(The Federalist Papers were a series of articles written under the pen name of Publius by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. Madison, widely recognized as the Father of the Constitution, would later go on to become President of the United States. Jay would become the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. Hamilton would serve in the Cabinet and become a major force in setting economic policy for the US.

The entire purpose of The Federalist Papers was to gain popular support for the then-proposed Constitution. Some would call it the most significant public-relations campaign in history; it is, in fact, studied in many public relations classes as a prime example of how to conduct a successful campaign)




General Introduction

For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the

 subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on

 a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject

 speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences

 nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare

 of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many

 respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently

 remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this

 country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important

 question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of

 establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether

 they are forever destined to depend for their political

 constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the

 remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be

 regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a

 wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve

 to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.

This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of

 patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and

 good men must feel for the event. Happy will it be if our choice

 should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests,

 unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the

 public good. But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than

 seriously to be expected. The plan offered to our deliberations

 affects too many particular interests, innovates upon too many local

 institutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects

 foreign to its merits, and of views, passions and prejudices little

 favorable to the discovery of truth.

Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new

 Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished the

 obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to resist

 all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument,

 and consequence of the offices they hold under the State

 establishments; and the perverted ambition of another class of men,

 who will either hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusions of

 their country, or will flatter themselves with fairer prospects of

 elevation from the subdivision of the empire into several partial

 confederacies than from its union under one government.

It is not, however, my design to dwell upon observations of this

 nature. I am well aware that it would be disingenuous to resolve

 indiscriminately the opposition of any set of men (merely because

 their situations might subject them to suspicion) into interested or

 ambitious views. Candor will oblige us to admit that even such men

 may be actuated by upright intentions; and it cannot be doubted

 that much of the opposition which has made its appearance, or may

 hereafter make its appearance, will spring from sources, blameless

 at least, if not respectable--the honest errors of minds led astray

 by preconceived jealousies and fears. So numerous indeed and so

 powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the

 judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the

 wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first

 magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would

 furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much

 persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a

 further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the

 reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the

 truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists.

 Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many

 other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as

 well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a

 question. Were there not even these inducements to moderation,

 nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which

 has, at all times, characterized political parties. For 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.

And yet, however just these sentiments will be allowed to be, we

 have already sufficient indications that it will happen in this as

 in all former cases of great national discussion. A torrent of

 angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the

 conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that

 they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions,

 and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of

 their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An

 enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be

 stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and

 hostile to the principles of liberty. An over-scrupulous jealousy

 of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the

 fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere

 pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense

 of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that

 jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble

 enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow

 and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally

 forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security

 of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed

 judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that 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.

In the course of the preceding observations, I have had an eye,

 my fellow-citizens, to putting you upon your guard against all

 attempts, from whatever quarter, to influence your decision in a

 matter of the utmost moment to your welfare, by any impressions

 other than those which may result from the evidence of truth. You

 will, no doubt, at the same time, have collected from the general

 scope of them, that they proceed from a source not unfriendly to the

 new Constitution. Yes, my countrymen, I own to you that, after

 having given it an attentive consideration, I am clearly of opinion

 it is your interest to adopt it. I am convinced that this is the

 safest course for your liberty, your dignity, and your happiness. I

 affect not reserves which I do not feel. I will not amuse you with

 an appearance of deliberation when I have decided. I frankly

 acknowledge to you my convictions, and I will freely lay before you

 the reasons on which they are founded. The consciousness of good

 intentions disdains ambiguity. I shall not, however, multiply

 professions on this head. My motives must remain in the depository

 of my own breast. My arguments will be open to all, and may be

 judged of by all. They shall at least be offered in a spirit which

 will not disgrace the cause of truth.

I propose, in a series of papers, to discuss the following

 interesting particulars:











In the progress of this discussion I shall endeavor to give a

 satisfactory answer to all the objections which shall have made

 their appearance, that may seem to have any claim to your attention.

It may perhaps be thought superfluous to offer arguments to

 prove the utility of the UNION, a point, no doubt, deeply engraved

 on the hearts of the great body of the people in every State, and

 one, which it may be imagined, has no adversaries. But the fact is,

 that we already hear it whispered in the private circles of those

 who oppose the new Constitution, that the thirteen States are of too

 great extent for any general system, and that we must of necessity

 resort to separate confederacies of distinct portions of the

 whole.1 This doctrine will, in all probability, be gradually

 propagated, till it has votaries enough to countenance an open

 avowal of it. For nothing can be more evident, to those who are

 able to take an enlarged view of the subject, than the alternative

 of an adoption of the new Constitution or a dismemberment of the

 Union. It will therefore be of use to begin by examining the

 advantages of that Union, the certain evils, and the probable

 dangers, to which every State will be exposed from its dissolution.

 This shall accordingly constitute the subject of my next address.


1 The same idea, tracing the arguments to their consequences, is

 held out in several of the late publications against the new







Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence

For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

WHEN the people of America reflect that they are now called upon

 to decide a question, which, in its consequences, must prove one of

 the most important that ever engaged their attention, the propriety

 of their taking a very comprehensive, as well as a very serious,

 view of it, will be evident.

Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of

 government, and it is equally undeniable, that 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 is well worthy

 of consideration therefore, whether it would conduce more to the

 interest of the people of America that they should, to all general

 purposes, be one nation, under one federal government, or that they

 should divide themselves into separate confederacies, and give to

 the head of each the same kind of powers which they are advised to

 place in one national government.

It has until lately been a received and uncontradicted opinion

 that the prosperity of the people of America depended on their

 continuing firmly united, and the wishes, prayers, and efforts of

 our best and wisest citizens have been constantly directed to that

 object. But politicians now appear, who insist that this opinion is

 erroneous, and that instead of looking for safety and happiness in

 union, we ought to seek it in a division of the States into distinct

 confederacies or sovereignties. However extraordinary this new

 doctrine may appear, it nevertheless has its advocates; and certain

 characters who were much opposed to it formerly, are at present of

 the number. Whatever may be the arguments or inducements which have

 wrought this change in the sentiments and declarations of these

 gentlemen, it certainly would not be wise in the people at large to

 adopt these new political tenets without being fully convinced that

 they are founded in truth and sound policy.

It has often given me pleasure to observe that independent

 America was not composed of detached and distant territories, but

 that one connected, fertile, widespreading country was the portion

 of our western sons of liberty. Providence has in a particular

 manner blessed it with a variety of soils and productions, and

 watered it with innumerable streams, for the delight and

 accommodation of its inhabitants. A succession of navigable waters

 forms a kind of chain round its borders, as if to bind it together;

 while the most noble rivers in the world, running at convenient

 distances, present them with highways for the easy communication of

 friendly aids, and the mutual transportation and exchange of their

 various commodities.

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence

 has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united

 people--a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same

 language, professing the same religion, attached to the same

 principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs,

 and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side

 by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established

 general liberty and independence.

This country and this people seem to have been made for each

 other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an

 inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united

 to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a

 number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.

Similar sentiments have hitherto prevailed among all orders and

 denominations of men among us. To all general purposes we have

 uniformly been one people each individual citizen everywhere

 enjoying the same national rights, privileges, and protection. As a

 nation we have made peace and war; as a nation we have vanquished

 our common enemies; as a nation we have formed alliances, and made

 treaties, and entered into various compacts and conventions with

 foreign states.

A strong sense of the value and blessings of union induced the

 people, at a very early period, to institute a federal government to

 preserve and perpetuate it. They formed it almost as soon as they

 had a political existence; nay, at a time when their habitations

 were in flames, when many of their citizens were bleeding, and when

 the progress of hostility and desolation left little room for those

 calm and mature inquiries and reflections which must ever precede

 the formation of a wise and wellbalanced government for a free

 people. It is not to be wondered at, that a government instituted

 in times so inauspicious, should on experiment be found greatly

 deficient and inadequate to the purpose it was intended to answer.

This intelligent people perceived and regretted these defects.

 Still continuing no less attached to union than enamored of

 liberty, they observed the danger which immediately threatened the

 former and more remotely the latter; and being pursuaded that ample

 security for both could only be found in a national government more

 wisely framed, they as with one voice, convened the late convention

 at Philadelphia, to take that important subject under consideration.

This convention composed of men who possessed the confidence of

 the people, and many of whom had become highly distinguished by

 their patriotism, virtue and wisdom, in times which tried the minds

 and hearts of men, undertook the arduous task. In the mild season

 of peace, with minds unoccupied by other subjects, they passed many

 months in cool, uninterrupted, and daily consultation; and finally,

 without having been awed by power, or influenced by any passions

 except love for their country, they presented and recommended to the

 people the plan produced by their joint and very unanimous councils.

Admit, for so is the fact, that this plan is only RECOMMENDED,

 not imposed, yet let it be remembered that it is neither recommended

 to BLIND approbation, nor to BLIND reprobation; but to that sedate

 and candid consideration which the magnitude and importance of the

 subject demand, and which it certainly ought to receive. But this

 (as was remarked in the foregoing number of this paper) is more to

 be wished than expected, that it may be so considered and examined.

 Experience on a former occasion teaches us not to be too sanguine

 in such hopes. It is not yet forgotten that well-grounded

 apprehensions of imminent danger induced the people of America to

 form the memorable Congress of 1774. That body recommended certain

 measures to their constituents, and the event proved their wisdom;

 yet it is fresh in our memories how soon the press began to teem

 with pamphlets and weekly papers against those very measures. Not

 only many of the officers of government, who obeyed the dictates of

 personal interest, but others, from a mistaken estimate of

 consequences, or the undue influence of former attachments, or whose

 ambition aimed at objects which did not correspond with the public

 good, were indefatigable in their efforts to pursuade the people to

 reject the advice of that patriotic Congress. Many, indeed, were

 deceived and deluded, but the great majority of the people reasoned

 and decided judiciously; and happy they are in reflecting that they

 did so.

They considered that the Congress was composed of many wise and

 experienced men. That, being convened from different parts of the

 country, they brought with them and communicated to each other a

 variety of useful information. That, in the course of the time they

 passed together in inquiring into and discussing the true interests

 of their country, they must have acquired very accurate knowledge on

 that head. That they were individually interested in the public

 liberty and prosperity, and therefore that it was not less their

 inclination than their duty to recommend only such measures as,

 after the most mature deliberation, they really thought prudent and


These and similar considerations then induced the people to rely

 greatly on the judgment and integrity of the Congress; and they

 took their advice, notwithstanding the various arts and endeavors

 used to deter them from it. But if the people at large had reason

 to confide in the men of that Congress, few of whom had been fully

 tried or generally known, still greater reason have they now to

 respect the judgment and advice of the convention, for it is well

 known that some of the most distinguished members of that Congress,

 who have been since tried and justly approved for patriotism and

 abilities, and who have grown old in acquiring political

 information, were also members of this convention, and carried into

 it their accumulated knowledge and experience.

It is worthy of remark that not only the first, but every

 succeeding Congress, as well as the late convention, have invariably

 joined with the people in thinking that the prosperity of America

 depended on its Union. To preserve and perpetuate it was the great

 object of the people in forming that convention, and it is also the

 great object of the plan which the convention has advised them to

 adopt. With what propriety, therefore, or for what good purposes,

 are attempts at this particular period made by some men to

 depreciate the importance of the Union? Or why is it suggested that

 three or four confederacies would be better than one? I am

 persuaded in my own mind that the people have always thought right

 on this subject, and that their universal and uniform attachment to

 the cause of the Union rests on great and weighty reasons, which I

 shall endeavor to develop and explain in some ensuing papers. They

 who promote the idea of substituting a number of distinct

 confederacies in the room of the plan of the convention, seem

 clearly to foresee that the rejection of it would put the

 continuance of the Union in the utmost jeopardy. That certainly

 would be the case, and I sincerely wish that it may be as clearly

 foreseen by every good citizen, that whenever the dissolution of the

 Union arrives, America will have reason to exclaim, in the words of







The Same Subject Continued

(Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence)

For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

IT IS not a new observation that the people of any country (if,

 like the Americans, intelligent and wellinformed) seldom adopt and

 steadily persevere for many years in an erroneous opinion respecting

 their interests. That consideration naturally tends to create great

 respect for the high opinion which the people of America have so

 long and uniformly entertained of the importance of their continuing

 firmly united under one federal government, vested with sufficient

 powers for all general and national purposes.

The more attentively I consider and investigate the reasons

 which appear to have given birth to this opinion, the more I become

 convinced that they are cogent and conclusive.

Among the many objects to which a wise and free people find it

 necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their

 SAFETY seems to be the first. The SAFETY of the people doubtless

 has relation to a great variety of circumstances and considerations,

 and consequently affords great latitude to those who wish to define

 it precisely and comprehensively.

At present I mean only to consider it as it respects security

 for the preservation of peace and tranquillity, as well as against

 dangers from FOREIGN ARMS AND INFLUENCE, as from dangers of the LIKE

 KIND arising from domestic causes. As the former of these comes

 first in order, it is proper it should be the first discussed. Let

 us therefore proceed to examine whether the people are not right in

 their opinion that a cordial Union, under an efficient national

 government, affords them the best security that can be devised

 against HOSTILITIES from abroad.

The number of wars which have happened or will happen in the

 world will always be found to be in proportion to the number and

 weight of the causes, whether REAL or PRETENDED, which PROVOKE or

 INVITE them. If this remark be just, it becomes useful to inquire

 whether so many JUST causes of war are likely to be given by UNITED

 AMERICA as by DISUNITED America; for if it should turn out that

 United America will probably give the fewest, then it will follow

 that in this respect the Union tends most to preserve the people in

 a state of peace with other nations.

The JUST causes of war, for the most part, arise either from

 violation of treaties or from direct violence. America has already

 formed treaties with no less than six foreign nations, and all of

 them, except Prussia, are maritime, and therefore able to annoy and

 injure us. She has also extensive commerce with Portugal, Spain,

 and Britain, and, with respect to the two latter, has, in addition,

 the circumstance of neighborhood to attend to.

It is of high importance to the peace of America that she

 observe the laws of nations towards all these powers, and to me it

 appears evident that this will be more perfectly and punctually done

 by one national government than it could be either by thirteen

 separate States or by three or four distinct confederacies.

Because when once an efficient national government is

 established, the best men in the country will not only consent to

 serve, but also will generally be appointed to manage it; for,

 although town or country, or other contracted influence, may place

 men in State assemblies, or senates, or courts of justice, or

 executive departments, yet more general and extensive reputation for

 talents and other qualifications will be necessary to recommend men

 to offices under the national government,--especially as it will have

 the widest field for choice, and never experience that want of

 proper persons which is not uncommon in some of the States. Hence,

 it will result that the administration, the political counsels, and

 the judicial decisions of the national government will be more wise,

 systematical, and judicious than those of individual States, and

 consequently more satisfactory with respect to other nations, as

 well as more SAFE with respect to us.

Because, under the national government, treaties and articles of

 treaties, as well as the laws of nations, will always be expounded

 in one sense and executed in the same manner,--whereas, adjudications

 on the same points and questions, in thirteen States, or in three or

 four confederacies, will not always accord or be consistent; and

 that, as well from the variety of independent courts and judges

 appointed by different and independent governments, as from the

 different local laws and interests which may affect and influence

 them. The wisdom of the convention, in committing such questions to

 the jurisdiction and judgment of courts appointed by and responsible

 only to one national government, cannot be too much commended.

Because the prospect of present loss or advantage may often

 tempt the governing party in one or two States to swerve from good

 faith and justice; but those temptations, not reaching the other

 States, and consequently having little or no influence on the

 national government, the temptation will be fruitless, and good

 faith and justice be preserved. The case of the treaty of peace

 with Britain adds great weight to this reasoning.

Because, even if the governing party in a State should be

 disposed to resist such temptations, yet as such temptations may,

 and commonly do, result from circumstances peculiar to the State,

 and may affect a great number of the inhabitants, the governing

 party may not always be able, if willing, to prevent the injustice

 meditated, or to punish the aggressors. But the national

 government, not being affected by those local circumstances, will

 neither be induced to commit the wrong themselves, nor want power or

 inclination to prevent or punish its commission by others.

So far, therefore, as either designed or accidental violations

 of treaties and the laws of nations afford JUST causes of war, they

 are less to be apprehended under one general government than under

 several lesser ones, and in that respect the former most favors the

 SAFETY of the people.

As to those just causes of war which proceed from direct and

 unlawful violence, it appears equally clear to me that one good

 national government affords vastly more security against dangers of

 that sort than can be derived from any other quarter.

Because such violences are more frequently caused by the

 passions and interests of a part than of the whole; of one or two

 States than of the Union. Not a single Indian war has yet been

 occasioned by aggressions of the present federal government, feeble

 as it is; but there are several instances of Indian hostilities

 having been provoked by the improper conduct of individual States,

 who, either unable or unwilling to restrain or punish offenses, have

 given occasion to the slaughter of many innocent inhabitants.

The neighborhood of Spanish and British territories, bordering

 on some States and not on others, naturally confines the causes of

 quarrel more immediately to the borderers. The bordering States, if

 any, will be those who, under the impulse of sudden irritation, and

 a quick sense of apparent interest or injury, will be most likely,

 by direct violence, to excite war with these nations; and nothing

 can so effectually obviate that danger as a national government,

 whose wisdom and prudence will not be diminished by the passions

 which actuate the parties immediately interested.

But not only fewer just causes of war will be given by the

 national government, but it will also be more in their power to

 accommodate and settle them amicably. They will be more temperate

 and cool, and in that respect, as well as in others, will be more in

 capacity to act advisedly than the offending State. The pride of

 states, as well as of men, naturally disposes them to justify all

 their actions, and opposes their acknowledging, correcting, or

 repairing their errors and offenses. The national government, in

 such cases, will not be affected by this pride, but will proceed

 with moderation and candor to consider and decide on the means most

 proper to extricate them from the difficulties which threaten them.

Besides, it is well known that acknowledgments, explanations,

 and compensations are often accepted as satisfactory from a strong

 united nation, which would be rejected as unsatisfactory if offered

 by a State or confederacy of little consideration or power.

In the year 1685, the state of Genoa having offended Louis XIV.,

 endeavored to appease him. He demanded that they should send their

 Doge, or chief magistrate, accompanied by four of their

 senators, to FRANCE, to ask his pardon and receive his terms. They

 were obliged to submit to it for the sake of peace. Would he on any

 occasion either have demanded or have received the like humiliation

 from Spain, or Britain, or any other POWERFUL nation?






The Same Subject Continued

(Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence)

For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

MY LAST paper assigned several reasons why the safety of the

 people would be best secured by union against the danger it may be

 exposed to by JUST causes of war given to other nations; and those

 reasons show that such causes would not only be more rarely given,

 but would also be more easily accommodated, by a national government

 than either by the State governments or the proposed little


But the safety of the people of America against dangers from

 FOREIGN force depends not only on their forbearing to give JUST

 causes of war to other nations, but also on their placing and

 continuing themselves in such a situation as not to INVITE hostility

 or insult; for it need not be observed that there are PRETENDED as

 well as just causes of war.

It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature,

 that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect

 of getting anything by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make

 war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the

 purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military

 glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts

 to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans.

 These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of

 the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by

 justice or the voice and interests of his people. But, independent

 of these inducements to war, which are more prevalent in absolute

 monarchies, but which well deserve our attention, there are others

 which affect nations as often as kings; and some of them will on

 examination be found to grow out of our relative situation and


With France and with Britain we are rivals in the fisheries, and

 can supply their markets cheaper than they can themselves,

 notwithstanding any efforts to prevent it by bounties on their own

 or duties on foreign fish.

With them and with most other European nations we are rivals in

 navigation and the carrying trade; and we shall deceive ourselves

 if we suppose that any of them will rejoice to see it flourish;

 for, as our carrying trade cannot increase without in some degree

 diminishing theirs, it is more their interest, and will be more

 their policy, to restrain than to promote it.

In the trade to China and India, we interfere with more than one

 nation, inasmuch as it enables us to partake in advantages which

 they had in a manner monopolized, and as we thereby supply ourselves

 with commodities which we used to purchase from them.

The extension of our own commerce in our own vessels cannot give

 pleasure to any nations who possess territories on or near this

 continent, because the cheapness and excellence of our productions,

 added to the circumstance of vicinity, and the enterprise and

 address of our merchants and navigators, will give us a greater

 share in the advantages which those territories afford, than

 consists with the wishes or policy of their respective sovereigns.

Spain thinks it convenient to shut the Mississippi against us on

 the one side, and Britain excludes us from the Saint Lawrence on the

 other; nor will either of them permit the other waters which are

 between them and us to become the means of mutual intercourse and


From these and such like considerations, which might, if

 consistent with prudence, be more amplified and detailed, it is easy

 to see that jealousies and uneasinesses may gradually slide into the

 minds and cabinets of other nations, and that we are not to expect

 that they should regard our advancement in union, in power and

 consequence by land and by sea, with an eye of indifference and


The people of America are aware that inducements to war may

 arise out of these circumstances, as well as from others not so

 obvious at present, and that whenever such inducements may find fit

 time and opportunity for operation, pretenses to color and justify

 them will not be wanting. Wisely, therefore, do they consider union

 and a good national government as necessary to put and keep them in

 SUCH A SITUATION as, instead of INVITING war, will tend to repress

 and discourage it. That situation consists in the best possible

 state of defense, and necessarily depends on the government, the

 arms, and the resources of the country.

As the safety of the whole is the interest of the whole, and

 cannot be provided for without government, either one or more or

 many, let us inquire whether one good government is not, relative to

 the object in question, more competent than any other given number


One government can collect and avail itself of the talents and

 experience of the ablest men, in whatever part of the Union they may

 be found. It can move on uniform principles of policy. It can

 harmonize, assimilate, and protect the several parts and members,

 and extend the benefit of its foresight and precautions to each. In

 the formation of treaties, it will regard the interest of the whole,

 and the particular interests of the parts as connected with that of

 the whole. It can apply the resources and power of the whole to the

 defense of any particular part, and that more easily and

 expeditiously than State governments or separate confederacies can

 possibly do, for want of concert and unity of system. It can place

 the militia under one plan of discipline, and, by putting their

 officers in a proper line of subordination to the Chief Magistrate,

 will, as it were, consolidate them into one corps, and thereby

 render them more efficient than if divided into thirteen or into

 three or four distinct independent companies.

What would the militia of Britain be if the English militia

 obeyed the government of England, if the Scotch militia obeyed the

 government of Scotland, and if the Welsh militia obeyed the

 government of Wales? Suppose an invasion; would those three

 governments (if they agreed at all) be able, with all their

 respective forces, to operate against the enemy so effectually as

 the single government of Great Britain would?

We have heard much of the fleets of Britain, and the time may

 come, if we are wise, when the fleets of America may engage

 attention. But if one national government, had not so regulated the

 navigation of Britain as to make it a nursery for seamen--if one

 national government had not called forth all the national means and

 materials for forming fleets, their prowess and their thunder would

 never have been celebrated. Let England have its navigation and

 fleet--let Scotland have its navigation and fleet--let Wales have its

 navigation and fleet--let Ireland have its navigation and fleet--let

 those four of the constituent parts of the British empire be be

 under four independent governments, and it is easy to perceive how

 soon they would each dwindle into comparative insignificance.

Apply these facts to our own case. Leave America divided into

 thirteen or, if you please, into three or four independent

 governments--what armies could they raise and pay--what fleets could

 they ever hope to have? If one was attacked, would the others fly

 to its succor, and spend their blood and money in its defense?

 Would there be no danger of their being flattered into neutrality

 by its specious promises, or seduced by a too great fondness for

 peace to decline hazarding their tranquillity and present safety for

 the sake of neighbors, of whom perhaps they have been jealous, and

 whose importance they are content to see diminished? Although such

 conduct would not be wise, it would, nevertheless, be natural. The

 history of the states of Greece, and of other countries, abounds

 with such instances, and it is not improbable that what has so often

 happened would, under similar circumstances, happen again.

But admit that they might be willing to help the invaded State

 or confederacy. How, and when, and in what proportion shall aids of

 men and money be afforded? Who shall command the allied armies, and

 from which of them shall he receive his orders? Who shall settle

 the terms of peace, and in case of disputes what umpire shall decide

 between them and compel acquiescence? Various difficulties and

 inconveniences would be inseparable from such a situation; whereas

 one government, watching over the general and common interests, and

 combining and directing the powers and resources of the whole, would

 be free from all these embarrassments, and conduce far more to the

 safety of the people.

But whatever may be our situation, whether firmly united under

 one national government, or split into a number of confederacies,

 certain it is, that foreign nations will know and view it exactly as

 it is; and they will act toward us accordingly. If they see that

 our national government is efficient and well administered, our

 trade prudently regulated, our militia properly organized and

 disciplined, our resources and finances discreetly managed, our

 credit re-established, our people free, contented, and united, they

 will be much more disposed to cultivate our friendship than provoke

 our resentment. If, on the other hand, they find us either

 destitute of an effectual government (each State doing right or

 wrong, as to its rulers may seem convenient), or split into three or

 four independent and probably discordant republics or confederacies,

 one inclining to Britain, another to France, and a third to Spain,

 and perhaps played off against each other by the three, what a poor,

 pitiful figure will America make in their eyes! How liable would

 she become not only to their contempt but to their outrage, and how

 soon would dear-bought experience proclaim that when a people or

 family so divide, it never fails to be against themselves.






The Same Subject Continued

(Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence)

For the Independent Journal.




