The Federalist [Numbers 1-10]

The Federalist [Numbers 1-10]

Federalist No.1 – General Introduction by Alexander Hamilton 10/27/1787

  • After an unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the subsisting federal government, the states have been called upon to deliberate on a new constitution for the US. The consequences of this deliberation include the existence of the union, the safety and welfare of its parts, and the fate of an empire. Hamilton asserts that it is America’s fate to decide the important question of whether societies of men are capable of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever dependent for their political constitutions upon force and accident. A wrong election on the part we shall act may be regarded as the general misfortune of mankind.
  • Our choice ought to be directed by a judicious estimate of America’s true interests, but this is a thing more to be wished than seriously expected. The choice affects too many particular interests not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits.
  • A certain class of men will resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of their power, emolument, and consequences of the offices they hold under state establishments. Other ambitious men will hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusion of their country, or will flatter themselves with fairer prospects of elevation from the subdivision of the empire than from its union under one government.
  • But candor will oblige us to admit that even such men may be actuated by upright intentions. Furthermore, we are not always sure that those who advocate for the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, and personal animosity are apt to operate upon those who support the right side of the question as those who oppose it. In politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution. Moderation is necessary; for so numerous and powerful are the causes which serve to give false bias to the judgment, that we often see wise and good men on the wrong as well as right side of questions of the first magnitude. This would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy.
  • As in all former cases of great national discussion, a torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To increase the number of their converts, the opposition will hope to evince the justness of their opinions by loud declamations and bitter invectives. It will be forgotten that the vigor of the government is essential to the security of liberty; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behinds the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. The greatest number of men who have overturned the liberties of republics began their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.
  • Americans must put up their guard against all attempts to influence their decision by any impressions other than those which may result from the evidence of truth. Hamilton writes that after giving the question of ratification an attentive consideration, he concludes that it is in America’s interest to adopt it. It is the safest course for her liberty, dignity, and happiness.
  • In a series of papers, he will discuss the following interesting particulars:
    • The utility of the union to your political prosperity
    • The insufficiency of the present confederation to preserve that union
    • The necessity of a government at least equally energetic with the one proposed to the attainment of this object
    • The conformity of the proposed constitution to the true principle of republican government
    • Its analogy to your own state constitution
    • The additional security which its adoption will afford to the preservation of that species of government, to liberty, and to prosperity.
    • He shall endeavor to give a satisfactory answer to all objections
    • In his next address, in answer to the objection that the 13 states are too large for any general system, and that we of necessity must resort to separate confederacies, he will examine the advantages of the union, the certain evils, and the probable dangers to which every state will be exposed from its dissolution. Hamilton signs his letter with the name of Publius, a Roman who helped establish the Republic of ancient Rome.

A dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.

Federalist No.1 explains the importance of the question that Americans must answer; that question being whether America should adopt the Constitution. Hamilton argues that America possesses a unique position relevant to the history and future of mankind; for this decision shall determine whether societies of men can establish good government by reflection and choice, or whether they are condemned to rely on force and accident for their constitutions.

He acknowledges that men are often actuated by impure motives, and that even the most wise and best men often mistakenly oppose truth. This teaches us moderation in our judgment, especially to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being on the right side of any controversy. In politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies can rarely be cured by persecution. The history of Roman persecution of Christians demonstrates this.

Thus, Americans must be wary of every attempt to influence their opinion, and endeavor to find out the truth. Also, the greatest number of men who have destroyed the liberties of Republics are those who assumed the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people rather than those men who possess a zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. The men who pay obsequious court to the people, are often the most dangerous; commencing as demagogues, and ending as tyrants.

