect all human societies.
It would be wonderful if we based our decision only on the best interests of our society, unbiased by less noble interests not connected with the public good. Although we may sincerely wish this, it can't be expected. The Constitution affects many special interests and changes many local institutions. Subjects other than its merits will be discussed. The debate will include passions and prejudices unrelated to discovering the truth and meaning of the Constitution.
Politicians May Fear a Loss of Power
3 Many politicians will oppose the new Constitution. Some politicians are afraid that the Constitution will decrease the power and benefits of their current State offices. Others think that they can have more power if the country is in turmoil or is broken up into several small countries.
Moderation Urged; Remember Good Men Argue on Both Sides of an Issue
4 However, I don't plan to talk about political motives. I don't know if a person's opposition is due to self-interest or ambition even if their views seem suspicious. Even opponents of the new Constitution may be motivated by upright intentions. And much of the opposition will spring from blameless, if not valid, motivations. Jealousies and fears will lead arguments astray into honest errors in thinking.
A false bias can be created for a variety of good reasons. Wise and good men often argue on both the wrong and right side of society's most important questions. This fact should teach moderation to anyone who thinks they are always in the right in any argument.
There's a further reason for caution. People who support the right side of a question can also have ulterior motives like ambition, avarice, personal animosity, and party opposition.
Moderation is important. The mean spirit that characterizes political parties is awful. In politics, as in religion, it's absurd to try to persuade people with fire and sword. Bad ideas can rarely be defeated by persecution.
Constitution Called Thief of Liberty
5 Angry and malignant passions will be let loose about this subject, as in all former cases of great national debate. To get supporters, the opponents of the new Constitution will loudly and bitterly condemn it.
People supporting the energetic government proposed by the Constitution will be demonized as liking dictators and hating liberty. When supporters declare that the rights of the people must be very carefully protected, it will be called insincere and an obvious attempt to become popular while hurting the general public.
Dangers to the rights of people usually spring from the head rather than the heart. Enthusiasm for liberty is often infected with narrow-minded bigotry and distrust.
A healthy government is essential to secure liberty. A strong government and liberty can never be separated. Dangerous ambition is more often masked by a zeal for the rights of the people than the zeal for a firm and efficient government. History teaches us that most men who have overturned the liberties of republics began their career by proclaiming their devotion to the people. They gain position by arousing people's prejudices and end as tyrants.
I Support the New Constitution
6 My fellow citizens, guard against all attempts, from whatever side, to influence you. Your decision on the new Constitution, which is very important to your welfare, should be based on truth.
I'm sure you have noticed that I like the new Constitution. Yes, my countrymen, I admit that after giving it careful thought, I believe it is in your interest to adopt it. I am convinced that this is the safest course for your liberty, your dignity, and your happiness. The new Constitution has my full and unambiguous support.
I don't pretend that I am undecided about ratifying the Constitution. I have decided. And I will tell you why I think it is a good idea. I will try to make my arguments truthful. Everyone who reads them can judge for themselves whether I've succeeded.
Discussion of Constitutional Issues
7 I propose to discuss the following subjects in a series of papers:
Why the union is important to our political life.
Why the current Confederation can't preserve the union.
Why we need an energetic federal government.
How the proposed Constitution conforms to the principles of republican government.
A comparison of the proposed Constitution to the New York constitution.
How the Constitution will preserve liberty, property and the republican form of government.
As this discussion progresses, I will try to answer objections that arise.
Opponents Argue Thirteen States Too Many
8 It may seem like everyone agrees that remaining united is important. But some opponents of the new Constitution say thirteen States are too many. They argue that we must break into several separate confederacies.*
The alternative to adoption of the new Constitution is dismemberment of the Union. Therefore, I will examine the advantages of staying united, the probable dangers, and certain evils of dissolution. This will be the subject of my next editorial.
* The same idea, tracing the arguments to their consequences, is held out in several recent publications against the new Constitution. –Publius
Liberty Uses US Constitution to destroy tyranny.
by Bruce Walker