ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

American Politics: The "Federalist Papers" -Back In Perspective - FP# 2, Constitutional Convention; John Jay [281]

Updated on July 12, 2016

Chief Justice and NY Governor John Jay


Federalist Paper #2: Why a Constitutional Convention?

JOHN JAY1 KICKED OFF THE RATIONAL FOR RATIFYING THE NEW U.S. CONSTITUTION. The initial argument is probably the easiest to make and understand ... becoming a single republic is safer, vis-a-vis Europe's designs on America, than the alternatives of having 13 separate States or two or three smaller confederacies. The reason a small number of confederacies gained traction is because their are natural divides between the Northern, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern States in terms of geography, history, beliefs, and religion.

The last time man was in a Hobbesean theoretical "state of nature" was around 10,000 BCE; before animals were domesticated and agriculture developed. After that time people began gathering into small groups and started to voluntarily or involuntarily give up some degree of their liberty they previously had in this "state of nature". This was done in order to form some sort of government which, among other reasons, had the job to protect them at some level.

It is this idea which John Locke formally expanded into refocusing of the individual as the center of the universe, as it were, and all else, including government, grew from that fundamental and, at the time, revolutionary idea. Before that, history had evolved such that the State was superior to the individual; Locke turned that idea on its head. But Locke also realized that the nature of man, in order for the whole to survive, must voluntarily transfer some of their rights to a higher authority which they created and own. It is from this that Jay began is essay with

"Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisites powers."

Then he lays out the fundamental question facing Americans in 1787 ... should this government be one nation under single, federal government or 2 to 3 confederacies or 13 separate States with various forms of state governments.

Jay points out, possibly self-servicing, that until recently most everybody agreed with the concept of a central government is essential to the continuing "prosperity" of their countrymen. Now, with the submittal of the new Constitution to the People certain politicians are arguing that the better result is from some subdivision of the nation. The fact is, politicians were arguing against the new Constitution before the Constitutional Convention ever convened as well as during it; some convention members left the debate out of protest when they saw the purpose was to supplant the Articles of Confederation.

Reasons varied then, from philosophical to pragmatic to self-aggrandizement which could be obtained from disunion. Those same reasons still existed as the Federalist Papers were being written, but now the competition gets serious because there are going to be real winners and losers. Jay, Hamilton, and Madison were determined not to be on the losing end.

Jay's opening salvo was to show that 1) America is blessed with abundant natural resources and 2) that its citizens descended from the "same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in manners and customs ..." and suffered through the bloody battle to secure their liberty and freedom. After setting this stage, Jay then declares that "This country and this people seem to be made for each other ... that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, ... united to each other ... should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties." Definitely pulling on a lot of emotional strings; too bad he overstated the truth about the homogeneity of the new Americans, but then all is fair in love and the constitutional ratification wars isn't it.

Next Jay takes a swipe at the current form of government, meaning the single, powerless Congress created under the Articles of Confederation. He says "It is not to be wondered at, that a government instituted in times as inauspicious [the Revolutionary War), should on experiment be found greatly deficient and inadequate to the purpose it was intended to answer." In other words, the Continental Congress sucks.

The "snark" is not a modern day creation, by the way. Consider Jay's comment in starting of the next paragraph; "This (meaning the problems with the Articles of Confederation) intelligent people perceived and regretted these defects." And, as a result, the Constitutional Convention was convened.

Jay emphasizes the distinguished character of the delegates who attended; the attention to detail; and the lack of "having been awed by power, or influenced by any passions except love of country ...". This, of course, is to attest to how well thought out and crafted the resulting constitution was, implying its acceptability.

John Jay concludes by taking up refrain often heard today; that the "[P]eople have always thought right on this subject", that being forming and retaining a single Union. He goes so far as to say that "To preserve and perpetuate it was the great object of the people (delegates ?) in forming that convention ...". The refrain I am talking about is the use of the term "people", writ large, as if very few disagreed with the concept ... that is hardly the case. Just as it is today with the Right or the Left say "The People ..."; Jay and politicians like McConnell and Reid who invoke such claims know full well it is so much hyperbole.

Nevertheless, he presses the point by ending rather dramatically when referencing the failings of disunion by saying,

"That certainly would be the case, and I sincerely wish that it may be as clearly foreseen be every good citizen, that whenever the dissolution of the Union arrives, America will have reason to exclaim, in the words of the poet 'Farewell! A long farewell to all my greatness'."

1 John Jay wrote very few of the Federalist's Paper because of illness.

Demographic Survey #1

Politically Speaking, Do You Find Yourself Agreeing More With

See results

Demographic Survey #2

Are You

See results

Demographic Survey #3

What is Your Age

See results

If You Are Serious About Politics - A Must Read


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)