Today in History, October 27, 1787:
The first of 85 Federalist Papers are published in New York’s Independent Journal.
A collaboration between Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, published under the name “Publius”, the Papers used eloquence and remarkable examples from the history of governments, ancient and modern at that point to advocate the ratification of the new Constitution recently approved by a constitutional convention.
They were selling an idea abhorrent to most Americans who had just won a hard fought battle for independence – a strong central government.
If you are into that sort of thing, they are worth reading. You will find examples of the genius of our government and of how our government has been changed from the vision of our founding fathers.
But for the most part, the well thought out form of government they designed has survived the ravages of time and the attempts of less ethical men to corrupt it.
Today in History, June 18: 1812 – President James Madison signs the Declaration of War against Britain that would lead to The War of 1812. The Brits, accepting the sovereignty of the U.S. in name only after losing the American war for Independence, had been raiding American shipping on the high seas and forcing American sailors into service in the Royal Navy. They had also been supporting Native American tribes for the sole purpose of inhibiting American western expansion. Finally Congress had enough and sent a bill to the President declaring war on the British Empire, which President Madison signed.
Today in History, February 24: 1803 – Marbury vs. Madison. The Supreme Court establishes the principle of Judicial Review. In a case fraught with typical American skullduggery, the US Supreme Court gains it’s power. In the election of 1800, Thomas Jefferson had defeated the one term John Adams. In the time before the end of his term, Adams appointed as many judges and justice of the peace as he could, even working with his fellow party members to increase the number of judges. This resulted in the infamous “midnight judges” that were appointed at the last minute. Adams’ Secretary of State, John Marshall, wasn’t able to deliver all of the commissions to the judges and justices of the peace in time before Adams’ term ended, but figured the new Secretary of State, James Madison, would do so. He did not. Realizing they’d been snookered, Jefferson and Madison’s party did not deliver the new commissions. One of the Justices of the Peace, William Marbury, sued. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court…whose Chief Justice now was…John Marshall. Marshall made a decision that was a master stroke. The Court decided that the commissions should have been delivered…but at the same time decided that the court could not enforce the decision because Marbury did not have standing to file suit. While this initially seemed to emasculate the Court…in the end the decision established that the Court could render Congressional acts Unconstitutional if it chose to do so. The are dozens of examples of why appointments to the Court are important, not the least of which we are watching play out now.