Analysis of the Federalist Papers

Sep 15 07:09 2010 Nick DAlleva Print This Article

The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays arguing in favor of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

Throughout the history of the United States,Guest Posting the legislative branch of government has often played a crucial role in determining the political, social, and economic direction of America.  Though the legislative branch represents only one of the three major branches of the United States government, it plays an instrumental part in many of the most valuable and influential areas of the government.  The Federalist Papers attempt to outline the main purposes and requirements of the legislative branch of government, elaborating on its structure and function and detailing its powers and responsibilities.  According to the Federalist Papers, the legislative branch would work most efficiently when it was split into two sections, the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Both houses would serve entirely different legislative functions and require different criteria in order to be elected.  The Federalist Papers begin by detailing these criteria, specifying the different requirements for each public office and explaining its purpose.  The House of Representatives was to be elected entirely by the people, and serve as the legislative environment most intimate with the desires of the American public.  The Senate, on the other hand, was to be elected by State Legislatures, ensuring that though the American people would be well represented in the government, the legislative branch would retain some aspects of political expertise and professionalism.  Through these different requirements and jobs, the legislative branch allows itself a system of checks and balances to ensure that neither house garners too much power or influence.  These checks would be imposed by the Constitution itself.  The Federalist 58 comments on this multitude of legislatures, claiming, correctly, that the larger number of legislating officials would lead to less information and professionalism in the government.  Finally, the Federalist Papers detail the specific functions of the legislative branch as a whole.  Of these functions, the power over the

United States finances being the most important.  Even in present day, the legislative branch remains a inextricable part of the United States governmental system. 

The Federalist Paper 62 enumerates the various qualifications and criteria that were to be imposed on the two different houses of the United States legislative branch.  The legislative body was to be split into two distinct bodies of actions, called the House of Representatives and the Senate.  The House of Representatives existed to mediate between the United States government and the people of the United States, and served as the most intimate interaction between these two parties.  As a result, the House of Representatives not only contains a number of legislators proportionate to the population of the states they represent, but the House is also the body of government in the legislative branch that was intended to be elected directly by the people.  Consequently, the requirements for the election of officials in the House of Representatives is more lenient, and allows them to be younger and less professionally qualified that the officials of the Senate.  The Senate of the United States, conversely, serves as the professional and most learned body of legislature in the legislative branch.  The Senate was to serve as a response to the pluralistic ideals that created the House of Representatives.  As a result of this, the amount of elected officials in the Senate is unchanging at one hundred legislatures, and does not vary with the population of the states represented.  In addition to this, the Senate was intended to be removed from the electoral whims of the general population of the United States, and as the Federalist Papers detail, the elected officials would not be elected by the people of the United States, but rather the State Legislatures, ensuring that the legislative body of the United States is not entirely subject to the will of the people, and would be free to act on the common good converse to the common opinion if necessary.  The Senate also requires the elected officials to be older and more experienced.  This allows the Congress of the United States to function as a delicate balance between experience and the will of the people. 

The Federalist Papers not only detail the separation of the two houses of Congress and their respective requirements, but also elaborates on the way this separation would allow the legislative body of the United States to check and balance itself if necessary.  The idea of checks and balances lies at the very heart of the governmental theory that founded the United States, and it is important to understand that the Constitution imposes these checks and balances on all the governing bodies of the country, including the various internal checks and balances of the Congress.  The most important feature that allows the legislative body to balance itself is the requirement that both houses must pass a bill in order for it to become law.  The vast differences between the two houses themselves prevent the will of the States or the will of the people from entirely dominating the legislative material that is passed.  The idea that both houses must pass a bill requires the House of Representatives to propose bills that would please the experience and expertise of the Senate and the Senate to propose bills that reflect accurately the wills of the people as spoken through the House of Representatives.  The Constitution also requires the legislature to answer to the president of the United States, preventing Congress from effectively dominating the political, economic, or social direction of the country entirely.  The Federalist Papers also comment on the necessity of these checks and balances, and claims that the legislative branch requires checks and balances in order to function in the interests of the American people.  Though the legislative branch is free to pass the laws they see fit, the system of checks and balances ensures that laws are not passed without incredible due process of debate and deliberation, and thus allows laws to be improved and changed before they are approved by Congress and the president.  However, one major problem with these checks and balances prevents speedy action on the part of the government.

