“It has been often said that the people of this country will decide the important question of whether societies can establish a good government by careful thought and choice. Or whether people are forever destined to be governed only by accident and force.” (Webster, Mary E. The Federalist Papers in Modern Language. 2018. p. 1)
The above quote is a modern rendering of a quote by Publius, the writers of the Federalist Papers. You’ll recall that Publius is the name of three of our Founding Fathers—Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. Three writers, one name, and 85 articles (or papers) are credited to them. Ms. Webster translates for us in modern-day English their case for the U.S. Constitution. We can read their thoughts and discover relevancy for today.
So, many of you have indicated you think our country is on the edge of a precipice. You fear colossal change that may render the America we know as past tense. Mary E. Webster’s book assures us that our country has stood on the edge before and made it to the other side. How did we survive? What did our forefathers know? Do we have the “right stuff” to push through all that we face today?
It’s amazing to delve into the Founders’ writings and thoughts in the Federalist Papers as they laid out the case for the U.S. Constitution. They courageously asserted that Americans would choose freedom over tyranny, but not without a ton of civil discourse, even heated arguments. They understood that there are well-meaning people on both sides of an issue. They also understood that both good and impure motives reign in us all. Mostly, they understood that it would be We the People who would decide our fate.
“Moderation is important. Nothing is more repugnant than the intolerant spirit that has, at all times, characterized political parties. In politics, as in religion, it’s absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.” (Webster 2) In other words, you don’t win converts in politics, policy, or religion by force. Publius’ words were just as valid then as they are now.
We are not in uncharted territory. Other great generations of leaders have gone before us and have established a good government “by careful thought and choice, not force.” We do well to learn from them.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.🇺🇸