Archive for September, 2010

An example of how the Supreme Court is still asked to interpret the 1st Amendment

Should hateful speech always be protected?

Is it protected on public property?

Is it protected at a military funeral, even if the family is devastated by the hateful speech directed at their deceased loved one?

Here’s the case:

How would you decide?

Even digital records are short-lived

Many people believe that digital records are more secure than previous media. In terms of sound files, the current common format of mp.3 and mp.4 apparently lasts even less time than audiotape, according to this story:

Check out this interesting report, and ponder its implications for the history profession. or even your own collection of video and sound files.

CHAPTERS 11 DUE Monday and and 12 is DUE Tuesday!

Get ’em done!

The Federalist Papers, number 10

The results of the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention received decidedly mixed reviews. There was a quite sizeable opposition to the new document, for reasons such as its lack of a declaration of rights and a fear of a strong central government leading to tyranny. James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay were ardent Nationalists who supported the ratification of the Constitution. Therefore, under the pseudonym “Publius”, they collectively wrote a series of 85 newspaper articles to convince Americans of the necessity to strengthen the national government.

The article below is the most famous of the essays, written by James Madison, puts forth the argument that the ratification of the Constitution would prevent American from fragmenting into numerous groups, or factions, from paralyzing the country. It is a continuation of the Federalist 9, which also addressed the subject of faction.

The Federalist No. 10

The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection (continued)

Daily Advertiser
Thursday, November 22, 1787
[James Madison]

To the People of the State of New York:

AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice. He will not fail, therefore, to set a due value on any plan which, without violating the principles to which he is attached, provides a proper cure for it. The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished; as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations. The valuable improvements made by the American constitutions on the popular models, both ancient and modern, cannot certainly be too much admired; but it would be an unwarrantable partiality, to contend that they have as effectually obviated the danger on this side, as was wished and expected. Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority. However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no foundation, the evidence, of known facts will not permit us to deny that they are in some degree true. It will be found, indeed, on a candid review of our situation, that some of the distresses under which we labor have been erroneously charged on the operation of our governments; but it will be found, at the same time, that other causes will not alone account for many of our heaviest misfortunes; and, particularly, for that prevailing and increasing distrust of public engagements, and alarm for private rights, which are echoed from one end of the continent to the other. These must be chiefly, if not wholly, effects of the unsteadiness and injustice with which a factious spirit has tainted our public administrations.

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.

No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time; yet what are many of the most important acts of legislation, but so many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concerning the rights of large bodies of citizens? And what are the different classes of legislators but advocates and parties to the causes which they determine? Is a law proposed concerning private debts? It is a question to which the creditors are parties on one side and the debtors on the other. Justice ought to hold the balance between them. Yet the parties are, and must be, themselves the judges; and the most numerous party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction must be expected to prevail. Shall domestic manufactures be encouraged, and in what degree, by restrictions on foreign manufactures? are questions which would be differently decided by the landed and the manufacturing classes, and probably by neither with a sole regard to justice and the public good. The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets.

It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.

The inference to which we are brought is, that the causes of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects.

If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution. When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries are directed. Let me add that it is the great desideratum by which this form of government can be rescued from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.

By what means is this object attainable? Evidently by one of two only. Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time must be prevented, or the majority, having such coexistent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression. If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered to coincide, we well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control. They are not found to be such on the injustice and violence of individuals, and lose their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together, that is, in proportion as their efficacy becomes needful.

From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.

A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union.

The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.

The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people. The question resulting is, whether small or extensive republics are more favorable to the election of proper guardians of the public weal; and it is clearly decided in favor of the latter by two obvious considerations:

In the first place, it is to be remarked that, however small the republic may be, the representatives must be raised to a certain number, in order to guard against the cabals of a few; and that, however large it may be, they must be limited to a certain number, in order to guard against the confusion of a multitude. Hence, the number of representatives in the two cases not being in proportion to that of the two constituents, and being proportionally greater in the small republic, it follows that, if the proportion of fit characters be not less in the large than in the small republic, the former will present a greater option, and consequently a greater probability of a fit choice.

In the next place, as each representative will be chosen by a greater number of citizens in the large than in the small republic, it will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with success the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried; and the suffrages of the people being more free, will be more likely to centre in men who possess the most attractive merit and the most diffusive and established characters.

