We the People

Publius (Madison): The Federalist 46 (January 29, 1788). Emphasis mine:

JamesMadisonThe Federal and State Governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, constituted with different powers, and designated for different purposes. The adversaries of the Constitution seem to have lost sight of the people altogether in their reasonings on this subject; and to have viewed these different establishments, not only as mutual rivals and enemies, but as uncontrouled by any common superior in their efforts to usurp the authorities of each other. These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error. They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone; and that it will not depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expence of the other. Truth no less than decency requires, that the event in every case, should be supposed to depend on the sentiments and sanction of their common constituents.

Publius (Hamilton): The Federalist 84 (July 16/26, 1788 and August 9, 1788). Emphasis mine:

Alexander HamiltonIt has been several times truly remarked, that bills of rights are in their origin, stipulations between kings and their subjects, abrigements of prerogative in favor of privilege, reservations of rights not surrendered to the prince. Such was MAGNA CHARTA, obtained by the Barons, sword in hand, from king John. Such were the subsequent confirmations of that charter by subsequent princes. Such was the petition of right assented to by Charles the First, in the beginning of his reign. Such also was the declaration of right presented by the lords and commons to the prince of Orange in 1688, and afterwards thrown into the form of an act of parliament, called the bill of rights. It is evident, therefore, that according to their primitive signification, they have no application to constitutions professedly founded upon the power of the people, and executed by their immediate representatives and servants. Here, in strictness, the people surrender nothing, and as they retain every thing, they have no need of particular reservations. “WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Here is a better recognition of popular rights than volumes of those aphorisms which made the principal figure in several of our state bills of rights, and which would sound much better in a treatise of ethics than in a constitution of government.

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