I’ve started listening to audio recordings of the Federalist Papers. I have to say that, at least so far, I’m not impressed by some of the arguments that they where making in favor of passing a Constitution that would unite the States under a Federal government. I realize that I can’t relate to some of them, just because the world we live in and the state of the country is just completely different.
For example, the argument that a large Federal government is more efficient and has a larger pool of talent to draw on than many decentralized confederacies seems a bit silly now. However, during a time of inept local politicians (well maybe that hasn’t changed) and a much smaller population, this argument (from Federalist #3) must have made a lot more sense.
However, take this argument from Federalist #2 (written by John Jay):
They [the people] considered that the Congress [of 1774] was composed of many wise and experienced men. That, being convened from different parts of the country, they brought with them and communicated to each other a variety of useful information. That, in the course of the time they passed together in inquiring into and discussing the true interests of their country, they must have acquired very accurate knowledge on that head. That they were individually interested in the public liberty and prosperity, and therefore that it was not less their inclination than their duty to recommend only such measures as, after the most mature deliberation, they really thought prudent and advisable… every succeeding Congress, as well as the late convention, have invariably joined with the people in thinking that the prosperity of America depended on its Union.
Jay’s premise is that the majority of people were happy with the federalist goals of the original continental congress (a premise which he doesn’t provide support for) and then assumes that because the members of the congress were popular, they must have also been wise and knew what was best for the country. Then he rounds it off with a fallacious appeal to authority and historical precedence to support a large federal government.
It’s interesting to note that the Federalists were also against drafting the Bill of Rights.