Posted by: bkivey | 4 July 2014

The Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers are a collection of essays and articles written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay promoting the ratification of the US Constitution.  They should be required reading for high school students and those seeking US citizenship, as they offer insight into the philosophical underpinnings of American society and culture. If you haven’t read them, buy or borrow a copy, and find out what the term ‘American exceptionalism’ means.

A selection of quotes to whet your appetite:

“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 requisite powers.” (Federalist No. 2)

John Jay

“The proposed Constitution, so far from implying an abolition of the State governments, makes them constituent parts of the national sovereignty, by allowing them a direct representation in the Senate, and leaves in their possession certain exclusive and very important portions of sovereign power. This fully corresponds, in every rational import of the terms, with the idea of a federal government.” (No. 9)

Alexander Hamilton

“But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society.” (No. 10)

James Madison

“…the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens[.]” (No. 10)

James Madison

“WE HAVE seen the necessity of the Union, as our bulwark against foreign danger, as the conservator of peace among ourselves, as the guardian of our commerce and other common interests, as the only substitute for those military establishments which have subverted the liberties of the Old World, and as the proper antidote for the diseases of faction, which have proved fatal to other popular governments, and of which alarming symptoms have been betrayed by our own.” (No. 14)

James Madison

Whether there ought to be a federal government intrusted with the care of the common defense, is a question in the first instance, open for discussion; but the moment it is decided in the affirmative, it will follow, that that government ought to be clothed with all the powers requisite to complete execution of its trust.” (No. 23)

Alexander Hamilton

“…there must be interwoven, in the frame of the government, a general power of taxation, in one shape or another.” (No. 30)

Alexander Hamilton

Silly Season

As sure as there will be fireworks today, there will be small-minded people complaining about them. For the last week the local paper has been running stories on how fireworks upset pets and veterans. It’s really become quite tiresome.

The argument is that cats and dogs, with their sensitive hearing, are alarmed by the noise. This is true, and pet shelters report that one of their busiest days is 5 July, as dozens of pets that have run off are brought in to be reunited with their owners. The recommendation is that owners bring their pets indoors on the 4th and put them in the quietest room in the home. That’s good advice, because honestly, if I want to shoot off some fireworks, why is your pet my problem?

More problematic is the admonition concerning veterans. Yes, there may be a very few war veterans for whom the bangs and pops of fireworks may trigger unpleasant memories. But my beef with this nannying is that it treats adults like children who must be protected.

The great majority of veterans are rational people who can read a calendar. They know that there are going to be loud noises on that day. I’d venture that more than a few veterans will be setting off some fireworks of their own. Were I a combat veteran, I’d be peeved that I was being drafted to serve in someone else’s war on tradition.

And that’s what the whole movement against personal fireworks is. A very small minority don’t like fireworks, and gin up protected classes to advance their cause. It’s likely that if one were to propose that a foreign culture abolish a given tradition, most of those in the anti-fireworks crowd would be up in arms about cultural oppression and insensitivity to cultural norms.

Well, what about my cultural norms and traditions? Aren’t they just as valuable as anyone else’s? Shooting off fireworks on the 4th is part of American cultural heritage. Sure, there’s some risk associated with the activity, and annually there are mishaps and injuries, but on the whole, it’s a lot safer than running in front of a herd of bulls.

Americans like seeing stuff shoot up and explode. For the vocal minority that doesn’t, I suggest they buy a good set of earplugs and tough it out for the one night a year.

Happy 238th, America.



  1. I agree with all of your statements regarding the celebration of a document that helped forge our independence from a tyrant government overseas, the Declaration of Independence was a beutifully written document that gave us freedom, the way the founding fathers worded this document was as elegant as could be. I have not read the federalist papers, yet, but I will. unrelated to this excellent post, I think that the 65-66 thunderbird is an excellent choice to do a route 66 trip, try and find one finished already as they are not really in high demand and what you may spend on doing repairs will likely exceed what you would have to pay for one ready to roll, I think you would be surprised! I tried the e-mail you gave, but I must not have typed in correct, Joe

    • Hi Joe,

      Thanks for your comments. Read the ‘Federalist Papers’. This is the type of book that bears reflection; so you may want to read a little, think about it for a while, then read some more.

      My only concern with 60’s iron is the lack of air conditioning (I’m spoiled). There are cars with factory A/C, but they’re few and far between, especially now. Sure, you can put in aftermarket A/C, but it’s an additional expense. I’m leaning toward a cool car and hang the A/C.

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