It must be confessed that in this, as in most other cases, there is a mean, on both sides of which inconveniences will be found to lie. By enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the representatives too little acquainted with all their local circumstances and lesser interests; as by reducing it too much, you render him unduly attached to these, and too little fit to comprehend and pursue great and national objects. The federal Constitution forms a happy combination in this respect; the great and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local and particular to the State legislatures.

The other point of difference is, the greater number of citizens and extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of republican than of democratic government; and it is this circumstance principally which renders factious combinations less to be dreaded in the former than in the latter. The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other. Besides other impediments, it may be remarked that, where there is a consciousness of unjust or dishonorable purposes, communication is always checked by distrust in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary.

Hence, it clearly appears, that the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic, — is enjoyed by the Union over the States composing it. Does the advantage consist in the substitution of representatives whose enlightened views and virtuous sentiments render them superior to local prejudices and schemes of injustice? It will not be denied that the representation of the Union will be most likely to possess these requisite endowments. Does it consist in the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest? In an equal degree does the increased variety of parties comprised within the Union, increase this security. Does it, in fine, consist in the greater obstacles opposed to the concert and accomplishment of the secret wishes of an unjust and interested majority? Here, again, the extent of the Union gives it the most palpable advantage.

The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source. A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.

In the extent and proper structure of the Union, therefore, we behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government. And according to the degree of pleasure and pride we feel in being republicans, ought to be our zeal in cherishing the spirit and supporting the character of Federalists.


Links for further information:
USInfo’ introduction of the Federalist 10

Outline Chapter 10

Outline format chapter 10
Due Monday, September 20

Explain the significance as well as the details. Decide whether items should be subheadings (A, B, C) or details. Add other details as needed.

I. What problems did the first federal government face?
Individual rights and the Bill of Rights
Taxes and Whiskey Rebellion
Factions develop
Foreign relations
French Rev.
Hamilton-Jefferson feud

II. How did Washington’s regime establish several precedents?
Bill of Rights
Department of State
Department of War
Department of Treasury
Farewell Address
Warnings about political parties

III. Adams’ Presidency
Undeclared war with France
Alien and Sedition Acts
Convention of 1800
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions
Parties become permanent parts of the political landscape- why?

I feel a blog reading quiz coming on….

And if such a thing WERE to occur, say, Friday or Monday, here’s what I would probably ask about:

From the post on philosophers:

Complete the quote:”When Locke comes to explain how government comes into being, he uses the idea that people agree that their condition in the state of nature is unsatisfactory, and so agree to transfer some of their rights to a central government, while retaining others. This is the theory of the_____________________.”

According to Locke, when is rebellion justified?

Thomas Hobbes’ greatest work is known as __________________________.

Hobbes describes the state of nature as being what?

Hobbes argued that effective government must have what characteristic?

What is the minimal meaning of the word “constitution?”

From the post on Montesquieu:

Montesquieu’s most famous work of political philosophy was what book?

What type of government did Montesquieu consider to be best? Into what three categories did he divide governments?

What concept is Montesquieu’s greatest contribution to the writing of the US Constitution?

From the post on the Virginia Declaration of Rights:

What was George Mason’s objection to the original US Constitution, and what action did he take?

What did Mason believe about standing armies and militia?

Mason actually lists 5 things to which mean have inalienable rights. What are they?

George Mason and the Virginia Declaration of Rights

Many “democrats”– those who believed that the people should themselves have the ability to vote as much as possible– decried the Constitution when it was finished, because it contained no bill or statement of rights for individuals to protect them against the tendency of government to suppress civil liberties. This lack was one of the main anti-Federalist arguments again ratification of the Constitution.

Here is the Virginia Declaration of Rights that George Mason– wealthy planter, democrat, and homegrown political philosopher– had written with James Madison in June of 1776 for the Virginia Constitution.When the US Constitution as written did not contain a similar statement and assurance of personal liberties, George Mason refused to sign it, along with Elbridge Gerry.

A DECLARATION OF RIGHTS made by the representatives of the good people of Virginia, assembled in full and free convention which rights do pertain to them and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of government.

Section 1. That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

Section 2. That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.

Section 3. That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation or community; of all the various modes and forms of government that is best, which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration; and that, whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.

Section 4. That no man, or set of men, are entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services; which, not being descendible, neither ought the offices of magistrate, legislator, or judge be hereditary.

