Starting on my goal to read the federalist papers and glean a greater understanding of the logic of the founders, today I tackled Federalist No. 1 – the introduction. I like the way that the topic is opened with the admission that noble intent may lead to the wrong side of a great question just as base intent may lead to the right side of the same question and we must therefore look to the truth, and not merely the intent of those who make the argument.
I also enjoyed the predictions of how the public discussion would play out – it sounded very familiar:
. . . we have already sufficient indications that it will happen in this as in all former cases of great national discussion. A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives.
I also really liked that despite the goal to lead people to the truth so that they could make up their own mind the bias of the author is freely given:
Yes, my countrymen, I own to you that, after having given it an attentive consideration, I am clearly of opinion it is your interest to adopt it (the constitution). I am convinced that this is the safest course for your liberty, your dignity, and your happiness. I affect not reserves which I do not feel. I will not amuse you with an appearance of deliberation when I have decided. I frankly acknowledge to you my convictions, and I will freely lay before you the reasons on which they are founded. (emphasis added)
It seems to me a mark of a strong character (and probably a strong position as well) that an author would openly admit their bias on the subject of their writing so that it can be openly challenged. It reminds me of one of my favorite quips if someone says I’m biased about my wife being pretty or my children being smart:
Just because I’m biased does not mean I’m wrong.