Ken's Project Blog

February 24, 2011

Federalist No. 5 – The Same Subject Continued: Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence

Filed under: History,Uncategorized — Ken @ 6:00 am

In 1787 Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison set out to inform the public discourse on what was wrong with the then-current form of Government (The Articles of Confederation) and what was needed in our next Government under The United States Constitution that had been drafted and needed to be ratified by the states/colonies. Over the course of the next few weeks I plan to review these important documents – The Federalist Papers, and as I do I will share them here with you, as originally written, without interpretation.

Of course, you may find the topic so engaging that you want to skip ahead of my slow and measured pace – in that case, I’ll direct you to my source for the documents, The Library of Congress website, thomas.loc.gov.

From the Library of Congress web site:

The Federalist Papers were a series of eighty-five essays urging the citizens of New York to ratify the new United States Constitution. Written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, the essays originally appeared anonymously in New York newspapers in 1787 and 1788 under the pen name “Publius.” A bound edition of the essays was first published in 1788, but it was not until the 1818 edition published by the printer Jacob Gideon that the authors of each essay were identified by name. The Federalist Papers are considered one of the most important sources for interpreting and understanding the original intent of the Constitution.


Federalist No. 5 – The Same Subject Continued: Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence

by John Jay

To the People of the State of New York:

QUEEN ANNE, in her letter of the 1st July, 1706, to the Scotch Parliament, makes some observations on the importance of the UNION then forming between England and Scotland, which merit our attention. I shall present the public with one or two extracts from it: “An entire and perfect union will be the solid foundation of lasting peace: It will secure your religion, liberty, and property; remove the animosities amongst yourselves, and the jealousies and differences betwixt our two kingdoms. It must increase your strength, riches, and trade; and by this union the whole island, being joined in affection and free from all apprehensions of different interest, will be ENABLED TO RESIST ALL ITS ENEMIES.” “We most earnestly recommend to you calmness and unanimity in this great and weighty affair, that the union may be brought to a happy conclusion, being the only EFFECTUAL way to secure our present and future happiness, and disappoint the designs of our and your enemies, who will doubtless, on this occasion, USE THEIR UTMOST ENDEAVORS TO PREVENT OR DELAY THIS UNION.”

It was remarked in the preceding paper, that weakness and divisions at home would invite dangers from abroad; and that nothing would tend more to secure us from them than union, strength, and good government within ourselves. This subject is copious and cannot easily be exhausted.

The history of Great Britain is the one with which we are in general the best acquainted, and it gives us many useful lessons. We may profit by their experience without paying the price which it cost them. Although it seems obvious to common sense that the people of such an island should be but one nation, yet we find that they were for ages divided into three, and that those three were almost constantly embroiled in quarrels and wars with one another. Notwithstanding their true interest with respect to the continental nations was really the same, yet by the arts and policy and practices of those nations, their mutual jealousies were perpetually kept inflamed, and for a long series of years they were far more inconvenient and troublesome than they were useful and assisting to each other.

Should the people of America divide themselves into three or four nations, would not the same thing happen? Would not similar jealousies arise, and be in like manner cherished? Instead of their being “joined in affection” and free from all apprehension of different “interests,” envy and jealousy would soon extinguish confidence and affection, and the partial interests of each confederacy, instead of the general interests of all America, would be the only objects of their policy and pursuits. Hence, like most other BORDERING nations, they would always be either involved in disputes and war, or live in the constant apprehension of them.

The most sanguine advocates for three or four confederacies cannot reasonably suppose that they would long remain exactly on an equal footing in point of strength, even if it was possible to form them so at first; but, admitting that to be practicable, yet what human contrivance can secure the continuance of such equality? Independent of those local circumstances which tend to beget and increase power in one part and to impede its progress in another, we must advert to the effects of that superior policy and good management which would probably distinguish the government of one above the rest, and by which their relative equality in strength and consideration would be destroyed. For it cannot be presumed that the same degree of sound policy, prudence, and foresight would uniformly be observed by each of these confederacies for a long succession of years.

