A More Perfect Union

Revise the Articles of Confederation

The Congress commissioned a convention of delegates form each state to revise the Articles of Confederation. The Convention ended up writing a new Constitution. James Madison realized that in order to make the Federation more robust by separating the legislative, executive, and judicial functions; and by further dividing the Congress into two branches, one to represent the people of the States and one to represent the governments of the States; more alterations were needed to the system than could be accomplished by amending the Articles. He therefore came up with what is called the Virginia Plan which gave structure to the debate which resulted in the Constitution.

A Modified Federation

Even though a new document (the Constitution) described the changed federation, the Framers were not throwing out the Federation and establishing a consolidated democratic government or simple republic. It was still to be a federation with state sovereignty. The federative principles contained in the Articles were transferred to the Constitution. Although one House of the new Congress was to represent the people of the States, the whole government structure was not to loose its federative nature. The more perfect union defined by the Constitution is best described as a modified federation.

The Federalist Papers

Those who supported the new Constitution took upon themselves the name of Federalists—no doubt to advertise the fact that even though an element of popular election, or democracy, was now included in the structure of government, the union was still a Federation. The title given to the documents (written as editorials to newspapers) to explain the reasons for the Constitution were called The Federalist.

The first 36 of the Federalist Papers go into detail on the weaknesses and problems of the country under the Articles of Confederation.   James Madison in Federalist #37 now starts to promote the new form of government outlined in the Constitution as being a much better way to restructure the union.

The novelty of the undertaking immediately strikes us. It has been shown in the course of these papers, that the existing Confederation is founded on principles which are fallacious; that we must consequently change this first foundation, and with it the superstructure resting upon it. It has been shown, that the other confederacies which could be consulted as precedents have been viciated by the same erroneous principles, and can therefore furnish no other light than that of beacons, which give warning of the course to be shunned, without pointing out that which ought to be pursued. The most that the convention could do in such a situation, was to avoid the errors suggested by the past experience of other countries, as well as of our own; and to provide a convenient mode of rectifying their own errors, as future experiences may unfold them.*

We invite you to take a close look at the Constitution in the paradigm under which it was conceived by the Founders and established under the hands of the Framers. Once you have examined their thinking as demonstrated in the document produced, you can then determine whether or not it is the framework for a more perfect union. We maintain that it is.

*www.constitution.org has a copy of Federalist 37 for your study

Federalist #37 –

A National or a Federal Constitution?

James Madison in Federalist 39 explains that “The proposed Constitution therefore is in strictness neither a national nor a federal constitution; but a composition of both.” We have included an article in this website paraphrasing Federalist 39 and cross-referencing with Madison’s exact words each paragraph for your study and verification.

FEDERALIST #39 Paraphrase by Gary Alder

A Consolidated Government

Those who opposed the ratification of the Constitiution were called Anti-Federalists. Their principle complaint was that the strengthening of the central government would result in a consolidated government instead of a federation. After the ratification of the Constitution, the animosity, born of the conflicting opinions of how to implement the principles of a more perfect union, became the tool which destroyed that very union.

As WHO was Right replaced WHAT was Right as the standard upon which judgment was based, proponents of a particular measure and opponents of that measure started to firm up their support and garner additional support. The words of the Constitution became items to be ignored (sometimes called interpreted) rather than followed. Each side tried to consolidate its support. Factions and ideologies became polical parties and the federation we refer to as the more perfect union was in practice consolidated into a simple republic or representative democracy.

The irony here is overwhelming: the Republicans who accused the Federalists of being monarchists and the Federalists who claimed to be supporting the principles of federalism divided into political parties and the act of dividing into parties ended up in a very short time being the demise of Constitutional Federalism.

Does the Constitution Need to be INTERPRETED? by Gary Alder

The Demise of Federalism

The first pillar of federalism to fall was the election of the President as we demonstrate on pages 56-58 of our book, The Evolution and Destruction of the Original Electoral College. – Quality vs. Electability

When the 12th Amendment was being discussed in the Senate, a few of the Senators including Uriah Tracy of Connecticut tried to demonstrate that the passage of the Amendment would signal the demise of federalism but to no avail. Most of the Senators wanted the Amendment and could not be convinced that there was a threat to federalism. They had no interest in examining the logic of this vocal minority. Tracy mentions the Consolidation of the Federation into a simple republic three times:

To study Tracy’s entire Dec. 2, 1803 speech:
– Uriah Tracy’s Senate Speech Opposing the 12th Amendment

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