Federalist No.2 – Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence by John Jay 10/31/1787

  • Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government. Whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.
  • It has been lately received as an infallible opinion that the prosperity of the American people depend on their continuing firmly united, and the wisest citizens have directed their efforts to that object. But some politicians now insist that this opinion is erroneous, and that instead of looking for safety and happiness in a union, we ought to seek it in a division of the states into distinct confederacies or sovereignties. It would not be wise for the American people to adopt these new political tenets.
  • It has given me pleasure to observe that independent America was not composed of detached and distant territories. Providence has blessed it with fertile soil, and watered it with innumerable streams for the delight and accommodation of its citizens. The waters form a kind of chain round its borders.
  • Providence has been pleased to give this land to one united people – a people descended from common ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their customs and manners, and who fought side by side throughout a long and bloody war to establish liberty and independence.
  • It seems to be the design of Providence. This country and the people were made for one another.
  • To all general purposes we have uniformly been one people, making war and peace, making alliances and treaties, etc. as one nation.
  • A strong sense of the values and blessings of a union induced the people to institute a federal government. They formed it during a time of hostilities. It is no wonder that it is greatly deficient and inadequate upon more prudent and advised reflection.
  • Intelligent people perceived these defects, and wished to remedy them, all the while aware that the security of their liberty and union could only be found in a national government. Thus, a convention in Philadelphia took this important matter under consideration.
  • The convention was composed of men who had become highly distinguished for their patriotism, virtue, and wisdom during times which tried the hearts and minds of men. These men, influenced by not other passion but love for their country, jointly and unanimously presented and recommended the Constitution for ratification by the people.
  • This plan is recommended, not imposed. Yet it should not be received with blind approbation, nor blind reprobation. Perhaps this is more to be wished than expected; for recent incidents demonstrate that people are inclined to protest against necessary, just, and judicious designs. For example, many government officials, motivated by their own personal interest, or mistaken about the consequences, inveighed against the wise congress of 1774. Nevertheless the great majority of the people decided judiciously to declare their independence; and is happy after reflecting upon their decision.
  • They considered that the congress was composed of wise and judicious men, who were solely interested in the public liberty and prosperity.
  • These considerations induced the people to rely upon the judgment of that Congress. If the people had reason to confide in that congress, they have greater reason to rely upon this Congress, which is composed of many of the very same men who composed the first, and have since proven their patriotism and abilities whilst acquiring more political knowledge and experience.
  • The first, and every succeeding congress, believe that the prosperity of America depends upon the preservation of the union. Whenever the dissolution of the union arrives, America will have reason to exclaim, in the words of the poet: “Farewell! A long farewell to all my greatness.”

Federalist No.2 is written by John Jay. In my opinion, Jay’s arguments are feeble. He relies on appeals to Providence, and the “wise and judicious” attributes of the members of the Constitutional Convention. He writes that it seems to be the design of Providence that America should be one union because the people share a common ancestor, speak the same language, profess the same religion, and are very similar in their customs and manners. They also fought side by side throughout a long and bloody war for their independence, and were victorious. Providence seems to have ordained it all.

Jay also discusses the qualities of the members of the Constitutional Congress. He describes them as patriotic, virtuous, and wise; men who have displayed their heroism and love for their country during the war for Independence, a time which tried the hearts and minds of men. These wise men have gained political knowledge and honor since the start of the war, and because the American people placed their faith in the judgment of the Congress of 1774, the people have even greater reason to place their faith in the judgment of the Constitutional Congress, which is composed of many of the very same men of the first Congress.

In my opinion, Jay does not present arguments based on the advantages and disadvantages of adopting the Constitution. The closest that he comes to such an argument is when he states that a federal government is absolutely necessary to the preservation and perpetuation of liberty. However, he provides no evidence to support this opinion. He simply asserts it as true, and expects the reader to agree with him.

Federalist No.3 – Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence by John Jay 11/3/1787