Section 5. That the legislative and executive powers of the state should be separate and distinct from the judicative; and, that the members of the two first may be restrained from oppression by feeling and participating the burthens of the people, they should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private station, return into that body from which they were originally taken, and the vacancies be supplied by frequent, certain, and regular elections in which all, or any part of the former members, to be again eligible, or ineligible, as the laws shall direct.

Section 6. That elections of members to serve as representatives of the people in assembly ought to be free; and that all men, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to, the community have the right of suffrage and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for public uses without their own consent or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, assented, for the public good.

Section 7. That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority without consent of the representatives of the people is injurious to their rights and ought not to be exercised.

Section 8. That in all capital or criminal prosecutions a man hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence in his favor, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of his vicinage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty, nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself; that no man be deprived of his liberty except by the law of the land or the judgement of his peers.

Section 9. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed; nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Section 10. That general warrants, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offense is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive and ought not to be granted.

Section 11. That in controversies respecting property and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is preferable to any other and ought to be held sacred.

Section 12. That the freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.

Section 13. That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and be governed by, the civil power.

Section 14. That the people have a right to uniform government; and therefore, that no government separate from, or independent of, the government of Virginia, ought to be erected or established within the limits thereof.

Section 15. That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

Section 16. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.

Ap review text

Fast Track to a 5: Preparing for the AP United States History Examination by Mark Epstein. This book goes along with your textbook, and includes page numbers.

Links for info-philosophers , updated

On John Locke: — you can read the whole thing, or start at the section on the Two Treatises.

Thomas Hobbes’ moral and political theory: — I like the part about the state of nature is a state of war. He’s so cheery!


State constitutions of the Revolutionary Era:

the Baron de Montesquieu:

Jefferson Ascendant: A Summary of the Jefferson-Hamilton dispute

I found this online here, and thought it was a pretty good summary of the Jefferson- Hamilton divide that led to the founding of political parties in America.

Jefferson Ascendant

© 1996 David G. Post. Permission granted to redistribute freely, in whole or in part,with this notice attached.

David G. Post

Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
Policy Fellow, Electronic Frontier Foundation

When Newt Gingrich’s House of Representatives recently set up its first outpost on the Internet, it chose to name it “Thomas” in honor of Mr. Jefferson — a small but telling symbol of the ascendancy of the “Jeffersonian vision” not only in the realm of politics, but in the realm of high technology as well.
Jefferson and Hamilton remain the two great pole stars in American politics, their feud surely the longest-running in American political history. The two men staked out opposing positions and battled over most of the great issues on which the fate of the infant Republic was seen to depend –states’ rights versus a strong national authority, agriculture versus manufacturing, legislative power versus executive power, free trade versus mercantilism, yeomanry versus the elite. Their intellectual descendants continue to do battle to this day.

To be sure, theirs was a debate about means, not ends: both men were deeply committed to the republican ideal, to the legitimacy of only those governments grounded upon the consent of the governed, and to the primacy of individual liberty in the constellation of natural rights. But they held fundamentally different views about the nature and the proper exercise of governmental power and the manner in which governmental power could best be brought to bear so as to secure that liberty.

For Jefferson, power was always a corrupting force, and concentrations of power were always to be avoided lest the Republic founder:

“What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian Senate.”

Diffusion and decentralization of power were the touchstones of the Jeffersonian philosophy. Jefferson was, in his own words, “not a friend to a very energetic government,” finding it “always oppressive” in that it “places the governors indeed more at their ease, at the expense of the people.” The government he sought, as he declared in his First Inaugural Address, was one “which shall restrain men from injuring one another [but] which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” Because “men are disposed to live honestly, if the means of doing so are open to them,” they required little direction from central authority to manage their affairs: “Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread,” he observed, later adding, in a letter to his friend Gideon Granger, that “when all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and we will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.”

To Hamilton, this was all anarchy and riot, a “dance to the tune of liberty without law,” put forth by “never to be satiated lovers of innovation and change.” Power tends to corrupt, to be sure; but “the possibility of abuse is no argument against the thing,”and “too little power is as dangerous as too much.”

