Certain General and Miscellaneous Objections to the Constitution Considered and Answered (Hamilton)
Federalist No. 84 is an essay by Alexander Hamilton that is notable for presenting the thought that the Bill of rights was not a component of the U.S.’s proposed constitution. As originally written, the US constitution did not protect the people’s rights. This was due to the fact that most Americans opposed inclusion of such a bill as it was thought that it was a list of the only rights that the people could afford.
Alexander Hamilton therefore answers by objecting that the proposed constitution did not include the Bill of Rights. Hamilton begins by indicating that the Constitution contained some provisions that protected the rights including the religious tests, ex facto laws, and impairment of contracts. Hamilton insists that the Constitution is itself a bill of rights as it creates a government by which should secure people’s rights. He gives the reason for not including the bill of rights in the constitution as due to the difference between the federal and state constitutions. For States, they have broad reserved power unlike the federal government that had less power and thus could not guard against individual rights. He further explains that therefore the federal government does not have the powers to address individual rights, arguing that “would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted…” (Hamilton, et al., 580).
Lack of bill of rights became a rallying point for anti-federalists during ratification and so Hamilton had opposed the bill of rights and he drafted the essay himself to ensure that the amendments did not interfere with the Constitution’s original message. He thus explains that the purpose of the Constitution is to protect the people’s rights that stem from them and not the government while the powers of the federal government are only limited to the people delegated to it by the people in the Constitution. This shows that the bill of rights is a distinctive mark of the people’s liberty.
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