General View of the Powers Proposed to be vested in the Union
November 25, 20003


Federalists Papers (no. 41-44)


Essay 3


Article I of the U.S. Constitution includes all of the listed powers of the legislative branch, as well as the elastic clause that allows for the stretching of the central legislative authority when needed. Article IV describes the subordinate relationship of the states to that central authority. This portion of The Federalist provides a thorough description and justification of all of those powers as granted by the Constitution.


The central government has the authority to protect states from domestic violence. Critics question whether such a protection is necessary in a republic in which the minority will never have the power to undermine the whole, and the majority has the right to change the system. There are dangers, though, in a minority that through its own quest for power entices others who want violence. Thus, they might border on a majority of numbers for the wrong reasons, and not in actuality be a majority in thought. The fact that a superior power has the authority to repress rebellions will discourage such rebellions. It is not always clear which side is just in a revolt. The central government\'s authority to intervene allows an objective judge to the conflict.


The Federalist essays that cover the rights granted to the central government and guidelines for undesired situations really focus on the rights granted to the legislative branch of the central government. In a republic, the strongest branch of the government must be the one that most closely represents the people: the legislative branch. Within the U.S. Constitution itself, there are very many specific powers attributed to the legislative branch, and only general powers attributed to the other two branches. The purpose of Article I in the Constitution is not only to enumerate these powers, but also to position all the powers of the central government as superior to those of the states.


Publius grants that states have lost many of the powers they had formerly enjoyed under the Articles of Confederation, but reminds the reader that these powers could actually serve to destroy the union as too much state power created too much state competition. Article IV of the Constitution describes the inter-state relations as well as the extent of state power. In particular, states will be restricted from issuing their own paper money, establishing laws that go against the common guide for their own purposes and in regulating their own commerce. States are still empowered to tax the citizens of their own state and to determine the type of republican government used in their state as long as their actions do not interfere with the Supreme Law of the Land as articulated in the Constitution.


The Supreme Law of the Land clause that appears in Article VI only serves to affirm what has already been established between Article I and Article IV. The Constitution grants superior authority to the central government in matters of foreign policy, raising armies, coining money, naturalization, interstate commerce, uniform regulations on bankruptcy, patents and copyrights, administration of new territories and admittance of new states, a postal system, and determining guilt in cases of treason. The Constitution makes certain that a state government will not become superior to the central government by providing a National capital governed by the central government, by ensuring that national forts are wholly the territory of the central government, and by not subjecting the central government to requisitioning funds from the states.


In clearly describing each of the powers granted to the central government, Publius then concludes that none of these powers go beyond what is necessary to sustain the union that has already proven to be a necessity for the common defense and protection of individual liberty. Even the inclusion of the "elastic clause" at the end of Article I is justified, according to Federalists, because it provided the best security against unforeseen future circumstances, and in no way threatened the rights of the people


Stating that Congress has the authority to make any laws necessary to carry out any of its clearly detailed duties, the elastic clause contributed to an extended reach of the national government over the years. Anti-Federalists feared such open-ended power in the hands