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


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.,


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


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







Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States

For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

THE three last numbers of this paper have been dedicated to an

 enumeration of the dangers to which we should be exposed, in a state

 of disunion, from the arms and arts of foreign nations. I shall now

 proceed to delineate dangers of a different and, perhaps, still more

 alarming kind--those which will in all probability flow from

 dissensions between the States themselves, and from domestic

 factions and convulsions. These have been already in some instances

 slightly anticipated; but they deserve a more particular and more

 full investigation.

A man must be far gone in Utopian speculations who can seriously

 doubt that, if these States should either be wholly disunited, or

 only united in partial confederacies, the subdivisions into which

 they might be thrown would have frequent and violent contests with

 each other. To presume a want of motives for such contests as an

 argument against their existence, would be to forget that men are

 ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious. To look for a continuation of

 harmony between a number of independent, unconnected sovereignties

 in the same neighborhood, would be to disregard the uniform course

 of human events, and to set at defiance the accumulated experience

 of ages.

The causes of hostility among nations are innumerable. There

 are some which have a general and almost constant operation upon the

 collective bodies of society. Of this description are the love of

 power or the desire of pre-eminence and dominion--the jealousy of

 power, or the desire of equality and safety. There are others which

 have a more circumscribed though an equally operative influence

 within their spheres. Such are the rivalships and competitions of

 commerce between commercial nations. And there are others, not less

 numerous than either of the former, which take their origin entirely

 in private passions; in the attachments, enmities, interests,

 hopes, and fears of leading individuals in the communities of which

 they are members. Men of this class, whether the favorites of a

 king or of a people, have in too many instances abused the

 confidence they possessed; and assuming the pretext of some public

 motive, have not scrupled to sacrifice the national tranquillity to

 personal advantage or personal gratification.

The celebrated Pericles, in compliance with the resentment of a

 prostitute,1 at the expense of much of the blood and treasure of

 his countrymen, attacked, vanquished, and destroyed the city of the

 SAMNIANS. The same man, stimulated by private pique against the

 MEGARENSIANS,2 another nation of Greece, or to avoid a

 prosecution with which he was threatened as an accomplice of a

 supposed theft of the statuary Phidias,3 or to get rid of the

 accusations prepared to be brought against him for dissipating the

 funds of the state in the purchase of popularity,4 or from a

 combination of all these causes, was the primitive author of that

 famous and fatal war, distinguished in the Grecian annals by the

 name of the PELOPONNESIAN war; which, after various vicissitudes,

 intermissions, and renewals, terminated in the ruin of the Athenian


The ambitious cardinal, who was prime minister to Henry VIII.,

 permitting his vanity to aspire to the triple crown,5

 entertained hopes of succeeding in the acquisition of that splendid

 prize by the influence of the Emperor Charles V. To secure the

 favor and interest of this enterprising and powerful monarch, he

 precipitated England into a war with France, contrary to the

 plainest dictates of policy, and at the hazard of the safety and

 independence, as well of the kingdom over which he presided by his

 counsels, as of Europe in general. For if there ever was a

 sovereign who bid fair to realize the project of universal monarchy,

 it was the Emperor Charles V., of whose intrigues Wolsey was at once

 the instrument and the dupe.

The influence which the bigotry of one female,6 the

 petulance of another,7 and the cabals of a third,8 had in

 the contemporary policy, ferments, and pacifications, of a

 considerable part of Europe, are topics that have been too often

 descanted upon not to be generally known.

To multiply examples of the agency of personal considerations in

 the production of great national events, either foreign or domestic,

 according to their direction, would be an unnecessary waste of time.

 Those who have but a superficial acquaintance with the sources from

 which they are to be drawn, will themselves recollect a variety of

 instances; and those who have a tolerable knowledge of human nature

 will not stand in need of such lights to form their opinion either

 of the reality or extent of that agency. Perhaps, however, a

 reference, tending to illustrate the general principle, may with

 propriety be made to a case which has lately happened among

 ourselves. If Shays had not been a DESPERATE DEBTOR, it is much to

 be doubted whether Massachusetts would have been plunged into a

 civil war.

But notwithstanding the concurring testimony of experience, in

 this particular, there are still to be found visionary or designing

 men, who stand ready to advocate the paradox of perpetual peace

 between the States, though dismembered and alienated from each other.

 The genius of republics (say they) is pacific; the spirit of

 commerce has a tendency to soften the manners of men, and to

 extinguish those inflammable humors which have so often kindled into

 wars. Commercial republics, like ours, will never be disposed to

 waste themselves in ruinous contentions with each other. They will

 be governed by mutual interest, and will cultivate a spirit of

 mutual amity and concord.

Is it not (we may ask these projectors in politics) the true

 interest of all nations to cultivate the same benevolent and

 philosophic spirit? If this be their true interest, have they in

 fact pursued it? Has it not, on the contrary, invariably been found

 that momentary passions, and immediate interest, have a more active

 and imperious control over human conduct than general or remote

 considerations of policy, utility or justice? Have republics in

 practice been less addicted to war than monarchies? Are not the

 former administered by MEN as well as the latter? Are there not

 aversions, predilections, rivalships, and desires of unjust

 acquisitions, that affect nations as well as kings? Are not popular

 assemblies frequently subject to the impulses of rage, resentment,

 jealousy, avarice, and of other irregular and violent propensities?

 Is it not well known that their determinations are often governed

 by a few individuals in whom they place confidence, and are, of

 course, liable to be tinctured by the passions and views of those

 individuals? Has commerce hitherto done anything more than change

 the objects of war? Is not the love of wealth as domineering and

 enterprising a passion as that of power or glory? Have there not

 been as many wars founded upon commercial motives since that has

 become the prevailing system of nations, as were before occasioned

 by the cupidity of territory or dominion? Has not the spirit of

 commerce, in many instances, administered new incentives to the

 appetite, both for the one and for the other? Let experience, the

 least fallible guide of human opinions, be appealed to for an answer

 to these inquiries.

Sparta, Athens, Rome, and Carthage were all republics; two of

 them, Athens and Carthage, of the commercial kind. Yet were they as

 often engaged in wars, offensive and defensive, as the neighboring

 monarchies of the same times. Sparta was little better than a

 wellregulated camp; and Rome was never sated of carnage and


Carthage, though a commercial republic, was the aggressor in the

 very war that ended in her destruction. Hannibal had carried her

 arms into the heart of Italy and to the gates of Rome, before

 Scipio, in turn, gave him an overthrow in the territories of

 Carthage, and made a conquest of the commonwealth.

Venice, in later times, figured more than once in wars of

 ambition, till, becoming an object to the other Italian states, Pope

 Julius II. found means to accomplish that formidable league,9

 which gave a deadly blow to the power and pride of this haughty


The provinces of Holland, till they were overwhelmed in debts

 and taxes, took a leading and conspicuous part in the wars of Europe.

 They had furious contests with England for the dominion of the

 sea, and were among the most persevering and most implacable of the

 opponents of Louis XIV.

In the government of Britain the representatives of the people

 compose one branch of the national legislature. Commerce has been

 for ages the predominant pursuit of that country. Few nations,

 nevertheless, have been more frequently engaged in war; and the

 wars in which that kingdom has been engaged have, in numerous

 instances, proceeded from the people.

There have been, if I may so express it, almost as many popular

 as royal wars. The cries of the nation and the importunities of

 their representatives have, upon various occasions, dragged their

 monarchs into war, or continued them in it, contrary to their

 inclinations, and sometimes contrary to the real interests of the

 State. In that memorable struggle for superiority between the rival

 houses of AUSTRIA and BOURBON, which so long kept Europe in a flame,

 it is well known that the antipathies of the English against the

 French, seconding the ambition, or rather the avarice, of a favorite

 leader,10 protracted the war beyond the limits marked out by

 sound policy, and for a considerable time in opposition to the views

 of the court.

The wars of these two last-mentioned nations have in a great

 measure grown out of commercial considerations,--the desire of

 supplanting and the fear of being supplanted, either in particular

 branches of traffic or in the general advantages of trade and


From this summary of what has taken place in other countries,

 whose situations have borne the nearest resemblance to our own, what

 reason can we have to confide in those reveries which would seduce

 us into an expectation of peace and cordiality between the members

 of the present confederacy, in a state of separation? Have we not

 already seen enough of the fallacy and extravagance of those idle

 theories which have amused us with promises of an exemption from the

 imperfections, weaknesses and evils incident to society in every

 shape? 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?

Let the point of extreme depression to which our national

 dignity and credit have sunk, let the inconveniences felt everywhere

 from a lax and ill administration of government, let the revolt of a

 part of the State of North Carolina, the late menacing disturbances

 in Pennsylvania, and the actual insurrections and rebellions in

 Massachusetts, declare--!

So far is the general sense of mankind from corresponding with

 the tenets of those who endeavor to lull asleep our apprehensions of

 discord and hostility between the States, in the event of disunion,

 that it has from long observation of the progress of society become

 a sort of axiom in politics, that vicinity or nearness of situation,

 constitutes nations natural enemies. An intelligent writer

 expresses himself on this subject to this effect: ``NEIGHBORING

 NATIONS (says he) are naturally enemies of each other unless their

 common weakness forces them to league in a CONFEDERATE REPUBLIC, and

 their constitution prevents the differences that neighborhood

 occasions, extinguishing that secret jealousy which disposes all

 states to aggrandize themselves at the expense of their

 neighbors.''11 This passage, at the same time, points out the

 EVIL and suggests the REMEDY.


1 Aspasia, vide ``Plutarch's Life of Pericles.''

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 ] Ibid. Phidias was supposed to have stolen some public

 gold, with the connivance of Pericles, for the embellishment of the

 statue of Minerva.

5 P Worn by the popes.

6 Madame de Maintenon.

7 Duchess of Marlborough.

8 Madame de Pompadour.

9 The League of Cambray, comprehending the Emperor, the King of

 France, the King of Aragon, and most of the Italian princes and


10 The Duke of Marlborough.

11 Vide ``Principes des Negociations'' par 1'Abbe de Mably.





The Same Subject Continued

(Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States)

For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

IT IS sometimes asked, with an air of seeming triumph, what

 inducements could the States have, if disunited, to make war upon

 each other? It would be a full answer to this question to

 say--precisely the same inducements which have, at different times,

 deluged in blood all the nations in the world. But, unfortunately

 for us, the question admits of a more particular answer. There are

 causes of differences within our immediate contemplation, of the

 tendency of which, even under the restraints of a federal

 constitution, we have had sufficient experience to enable us to form

 a judgment of what might be expected if those restraints were


Territorial disputes have at all times been found one of the

 most fertile sources of hostility among nations. Perhaps the

 greatest proportion of wars that have desolated the earth have

 sprung from this origin. This cause would exist among us in full

 force. We have a vast tract of unsettled territory within the

 boundaries of the United States. There still are discordant and

 undecided claims between several of them, and the dissolution of the

 Union would lay a foundation for similar claims between them all.

 It is well known that they have heretofore had serious and animated

 discussion concerning the rights to the lands which were ungranted

 at the time of the Revolution, and which usually went under the name

 of crown lands. The States within the limits of whose colonial

 governments they were comprised have claimed them as their property,

 the others have contended that the rights of the crown in this

 article devolved upon the Union; especially as to all that part of

 the Western territory which, either by actual possession, or through

 the submission of the Indian proprietors, was subjected to the

 jurisdiction of the king of Great Britain, till it was relinquished

 in the treaty of peace. This, it has been said, was at all events

 an acquisition to the Confederacy by compact with a foreign power.

 It has been the prudent policy of Congress to appease this

 controversy, by prevailing upon the States to make cessions to the

 United States for the benefit of the whole. This has been so far

 accomplished as, under a continuation of the Union, to afford a

 decided prospect of an amicable termination of the dispute. A

 dismemberment of the Confederacy, however, would revive this

 dispute, and would create others on the same subject. At present, a

 large part of the vacant Western territory is, by cession at least,

 if not by any anterior right, the common property of the Union. If

 that were at an end, the States which made the cession, on a

 principle of federal compromise, would be apt when the motive of the

 grant had ceased, to reclaim the lands as a reversion. The other

 States would no doubt insist on a proportion, by right of

 representation. Their argument would be, that a grant, once made,

 could not be revoked; and that the justice of participating in

 territory acquired or secured by the joint efforts of the

 Confederacy, remained undiminished. If, contrary to probability, it

 should be admitted by all the States, that each had a right to a

 share of this common stock, there would still be a difficulty to be

 surmounted, as to a proper rule of apportionment. Different

 principles would be set up by different States for this purpose;

 and as they would affect the opposite interests of the parties,

 they might not easily be susceptible of a pacific adjustment.

In the wide field of Western territory, therefore, we perceive

 an ample theatre for hostile pretensions, without any umpire or

 common judge to interpose between the contending parties. To reason

 from the past to the future, we shall have good ground to apprehend,

 that the sword would sometimes be appealed to as the arbiter of

 their differences. The circumstances of the dispute between

 Connecticut and Pennsylvania, respecting the land at Wyoming,

 admonish us not to be sanguine in expecting an easy accommodation of

 such differences. The articles of confederation obliged the parties

 to submit the matter to the decision of a federal court. The

 submission was made, and the court decided in favor of Pennsylvania.

 But Connecticut gave strong indications of dissatisfaction with

 that determination; nor did she appear to be entirely resigned to

 it, till, by negotiation and management, something like an

 equivalent was found for the loss she supposed herself to have

 sustained. Nothing here said is intended to convey the slightest

 censure on the conduct of that State. She no doubt sincerely

 believed herself to have been injured by the decision; and States,

 like individuals, acquiesce with great reluctance in determinations

 to their disadvantage.

Those who had an opportunity of seeing the inside of the

 transactions which attended the progress of the controversy between

 this State and the district of Vermont, can vouch the opposition we

 experienced, as well from States not interested as from those which

 were interested in the claim; and can attest the danger to which

 the peace of the Confederacy might have been exposed, had this State

 attempted to assert its rights by force. Two motives preponderated

 in that opposition: one, a jealousy entertained of our future

 power; and the other, the interest of certain individuals of

 influence in the neighboring States, who had obtained grants of

 lands under the actual government of that district. Even the States

 which brought forward claims, in contradiction to ours, seemed more

 solicitous to dismember this State, than to establish their own

 pretensions. These were New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and

 Connecticut. New Jersey and Rhode Island, upon all occasions,

 discovered a warm zeal for the independence of Vermont; and

 Maryland, till alarmed by the appearance of a connection between

 Canada and that State, entered deeply into the same views. These

 being small States, saw with an unfriendly eye the perspective of

 our growing greatness. In a review of these transactions we may

 trace some of the causes which would be likely to embroil the States

 with each other, if it should be their unpropitious destiny to

 become disunited.

The competitions of commerce would be another fruitful source of

 contention. The States less favorably circumstanced would be

 desirous of escaping from the disadvantages of local situation, and

 of sharing in the advantages of their more fortunate neighbors.

 Each State, or separate confederacy, would pursue a system of

 commercial policy peculiar to itself. This would occasion

 distinctions, preferences, and exclusions, which would beget

 discontent. The habits of intercourse, on the basis of equal

 privileges, to which we have been accustomed since the earliest

 settlement of the country, would give a keener edge to those causes

 of discontent than they would naturally have independent of this




 enterprise, which characterizes the commercial part of America, has

 left no occasion of displaying itself unimproved. It is not at all

 probable that this unbridled spirit would pay much respect to those

 regulations of trade by which particular States might endeavor to

 secure exclusive benefits to their own citizens. The infractions of

 these regulations, on one side, the efforts to prevent and repel

 them, on the other, would naturally lead to outrages, and these to

 reprisals and wars.

The opportunities which some States would have of rendering

 others tributary to them by commercial regulations would be

 impatiently submitted to by the tributary States. The relative

 situation of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey would afford an

 example of this kind. New York, from the necessities of revenue,

 must lay duties on her importations. A great part of these duties

 must be paid by the inhabitants of the two other States in the

 capacity of consumers of what we import. New York would neither be

 willing nor able to forego this advantage. Her citizens would not

 consent that a duty paid by them should be remitted in favor of the

 citizens of her neighbors; nor would it be practicable, if there

 were not this impediment in the way, to distinguish the customers in

 our own markets. Would Connecticut and New Jersey long submit to be

 taxed by New York for her exclusive benefit? Should we be long

 permitted to remain in the quiet and undisturbed enjoyment of a

 metropolis, from the possession of which we derived an advantage so

 odious to our neighbors, and, in their opinion, so oppressive?

 Should we be able to preserve it against the incumbent weight of

 Connecticut on the one side, and the co-operating pressure of New

 Jersey on the other? These are questions that temerity alone will

 answer in the affirmative.

The public debt of the Union would be a further cause of

 collision between the separate States or confederacies. The

 apportionment, in the first instance, and the progressive

 extinguishment afterward, would be alike productive of ill-humor and

 animosity. How would it be possible to agree upon a rule of

 apportionment satisfactory to all? There is scarcely any that can

 be proposed which is entirely free from real objections. These, as

 usual, would be exaggerated by the adverse interest of the parties.

 There are even dissimilar views among the States as to the general

 principle of discharging the public debt. Some of them, either less

 impressed with the importance of national credit, or because their

 citizens have little, if any, immediate interest in the question,

 feel an indifference, if not a repugnance, to the payment of the

 domestic debt at any rate. These would be inclined to magnify the

 difficulties of a distribution. Others of them, a numerous body of

 whose citizens are creditors to the public beyond proportion of the

 State in the total amount of the national debt, would be strenuous

 for some equitable and effective provision. The procrastinations of

 the former would excite the resentments of the latter. The

 settlement of a rule would, in the meantime, be postponed by real

 differences of opinion and affected delays. The citizens of the

 States interested would clamour; foreign powers would urge for the

 satisfaction of their just demands, and the peace of the States

 would be hazarded to the double contingency of external invasion and

 internal contention.

Suppose the difficulties of agreeing upon a rule surmounted, and

 the apportionment made. Still there is great room to suppose that

 the rule agreed upon would, upon experiment, be found to bear harder

 upon some States than upon others. Those which were sufferers by it

 would naturally seek for a mitigation of the burden. The others

 would as naturally be disinclined to a revision, which was likely to

 end in an increase of their own incumbrances. Their refusal would

 be too plausible a pretext to the complaining States to withhold

 their contributions, not to be embraced with avidity; and the

 non-compliance of these States with their engagements would be a

 ground of bitter discussion and altercation. If even the rule

 adopted should in practice justify the equality of its principle,

 still delinquencies in payments on the part of some of the States

 would result from a diversity of other causes--the real deficiency of

 resources; the mismanagement of their finances; accidental

 disorders in the management of the government; and, in addition to

 the rest, the reluctance with which men commonly part with money for

 purposes that have outlived the exigencies which produced them, and

 interfere with the supply of immediate wants. Delinquencies, from

 whatever causes, would be productive of complaints, recriminations,

 and quarrels. There is, perhaps, nothing more likely to disturb the

 tranquillity of nations than their being bound to mutual

 contributions for any common object that does not yield an equal and

 coincident benefit. For it is an observation, as true as it is

 trite, that there is nothing men differ so readily about as the

 payment of money.

Laws in violation of private contracts, as they amount to

 aggressions on the rights of those States whose citizens are injured

 by them, may be considered as another probable source of hostility.

 We are not authorized to expect that a more liberal or more

 equitable spirit would preside over the legislations of the

 individual States hereafter, if unrestrained by any additional

 checks, than we have heretofore seen in too many instances

 disgracing their several codes. We have observed the disposition to

 retaliation excited in Connecticut in consequence of the enormities

 perpetrated by the Legislature of Rhode Island; and we reasonably

 infer that, in similar cases, under other circumstances, a war, not

 of PARCHMENT, but of the sword, would chastise such atrocious

 breaches of moral obligation and social justice.

The probability of incompatible alliances between the different

 States or confederacies and different foreign nations, and the

 effects of this situation upon the peace of the whole, have been

 sufficiently unfolded in some preceding papers. From the view they

 have exhibited of this part of the subject, this conclusion is to be

 drawn, that America, if not connected at all, or only by the feeble

 tie of a simple league, offensive and defensive, would, by the

 operation of such jarring alliances, be gradually entangled in all

 the pernicious labyrinths of European politics and wars; and by the

 destructive contentions of the parts into which she was divided,

 would be likely to become a prey to the artifices and machinations

 of powers equally the enemies of them all. Divide et

 impera1 must be the motto of every nation that either hates or

 fears us.2 PUBLIUS.

1 Divide and command.

2 In order that the whole subject of these papers may as soon as

 possible be laid before the public, it is proposed to publish them

 four times a week--on Tuesday in the New York Packet and on

 Thursday in the Daily Advertiser.





The Consequences of Hostilities Between the States

From the New York Packet.

Tuesday, November 20, 1787.




To the People of the State of New York:

ASSUMING it therefore as an established truth that the several

 States, in case of disunion, or such combinations of them as might

 happen to be formed out of the wreck of the general Confederacy,

 would be subject to those vicissitudes of peace and war, of

 friendship and enmity, with each other, which have fallen to the lot

 of all neighboring nations not united under one government, let us

 enter into a concise detail of some of the consequences that would

 attend such a situation.

War between the States, in the first period of their separate

 existence, would be accompanied with much greater distresses than it

 commonly is in those countries where regular military establishments

 have long obtained. The disciplined armies always kept on foot on

 the continent of Europe, though they bear a malignant aspect to

 liberty and economy, have, notwithstanding, been productive of the

 signal advantage of rendering sudden conquests impracticable, and of

 preventing that rapid desolation which used to mark the progress of

 war prior to their introduction. The art of fortification has

 contributed to the same ends. The nations of Europe are encircled

 with chains of fortified places, which mutually obstruct invasion.

 Campaigns are wasted in reducing two or three frontier garrisons,

 to gain admittance into an enemy's country. Similar impediments

 occur at every step, to exhaust the strength and delay the progress

 of an invader. Formerly, an invading army would penetrate into the

 heart of a neighboring country almost as soon as intelligence of its

 approach could be received; but now a comparatively small force of

 disciplined troops, acting on the defensive, with the aid of posts,

 is able to impede, and finally to frustrate, the enterprises of one

 much more considerable. The history of war, in that quarter of the

 globe, is no longer a history of nations subdued and empires

 overturned, but of towns taken and retaken; of battles that decide

 nothing; of retreats more beneficial than victories; of much

 effort and little acquisition.

In this country the scene would be altogether reversed. The

 jealousy of military establishments would postpone them as long as

 possible. The want of fortifications, leaving the frontiers of one

 state open to another, would facilitate inroads. The populous

 States would, with little difficulty, overrun their less populous

 neighbors. Conquests would be as easy to be made as difficult to be

 retained. War, therefore, would be desultory and predatory.

 PLUNDER and devastation ever march in the train of irregulars. The

 calamities of individuals would make the principal figure in the

 events which would characterize our military exploits.

This picture is not too highly wrought; though, I confess, it

 would not long remain a just one. 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.

The institutions chiefly alluded to are STANDING ARMIES and the

 correspondent appendages of military establishments. Standing

 armies, it is said, are not provided against in the new

 Constitution; and it is therefore inferred that they may exist

 under it.1 Their existence, however, from the very terms of the

 proposition, is, at most, problematical and uncertain. But standing

 armies, it may be replied, must inevitably result from a dissolution

 of the Confederacy. Frequent war and constant apprehension, which

 require a state of as constant preparation, will infallibly produce

 them. The weaker States or confederacies would first have recourse

 to them, to put themselves upon an equality with their more potent

 neighbors. They would endeavor to supply the inferiority of

 population and resources by a more regular and effective system of

 defense, by disciplined troops, and by fortifications. They would,

 at the same time, be necessitated to strengthen the executive arm of

 government, in doing which their constitutions would acquire a

 progressive direction toward monarchy. It is of the nature of war

 to increase the executive at the expense of the legislative


The expedients which have been mentioned would soon give the

 States or confederacies that made use of them a superiority over

 their neighbors. Small states, or states of less natural strength,

 under vigorous governments, and with the assistance of disciplined

 armies, have often triumphed over large states, or states of greater

 natural strength, which have been destitute of these advantages.

 Neither the pride nor the safety of the more important States or

 confederacies would permit them long to submit to this mortifying

 and adventitious superiority. They would quickly resort to means

 similar to those by which it had been effected, to reinstate

 themselves in their lost pre-eminence. Thus, we should, in a little

 time, see established in every part of this country the same engines

 of despotism which have been the scourge of the Old World. This, at

 least, would be the natural course of things; and our reasonings

 will be the more likely to be just, in proportion as they are

 accommodated to this standard.

These are not vague inferences drawn from supposed or

 speculative defects in a Constitution, the whole power of which is

 lodged in the hands of a people, or their representatives and

 delegates, but they are solid conclusions, drawn from the natural

 and necessary progress of human affairs.

It may, perhaps, be asked, by way of objection to this, why did

 not standing armies spring up out of the contentions which so often

 distracted the ancient republics of Greece? Different answers,

 equally satisfactory, may be given to this question. The

 industrious habits of the people of the present day, absorbed in the

 pursuits of gain, and devoted to the improvements of agriculture and

 commerce, are incompatible with the condition of a nation of

 soldiers, which was the true condition of the people of those

 republics. The means of revenue, which have been so greatly

 multiplied by the increase of gold and silver and of the arts of

 industry, and the science of finance, which is the offspring of

 modern times, concurring with the habits of nations, have produced

 an entire revolution in the system of war, and have rendered

 disciplined armies, distinct from the body of the citizens, the

 inseparable companions of frequent hostility.