  • People seldom adopt and steadily persevere in an erroneous opinion respecting their interests. We ought to have a great respect, therefore, for the importance Americans have long maintained for continuing under one federal government.
  • Among the many objects to which a wise and free people direct their attention, the chief object is always that of providing for their safety.
  • Jay defines the safety he will discuss as safety from foreign invasion and influence and the like kind arising from domestic causes. A union affords the American people the best security that can be devised against hostilities from abroad.
  • The number of wars is directly proportional to the just causes of war, whether they be real or pretended.  It is useful to consider whether a United America will give more cause for war then a disunited America. United America will probably give out fewer, and thus will preserve the people in a state of peace with other nations better than a disunited America.
  • The just causes of war typically arise from violation of treaties or from direct violence. America has already formed treaties with 6 nations, all but one of which are maritime, and likely to annoy and injure us. Furthermore, Britain and Spain possess colonies contiguous to America.
  • It is highly important that America observe the laws of nations towards all these powers, and America will be able to observe these laws better as an Union than as 13 separate Sates, or 3 or 4 distinct confederations.
  • When an efficient national government is established, the best men in the country can be appointed to manage it. A nation has a wider pool of candidates from which to appoint to offices than do distinct States; and therefore, the judicious decisions of a national government will be more wise, systematic, and judicious than those of individual States, and consequently more satisfactory to foreign nations as well as more safe with respect to America.
  • Under a national government, the treaties will be expounded and executed in one manner. However, thirteen separate States will interpret treaties thirteen different opinions depending upon individual state interests. This will render it difficult to observe the law of nations and execute the treaties with other nations.
  • The national government, not being affected by particular local circumstances, will neither be induced to violate the treaty, nor lack the power or inclination to punish transgressors.
  • Thus, the just causes of war arising from voluntary or accidental violation of treaties and the law of nations will arise less from a Union than 13 separate States.
  • As to the just cause of war arising from direct violence, a Union also affords vastly more security against dangers of that sort than can be derived from any other association.
  • Such violences are more frequently caused by the passions and interests of one or two states than of the Union. Not a single Indian war has been occasioned by the agressions of the federal government. But there are several instances of Indian hostilities having been provoked by the improper conduct of Individual states.
  • Spanish and British territories border some states which might be inclined to excite war with these nations. Nothing can so obviate this danger as a federal government, whose wisdom and prudence will not be diminished by the passions that actuate the parties immediately interested in the conflict.
  • Not only will a national government provide less just causes of war, but it will also be capable of accommodating and settling hostilities more amiably; for it will not be affected by pride, to which men and states are naturally disposed, and render them incapable of acknowledging, correcting and repairing their errors and offenses. Instead, the national government will proceed with moderation to consider and decide on the most proper means to extricate them from the difficulties which threaten them.
  • Besides, it is well known that acknowledgement, explanation, and compensation are often accepted as satisfactory from a strong united nation, but rejected as unsatisfactory if offered by a state or confederacy of little consideration or power.

Federalist No.3 is written by John Jay. Jay’s arguments in this paper are much more convincing than the ones he presents in No.2. Jay logically argues that a strong national government will provide the best means of securing the peace and tranquility of the people. He explains that the people must be secure from foreign violence, and that the just causes of war often arise from the violation of treaties and the laws of nations. A union will be less likely to violate the treaties and laws than 13 separate states, or 3 or 4 distinct confederacies because the union’s decisions will be made by the most wise and capable men in the union whilst a state or smaller confederacy must choose its officials from a smaller population which might not possess the same high quality individuals as the Union.

He also argues that a Union will not be moved by particular local interests while states often are. Jay cites the Indian wars. Heretofore, the federal government has not given occasion for any of the Indian wars, but individual State actions have incited many hostilities.

Finally, foreign powers respect a strong federal government more than a small inconsiderable state or confederacy. Therefore, foreign powers will be more likely to accept the acknowledgement, explanation, and compensation for wrongs by a strong power than from a feeble one.

Federalist No.4 – Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence by John Jay 11/7/1787

  • Just as there are just causes of war, there are also pretended causes of war.
  • Nations will make war whenever they have the prospect of getting anything by it. These objects might be entirely personal in nature, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize the family or partisans of a particular monarch.
  • There are other inducements to war peculiar to our nation:
    • We are rivals with France and Britain in the fisheries.
    • We are rivals with most European nations in navigation and the carrying trade.
    • We interfere with more than one nation in the trade to China and India.
    • Already Spain shuts the Mississippi against us on the one side, and Britain excludes us from the St. Lawrence on the other.
    • It is reasonable to conclude that other nations will grow jealous and uneasy of our power and success in international trade and expansion.
    • A national government is necessary to repress and discourage war because it provides the best possible state of defense.
    • One government can collect and avail themselves of the ablest men in the Union. It can apply the resources and power of the whole to the defense of a particular part. It will regard the interest of the whole, and the interest of every part with respect to the whole. It can place the militia under one plan of discipline, and thereby render it more efficient than if divided into 13, 3, or 4 distinct and independent companies.
    • If one national government of Britain had not called forth all the national means and materials for forming their fleets, their prowess would never have been celebrated.
    • Suppose America divided into 13 separate states, or 3 or 4 confederacies. Would the other parts come to the others when they are in distress, or would they be flattered into neutrality by foreign forces? Although such conduct would not be wise, it would be natural for the other parts to decline hazarding their peace and tranquility for the sake of their neighbors, of whom perhaps they have grown jealous. The history of the states of Greece abounds with such instances, and it is not improbable that it would happen again under very similar circumstances.
    • Suppose the parts are willing to help the others. Who will command the armies? Who shall settle the terms of peace? One government, watching over the general and common interests, and combing and directing the power and resources of the whole, would be free of these difficulties and inconveniencies, and conduce far more to the safety of the people.
    • Foreign nations will consider the health and condition of our union or association. If we possess a strong national government that is efficient and well administered, they will be inclined to cultivate our friendship rather than provoke resentment.
    • When a people or family divides, it never fails to be against themselves.

