This is … Something I Stumbled Upon


… in my reading. I opened up the copy of the Federalist Papers I keep in iBooks, and saw that I’d highlighted a passage some time ago. I read it to see if it still resonated.

Yes, I really do keep the Federalist Papers on my devices, along with the Constitution of the United States. Why, yes, I have actually read both of these documents and study them periodically. I do this because I want to understand the principles and sentiments my country was founded on. I think all Americans and those who would like to be Americans should read them and attempt to understand what they mean. The second paragraph is especially resonant.

This was the passage I’d highlighted:

“And yet, however just these sentiments will be allowed to be, we have already sufficient indications that it will happen in this as in all former cases of great national discussion. A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty. An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust.

“On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.” — Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, For the Independent Journal. Saturday, October 27, 1787

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