Civics Citizenship

Government and Politics of the United States by Nigel Bowles (auth.)

By Nigel Bowles (auth.)

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The Federal Constitution's ambiguities, uncertainties, and intrinsically disputatious provisions have lent it a flexibility that has enabled it to survive, by ensuring its legitimacy in a heterogeneous society subject to repeated demographic shocks of migration and immigration. It has, however, also ensured that agreement on the meaning of its provisions for relations between branches of Federal government, between Federal and State authorities, and for conflicts between competing rights of individuals resist definitive settlement.

In 1789 he had written scathingly of party spirit: "Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all". In fact, Jefferson's heavenly passage was on his own party ticket. Before Political Parties 25 his death, he enjoyed two terms in the White House. His friend and ally Madison took the next two terms, and his "disciple" Monroe the following two. The Federalist Party, greatly diminished by Hamilton's death in 1803, disappeared after the Treaty of Ghent in 1814 ended the second war with Great Britain.

New Hampshire was the ninth State to ratify the Constitution, but in Virginia and New York opponents were powerful and persuasive. Ratification in both States was achieved only with difficulty, after immense political efforts by both proponents and opponents, and no little good fortune. In New York, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay energetically wrote and published The Federalist Papers, contributing not only to the campaign for the ratification of the Constitution by the New York Legislature, but also to later scholarly and judicial understanding of the nature of the Constitution itself.

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