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    Former Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the financial, leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

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The Federalist Era

Posted by Orrin Woodward on February 6, 2014

I am reading a fascinating book on the Federalist Era by John Miller as part of my new book for LIFE Leadership. Miller does a great job of showing the strengths of both the Federalist and anti-federalist positions. The Federalist wanted a consolidated government to end state induced chaos. This was the right course, but in their haste to ratify the Constitution, they permitted the Power Pendulum to move further into coercion than most understood. In fact, the Federal government immediately began usurping sovereignty from the states beyond its written limits. Sadly, this dispute between those who supported Federal sovereignty and those who supported state-sovereignty was not resolved until America’s Civil War.

What is surprising to me is that the issues fought over during the Civil War were clearly present as early as 1790! In fact, Alexander Hamilton, the leader of the US treasury, drove three key issues through Congress – Debt Assumption, The US Bank, and Protective Tariffs – that were all designed to move power from the states into the Federal government. Let’s  study the history and see what leadership lessons we can learn from the Founders experiences. Here is Historian John Miller’s explanation of Hamilton’s vision:

Federalist Alexander Hamilton on Government

Federalist Alexander Hamilton on Government

In they heyday of their power under the Articles of Confederation, some states had assumed part of the federal debt. Now, in 1790, Hamilton proposed to turn the tables by assuming the state debts. As he visualized it, such an assumption would serve as a double-edged sword with which to strike at the roots of state sovereignty. In the first place, it promised to bring within the orbit of the Federal government all the state creditors, the most influential part of the community; secondly, it would relieve the states of the necessity of levying taxes, for if the Federal government took upon itself the payment of all the debts, it must perforce have all the revenue – and possessing the whole revenue it came into possession of the whole power of the Union. Deprived of the support of their wealthiest citizens and unable to exert their authority by means of taxation, the states, Hamilton fondly imagined, would gradually wither away and their strength would be absorbed by the Federal government.

Interestingly, Patrick Henry predicted the North’s banking and manufacturing interests plan of action during the Virginia ratification debates. He outlined the North’s plan for consolidation of the states into the Federal government well before the Constitution was ratified when he argued, “Not satisfied with a majority of legislative councils, they must have all our property. . . This is a contest for money as well as empire.” Henry, surpassed all the other founders in his knowledge of human nature. He intuitively understood that human beings run governments; therefore, governments cannot be given absolute power without endangering the life, liberty, and property of society’s members. In the Founders haste to ratify the new Constitution, few, if any, stepped back from the precipice to ponder why one of the greatest leaders of the recent revolution was against the Constitution. Indeed, had they truly listened to the Anti-Federalist main issues, American history would be radically different. Unfortunately, one of life’s key lessons is that one cannot beat something with nothing. Although Henry clearly delineated the Five Laws of Decline opening within the proposed Constitution, he did not offer a viable alternative.

In consequence, shortly after the Constitution was ratified, the issues Henry pointed out reared their ugly head within Congress. John Miller wrote, “In November, 1790, the Virginia legislature sent a Protest and Remonstrance to Congress in which assumption (of the state debts) was pronounced to be ‘repugnant to the Constitution of the United States’ and the funding (protective tariffs) system ‘dangerous to the rights and subversive of the interest of the people.’” Alexander Hamilton was upset at Virginia’s state-rights stance and responded accordingly as Miller wrote, “This development strengthened Hamilton’s conviction that a decisive showdown struggle between Virginia and the national government was inevitable, ‘This is the first symptom of the spirit which must either be killed or it will kill the Constitution of the United States,’ he told John Jay. Instead of sympathizing with Hamilton’s eagerness to force a showdown upon Virginia, Jay advised him to wait for the healing effects of time and statesmanship to demonstrate the benefits of the Constitution.’”

