LESSONS IN LOGIC: ‘Federal’ Does NOT Mean National

And Therein Lies The Origin Of Many Of Our Problems: Our Own Ignorance

Today, the federal government has usurped much of the authority our founders had left to and intended to remain with the States, as well as the People.  The federal government has been able to get away with doing this for many reasons.  Primarily, it is because we, the people, have become lazy and apathetic.  We are also greedy.  Thus, we willingly vote for people who promise to give us something we haven’t earned and do not deserve.  In doing so, we are electing our own masters for the promise of a few crumbs from our neighbor’s table.  But it is also because we have become an ignorant people.  If only we understood the English language, maybe we would understand that the very word ‘federal’ is a limit on the government.

To demonstrate how wise our founders were, and, at the same time, to show that they were no infallible, we should look at what Patrick Henry had to say about the Constitution before it had been ratified.  Upon first reading it, Henry objected to these words:

“I have the highest veneration of those Gentleman, — but, Sir, give me leave to demand, what right had they to say, We, the People? My political curiosity, exclusive of my anxious solicitude for the public welfare, leads me to ask who authorized them to speak the language of, We, the People, instead of We, the States? States are the characteristics, and the soul of the confederation. If the States be not the agents of this compact, it must be one of great consolidated National Government of the people of all the States.”

Henry was rejecting the notion of a national government.  At the time, the States would never have passed such a document because the people had a greater allegiance to their State than to the new nation (confederation).  Instead, Henry rightly pointed out that the Constitution was formed by an agreement between the States, not the whole people of the nation.  And that this means the Constitution gave the federal government authority over the States, but not the people, directly.  This is the heart of what federal meant to the founders, and they actually said so.  Here, let me prove it to you.  We start by looking at the definition of federal:

Full Definition of FEDERAL

1archaic :  of or relating to a compact or treaty

2a :  formed by a compact between political units that surrender their individual sovereignty to a central authority but retain limited residuary powers of government

b :  of or constituting a form of government in which power is distributed between a central authority and a number of constituent territorial units

c :  of or relating to the central government of a federation as distinguished from the governments of the constituent units

3capitalized :  advocating or friendly to the principle of a federal government with strong centralized powers; especially :  of or relating to the American Federalists

4often capitalized :  of, relating to, or loyal to the federal government or the Union armies of the United States in the American Civil War

5capitalized :  being or belonging to a style of architecture and decoration current in the United States following the American Revolution

 OK, upon first reading this definition, we see that one possible definition suggests that the States actually surrendered their individual sovereignty when they ratified the Constitution (2a).  But another simply states that the States gave ‘most’ of their authority to the Federal government.  In fact, that aspect of the definition directly references the American Federalists (as in Federalist Papers, 3).  So, how do we know which the founders intended, and whether or not our modern definition remains faithful to that understanding?  Simple, we ask the man who wrote the Constitution, James Madison:

Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL constitution”

Now, according to Madison – the man who wrote the Constitution – neither 2a nor 3 of our definition applies to our Federal government.  According to Madison, the definition the founders actually intended and understood to be the case when they ratified the constitution is 2c!

Definition of FEDERATION

: a country formed by separate states that have given certain powers to a central government while keeping control over local matters

And there it is: the Federal government has a master – the individual States.  And if you read the State Constitutions, you will find they have masters – the people.  This is why our schools do not teach history; why they refuse to teach the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers.  They avoid it because, even if they tried to skew it, were they to make our children actually read the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers, our children would understand that the Federal government has no direct authority over them, and only limited authority over their State.  If our nation understood what the founders had intended, they would realize that the States have the authority to nullify unconstitutional laws, such as the “Affordable Care Act.”  And the State governments would also understand that they are free to exercise that authority over the Federal government.  However, the moment the States and their people accept that the Federal government is actually a national government, all of the protections of our liberties that the founders built into our system disappear and it becomes merely a matter of time before a tyrant seizes control over all.

And so it is that history has shown that nearly every objection the Anti-Federalists voiced against the Constitution was valid, and that the explanations and assurances against these inevitabilities offered by the Federalists were wrong.

16 thoughts on “LESSONS IN LOGIC: ‘Federal’ Does NOT Mean National

  1. As one who studied classics, and thus was forced also to take Linguistic classes as well; my question would be, although I agree with your post, wouldn’t the common understanding of words then become their definition? or is that why you spell out said definitions to illustrate your points. Also, I realize the reason to constantly cite definitions due to others scorch the earth type arguments of always having you explain your definitions rather than you argument, but wouldn’t it be more conducive for debate if you simply called them out on their fallacious behavior?

    On the content itself, you give the point of views of both Henry, and Madison, my question on your content is; wouldn’t the opinion of Alexander Hamilton be more valid due to Henry being a anti-federalist and watched a strong central government be established. Madison wouldn’t he loss creditability due to his dinner compromise with Jefferson, and Hamilton to give the central government immense power of controlling the debt and thus the finances of this nation that allowed the nations capitial to move from New York to the newly founded Washington? What would be your take on Hamilton’s opinion of the differences between federalism, and Nationalism, since he was a nationalist and the other two were not?

