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This Day In Founding Fathers History – 11 December 2012

On this day in 1787, Madison’s Federalist No. 20, “The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation, Continued,” was published in The New York Packet. In this Federalist Paper, Madison continues what he put forth in the previous four papers of the same title. No. 20 summarizes the Stadholdership system of the Dutch Republic and critiques its similarities with the current system. He summarizes this topic: “I make no apology for having dwelt so long on the contemplation of these federal precedents. Experience is the oracle of truth; and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be conclusive and sacred. The important truth, which it unequivocally pronounces in the present case, is that a sovereignty over sovereigns, a government over governments, a legislation for communities, as contradistinguished from individuals, as it is a solecism in theory, so in practice it is subversive of the order and ends of civil polity, by substituting VIOLENCE in place of LAW, or the destructive COERCION of the SWORD in place of the mild and salutary COERCION of the MAGISTRACY.” 1

In 1762 on this day, Benjamin Franklin wrote to his friend Jared Ingersoll about a visit between them. He inquired of Ingersoll: “I should be glad to know what it is that distinguishes Connecticut Religion from common Religion…When I traveled to Flanders I thought of your excessively strict Observation of Sunday; and that a Man could hardly travel on that day among you upon his lawful Occasions, without Hazard of Punishment; while where I was, every one travell’d, if he pleas’d, or diverted himself any other way; and in the Afternoon both high and low went to the Play or the Opera…I look’d round for God’s Judgments but saw no Signs of them. The Cities were well built, the Markets fill’d with Plenty, the People well favour’d; the Fields well till’d…which would almost make one suspect, that the Deity is not so angry at that Offence as a New England Justice.” 2

1 Federalist No. 20, The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation, Continued, James Madison
2 The works of Benjamin Franklin: including the private as well as the official and scientific correspondence together with the unmutilated and correct version of the Autobiography, Volume 12 


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