As a result, the main undercurrents of the issues that led to open conflict in the Civil War – slavery, Federal usurpation of state sovereignty, and the unfair distribution of taxes and rewards (tariff and National Bank stocks) – were at work by 1790. Since Jay believed that time was on the Federalist side and eventually would overcome state resistance, Jay counseled Hamilton to pursue his policies with caution and patience (not an easy course for the aggressive Hamilton). Disastrously, however, time did not heal the riff between the North and Sought. Indeed, both sides rejected compromises and the injustices mentioned above continued until the Civil War ended slavery. Because the Founders did not address and resolve the inconsistencies inherent within the Constitution, their sons and grandsons died in droves in the Civil War fulfilling Hamilton’s prophecy as Miller wrote, “While Hamilton reluctantly agreed to hold his hand, he was never persuaded that there was any permanent solution to the problem short of carving up Virginia and other large states in smaller jurisdictions.” This is exactly what occurred in the Civil War when West Virginia separated from Virginia. Unfortunately, the others (Federal control over states, central banking, and oppressive taxation) were not ended. In fact, the Federal government invented new forms of tyranny as their funding grew and the realism of the anti-Federalist proved more accurate than the the idealism of the Federalist. American oppression grew to levels inconceivable by even the most fearful of anti-federalist.

The genius of Alexander Hamilton was to recognize the incompatibility between a nation with divided sovereignty. True, a nation can divide the spheres of sovereignty, but it cannot have two parities (Federal and states) responsible for the same sovereignty issues. Hence, the Constitution was created with the seeds of its own destruction. Curiously, the American Founders, although they studied the Roman Republic extensively, missed the main lesson to be learned from them. Indeed, the Roman Republic failed because of the divided sovereignty issues between the people supported  Tribunes and the aristocratic Senate supported Counsels. They both, in essence, attempted to lead Roman society and the political conflicts eventually led to civil war. In the Roman Republic’s example, Caesar resolved the conflict in the people’s favor against the Senate. Strangely, America followed a similar course in its divided sovereignty issue between the states and federal government. The political conflicts of 1790 were resolved in America’s Civil War of 1860 when Lincoln settled the disputed sovereignty in the Federal government’s favor. In both instances, the republics ended and the empires began.

I believe the main leadership lesson to learn from the above is that one cannot leave issues unsettled to pass onto the next-generation. Leaders address and resolved issues – that is what they get paid to do. Hence, when issues arise, one cannot pass the buck, hoping some leader in the future fixes the issues. In essence, this is why I created LIFE Leadership because I am sick and tired of watching America’s future be mortgaged through excessive government spending and borrowing at the expense of liberty, prosperity, and integrity. Leaders cannot sit back and wait for others. Instead, they must change themselves so they can play a part in changing society. What part will you play?


Orrin Woodward

16 Responses to “The Federalist Era”

  1. Clint Fix said

    “the Constitution was created with the seeds of its own destruction.” This is a hard pill for some to swallow since many conservatives think the constitution was nearly infallible. But like Chris Brady said, the constitution was either flawed or insufficient. Either way structural changes are needed.

    Thanks for illuminating the path towards true, lasting freedom!

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Clint, when the people surrendered the power of the purse and the sword to the new government, it was only a matter of time for the pendulum to move from chaos (Articles) to concord of early Republic (states checking Federal oppression through nullification and threats of secession, to radical chaos of Civil War as disputed issues were settled by war because they were never settled politically and finally to coercion as American empire was birthed after Civil War. Tough history rarely taught but inarguable when looking at actual history. 🙂 thanks, Orrin

  2. Maura Galliani, Sons of Liberty said

    Thank you, Orrin, for using your God-given gifts [like Leadership] to make a difference and begin changing the tide of things with people’s thinking. The part I’m playing is the first thing I learned in LIFE Leadership: it has to start with learning and growing ME so that I can touch others one person at a time in the most graceful and loving way! 🙂

  3. Melissa said

    Wow! Great history lesson! Thanks for the call to action and decisiveness.

  4. Olivier Jean-Baptiste said

    Hi Orrin

    Thanks for that wonderful post. Indeed problem ignored is problem compounded. Like you said, the study of history is the best way the develope insight and foresight so criticaly important for the acting man in any field of endeavor.

    I also notice Jay’s advice and it reminds me of the gradually boiling water that ended up killing the frog.

    To your opinion, was Jay sincerly suggesting a peaceable approach to resolved the conflict or was he strategicaly hoping that good men will seat and do nothing and thereby secure the victory of the federalist camp to which he belonged to?


