The Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers Summary and Analysis of Essay 34


Hamilton returns to the concept of co-equal authority, or concurrent powers, shared by the state and national governments. He defends the constitution’s provision for such powers, particularly as they relate to taxation. He argues that the national government’s power to tax must not be limited, since it is impossible to know what will be required by future crises and challenges. Hamilton asserts that wars and rebellions will inevitably threaten the US just as they do every other country. Therefore, the national government must have wide powers to tax the people in order to have sufficient funds to provide for the nation’s defense.

Hamilton contends that the concurrent power to tax will not be a problem since the needs of the states will be relatively limited. If the constitution were to limit what the national government can tax in order to secure greater taxation powers for the states, as some opponents of the constitution advocated, then that “would have amounted to a sacrifice of the great interests of the union to the power of the individual states.”


Hamilton again tries to present his side of the argument as most in tune with reality. He presents his arguments as dispassionate assessments of human nature and the course of human history and portrays his opponents has basing their arguments on unjustifiable fears and the vain hope that human beings can be trusted to do the right thing. He argues that America will face tough times ahead and that the national government must therefore have the power to raise sufficient resources to protect the national interest.

Once again, Hamilton is trying to convince Americans of the necessity of having an energetic government; that is, a government with adequate powers to discharge its duties effectively. He is trying to overcome the widely held suspicion of strong central power and convince Americans of the necessity of reducing the power of the states in favor of the union.