Saving our Constitutional Republic – A Summary of Federalist Paper #28

In Federalist Paper #28, The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the Common Defense Considered, Hamilton argues for the creation of a national standing army to maintain domestic tranquility.

He acknowledges that there may be times in which the government must use force to maintain law and order, but then contends that this is an unavoidable possibility in any political system. Having a standing army, as opposed to just a militia, will be necessary at times to subdue large scale domestic insurrections or foreign aggression.

But he contends, people need not fear the military establishment because it will be “controlled by a government run by the representatives of the people.” If representatives of the people were to betray their constituents, the people would be better able to resist “the usurpation of the national rulers” than “those of the rulers of an individual state.” If the national government were to use standing armies to usurp power, the people could rally around the state governments and resist the national rulers. The larger the polity, the harder it is for a government to gain absolute control.

The proposed Constitutions gives state governments the power to act as natural checks on the national government and vice versa: “power being almost always the rival of power.” However, if each state were totally independent and no national army existed, then state governments could more easily violate the rights of the people, who would have very limited means for organizing a strong resistance.

Credit for the summary and analysis of Essay #28 is given to Brittany Nelson and Christopher Higgins (second revision 09/15/2011). Weinbloom, Elizabeth ed. “The Federalist Papers Essay 28 Summary and Analysis”. GradeSaver, 30 December 2011 Web. 28 January 2019.

Go to the GrAdeSaver Summary of Federalist #28

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