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The Federalist Papers Discuss Constitution's Critics











By Mary E. Webster
April 19, 2014

When I was a child, we were taught—in public school—that people made the long trip to the New World for religious freedom. Although I came from a very religious home, I couldn’t even imagine leaving everything behind, traveling for weeks in a creaky, filthy old boat, settling in a wilderness with not a single convenience, knowing they will probably never see family and friends again, and facing dangerous people and animals. To me, even as a child with religion in every part of my life, I couldn’t imagine that religion could possibly be so important that people would sacrifice so much just to have religious freedom.

Currently, we have “religious freedom” in our Constitution. Yet many people are fighting for “freedom from religion.” Therefore, we must continue to work for “religious freedom” for ourselves and our descendants. However, we do not have to suffer like our forefathers. Instead, all we have to do is teach our fellow citizens about the Constitution and vote.

Learning about how our Founding Fathers thought about God has given me the courage to speak more freely about God and my religious faith. I’ve put examples from The Federalist Papers below.

John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, probably wrote Federalist #2. (All Federalist Papers were published anonymously.) In it, the author tells us that God gave us this beautiful country:

“America is one connected, fertile, wide-spreading country. Providence blessed it with a variety of soils, watered with countless streams to delight and fulfill the needs of its inhabitants. As if to tie it together, navigable water forms a chain around its borders. The noblest rivers in the world form convenient highways for easy communication and transportation of commodities.

“Providence gave this one connected country to one united people. The people speak the same language and profess the same religion. They believe in the same principles of government and have similar manners and customs. They fought side by side through a long and bloody war, establishing liberty and independence.

“This country and this people seem to have been made for each other. It appears like this inheritance was designed by Providence for a band of brethren united by the strongest ties. They should never split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.” Federalist Paper #2 [paragraphs 4-6]*

Federalist Paper #20 credits God’s help in writing a new Constitution:

“Patriots have convened four conventions to find a remedy to these potentially fatal vices [in the Articles of Confederation]. But they haven’t been able to convince a majority of the people that the existing constitution needs to be corrected before it completely fails.

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“Let us pause for one moment, my fellow citizens, over this sad history lesson. Let’s shed a tear for the calamities that result from mankind’s adverse opinions and selfish passions. Then let our praise of gratitude for the amity distinguishing our political counsels rise to Heaven.” #20 [21]

Federalist Paper #37 credits God for His help both during the Revolutionary War and writing the Constitution.

“Sitting at home, alone, a person could write a ‘perfect’ constitution. But the constitutional convention felt pressure from all sides; it couldn’t be ‘perfect.’ It’s amazing that so many difficulties were surmounted. The convention’s ability to reach agreements was unprecedented. Any honest man must find this amazing. Any pious man must see the finger of that Almighty hand that has so frequently come to our relief at critical times of the revolution.” #37 [14]

© 2014 Mary E. Webster - All Rights Reserved

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Mary E Webster, a graduate of St. Paul College and the University of Iowa, started studying The Federalist Papers in 1994. Her books, including a 10th-grade reading level translation of the Papers, The Federalist Papers: Modern English Edition Two, and The U.S. Constitution: Annotated with The Federalist Papers in Modern English make the timeless arguments within the Papers available to everyone. Webster is related to Noah and Daniel Webster and a direct descendent of several signers of the Mayflower Compact.


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John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, probably wrote Federalist #2. (All Federalist Papers were published anonymously.) In it, the author tells us that God gave us this beautiful country...