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Our Constitution and the Federalists Papers

Updated on August 11, 2014



The content of the Constitution was largely influenced by a collection of papers named the Federalists Papers. We may have heard about these in our history classes when we were in school but their importance and influence on the content of the Constitution cannot be denied.

The federalist papers had a number of themes or objectives which found their way into the philosophy of a central government.

The first major goal was to create a government with enough energy to effectively rule. Energy in the context of the papers referred to having the power to address national problems and perform the proper functions of government. The subject of energy has taken on new meaning today with the need to utilize our energy reserves to put us on the path not only of energy independence but potentially lower prices at the pump.

Another goal of the federalist papers was to create a union of the states with a central government with the purpose of protecting the liberty of Americans through a national unity environment. This was the goal but the federal government has become much more than the objective identified in these papers. Having a central government required that there be some delegated authority to what is now labeled the federal government. The authority of the federal government is summed up in Amendment 10 by stating authority not granted to the federal government is retained by the states. This line however has become blurred in recent years with the expansion of government into our daily lives and our decisions.

Today we are familiar with the term separation of powers but this term or concept was first introduced in the Federalists papers. The goal was to ensure that no one branch of government had enough power to become tyrannical and violate the rights and liberties of the people. In this respect power was distributed among the various branches of government which the founders hoped would keep one branch from dominating all the others. The concept of checks and balances was part of this philosophy. The distribution of power through the three branches of government granted specific powers over the other branches. Separation of powers also refers to powers between a central, national government and inferior political entities which is the US is shared between state governments and the national government.

We have a republican form of government in which representation is comprised in a legislature. We elect representatives who make decisions for us. It was an idea toward which the founders strove. One thing we must never forget in this election year is we have the power to remove individuals from office if we feel they are not serving us or our country well when they utilize the authority given them under the Constitution. The power is in the votes of the people not in the federal government.

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