Legal History Note 122 Harv. L. Rev. 745

Defending Federalism: Realizing Publius’s Vision


In the Federalist Papers, Publius defends a Constitution focused on creating power — power the national government lacked during the period of the Articles of Confederation, the lack of which had brought the country to “almost the last stage of national humiliation,” where there was “scarcely anything that [could] wound the pride or degrade the character of an independent nation which [the country did] not experience.” But while creating power was essential, the Founders understood that power always brings tyranny in its wake. They were thus committed to the endeavor of creating a government that was capable of governing both the country and itself. To this end, they created a system flush with “auxiliary precautions” against tyrannical usurpations.