Federalist No.4 is written by John Jay. Jay uses several compelling arguments to persuade the readers that ratifying the Constitution, and thus preserving the Union is the correct decision. One argument is that America is already rivals with many foreign nations because of international trade and commerce and fisheries. These rivals will soon grow jealous and uneasy about the success of America. If America is divided into 13 states, or 3 or 4 distinct confederacies, then foreign nations will be more inclined to attack them, considering the association to be feeble and disorganized. Indeed, if a foreign nation decided to attack one confederacy or state, the other states or confederacies would not likely hazard their peace, tranquility, and security for another state or confederacy, of whom they may have grown jealous and contemptuous. Although it is not the wisest course of action, history has demonstrated time and time again (see the ancient Greek city states) that men do not have the foresight to see that hazarding their safety now will lead to greater security in the future.

Furthermore, supposing that the other states or confederacies agree to aid the distressed party, who shall command the armies? Who shall settle the terms of peace? Who shall determine the necessary amount of aid? On the other hand, one nation can centralize control of the army, which will act in the interest of the whole. One nation will collect and avail themselves of the most able men in the Union. There is greater cohesion, and much greater efficiency found in a united nation. Finally, foreign nations will be less disposed to attack a strong and efficient union than a disorganized and feeble group of confederacies or independent states.

Federalist No.5 – Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence by John Jay 11/10/1787

  • Jay quotes from a speech given by Queen Anne in 1706 to Scotland on the importance of forming a union between Scotland and England. She asserts that a union between the two nations would be a solid foundation of lasting peace, and would enable them to resist all enemies. A union is the only effectual way to secure present and future happiness according to the Queen.
  • Weakness and division at home invites dangers from abroad; and nothing tends to secure a nation from such dangers than union, strength, and a good government.
  • The history of Great Britain teaches us many lessons about the importance of union. When Great Britain was divided into three nations, they were perpetually susceptible to foreign invasion, and quarrels and wars amongst themselves, though their interest with respect to continental Europe was the same.
  • If America divided into three nations, then the nations’ envy and jealousy of one another would inflame quarrels and frequent wars.
  • Even if it was possible to form 3 or 4 confederacies of equal strength, one would inevitably become stronger than the others, whether by local circumstances or superior governmental policy.
  • Whenever this happens, the other nation will behold the superior nation with fear and envy. Those passions would lead them to countenance any measure that would diminish the superior nation’s power. The superior nation will soon become aware of these animosities and respond in like favor. Distrust begets distrust.
  • Dividing into 3 or 4 distinct nations would place us in the exact situation which foreign powers wish to see us; viz. formidable only to each other.
  • Those who believe that the 3 or 4 distinct confederacies would form alliances are greatly mistaken.
  • When did the independent states of Britain and Spain form such an alliance? The proposed confederacies will be distinct nations as Britain and Spain. They will regulate trade and commerce with foreign powers, and enter into treaties, and legislate according to the dictates of their particular legislature. Different interests will arise amongst the confederacies. The foreign power with whom the south is at war, might be a country which the north wishes to preserve peace for the sake of commerce.
  • In America, as in Europe, neighboring countries with contrary interests would frequently be taking different sides. Considering America’s distance from Europe, it is more natural for the proposed confederacies to apprehend danger from one another than from European nations. The confederacies would be more inclined to form alliances with European nations to protect them from attacks by other confederacies than to form alliances with other confederacies to protect themselves against attack from European nations.

