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PSC 201: American Government

Serow (ed) Lanahan Readings in the American Polity, 3/e

Parts 3 & 4: Separation of Powers & Federalism.  Student Outlines

compiled from student contributions (thanks) by Jeremy Lewis
Last revised 9 Aug 2002.  Please click your Reload button to see the latest version.
15: James Madison, Federalist 51.
16: Woodrow Wilson, "Congressional Government".
17: James S. Young, "Wash. Community."
19: James Madison, "Federalist 39 & 46."
20: Daniel Elazar, "American Federalism."

15: James Madison, FEDERALIST 51
(Sarah Hess, 2000)
“Father of our Constitution”

 ~Born in VA, 1st of 12 Children
 ~Good Student, Princeton University
 ~No direction out of college, Drawn into politics by the revolution

 ~1776 elected to constitutional convention
 ~felt strongly about religious freedom~constant theme of career
 ~advocate for federal structure
 ~separation of church and state
 ~Wrote VA plan
 ~thought confederate Gov. shoud have more power at the expense of the states

 ~other offices held include: VA house of delegates, sec of state for Jefferson, Pres in 1808

Federalist 51
 ~papers written as propaganda to get the constitution ratified
 ~51 talks about the separation of powers into the three branches of gov.
~Balance of power to keep each branch in check

"But what is gov. itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?  If man were angels no government would be necessary.  If angels were to govern men neither external nor internal controls on governmant would be necessary."

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16: Woodrow Wilson     (Separation of Powers)
(Kelly Armstrong, 2000)

  President of Princeton
  Gov. of New Jersey
  President of U.S 1912-1920
  Proposed the 14 points with the 14th being the League of Nations for the Versilles Treaty to end WWI.  Senator Henry Cabot Lodge led the foreign relations committee in blocking the League of Nations so US never agreed

  Tall and skinny
  Married Edith after his first wife, Edith, died
  Had a stroke 1919 that left him basically incompetent

Main points:
Wilson criticizes the fragmentation of power and lack of clear accountablility in the American structure of government.

Wilson was influenced by Walter Bagehot, a British Economist, political theorist, and journalist, who wrote The English Constitution, a book that had great influence on Wilson.  Wilson much agreed with the English Parliament which had no division between the Executive and Legislative Branches

Wilson understood why the framers had separated the two great branches of the system in order to guarantee the Constitution it own domain and be safe from tyrants like George III

Importantly, Wilson felt, "As at present constituted, the federal government lacks strength because its powers are divided, lacks promptness because its authorities are multiplied, lacks wieldiness because its processes are roundabout, lacks efficiency because its responsibility is indistinct and its action without competent direction" without separation of powers.

17: James Sterling Young, "The Washington Community 1800-1828," 
By Theresa Steele, 2001

Nature of Author's Writings: 

     Young writes about the social makeups of communitites and how this governs certain lifestyles. 

Main points of reading: 

     "The settlement pattern of a community is the sigature that a social organization inscribes
     upon a landscape." 
     The way social organizations segregate themselves into communitites relates wholey to
     how they are segregated in the political or professional arena.
     The distinct groups of the governmental arena segregated themselves into groups of
     "we's" and "they's." 
     The community structure of this time mirrored the governmental structure itself, a
     "seperation of powers." 
     These party members felt a stronger sense of identification with their constitutional roles
     than with their more partisan roles. 
     "Rulers generally considered themsleves executives, legislators, or judges first, and
     politicians, or party members second." 
     This leads to not only a division in the communitites, but a division as well in the house and
     senate area of professional life. 
     "Power made a community of cultural strangers." 
     There were also very many prejudices among the "power holders" from the north or New
     England, and those from the southern region. 
     This led to a disrupted scene on the floors of both the House and Senate. 
     Compared to Hyde Park in London, where it seemed as though all were just on a soap
     box spouting out their different beliefs and no concrete decision making was done.


     This system of governmental prejudice and segregation was "more anarchic than
     "At a time when citizen interest in national government was at its lowest point in history the
     power-holders on the Potomac fashioned a system of surpassing excellence for
     representing the people and grossly deficient in the means for governing the people."

Discussion Questions: 

     How much if any has the political system changed today, in terms of segregated parties
     and ideas? 
     Is there a more cohesive and sound working model in todays House and Senate or is it
     still, in a way, a Hyde Park? 

