Notes on The Federalist Papers by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay August 8, 2020August 8, 2020 A thread for notes. Full text here.
3 thoughts on “Notes on The Federalist Papers by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay”
I accept many of the authors’ reading about people and government, as many fall in line with my experience and understanding of both. But in #8, Hamilton describes the differences between the relationship between the citizenry and the military in a state that must have an army because it’s under constant threat versus one that does not. While I find his claims believable, I can’t draw on my experiences and understanding to confirm these points. Anyway, here’s what he says about a state that need not have a sizable army
In contrast this is the nature of the relationship between the citizenry and the army in a state that needs to constant military presence:
Both passages make me think of Trump’s use of the military to break up protests. Hamilton’s analysis provides a reason a POTUS should be wary of using the military on civilians–and in our federalist system, the POTUS would almost never do this without the request of governors and/or mayors.
On another note, I wasn’t sure about the meaning of this sentence:
Specifically, what does Hamilton mean by “internal invasions?” Does he mean domestic threats? Or does he mean a foreign power poses a threat on land–as opposed to a naval threat? I think he may mean the latter, because late when he talks about Great Britain, he says the following:
I assume “marine” refers to the navy–or both the navy and English Channel and its elements.
It’s worth noting that States and cities have the responsibility of domestic law enforcement. And even if the military is needed, in our system, the states would call to the national guard, which I believe governors serve as an equivalent of the commander in chief–at least for domestic purposes. (There is a military general, I believe, who would command the national guard, and that general is a part of the governor’s office–if I’m not mistaken.)
Now, the federal government also has the FBI, and they are a form of domestic police. But they serve a more complementary versus primary role in law enforcement. It’s also worth noting that there has been strict norms that create a kind of wall between the White House and the FBI and DOJ (a wall that Trump has been taking a part, brick by brick).
I read a good number of these papers in an American lit course. Okay reading, but terrible literature. Not sure what the anthologists were thinking.
A part of me feels like I could make the opposite argument–good decent literature, terrible reading. I say that because there are passage that are good in a literary sense, but they’re not very good in terms of clarity and concision. I suspect that part of this has to do with the style of writing, during that time. I actually spent time “translating,” or more like revising, some passages to make it more clear and concise for myself–just to help me understand the passages better. The sentences are often long and complex. I feel like they could break them into more sentences and pare down the sentences.
Did you recall having difficulty understanding the passages? I’ll frequently reading a paragraph, and I feel like they mean to say the opposite of what’s written on the page. Do you recall having that experience?