The Federalist Papers do, in some ways, admit the failings of this governmental system of mass opinion.  In the Federalist 58, the author warns against the subjugation of majority rule, claiming that the more people involved in the legislative process, the less the likelihood that the people imposing the laws would be directly informed about the magnitude of the legislation they are passing.  The Congress of the United States effectively limits itself because it prevents cohesion of opinion in policy making that could make the legislative branch incredibly efficient.  In short, the more people involved in the process of deliberating the bill, the less the people deliberating the bill actually know or can express about the realities of the policy itself.  This assumption is incredibly astute in its observations, and demonstrates perfectly the incredible forethought of the founding fathers of the constitution.  Though the legislative branch requires a large amount of elected officials in order to accurately represent the will of the people of the United States and the desires of the States, the mass quantity of legislatives effectively prevents the legislative body from acting in any kind of a prompt way in the face of a crisis.  The due process required to allow laws to be coherent also prevents the laws from being effective if their effectiveness depends on the speed of which they are implemented.  In addition, the mass variety of opinions represented by the various legislators in the House of Representatives and the Senate prevent the efficient communication of the realities and problems associated with certain bills that would become law.  The more people that require knowledge about a certain subject, the less the knowledge will actually be distributed among the people that require it.  As a result, many of the bills that are passed in Congress are not even read by the legislators themselves, and this system results in a variety of bills not being passed according to their merit, but rather along party and ideological lines of their superficial parts.

The Federalist Papers not only specify the requirements and responsibilities of the legislatures of the House of Representatives and the Senate themselves, but additionally enumerates the responsibilities of the legislative branch as a whole, claiming that the legislative branch has certain powers specific to its branch of government that the other two branches do not have.  The most important of these powers is undoubtedly the authority over the finances of the United States.  The Senate and the House of Representatives work together to pass bills which detail the expenditures of the Federal government.  The Congress of the United States along claims power to the finances of the government.  With this power comes the responsibility that the Congress of the United States will spend the money of the government wisely and frugally.  However, this power was most likely granted to the Congress because of its greatest flaw, numbers.  The extreme amount of elected officials represented in the House of Representatives and the Senate prevent wanton spending which could result from granting this power to a smaller branch of government such as the Executive branch.  The number of legislatures in Congress ensures that the spending of the finances of the United States will be deliberated and reviewed constantly before being implemented.  Congress also reserves power over many of the other aspects of the government which would result from careful deliberation, including the power to regulate trade.  The regulation of trade has the power to affect the economy of the United States drastically, and any quick decision in this area could result in an economic disaster of epic proportions.  The Congress of the United States also reserves the right to declare war officially, though the President is the Commander and Chief of the Military.   This power forces Congress to not only carefully consider the merits of war, but forces the Executive and Legislative branches of government to work together in the confrontation of a threat against the United States.

The legislative body of the United States has long dictated the various policy changes and alterations that have defined the nation.  The various laws, declarations of war, and designations of citizenship defined by the Congress of the United States have steered the country in progressive directions and conservative directions throughout the long history of the United States.  Through the careful organization of the legislative branch as a whole, many of the best laws in the United States have endured the deliberation of the House of Representatives and the Senate.  The Congress truly represents the best and worst of the United States governmental system.  In The Federalist Papers, the authors designate the requirements of the two houses of congress for election and explain the purposes of these requirements.  The House of Representatives, the branch of government closest with the people, is elected directly and requires leinient age and professional requirements in order to be elected.  Conversely, the Senate requires election through State legislatures and has stricter electoral limitations.  The differences between the two houses are enormous and serve to check and balance the legislative system as a whole.  The requirement of both houses to pass a bill for it to become law checks both houses simultaneously and allows for careful deliberation.  The Constitution imposes many of these checks and balances.  The Federalist 58’s claim that the large amount of elected officials would impede progress is entirely correct, but the bulkiness of the legislative body is a necessary evil when one considers the necessity of proper representation.  In addition to these things, the Federalist Papers also detail the important responsibilities of the legislative branch, including the power over the finances, the power over trade, and the power to declare war.  Through the test of time, the Congress of the United States has stood as a testament to the incredible foresight of the founding fathers and the architects of the Constitution.  Though the legislative body has proved unable to act swiftly in the face of a crisis, the failings of the system are undoubtedly redeemed by its triumphs, and in these triumphs, it becomes obvious why the structure of the United States government has changed little over the course of almost three centuries. 

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Nick DAlleva
Nick DAlleva

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