Federalist No. 44

Author: James Madison

Written to: The People of New York

Date: January 25, 1788

Source: Constitution Society (http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa44.htm)


In the Federalist Paper No. 44, Madison covers all of the necessary restrictions to the authority of the states. Once again he reflects on the necessity for a central government that holds enough weight to enforce uniformity.

Original Text

1. "No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisalLetters of Marque and Reprisal government license authorizing a person to attack and capture enemy vessels and bring them before admiralty courts for condemnation and sale ; coin money; emit bills of credit; make any thing but gold and silver a legal tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainderBill of Attainder an act of a legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without privilege of a judicial trial , ex post facto lawEx Post Facto Law A law that makes illegal an act that was legal when committed , or law impairing the obligation of contracts; or grant any title of nobility."

The prohibition against treaties, alliances, and confederations makes a part of the existing articles of Union; and for reasons which need no explanation, is copied into the new Constitution. The prohibition of letters of marque is another part of the old system, but is somewhat extended in the new. According to the former, letters of marque could be granted by the States after a declaration of war; according to the latter, these licenses must be obtained, as well during war as previous to its declaration, from the government of the United States. This alteration is fully justified by the advantage of uniformity in all points which relate to foreign powers; and of immediate responsibility to the nation in all those for whose conduct the nation itself is to be responsible.


The advantage of having an organized front with relation to foreign powers far outweighs states' claims for a right to create alliances or treaties of their own. The central government is responsible to and for its people. It therefore must be provided with the necessary weight to bolster influence in the international realm.

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