Whenever, and from whatever causes, it might happen, and happen it would, that any one of these nations or confederacies should rise on the scale of political importance much above the degree of her neighbors, that moment would those neighbors behold her with envy and with fear. Both those passions would lead them to countenance, if not to promote, whatever might promise to diminish her importance; and would also restrain them from measures calculated to advance or even to secure her prosperity. Much time would not be necessary to enable her to discern these unfriendly dispositions. She would soon begin, not only to lose confidence in her neighbors, but also to feel a disposition equally unfavorable to them. Distrust naturally creates distrust, and by nothing is good-will and kind conduct more speedily changed than by invidious jealousies and uncandid imputations, whether expressed or implied.

The North is generally the region of strength, and many local circumstances render it probable that the most Northern of the proposed confederacies would, at a period not very distant, be unquestionably more formidable than any of the others. No sooner would this become evident than the NORTHERN HIVE would excite the same ideas and sensations in the more southern parts of America which it formerly did in the southern parts of Europe. Nor does it appear to be a rash conjecture that its young swarms might often be tempted to gather honey in the more blooming fields and milder air of their luxurious and more delicate neighbors.

They who well consider the history of similar divisions and confederacies will find abundant reason to apprehend that those in contemplation would in no other sense be neighbors than as they would be borderers; that they would neither love nor trust one another, but on the contrary would be a prey to discord, jealousy, and mutual injuries; in short, that they would place us exactly in the situations in which some nations doubtless wish to see us, viz., FORMIDABLE ONLY TO EACH OTHER.

From these considerations it appears that those gentlemen are greatly mistaken who suppose that alliances offensive and defensive might be formed between these confederacies, and would produce that combination and union of wills of arms and of resources, which would be necessary to put and keep them in a formidable state of defense against foreign enemies.

When did the independent states, into which Britain and Spain were formerly divided, combine in such alliance, or unite their forces against a foreign enemy? The proposed confederacies will be DISTINCT NATIONS. Each of them would have its commerce with foreigners to regulate by distinct treaties; and as their productions and commodities are different and proper for different markets, so would those treaties be essentially different. Different commercial concerns must create different interests, and of course different degrees of political attachment to and connection with different foreign nations. Hence it might and probably would happen that the foreign nation with whom the SOUTHERN confederacy might be at war would be the one with whom the NORTHERN confederacy would be the most desirous of preserving peace and friendship. An alliance so contrary to their immediate interest would not therefore be easy to form, nor, if formed, would it be observed and fulfilled with perfect good faith.

Nay, it is far more probable that in America, as in Europe, neighboring nations, acting under the impulse of opposite interests and unfriendly passions, would frequently be found taking different sides. Considering our distance from Europe, it would be more natural for these confederacies to apprehend danger from one another than from distant nations, and therefore that each of them should be more desirous to guard against the others by the aid of foreign alliances, than to guard against foreign dangers by alliances between themselves. And here let us not forget how much more easy it is to receive foreign fleets into our ports, and foreign armies into our country, than it is to persuade or compel them to depart. How many conquests did the Romans and others make in the characters of allies, and what innovations did they under the same character introduce into the governments of those whom they pretended to protect.

Let candid men judge, then, whether the division of America into any given number of independent sovereignties would tend to secure us against the hostilities and improper interference of foreign nations.

PUBLIUS.


Sources:

Library of Congress: The Articles of Confederation, The United States Constitution, and The Federalist Papers

Wikipedia.com: Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison

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1 Comment »

  1. Antifederalist No. 5

    Scotland and England — A Case in Point

    The ongoing Federalist essays appeared from October of 1787 to May of 1788. Rebuttals (Antifederalist in nature) to Federalist writers seldom were published. This selection was an answer to Publius [John Jay] Federalist No. 5. This article by “AN OBSERVER,” was printed in The New-York Journal and was reprinted in the [Boston] American Herald on December 3, 1787.

    A writer, under the signature Publius or The Federalist, No. V, in the Daily Advertiser, and in the New York Packet, with a view of proving the advantages which, he says, will be derived by the states if the new constitution is adopted, has given extracts of a letter from Queen Anne to the Scotch parliament, on the subject of a union between Scotland and England.

