The Federalist Papers Reader and Historical Documents of Our American Heritage

By Frederick Quinn | Go to book overview

No. 39
The Conformity of the Plan to Republican Principles: An Objection in Respect to the Powers of the Convention Examined

Republican government is limited government, deriving its powers from the people, administered by people holding office for limited terms or during good behavior, meaning during a time when they execute their office responsibly and without corruption. Madison believes government's powers are "founded on the assent and ratification of the people...given by deputies elected for the special purpose." The states retain their distinct powers and the Constitution is "neither a national nor a federal constitution, but a composition of both." He adds, "In its foundation it is federal, not national; in the source from which the ordinary powers of the government are drawn, it is partly federal and partly national; in the operation of these powers, it is national, not federal; in the extent of them, again, it is federal, not national; and, finally, in the authoritative mode of introducing amendments, it is neither wholly federal nor wholly national."

The last paper having concluded the observations which were meant to introduce a candid survey of the plan of government reported by the convention, we now proceed to the execution of that part of our undertaking.

-105-

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