    • Orrin Woodward said

      John Jay was a strong Federalist who believed people need strong guiding government. He believed Hamilton’s plan would lead naturally to this end so no need for Hamilton to do anything rash. He didn’t see a strong centralized government as the problem, but as the solution. In a sense, compared to the chaos of Articles, he was right, but once the pendulum moves in a new direction it is extremely difficult to checks its further progress from concord into coercion. thanks, Orrin

  5. Hamilton’s curse!

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Randy, what is interesting is I think Hamilton genuinely wanted to do good by America but his Statist underpinning learned under the tutelage of Robert Morris and other financial central planners caught his fancy. He could not separate State Power from Social Power and thus sought to advance State Power beyond the bounds necessary to support society and into the FLD sphere where it steadily consumed the society it was intended to protect. Hence, Hamilton’s attempted blessing ended up as a curse. 🙂 The State Power/Social Power dichotomy is an area that the public needs to educate itself on if American society desires to return to liberty. thanks, Orrin

  6. Jeni Swedberg said

    Thank you, Orrin, for such a great explanation! I wish the history books would tell it like you do! The world we need to change is the one inside of us. And by changing that world, we can and will change the world outside of us. LIFE Leadership will be the vehicle to help.

    Thanks for the great post!

  7. J.J. said

    How do you think the genral will plays out int the social contract therory in determig whether something should fall in the realm of the state or the realm of society? Should the genral will decide when force would be aplicable to enforce rules?

    • Orrin Woodward said

      JJ, I don’t believe so. General Will is not Justice. Justice is protection of life, liberty, and property, not what 51% say is legal. Right is right and wrong is wrong – period. Government is assigned to ensure justice by protecting life, liberty, and property. Therefore, any area it is involved that is not related to protection is wrong. Here is what I answered Kirk Birtles on natural law:

      1. Smoking in Restaurants – Statist violation of a person’s right. If smokers want to gather in a restaurant and smoke away, more power to them. If I demand my restaurants to be smoke free, more power to me. But why does the State have to decide what the market can easily decide – some restaurants will be smoking, some not, some mixed. Let entrepreneurs and customers decide and the State mind its own business of protecting our life, liberty, and property that we assigned it.

      2. Texting on roads is equivalent to drinking and driving and is risking other people’s life, liberty, and property by your dangerous behavior; therefore the State can set law to protect the life, liberty, and property of all who choose to use roads.

      3. Seat belts protect the driver. If he chooses to forego the suggested protection and is willing to assume the risk involved, then as a responsible adult, his decision must be respected in his car. If in someone else’s car and they are asked to buckle up, then they should respect the individuals request. However, the State should not be involved because whether the driver buckle’s up is not threatening anyone else’s life, liberty, or property; therefore they must mind there own business.

      If you think through every law from the standpoint of how the State is protecting society’s members life, liberty, and property, much becomes clear that has been purposely filled with fog to confuse society’s members and grow State power.



      • Clint Fix said


        I’m currently reading through Oliver DeMille’s new book, “We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident” and just finished chapter 10 on the Law of Liberty. I agree with the principle that if we reduce freedom for one set of people that over the long term we’re reducing everyone’s freedom. While I don’t believe in same-sex marriage, I am having a difficult time squaring this with the debate over same-sex marriage because, at least on the surface, it seems as though that group of folks is being treated differently in the eyes of the law. However, my thought process so far has been to get government out of the business of marriage and just have contracts to handle the issues related to property, insurance, etc. Am I off track?

        I would love to understand your thinking on the topic.



  8. Elizabeth Sieracki said

    Your last paragraph is so empowering Orrin! I just sat back and reflected for a moment on your past… Columbiaville, Michigan….what a journey you have had. The decisions you have made to push through insult and injury. You are not just blowing smoke when you say,”One person can make a difference.” You know that from experience. We love you and Laurie for your determination, drive, commitment and passion.

  9. J keim said

    Wow thanks Orrin what an excellent post Thx for devoting your time for so many others!

  10. Danny Michael said

    It is interesting how the federal government usurps the power of the people to gain more power. It really comes down to who has the power because along with power comes the right to tax. It is amazing that today we see the fruits of the Federalist ideas because our federal government is supreme in power and in the ability to tax. This overarching power grab of the federal government effects our liberty and freedom today more than ever. We need to fix this!

  11. antonio rosselli said







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