Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Federalist Challenge

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay: the authors of The Federalist.

Some bloggers have blogs that focus primarily, sometimes exclusively, on their reading. Many reading bloggers also participate in reading challenges, which challenge participants to read a certain number of books in a fixed amount of time. The challenges are usually organized around a theme, such as John Mutford's Canadian Book Challenge, which challenges participants to read 13 books by Canadian authors by Canada Day 2008 (July 1). Why thirteen books? Because there are 13 Canadian provinces. There's also a Nineteenth Century Women Authors Challenge, an Outmoded Authors Challenge, an Expanding Horizons Challenge—basically, there's a reading challenge for everyone.

Here's my reading challenge. It's a personal challenge, but you're welcome to join in if, for some unearthly reason, the idea appeals to you. My challenge is to spend the rest of 2008 reading The Federalist, that great and enduring defense of the United States Constitution co-written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. There are 85 Federalist papers, which means I only have to read about two a week to complete the challenge. I'll learn from Madison why Montesquieu was wrong about republics only being a viable option for small territories (#10). I'll read Hamilton's famous treatise on impeachment (#65). And much, much more. Sound like fun? Pick up your own copy of the Federalist and join the challenge! What better way to spend an election year.

I'm currently reading from my old copy of The Federalist edited by Jacob E. Cooke (Wesleyan University Press, 1961). I plan to order a second reading copy from the Liberty Fund, an edition which also includes appendices with various ancillary documents, including the Constitution itself (cross-referenced with relevant discussions in The Federalist).

2 comments:

Jim H. said...

I just read the Minnesota Constitution, which had some rather unexpected provisions. I am strongly opposed to the proposed amendment that would dedicate a percentage of state sales tax to natural resources and the arts. Not because those things aren't important, but because the constitution is the wrong vehicle.

Reading the constitution was troubling, though, because the door may already be open with recent provisions about transportation funding.

Maybe there's something in The Federalist Papers about the limits of the constitution and the responsibility of legislators to make taxing and spending decisions.

Rob Hardy said...

Hamilton had a lot to say about taxation, since he had first hand experience of the difficulties that arose from the inability of the Continental Congress to levy taxes to pay the revolutionary army.

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