    1. phadde,

      I call people out on their fallacies all the time. The problem is, they don’t even know what a fallacy is, or why it matters in the arena of ideas.

      As for the common understanding being the definition: come on, you seem smarter than that. OK, “cool.” Now, tell me what that means? Or better, “It’s cool.” What does that mean? The point is, common to whose understanding of the term? This is another area where I focus my efforts: the destruction of our language. There is an effort to argue that nothing has a common definition because words mean different things to every individual. At its core, it is all part of the spirit of destruction within society.

      As for Hamilton: why would he be more important than Madison? Had Hamilton lead the ratification process and Madison NOT worked out the compromise, the Anti-Federalists would most likely have won. That speaks to the weakness of Hamilton’s position. BUT STILL, Hamilton did not oppose the goals of the Anti-Federalist. We can see that by reading the Federalist papers. He just thought a strong government was the way to achieve and protect them and, as we see, HE WAS WRONG! 🙂

    2. Phadde,

      Does this work for you?

      “This balance between the National and State governments ought to be dwelt on with peculiar attention, as it is of the utmost importance. It forms a double security to the people. If one encroaches on their rights they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from overpassing their constitutional limits by a certain rivalship, which will ever subsist between them.”
      –Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June 17, 1788

      Or this?

      “But as the plan of the [Constitutional] convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, EXCLUSIVELY delegated to the United States.”
      –Alexander Hamilton


  2. lol noted sarcasm? haha. On the above points I guess I do fail to realize that if I call someone out on their fallacies, I may have to explain to them what a fallacy is, which reminds recently I was “debating” with a young man, and I told him his argument was wrong because he violated the rules of logical debate, he then threatened be bodily harm… …anyway.

    Perhaps he was wrong in only today’s society? I’m a Hamiltonian in the original sense, let me define that 😉 I believe that this country was allowed to flourish because of Alexander Hamilton in spite of those namely Jefferson, and Henry, that doesn’t mean I don’t like their points. On most days I say well I’m 60% Hamiltonian, 40% Jeffersonian and on others I may say I’m 55% Jeffersonian 45% Hamiltonian. The point of this of course is to illustrate those men fought for their different visions of this nation, and thus we are the sons and daughters of those ideals. I think it’s foolhardy to claim that Hamilton would have wanted the government has transformed into, I would make the argument that our nation in its state today is from the aftermath of post-1913 of Wilsonian viewpoints and FDR who spouted the wisdom of the common man and Jefferson. I would imagine that you know after we won the war for independence, our nation was in horrible financial shape, Hamiltonian principles dug us out, there are many scholarly viewpoints that if this wasn’t done the War of 1812 would have turned out much different.

    I’m a Hamiltonian apologist, I believe he get’s the raw end of the deal in many people’s opinions. He was the only New Yorker to sign the constitution, that often gets quoted for saying “it’s a frail and worthless fabric” even thought that is usually quoted out of context. He worked very hard to create in his mind the best image of this nation. If only those in Washington would inspire to work for those visions of Hamilton, Jefferson, and Henry.

    1. phadde,

      I apologize, I meant no sarcasm, nor insult or attack. The written word can be a liability for those of us who have been trained in philosophical circles. Add the fact that I am naturally “matter-of-fact” in my mannerisms and I often come across differently than intended. That is on me.

      As to why I define words, I think you understand that point. I think you also understand the sorry state of reasoning and critical thinking in our general population. Many consider that the result of stupidity, but I count it the result of a deliberate attempt to make people ignorant and keep them that way.

      As for Hamilton: I am not his enemy. If you read me for any length of time, you will find that I am sympathetic to his argument for the necessity of central power. HOWEVER, had I been in position to do so, I would have reminded him of his earlier self:

      “A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired.”
      –Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, February 23, 1775

      I think those words speak to your question as to whether or not Hamilton was correct in his day and wrong in ours. He made a universal and eternal statement here — and it is true. Jefferson’s abuse of power in the Louisiana purchase speaks to that fact. So not even the framers were immune. Hence, Hamilton was right in pointing out the necessity to hold the States accountable, but wrong in his application of doing so by consolidating power where it WOULD be abused. This applies to then and now (at least, by my understanding of human nature it does).

    2. An argument can be made Andrew Jackson laid the groundwork for Lincoln, Wilson and FDR ignoring their Constitutional limitations… and making themselves monarchs with unlimited powers and do as they please ….

      Some even respect Jackson for his disregard for the Constitution and illegal actions. Jackson should have been impeached. Instead, “politics” won out, ignored “the law” and liberty for humankind began to be suffocated.

      1. Well on the grounds of the Constitution, Andrew Jackson abused, even though he’s one of my favorite American historical figures (just has a compelling story), he should have been impeached. However, Jackson was one of the most popular Presidents ever, the most cities in the United States are named after Jackson, at least that’s what H.W. Brands told me.

        1. After the original founders left office, I would venture to say ALL of our “popular” Presidents have been those who most abused the founding principles and ideals of our nation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s