The Rule of Law
Despite the strong aversion Hamilton felt for federalism, he now gladly took the name of "Federalist." By so doing he was not as inconsistent as might appear: the Constitution created a new kind of federalism--a mixture of nationalism and federalism which stands as the most distinctively American contribution to the science of government. Sovereignty was divided between the general and state governments and each was made independent in its sphere; some functions were placed exclusively in the hands of the central government, others were assigned wholly to the states and a third group of powers was shared concurrently by both jurisdictions.
If it was the part of wisdom for Hamilton and his party to take the name "Federalists," it was nothing less than a master stroke to call the opponents of the proposed Constitution "Antifederalists." With considerable justice, the "Antifederalists" asserted that they were the real Federalists and that the proponents of the Constitution had appropriated a name to which they had no title. In the struggle over the Constitution, both sides claimed to be federalists: apparently there were neither Antifederalists nor Nationalists in the country. 1
At the beginning of The Federalist, Hamilton sounded the note of high solemnity that pervaded the entire work. The questions to be decided by the American people, he said, were as important as any that had ever confronted a people: whether the union was to survive and whether "societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force." A wrong decision, therefore, could be accounted a "general misfortune of mankind"; what Americans did and said at this critical moment of their history might well decide the fate of free government throughout the world. 2
Despite the urgency of the occasion, "Publius'" proselyting was pitched in a calm, restrained and moderate key: he consistently appealed to the reason