There is a wide difference, also, between military

 establishments in a country seldom exposed by its situation to

 internal invasions, and in one which is often subject to them, and

 always apprehensive of them. The rulers of the former can have a

 good pretext, if they are even so inclined, to keep on foot armies

 so numerous as must of necessity be maintained in the latter. These

 armies being, in the first case, rarely, if at all, called into

 activity for interior defense, the people are in no danger of being

 broken to military subordination. The laws are not accustomed to

 relaxations, in favor of military exigencies; the civil state

 remains in full vigor, neither corrupted, nor confounded with the

 principles or propensities of the other state. The smallness of the

 army renders the natural strength of the community an over-match for

 it; and the citizens, not habituated to look up to the military

 power for protection, or to submit to its oppressions, neither love

 nor fear the soldiery; they view them with a spirit of jealous

 acquiescence in a necessary evil, and stand ready to resist a power

 which 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, or an occasional mob, or insurrection;

 but it will be unable to enforce encroachments against the united

 efforts of the great body of the people.

In a country in the predicament last described, the contrary of

 all this happens. The perpetual menacings of danger oblige the

 government to be always prepared to repel it; its armies must be

 numerous enough for instant defense. The continual necessity for

 their services enhances the importance of the soldier, and

 proportionably degrades the condition of the citizen. The military

 state becomes elevated above the civil. The inhabitants of

 territories, often the theatre of war, are unavoidably subjected to

 frequent infringements on their rights, which serve to weaken their

 sense of those rights; and by degrees the people are brought to

 consider the soldiery not only as their protectors, but as their

 superiors. The transition from this disposition to that of

 considering them masters, is neither remote nor difficult; but it

 is very difficult to prevail upon a people under such impressions,

 to make a bold or effectual resistance to usurpations supported by

 the military power.

The kingdom of Great Britain falls within the first description.

 An insular situation, and a powerful marine, guarding it in a great

 measure against the possibility of foreign invasion, supersede the

 necessity of a numerous army within the kingdom. A sufficient force

 to make head against a sudden descent, till the militia could have

 time to rally and embody, is all that has been deemed requisite. No

 motive of national policy has demanded, nor would public opinion

 have tolerated, a larger number of troops upon its domestic

 establishment. There has been, for a long time past, little room

 for the operation of the other causes, which have been enumerated as

 the consequences of internal war. This peculiar felicity of

 situation has, in a great degree, contributed to preserve the

 liberty which that country to this day enjoys, in spite of the

 prevalent venality and corruption. If, on the contrary, Britain had

 been situated on the continent, and had been compelled, as she would

 have been, by that situation, to make her military establishments at

 home coextensive with those of the other great powers of Europe,

 she, like them, would in all probability be, at this day, a victim

 to the absolute power of a single man. 'T is possible, though not

 easy, that the people of that island may be enslaved from other

 causes; but it cannot be by the prowess of an army so

 inconsiderable as that which has been usually kept up within the


If we are wise enough to preserve the Union we may for ages

 enjoy an advantage similar to that of an insulated situation.

 Europe is at a great distance from us. Her colonies in our

 vicinity will be likely to continue too much disproportioned in

 strength to be able to give us any dangerous annoyance. Extensive

 military establishments cannot, in this position, be necessary to

 our security. But if we should be disunited, and the integral parts

 should either remain separated, or, which is most probable, should

 be thrown together into two or three confederacies, we should be, in

 a short course of time, in the predicament of the continental powers

 of Europe --our liberties would be a prey to the means of defending

 ourselves against the ambition and jealousy of each other.

This is an idea not superficial or futile, but solid and weighty.

 It deserves the most serious and mature consideration of every

 prudent and honest man of whatever party. If such men will make a

 firm and solemn pause, and meditate dispassionately on the

 importance of this interesting idea; if they will contemplate it in

 all its attitudes, and trace it to all its consequences, they will

 not hesitate to part with trivial objections to a Constitution, the

 rejection of which would in all probability put a final period to

 the Union. The airy phantoms that flit before the distempered

 imaginations of some of its adversaries would quickly give place to

 the more substantial forms of dangers, real, certain, and formidable.


1 This objection will be fully examined in its proper place, and

 it will be shown that the only natural precaution which could have

 been taken on this subject has been taken; and a much better one

 than is to be found in any constitution that has been heretofore

 framed in America, most of which contain no guard at all on this






The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection

For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

A FIRM Union will be of the utmost moment to the peace and

 liberty of the States, as a barrier against domestic faction and

 insurrection. It is impossible to read the history of the petty

 republics of Greece and Italy without feeling sensations of horror

 and disgust at the distractions with which they were continually

 agitated, and at the rapid succession of revolutions by which they

 were kept in a state of perpetual vibration between the extremes of

 tyranny and anarchy. If they exhibit occasional calms, these only

 serve as short-lived contrast to the furious storms that are to

 succeed. If now and then intervals of felicity open to view, we

 behold them with a mixture of regret, arising from the reflection

 that the pleasing scenes before us are soon to be overwhelmed by the

 tempestuous waves of sedition and party rage. If momentary rays of

 glory break forth from the gloom, while they dazzle us with a

 transient and fleeting brilliancy, they at the same time admonish us

 to lament that the vices of government should pervert the direction

 and tarnish the lustre of those bright talents and exalted

 endowments for which the favored soils that produced them have been

 so justly celebrated.

From the disorders that disfigure the annals of those republics

 the advocates of despotism have drawn arguments, not only against

 the forms of republican government, but against the very principles

 of civil liberty. They have decried all free government as

 inconsistent with the order of society, and have indulged themselves

 in malicious exultation over its friends and partisans. Happily for

 mankind, stupendous fabrics reared on the basis of liberty, which

 have flourished for ages, have, in a few glorious instances, refuted

 their gloomy sophisms. And, I trust, America will be the broad and

 solid foundation of other edifices, not less magnificent, which will

 be equally permanent monuments of their errors.

But it is not to be denied that the portraits they have sketched

 of republican government were too just copies of the originals from

 which they were taken. If it had been found impracticable to have

 devised models of a more perfect structure, the enlightened friends

 to liberty would have been obliged to abandon the cause of that

 species of government as indefensible. The science of politics,

 however, like most other sciences, has received great improvement.

 The efficacy of various principles is now well understood, which

 were either not known at all, or imperfectly known to the ancients.

 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. They are means, and powerful means, by which the excellences

 of republican government may be retained and its imperfections

 lessened or avoided. To this catalogue of circumstances that tend

 to the amelioration of popular systems of civil government, I shall

 venture, however novel it may appear to some, to add one more, on a

 principle which has been made the foundation of an objection to the

 new Constitution; I mean the ENLARGEMENT of the ORBIT within which

 such systems are to revolve, either in respect to the dimensions of

 a single State or to the consolidation of several smaller States

 into one great Confederacy. The latter is that which immediately

 concerns the object under consideration. It will, however, be of

 use to examine the principle in its application to a single State,

 which shall be attended to in another place.

The utility of a Confederacy, as well to suppress faction and to

 guard the internal tranquillity of States, as to increase their

 external force and security, is in reality not a new idea. It has

 been practiced upon in different countries and ages, and has

 received the sanction of the most approved writers on the subject of

 politics. The opponents of the plan proposed have, with great

 assiduity, cited and circulated the observations of Montesquieu on

 the necessity of a contracted territory for a republican government.

 But they seem not to have been apprised of the sentiments of that

 great man expressed in another part of his work, nor to have

 adverted to the consequences of the principle to which they

 subscribe with such ready acquiescence.

When Montesquieu recommends a small extent for republics, the

 standards he had in view were of dimensions far short of the limits

 of almost every one of these States. Neither Virginia,

 Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, nor Georgia

 can by any means be compared with the models from which he reasoned

 and to which the terms of his description apply. If we therefore

 take his ideas on this point as the criterion of truth, we shall be

 driven to the alternative either of taking refuge at once in the

 arms of monarchy, or of splitting ourselves into an infinity of

 little, jealous, clashing, tumultuous commonwealths, the wretched

 nurseries of unceasing discord, and the miserable objects of

 universal pity or contempt. Some of the writers who have come

 forward on the other side of the question seem to have been aware of

 the dilemma; and have even been bold enough to hint at the division

 of the larger States as a desirable thing. Such an infatuated

 policy, such a desperate expedient, might, by the multiplication of

 petty offices, answer the views of men who possess not

 qualifications to extend their influence beyond the narrow circles

 of personal intrigue, but it could never promote the greatness or

 happiness of the people of America.

Referring the examination of the principle itself to another

 place, as has been already mentioned, it will be sufficient to

 remark here that, in the sense of the author who has been most

 emphatically quoted upon the occasion, it would only dictate a

 reduction of the SIZE of the more considerable MEMBERS of the Union,

 but would not militate against their being all comprehended in one

 confederate government. And this is the true question, in the

 discussion of which we are at present interested.

So far are the suggestions of Montesquieu from standing in

 opposition to a general Union of the States, that he explicitly

 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.

``It is very probable,'' (says he1) ``that mankind would

 have been obliged at length to live constantly under the government

 of a single person, had they not contrived a kind of constitution

 that has all the internal advantages of a republican, together with

 the external force of a monarchical government. I mean a


``This form of government is a convention by which several

 smaller STATES agree to become members of a larger ONE, which they

 intend to form. It is a kind of assemblage of societies that

 constitute a new one, capable of increasing, by means of new

 associations, till they arrive to such a degree of power as to be

 able to provide for the security of the united body.

``A republic of this kind, able to withstand an external force,

 may support itself without any internal corruptions. The form of

 this society prevents all manner of inconveniences.

``If a single member should attempt to usurp the supreme

 authority, he could not be supposed to have an equal authority and

 credit in all the confederate states. Were he to have too great

 influence over one, this would alarm the rest. Were he to subdue a

 part, that which would still remain free might oppose him with

 forces independent of those which he had usurped and overpower him

 before he could be settled in his usurpation.

``Should a popular insurrection happen in one of the confederate

 states the others are able to quell it. Should abuses creep into

 one part, they are reformed by those that remain sound. The state

 may be destroyed on one side, and not on the other; the confederacy

 may be dissolved, and the confederates preserve their sovereignty.

``As this government is composed of small republics, it enjoys

 the internal happiness of each; and with respect to its external

 situation, it is possessed, by means of the association, of all the

 advantages of large monarchies.''

I have thought it proper to quote at length these interesting

 passages, because they contain a luminous abridgment of the

 principal arguments in favor of the Union, and must effectually

 remove the false impressions which a misapplication of other parts

 of the work was calculated to make. They have, at the same time, an

 intimate connection with the more immediate design of this paper;

 which is, to illustrate the tendency of the Union to repress

 domestic faction and insurrection.

A distinction, more subtle than accurate, has been raised

 between a CONFEDERACY and a CONSOLIDATION of the States. The

 essential characteristic of the first is said to be, the restriction

 of its authority to the members in their collective capacities,

 without reaching to the individuals of whom they are composed. It

 is contended that the national council ought to have no concern with

 any object of internal administration. An exact equality of

 suffrage between the members has also been insisted upon as a

 leading feature of a confederate government. These positions are,

 in the main, arbitrary; they are supported neither by principle nor

 precedent. It has indeed happened, that governments of this kind

 have generally operated in the manner which the distinction taken

 notice of, supposes to be inherent in their nature; but there have

 been in most of them extensive exceptions to the practice, which

 serve to prove, as far as example will go, that there is no absolute

 rule on the subject. And it will be clearly shown in the course of

 this investigation that as far as the principle contended for has

 prevailed, it has been the cause of incurable disorder and

 imbecility in the government.

The definition of a CONFEDERATE REPUBLIC seems simply to be ``an

 assemblage of societies,'' or an association of two or more states

 into one state. The extent, modifications, and objects of the

 federal authority are mere matters of discretion. So long as the

 separate organization of the members be not abolished; so long as

 it exists, by a constitutional necessity, for local purposes;

 though it should be in perfect subordination to the general

 authority of the union, it would still be, in fact and in theory, an

 association of states, or a confederacy. The proposed Constitution,

 so far from implying an abolition of the State governments, makes

 them constituent parts of the national sovereignty, by allowing them

 a direct representation in the Senate, and leaves in their

 possession certain exclusive and very important portions of

 sovereign power. This fully corresponds, in every rational import

 of the terms, with the idea of a federal government.

In the Lycian confederacy, which consisted of twenty-three

 CITIES or republics, the largest were entitled to THREE votes in the

 COMMON COUNCIL, those of the middle class to TWO, and the smallest

 to ONE. The COMMON COUNCIL had the appointment of all the judges

 and magistrates of the respective CITIES. This was certainly the

 most, delicate species of interference in their internal

 administration; for if there be any thing that seems exclusively

 appropriated to the local jurisdictions, it is the appointment of

 their own officers. Yet Montesquieu, speaking of this association,

 says: ``Were I to give a model of an excellent Confederate

 Republic, it would be that of Lycia.'' Thus we perceive that the

 distinctions insisted upon were not within the contemplation of this

 enlightened civilian; and we shall be led to conclude, that they

 are the novel refinements of an erroneous theory.


1 ``Spirit of Lawa,'' vol. i., book ix., chap. i.





The Same Subject Continued

(The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and


From the New York Packet.

Friday, November 23, 1787.




To the People of the State of New York:

AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a wellconstructed

 Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its

 tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend

 of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their

 character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this

 dangerous vice. He will not fail, therefore, to set a due value on

 any plan which, without violating the principles to which he is

 attached, provides a proper cure for it. The instability,

 injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have,

 in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments

 have everywhere perished; as they continue to be the favorite and

 fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their

 most specious declamations. The valuable improvements made by the

 American constitutions on the popular models, both ancient and

 modern, cannot certainly be too much admired; but it would be an

 unwarrantable partiality, to contend that they have as effectually

 obviated the danger on this side, as was wished and expected.

 Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and

 virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith,

 and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too

 unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of

 rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not

 according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party,

 but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.

 However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no

 foundation, the evidence, of known facts will not permit us to deny

 that they are in some degree true. It will be found, indeed, on a

 candid review of our situation, that some of the distresses under

 which we labor have been erroneously charged on the operation of our

 governments; but it will be found, at the same time, that other

 causes will not alone account for many of our heaviest misfortunes;

 and, particularly, for that prevailing and increasing distrust of

 public engagements, and alarm for private rights, which are echoed

 from one end of the continent to the other. These must be chiefly,

 if not wholly, effects of the unsteadiness and injustice with which

 a factious spirit has tainted our public administrations.

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether

 amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united

 and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest,

 adversed 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: 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.

It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that

 it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to

 fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could

 not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to

 political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to

 wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life,

 because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be

 unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is

 at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As

 long as the connection subsists between his reason and his

 self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal

 influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which

 the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties

 of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an

 insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection

 of these faculties is the first object of government. From the

 protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property,

 the possession of different degrees and kinds of property

 immediately results; and from the influence of these on the

 sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a

 division of the society into different interests and parties.

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man;

 and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of

 activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society.

 A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning

 government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of

 practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending

 for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions

 whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in

 turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual

 animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress

 each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is

 this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that

 where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous

 and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their

 unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But

 the most common and durable source of factions has been the various

 and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who

 are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society.

 Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a

 like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a

 mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests,

 grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into

 different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The

 regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the

 principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of

 party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the


No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his

 interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably,

 corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body

 of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time;

 yet what are many of the most important acts of legislation, but so

 many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of

 single persons, but concerning the rights of large bodies of

 citizens? And what are the different classes of legislators but

 advocates and parties to the causes which they determine? Is a law

 proposed concerning private debts? It is a question to which the

 creditors are parties on one side and the debtors on the other.

 Justice ought to hold the balance between them. Yet the parties

 are, and must be, themselves the judges; and the most numerous

 party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction must be

 expected to prevail. Shall domestic manufactures be encouraged, and

 in what degree, by restrictions on foreign manufactures? are

 questions which would be differently decided by the landed and the

 manufacturing classes, and probably by neither with a sole regard to

 justice and the public good. The apportionment of taxes on the

 various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require

 the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative

 act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a

 predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every

 shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a

 shilling saved to their own pockets.

It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to

 adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to

 the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the

 helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all

 without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which

 will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may

 find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.

The inference to which we are brought is, that the CAUSES of

 faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in

 the means of controlling its EFFECTS.

If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is

 supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to

 defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the

 administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable

 to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution.

 When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular

 government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling

 passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other

 citizens. To secure the public good and private rights against the

 danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the

 spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object

 to which our inquiries are directed. Let me add that it is the

 great desideratum by which this form of government can be rescued

 from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be

 recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.

By what means is this object attainable? Evidently by one of

 two only. Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a

 majority at the same time must be prevented, or the majority, having

 such coexistent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their

 number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect

 schemes of oppression. If the impulse and the opportunity be

 suffered to coincide, we well know that neither moral nor religious

 motives can be relied on as an adequate control. They are not found

 to be such on the injustice and violence of individuals, and lose

 their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together, that

 is, in proportion as their efficacy becomes needful.

From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure

 democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of

 citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can

 admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or

 interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the

 whole; a communication and concert result from the form of

 government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to

 sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is

 that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and

 contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal

 security or the rights of property; and have in general been as

 short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.

 Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of

 government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a

 perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same

 time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions,

 their opinions, and their passions.

A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of

 representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises

 the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in

 which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both

 the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from

 the Union.

The two great points of difference between a democracy and a

 republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the

 latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest;

 secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of

 country, over which the latter may be extended.

The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to

 refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the

 medium of a chosen 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. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that

 the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people,

 will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the

 people themselves, convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the

 effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local

 prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption,

 or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the

 interests, of the people. The question resulting is, whether small

 or extensive republics are more favorable to the election of proper

 guardians of the public weal; and it is clearly decided in favor of

 the latter by two obvious considerations:

In the first place, it is to be remarked that, however small the

 republic may be, the representatives must be raised to a certain

 number, in order to guard against the cabals of a few; and that,

 however large it may be, they must be limited to a certain number,

 in order to guard against the confusion of a multitude. Hence, the

 number of representatives in the two cases not being in proportion

 to that of the two constituents, and being proportionally greater in

 the small republic, it follows that, if the proportion of fit

 characters be not less in the large than in the small republic, the

 former will present a greater option, and consequently a greater

 probability of a fit choice.

In the next place, as each representative will be chosen by a

 greater number of citizens in the large than in the small republic,

 it will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with

 success the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried;

 and the suffrages of the people being more free, will be more

 likely to centre in men who possess the most attractive merit and

 the most diffusive and established characters.

It must be confessed that in this, as in most other cases, there

 is a mean, on both sides of which inconveniences will be found to

 lie. By enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the

 representatives too little acquainted with all their local

 circumstances and lesser interests; as by reducing it too much, you

 render him unduly attached to these, and too little fit to

 comprehend and pursue great and national objects. The federal

 Constitution forms a happy combination in this respect; the great

 and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local

 and particular to the State legislatures.

The other point of difference is, the greater number of citizens

 and extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of

 republican than of democratic government; and it is this

 circumstance principally which renders factious combinations less to

 be dreaded in the former than in the latter. The smaller the

 society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and

 interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and

 interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same

 party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a

 majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed,

 the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of

 oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of

 parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of

 the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other

 citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more

 difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to

 act in unison with each other. Besides other impediments, it may be

 remarked that, where there is a consciousness of unjust or

 dishonorable purposes, communication is always checked by distrust

 in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary.

Hence, it clearly appears, that the same advantage which a

 republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of

 faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic,--is enjoyed by

 the Union over the States composing it. Does the advantage consist

 in the substitution of representatives whose enlightened views and

 virtuous sentiments render them superior to local prejudices and

 schemes of injustice? It will not be denied that the representation

 of the Union will be most likely to possess these requisite

 endowments. Does it consist in the greater security afforded by a

 greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being

 able to outnumber and oppress the rest? In an equal degree does the

 increased variety of parties comprised within the Union, increase

 this security. Does it, in fine, consist in the greater obstacles

 opposed to the concert and accomplishment of the secret wishes of an

 unjust and interested majority? Here, again, the extent of the

 Union gives it the most palpable advantage.

The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within

 their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general

 conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may

 degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy;

 but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must

 secure the national councils against any danger from that source. A

 rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal

 division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project,

 will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a

 particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is

 more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire


In the extent and proper structure of the Union, therefore, we

 behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to

 republican government. And according to the degree of pleasure and

 pride we feel in being republicans, ought to be our zeal in

 cherishing the spirit and supporting the character of Federalists.






The Utility of the Union in Respect to Commercial Relations and a


For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

THE importance of the Union, in a commercial light, is one of

 those points about which there is least room to entertain a

 difference of opinion, and which has, in fact, commanded the most

 general assent of men who have any acquaintance with the subject.

 This applies as well to our intercourse with foreign countries as

 with each other.

There are appearances to authorize a supposition that the

 adventurous spirit, which distinguishes the commercial character of

 America, has already excited uneasy sensations in several of the

 maritime powers of Europe. They seem to be apprehensive of our too

 great interference in that carrying trade, which is the support of

 their navigation and the foundation of their naval strength. Those

 of them which have colonies in America look forward to what this

 country is capable of becoming, with painful solicitude. They

 foresee the dangers that may threaten their American dominions from

 the neighborhood of States, which have all the dispositions, and

 would possess all the means, requisite to the creation of a powerful

 marine. Impressions of this kind will naturally indicate the policy

 of fostering divisions among us, and of depriving us, as far as

 possible, of an ACTIVE COMMERCE in our own bottoms. This would

 answer the threefold purpose of preventing our interference in their

 navigation, of monopolizing the profits of our trade, and of

 clipping the wings by which we might soar to a dangerous greatness.

 Did not prudence forbid the detail, it would not be difficult to

 trace, by facts, the workings of this policy to the cabinets of


If we continue united, we may counteract a policy so unfriendly

 to our prosperity in a variety of ways. By prohibitory regulations,

 extending, at the same time, throughout the States, we may oblige

 foreign countries to bid against each other, for the privileges of

 our markets. This assertion will not appear chimerical to those who

 are able to appreciate the importance of the markets of three

 millions of people--increasing in rapid progression, for the most

 part exclusively addicted to agriculture, and likely from local

 circumstances to remain so--to any manufacturing nation; and the

 immense difference there would be to the trade and navigation of

 such a nation, between a direct communication in its own ships, and

 an indirect conveyance of its products and returns, to and from

 America, in the ships of another country. Suppose, for instance, we

 had a government in America, capable of excluding Great Britain

 (with whom we have at present no treaty of commerce) from all our

 ports; what would be the probable operation of this step upon her

 politics? Would it not enable us to negotiate, with the fairest

 prospect of success, for commercial privileges of the most valuable

 and extensive kind, in the dominions of that kingdom? When these

 questions have been asked, upon other occasions, they have received

 a plausible, but not a solid or satisfactory answer. It has been

 said that prohibitions on our part would produce no change in the

 system of Britain, because she could prosecute her trade with us

 through the medium of the Dutch, who would be her immediate

 customers and paymasters for those articles which were wanted for

 the supply of our markets. But would not her navigation be

 materially injured by the loss of the important advantage of being

 her own carrier in that trade? Would not the principal part of its

 profits be intercepted by the Dutch, as a compensation for their

 agency and risk? Would not the mere circumstance of freight

 occasion a considerable deduction? Would not so circuitous an

 intercourse facilitate the competitions of other nations, by

 enhancing the price of British commodities in our markets, and by

 transferring to other hands the management of this interesting

 branch of the British commerce?

A mature consideration of the objects suggested by these

 questions will justify a belief that the real disadvantages to

 Britain from such a state of things, conspiring with the

 pre-possessions of a great part of the nation in favor of the

 American trade, and with the importunities of the West India

 islands, would produce a relaxation in her present system, and would

 let us into the enjoyment of privileges in the markets of those

 islands elsewhere, from which our trade would derive the most

 substantial benefits. Such a point gained from the British

 government, and which could not be expected without an equivalent in

 exemptions and immunities in our markets, would be likely to have a

 correspondent effect on the conduct of other nations, who would not

 be inclined to see themselves altogether supplanted in our trade.

A further resource for influencing the conduct of European

 nations toward us, in this respect, would arise from the

 establishment of a federal navy. There can be no doubt that the

 continuance of the Union under an efficient government would put it

 in our power, at a period not very distant, to create a navy which,

 if it could not vie with those of the great maritime powers, would

 at least be of respectable weight if thrown into the scale of either

 of two contending parties. This would be more peculiarly the case

 in relation to operations in the West Indies. A few ships of the

 line, sent opportunely to the reinforcement of either side, would

 often be sufficient to decide the fate of a campaign, on the event

 of which interests of the greatest magnitude were suspended. Our

 position is, in this respect, a most commanding one. And if to this

 consideration we add that of the usefulness of supplies from this

 country, in the prosecution of military operations in the West

 Indies, it will readily be perceived that a situation so favorable

 would enable us to bargain with great advantage for commercial

 privileges. A price would be set not only upon our friendship, but

 upon our neutrality. By a steady adherence to the Union we may

 hope, erelong, to become the arbiter of Europe in America, and to be

 able to incline the balance of European competitions in this part of

 the world as our interest may dictate.