Federalist No.5 is written by John Jay. In this article, Jay argues against America forming 3 or 4 distinct confederacies because of the hostilities which would arise amongst the several confederacies. Jay asserts that despite men’s best efforts to form confederacies equal in power and consideration, one confederacy will inevitably become superior to the others. This superiority will naturally engender envy and jealousy in the other nations. The superior nation, once becoming aware of these malicious passions, will become distrustful of the other nations, and may attempt to quell these passions before it incurs attack from the other nations.

Jay also refutes the argument made by many Americans that the distinct confederacies will form alliances to protect each other from foreign attack. Jay writes that considering the distance between Europe and America, the confederacies would naturally be inclined to form alliances with the European nations to guard against attack from the other confederacies rather than vice versa. Furthermore, supposing the confederacies form alliances with one another, the confederacies will likely have opposing interests concerning international commerce. One nation may declare war on a foreign power, with which another confederacy wishes to preserve peace because of favorable trading circumstances.

Federalist No.6 – Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States by Alexander Hamilton 11/14/1787

  • If this union were divided into different confederacies, then there would be frequent and violent conflicts between them. Men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious. To deny this, would be to deny history.
  • There are innumerable causes of hostility among nations. Love of power, jealousy of power, commercial competition, and personal interest of leading individuals in the community are a few.
  • The celebrated Pericles, leader of the Greek city-state of Athens, motivated by personal interests, became the author of that famous and fatal war, the Peloponnesian war, which terminated in the ruin of Athens.
  • Those who argue that the divided confederacies will not be hostile towards one another because they are commercial republics are mistaken in their opinion. Republics are governed by men, just as monarchies. Commercial interests have been the cause of hostilities among nation as well as lust for glory. Experience is the least fallible guide of human opinions, and experience teaches us that commercial republics, such as Athens and Carthage, were as often engaged in war as their neighboring monarchies.
  • Commerce has been the predominant pursuit of Britain, yet no nation has been more frequently engaged in war.
  • Hamilton states that it is high time to awaken from the false golden dream of universal concord, and look upon reality – that we are far from the happy empire of perfect wisdom and perfect virtue.
  • One intelligent writer asserts that neighboring nations are naturally enemies unless they form a confederate republic to extinguish that secret jealousy which disposes all states to aggrandize themselves at the expense of their neighbors. This argument suggests both the dangers inherent in neighboring nations, and also provides the remedy to such dangers.

Rome was never sated of carnage and conquest.

Is it not time to awake from the deceitful dream of a golden age, and to adopt as a practical maxim for the direction of our political conduct that we, as well as the other inhabitants of the globe, are yet remote from the happy empire of perfect wisdom and perfect virtue?

Federalist No.6 is written by Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton discusses the dangers of America dividing into separate and independent confederacies. Jay has already written about the dangers a divided America would confront from foreign enemies, thus Hamilton focuses on the threats posed by the confederacies to each other. He writes that neighboring countries are naturally enemies. States, like men, are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious. Nations possess innumerable motivations to engage in war, such as love of power, jealousy of power, commercial interest, and the private interests of the leading members of a particular community.

Hamilton also directly addresses an argument made by anti-federalists. Some anti-federalists claim that independent confederacies of America will not engage in war with each other because they will be commercial republics. Hamilton scoffs at this notion, and cites several incidents in history which confute the anti-federalists’ argument. One example is that of Britain. The predominant pursuit of Britain has long been commerce, yet no other nation has been more often engaged in war than Britain.

I enjoyed Hamilton’s writing style much more than Jay’s. Hamilton uses very provocative language, and strives to humiliate his opponents.

