On the COMMERCIAL REPUBLIC question:
I think we must look at the Constitution, technically speaking, as fundamentally a Hamiltonian-Madisonian document. This not merely because of these gentlemen's influence at the Philadelphia Convention, but because of the still more enduring influence of their work The Federalist.
Now, it is of course true that The Federalist has plenty to say, by way of illustration and reflection, on matters of wider interest than the technical features of the document it defended. I enjoy aggravating modern idealists by sharply pointing out how low an estimate of human decency Publius expresses in his writings. By no means can he be said to take a rosy view of all private enterprise. The Fall is a stark and staring thing to him, and in evidence above all in the mercenary instinct. This grittiness was surely the influence of Hamilton, who had a streak of pessimism in him; some of the first businessmen he met were slave traders in the Caribbean.
But how does Publius propose, in defense of the frame of government he devised, to answer this pulverizing fact human depravity? Well, since his direct purpose is confined to the frame he designed, the final answer to that question must be left to his allusions and suggestions, alongside the later writings and actions of the men who collaborated in his authorship. These were, after all, articles in the popular press set down with an expressed intent.
So, for the purposes of the The Federalist, we get a variety of arguments generally organized under the phrase “checks and balances,” which present a system where factionalism (depravity in political form) is obstructed by its very proliferation. There is the absolutely vital states-vs.-federal distinction, later weakened and broken down by SCOTUS encroachment. There is bicameralism, which shows its quality in comparison to the usual French unitary legislature. There is the combined energy and limitation of the Executive Branch (later, also, effaced or expanded, depending how you look at it, by court jurisprudence). There is the Electoral College, which further narrows a historically wide electorate. Etc.
What theory of civil association undergirded the teaching of The Federalist is a fascinating question, but in any case I do not think we should impute to Publius any naivety about what sort of faction would naturally rise to prominence as the nation prospers. Civic and religious associations, neighborhood councils, townhalls, guilds, societies and banquets — all the rest of the welter of middling institutions that Tocqueville taxonomized with such warmth — would always have their place, but only the commercial factions would unite interest with means on a national level. No doubt a great deal about the 21st century would surprise and even shock Publius, but the fact that a great American corporation long dedicated to the commercial promotion of “the progress of science and useful arts,” General Electric, would generate headlines and would exert considerable influence in the realm of politics, is not one of them.
The framework of thinking and working out constitutionalism set down by Publius is, in my opinion, rightly called a theory of commercial republic. It contrasts with the British system, where republicanism is grafted on to strong remnants of the modified ancient regime. It contrasts with the French system, where republicanism takes on an almost Roman or Rousseauian severity, and the people, having thrown down the crown, do not scruple to take on property as well. French democracy races off toward socialism, while British democracy retreats back, after the initial plunder of the Church, into the arms of a vague but perceptible traditionalism, ever reforming, ever compromising. But in America, the commercial interest itself becomes the bulwark of liberty. How this is accomplished is a complicated matter, which I have only sketched in very brief remarks; but I do think that its practical success bears out historically that a commercial republic is a workable form of government. Publius does not teach nonsense; he teaches that middle class democracy can successfully be made out of the striving and hard-working enterprisers from among the people, toiling under conditions of equality.