But in the reverse of this eligible situation, we shall discover

 that the rivalships of the parts would make them checks upon each

 other, and would frustrate all the tempting advantages which nature

 has kindly placed within our reach. In a state so insignificant our

 commerce would be a prey to the wanton intermeddlings of all nations

 at war with each other; who, having nothing to fear from us, would

 with little scruple or remorse, supply their wants by depredations

 on our property as often as it fell in their way. The rights of

 neutrality will only be respected when they are defended by an

 adequate power. A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even

 the privilege of being neutral.

Under a vigorous national government, the natural strength and

 resources of the country, directed to a common interest, would

 baffle all the combinations of European jealousy to restrain our

 growth. This situation would even take away the motive to such

 combinations, by inducing an impracticability of success. An active

 commerce, an extensive navigation, and a flourishing marine would

 then be the offspring of moral and physical necessity. We might

 defy the little arts of the little politicians to control or vary

 the irresistible and unchangeable course of nature.

But in a state of disunion, these combinations might exist and

 might operate with success. It would be in the power of the

 maritime nations, availing themselves of our universal impotence, to

 prescribe the conditions of our political existence; and as they

 have a common interest in being our carriers, and still more in

 preventing our becoming theirs, they would in all probability

 combine to embarrass our navigation in such a manner as would in

 effect destroy it, and confine us to a PASSIVE COMMERCE. We should

 then be compelled to content ourselves with the first price of our

 commodities, and to see the profits of our trade snatched from us to

 enrich our enemies and p rsecutors. That unequaled spirit of

 enterprise, which signalizes the genius of the American merchants

 and navigators, and which is in itself an inexhaustible mine of

 national wealth, would be stifled and lost, and poverty and disgrace

 would overspread a country which, with wisdom, might make herself

 the admiration and envy of the world.

There are rights of great moment to the trade of America which

 are rights of the Union--I allude to the fisheries, to the navigation

 of the Western lakes, and to that of the Mississippi. The

 dissolution of the Confederacy would give room for delicate

 questions concerning the future existence of these rights; which

 the interest of more powerful partners would hardly fail to solve to

 our disadvantage. The disposition of Spain with regard to the

 Mississippi needs no comment. France and Britain are concerned with

 us in the fisheries, and view them as of the utmost moment to their

 navigation. They, of course, would hardly remain long indifferent

 to that decided mastery, of which experience has shown us to be

 possessed in this valuable branch of traffic, and by which we are

 able to undersell those nations in their own markets. What more

 natural than that they should be disposed to exclude from the lists

 such dangerous competitors?

This branch of trade ought not to be considered as a partial

 benefit. All the navigating States may, in different degrees,

 advantageously participate in it, and under circumstances of a

 greater extension of mercantile capital, would not be unlikely to do

 it. As a nursery of seamen, it now is, or when time shall have more

 nearly assimilated the principles of navigation in the several

 States, will become, a universal resource. To the establishment of

 a navy, it must be indispensable.

To this great national object, a NAVY, union will contribute in

 various ways. Every institution will grow and flourish in

 proportion to the quantity and extent of the means concentred

 towards its formation and support. A navy of the United States, as

 it would embrace the resources of all, is an object far less remote

 than a navy of any single State or partial confederacy, which would

 only embrace the resources of a single part. It happens, indeed,

 that different portions of confederated America possess each some

 peculiar advantage for this essential establishment. The more

 southern States furnish in greater abundance certain kinds of naval

 stores--tar, pitch, and turpentine. Their wood for the construction

 of ships is also of a more solid and lasting texture. The

 difference in the duration of the ships of which the navy might be

 composed, if chiefly constructed of Southern wood, would be of

 signal importance, either in the view of naval strength or of

 national economy. Some of the Southern and of the Middle States

 yield a greater plenty of iron, and of better quality. Seamen must

 chiefly be drawn from the Northern hive. The necessity of naval

 protection to external or maritime commerce does not require a

 particular elucidation, no more than the conduciveness of that

 species of commerce to the prosperity of a navy.

An unrestrained intercourse between the States themselves will

 advance the trade of each by an interchange of their respective

 productions, not only for the supply of reciprocal wants at home,

 but for exportation to foreign markets. The veins of commerce in

 every part will be replenished, and will acquire additional motion

 and vigor from a free circulation of the commodities of every part.

 Commercial enterprise will have much greater scope, from the

 diversity in the productions of different States. When the staple

 of one fails from a bad harvest or unproductive crop, it can call to

 its aid the staple of another. The variety, not less than the

 value, of products for exportation contributes to the activity of

 foreign commerce. It can be conducted upon much better terms with a

 large number of materials of a given value than with a small number

 of materials of the same value; arising from the competitions of

 trade and from the fluctations of markets. Particular articles may

 be in great demand at certain periods, and unsalable at others; but

 if there be a variety of articles, it can scarcely happen that they

 should all be at one time in the latter predicament, and on this

 account the operations of the merchant would be less liable to any

 considerable obstruction or stagnation. The speculative trader will

 at once perceive the force of these observations, and will

 acknowledge that the aggregate balance of the commerce of the United

 States would bid fair to be much more favorable than that of the

 thirteen States without union or with partial unions.

It may perhaps be replied to this, that whether the States are

 united or disunited, there would still be an intimate intercourse

 between them which would answer the same ends; this intercourse

 would be fettered, interrupted, and narrowed by a multiplicity of

 causes, which in the course of these papers have been amply detailed.

 A unity of commercial, as well as political, interests, can only

 result from a unity of government.

There are other points of view in which this subject might be

 placed, of a striking and animating kind. But they would lead us

 too far into the regions of futurity, and would involve topics not

 proper for a newspaper discussion. I shall briefly observe, that

 our situation invites and our interests prompt us to aim at an

 ascendant in the system of American affairs. The world may

 politically, as well as geographically, be divided into four parts,

 each having a distinct set of interests. Unhappily for the other

 three, Europe, by her arms and by her negotiations, by force and by

 fraud, has, in different degrees, extended her dominion over them

 all. Africa, Asia, and America, have successively felt her

 domination. The superiority she has long maintained has tempted her

 to plume herself as the Mistress of the World, and to consider the

 rest of mankind as created for her benefit. Men admired as profound

 philosophers have, in direct terms, attributed to her inhabitants a

 physical superiority, and have gravely asserted that all animals,

 and with them the human species, degenerate in America--that even

 dogs cease to bark after having breathed awhile in our

 atmosphere.1 Facts have too long supported these arrogant

 pretensions of the Europeans. It belongs to us to vindicate the

 honor of the human race, and to teach that assuming brother,

 moderation. Union will enable us to do it. Disunion will will add

 another victim to his triumphs. Let Americans disdain to be the

 instruments of European greatness! Let the thirteen States, bound

 together in a strict and indissoluble Union, concur in erecting one

 great American system, superior to the control of all transatlantic

 force or influence, and able to dictate the terms of the connection

 between the old and the new world!


``Recherches philosophiques sur les Americains.''





The Utility of the Union In Respect to Revenue

From the New York Packet.

Tuesday, November 27, 1787.




To the People of the State of New York:

THE effects of Union upon the commercial prosperity of the

 States have been sufficiently delineated. Its tendency to promote

 the interests of revenue will be the subject of our present inquiry.

The prosperity of commerce is now perceived and acknowledged by

 all enlightened statesmen to be the most useful as well as the most

 productive source of national wealth, and has accordingly become a

 primary object of their political cares. By multipying the means of

 gratification, by promoting the introduction and circulation of the

 precious metals, those darling objects of human avarice and

 enterprise, it serves to vivify and invigorate the channels of

 industry, and to make them flow with greater activity and

 copiousness. The assiduous merchant, the laborious husbandman, the

 active mechanic, and the industrious manufacturer,--all orders of

 men, look forward with eager expectation and growing alacrity to

 this pleasing reward of their toils. The often-agitated question

 between agriculture and commerce has, from indubitable experience,

 received a decision which has silenced the rivalship that once

 subsisted between them, and has proved, to the satisfaction of their

 friends, that their interests are intimately blended and interwoven.

 It has been found in various countries that, in proportion as

 commerce has flourished, land has risen in value. And how could it

 have happened otherwise? Could that which procures a freer vent for

 the products of the earth, which furnishes new incitements to the

 cultivation of land, which is the most powerful instrument in

 increasing the quantity of money in a state--could that, in fine,

 which is the faithful handmaid of labor and industry, in every

 shape, fail to augment that article, which is the prolific parent of

 far the greatest part of the objects upon which they are exerted?

 It is astonishing that so simple a truth should ever have had an

 adversary; and it is one, among a multitude of proofs, how apt a

 spirit of ill-informed jealousy, or of too great abstraction and

 refinement, is to lead men astray from the plainest truths of reason

 and conviction.

The ability of a country to pay taxes must always be

 proportioned, in a great degree, to the quantity of money in

 circulation, and to the celerity with which it circulates.

 Commerce, contributing to both these objects, must of necessity

 render the payment of taxes easier, and facilitate the requisite

 supplies to the treasury. The hereditary dominions of the Emperor

 of Germany contain a great extent of fertile, cultivated, and

 populous territory, a large proportion of which is situated in mild

 and luxuriant climates. In some parts of this territory are to be

 found the best gold and silver mines in Europe. And yet, from the

 want of the fostering influence of commerce, that monarch can boast

 but slender revenues. He has several times been compelled to owe

 obligations to the pecuniary succors of other nations for the

 preservation of his essential interests, and is unable, upon the

 strength of his own resources, to sustain a long or continued war.

But it is not in this aspect of the subject alone that Union

 will be seen to conduce to the purpose of revenue. There are other

 points of view, in which its influence will appear more immediate

 and decisive. It is evident from the state of the country, from the

 habits of the people, from the experience we have had on the point

 itself, that it is impracticable to raise any very considerable sums

 by direct taxation. Tax laws have in vain been multiplied; new

 methods to enforce the collection have in vain been tried; the

 public expectation has been uniformly disappointed, and the

 treasuries of the States have remained empty. The popular system of

 administration inherent in the nature of popular government,

 coinciding with the real scarcity of money incident to a languid and

 mutilated state of trade, has hitherto defeated every experiment for

 extensive collections, and has at length taught the different

 legislatures the folly of attempting them.

No person acquainted with what happens in other countries will

 be surprised at this circumstance. In so opulent a nation as that

 of Britain, where direct taxes from superior wealth must be much

 more tolerable, and, from the vigor of the government, much more

 practicable, than in America, far the greatest part of the national

 revenue is derived from taxes of the indirect kind, from imposts,

 and from excises. Duties on imported articles form a large branch

 of this latter description.

In America, it is evident that we must a long time depend for

 the means of revenue chiefly on such duties. In most parts of it,

 excises must be confined within a narrow compass. The genius of the

 people will ill brook the inquisitive and peremptory spirit of

 excise laws. The pockets of the farmers, on the other hand, will

 reluctantly yield but scanty supplies, in the unwelcome shape of

 impositions on their houses and lands; and personal property is too

 precarious and invisible a fund to be laid hold of in any other way

 than by the inperceptible agency of taxes on consumption.

If these remarks have any foundation, that state of things which

 will best enable us to improve and extend so valuable a resource

 must be best adapted to our political welfare. And it cannot admit

 of a serious doubt, that this state of things must rest on the basis

 of a general Union. As far as this would be conducive to the

 interests of commerce, so far it must tend to the extension of the

 revenue to be drawn from that source. As far as it would contribute

 to rendering regulations for the collection of the duties more

 simple and efficacious, so far it must serve to answer the purposes

 of making the same rate of duties more productive, and of putting it

 into the power of the government to increase the rate without

 prejudice to trade.

The relative situation of these States; the number of rivers

 with which they are intersected, and of bays that wash there shores;

 the facility of communication in every direction; the affinity of

 language and manners; the familiar habits of intercourse; --all

 these are circumstances that would conspire to render an illicit

 trade between them a matter of little difficulty, and would insure

 frequent evasions of the commercial regulations of each other. The

 separate States or confederacies would be necessitated by mutual

 jealousy to avoid the temptations to that kind of trade by the

 lowness of their duties. The temper of our governments, for a long

 time to come, would not permit those rigorous precautions by which

 the European nations guard the avenues into their respective

 countries, as well by land as by water; and which, even there, are

 found insufficient obstacles to the adventurous stratagems of


In France, there is an army of patrols (as they are called)

 constantly employed to secure their fiscal regulations against the

 inroads of the dealers in contraband trade. Mr. Neckar computes the

 number of these patrols at upwards of twenty thousand. This shows

 the immense difficulty in preventing that species of traffic, where

 there is an inland communication, and places in a strong light the

 disadvantages with which the collection of duties in this country

 would be encumbered, if by disunion the States should be placed in a

 situation, with respect to each other, resembling that of France

 with respect to her neighbors. The arbitrary and vexatious powers

 with which the patrols are necessarily armed, would be intolerable

 in a free country.

If, on the contrary, there be but one government pervading all

 the States, there will be, as to the principal part of our commerce,

 but ONE SIDE to guard--the ATLANTIC COAST. Vessels arriving directly

 from foreign countries, laden with valuable cargoes, would rarely

 choose to hazard themselves to the complicated and critical perils

 which would attend attempts to unlade prior to their coming into

 port. They would have to dread both the dangers of the coast, and

 of detection, as well after as before their arrival at the places of

 their final destination. An ordinary degree of vigilance would be

 competent to the prevention of any material infractions upon the

 rights of the revenue. A few armed vessels, judiciously stationed

 at the entrances of our ports, might at a small expense be made

 useful sentinels of the laws. And the government having the same

 interest to provide against violations everywhere, the co-operation

 of its measures in each State would have a powerful tendency to

 render them effectual. Here also we should preserve by Union, an

 advantage which nature holds out to us, and which would be

 relinquished by separation. The United States lie at a great

 distance from Europe, and at a considerable distance from all other

 places with which they would have extensive connections of foreign

 trade. The passage from them to us, in a few hours, or in a single

 night, as between the coasts of France and Britain, and of other

 neighboring nations, would be impracticable. This is a prodigious

 security against a direct contraband with foreign countries; but a

 circuitous contraband to one State, through the medium of another,

 would be both easy and safe. The difference between a direct

 importation from abroad, and an indirect importation through the

 channel of a neighboring State, in small parcels, according to time

 and opportunity, with the additional facilities of inland

 communication, must be palpable to every man of discernment.

It is therefore evident, that one national government would be

 able, at much less expense, to extend the duties on imports, beyond

 comparison, further than would be practicable to the States

 separately, or to any partial confederacies. Hitherto, I believe,

 it may safely be asserted, that these duties have not upon an

 average exceeded in any State three per cent. In France they are

 estimated to be about fifteen per cent., and in Britain they exceed

 this proportion.1 There seems to be nothing to hinder their

 being increased in this country to at least treble their present

 amount. The single article of ardent spirits, under federal

 regulation, might be made to furnish a considerable revenue. Upon a

 ratio to the importation into this State, the whole quantity

 imported into the United States may be estimated at four millions of

 gallons; which, at a shilling per gallon, would produce two hundred

 thousand pounds. That article would well bear this rate of duty;

 and if it should tend to diminish the consumption of it, such an

 effect would be equally favorable to the agriculture, to the

 economy, to the morals, and to the health of the society. There is,

 perhaps, nothing so much a subject of national extravagance as these


What will be the consequence, if we are not able to avail

 ourselves of the resource in question in its full extent? A nation

 cannot long exist without revenues. Destitute of this essential

 support, it must resign its independence, and sink into the degraded

 condition of a province. This is an extremity to which no

 government will of choice accede. Revenue, therefore, must be had

 at all events. In this country, if the principal part be not drawn

 from commerce, it must fall with oppressive weight upon land. It

 has been already intimated that excises, in their true

 signification, are too little in unison with the feelings of the

 people, to admit of great use being made of that mode of taxation;

 nor, indeed, in the States where almost the sole employment is

 agriculture, are the objects proper for excise sufficiently numerous

 to permit very ample collections in that way. Personal estate (as

 has been before remarked), from the difficulty in tracing it, cannot

 be subjected to large contributions, by any other means than by

 taxes on consumption. In populous cities, it may be enough the

 subject of conjecture, to occasion the oppression of individuals,

 without much aggregate benefit to the State; but beyond these

 circles, it must, in a great measure, escape the eye and the hand of

 the tax-gatherer. As the necessities of the State, nevertheless,

 must be satisfied in some mode or other, the defect of other

 resources must throw the principal weight of public burdens on the

 possessors of land. And as, on the other hand, the wants of the

 government can never obtain an adequate supply, unless all the

 sources of revenue are open to its demands, the finances of the

 community, under such embarrassments, cannot be put into a situation

 consistent with its respectability or its security. Thus we shall

 not even have the consolations of a full treasury, to atone for the

 oppression of that valuable class of the citizens who are employed

 in the cultivation of the soil. But public and private distress

 will keep pace with each other in gloomy concert; and unite in

 deploring the infatuation of those counsels which led to disunion.


1 If my memory be right they amount to twenty per cent.





Advantage of the Union in Respect to Economy in Government

For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

As CONNECTED with the subject of revenue, we may with propriety

 consider that of economy. The money saved from one object may be

 usefully applied to another, and there will be so much the less to

 be drawn from the pockets of the people. If the States are united

 under one government, there will be but one national civil list to

 support; if they are divided into several confederacies, there will

 be as many different national civil lists to be provided for--and

 each of them, as to the principal departments, coextensive with that

 which would be necessary for a government of the whole. The entire

 separation of the States into thirteen unconnected sovereignties is

 a project too extravagant and too replete with danger to have many

 advocates. The ideas of men who speculate upon the dismemberment of

 the empire seem generally turned toward three confederacies--one

 consisting of the four Northern, another of the four Middle, and a

 third of the five Southern States. There is little probability that

 there would be a greater number. According to this distribution,

 each confederacy would comprise an extent of territory larger than

 that of the kingdom of Great Britain. No well-informed man will

 suppose that the affairs of such a confederacy can be properly

 regulated by a government less comprehensive in its organs or

 institutions than that which has been proposed by the convention.

 When the dimensions of a State attain to a certain magnitude, it

 requires the same energy of government and the same forms of

 administration which are requisite in one of much greater extent.

 This idea admits not of precise demonstration, because there is no

 rule by which we can measure the momentum of civil power necessary

 to the government of any given number of individuals; but when we

 consider that the island of Britain, nearly commensurate with each

 of the supposed confederacies, contains about eight millions of

 people, and when we reflect upon the degree of authority required to

 direct the passions of so large a society to the public good, we

 shall see no reason to doubt that the like portion of power would be

 sufficient to perform the same task in a society far more numerous.

 Civil power, properly organized and exerted, is capable of

 diffusing its force to a very great extent; and can, in a manner,

 reproduce itself in every part of a great empire by a judicious

 arrangement of subordinate institutions.

The supposition that each confederacy into which the States

 would be likely to be divided would require a government not less

 comprehensive than the one proposed, will be strengthened by another

 supposition, more probable than that which presents us with three

 confederacies as the alternative to a general Union. If we attend

 carefully to geographical and commercial considerations, in

 conjunction with the habits and prejudices of the different States,

 we shall be led to conclude that in case of disunion they will most

 naturally league themselves under two governments. The four Eastern

 States, from all the causes that form the links of national sympathy

 and connection, may with certainty be expected to unite. New York,

 situated as she is, would never be unwise enough to oppose a feeble

 and unsupported flank to the weight of that confederacy. There are

 other obvious reasons that would facilitate her accession to it.

 New Jersey is too small a State to think of being a frontier, in

 opposition to this still more powerful combination; nor do there

 appear to be any obstacles to her admission into it. Even

 Pennsylvania would have strong inducements to join the Northern

 league. An active foreign commerce, on the basis of her own

 navigation, is her true policy, and coincides with the opinions and

 dispositions of her citizens. The more Southern States, from

 various circumstances, may not think themselves much interested in

 the encouragement of navigation. They may prefer a system which

 would give unlimited scope to all nations to be the carriers as well

 as the purchasers of their commodities. Pennsylvania may not choose

 to confound her interests in a connection so adverse to her policy.

 As she must at all events be a frontier, she may deem it most

 consistent with her safety to have her exposed side turned towards

 the weaker power of the Southern, rather than towards the stronger

 power of the Northern, Confederacy. This would give her the fairest

 chance to avoid being the Flanders of America. Whatever may be the

 determination of Pennsylvania, if the Northern Confederacy includes

 New Jersey, there is no likelihood of more than one confederacy to

 the south of that State.

Nothing can be more evident than that the thirteen States will

 be able to support a national government better than one half, or

 one third, or any number less than the whole. This reflection must

 have great weight in obviating that objection to the proposed plan,

 which is founded on the principle of expense; an objection,

 however, which, when we come to take a nearer view of it, will

 appear in every light to stand on mistaken ground.

If, in addition to the consideration of a plurality of civil

 lists, we take into view the number of persons who must necessarily

 be employed to guard the inland communication between the different

 confederacies against illicit trade, and who in time will infallibly

 spring up out of the necessities of revenue; and if we also take

 into view the military establishments which it has been shown would

 unavoidably result from the jealousies and conflicts of the several

 nations into which the States would be divided, we shall clearly

 discover that a separation would be not less injurious to the

 economy, than to the tranquillity, commerce, revenue, and liberty of

 every part.






Objections to the Proposed Constitution From Extent of Territory


From the New York Packet.

Friday, November 30, 1787.




To the People of the State of New York:

WE HAVE seen the necessity of the Union, as our bulwark against

 foreign danger, as the conservator of peace among ourselves, as the

 guardian of our commerce and other common interests, as the only

 substitute for those military establishments which have subverted

 the liberties of the Old World, and as the proper antidote for the

 diseases of faction, which have proved fatal to other popular

 governments, and of which alarming symptoms have been betrayed by

 our own. All that remains, within this branch of our inquiries, is

 to take notice of an objection that may be drawn from the great

 extent of country which the Union embraces. A few observations on

 this subject will be the more proper, as it is perceived that the

 adversaries of the new Constitution are availing themselves of the

 prevailing prejudice with regard to the practicable sphere of

 republican administration, in order to supply, by imaginary

 difficulties, the want of those solid objections which they endeavor

 in vain to find.

The error which limits republican government to a narrow

 district has been unfolded and refuted in preceding papers. I

 remark here only that it seems to owe its rise and prevalence

 chiefly to the confounding of a republic with a democracy, applying

 to the former reasonings drawn from the nature of the latter. The

 true distinction between these forms was also adverted to on a

 former occasion. It is, that in a democracy, the people meet and

 exercise the government in person; in a republic, they assemble and

 administer it by their representatives and agents. A democracy,

 consequently, will be confined to a small spot. A republic may be

 extended over a large region.

To this accidental source of the error may be added the artifice

 of some celebrated authors, whose writings have had a great share in

 forming the modern standard of political opinions. Being subjects

 either of an absolute or limited monarchy, they have endeavored to

 heighten the advantages, or palliate the evils of those forms, by

 placing in comparison the vices and defects of the republican, and

 by citing as specimens of the latter the turbulent democracies of

 ancient Greece and modern Italy. Under the confusion of names, it

 has been an easy task to transfer to a republic observations

 applicable to a democracy only; and among others, the observation

 that it can never be established but among a small number of people,

 living within a small compass of territory.

Such a fallacy may have been the less perceived, as most of the

 popular governments of antiquity were of the democratic species;

 and even in modern Europe, to which we owe the great principle of

 representation, no example is seen of a government wholly popular,

 and founded, at the same time, wholly on that principle. If Europe

 has the merit of discovering this great mechanical power in

 government, by the simple agency of which the will of the largest

 political body may be concentred, and its force directed to any

 object which the public good requires, America can claim the merit

 of making the discovery the basis of unmixed and extensive republics.

 It is only to be lamented that any of her citizens should wish to

 deprive her of the additional merit of displaying its full efficacy

 in the establishment of the comprehensive system now under her


As the natural limit of a democracy is that distance from the

 central point which will just permit the most remote citizens to

 assemble as often as their public functions demand, and will include

 no greater number than can join in those functions; so the natural

 limit of a republic is that distance from the centre which will

 barely allow the representatives to meet as often as may be

 necessary for the administration of public affairs. Can it be said

 that the limits of the United States exceed this distance? It will

 not be said by those who recollect that the Atlantic coast is the

 longest side of the Union, that during the term of thirteen years,

 the representatives of the States have been almost continually

 assembled, and that the members from the most distant States are not

 chargeable with greater intermissions of attendance than those from

 the States in the neighborhood of Congress.

That we may form a juster estimate with regard to this

 interesting subject, let us resort to the actual dimensions of the

 Union. The limits, as fixed by the treaty of peace, are: on the

 east the Atlantic, on the south the latitude of thirty-one degrees,

 on the west the Mississippi, and on the north an irregular line

 running in some instances beyond the forty-fifth degree, in others

 falling as low as the forty-second. The southern shore of Lake Erie

 lies below that latitude. Computing the distance between the

 thirty-first and forty-fifth degrees, it amounts to nine hundred and

 seventy-three common miles; computing it from thirty-one to

 forty-two degrees, to seven hundred and sixty-four miles and a half.

