Restricting the States - Federalist #44

Restricting the States - Federalist #44

Federalist #44 is the final installment of a series of Papers in which James Madison discusses the powers of Federal Government.

This Paper specifically covers the powers which restrict the State Governments.


Federalist #44

January 25, 1788

James Madison


One of the main reasons Anti-Federalists fought so hard against ratification of the United States Constitution were the restriction placed on the State Governments.

The States were required to cede their authority to the Federal Government in several situations and many notable Founders were not prepared to take that sitting down. 

James Madison, writing Federalist #44, attempts to calm the fears of those who believed the Constitution granted the Federal Government too much power. Surprisingly, most of his responses are very brief.

Let’s take a look at some of these restrictions. 


Treaties and Coins

The first restriction forbids the States from signing treaties, coining money or interfering with interstate contracts. 

Madison brushes off these restrictions as either being similar to those in the Articles of Confederation or being obviously opposed to the Constitution.

Furthermore, the coining of money had been an issue with the Articles which were almost unanimously agreed on as needing to change. When all the different States had different currencies, the fluctuating value adversely affected everyone. 


Imports and Exports

The second restriction prevents the States from laying taxes on imports and exports.

This was done primarily because it encompasses the Federal Government’s power to regulate trade with foreign nations as discussed in previous Papers.


Necessary and Proper

Madison goes on to discuss the ‘Necessary and Proper’ clause in the Constitution.

This section allows the Federal Government to make all laws which are necessary and proper to complete the jobs it is assigned. Many Anti-Federalists were scared of this clause as it seemed to give the Federal Government unlimited power.

Alexander Hamilton had already presented arguments in favor of this clause in Federalist #33, but Madison repeats that the Government needs to make laws to enforce that which it is responsible for.


I publish Federalist summaries every Friday.

If you’ve missed on, you can catch up here.

If you’d like to learn about the making of the Constitution, I have a recommendation for you.

‘Plain, Hones Men is one of my favorite books about the writing of the Constitution because it looks at the daily lives of the Founders as they spent the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia.

If you’d like a copy you can get it through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).

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Reader Request - Benjamin Coomer

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