“History is full of examples, where in contests for liberty, a jealousy of power has either defeated the attempts to recover or preserve it in the first instance, or has afterwards subverted it by clogging government with too great precautions for its felicity, or by leaving too wide a door for sedition and popular licentiousness. In a government framed for durable liberty, not less regard must be paid to giving the magistrate a proper degree of authority, to make and execute the laws with rigor, than to guarding against encroachments upon the rights of the community. As too much power leads to despotism, too little leads to anarchy, and both eventually to the ruin of the people. . . . ”

Against the Jeffersonian position that the best government was the least government, Hamilton counterpoised a strong central government controlled by an executive officer commanding broad powers, an efficient government which “through the medium of stable laws, shelters and protects, the life, the reputation, the prosperity, the civil and religious rights of every member of the community.”

It is hardly surprising that Jefferson has been adopted as the patron saint of the new Republican congressional majority, which invokes his spirit at every turn, but it might come as something of a shock to Jefferson himself, the great defender of the agrarian way of life, that his vision has taken root in the new technological wonderland of “cyberspace.”

The decentralizing effect of information technology is one of the truly startling developments of the late 20th century. As Peter Huber observes in his book “Orwell’s Revenge,” Orwell got all the details right in 1984 but erred with the fundamental premise: that technology would inevitably concentrate power in the hands of the few and lead to an expansion of mechanisms of centralized, totalitarian control. Circumstances surrounding the downfall of the Soviet Union alerted us all to the alternative possibility that the widespread availability of everything from telephones, fax machines, and CNN broadcasts might make it more, not less, difficult for the State to maintain its control over information and the levers of centralized control.

And the emergence of the global Internet further illustrates, and will accelerate, this trend. On the Internet there is no centralized control of any kind, no governing authority that can impose its own vision of the good on the colonists of the new territory. Information roams freely, literally at the speed of light; because no one owns or operates this network, which anyone with a computer and access to a telephone line can hook into, no one has the power to set uniform rules of conduct.

Washington is only now discovering just how difficult imposition of its rules on a decentralized network can be. The federal government’s ill-fated “Clipper Chip” initiative is symptomatic. Concerned about the possibility that powerful encryption software would fall into the hands of terrorists or other malfeasants, allowing them to shield their communication from governmental eavesdroppers, the federal government proposed a requirement that all encryption software had to use a government-approved algorithm that would allow back-door law-enforcement entry. They were persuaded to withdraw the proposal by the outcry from the Internet community itself, and from businesses hoping to serve a growing international market, and, finally, by a recognition of the futility of trying to legislate in the usual heavy-handed fashion when thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands, of copies of the offending programs have been distributed (and continue to be available) over the Internet.

And if, as many have suggested, cyberspace metaphorically resembles the Wild West — a place where the inhabitants set (and enforce) their own rules in the face of an inefficacious central government __ well, we have a good idea how the Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians among us are likely to react, inasmuch as their two forebears already squared off on the question of settlement of the non_metaphorical Wild West, i.e. on expansion into the “Western” territories (of Kentucky, Ohio, etc.).

For his part, Hamilton despaired of the central government’s ability to maintain control over settlements in the western territories

“The western region [is] not valuable to the United States for settlement. . . . Should our own citizens, more enterprising than wise [!], become desirous of settling this country, and emigrate thither, it must not only be attended with all the injuries of a too widely dispersed population, but by adding to the great weight of the western part of our territory, must hasten the dismemberment of a large portion of our country, or a dissolution of the Government.”

Hamilton spoke from bitter personal experience; one of the great crises faced during his tenure as Secretary of the Treasury was the Whisky Rebellion, the refusal of settlers in the “western region” to pay the newly-imposed federal levy on distilled spirits, and Hamilton himself was forced to lead the militia into battle to ensure efficient projection of federal power as the westward expansion proceeded.

Jefferson, on the other hand, foresaw a flourishing “empire of liberty” on the western frontier, a place where the “utmost diffusion of power” could take root and where “new sources of renovation” would serve as a safety valve against the despotic tendencies of the national government, renewing the spirit of liberty “should its principles, at any time, degenerate in those portions of our country which gave them birth.”

Surely, were Hamilton to log on today, he would indeed find the anarchy and “public licentiousness” he railed so frequently against — a cacophonous international debate with a million voices on everything from copyright policy to scientology to the best ways to play Doom II, an unregulated and largely unregulatable collection of everything from the Federalist Papers to video clips of people having sex with animals. But the millions who continue to flock there are finding something that looks more like a place where Jefferson’s fundamental democratic value — “free communication among the people, which has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right” — reigns without interference. The sage of Monticello, one suspects, is smiling broadly.