 Taking the mean for the distance, the amount will be eight hundred

 and sixty-eight miles and three-fourths. The mean distance from the

 Atlantic to the Mississippi does not probably exceed seven hundred

 and fifty miles. On a comparison of this extent with that of

 several countries in Europe, the practicability of rendering our

 system commensurate to it appears to be demonstrable. It is not a

 great deal larger than Germany, where a diet representing the whole

 empire is continually assembled; or than Poland before the late

 dismemberment, where another national diet was the depositary of the

 supreme power. Passing by France and Spain, we find that in Great

 Britain, inferior as it may be in size, the representatives of the

 northern extremity of the island have as far to travel to the

 national council as will be required of those of the most remote

 parts of the Union.

Favorable as this view of the subject may be, some observations

 remain which will place it in a light still more satisfactory.

In the first place it is to be remembered that the general

 government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and

 administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain

 enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic,

 but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.

 The subordinate governments, which can extend their care to all

 those other subjects which can be separately provided for, will

 retain their due authority and activity. Were it proposed by the

 plan of the convention to abolish the governments of the particular

 States, its adversaries would have some ground for their objection;

 though it would not be difficult to show that if they were

 abolished the general government would be compelled, by the

 principle of self-preservation, to reinstate them in their proper


A second observation to be made is that the immediate object of

 the federal Constitution is to secure the union of the thirteen

 primitive States, which we know to be practicable; and to add to

 them such other States as may arise in their own bosoms, or in their

 neighborhoods, which we cannot doubt to be equally practicable. The

 arrangements that may be necessary for those angles and fractions of

 our territory which lie on our northwestern frontier, must be left

 to those whom further discoveries and experience will render more

 equal to the task.

Let it be remarked, in the third place, that the intercourse

 throughout the Union will be facilitated by new improvements. Roads

 will everywhere be shortened, and kept in better order;

 accommodations for travelers will be multiplied and meliorated; an

 interior navigation on our eastern side will be opened throughout,

 or nearly throughout, the whole extent of the thirteen States. The

 communication between the Western and Atlantic districts, and

 between different parts of each, will be rendered more and more easy

 by those numerous canals with which the beneficence of nature has

 intersected our country, and which art finds it so little difficult

 to connect and complete.

A fourth and still more important consideration is, that as

 almost every State will, on one side or other, be a frontier, and

 will thus find, in regard to its safety, an inducement to make some

 sacrifices for the sake of the general protection; so the States

 which lie at the greatest distance from the heart of the Union, and

 which, of course, may partake least of the ordinary circulation of

 its benefits, will be at the same time immediately contiguous to

 foreign nations, and will consequently stand, on particular

 occasions, in greatest need of its strength and resources. It may

 be inconvenient for Georgia, or the States forming our western or

 northeastern borders, to send their representatives to the seat of

 government; but they would find it more so to struggle alone

 against an invading enemy, or even to support alone the whole

 expense of those precautions which may be dictated by the

 neighborhood of continual danger. If they should derive less

 benefit, therefore, from the Union in some respects than the less

 distant States, they will derive greater benefit from it in other

 respects, and thus the proper equilibrium will be maintained


I submit to you, my fellow-citizens, these considerations, in

 full confidence that the good sense which has so often marked your

 decisions will allow them their due weight and effect; and that you

 will never suffer difficulties, however formidable in appearance, or

 however fashionable the error on which they may be founded, to drive

 you into the gloomy and perilous scene into which the advocates for

 disunion would conduct you. Hearken not to the unnatural voice

 which tells you that the people of America, knit together as they

 are by so many cords of affection, can no longer live together as

 members of the same family; can no longer continue the mutual

 guardians of their mutual happiness; can no longer be

 fellowcitizens of one great, respectable, and flourishing empire.

 Hearken not to the voice which petulantly tells you that the form

 of government recommended for your adoption is a novelty in the

 political world; that it has never yet had a place in the theories

 of the wildest projectors; that it rashly attempts what it is

 impossible to accomplish. No, my countrymen, shut your ears against

 this unhallowed language. Shut your hearts against the poison which

 it conveys; the kindred blood which flows in the veins of American

 citizens, the mingled blood which they have shed in defense of their

 sacred rights, consecrate their Union, and excite horror at the idea

 of their becoming aliens, rivals, enemies. And if novelties are to

 be shunned, believe me, the most alarming of all novelties, the most

 wild of all projects, the most rash of all attempts, is that of

 rendering us in pieces, in order to preserve our liberties and

 promote our happiness. But why is the experiment of an extended

 republic to be rejected, merely because it may comprise what is new?

 Is it not the glory of the people of America, that, whilst they

 have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other

 nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity,

 for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own

 good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of

 their own experience? To this manly spirit, posterity will be

 indebted for the possession, and the world for the example, of the

 numerous innovations displayed on the American theatre, in favor of

 private rights and public happiness. Had no important step been

 taken by the leaders of the Revolution for which a precedent could

 not be discovered, no government established of which an exact model

 did not present itself, the people of the United States might, at

 this moment have been numbered among the melancholy victims of

 misguided councils, must at best have been laboring under the weight

 of some of those forms which have crushed the liberties of the rest

 of mankind. Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole

 human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They

 accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of

 human society. They reared the fabrics of governments which have no

 model on the face of the globe. They formed the design of a great

 Confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors to improve

 and perpetuate. If their works betray imperfections, we wonder at

 the fewness of them. If they erred most in the structure of the

 Union, this was the work most difficult to be executed; this is the

 work which has been new modelled by the act of your convention, and

 it is that act on which you are now to deliberate and to decide.






The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the


For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York.

IN THE course of the preceding papers, I have endeavored, my

 fellow-citizens, to place before you, in a clear and convincing

 light, the importance of Union to your political safety and

 happiness. I have unfolded to you a complication of dangers to

 which you would be exposed, should you permit that sacred knot which

 binds the people of America together be severed or dissolved by

 ambition or by avarice, by jealousy or by misrepresentation. In the

 sequel of the inquiry through which I propose to accompany you, the

 truths intended to be inculcated will receive further confirmation

 from facts and arguments hitherto unnoticed. If the road over which

 you will still have to pass should in some places appear to you

 tedious or irksome, you will recollect that you are in quest of

 information on a subject the most momentous which can engage the

 attention of a free people, that the field through which you have to

 travel is in itself spacious, and that the difficulties of the

 journey have been unnecessarily increased by the mazes with which

 sophistry has beset the way. It will be my aim to remove the

 obstacles from your progress in as compendious a manner as it can be

 done, without sacrificing utility to despatch.

In pursuance of the plan which I have laid down for the

 discussion of the subject, the point next in order to be examined is

 the ``insufficiency of the present Confederation to the preservation

 of the Union.'' It may perhaps be asked what need there is of

 reasoning or proof to illustrate a position which is not either

 controverted or doubted, to which the understandings and feelings of

 all classes of men assent, and which in substance is admitted by the

 opponents as well as by the friends of the new Constitution. It

 must in truth be acknowledged that, however these may differ in

 other respects, they in general appear to harmonize in this

 sentiment, at least, that there are material imperfections in our

 national system, and that something is necessary to be done to

 rescue us from impending anarchy. The facts that support this

 opinion are no longer objects of speculation. They have forced

 themselves upon the sensibility of the people at large, and have at

 length extorted from those, whose mistaken policy has had the

 principal share in precipitating the extremity at which we are

 arrived, a reluctant confession of the reality of those defects in

 the scheme of our federal government, which have been long pointed

 out and regretted by the intelligent friends of the Union.

We may indeed with propriety be said to have reached almost the

 last stage of national humiliation. There is scarcely anything that

 can wound the pride or degrade the character of an independent

 nation which we do not experience. Are there engagements to the

 performance of which we are held by every tie respectable among men?

 These are the subjects of constant and unblushing violation. Do we

 owe debts to foreigners and to our own citizens contracted in a time

 of imminent peril for the preservation of our political existence?

 These remain without any proper or satisfactory provision for their

 discharge. Have we valuable territories and important posts in the

 possession of a foreign power which, by express stipulations, ought

 long since to have been surrendered? These are still retained, to

 the prejudice of our interests, not less than of our rights. Are we

 in a condition to resent or to repel the aggression? We have

 neither troops, nor treasury, nor government.1 Are we even in a

 condition to remonstrate with dignity? The just imputations on our

 own faith, in respect to the same treaty, ought first to be removed.

 Are we entitled by nature and compact to a free participation in

 the navigation of the Mississippi? Spain excludes us from it. Is

 public credit an indispensable resource in time of public danger?

 We seem to have abandoned its cause as desperate and irretrievable.

 Is commerce of importance to national wealth? Ours is at the

 lowest point of declension. Is respectability in the eyes of

 foreign powers a safeguard against foreign encroachments? The

 imbecility of our government even forbids them to treat with us.

 Our ambassadors abroad are the mere pageants of mimic sovereignty.

 Is a violent and unnatural decrease in the value of land a symptom

 of national distress? The price of improved land in most parts of

 the country is much lower than can be accounted for by the quantity

 of waste land at market, and can only be fully explained by that

 want of private and public confidence, which are so alarmingly

 prevalent among all ranks, and which have a direct tendency to

 depreciate property of every kind. Is private credit the friend and

 patron of industry? That most useful kind which relates to

 borrowing and lending is reduced within the narrowest limits, and

 this still more from an opinion of insecurity than from the scarcity

 of money. To shorten an enumeration of particulars which can afford

 neither pleasure nor instruction, it may in general be demanded,

 what indication is there of national disorder, poverty, and

 insignificance that could befall a community so peculiarly blessed

 with natural advantages as we are, which does not form a part of the

 dark catalogue of our public misfortunes?

This is the melancholy situation to which we have been brought

 by those very maxims and councils which would now deter us from

 adopting the proposed Constitution; and which, not content with

 having conducted us to the brink of a precipice, seem resolved to

 plunge us into the abyss that awaits us below. Here, my countrymen,

 impelled by every motive that ought to influence an enlightened

 people, let us make a firm stand for our safety, our tranquillity,

 our dignity, our reputation. Let us at last break the fatal charm

 which has too long seduced us from the paths of felicity and


It is true, as has been before observed that facts, too stubborn

 to be resisted, have produced a species of general assent to the

 abstract proposition that there exist material defects in our

 national system; but the usefulness of the concession, on the part

 of the old adversaries of federal measures, is destroyed by a

 strenuous opposition to a remedy, upon the only principles that can

 give it a chance of success. While they admit that the government

 of the United States is destitute of energy, they contend against

 conferring upon it those powers which are requisite to supply that

 energy. They seem still to aim at things repugnant and

 irreconcilable; at an augmentation of federal authority, without a

 diminution of State authority; at sovereignty in the Union, and

 complete independence in the members. They still, in fine, seem to

 cherish with blind devotion the political monster of an imperium

 in imperio. This renders a full display of the principal defects

 of the Confederation necessary, in order to show that the evils we

 experience do not proceed from minute or partial imperfections, but

 from fundamental errors in the structure of the building, which

 cannot be amended otherwise than by an alteration in the first

 principles and main pillars of the fabric.

The great and radical vice in the construction of the existing

 Confederation is in the principle of LEGISLATION for STATES or


 contradistinguished from the INDIVIDUALS of which they consist.

 Though this principle does not run through all the powers delegated

 to the Union, yet it pervades and governs those on which the

 efficacy of the rest depends. Except as to the rule of appointment,

 the United States has an indefinite discretion to make requisitions

 for men and money; but they have no authority to raise either, by

 regulations extending to the individual citizens of America. The

 consequence of this is, that though in theory their resolutions

 concerning those objects are laws, constitutionally binding on the

 members of the Union, yet in practice they are mere recommendations

 which the States observe or disregard at their option.

It is a singular instance of the capriciousness of the human

 mind, that after all the admonitions we have had from experience on

 this head, there should still be found men who object to the new

 Constitution, for deviating from a principle which has been found

 the bane of the old, and which is in itself evidently incompatible

 with the idea of GOVERNMENT; a principle, in short, which, if it is

 to be executed at all, must substitute the violent and sanguinary

 agency of the sword to the mild influence of the magistracy.

There is nothing absurd or impracticable in the idea of a league

 or alliance between independent nations for certain defined purposes

 precisely stated in a treaty regulating all the details of time,

 place, circumstance, and quantity; leaving nothing to future

 discretion; and depending for its execution on the good faith of

 the parties. Compacts of this kind exist among all civilized

 nations, subject to the usual vicissitudes of peace and war, of

 observance and non-observance, as the interests or passions of the

 contracting powers dictate. In the early part of the present

 century there was an epidemical rage in Europe for this species of

 compacts, from which the politicians of the times fondly hoped for

 benefits which were never realized. With a view to establishing the

 equilibrium of power and the peace of that part of the world, all

 the resources of negotiation were exhausted, and triple and

 quadruple alliances were formed; but they were scarcely formed

 before they were broken, giving an instructive but afflicting lesson

 to mankind, how little dependence is to be placed on treaties which

 have no other sanction than the obligations of good faith, and which

 oppose general considerations of peace and justice to the impulse of

 any immediate interest or passion.

If the particular States in this country are disposed to stand

 in a similar relation to each other, and to drop the project of a

 general DISCRETIONARY SUPERINTENDENCE, the scheme would indeed be

 pernicious, and would entail upon us all the mischiefs which have

 been enumerated under the first head; but it would have the merit

 of being, at least, consistent and practicable Abandoning all views

 towards a confederate government, this would bring us to a simple

 alliance offensive and defensive; and would place us in a situation

 to be alternate friends and enemies of each other, as our mutual

 jealousies and rivalships, nourished by the intrigues of foreign

 nations, should prescribe to us.

But if we are unwilling to be placed in this perilous situation;

 if we still will adhere to the design of a national government, or,

 which is the same thing, of a superintending power, under the

 direction of a common council, we must resolve to incorporate into

 our plan those ingredients which may be considered as forming the

 characteristic difference between a league and a government; we

 must extend the authority of the Union to the persons of the

 citizens, --the only proper objects of government.

Government implies the power of making laws. It is essential to

 the idea of a law, that it be attended with a sanction; or, in

 other words, a penalty or punishment for disobedience. If there be

 no penalty annexed to disobedience, the resolutions or commands

 which pretend to be laws will, in fact, amount to nothing more than

 advice or recommendation. This penalty, whatever it may be, can

 only be inflicted in two ways: by the agency of the courts and

 ministers of justice, or by military force; by the COERCION of the

 magistracy, or by the COERCION of arms. The first kind can

 evidently apply only to men; the last kind must of necessity, be

 employed against bodies politic, or communities, or States. It is

 evident that there is no process of a court by which the observance

 of the laws can, in the last resort, be enforced. Sentences may be

 denounced against them for violations of their duty; but these

 sentences can only be carried into execution by the sword. In an

 association where the general authority is confined to the

 collective bodies of the communities, that compose it, every breach

 of the laws must involve a state of war; and military execution

 must become the only instrument of civil obedience. Such a state of

 things can certainly not deserve the name of government, nor would

 any prudent man choose to commit his happiness to it.

There was a time when we were told that breaches, by the States,

 of the regulations of the federal authority were not to be expected;

 that a sense of common interest would preside over the conduct of

 the respective members, and would beget a full compliance with all

 the constitutional requisitions of the Union. This language, at the

 present day, would appear as wild as a great part of what we now

 hear from the same quarter will be thought, when we shall have

 received further lessons from that best oracle of wisdom, experience.

 It at all times betrayed an ignorance of the true springs by which

 human conduct is actuated, and belied the original inducements to

 the establishment of civil power. Why has government been

 instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to

 the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint. Has it been

 found that bodies of men act with more rectitude or greater

 disinterestedness than individuals? The contrary of this has been

 inferred by all accurate observers of the conduct of mankind; and

 the inference is founded upon obvious reasons. Regard to reputation

 has a less active influence, when the infamy of a bad action is to

 be divided among a number than when it is to fall singly upon one.

 A spirit of faction, which is apt to mingle its poison in the

 deliberations of all bodies of men, will often hurry the persons of

 whom they are composed into improprieties and excesses, for which

 they would blush in a private capacity.

In addition to all this, there is, in the nature of sovereign

 power, an impatience of control, that disposes those who are

 invested with the exercise of it, to look with an evil eye upon all

 external attempts to restrain or direct its operations. From this

 spirit it happens, that in every political association which is

 formed upon the principle of uniting in a common interest a number

 of lesser sovereignties, there will be found a kind of eccentric

 tendency in the subordinate or inferior orbs, by the operation of

 which there will be a perpetual effort in each to fly off from the

 common centre. This tendency is not difficult to be accounted for.

 It has its origin in the love of power. Power controlled or

 abridged is almost always the rival and enemy of that power by which

 it is controlled or abridged. This simple proposition will teach us

 how little reason there is to expect, that the persons intrusted

 with the administration of the affairs of the particular members of

 a confederacy will at all times be ready, with perfect good-humor,

 and an unbiased regard to the public weal, to execute the

 resolutions or decrees of the general authority. The reverse of

 this results from the constitution of human nature.

If, therefore, the measures of the Confederacy cannot be

 executed without the intervention of the particular administrations,

 there will be little prospect of their being executed at all. The

 rulers of the respective members, whether they have a constitutional

 right to do it or not, will undertake to judge of the propriety of

 the measures themselves. They will consider the conformity of the

 thing proposed or required to their immediate interests or aims;

 the momentary conveniences or inconveniences that would attend its

 adoption. All this will be done; and in a spirit of interested and

 suspicious scrutiny, without that knowledge of national

 circumstances and reasons of state, which is essential to a right

 judgment, and with that strong predilection in favor of local

 objects, which can hardly fail to mislead the decision. The same

 process must be repeated in every member of which the body is

 constituted; and the execution of the plans, framed by the councils

 of the whole, will always fluctuate on the discretion of the

 ill-informed and prejudiced opinion of every part. Those who have

 been conversant in the proceedings of popular assemblies; who have

 seen how difficult it often is, where there is no exterior pressure

 of circumstances, to bring them to harmonious resolutions on

 important points, will readily conceive how impossible it must be to

 induce a number of such assemblies, deliberating at a distance from

 each other, at different times, and under different impressions,

 long to co-operate in the same views and pursuits.

In our case, the concurrence of thirteen distinct sovereign

 wills is requisite, under the Confederation, to the complete

 execution of every important measure that proceeds from the Union.

 It has happened as was to have been foreseen. The measures of the

 Union have not been executed; the delinquencies of the States have,

 step by step, matured themselves to an extreme, which has, at

 length, arrested all the wheels of the national government, and

 brought them to an awful stand. Congress at this time scarcely

 possess the means of keeping up the forms of administration, till

 the States can have time to agree upon a more substantial substitute

 for the present shadow of a federal government. Things did not come

 to this desperate extremity at once. The causes which have been

 specified produced at first only unequal and disproportionate

 degrees of compliance with the requisitions of the Union. The

 greater deficiencies of some States furnished the pretext of example

 and the temptation of interest to the complying, or to the least

 delinquent States. Why should we do more in proportion than those

 who are embarked with us in the same political voyage? Why should

 we consent to bear more than our proper share of the common burden?

 These were suggestions which human selfishness could not withstand,

 and which even speculative men, who looked forward to remote

 consequences, could not, without hesitation, combat. Each State,

 yielding to the persuasive voice of immediate interest or

 convenience, has successively withdrawn its support, till the frail

 and tottering edifice seems ready to fall upon our heads, and to

 crush us beneath its ruins.


1 ``I mean for the Union.''





The Same Subject Continued

(The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the


From the New York Packet.

Tuesday, December 4, 1787.




To the People of the State of New York:

THE tendency of the principle of legislation for States, or

 communities, in their political capacities, as it has been

 exemplified by the experiment we have made of it, is equally

 attested by the events which have befallen all other governments of

 the confederate kind, of which we have any account, in exact

 proportion to its prevalence in those systems. The confirmations of

 this fact will be worthy of a distinct and particular examination.

 I shall content myself with barely observing here, that of all the

 confederacies of antiquity, which history has handed down to us, the

 Lycian and Achaean leagues, as far as there remain vestiges of them,

 appear to have been most free from the fetters of that mistaken

 principle, and were accordingly those which have best deserved, and

 have most liberally received, the applauding suffrages of political


This exceptionable principle may, as truly as emphatically, be

 styled the parent of anarchy: It has been seen that delinquencies

 in the members of the Union are its natural and necessary offspring;

 and that whenever they happen, the only constitutional remedy is

 force, and the immediate effect of the use of it, civil war.

It remains to inquire how far so odious an engine of government,

 in its application to us, would even be capable of answering its end.

 If there should not be a large army constantly at the disposal of

 the national government it would either not be able to employ force

 at all, or, when this could be done, it would amount to a war

 between parts of the Confederacy concerning the infractions of a

 league, in which the strongest combination would be most likely to

 prevail, whether it consisted of those who supported or of those who

 resisted the general authority. It would rarely happen that the

 delinquency to be redressed would be confined to a single member,

 and if there were more than one who had neglected their duty,

 similarity of situation would induce them to unite for common

 defense. Independent of this motive of sympathy, if a large and

 influential State should happen to be the aggressing member, it

 would commonly have weight enough with its neighbors to win over

 some of them as associates to its cause. Specious arguments of

 danger to the common liberty could easily be contrived; plausible

 excuses for the deficiencies of the party could, without difficulty,

 be invented to alarm the apprehensions, inflame the passions, and

 conciliate the good-will, even of those States which were not

 chargeable with any violation or omission of duty. This would be

 the more likely to take place, as the delinquencies of the larger

 members might be expected sometimes to proceed from an ambitious

 premeditation in their rulers, with a view to getting rid of all

 external control upon their designs of personal aggrandizement; the

 better to effect which it is presumable they would tamper beforehand

 with leading individuals in the adjacent States. If associates

 could not be found at home, recourse would be had to the aid of

 foreign powers, who would seldom be disinclined to encouraging the

 dissensions of a Confederacy, from the firm union of which they had

 so much to fear. When the sword is once drawn, the passions of men

 observe no bounds of moderation. The suggestions of wounded pride,

 the instigations of irritated resentment, would be apt to carry the

 States against which the arms of the Union were exerted, to any

 extremes necessary to avenge the affront or to avoid the disgrace of

 submission. The first war of this kind would probably terminate in

 a dissolution of the Union.

This may be considered as the violent death of the Confederacy.

 Its more natural death is what we now seem to be on the point of

 experiencing, if the federal system be not speedily renovated in a

 more substantial form. It is not probable, considering the genius

 of this country, that the complying States would often be inclined

 to support the authority of the Union by engaging in a war against

 the non-complying States. They would always be more ready to pursue

 the milder course of putting themselves upon an equal footing with

 the delinquent members by an imitation of their example. And the

 guilt of all would thus become the security of all. Our past

 experience has exhibited the operation of this spirit in its full

 light. There would, in fact, be an insuperable difficulty in

 ascertaining when force could with propriety be employed. In the

 article of pecuniary contribution, which would be the most usual

 source of delinquency, it would often be impossible to decide

 whether it had proceeded from disinclination or inability. The

 pretense of the latter would always be at hand. And the case must

 be very flagrant in which its fallacy could be detected with

 sufficient certainty to justify the harsh expedient of compulsion.

 It is easy to see that this problem alone, as often as it should

 occur, would open a wide field for the exercise of factious views,

 of partiality, and of oppression, in the majority that happened to

 prevail in the national council.

It seems to require no pains to prove that the States ought not

 to prefer a national Constitution which could only be kept in motion

 by the instrumentality of a large army continually on foot to

 execute the ordinary requisitions or decrees of the government. And

 yet this is the plain alternative involved by those who wish to deny

 it the power of extending its operations to individuals. Such a

 scheme, if practicable at all, would instantly degenerate into a

 military despotism; but it will be found in every light

 impracticable. The resources of the Union would not be equal to the

 maintenance of an army considerable enough to confine the larger

 States within the limits of their duty; nor would the means ever be

 furnished of forming such an army in the first instance. Whoever

 considers the populousness and strength of several of these States

 singly at the present juncture, and looks forward to what they will

 become, even at the distance of half a century, will at once dismiss

 as idle and visionary any scheme which aims at regulating their

 movements by laws to operate upon them in their collective

 capacities, and to be executed by a coercion applicable to them in

 the same capacities. A project of this kind is little less romantic

 than the monster-taming spirit which is attributed to the fabulous

 heroes and demi-gods of antiquity.

Even in those confederacies which have been composed of members

 smaller than many of our counties, the principle of legislation for

 sovereign States, supported by military coercion, has never been

 found effectual. It has rarely been attempted to be employed, but

 against the weaker members; and in most instances attempts to

 coerce the refractory and disobedient have been the signals of

 bloody wars, in which one half of the confederacy has displayed its

 banners against the other half.

The result of these observations to an intelligent mind must be

 clearly this, that if it be possible at any rate to construct a

 federal government capable of regulating the common concerns and

 preserving the general tranquillity, it must be founded, as to the

 objects committed to its care, upon the reverse of the principle

 contended for by the opponents of the proposed Constitution. It

 must carry its agency to the persons of the citizens. It must stand

 in need of no intermediate legislations; but must itself be

 empowered to employ the arm of the ordinary magistrate to execute

 its own resolutions. The majesty of the national authority must be

 manifested through the medium of the courts of justice. The

 government of the Union, like that of each State, must be able to

 address itself immediately to the hopes and fears of individuals;

 and to attract to its support those passions which have the

 strongest influence upon the human heart. It must, in short,

 possess all the means, and have aright to resort to all the methods,

 of executing the powers with which it is intrusted, that are

 possessed and exercised by the government of the particular States.