    Antifederalist No. 5

    Scotland and England — A Case in Point

    The ongoing Federalist essays appeared from October of 1787 to May of 1788. Rebuttals (Antifederalist in nature) to Federalist writers seldom were published. This selection was an answer to Publius [John Jay] Federalist No. 5. This article by “AN OBSERVER,” was printed in The New-York Journal and was reprinted in the [Boston] American Herald on December 3, 1787.

    A writer, under the signature Publius or The Federalist, No. V, in the Daily Advertiser, and in the New York Packet, with a view of proving the advantages which, he says, will be derived by the states if the new constitution is adopted, has given extracts of a letter from Queen Anne to the Scotch parliament, on the subject of a union between Scotland and England.

    I would beg leave to remark, that Publius has been very unfortunate in selecting these extracts as a case in point, to convince the people of America of the benefits they would derive from a union, under such a government as would be effected by the new system. It is a certainty, that when the union was the subject of debate in the Scottish legislature, some of their most sensible and disinterested nobles, as well as commoners! (who were not corrupted by English gold), violently opposed the union, and predicted that the people of Scotland would, in fact, derive no advantages from a consolidation of government with England; but, on the contrary, they would bear a great proportion of her debt, and furnish large bodies of men to assist in her wars with France, with whom, before the union, Scotland was at all times on terms of the most cordial amity. It was also predicted that the representation in the parliament of Great Britain, particularly in the house of commons, was too small; forty-five members being very far from the proportion of Scotland, when its extent and numbers were duly considered; and that even they, being so few, might (or at least a majority of them might) at all times be immediately under the influence of the English ministry; and, of course, very little of their attention would be given to the true interest of their constituents, especially if they came in competition with the prospects of views of the ministry. How far these predictions have been verified I believe it will not require much trouble to prove. It must be obvious to everyone, the least acquainted with English history, that since the union of the two nations the great body of the people in Scotland are in a much worse situation now, than they would be, were they a separate nation. This will be fully illustrated by attending to the great emigrations which are made to America. For if the people could have but a common support at home, it is unreasonable to suppose that such large numbers would quit their country, break from the tender ties of kindred and friendship and trust themselves on a dangerous voyage across a vast ocean, to a country of which they can know but very little except by common report. I will only further remark, that it is not about two or three years since a member of the British parliament (I believe Mr. Dempster) gave a most pathetic description of the sufferings of the commonalty of Scotland, particularly on the sea coast, and endeavored to call the attention of parliament to their distresses, and afford them some relief by encouraging their fisheries. It deserves also to be remembered, that the people of Scotland, in the late war between France and Great Britain, petitioned to have arms and ammunition supplied them by their general government, for their defense, alleging that they were incapable of defending themselves and their property from an invasion unless they were assisted by government. It is a truth that their petitions were disregarded, and reasons were assigned, that it would be dangerous to entrust them with the means of defense, as they would then have it in their power to break the union. From this representation of the situation of Scotland, surely no one can draw any conclusion that this country would derive happiness or security from a government which would, in reality, give the people but the mere name of being free. For if the representation, stipulated by the constitution, framed by the late convention, be attentively and dispassionately considered, it must be obvious to every disinterested observer (besides many other weighty objections which will present themselves to view), that the number is not, by any means, adequate to the present inhabitants of this extensive continent, much less to those it will contain at a future period.

    I observe that the writer above mentioned, takes great pains to show the disadvantages which would result from three or four distinct confederacies of these states. I must confess that I have not seen, in any of the pieces published against the proposed constitution, any thing which gives the most distant idea that their writers are in favor of such governments; but it is clear these objections arise from a consolidation not affording security for the liberties of their country, and from hence it must evidently appear, that the design of Publius, in artfully holding up to public view [the bugbear of] such confederacies, can be with no other intention than wilfully to deceive his fellow citizens. I am confident it must be, and that it is, the sincere wish of every true friend to the United States, that there should be a confederated national government, but that it should be one which would have a control over national and external matters only, and not interfere with the internal regulations and police of the different states in the union. Such a government, while it would give us respectability abroad, would not encroach upon, or subvert our liberties at home.

    AN OBSERVER

    Comment by selitskiy — February 28, 2011 @ 4:28 pm | Reply


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