Federalist No.7 – Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States by Alexander Hamilton 11/15/1787

  • Territorial disputes are one of the most fertile sources of hostilities among nations. There is a vast tract of unsettled territory within the borders of the USA. The dissolution of the union would lay the foundation for territorial disputes.
  • The competitions of commerce would be another source of contention. Each states or confederacy would pursue a system of commercial policy peculiar to itself. This would occasion distinctions, preferences, and exclusions which would beget discontent.
  • Citizens of one state would not consent that a duty paid by the inhabitants of other states be remitted in favor of the citizens of other states. Furthermore, citizens would not consent to pay taxes for the benefit of inhabitants of other states.
  • The public debt of the union would be a further cause for contention among the states. The apportionment and then the extinguishment would be alike productive of ill-will and animosity. There is no rule of apportionment which would be satisfactory to all.
  • Suppose a rule of apportionment was agreed upon. Some states would soon find the burden of debt to which they agreed unbearable. They would seek a mitigation of their debt in the form of a revision. The other states would naturally decline the request, and contention would arise.
  • Laws in violation of personal contracts between citizens of different states would naturally create hostilities among those states.

There is nothing men differ so readily about as the payment of money.

Federalist No.7 is written by Alexander Hamilton. In my opinion, Federalist No.7 contains the most cogent arguments of the first seven papers. Hamilton enumerates four instances which would occasion contention among the states. Those four sources of animosity are: territorial disputes, competitions of commerce, public debt, and laws enacted by particular states in violation of private contracts between the citizens of their own state and those of another. Considering the first source, territorial disputes have been among the chief causes of war throughout history. Within the borders of the USA, there were still vast tracts of unsettled land. The states would naturally contend over these territories.

Competitions of commerce, as previously discussed in some of the preceding papers with relation to dangers posed by foreign powers to a disunited America, would beget hostility among the states, too. One state would not suffer another to tax them for the benefit of the citizens of the other states. Furthermore, the citizens of one state would not allow a duty to be remitted for the benefit of the citizens of another state.

The public debt would be another cause of contention. No fair and satisfactory apportionment of the debt to all parties would be found; for there is nothing men differ so readily about as the payment of money. Supposing that a satisfactory apportionment could be discovered, one state would inevitably find the extinguishment of the debt to be unbearable or unfair. Seeking mitigation of their mistake, the other states would naturally decline the request to revise the apportionment of debt. This would engender resentment in the disappointed State, and tensions would arise.

Finally, separate States would enact separate laws governing contractual relations. Supposing that one state enacts a law in violation of a contract between the citizens of another state and its own, then the offended State would seek a remedy by the sword rather than by parchment, as such contentions have been settled heretofore.

Federalist No.8 – The Consequences of Hostilities Between the States by Alexander Hamilton 11/20/1787

  • War between the states in the first period of their separation would be accompanied by much greater distresses than it commonly is in those countries where regular military establishment have long obtained. Europe’s disciplined armies and established fortifications render war no longer an act of conquering, but rather of towns taken and retaken, battles that decide nothing, of much effort and little acquisition.
  • States would delay building fortifications because of the jealousy it would engender in neighboring states. This would open inroads for hostile states. With little difficulty, the populous states would overrun the less populous states.
  • Seeking safety from external dangers, citizens adopt laws and establish institutions that destroy their civil and political rights.
  • One such institution is a standing army. Frequent war and constant apprehension would result from disunion and result in standing armies. It is the nature of war to increase the executive power at the expense of the legislative. The separate constitutions would therefore tend toward monarchy.
  • These are not vague inferences, but solid opinions drawn from the necessary and natural progress of human affairs.
  • The science of finance has produced an entire revolution in the system of war, and has rendered disciplined armies distinct from the body of citizens, whereas in ancient Greece the body of citizens comprised the army.
  • A state which seldom is exposed to invasion may keep a standing army without jeopardizing the liberty of the people; for the state will not be accustomed to relax its laws in favor of military exigencies; the citizens are not habituated to look to the army for protection, and thus regard the army only as a necessary evil, and stand ready to resist a power they suppose may be exerted to the prejudice of their rights. The army under such circumstances may usefully aid the magistrate to suppress a small faction, an occasional mob, or insurrection; but it will be unable to enforce against the united efforts of the great body of the people.
  • On the contrary, a nation in constant apprehension of invasion enhances the importance of the soldier, and degrades the condition of the citizen.
  • If we are wise enough to preserve the Union, we will enjoy a situation much like Britain, which is isolated from foreign attack by the ocean. Britain only requires a strong navy, and not a standing army within her borders. Similarly, the Atlantic separates America from Europe, and the European colonies in America will likely remain inconsiderable as to seriously threaten the security of the USA to require her to maintain a large standing army.

Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.

Federalist No.8 was written by alexander Hamilton. In this paper, Hamilton discusses the necessity of maintaining standing armies if the Union were to dissolve. Hamilton argues that if the Union were to dissolve, the distinct states or confederacies would be under constant apprehension of attack from the others. This constant apprehension would induce the states to establish a strong military force. In seeking to augment the military, and preserve the security of a people, states are often forced to destroy the civil rights and political privileges of their citizens. A war-like government naturally places more power in the hands of the executive at the expense of the legislative. This will incline states towards a monarchical government.

Furthermore, a strong standing army itself threatens the liberty of a people. The citizens soon begin to believe that the army is necessary for their safety and that it is their unchallengeable master. A civil body would not be able to resist a strong standing army which attacks the rights of those citizens.

Federalist No.9 – The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection by Alexander Hamilton 11/21/1787

  • From the disorders that disfigure the republics of Italy and ancient Greece, advocates of despotism have drawn arguments against the forms of republican government and the very principles of civil liberty.
  • The science of politics, like most other sciences, has received great improvements since the ancient days of Greece. “The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of their own election: these are wholly new discoveries, or have made their principal progress towards perfection in modern times.” By these means the excellences of republic government can be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided.
  • Opponents of the new constitution cite and circulate the observations of Montesquieu on the necessity of a contracted territory for a republican government, but they have failed to understand Montesquieu’s sentiments upon the topic, and failed to consider the consequences of the principle to which they subscribe with ready acquiescence.
  • Montesquieu recommended a smaller territory than almost all of the current states.
  • However, considered from another sense, Montesquieu only advocates that the members of the Union be reduced in size; he does not protest against those states being all comprehended in one confederate government.
  • Indeed, Montesquieu treats of a confederate republic as the expedient for extending the sphere of popular government, and reconciling the advantages of monarchy with those of republicanism.
  • A union is capable of repressing domestic faction and insurrection.
  • The definition of a confederate republic is simply an assemblage of societies. The proposed constitution, so far from abolishing the authority of the states, reserves to the states representation in the senate and important portions of sovereign power exclusive to every state.

Federalist No.9 was written by Alexander Hamilton. In this paper, Hamilton maintains that a confederate republic is the best form of government, having been refined since the days of ancient Greece. Indeed, many opponents of republican governments cite the turmoil and disorder of the Ancient Greek city-states as sufficient reason to abolish such forms of government and subscribe to monarchy. However, Hamilton adverts to the great improvements that political science, like most other sciences, has made since those ancient times. “The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of their own election: these are wholly new discoveries, or have made their principal progress towards perfection in modern times.” By these advancements, the benefits of a republican government are maintained while its imperfections are lessened or avoided.

Other opponents of the proposed constitution refer to the observations of the illustrious political theorist, Montesquieu. They contend that Montesquieu advocated a territory much smaller than the proposed republic of America. Hamilton counters this argument by writing that Montesquieu advises a smaller tract of land for the members of a union, but not the union itself. What is more, Montesquieu insists that a confederate republic is the best form of government, as it is an expedient for extending the sphere of popular government, and reconciling the advantages of monarchy with republicanism.

Federalist No.10 – The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection by James Madison 11/22/1787