To this reasoning it may perhaps be objected, that if any State

 should be disaffected to the authority of the Union, it could at any

 time obstruct the execution of its laws, and bring the matter to the

 same issue of force, with the necessity of which the opposite scheme

 is reproached.

The pausibility of this objection will vanish the moment we

 advert to the essential difference between a mere NON-COMPLIANCE and

 a DIRECT and ACTIVE RESISTANCE. If the interposition of the State

 legislatures be necessary to give effect to a measure of the Union,

 they have only NOT TO ACT, or to ACT EVASIVELY, and the measure is

 defeated. This neglect of duty may be disguised under affected but

 unsubstantial provisions, so as not to appear, and of course not to

 excite any alarm in the people for the safety of the Constitution.

 The State leaders may even make a merit of their surreptitious

 invasions of it on the ground of some temporary convenience,

 exemption, or advantage.

But if the execution of the laws of the national government

 should not require the intervention of the State legislatures, if

 they were to pass into immediate operation upon the citizens

 themselves, the particular governments could not interrupt their

 progress without an open and violent exertion of an unconstitutional

 power. No omissions nor evasions would answer the end. They would

 be obliged to act, and in such a manner as would leave no doubt that

 they had encroached on the national rights. An experiment of this

 nature would always be hazardous in the face of a constitution in

 any degree competent to its own defense, and of a people enlightened

 enough to distinguish between a legal exercise and an illegal

 usurpation of authority. The success of it would require not merely

 a factious majority in the legislature, but the concurrence of the

 courts of justice and of the body of the people. If the judges were

 not embarked in a conspiracy with the legislature, they would

 pronounce the resolutions of such a majority to be contrary to the

 supreme law of the land, unconstitutional, and void. If the people

 were not tainted with the spirit of their State representatives,

 they, as the natural guardians of the Constitution, would throw

 their weight into the national scale and give it a decided

 preponderancy in the contest. Attempts of this kind would not often

 be made with levity or rashness, because they could seldom be made

 without danger to the authors, unless in cases of a tyrannical

 exercise of the federal authority.

If opposition to the national government should arise from the

 disorderly conduct of refractory or seditious individuals, it could

 be overcome by the same means which are daily employed against the

 same evil under the State governments. The magistracy, being

 equally the ministers of the law of the land, from whatever source

 it might emanate, would doubtless be as ready to guard the national

 as the local regulations from the inroads of private licentiousness.

 As to those partial commotions and insurrections, which sometimes

 disquiet society, from the intrigues of an inconsiderable faction,

 or from sudden or occasional illhumors that do not infect the great

 body of the community the general government could command more

 extensive resources for the suppression of disturbances of that kind

 than would be in the power of any single member. And as to those

 mortal feuds which, in certain conjunctures, spread a conflagration

 through a whole nation, or through a very large proportion of it,

 proceeding either from weighty causes of discontent given by the

 government or from the contagion of some violent popular paroxysm,

 they do not fall within any ordinary rules of calculation. When

 they happen, they commonly amount to revolutions and dismemberments

 of empire. No form of government can always either avoid or control

 them. It is in vain to hope to guard against events too mighty for

 human foresight or precaution, and it would be idle to object to a

 government because it could not perform impossibilities.






The Same Subject Continued

(The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the


For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

AN OBJECTION, of a nature different from that which has been

 stated and answered, in my last address, may perhaps be likewise

 urged against the principle of legislation for the individual

 citizens of America. It may be said that it would tend to render

 the government of the Union too powerful, and to enable it to absorb

 those residuary authorities, which it might be judged proper to

 leave with the States for local purposes. Allowing the utmost

 latitude to the love of power which any reasonable man can require,

 I confess I am at a loss to discover what temptation the persons

 intrusted with the administration of the general government could

 ever feel to divest the States of the authorities of that

 description. The regulation of the mere domestic police of a State

 appears to me to hold out slender allurements to ambition.

 Commerce, finance, negotiation, and war seem to comprehend all the

 objects which have charms for minds governed by that passion; and

 all the powers necessary to those objects ought, in the first

 instance, to be lodged in the national depository. The

 administration of private justice between the citizens of the same

 State, the supervision of agriculture and of other concerns of a

 similar nature, all those things, in short, which are proper to be

 provided for by local legislation, can never be desirable cares of a

 general jurisdiction. It is therefore improbable that there should

 exist a disposition in the federal councils to usurp the powers with

 which they are connected; because the attempt to exercise those

 powers would be as troublesome as it would be nugatory; and the

 possession of them, for that reason, would contribute nothing to the

 dignity, to the importance, or to the splendor of the national


But let it be admitted, for argument's sake, that mere

 wantonness and lust of domination would be sufficient to beget that

 disposition; still it may be safely affirmed, that the sense of the

 constituent body of the national representatives, or, in other

 words, the people of the several States, would control the

 indulgence of so extravagant an appetite. It will always be far

 more easy for the State governments to encroach upon the national

 authorities than for the national government to encroach upon the

 State authorities. The proof of this proposition turns upon the

 greater degree of influence which the State governments if they

 administer their affairs with uprightness and prudence, will

 generally possess over the people; a circumstance which at the same

 time teaches us that there is an inherent and intrinsic weakness in

 all federal constitutions; and that too much pains cannot be taken

 in their organization, to give them all the force which is

 compatible with the principles of liberty.

The superiority of influence in favor of the particular

 governments would result partly from the diffusive construction of

 the national government, but chiefly from the nature of the objects

 to which the attention of the State administrations would be


It is a known fact in human nature, that its affections are

 commonly weak in proportion to the distance or diffusiveness of the

 object. Upon the same principle that a man is more attached to his

 family than to his neighborhood, to his neighborhood than to the

 community at large, the people of each State would be apt to feel a

 stronger bias towards their local governments than towards the

 government of the Union; unless the force of that principle should

 be destroyed by a much better administration of the latter.

This strong propensity of the human heart would find powerful

 auxiliaries in the objects of State regulation.

The variety of more minute interests, which will necessarily

 fall under the superintendence of the local administrations, and

 which will form so many rivulets of influence, running through every

 part of the society, cannot be particularized, without involving a

 detail too tedious and uninteresting to compensate for the

 instruction it might afford.

There is one transcendant advantage belonging to the province of

 the State governments, which alone suffices to place the matter in a

 clear and satisfactory light,--I mean the ordinary administration of

 criminal and civil justice. This, of all others, is the most

 powerful, most universal, and most attractive source of popular

 obedience and attachment. It is that which, being the immediate and

 visible guardian of life and property, having its benefits and its

 terrors in constant activity before the public eye, regulating all

 those personal interests and familiar concerns to which the

 sensibility of individuals is more immediately awake, contributes,

 more than any other circumstance, to impressing upon the minds of

 the people, affection, esteem, and reverence towards the government.

 This great cement of society, which will diffuse itself almost

 wholly through the channels of the particular governments,

 independent of all other causes of influence, would insure them so

 decided an empire over their respective citizens as to render them

 at all times a complete counterpoise, and, not unfrequently,

 dangerous rivals to the power of the Union.

The operations of the national government, on the other hand,

 falling less immediately under the observation of the mass of the

 citizens, the benefits derived from it will chiefly be perceived and

 attended to by speculative men. Relating to more general interests,

 they will be less apt to come home to the feelings of the people;

 and, in proportion, less likely to inspire an habitual sense of

 obligation, and an active sentiment of attachment.

The reasoning on this head has been abundantly exemplified by

 the experience of all federal constitutions with which we are

 acquainted, and of all others which have borne the least analogy to


Though the ancient feudal systems were not, strictly speaking,

 confederacies, yet they partook of the nature of that species of

 association. There was a common head, chieftain, or sovereign,

 whose authority extended over the whole nation; and a number of

 subordinate vassals, or feudatories, who had large portions of land

 allotted to them, and numerous trains of INFERIOR vassals or

 retainers, who occupied and cultivated that land upon the tenure of

 fealty or obedience, to the persons of whom they held it. Each

 principal vassal was a kind of sovereign, within his particular

 demesnes. The consequences of this situation were a continual

 opposition to authority of the sovereign, and frequent wars between

 the great barons or chief feudatories themselves. The power of the

 head of the nation was commonly too weak, either to preserve the

 public peace, or to protect the people against the oppressions of

 their immediate lords. This period of European affairs is

 emphatically styled by historians, the times of feudal anarchy.

When the sovereign happened to be a man of vigorous and warlike

 temper and of superior abilities, he would acquire a personal weight

 and influence, which answered, for the time, the purpose of a more

 regular authority. But in general, the power of the barons

 triumphed over that of the prince; and in many instances his

 dominion was entirely thrown off, and the great fiefs were erected

 into independent principalities or States. In those instances in

 which the monarch finally prevailed over his vassals, his success

 was chiefly owing to the tyranny of those vassals over their

 dependents. The barons, or nobles, equally the enemies of the

 sovereign and the oppressors of the common people, were dreaded and

 detested by both; till mutual danger and mutual interest effected a

 union between them fatal to the power of the aristocracy. Had the

 nobles, by a conduct of clemency and justice, preserved the fidelity

 and devotion of their retainers and followers, the contests between

 them and the prince must almost always have ended in their favor,

 and in the abridgment or subversion of the royal authority.

This is not an assertion founded merely in speculation or

 conjecture. Among other illustrations of its truth which might be

 cited, Scotland will furnish a cogent example. The spirit of

 clanship which was, at an early day, introduced into that kingdom,

 uniting the nobles and their dependants by ties equivalent to those

 of kindred, rendered the aristocracy a constant overmatch for the

 power of the monarch, till the incorporation with England subdued

 its fierce and ungovernable spirit, and reduced it within those

 rules of subordination which a more rational and more energetic

 system of civil polity had previously established in the latter


The separate governments in a confederacy may aptly be compared

 with the feudal baronies; with this advantage in their favor, that

 from the reasons already explained, they will generally possess the

 confidence and good-will of the people, and with so important a

 support, will be able effectually to oppose all encroachments of the

 national government. It will be well if they are not able to

 counteract its legitimate and necessary authority. The points of

 similitude consist in the rivalship of power, applicable to both,

 and in the CONCENTRATION of large portions of the strength of the

 community into particular DEPOSITS, in one case at the disposal of

 individuals, in the other case at the disposal of political bodies.

A concise review of the events that have attended confederate

 governments will further illustrate this important doctrine; an

 inattention to which has been the great source of our political

 mistakes, and has given our jealousy a direction to the wrong side.

 This review shall form the subject of some ensuing papers.






The Same Subject Continued

(The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the


For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

AMONG the confederacies of antiquity, the most considerable was

 that of the Grecian republics, associated under the Amphictyonic

 council. From the best accounts transmitted of this celebrated

 institution, it bore a very instructive analogy to the present

 Confederation of the American States.

The members retained the character of independent and sovereign

 states, and had equal votes in the federal council. This council

 had a general authority to propose and resolve whatever it judged

 necessary for the common welfare of Greece; to declare and carry on

 war; to decide, in the last resort, all controversies between the

 members; to fine the aggressing party; to employ the whole force

 of the confederacy against the disobedient; to admit new members.

 The Amphictyons were the guardians of religion, and of the immense

 riches belonging to the temple of Delphos, where they had the right

 of jurisdiction in controversies between the inhabitants and those

 who came to consult the oracle. As a further provision for the

 efficacy of the federal powers, they took an oath mutually to defend

 and protect the united cities, to punish the violators of this oath,

 and to inflict vengeance on sacrilegious despoilers of the temple.

In theory, and upon paper, this apparatus of powers seems amply

 sufficient for all general purposes. In several material instances,

 they exceed the powers enumerated in the articles of confederation.

 The Amphictyons had in their hands the superstition of the times,

 one of the principal engines by which government was then

 maintained; they had a declared authority to use coercion against

 refractory cities, and were bound by oath to exert this authority on

 the necessary occasions.

Very different, nevertheless, was the experiment from the theory.

 The powers, like those of the present Congress, were administered

 by deputies appointed wholly by the cities in their political

 capacities; and exercised over them in the same capacities. Hence

 the weakness, the disorders, and finally the destruction of the

 confederacy. The more powerful members, instead of being kept in

 awe and subordination, tyrannized successively over all the rest.

 Athens, as we learn from Demosthenes, was the arbiter of Greece

 seventy-three years. The Lacedaemonians next governed it

 twenty-nine years; at a subsequent period, after the battle of

 Leuctra, the Thebans had their turn of domination.

It happened but too often, according to Plutarch, that the

 deputies of the strongest cities awed and corrupted those of the

 weaker; and that judgment went in favor of the most powerful party.

Even in the midst of defensive and dangerous wars with Persia

 and Macedon, the members never acted in concert, and were, more or

 fewer of them, eternally the dupes or the hirelings of the common

 enemy. The intervals of foreign war were filled up by domestic

 vicissitudes convulsions, and carnage.

After the conclusion of the war with Xerxes, it appears that the

 Lacedaemonians required that a number of the cities should be turned

 out of the confederacy for the unfaithful part they had acted. The

 Athenians, finding that the Lacedaemonians would lose fewer

 partisans by such a measure than themselves, and would become

 masters of the public deliberations, vigorously opposed and defeated

 the attempt. This piece of history proves at once the inefficiency

 of the union, the ambition and jealousy of its most powerful

 members, and the dependent and degraded condition of the rest. The

 smaller members, though entitled by the theory of their system to

 revolve in equal pride and majesty around the common center, had

 become, in fact, satellites of the orbs of primary magnitude.

Had the Greeks, says the Abbe Milot, been as wise as they were

 courageous, they would have been admonished by experience of the

 necessity of a closer union, and would have availed themselves of

 the peace which followed their success against the Persian arms, to

 establish such a reformation. Instead of this obvious policy,

 Athens and Sparta, inflated with the victories and the glory they

 had acquired, became first rivals and then enemies; and did each

 other infinitely more mischief than they had suffered from Xerxes.

 Their mutual jealousies, fears, hatreds, and injuries ended in the

 celebrated Peloponnesian war; which itself ended in the ruin and

 slavery of the Athenians who had begun it.

As a weak government, when not at war, is ever agitated by

 internal dissentions, so these never fail to bring on fresh

 calamities from abroad. The Phocians having ploughed up some

 consecrated ground belonging to the temple of Apollo, the

 Amphictyonic council, according to the superstition of the age,

 imposed a fine on the sacrilegious offenders. The Phocians, being

 abetted by Athens and Sparta, refused to submit to the decree. The

 Thebans, with others of the cities, undertook to maintain the

 authority of the Amphictyons, and to avenge the violated god. The

 latter, being the weaker party, invited the assistance of Philip of

 Macedon, who had secretly fostered the contest. Philip gladly

 seized the opportunity of executing the designs he had long planned

 against the liberties of Greece. By his intrigues and bribes he won

 over to his interests the popular leaders of several cities; by

 their influence and votes, gained admission into the Amphictyonic

 council; and by his arts and his arms, made himself master of the


Such were the consequences of the fallacious principle on which

 this interesting establishment was founded. Had Greece, says a

 judicious observer on her fate, been united by a stricter

 confederation, and persevered in her union, she would never have

 worn the chains of Macedon; and might have proved a barrier to the

 vast projects of Rome.

The Achaean league, as it is called, was another society of

 Grecian republics, which supplies us with valuable instruction.

The Union here was far more intimate, and its organization much

 wiser, than in the preceding instance. It will accordingly appear,

 that though not exempt from a similar catastrophe, it by no means

 equally deserved it.

The cities composing this league retained their municipal

 jurisdiction, appointed their own officers, and enjoyed a perfect

 equality. The senate, in which they were represented, had the sole

 and exclusive right of peace and war; of sending and receiving

 ambassadors; of entering into treaties and alliances; of

 appointing a chief magistrate or praetor, as he was called, who

 commanded their armies, and who, with the advice and consent of ten

 of the senators, not only administered the government in the recess

 of the senate, but had a great share in its deliberations, when

 assembled. According to the primitive constitution, there were two

 praetors associated in the administration; but on trial a single

 one was preferred.

It appears that the cities had all the same laws and customs,

 the same weights and measures, and the same money. But how far this

 effect proceeded from the authority of the federal council is left

 in uncertainty. It is said only that the cities were in a manner

 compelled to receive the same laws and usages. When Lacedaemon was

 brought into the league by Philopoemen, it was attended with an

 abolition of the institutions and laws of Lycurgus, and an adoption

 of those of the Achaeans. The Amphictyonic confederacy, of which

 she had been a member, left her in the full exercise of her

 government and her legislation. This circumstance alone proves a

 very material difference in the genius of the two systems.

It is much to be regretted that such imperfect monuments remain

 of this curious political fabric. Could its interior structure and

 regular operation be ascertained, it is probable that more light

 would be thrown by it on the science of federal government, than by

 any of the like experiments with which we are acquainted.

One important fact seems to be witnessed by all the historians

 who take notice of Achaean affairs. It is, that as well after the

 renovation of the league by Aratus, as before its dissolution by the

 arts of Macedon, there was infinitely more of moderation and justice

 in the administration of its government, and less of violence and

 sedition in the people, than were to be found in any of the cities

 exercising SINGLY all the prerogatives of sovereignty. The Abbe

 Mably, in his observations on Greece, says that the popular

 government, which was so tempestuous elsewhere, caused no disorders

 in the members of the Achaean republic, BECAUSE IT WAS THERE


We are not to conclude too hastily, however, that faction did

 not, in a certain degree, agitate the particular cities; much less

 that a due subordination and harmony reigned in the general system.

 The contrary is sufficiently displayed in the vicissitudes and fate

 of the republic.

Whilst the Amphictyonic confederacy remained, that of the

 Achaeans, which comprehended the less important cities only, made

 little figure on the theatre of Greece. When the former became a

 victim to Macedon, the latter was spared by the policy of Philip and

 Alexander. Under the successors of these princes, however, a

 different policy prevailed. The arts of division were practiced

 among the Achaeans. Each city was seduced into a separate interest;

 the union was dissolved. Some of the cities fell under the tyranny

 of Macedonian garrisons; others under that of usurpers springing

 out of their own confusions. Shame and oppression erelong awaken

 their love of liberty. A few cities reunited. Their example was

 followed by others, as opportunities were found of cutting off their

 tyrants. The league soon embraced almost the whole Peloponnesus.

 Macedon saw its progress; but was hindered by internal dissensions

 from stopping it. All Greece caught the enthusiasm and seemed ready

 to unite in one confederacy, when the jealousy and envy in Sparta

 and Athens, of the rising glory of the Achaeans, threw a fatal damp

 on the enterprise. The dread of the Macedonian power induced the

 league to court the alliance of the Kings of Egypt and Syria, who,

 as successors of Alexander, were rivals of the king of Macedon.

 This policy was defeated by Cleomenes, king of Sparta, who was led

 by his ambition to make an unprovoked attack on his neighbors, the

 Achaeans, and who, as an enemy to Macedon, had interest enough with

 the Egyptian and Syrian princes to effect a breach of their

 engagements with the league.

The Achaeans were now reduced to the dilemma of submitting to

 Cleomenes, or of supplicating the aid of Macedon, its former

 oppressor. The latter expedient was adopted. The contests of the

 Greeks always afforded a pleasing opportunity to that powerful

 neighbor of intermeddling in their affairs. A Macedonian army

 quickly appeared. Cleomenes was vanquished. The Achaeans soon

 experienced, as often happens, that a victorious and powerful ally

 is but another name for a master. All that their most abject

 compliances could obtain from him was a toleration of the exercise

 of their laws. Philip, who was now on the throne of Macedon, soon

 provoked by his tyrannies, fresh combinations among the Greeks. The

 Achaeans, though weakenened by internal dissensions and by the

 revolt of Messene, one of its members, being joined by the AEtolians

 and Athenians, erected the standard of opposition. Finding

 themselves, though thus supported, unequal to the undertaking, they

 once more had recourse to the dangerous expedient of introducing the

 succor of foreign arms. The Romans, to whom the invitation was

 made, eagerly embraced it. Philip was conquered; Macedon subdued.

 A new crisis ensued to the league. Dissensions broke out among it

 members. These the Romans fostered. Callicrates and other popular

 leaders became mercenary instruments for inveigling their countrymen.

 The more effectually to nourish discord and disorder the Romans

 had, to the astonishment of those who confided in their sincerity,

 already proclaimed universal liberty1 throughout Greece. With

 the same insidious views, they now seduced the members from the

 league, by representing to their pride the violation it committed on

 their sovereignty. By these arts this union, the last hope of

 Greece, the last hope of ancient liberty, was torn into pieces; and

 such imbecility and distraction introduced, that the arms of Rome

 found little difficulty in completing the ruin which their arts had

 commenced. The Achaeans were cut to pieces, and Achaia loaded with

 chains, under which it is groaning at this hour.

I have thought it not superfluous to give the outlines of this

 important portion of history; both because it teaches more than one

 lesson, and because, as a supplement to the outlines of the Achaean

 constitution, it emphatically illustrates the tendency of federal

 bodies rather to anarchy among the members, than to tyranny in the



1 This was but another name more specious for the independence

 of the members on the federal head.





The Same Subject Continued

(The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the


For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

THE examples of ancient confederacies, cited in my last paper,

 have not exhausted the source of experimental instruction on this

 subject. There are existing institutions, founded on a similar

 principle, which merit particular consideration. The first which

 presents itself is the Germanic body.

In the early ages of Christianity, Germany was occupied by seven

 distinct nations, who had no common chief. The Franks, one of the

 number, having conquered the Gauls, established the kingdom which

 has taken its name from them. In the ninth century Charlemagne, its

 warlike monarch, carried his victorious arms in every direction;

 and Germany became a part of his vast dominions. On the

 dismemberment, which took place under his sons, this part was

 erected into a separate and independent empire. Charlemagne and his

 immediate descendants possessed the reality, as well as the ensigns

 and dignity of imperial power. But the principal vassals, whose

 fiefs had become hereditary, and who composed the national diets

 which Charlemagne had not abolished, gradually threw off the yoke

 and advanced to sovereign jurisdiction and independence. The force

 of imperial sovereignty was insufficient to restrain such powerful

 dependants; or to preserve the unity and tranquillity of the empire.

 The most furious private wars, accompanied with every species of

 calamity, were carried on between the different princes and states.

 The imperial authority, unable to maintain the public order,

 declined by degrees till it was almost extinct in the anarchy, which

 agitated the long interval between the death of the last emperor of

 the Suabian, and the accession of the first emperor of the Austrian

 lines. In the eleventh century the emperors enjoyed full

 sovereignty: In the fifteenth they had little more than the symbols

 and decorations of power.

Out of this feudal system, which has itself many of the

 important features of a confederacy, has grown the federal system

 which constitutes the Germanic empire. Its powers are vested in a

 diet representing the component members of the confederacy; in the

 emperor, who is the executive magistrate, with a negative on the

 decrees of the diet; and in the imperial chamber and the aulic

 council, two judiciary tribunals having supreme jurisdiction in

 controversies which concern the empire, or which happen among its


The diet possesses the general power of legislating for the

 empire; of making war and peace; contracting alliances; assessing

 quotas of troops and money; constructing fortresses; regulating

 coin; admitting new members; and subjecting disobedient members to

 the ban of the empire, by which the party is degraded from his

 sovereign rights and his possessions forfeited. The members of the

 confederacy are expressly restricted from entering into compacts

 prejudicial to the empire; from imposing tolls and duties on their

 mutual intercourse, without the consent of the emperor and diet;

 from altering the value of money; from doing injustice to one

 another; or from affording assistance or retreat to disturbers of

 the public peace. And the ban is denounced against such as shall

 violate any of these restrictions. The members of the diet, as

 such, are subject in all cases to be judged by the emperor and diet,

 and in their private capacities by the aulic council and imperial


The prerogatives of the emperor are numerous. The most

 important of them are: his exclusive right to make propositions to

 the diet; to negative its resolutions; to name ambassadors; to

 confer dignities and titles; to fill vacant electorates; to found

 universities; to grant privileges not injurious to the states of

 the empire; to receive and apply the public revenues; and

 generally to watch over the public safety. In certain cases, the

 electors form a council to him. In quality of emperor, he possesses

 no territory within the empire, nor receives any revenue for his

 support. But his revenue and dominions, in other qualities,

 constitute him one of the most powerful princes in Europe.

From such a parade of constitutional powers, in the

 representatives and head of this confederacy, the natural

 supposition would be, that it must form an exception to the general

 character which belongs to its kindred systems. Nothing would be

 further from the reality. The fundamental principle on which it

 rests, that the empire is a community of sovereigns, that the diet

 is a representation of sovereigns and that the laws are addressed to

 sovereigns, renders the empire a nerveless body, incapable of

 regulating its own members, insecure against external dangers, and

 agitated with unceasing fermentations in its own bowels.

The history of Germany is a history of wars between the emperor

 and the princes and states; of wars among the princes and states

 themselves; of the licentiousness of the strong, and the oppression

 of the weak; of foreign intrusions, and foreign intrigues; of

 requisitions of men and money disregarded, or partially complied

 with; of attempts to enforce them, altogether abortive, or attended

 with slaughter and desolation, involving the innocent with the

 guilty; of general inbecility, confusion, and misery.

In the sixteenth century, the emperor, with one part of the

 empire on his side, was seen engaged against the other princes and

 states. In one of the conflicts, the emperor himself was put to

 flight, and very near being made prisoner by the elector of Saxony.

 The late king of Prussia was more than once pitted against his

 imperial sovereign; and commonly proved an overmatch for him.

