Political Philosophy essay

Alexander Hamilton, the conservative Secretary of the Treasury and Thomas Jefferson who was the Secretary of State, were two of the popular figures in American history who were said to have “greatly influenced much of the American political dialogue” (Skidmore 70). The differences in the doctrines or in the political thought that they pursue eventually influenced how the American government was to function (Skidmore 70).

The views on the expansion of the federal government was one of the differences between Hamilton and Jefferson, in that Jefferson feared such an expansion while Hamilton supported the expansionist central authority of the federal government. The underlying reasons for this should therefore thoroughly studied in the light of the American history. This paper aims firstly to present the opposing views of Jefferson and Hamilton expansion of the federal government. Secondly, the paper aims to present case laws which give the judiciary the judicial power considered to be an expansion of the federal government.

Finally, the paper hopes to give its observation and conclusion based on the differing views of both Jefferson and Hamilton. Political Philosophy of Jefferson and Hamilton Jefferson’s political philosophy was said to have emphasized on human rights and sought to limit the power of the government (Skidmore 70). Thus, as Skidmore states in his article entitled “American Political Thought,” that Jefferson “favored the development of an American republic based upon states’ rights and small independent farmers” (70).

Jefferson was also said to have favored the “strict construction of the Constitution to limit the national government by preventing it from assuming powers not explicitly stated in that document,” placing more faith in local institutions which he claimed as “closer to the people and less susceptible to corruption” (Skidmore 71). His view of human nature was optimistic and believed in the “ability of human beings to govern themselves without external coercion” (Skidmore 71). Jefferson suggested rigid limitations on the power holders because of the corrupting influences of power and placed faith in human reason (Skidmore 71).

Aside from this, Jefferson believed in the so-called “creation of small republics within which every man in the state would act as a member of the Common government transacting in person a great portion of its rights and duties” (Skidmore 72). These “small republics” was for the purpose of enhancing the power of each citizen (Skidmore 72). Furthermore, Jefferson believed that in order for true freedom to exist, “a person must share in the public power as an individual and not merely as a member of a majority or of the mass” (Skidmore 73).

Alexander Hamilton on the otherhand, was said to have favored republicanism and sought to strengthen the power of the government to provide “the most firmly established state possible” though still believed that governmental authority is to be founded upon consent (Skidmore 75). He believed that the rich and the wellborn were the ones who possessed the ability and wisdom to govern and that “legislation should be directed toward establishing their rule” (Skidmore 75). His fear of a mob was in contrast with Jefferson’s notion of the people’s capacity for self-government (Skidmore 75).

Hence, he strongly believed that building a strong nation would entail a strong central government and an economy built upon manufacturing, not the agrarian society as that espoused by Jefferson (Skidmore 75). Urbanism he believed, would pave the way for the growth of industrialism (Skidmore 75). Aiding industries, currency manipulation, and a national debt would, according to Hamilton, strengthen the economy (Skidmore 75). Thus, from these, one can observe that Hamilton’s major concern was the adequacy of power, while Jefferson was the adequacy on the limitations of power (Skidmore 76).

While Hamilton emphasizes on a strong national government, Jefferson on the otherhand emphasized on decentralization (Skidmore 76). And while “Jefferson frequently dealt with the moral aspects of governmental actions, Hamilton tended to concern himself solely with the practical consequences as they related to national power” (Skidmore 76). Federalists versus Republicans Under Hamilton’s leadership, it was said that “centralization proceeded rapidly through the enactment by Congress of a tariff to protect manufacturers, laid excise taxes and even used force to collect them” and even at the expense of non-commercial groups (Skidmore 77).

Because of the turn of events and opposition to some of the policies, troubled President Washington turned to his Cabinet for opinion (Skidmore 77). When a legislation was then passed in 1791 creating a bank of United States, Jefferson using the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, stated that, “there were rights reserved to the states or to the people all the powers not delegated to the national government and that to take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power no longer susceptible of any definition” (Skidmore 77).

This then shows Jefferson’s assertion of the doctrine of strict construction of the Constitution (Skidmore 77). Hamilton on the otherhand, favored a loose construction and remarked on the constitutionality of the bank, using the doctrine of implied powers arguing that “inherent in the very definition of government is the principle that every power vested in a government is sovereign and presupposes the power also to exercise any means necessary to carry out a permitted action, so long as the methods are consistent with the goal and are not otherwise prohibited” (Skidmore 78).