  • Popular governments have a propensity to produce insurrection and faction. A strong federal government is capable of repressing these vices. American citizens have already complained that our current form of government is too unstable, not interested in the public good, and makes decisions not according to the rules of justice but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.
  • A faction is a number of citizens who are united an actuated by an impulse of passion or of interest adverse to the rights of other citizens or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
  • There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: removing its causes, and controlling its effects. In other words, one can destroy the liberty which is essential to the existence of factions, or give every citizen the same opinions, passions, and interests.
  • The first remedy is worse than the disease. To abolish liberty because it is conducive to factions is more folly than to abolish air because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.
  • The second expedient is impracticable. Reason is fallible, and as long as man is free to exercise reason, different opinions will be formed. Men naturally have different interests which influence their opinions, and their opinions influence their interests.
  • The latent causes of faction are sown into the very nature of man. They are much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to cooperate for the common good. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society.
  • No man is allowed to be judge in his own case because his interest would bias his judgment, and corrupt his integrity; yet the acts of legislation are made by the people who will benefit or suffer from those laws. The interests of the most numerous party, in other words the most powerful faction, must be expected to prevail.
  • Thus, we must infer that the causes of faction cannot be eliminated, and that relief can only be found in controlling its effects.
  • To secure the public good and private interests against a majority faction in a popular government is the great object to which our inquiries are directed.
  • A pure democracy cannot cure the mischiefs of faction. There is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker minority party’s interests for the sake of the majority.
  • A republic, in which the scheme of representation takes place, promises the cure for which we have been seeking.
  • The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: 1) in a republic, citizens delegate the government to a small number of elected citizens, whereas all citizens have an equal vote in a democracy; 2) a republic can be extended over a greater sphere of people and territory.
  • The effect of the first difference is to refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of the body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. But this effect may be inverted. Elected men may betray the interests of the people. The remaining question is whether a small or extensive republic is more favorable to the election of proper guardians. The answer is clearly an extensive republic.
  • In the first place, the number of representatives must be large enough to guard against the cabals of a few. The number of representatives must be limited to a certain number to avoid the confusion of a multitude. Thus, a proper number proportional to the number of citizens of the state exists, and is necessarily greater in a larger republic.
  • In the next place, as each representative will be chosen by a greater number of citizens in a larger republic, it will be more difficult to practice those vicious arts by which elections are so often carried.
  • The other point of difference is the greater extent of territory that can be effectively governed by a republic. It is principally this circumstance that renders factions less formidable and dreaded in republics than in democracies. The smaller the society, the fewer parties. The fewer parties, the more frequently a majority will be found. The smaller the number of people in the majority, the easier it is for them to concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; it becomes less probable that a majority will have a common motive to invade the rights of others; if such a common motive exists, then it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other. It may also be remarked that the consciousness of unjust or dishonorable purposes always checks communication because of distrust of others needed to execute the plan.
  • The Union will possess representatives who are superior to local prejudices and schemes of injustice, greater security because of the great variety of parties, and the obstacles of distance and population to the concert and execution of factious designs to oppress minority interests.

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

Federalist No.10 was written by James Madison. This is the first paper written by Madison; the preceding papers were written by John Jay and Alexander Hamilton. In this paper, Madison discusses the vice of internal insurrection and faction within republics. A faction, as defined by Madison, is a number of citizens who are united and actuated by an impulse of passion or by an interest adverse to the interests of other citizens or to the aggregate interests of the community.  There are two expedients to remedy the evils of factions: 1) to remove the cause of factions; and 2) to control its effects.

The cause of factions is liberty. So long as reason is fallible, and men are free to exercise it, there will be a difference of opinion. Different opinions lead to different and often adverse interests, which beget factions. Furthermore, the disparity in property rights among citizens has been, and will always be a cause of conflict within a government. Those who hold and those who are without property will always form distinct interests in society. To remove these property rights and liberty itself is pure folly. It is similar to abolishing air because it is the expedient to the destructive quality of fire.

Nor is it practicable to compel every citizen to hold the same opinions, passions, and interests. Thus, the first option is not viable, and we must turn to the second: controlling its effects. The best expedient to control the effects of factions is found in the form of a republican government. A democracy cannot repress factions, nor control their effects because of its characteristics. In a democracy, every citizen has a vote equal to his fellow citizen. A majority can impose their prejudices against a minority because there are no checks to its power. Furthermore, a democracy must be small because of the necessity of recording the votes of every citizen on every governmental concern. Because of the limited number of citizens, there is more opportunity for a small number of people to concert and execute their malicious schemes to the detriment of the other citizens.

A republic remedies these difficulties. In a republic, the administration of the government is placed in the hands of a few elected officials. Though these officials may betray the trust of the citizens, it is more likely that the officials will be sufficiently patriotic and love justice so that they will not sacrifice the common interests for personal prejudices. Furthermore, because a republican form of government can govern over a greater extent of territory, there will naturally be a greater variety of interests in a republic than a small democracy. The greater the number of interests, the more difficult it will be for a majority to concert, and execute schemes adverse to the interests of a minority.

The Federalist Papers (Signet Classics)

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