 Controversies and wars among the members themselves have been so

 common, that the German annals are crowded with the bloody pages

 which describe them. Previous to the peace of Westphalia, Germany

 was desolated by a war of thirty years, in which the emperor, with

 one half of the empire, was on one side, and Sweden, with the other

 half, on the opposite side. Peace was at length negotiated, and

 dictated by foreign powers; and the articles of it, to which

 foreign powers are parties, made a fundamental part of the Germanic


If the nation happens, on any emergency, to be more united by

 the necessity of self-defense, its situation is still deplorable.

 Military preparations must be preceded by so many tedious

 discussions, arising from the jealousies, pride, separate views, and

 clashing pretensions of sovereign bodies, that before the diet can

 settle the arrangements, the enemy are in the field; and before the

 federal troops are ready to take it, are retiring into winter


The small body of national troops, which has been judged

 necessary in time of peace, is defectively kept up, badly paid,

 infected with local prejudices, and supported by irregular and

 disproportionate contributions to the treasury.

The impossibility of maintaining order and dispensing justice

 among these sovereign subjects, produced the experiment of dividing

 the empire into nine or ten circles or districts; of giving them an

 interior organization, and of charging them with the military

 execution of the laws against delinquent and contumacious members.

 This experiment has only served to demonstrate more fully the

 radical vice of the constitution. Each circle is the miniature

 picture of the deformities of this political monster. They either

 fail to execute their commissions, or they do it with all the

 devastation and carnage of civil war. Sometimes whole circles are

 defaulters; and then they increase the mischief which they were

 instituted to remedy.

We may form some judgment of this scheme of military coercion

 from a sample given by Thuanus. In Donawerth, a free and imperial

 city of the circle of Suabia, the Abb 300 de St. Croix enjoyed

 certain immunities which had been reserved to him. In the exercise

 of these, on some public occasions, outrages were committed on him

 by the people of the city. The consequence was that the city was

 put under the ban of the empire, and the Duke of Bavaria, though

 director of another circle, obtained an appointment to enforce it.

 He soon appeared before the city with a corps of ten thousand

 troops, and finding it a fit occasion, as he had secretly intended

 from the beginning, to revive an antiquated claim, on the pretext

 that his ancestors had suffered the place to be dismembered from his

 territory,1 he took possession of it in his own name, disarmed,

 and punished the inhabitants, and reannexed the city to his domains.

It may be asked, perhaps, what has so long kept this disjointed

 machine from falling entirely to pieces? The answer is obvious:

 The weakness of most of the members, who are unwilling to expose

 themselves to the mercy of foreign powers; the weakness of most of

 the principal members, compared with the formidable powers all

 around them; the vast weight and influence which the emperor

 derives from his separate and heriditary dominions; and the

 interest he feels in preserving a system with which his family pride

 is connected, and which constitutes him the first prince in Europe;

 --these causes support a feeble and precarious Union; whilst the

 repellant quality, incident to the nature of sovereignty, and which

 time continually strengthens, prevents any reform whatever, founded

 on a proper consolidation. Nor is it to be imagined, if this

 obstacle could be surmounted, that the neighboring powers would

 suffer a revolution to take place which would give to the empire the

 force and preeminence to which it is entitled. Foreign nations have

 long considered themselves as interested in the changes made by

 events in this constitution; and have, on various occasions,

 betrayed their policy of perpetuating its anarchy and weakness.

If more direct examples were wanting, Poland, as a government

 over local sovereigns, might not improperly be taken notice of. Nor

 could any proof more striking be given of the calamities flowing

 from such institutions. Equally unfit for self-government and

 self-defense, it has long been at the mercy of its powerful

 neighbors; who have lately had the mercy to disburden it of one

 third of its people and territories.

The connection among the Swiss cantons scarcely amounts to a

 confederacy; though it is sometimes cited as an instance of the

 stability of such institutions.

They have no common treasury; no common troops even in war; no

 common coin; no common judicatory; nor any other common mark of


They are kept together by the peculiarity of their topographical

 position; by their individual weakness and insignificancy; by the

 fear of powerful neighbors, to one of which they were formerly

 subject; by the few sources of contention among a people of such

 simple and homogeneous manners; by their joint interest in their

 dependent possessions; by the mutual aid they stand in need of, for

 suppressing insurrections and rebellions, an aid expressly

 stipulated and often required and afforded; and by the necessity of

 some regular and permanent provision for accomodating disputes among

 the cantons. The provision is, that the parties at variance shall

 each choose four judges out of the neutral cantons, who, in case of

 disagreement, choose an umpire. This tribunal, under an oath of

 impartiality, pronounces definitive sentence, which all the cantons

 are bound to enforce. The competency of this regulation may be

 estimated by a clause in their treaty of 1683, with Victor Amadeus

 of Savoy; in which he obliges himself to interpose as mediator in

 disputes between the cantons, and to employ force, if necessary,

 against the contumacious party.

So far as the peculiarity of their case will admit of comparison

 with that of the United States, it serves to confirm the principle

 intended to be established. Whatever efficacy the union may have

 had in ordinary cases, it appears that the moment a cause of

 difference sprang up, capable of trying its strength, it failed.

 The controversies on the subject of religion, which in three

 instances have kindled violent and bloody contests, may be said, in

 fact, to have severed the league. The Protestant and Catholic

 cantons have since had their separate diets, where all the most

 important concerns are adjusted, and which have left the general

 diet little other business than to take care of the common bailages.

That separation had another consequence, which merits attention.

 It produced opposite alliances with foreign powers: of Berne, at

 the head of the Protestant association, with the United Provinces;

 and of Luzerne, at the head of the Catholic association, with



1 Pfeffel, ``Nouvel Abreg. Chronol. de l'Hist., etc.,

 d'Allemagne,'' says the pretext was to indemnify himself for the

 expense of the expedition.





The Same Subject Continued

(The Insufficiency fo the Present Confederation to Preserve the


From the New York Packet.

Tuesday, December 11, 1787.




To the People of the State of New York:

THE United Netherlands are a confederacy of republics, or rather

 of aristocracies of a very remarkable texture, yet confirming all

 the lessons derived from those which we have already reviewed.

The union is composed of seven coequal and sovereign states, and

 each state or province is a composition of equal and independent

 cities. In all important cases, not only the provinces but the

 cities must be unanimous.

The sovereignty of the Union is represented by the

 States-General, consisting usually of about fifty deputies appointed

 by the provinces. They hold their seats, some for life, some for

 six, three, and one years; from two provinces they continue in

 appointment during pleasure.

The States-General have authority to enter into treaties and

 alliances; to make war and peace; to raise armies and equip

 fleets; to ascertain quotas and demand contributions. In all these

 cases, however, unanimity and the sanction of their constituents are

 requisite. They have authority to appoint and receive ambassadors;

 to execute treaties and alliances already formed; to provide for

 the collection of duties on imports and exports; to regulate the

 mint, with a saving to the provincial rights; to govern as

 sovereigns the dependent territories. The provinces are restrained,

 unless with the general consent, from entering into foreign

 treaties; from establishing imposts injurious to others, or

 charging their neighbors with higher duties than their own subjects.

 A council of state, a chamber of accounts, with five colleges of

 admiralty, aid and fortify the federal administration.

The executive magistrate of the union is the stadtholder, who is

 now an hereditary prince. His principal weight and influence in the

 republic are derived from this independent title; from his great

 patrimonial estates; from his family connections with some of the

 chief potentates of Europe; and, more than all, perhaps, from his

 being stadtholder in the several provinces, as well as for the

 union; in which provincial quality he has the appointment of town

 magistrates under certain regulations, executes provincial decrees,

 presides when he pleases in the provincial tribunals, and has

 throughout the power of pardon.

As stadtholder of the union, he has, however, considerable


In his political capacity he has authority to settle disputes

 between the provinces, when other methods fail; to assist at the

 deliberations of the States-General, and at their particular

 conferences; to give audiences to foreign ambassadors, and to keep

 agents for his particular affairs at foreign courts.

In his military capacity he commands the federal troops,

 provides for garrisons, and in general regulates military affairs;

 disposes of all appointments, from colonels to ensigns, and of the

 governments and posts of fortified towns.

In his marine capacity he is admiral-general, and superintends

 and directs every thing relative to naval forces and other naval

 affairs; presides in the admiralties in person or by proxy;

 appoints lieutenant-admirals and other officers; and establishes

 councils of war, whose sentences are not executed till he approves


His revenue, exclusive of his private income, amounts to three

 hundred thousand florins. The standing army which he commands

 consists of about forty thousand men.

Such is the nature of the celebrated Belgic confederacy, as

 delineated on parchment. What are the characters which practice has

 stamped upon it? Imbecility in the government; discord among the

 provinces; foreign influence and indignities; a precarious

 existence in peace, and peculiar calamities from war.

It was long ago remarked by Grotius, that nothing but the hatred

 of his countrymen to the house of Austria kept them from being

 ruined by the vices of their constitution.

The union of Utrecht, says another respectable writer, reposes

 an authority in the States-General, seemingly sufficient to secure

 harmony, but the jealousy in each province renders the practice very

 different from the theory.

The same instrument, says another, obliges each province to levy

 certain contributions; but this article never could, and probably

 never will, be executed; because the inland provinces, who have

 little commerce, cannot pay an equal quota.

In matters of contribution, it is the practice to waive the

 articles of the constitution. The danger of delay obliges the

 consenting provinces to furnish their quotas, without waiting for

 the others; and then to obtain reimbursement from the others, by

 deputations, which are frequent, or otherwise, as they can. The

 great wealth and influence of the province of Holland enable her to

 effect both these purposes.

It has more than once happened, that the deficiencies had to be

 ultimately collected at the point of the bayonet; a thing

 practicable, though dreadful, in a confedracy where one of the

 members exceeds in force all the rest, and where several of them are

 too small to meditate resistance; but utterly impracticable in one

 composed of members, several of which are equal to each other in

 strength and resources, and equal singly to a vigorous and

 persevering defense.

Foreign ministers, says Sir William Temple, who was himself a

 foreign minister, elude matters taken ad referendum, by

 tampering with the provinces and cities. In 1726, the treaty of

 Hanover was delayed by these means a whole year. Instances of a

 like nature are numerous and notorious.

In critical emergencies, the States-General are often compelled

 to overleap their constitutional bounds. In 1688, they concluded a

 treaty of themselves at the risk of their heads. The treaty of

 Westphalia, in 1648, by which their independence was formerly and

 finally recognized, was concluded without the consent of Zealand.

 Even as recently as the last treaty of peace with Great Britain,

 the constitutional principle of unanimity was departed from. A weak

 constitution must necessarily terminate in dissolution, for want of

 proper powers, or the usurpation of powers requisite for the public

 safety. Whether the usurpation, when once begun, will stop at the

 salutary point, or go forward to the dangerous extreme, must depend

 on the contingencies of the moment. Tyranny has perhaps oftener

 grown out of the assumptions of power, called for, on pressing

 exigencies, by a defective constitution, than out of the full

 exercise of the largest constitutional authorities.

Notwithstanding the calamities produced by the stadtholdership,

 it has been supposed that without his influence in the individual

 provinces, the causes of anarchy manifest in the confederacy would

 long ago have dissolved it. ``Under such a government,'' says the

 Abbe Mably, ``the Union could never have subsisted, if the provinces

 had not a spring within themselves, capable of quickening their

 tardiness, and compelling them to the same way of thinking. This

 spring is the stadtholder.'' It is remarked by Sir William Temple,

 ``that in the intermissions of the stadtholdership, Holland, by her

 riches and her authority, which drew the others into a sort of

 dependence, supplied the place.''


These are not the only circumstances which have controlled the

 tendency to anarchy and dissolution. The surrounding powers impose

 an absolute necessity of union to a certain degree, at the same time

 that they nourish by their intrigues the constitutional vices which

 keep the republic in some degree always at their mercy.

The true patriots have long bewailed the fatal tendency of these

 vices, and have made no less than four regular experiments by

 EXTRAORDINARY ASSEMBLIES, convened for the special purpose, to apply

 a remedy. As many times has their laudable zeal found it impossible

 to UNITE THE PUBLIC COUNCILS in reforming the known, the

 acknowledged, the fatal evils of the existing constitution. Let us

 pause, my fellow-citizens, for one moment, over this melancholy and

 monitory lesson of history; and with the tear that drops for the

 calamities brought on mankind by their adverse opinions and selfish

 passions, let our gratitude mingle an ejaculation to Heaven, for the

 propitious concord which has distinguished the consultations for our

 political happiness.

A design was also conceived of establishing a general tax to be

 administered by the federal authority. This also had its

 adversaries and failed.

This unhappy people seem to be now suffering from popular

 convulsions, from dissensions among the states, and from the actual

 invasion of foreign arms, the crisis of their distiny. All nations

 have their eyes fixed on the awful spectacle. The first wish

 prompted by humanity is, that this severe trial may issue in such a

 revolution of their government as will establish their union, and

 render it the parent of tranquillity, freedom and happiness: The

 next, that the asylum under which, we trust, the enjoyment of these

 blessings will speedily be secured in this country, may receive and

 console them for the catastrophe of their own.

I make no apology for having dwelt so long on the contemplation

 of these federal precedents. Experience is the oracle of truth;

 and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be

 conclusive and sacred. The important truth, which it unequivocally

 pronounces in the present case, is that a sovereignty over

 sovereigns, a government over governments, a legislation for

 communities, as contradistinguished from individuals, as it is a

 solecism in theory, so in practice it is subversive of the order and

 ends of civil polity, by substituting VIOLENCE in place of LAW, or

 the destructive COERCION of the SWORD in place of the mild and

 salutary COERCION of the MAGISTRACY.






Other Defects of the Present Confederation

For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

HAVING in the three last numbers taken a summary review of the

 principal circumstances and events which have depicted the genius

 and fate of other confederate governments, I shall now proceed in

 the enumeration of the most important of those defects which have

 hitherto disappointed our hopes from the system established among

 ourselves. To form a safe and satisfactory judgment of the proper

 remedy, it is absolutely necessary that we should be well acquainted

 with the extent and malignity of the disease.

The next most palpable defect of the subsisting Confederation,

 is the total want of a SANCTION to its laws. The United States, as

 now composed, have no powers to exact obedience, or punish

 disobedience to their resolutions, either by pecuniary mulcts, by a

 suspension or divestiture of privileges, or by any other

 constitutional mode. There is no express delegation of authority to

 them to use force against delinquent members; and if such a right

 should be ascribed to the federal head, as resulting from the nature

 of the social compact between the States, it must be by inference

 and construction, in the face of that part of the second article, by

 which it is declared, ``that each State shall retain every power,

 jurisdiction, and right, not EXPRESSLY delegated to the United

 States in Congress assembled.'' There is, doubtless, a striking

 absurdity in supposing that a right of this kind does not exist, but

 we are reduced to the dilemma either of embracing that supposition,

 preposterous as it may seem, or of contravening or explaining away a

 provision, which has been of late a repeated theme of the eulogies

 of those who oppose the new Constitution; and the want of which, in

 that plan, has been the subject of much plausible animadversion, and

 severe criticism. If we are unwilling to impair the force of this

 applauded provision, we shall be obliged to conclude, that the

 United States afford the extraordinary spectacle of a government

 destitute even of the shadow of constitutional power to enforce the

 execution of its own laws. It will appear, from the specimens which

 have been cited, that the American Confederacy, in this particular,

 stands discriminated from every other institution of a similar kind,

 and exhibits a new and unexampled phenomenon in the political world.

The want of a mutual guaranty of the State governments is

 another capital imperfection in the federal plan. There is nothing

 of this kind declared in the articles that compose it; and to imply

 a tacit guaranty from considerations of utility, would be a still

 more flagrant departure from the clause which has been mentioned,

 than to imply a tacit power of coercion from the like considerations

. The want of a guaranty, though it might in its consequences

 endanger the Union, does not so immediately attack its existence as

 the want of a constitutional sanction to its laws.

Without a guaranty the assistance to be derived from the Union

 in repelling those domestic dangers which may sometimes threaten the

 existence of the State constitutions, must be renounced. Usurpation

 may rear its crest in each State, and trample upon the liberties of

 the people, while the national government could legally do nothing

 more than behold its encroachments with indignation and regret. A

 successful faction may erect a tyranny on the ruins of order and

 law, while no succor could constitutionally be afforded by the Union

 to the friends and supporters of the government. The tempestuous

 situation from which Massachusetts has scarcely emerged, evinces

 that dangers of this kind are not merely speculative. Who can

 determine what might have been the issue of her late convulsions, if

 the malcontents had been headed by a Caesar or by a Cromwell? Who

 can predict what effect a despotism, established in Massachusetts,

 would have upon the liberties of New Hampshire or Rhode Island, of

 Connecticut or New York?

The inordinate pride of State importance has suggested to some

 minds an objection to the principle of a guaranty in the federal

 government, as involving an officious interference in the domestic

 concerns of the members. A scruple of this kind would deprive us of

 one of the principal advantages to be expected from union, and can

 only flow from a misapprehension of the nature of the provision

 itself. It could be no impediment to reforms of the State

 constitution by a majority of the people in a legal and peaceable

 mode. This right would remain undiminished. The guaranty could

 only operate against changes to be effected by violence. Towards

 the preventions of calamities of this kind, too many checks cannot

 be provided. The peace of society and the stability of government

 depend absolutely on the efficacy of the precautions adopted on this

 head. Where the whole power of the government is in the hands of

 the people, there is the less pretense for the use of violent

 remedies in partial or occasional distempers of the State. The

 natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or

 representative constitution, is a change of men. A guaranty by the

 national authority would be as much levelled against the usurpations

 of rulers as against the ferments and outrages of faction and

 sedition in the community.

The principle of regulating the contributions of the States to

 the common treasury by QUOTAS is another fundamental error in the

 Confederation. Its repugnancy to an adequate supply of the national

 exigencies has been already pointed out, and has sufficiently

 appeared from the trial which has been made of it. I speak of it

 now solely with a view to equality among the States. Those who have

 been accustomed to contemplate the circumstances which produce and

 constitute national wealth, must be satisfied that there is no

 common standard or barometer by which the degrees of it can be

 ascertained. Neither the value of lands, nor the numbers of the

 people, which have been successively proposed as the rule of State

 contributions, has any pretension to being a just representative.

 If we compare the wealth of the United Netherlands with that of

 Russia or Germany, or even of France, and if we at the same time

 compare the total value of the lands and the aggregate population of

 that contracted district with the total value of the lands and the

 aggregate population of the immense regions of either of the three

 last-mentioned countries, we shall at once discover that there is no

 comparison between the proportion of either of these two objects and

 that of the relative wealth of those nations. If the like parallel

 were to be run between several of the American States, it would

 furnish a like result. Let Virginia be contrasted with North

 Carolina, Pennsylvania with Connecticut, or Maryland with New

 Jersey, and we shall be convinced that the respective abilities of

 those States, in relation to revenue, bear little or no analogy to

 their comparative stock in lands or to their comparative population.

 The position may be equally illustrated by a similar process

 between the counties of the same State. No man who is acquainted

 with the State of New York will doubt that the active wealth of

 King's County bears a much greater proportion to that of Montgomery

 than it would appear to be if we should take either the total value

 of the lands or the total number of the people as a criterion!

The wealth of nations depends upon an infinite variety of causes.

 Situation, soil, climate, the nature of the productions, the

 nature of the government, the genius of the citizens, the degree of

 information they possess, the state of commerce, of arts, of

 industry,gthese circumstances and many more, too complex, minute, or

 adventitious to admit of a particular specification, occasion

 differences hardly conceivable in the relative opulence and riches

 of different countries. The consequence clearly is that there can

 be no common measure of national wealth, and, of course, no general

 or stationary rule by which the ability of a state to pay taxes can

 be determined. The attempt, therefore, to regulate the

 contributions of the members of a confederacy by any such rule,

 cannot fail to be productive of glaring inequality and extreme


This inequality would of itself be sufficient in America to work

 the eventual destruction of the Union, if any mode of enforcing a

 compliance with its requisitions could be devised. The suffering

 States would not long consent to remain associated upon a principle

 which distributes the public burdens with so unequal a hand, and

 which was calculated to impoverish and oppress the citizens of some

 States, while those of others would scarcely be conscious of the

 small proportion of the weight they were required to sustain. This,

 however, is an evil inseparable from the principle of quotas and


There is no method of steering clear of this inconvenience, but

 by authorizing the national government to raise its own revenues in

 its own way. Imposts, excises, and, in general, all duties upon

 articles of consumption, may be compared to a fluid, which will, in

 time, find its level with the means of paying them. The amount to

 be contributed by each citizen will in a degree be at his own

 option, and can be regulated by an attention to his resources. The

 rich may be extravagant, the poor can be frugal; and private

 oppression may always be avoided by a judicious selection of objects

 proper for such impositions. If inequalities should arise in some

 States from duties on particular objects, these will, in all

 probability, be counterbalanced by proportional inequalities in

 other States, from the duties on other objects. In the course of

 time and things, an equilibrium, as far as it is attainable in so

 complicated a subject, will be established everywhere. Or, if

 inequalities should still exist, they would neither be so great in

 their degree, so uniform in their operation, nor so odious in their

 appearance, as those which would necessarily spring from quotas,

 upon any scale that can possibly be devised.

It is a signal advantage of taxes on articles of consumption,

 that they contain in their own nature a security against excess.

 They prescribe their own limit; which cannot be exceeded without

 defeating the end proposed, gthat is, an extension of the revenue.

 When applied to this object, the saying is as just as it is witty,

 that, ``in political arithmetic, two and two do not always make four

.'' If duties are too high, they lessen the consumption; the

 collection is eluded; and the product to the treasury is not so

 great as when they are confined within proper and moderate bounds.

 This forms a complete barrier against any material oppression of

 the citizens by taxes of this class, and is itself a natural

 limitation of the power of imposing them.

Impositions of this kind usually fall under the denomination of

 indirect taxes, and must for a long time constitute the chief part

 of the revenue raised in this country. Those of the direct kind,

 which principally relate to land and buildings, may admit of a rule

 of apportionment. Either the value of land, or the number of the

 people, may serve as a standard. The state of agriculture and the

 populousness of a country have been considered as nearly connected

 with each other. And, as a rule, for the purpose intended, numbers,

 in the view of simplicity and certainty, are entitled to a

 preference. In every country it is a herculean task to obtain a

 valuation of the land; in a country imperfectly settled and

 progressive in improvement, the difficulties are increased almost to

 impracticability. The expense of an accurate valuation is, in all

 situations, a formidable objection. In a branch of taxation where

 no limits to the discretion of the government are to be found in the

 nature of things, the establishment of a fixed rule, not

 incompatible with the end, may be attended with fewer inconveniences

 than to leave that discretion altogether at large.






The Same Subject Continued

(Other Defects of the Present Confederation)

From the New York Packet.

Friday, December 14, 1787.




To the People of the State of New York:

IN ADDITION to the defects already enumerated in the existing

 federal system, there are others of not less importance, which

 concur in rendering it altogether unfit for the administration of

 the affairs of the Union.

The want of a power to regulate commerce is by all parties

 allowed to be of the number. The utility of such a power has been

 anticipated under the first head of our inquiries; and for this

 reason, as well as from the universal conviction entertained upon

 the subject, little need be added in this place. It is indeed

 evident, on the most superficial view, that there is no object,

 either as it respects the interests of trade or finance, that more

 strongly demands a federal superintendence. The want of it has

 already operated as a bar to the formation of beneficial treaties

 with foreign powers, and has given occasions of dissatisfaction

 between the States. No nation acquainted with the nature of our

 political association would be unwise enough to enter into

 stipulations with the United States, by which they conceded

 privileges of any importance to them, while they were apprised that

 the engagements on the part of the Union might at any moment be

 violated by its members, and while they found from experience that

 they might enjoy every advantage they desired in our markets,

 without granting us any return but such as their momentary

 convenience might suggest. It is not, therefore, to be wondered at

 that Mr. Jenkinson, in ushering into the House of Commons a bill for

 regulating the temporary intercourse between the two countries,

 should preface its introduction by a declaration that similar

 provisions in former bills had been found to answer every purpose to

 the commerce of Great Britain, and that it would be prudent to

 persist in the plan until it should appear whether the American

 government was likely or not to acquire greater consistency.%n1%n

Several States have endeavored, by separate prohibitions,

 restrictions, and exclusions, to influence the conduct of that

 kingdom in this particular, but the want of concert, arising from

 the want of a general authority and from clashing and dissimilar

 views in the State, has hitherto frustrated every experiment of the

 kind, and will continue to do so as long as the same obstacles to a

 uniformity of measures continue to exist.

The interfering and unneighborly regulations of some States,

 contrary to the true spirit of the Union, have, in different

 instances, given just cause of umbrage and complaint to others, and

 it is to be feared that examples of this nature, if not restrained

 by a national control, would be multiplied and extended till they

 became not less serious sources of animosity and discord than

 injurious impediments to the intcrcourse between the different parts

 of the Confederacy. ``The commerce of the German empire%n2%n is in

 continual trammels from the multiplicity of the duties which the

 several princes and states exact upon the merchandises passing

 through their territories, by means of which the fine streams and

 navigable rivers with which Germany is so happily watered are

 rendered almost useless.'' Though the genius of the people of this

 country might never permit this description to be strictly

 applicable to us, yet we may reasonably expect, from the gradual

 conflicts of State regulations, that the citizens of each would at

 length come to be considered and treated by the others in no better

 light than that of foreigners and aliens.

