Chapter

Government by Consent

Max. M Edling

in A Revolution in Favor of Government

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780195148701
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835096 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195148703.003.0009
Government by Consent

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Chapter 8 and the corresponding Ch. 13 in Part Three of the book show how the Federalists responded to the Antifederalist objections to a stronger national government in the “fiscal‐military” sphere, thereby creating an understanding of the kind of state that was proper to American conditions. In their defense of the military clauses of the US Constitution, the Federalists argued for the need to maintain a peace establishment of regulars, also arguing that the national government had to possess an unrestricted power over mobilization; in Federalist minds, both military professionalism and the unlimited power over mobilization were necessary to preserve the independence, liberties, and interests of the American nation. The Antifederalists, by contrast, raised objections to the right of Congress to create and maintain a standing army in time of peace, and were also concerned about the unrestricted nature of Congress's military powers. Their objections can be subsumed under three headings: first, they believed that the new system of government would change the administration of the laws from an administration based on the consent of the governed to an administration based on coercion or the threat of force; second, they believed that the national government would create a large army while neglecting the state militia, so that as a consequence, the national government would become independent of the people and be able to establish tyrannical rule; and third, the critics of the Constitution believed that Congress had been granted too much power to interfere in the private lives of the citizens through its command over the militia. In the debate over ratification, the Federalists answered these objections, and in doing so, they argued that it was possible to create a strong state without abandoning traditional Anglo‐American ideals about free government; their answers are the subject of this chapter.

Keywords: Antifederalism; debate; Federalism; government by consent; government by force; independence; liberty; military powers; military strength; national government; ratification; standing army; state militia; US Constitution; USA

Chapter.  7070 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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