David Hume Is Born – 12/26/1711

History |

While many historians take a look at those who fought and helped America to become what it is today during the American Revolution and beyond, there are those who were unable to participate physically but did help in other ways that were equally important to know about. David Hume was one of these individuals that without his “words of wisdom,” our Constitution would most likely have taken on a different form. Hume was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on December 26th, 1711; this is according to the traditional style Julian calendar rather than using the new style Gregorian calendar in which the date would be May 7th.

Unfortunately, Hume had passed away on August 25th, 1776 as the American Revolution was just in it’s’ infancy. However, the drafters of the 1787 federal Constitution were greatly influenced by the ideas contained in his essay, “Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth.” James Madison was most well-known for contemplating the proposals of Hume’s version of an ideal government and, more exactly, the thoughts of Hume in reference to the stopping of faction as he built his argument in supporting of the Constitution in “Federalist X.”

The establishment of a government that would support a new nation weighed heavily on Madison’s mind as he wanted to avoid the majority from becoming a tyranny; this represents in a republic the greatest faction focusing only on their interests while suppressing or ignoring other voices or interests of all opposition. The majority of political theorists of the 18th century and Hume believed that the only way to curtail faction, which today is the equivalent of special interests, was to construct republics that are smaller; this would enable interests that everyone could relate to would be self-evident. Ultimately, a block that might contain a majority could not assume control at the expense of an important minority.

Madison rejected respectfully the logic of “Humean” he had studied so carefully and insisted that the way that is best in order to stop a faction from forcing out all interest that would oppose was to build such huge republics that not one particular special interest could persuade a majority to dominate their opposition. He also stated empathically that it was possible for a republic that was smaller to have one or two persons might be dominated by what the greater number considered to be the common interest.

Taking a look at a republic that is large, there would have to be so many interests and factions would exist that all of them would have to discover a means of coexisting peacefully. Madison took a term successfully that caused fear in the heart of Hume’s “faction” and made it appear to be seen as a huge benefit of the just born American system of federalism. Through his eyes, faction would become a force that would be looked upon positively in the diverse and newly-born United States. 

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Cody Cartier

The "Boss"

Cody is a native of Tampa Bay, Florida and lets it be known on a daily basis. Each day he is wearing some kind of Tampa Bay sports apparel, mainly that of the Buccaneers. He is a season ticket holder and hopes to one day see them make it back to the Super bowl. He started as our resident photographer, but has found that his talent lies in writing.