The Federalist Papers Reader and Historical Documents of Our American Heritage

By Frederick Quinn | Go to book overview

No. 16
The Same Subject Continued in Relation to the Same Principle

The specter of anarchy, conflict, and despotism faces the young nation if it does not unite in the constitutional government being proposed. An independent judiciary and strong magistrates will help guard the nation "from the inroads of private licentiousness," Hamilton believes. The national government, to be effective, must have powers equal to the state governments, and "the majesty of the national authority must be manifested through the medium of the courts of justice."

The tendency of the principle of legislation for States, or communities, in their political capacities, as it has been exemplified by the experiment we have made of it, is equally attested by the events which have befallen all other governments of the confederate kind of which we have any account in exact proportion to its prevalence in those systems. The confirmations of this fact will be worthy of a distinct and particular examination. I shall content myself with barely observing here that of all the confederacies of antiquity which history has handed down to us, the Lycian and Achaean leagues, as far as there remain vestiges of them, appear to have been most free from the fetters of that mistaken principle, and were accordingly those which have best deserved and have most liberally received the applauding suffrages of political writers.

This exceptionable principle may as truly as emphatically be styled the parent of anarchy: It has been seen that delinquencies in the members of the

-86-

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