Commentary on Brutus I

The New York Antifederalist, anticipating by two weeks the opening paragraph of Federalist 1, also addressed to the people of New York, introduces his own first essay with the observation that “the most important question that was ever proposed to your decision, or to the decision of any people under heaven, is before you.” Nothing less than “the dignity of human nature” and the blessings of liberty are at stake. Brutus then argues that “although the government reported by the convention does not go to a perfect and entire consolidation, yet it approaches so near to it, that it must, if executed, certainly and infallibly terminate in it.” The necessary and proper clause, the supremacy clause, and the judicial power have the potentiality to transform America from a system of confederated states into a “complete consolidated government.” And anticipating the distinction between a democracy and a republic in Federalist 10 and 63, and agreeing that a representative government is to be preferred to a pure democracy, Brutus then argues that, contrary to wisdom and experience, the Framers have given us “an extensive republic” rather than a confederation of small republics. A “free republic” over “such vast extent” of territory is impracticable because, in time, the people will become “acquainted with very few of their rulers” and lose “confidence” in, and control over, the government.