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Article 6, Clause 1



Document 3

James Madison, Federalist, no. 43, 295--96

23 Jan. 1788

This can only be considered as a declaratory proposition; and may have been inserted, among other reasons, for the satisfaction of the foreign creditors of the United States, who cannot be strangers to the pretended doctrine that a change in the political form of civil society, has the magical effect of dissolving its moral obligations.

Among the lesser criticisms which have been exercised on the Constitution, it has been remarked that the validity of engagements ought to have been asserted in favour of the United States, as well as against them; and in the spirit which usually characterizes little critics, the omission has been transformed and magnified into a plot against the national rights. The authors of this discovery may be told, what few others need be informed of, that as engagements are in their nature reciprocal, an assertion of their validity on one side necessarily involves a validity on the other side; and that as the article is merely declaratory, the establishment of the principle in one case is sufficient for every case. They may be further told that every Constitution must limit its precautions to dangers that are not altogether imaginary; and that no real danger can exist that the government would DARE, with or even without this Constitutional declaration before it, to remit the debts justly due to the public, on the pretext here condemned.


The Founders' Constitution
Volume 4, Article 6, Clause 1, Document 3
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a6_1s3.html
The University of Chicago Press

Hamilton, Alexander; Madison, James; and Jay, John. The Federalist. Edited by Jacob E. Cooke. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1961.

Easy to print version.


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