Vices of the Political System of the United States. James Madison, Apr. 1787.

National Government Truisms. A Plan of Government.


Like all successful political endeavors, the new federal Constitution—written just four years after the Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution has many origins. None is more important than the economic/political unrest following the war and a band of ultra-nationalists led by Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and George Washington.  Without going into the well-known peregrinations of the nationalists as they led the way to a federal Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, it is nonetheless important to note that the partnership between Washington and Madison was the key that unlocked the door to the convention hall. As Madison wrote to Washington on April 16,1787, having “formed in my mind some outlines of a new system, I take the liberty of submitting them without apology, to your eye.”

wealthDeficiencies of the Confederation

CHAPTER 5 | Document 16, Apr. 1787 Papers. 9:348–57

Failure of the States to comply with the Constitutional requisitions.  This evil has been so fully experienced both during the war and since the peace, results so naturally from the number and independent authority of the States and has been so uniformly exemplified in every similar Confederacy, that it may be considered as not less radically and permanently inherent in, than it is fatal to the object of, the present System.  Encroachments by the States on the federal authority.  Examples of this are numerous and repetitions may be foreseen in almost every case where any favorite object of a State shall present a temptation. Among these examples are the wars and Treaties of Georgia with the Indians–The unlicensed compacts between Virginia and Maryland, and between Pena. & N. Jersey–the troops raised and to be kept up by Massts resulted in violations of the law of nations and of treaties.

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