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19: James Madison- Federalist 39 & 46
Tiffany Holley, 2002

-Republic-a gov't which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, & is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period during good behavior.
    -essential that it be derived from the great body of the society
    -sufficient for such a gov't that the persons administering it be appointed by the people.
-Adversaries say it was not sufficient for the Constitution to adhere to the Republican form.
    -ought to have preserved the federal form, which regards the Union as a Confederacy of sovereign states.
-On one hand the Constitution is to be founded on the assent and ratification of the people of America, given by deputies elected for the special purpose.
-On the other hand, that this assent and ratification is to be given by the people, not as individuals composing one entire nation, but as composing the distinct and independent States to which they respectively belong.
-The act of the people, as forming so many independent states, not as forming one aggregate nation is a result of a unanimous assent of the several states that are parties to it.
-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.
-House of Representatives will derive its powers from the people of America.
-Senate will derive its powers from the States as political and coequal societies; and these will be represented on the principle of equality in the Senate.
-The executive power will be derived from a compound source.
    -The immediate election of the President is to be made by the States in their political characters.
-The proposed Constitution is neither a national or a federal Constitution, but a compromise of both.
-Sources from which the ordinary powers of the gov't are drawn-partly federal and partly national.
-Operation of these powers-national
-Authoritative mode of introducing amendments-neither wholly federal nor wholly national

Federalist # 46

-Federal and State govt's are substantially dependent on the great body of the citizens of the U.S.
-Federal and State govt's constituted with different powers and designed fro different purposes.
-Ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone.
-The first and most natural attachment of the people will be to the gov'ts of their respective States.

Federalist Papers No. 36 and No. 49
notes from slides by Tanner Cremeans, Fall 2016

It is ESSENTIAL to have a government derived from the great body of people, not just a favored proportion. 

Elected officials are the administrators of government.

Their term of service is to be limited by time, good behavior, or as long as their favorability is maintained.

Ratification of a Federal Constitution 

The ratification must result from the unanimous assent of the states, not by the legislative authority, but by the people themselves. 
The ratification must result from the unanimous assent of the states, not by the legislative authority, but by the people themselves. 

Where will the power be?

The House will derive power from the people
The Senate will derive power from the state
The Executive’s power will be derived from a compound source, and the election of the president will be made by the states.
This, according to Madison would present a mixed government between the state and federal level. 
Federal and State
Both governments will be dependent on the great body of the citizens of the United States.
Officials who are found lost within their power must be reminded that the ultimate authority resides in the people alone.

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20: Daniel Elazar-American Federalism
Tiffany Holley, 2002

-Over 2 centuries, change and flexibility have marked American federalism
    -the national and state gov'ts have shared power in different ways, to different degrees, with different roles.
-Elazar defends the importance of state gov'ts: managers of gov't programs
-Every day the states are actively contributing to the achievement of American goals and to the continuing efforts to define those goals.
-An apparent loss of freedom in one sphere may be more than made up by gains in another.
-National values change by popular consensus and all gov'ts must adapt themselves to those changes.
-The success of the states is that they have been able to adapt themselves well.
    -Part of the states' adaptation has been manifested in their efforts to improve their institutional capabilities to handle the new tasks they have assumed.
    -Been a great and continuing increase in the states' supervision of the functions carried out in their local subdivisions.
        -been increased through the provision of technical aid to their localities, through financial grants, and through control of the power to raise revenue for all subdivisions.
-States have been unwilling or unable to do enough to meet metropolitan problems
-Management and innovation in education continue to be primary state responsibilities in which outside aid is used to support locally initiated ideas.
-Federal grants have served as a stimulus to the development of state capabilities and have helped their strength and vitality.
    -Broadening the programs they can offer their citizens.
-2 kinds of conflicts connected with federal-state relations
    -conflicts between interests that use the federal vs. state argument as a means to legitimize their demands.
    -low-level conflicts over the best way to handle specific cooperative activities
-Noncentralized character of American politics has served to strengthen the states
    -functions to a great extent through bargaining and negotiation
-States remain viable because they exist as civil societies with political systems of their own
-States remain important in a continental nation as reflectors of sectional and regional differences that are enhanced by the growing social and economic complexity of every part of the country.
-Remain important as experimenters and innovators over a wider range of fields than ever before
    -because gov't at every level in the U.S. has been expanding
-2 ways traditional roles of the states have been enhanced
    -become more active promoters and administrators of public services
    -become increasingly able to manage major governmental activities with the competence and expertise demanded by the metropolitan-technological frontier

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