He asserted that “it would not lead to uncontrolled power but that it is sovereign to a certain extent or to the extent of the objects of its specified powers” (Skidmore 78). Judicial Review Federalism and two largely independent sets of laws were said to be the main reasons why people to turn to the courts for clarification and choice of law (Feeley and Krislov 3). Thus it is said that this situation then leads to an “established the pattern of high judicial involvement in public matters” (Feeley and Krislov 3). Aside from this, “U. S.

Supreme Court’s prestige and power also flow from its right of judicial review or the power to declare unconstitutional laws of Congress, laws of state governments and actions and regulations of the executive” (Feeley and Krislov 3). Thus, it was said that the Court enhances its position whenever it sustains actions of another branch or is just exercising a judicial authority (Feeley and Krislov 3). The power then of judicial review was viewed as courts expanding its authority over public issues, policies and institutions to which the Jeffersonians considered as “usurpation of power” (Skidmore 80).

The case of Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137 (1803), is a considered great precedent for the power of judicial review. In this case, the Court in determining whether or not the refusal of President Jefferson and Secretary Madison in delivering to the Senate confirmees or the midnight judges their positions was a vested legal right, the Court ruled in the affirmative and ruled that said confirmees had the right to claim for a remedy for the violation of such a legal right (Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 1803).

The court emphasized the power of judicial review in that “the province and duty of the judicial department is to say what the law is and if a law be in opposition to the constitution court must decide that case, either conformable to the law, or conformable to the constitution, which govern to each particular case considered to be the very essence of judicial duty” right (Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 1803). This case is the first Supreme Court opinion explicitly asserting the power of judicial review which ruled on the power to strike down federal statutes that violated the constitution (Farber, Eskridge Jr. , and Frickey 8)

The Supreme Court was said to have tried to evolve notions of legal control and constitutional order in times of crisis (Feeley 94). There are instances where judicial branch check other branches of the government with partnership of other separate branches of the government (Feeley 95). For instance, in McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat 316 (1819), the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the establishment of a national bank by Congress and invalidated the state tax considered as inconsistent with federal supremacy (Farber et al. 9).

In this case, Justice Marshall relied on the principles of general reasoning as well as on the necessary and proper clause of Article I Section 8 of the United States Constitution that permitted Congress to exercise broad implied powers (McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat 316, 1819). The reasons given by the Court is that the establishment of the bank is not among the limitations on those powers and its terms purport to enlarge and not to diminish the powers vested in the government (McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat 316, 1819). As explained by Justice Marshall, it was an additional power not a restriction on those already granted (McCulloch v.

Maryland, 4 Wheat 316, 1819). Furthermore, in declaring the tax imposed as unconstitutional, Justice Marshall explained that said tax imposed on the operations of the bank and is consequently a tax on the operation of an instrument of the Union to carry its powers into execution and hence unconstitutional granted (McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat 316, 1819). In the Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheaton 1 (1824), the Court ruled on a broad interpretation of Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce and to preempt the states’ laws to achieve national goals (Farber 9).

It ruled that the power to regulate like all others vested in congress is complete in itself and may be exercised to its utmost extent and acknowledges no limitations other than are prescribed in the constitution (Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheaton 1,1824). Conclusion In these, it can be seen that the power of judiciary or their power of judicial review is indeed one of those which may be considered as an expansion of federal government, giving such power to determine whether or not the action of a branch of the government is in accordance with the Constitution or the laws of the land.

This power was then feared by Jefferson mainly because of the scope of influence it has in the operations of the entire federal government which may somehow impose upon states. On the otherhand, Hamilton would certainly favor this expansionist central authority in order to establish a stronger national government which he believed would lead to the development of the nation. The case laws indeed manifest the Supreme Court’s importance in deciding any constitutional crisis especially in terms of what the law should be.

Hence, as Feeley puts it, “the Supreme Court or the judiciary as a whole derives its legitimacy from the general support given to the Supreme Court and judicial review through most of United State’s history” (Feeley 4). Because of this power, judicial review must then endeavor to balance federalism with the states power and strive hard to make decisions which would entirely benefit the federal government as a whole.

Works Cited

Parber, Daniel, William Eskridge, Jr. and Philip Frickey. Constitutional Law: Themes for the Constitution’s Third Century. Minnesota: West Publishing Co. , 1993. 8-9. Feeley, Malcolm and Samuel Krislov. Constitutional Law, 2nd Edition. Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1990. 3-4, 94-95. Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheaton 1 (1824) Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137 (1803) McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat 316 (1819) Skidmore, Max. American Political Thought. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 1978. 70-80.