James MadisonThe Federalist

2.3   The Federalist/ Papers, Alexander Hamilton. James Madison and John Jay, exerpt: The Federalist, No. 19: Madison (with the assistance of Alexander Hamilton), Bantan Classic edition, reissue 2003, p. 106-112

a) Background

The following two texts out of the federalist and out of the anti-federalist papers are to identify the potential influences of Switzerland and Swiss law and legal culture on the formation of the constitution in 1787 of the American Union. From a Swiss perspective, we refer to the text 2.2 of Paul Widmer, der Einfluss der Schweiz auf die amerikanische Verfassung von 1787. The subsequent influence of the American constitution on Switzerland was by far greater than the areas of influence of Switzerland on the American constitution in 1787. Nevertheless, the influence is remarkable and interesting. Two factors plaid a major role, the writings and the acting of founding father John Adams, later president of the United States, and the incontestable influence of the antifederalists – federalists according to Swiss terminology – in favour of a confederation. Switzerland had a parlamentiary entity in the 18th century and a considerable visibility and influence. Whoever was about to draft and adopt a republican, federalist constitution was well advised, to look at the republics in the Alps. In the early United States certain groups have diligently undertaken this effort. Three postitions came simultaneosly to the founding fathers among the federalists – the centralist according to swiss terminology; a Madison and a Hamilton for instance studied the swiss confederation in detail.  The antifederalists left the Swiss confederation aside and considered it not usable for a nation like the United States, in particular in view of the size of the territory.  The federalists studied it but were less precise in the study of the Swiss circumstances.

They adored the spirit of the inhabitants of the Alps. They used Switzerland as crown witness against a centralisation and advocated the leaving of powers to the individual states. in turn John Adams, the first vice president and second president of the United States did not care for Switzerland as a whole. He used the parliamentary organisation of the individual Cantons to find in them arguments for a separation of powers. John Adams, above all was responsible for the timely introduction of Swiss thinking in to the American constitutional dialogue and discussion among the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

b) Summary

The Federalist No. 20 was written on December 11, 1787, by James Madison with the assistance of Alexander Hamilton. It was written to the people of the state of New York under the name of Publius. The text deals with the governmental textures of political entities, in particular the Cantons of Switzerland.

c) Text

You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here:
A_2.3_HAMILTON_Federalist 19

© Prof. Jens Drolshammer, office@drolshammer.com,  www.drolshammer.net

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