America’s Victory In The Revolutionary War Allowed Self-Governance Essays Examples
Failure of the Articles of the Confederation
The Compound Republic and the separation and balance of powers
Republic divides the powers of the government
Divisions include the legislative, executive, and judiciary
They all prevent the branches from exercising too much power
Religious and Political liberty (connection)
Threat of minority by the majority
Minority forced into the religious beliefs of the majority
A federal republic will protect multiple interests
The expansion of the new United States of America
The division of power will support the governance of more people
Pluralism encourages a diverse but independent society
The majority will no longer control matters of the community
Summary of The Federalist #51
Restatement of thesis
People feared the New Constitution because of colonialism
The constitution does not benefit the wealthy alone
Dividing powers will prevent tyranny
James Madison’s “The Federalist #51” (1787)
After the American Revolutionary War of between 1775 and 1783, North America finally became independent and in turn, formed the United States of America out of the thirteen British Colonies. Self-governance was a new territory for the newly freed population, and the leaders faced a new challenge in securing freedom by the complete eradication of colonial rule. Therefore, in their attempts to ensure liberty and equality among the Caucasian Americans, the representatives from the colonies signed the Articles of Confederation as the country’s first constitution. However, the fears of tyranny and virtual slavery within the States guaranteed the complete failure of the supposed articles of governance and at the same time warranted the need for a new constitution. One ought to note that although the war ended in 1783, the Articles of Confederation were already in existent by 1777 and proved unfit for the newly formed United States of America by 1787. Thus emerges the events that led to the writing of the Federalist Papers, all of which amount to eighty-five essays written by three authors and published as newspaper articles. Among the perpetrators was James Madison, a supporter of the New Constitution that sought to educate the people on the advantages of its contents in the quest for liberty. Contrary to the peoples' fears that the New Constitution was a formula for the prosperity of the aristocracy, its functions concentrated on serving the needs of legal citizens.
In Madison’s views, the need for a republic state narrows down to one ideology; “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Consequently, human nature is the sole cause of dictatorship, where self-preservation focuses on the needs of the powerful at the expense of the less substantial. In other words, if given centralized power, the government will be contradicting, instead of supporting, the concept of liberty since officials will abuse supremacy for their personal aspirations. Thus, the democratic government proposed by the Constitution protected the wants of the people at the individual and societal levels regardless of their status to guarantee justice. In order to achieve the set goals, the constitution advocated the creation of “a legislature, an executive, and a national judiciary”. To each of the sections, the allocation of specific powers ensures the separation and balance of influence held by government administrators to thwart the chances of tyranny.
Separation in the Federalist #51 entails the distribution of a particular authority, partitioned from the primary roles of the government to the three divisions with each having autonomy from outside influence. Hence, the three arms of government will have equal, albeit different, powers that will serve to reassure the citizens of their leaders' goodwill. After all, power will not be the property of one individual or organization, and the people will have voting rights to choose their desirable leader. To protect the rights of the population and encourage the fair distribution of power based on the peoples’ merits, “the constitution forbade titles and hereditary rule” in the United States. Even so, it is important to note that while the masses can select the legislators and the president, it is unlikely that all individuals know the ideal traits of a judge. For this reason, judges are independent of outside influence and serve in their positions for life after the president appoints them into the judiciary system. Nonetheless, such actions keep government officials in check because without meeting the needs of the population they lose their seats to those who prove to be worthier. Accordingly, Madison’s essay explains that each government department will moderate the powers of the other two to ensure appointed persons do not abuse their control over the people. The results of such a design will be a healthy political system because every division is answerable to the others.
Expectedly the peoples’ fears hindered the ratification of the new Constitution by all the States as those against the partitions mentioned above actively campaigned the dismissal of the new laws. Madison’s answer to their skepticism revolves around the fact that “religion was imbedded into every aspect and institution of American life” and was the backbone of the country’s societies. Apparently, Americans used religious beliefs to support different ideologies and practices among themselves, particularly the Caucasians exercising white supremacy. A good illustration is evident in the defense of slavery where white masters were for the idea that blacks are the descendants of Noah’s cursed son, making slavery an act of Christianity. In relation to Liberty, Madison reckons that, “in a free government, the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights”. Such convictions emerge from the belief that while leaders have the potential to oppress their subjects, a section of the community can be equally dangerous.
Sections frame the majority and minority groups where the former manages to override the interests of the latter and bring about an era of anarchy. However, by legalizing the new constitution, the people will encourage pluralism in the nation because all persons will be at liberty to observe individualism in the pursuit of happiness. In this case, pluralism encompasses the harmonious existence of multiple and dissimilar beliefs that will still uphold the peoples’ autonomy. Hence, just as the people respected religion enough to allow each other to exercise it as they saw fit, political liberty was to exist in the same manner. Similarly, the Constitution will apply plurality in the structure of the new United States government and at the same time diversify the interests appointed leaders will represent. Such action makes it very hard for one faction to dictate or intimidate the rights of the minority groups.
Madison’s optimism in the application and execution of the new constitution did not end with the United States but held the belief that others will quickly adopt the methods of governance. As the author points out, it would only be right if the Americans recommend the proposed structure to “all sincere and considerate friends of republican government”, a fact that will earn the country more territories. In any case, once it is evident that the United States supports autonomy and equality among its citizens, people will readily follow the rules set by the government without fear. On the other hand, pluralism in a federal government will provide an avenue through which the people can pursue different interests and at the same time prevent the emergence of an oppressive majority section. However, Madison does not entirely condemn the idea of mainstream groups emerging in the Republic, because, once liberty becomes a social norm, the minority will have defenders. In other words, if the Constitution supports the rights of all people regardless of their position in the social hierarchy, anything outside of it will be cause for outrage by the people. Again, slavery provides a perfect example of such notions where, because the constitution supported slave ownership, none of the dominant whites could refute the practice and defend the blacks.
Hence, “rather than posing a danger to Americans’ liberties, as critics charged, the constitution in fact protected them” making it plausible for the citizens to exercise autonomy in all sectors of the society. Because human nature encourages conflicts of interest, people will create different groups based on their beliefs. In order to control and even eliminate the chances of one group dominating another, the country was to operate on majority principles and free elections that prevented tyranny. However, breaking the government and society into section will prevent the identified problems, plural communities encourage diversity, and a branched government keeps powers in check.
Evidently, despite the peoples' fears over the New Constitution, its functions concentrated on protecting the needs of legal citizens. However, their fears are understandable if one takes into account the colonial rules of the British government that imposed numerous taxes on the people. However, it is clear that the new constitution stripped the government officials of too much power and made them answerable to the people. Hence, by endorsing the Constitution, all people in the societies gain protection. However, legal Americans encompassed white people, making it impossible for other races to exercise the same rights.
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. The Federalist Papers. New York: Dover Publications, 2014.
Foner, Eric. Give me Liberty. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2011.
—. Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company Inc, 2005.
John Murrin, Paul Johnson, James McPherson, Alice Fahs, and Gary Gerstle. Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2013.
Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States. New York: Harper Perennial, 2005.
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