Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Case For The Constitution: Federalist Two

        One of the least known of the Founding Fathers, John Jay, was also a key contributer to the Federalist papers. In the second of the papers, Jay explains why a United nation is important, rather than small distinct confederacies.

      Should the United States be gathered under one National Government, or should it be divided into three or four distinct confederacies that would then "help each other out". To those who approved of the latter, they claimed that the national government has failed over the previous ten years. In response to this claim, Jay acknowledges that the union that the states have had under the Articles of Confederation was not ideal, yet puts the articles into the context of the time that they were written - during the tumultuousness times right after the War for Independence. Thus, should the national government be done away with because these Articles are not perfect? To Jay, the Union must be preserved at all cost; and as will be seen in future papers there is good reason for this.

    Jay then appeals to Americans peoples sense of purpose. For he states,
"This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous and alien sovereignties."
 This kind of rhetoricis not abnormal in American political literature, for it is hinting at the concept of American Exceptionalism- that Americans have been placed upon the world for a purpose. For Jay, Providence (God, or whatever you want to call him) has put Americans together the way that he has for a time just like this. Providence does not make mistakes, so therefore why should we as fallible humans break apart what He has put together.

      Jay finishes up the second of the Federalist Paper by discussing the nature of what is being placed before the American people. They are not being forced to adopt this new Constitution, they can choose to do something else, even split up the country like some have been proposing. But he warns that before any rash decisions are made, we must carefully consider all the options and weigh each one rationally. This is a good warning for us today, for many of us rely on emotion and reactions to get our point across, yet instead it is essential that we use logic and reason to explain why our opponents are wrong.

Question:

1. Does American Exceptionalism play an important part in the view that Americans take of themselves, and does it influence politics to this day?

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