James Madison: Federalist 51

(1788)

Federalist 51 was one of seventy-seven essays published serially in New York City newspapers from October 1787 to August 1788 to explain the theory and workings of the proposed U.S. Constitution and to argue for its ratification. The Articles of Confederation underpinned the first national government of the new republic from 1781 to 1788. The Confederation was a league of thirteen sovereign states with a one-house legislature and no executive. Congress had no independent income and no authority to compel states to accept its rulings, and it was unable to act directly on the states. It could not regulate either interstate or foreign trade, levy taxes or tariffs to raise revenue, or raise a military force for national defense. The Confederation was thus more an assembly of delegates from the states than it was a national government.

To correct the weaknesses of the earlier Articles of Confederation, influential political figures had met in Philadelphia to craft a constitution...

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James Madison (Library of Congress)

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