The power of raising armies, by the most obvious construction of

 the articles of the Confederation, is merely a power of making

 requisitions upon the States for quotas of men. This practice in

 the course of the late war, was found replete with obstructions to a

 vigorous and to an economical system of defense. It gave birth to a

 competition between the States which created a kind of auction for

 men. In order to furnish the quotas required of them, they outbid

 each other till bounties grew to an enormous and insupportable size.

 The hope of a still further increase afforded an inducement to

 those who were disposed to serve to procrastinate their enlistment,

 and disinclined them from engaging for any considerable periods.

 Hence, slow and scanty levies of men, in the most critical

 emergencies of our affairs; short enlistments at an unparalleled

 expense; continual fluctuations in the troops, ruinous to their

 discipline and subjecting the public safety frequently to the

 perilous crisis of a disbanded army. Hence, also, those oppressive

 expedients for raising men which were upon several occasions

 practiced, and which nothing but the enthusiasm of liberty would

 have induced the people to endure.

This method of raising troops is not more unfriendly to economy

 and vigor than it is to an equal distribution of the burden. The

 States near the seat of war, influenced by motives of

 self-preservation, made efforts to furnish their quotas, which even

 exceeded their abilities; while those at a distance from danger

 were, for the most part, as remiss as the others were diligent, in

 their exertions. The immediate pressure of this inequality was not

 in this case, as in that of the contributions of money, alleviated

 by the hope of a final liquidation. The States which did not pay

 their proportions of money might at least be charged with their

 deficiencies; but no account could be formed of the deficiencies in

 the supplies of men. We shall not, however, see much reason to

 reget the want of this hope, when we consider how little prospect

 there is, that the most delinquent States will ever be able to make

 compensation for their pecuniary failures. The system of quotas and

 requisitions, whether it be applied to men or money, is, in every

 view, a system of imbecility in the Union, and of inequality and

 injustice among the members.

The right of equal suffrage among the States is another

 exceptionable part of the Confederation. Every idea of proportion

 and every rule of fair representation conspire to condemn a

 principle, which gives to Rhode Island an equal weight in the scale

 of power with Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or New York; and to

 Deleware an equal voice in the national deliberations with

 Pennsylvania, or Virginia, or North Carolina. Its operation

 contradicts the fundamental maxim of republican government, which

 requires that the sense of the majority should prevail. Sophistry

 may reply, that sovereigns are equal, and that a majority of the

 votes of the States will be a majority of confederated America. But

 this kind of logical legerdemain will never counteract the plain

 suggestions of justice and common-sense. It may happen that this

 majority of States is a small minority of the people of

 America%n3%n; and two thirds of the people of America could not

 long be persuaded, upon the credit of artificial distinctions and

 syllogistic subtleties, to submit their interests to the management

 and disposal of one third. The larger States would after a while

 revolt from the idea of receiving the law from the smaller. To

 acquiesce in such a privation of their due importance in the

 political scale, would be not merely to be insensible to the love of

 power, but even to sacrifice the desire of equality. It is neither

 rational to expect the first, nor just to require the last. The

 smaller States, considering how peculiarly their safety and welfare

 depend on union, ought readily to renounce a pretension which, if

 not relinquished, would prove fatal to its duration.

It may be objected to this, that not seven but nine States, or

 two thirds of the whole number, must consent to the most important

 resolutions; and it may be thence inferred that nine States would

 always comprehend a majority of the Union. But this does not

 obviate the impropriety of an equal vote between States of the most

 unequal dimensions and populousness; nor is the inference accurate

 in point of fact; for we can enumerate nine States which contain

 less than a majority of the people%n4%n; and it is constitutionally

 possible that these nine may give the vote. Besides, there are

 matters of considerable moment determinable by a bare majority; and

 there are others, concerning which doubts have been entertained,

 which, if interpreted in favor of the sufficiency of a vote of seven

 States, would extend its operation to interests of the first

 magnitude. In addition to this, it is to be observed that there is

 a probability of an increase in the number of States, and no

 provision for a proportional augmentation of the ratio of votes.

But this is not all: what at first sight may seem a remedy, is,

 in reality, a poison. To give a minority a negative upon the

 majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is

 requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the sense

 of the greater number to that of the lesser. Congress, from the

 nonattendance of a few States, have been frequently in the situation

 of a Polish diet, where a single VOTE has been sufficient to put a

 stop to all their movements. A sixtieth part of the Union, which is

 about the proportion of Delaware and Rhode Island, has several times

 been able to oppose an entire bar to its operations. This is one of

 those refinements which, in practice, has an effect the reverse of

 what is expected from it in theory. The necessity of unanimity in

 public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been

 founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security.

 But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to

 destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the

 pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or

 corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a

 respectable majority. In those emergencies of a nation, in which

 the goodness or badness, the weakness or strength of its government,

 is of the greatest importance, there is commonly a necessity for

 action. The public business must, in some way or other, go forward.

 If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority,

 respecting the best mode of conducting it, the majority, in order

 that something may be done, must conform to the views of the

 minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule

 that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings.

 Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue;

 contemptible compromises of the public good. And yet, in such a

 system, it is even happy when such compromises can take place: for

 upon some occasions things will not admit of accommodation; and

 then the measures of government must be injuriously suspended, or

 fatally defeated. It is often, by the impracticability of obtaining

 the concurrence of the necessary number of votes, kept in a state of

 inaction. Its situation must always savor of weakness, sometimes

 border upon anarchy.

It is not difficult to discover, that a principle of this kind

 gives greater scope to foreign corruption, as well as to domestic

 faction, than that which permits the sense of the majority to

 decide; though the contrary of this has been presumed. The mistake

 has proceeded from not attending with due care to the mischiefs that

 may be occasioned by obstructing the progress of government at

 certain critical seasons. When the concurrence of a large number is

 required by the Constitution to the doing of any national act, we

 are apt to rest satisfied that all is safe, because nothing improper

 will be likely TO BE DONE, but we forget how much good may be

 prevented, and how much ill may be produced, by the power of

 hindering the doing what may be necessary, and of keeping affairs in

 the same unfavorable posture in which they may happen to stand at

 particular periods.

Suppose, for instance, we were engaged in a war, in conjunction

 with one foreign nation, against another. Suppose the necessity of

 our situation demanded peace, and the interest or ambition of our

 ally led him to seek the prosecution of the war, with views that

 might justify us in making separate terms. In such a state of

 things, this ally of ours would evidently find it much easier, by

 his bribes and intrigues, to tie up the hands of government from

 making peace, where two thirds of all the votes were requisite to

 that object, than where a simple majority would suffice. In the

 first case, he would have to corrupt a smaller number; in the last,

 a greater number. Upon the same principle, it would be much easier

 for a foreign power with which we were at war to perplex our

 councils and embarrass our exertions. And, in a commercial view, we

 may be subjected to similar inconveniences. A nation, with which we

 might have a treaty of commerce, could with much greater facility

 prevent our forming a connection with her competitor in trade,

 though such a connection should be ever so beneficial to ourselves.

Evils of this description ought not to be regarded as imaginary.

 One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous

 advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign

 corruption. An hereditary monarch, though often disposed to

 sacrifice his subjects to his ambition, has so great a personal

 interest in the government and in the external glory of the nation,

 that it is not easy for a foreign power to give him an equivalent

 for what he would sacrifice by treachery to the state. The world

 has accordingly been witness to few examples of this species of

 royal prostitution, though there have been abundant specimens of

 every other kind.

In republics, persons elevated from the mass of the community,

 by the suffrages of their fellow-citizens, to stations of great

 pre-eminence and power, may find compensations for betraying their

 trust, which, to any but minds animated and guided by superior

 virtue, may appear to exceed the proportion of interest they have in

 the common stock, and to overbalance the obligations of duty. Hence

 it is that history furnishes us with so many mortifying examples of

 the prevalency of foreign corruption in republican governments. How

 much this contributed to the ruin of the ancient commonwealths has

 been already delineated. It is well known that the deputies of the

 United Provinces have, in various instances, been purchased by the

 emissaries of the neighboring kingdoms. The Earl of Chesterfield

 (if my memory serves me right), in a letter to his court, intimates

 that his success in an important negotiation must depend on his

 obtaining a major's commission for one of those deputies. And in

 Sweden the parties were alternately bought by France and England in

 so barefaced and notorious a manner that it excited universal

 disgust in the nation, and was a principal cause that the most

 limited monarch in Europe, in a single day, without tumult,

 violence, or opposition, became one of the most absolute and


A circumstance which crowns the defects of the Confederation

 remains yet to be mentioned, gthe want of a judiciary power. Laws

 are a dead letter without courts to expound and define their true

 meaning and operation. The treaties of the United States, to have

 any force at all, must be considered as part of the law of the land.

 Their true import, as far as respects individuals, must, like all

 other laws, be ascertained by judicial determinations. To produce

 uniformity in these determinations, they ought to be submitted, in

 the last resort, to one SUPREME TRIBUNAL. And this tribunal ought

 to be instituted under the same authority which forms the treaties

 themselves. These ingredients are both indispensable. If there is

 in each State a court of final jurisdiction, there may be as many

 different final determinations on the same point as there are courts.

 There are endless diversities in the opinions of men. We often

 see not only different courts but the judges of the came court

 differing from each other. To avoid the confusion which would

 unavoidably result from the contradictory decisions of a number of

 independent judicatories, all nations have found it necessary to

 establish one court paramount to the rest, possessing a general

 superintendence, and authorized to settle and declare in the last

 resort a uniform rule of civil justice.

This is the more necessary where the frame of the government is

 so compounded that the laws of the whole are in danger of being

 contravened by the laws of the parts. In this case, if the

 particular tribunals are invested with a right of ultimate

 jurisdiction, besides the contradictions to be expected from

 difference of opinion, there will be much to fear from the bias of

 local views and prejudices, and from the interference of local

 regulations. As often as such an interference was to happen, there

 would be reason to apprehend that the provisions of the particular

 laws might be preferred to those of the general laws; for nothing

 is more natural to men in office than to look with peculiar

 deference towards that authority to which they owe their official

 existence. The treaties of the United States, under the present

 Constitution, are liable to the infractions of thirteen different

 legislatures, and as many different courts of final jurisdiction,

 acting under the authority of those legislatures. The faith, the

 reputation, the peace of the whole Union, are thus continually at

 the mercy of the prejudices, the passions, and the interests of

 every member of which it is composed. Is it possible that foreign

 nations can either respect or confide in such a government? Is it

 possible that the people of America will longer consent to trust

 their honor, their happiness, their safety, on so precarious a


In this review of the Confederation, I have confined myself to

 the exhibition of its most material defects; passing over those

 imperfections in its details by which even a great part of the power

 intended to be conferred upon it has been in a great measure

 rendered abortive. It must be by this time evident to all men of

 reflection, who can divest themselves of the prepossessions of

 preconceived opinions, that it is a system so radically vicious and

 unsound, as to admit not of amendment but by an entire change in its

 leading features and characters.

The organization of Congress is itself utterly improper for the

 exercise of those powers which are necessary to be deposited in the

 Union. A single assembly may be a proper receptacle of those

 slender, or rather fettered, authorities, which have been heretofore

 delegated to the federal head; but it would be inconsistent with

 all the principles of good government, to intrust it with those

 additional powers which, even the moderate and more rational

 adversaries of the proposed Constitution admit, ought to reside in

 the United States. If that plan should not be adopted, and if the

 necessity of the Union should be able to withstand the ambitious

 aims of those men who may indulge magnificent schemes of personal

 aggrandizement from its dissolution, the probability would be, that

 we should run into the project of conferring supplementary powers

 upon Congress, as they are now constituted; and either the machine,

 from the intrinsic feebleness of its structure, will moulder into

 pieces, in spite of our ill-judged efforts to prop it; or, by

 successive augmentations of its force an energy, as necessity might

 prompt, we shall finally accumulate, in a single body, all the most

 important prerogatives of sovereignty, and thus entail upon our

 posterity one of the most execrable forms of government that human

 infatuation ever contrived. Thus, we should create in reality that

 very tyranny which the adversaries of the new Constitution either

 are, or affect to be, solicitous to avert.

It has not a little contributed to the infirmities of the

 existing federal system, that it never had a ratification by the

 PEOPLE. Resting on no better foundation than the consent of the

 several legislatures, it has been exposed to frequent and intricate

 questions concerning the validity of its powers, and has, in some

 instances, given birth to the enormous doctrine of a right of

 legislative repeal. Owing its ratification to the law of a State,

 it has been contended that the same authority might repeal the law

 by which it was ratified. However gross a heresy it may be to

 maintain that a PARTY to a COMPACT has a right to revoke that

 COMPACT, the doctrine itself has had respectable advocates. The

 possibility of a question of this nature proves the necessity of

 laying the foundations of our national government deeper than in the

 mere sanction of delegated authority. The fabric of American empire

 ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The

 streams of national power ought to flow immediately from that pure,

 original fountain of all legitimate authority.


FNA1@@1 This, as nearly as I can recollect, was the sense of his

 speech on introducing the last bill.

FNA1@@2 Encyclopedia, article ``Empire.''

FNA1@@3 New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia,

 South Carolina, and Maryland are a majority of the whole number of

 the States, but they do not contain one third of the people.

FNA1@@4 Add New York and Connecticut to the foregoing seven, and they

 will be less than a majority.





The Necessity of a Government as Energetic as the One Proposed to

 the Preservation of the Union

From the New York Packet.

Tuesday, December 18, 1787.




To the People of the State of New York:

THE necessity of a Constitution, at least equally energetic with

 the one proposed, to the preservation of the Union, is the point at

 the examination of which we are now arrived.

This inquiry will naturally divide itself into three

 branchesgthe objects to be provided for by the federal government,

 the quantity of power necessary to the accomplishment of those

 objects, the persons upon whom that power ought to operate. Its

 distribution and organization will more properly claim our attention

 under the succeeding head.

The principal purposes to be answered by union are thesegthe

 common defense of the members; the preservation of the public peace

 as well against internal convulsions as external attacks; the

 regulation of commerce with other nations and between the States;

 the superintendence of our intercourse, political and commercial,

 with foreign countries.

The authorities essential to the common defense are these: to

 raise armies; to build and equip fleets; to prescribe rules for

 the government of both; to direct their operations; to provide for

 their support. These powers ought to exist without limitation,




 that endanger the safety of nations are infinite, and for this

 reason no constitutional shackles can wisely be imposed on the power

 to which the care of it is committed. This power ought to be

 coextensive with all the possible combinations of such

 circumstances; and ought to be under the direction of the same

 councils which are appointed to preside over the common defense.

This is one of those truths which, to a correct and unprejudiced

 mind, carries its own evidence along with it; and may be obscured,

 but cannot be made plainer by argument or reasoning. It rests upon

 axioms as simple as they are universal; the MEANS ought to be

 proportioned to the END; the persons, from whose agency the

 attainment of any END is expected, ought to possess the MEANS by

 which it is to be attained.

Whether there ought to be a federal government intrusted with

 the care of the common defense, is a question in the first instance,

 open for discussion; but the moment it is decided in the

 affirmative, it will follow, that that government ought to be

 clothed with all the powers requisite to complete execution of its

 trust. And unless it can be shown that the circumstances which may

 affect the public safety are reducible within certain determinate

 limits; unless the contrary of this position can be fairly and

 rationally disputed, it must be admitted, as a necessary

 consequence, that there can be no limitation of that authority which

 is to provide for the defense and protection of the community, in

 any matter essential to its efficacygthat is, in any matter

 essential to the FORMATION, DIRECTION, or SUPPORT of the NATIONAL


Defective as the present Confederation has been proved to be,

 this principle appears to have been fully recognized by the framers

 of it; though they have not made proper or adequate provision for

 its exercise. Congress have an unlimited discretion to make

 requisitions of men and money; to govern the army and navy; to

 direct their operations. As their requisitions are made

 constitutionally binding upon the States, who are in fact under the

 most solemn obligations to furnish the supplies required of them,

 the intention evidently was that the United States should command

 whatever resources were by them judged requisite to the ``common

 defense and general welfare.'' It was presumed that a sense of

 their true interests, and a regard to the dictates of good faith,

 would be found sufficient pledges for the punctual performance of

 the duty of the members to the federal head.

The experiment has, however, demonstrated that this expectation

 was ill-founded and illusory; and the observations, made under the

 last head, will, I imagine, have sufficed to convince the impartial

 and discerning, that there is an absolute necessity for an entire

 change in the first principles of the system; that if we are in

 earnest about giving the Union energy and duration, we must abandon

 the vain project of legislating upon the States in their collective

 capacities; we must extend the laws of the federal government to

 the individual citizens of America; we must discard the fallacious

 scheme of quotas and requisitions, as equally impracticable and

 unjust. The result from all this is that the Union ought to be

 invested with full power to levy troops; to build and equip fleets;

 and to raise the revenues which will be required for the formation

 and support of an army and navy, in the customary and ordinary modes

 practiced in other governments.

If the circumstances of our country are such as to demand a

 compound instead of a simple, a confederate instead of a sole,

 government, the essential point which will remain to be adjusted

 will be to discriminate the OBJECTS, as far as it can be done, which

 shall appertain to the different provinces or departments of power;

 allowing to each the most ample authority for fulfilling the

 objects committed to its charge. Shall the Union be constituted the

 guardian of the common safety? Are fleets and armies and revenues

 necessary to this purpose? The government of the Union must be

 empowered to pass all laws, and to make all regulations which have

 relation to them. The same must be the case in respect to commerce,

 and to every other matter to which its jurisdiction is permitted to

 extend. Is the administration of justice between the citizens of

 the same State the proper department of the local governments?

 These must possess all the authorities which are connected with

 this object, and with every other that may be allotted to their

 particular cognizance and direction. Not to confer in each case a

 degree of power commensurate to the end, would be to violate the

 most obvious rules of prudence and propriety, and improvidently to

 trust the great interests of the nation to hands which are disabled

 from managing them with vigor and success.

Who is likely to make suitable provisions for the public

 defense, as that body to which the guardianship of the public safety

 is confided; which, as the centre of information, will best

 understand the extent and urgency of the dangers that threaten; as

 the representative of the WHOLE, will feel itself most deeply

 interested in the preservation of every part; which, from the

 responsibility implied in the duty assigned to it, will be most

 sensibly impressed with the necessity of proper exertions; and

 which, by the extension of its authority throughout the States, can

 alone establish uniformity and concert in the plans and measures by

 which the common safety is to be secured? Is there not a manifest

 inconsistency in devolving upon the federal government the care of

 the general defense, and leaving in the State governments the

 EFFECTIVE powers by which it is to be provided for? Is not a want

 of co-operation the infallible consequence of such a system? And

 will not weakness, disorder, an undue distribution of the burdens

 and calamities of war, an unnecessary and intolerable increase of

 expense, be its natural and inevitable concomitants? Have we not

 had unequivocal experience of its effects in the course of the

 revolution which we have just accomplished?

Every view we may take of the subject, as candid inquirers after

 truth, will serve to convince us, that it is both unwise and

 dangerous to deny the federal government an unconfined authority, as

 to all those objects which are intrusted to its management. It will

 indeed deserve the most vigilant and careful attention of the

 people, to see that it be modeled in such a manner as to admit of

 its being safely vested with the requisite powers. If any plan

 which has been, or may be, offered to our consideration, should not,

 upon a dispassionate inspection, be found to answer this

 description, it ought to be rejected. A government, the

 constitution of which renders it unfit to be trusted with all the

 powers which a free people OUGHT TO DELEGATE TO ANY GOVERNMENT,

 would be an unsafe and improper depositary of the NATIONAL INTERESTS.

 Wherever THESE can with propriety be confided, the coincident

 powers may safely accompany them. This is the true result of all

 just reasoning upon the subject. And the adversaries of the plan

 promulgated by the convention ought to have confined themselves to

 showing, that the internal structure of the proposed government was

 such as to render it unworthy of the confidence of the people. They

 ought not to have wandered into inflammatory declamations and

 unmeaning cavils about the extent of the powers. The POWERS are not

 too extensive for the OBJECTS of federal administration, or, in

 other words, for the management of our NATIONAL INTERESTS; nor can

 any satisfactory argument be framed to show that they are chargeable

 with such an excess. If it be true, as has been insinuated by some

 of the writers on the other side, that the difficulty arises from

 the nature of the thing, and that the extent of the country will not

 permit us to form a government in which such ample powers can safely

 be reposed, it would prove that we ought to contract our views, and

 resort to the expedient of separate confederacies, which will move

 within more practicable spheres. For the absurdity must continually

 stare us in the face of confiding to a government the direction of

 the most essential national interests, without daring to trust it to

 the authorities which are indispensible to their proper and

 efficient management. Let us not attempt to reconcile

 contradictions, but firmly embrace a rational alternative.

I trust, however, that the impracticability of one general

 system cannot be shown. I am greatly mistaken, if any thing of

 weight has yet been advanced of this tendency; and I flatter

 myself, that the observations which have been made in the course of

 these papers have served to place the reverse of that position in as

 clear a light as any matter still in the womb of time and experience

 can be susceptible of. This, at all events, must be evident, that

 the very difficulty itself, drawn from the extent of the country, is

 the strongest argument in favor of an energetic government; for any

 other can certainly never preserve the Union of so large an empire.

 If we embrace the tenets of those who oppose the adoption of the

 proposed Constitution, as the standard of our political creed, we

 cannot fail to verify the gloomy doctrines which predict the

 impracticability of a national system pervading entire limits of the

 present Confederacy.






The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered

For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

To THE powers proposed to be conferred upon the federal

 government, in respect to the creation and direction of the national

 forces, I have met with but one specific objection, which, if I

 understand it right, is this,gthat proper provision has not been

 made against the existence of standing armies in time of peace; an

 objection which, I shall now endeavor to show, rests on weak and

 unsubstantial foundations.

It has indeed been brought forward in the most vague and general

 form, supported only by bold assertions, without the appearance of

 argument; without even the sanction of theoretical opinions; in

 contradiction to the practice of other free nations, and to the

 general sense of America, as expressed in most of the existing

 constitutions. The proprietory of this remark will appear, the

 moment it is recollected that the objection under consideration

 turns upon a supposed necessity of restraining the LEGISLATIVE

 authority of the nation, in the article of military establishments;

 a principle unheard of, except in one or two of our State

 constitutions, and rejected in all the rest.

A stranger to our politics, who was to read our newspapers at

 the present juncture, without having previously inspected the plan

 reported by the convention, would be naturally led to one of two

 conclusions: either that it contained a positive injunction, that

 standing armies should be kept up in time of peace; or that it

 vested in the EXECUTIVE the whole power of levying troops, without

 subjecting his discretion, in any shape, to the control of the


If he came afterwards to peruse the plan itself, he would be

 surprised to discover, that neither the one nor the other was the

 case; that the whole power of raising armies was lodged in the

 LEGISLATURE, not in the EXECUTIVE; that this legislature was to be

 a popular body, consisting of the representatives of the people

 periodically elected; and that instead of the provision he had

 supposed in favor of standing armies, there was to be found, in

 respect to this object, an important qualification even of the

 legislative discretion, in that clause which forbids the

 appropriation of money for the support of an army for any longer

 period than two yearsga precaution which, upon a nearer view of it,

 will appear to be a great and real security against the keeping up

 of troops without evident necessity.

Disappointed in his first surmise, the person I have supposed

 would be apt to pursue his conjectures a little further. He would

 naturally say to himself, it is impossible that all this vehement

 and pathetic declamation can be without some colorable pretext. It

 must needs be that this people, so jealous of their liberties, have,

 in all the preceding models of the constitutions which they have

 established, inserted the most precise and rigid precautions on this

 point, the omission of which, in the new plan, has given birth to

 all this apprehension and clamor.

If, under this impression, he proceeded to pass in review the

 several State constitutions, how great would be his disappointment

 to find that TWO ONLY of them%n1%n contained an interdiction of

 standing armies in time of peace; that the other eleven had either

 observed a profound silence on the subject, or had in express terms

 admitted the right of the Legislature to authorize their existence.

Still, however he would be persuaded that there must be some

 plausible foundation for the cry raised on this head. He would

 never be able to imagine, while any source of information remained

 unexplored, that it was nothing more than an experiment upon the

 public credulity, dictated either by a deliberate intention to

 deceive, or by the overflowings of a zeal too intemperate to be

 ingenuous. It would probably occur to him, that he would be likely

 to find the precautions he was in search of in the primitive compact

 between the States. Here, at length, he would expect to meet with a

 solution of the enigma. No doubt, he would observe to himself, the

 existing Confederation must contain the most explicit provisions

 against military establishments in time of peace; and a departure

 from this model, in a favorite point, has occasioned the discontent

 which appears to influence these political champions.

If he should now apply himself to a careful and critical survey

 of the articles of Confederation, his astonishment would not only be

 increased, but would acquire a mixture of indignation, at the

 unexpected discovery, that these articles, instead of containing the

 prohibition he looked for, and though they had, with jealous

 circumspection, restricted the authority of the State legislatures

 in this particular, had not imposed a single restraint on that of

 the United States. If he happened to be a man of quick sensibility,

 or ardent temper, he could now no longer refrain from regarding

 these clamors as the dishonest artifices of a sinister and

 unprincipled opposition to a plan which ought at least to receive a

 fair and candid examination from all sincere lovers of their

 country! How else, he would say, could the authors of them have

 been tempted to vent such loud censures upon that plan, about a

 point in which it seems to have conformed itself to the general

 sense of America as declared in its different forms of government,

 and in which it has even superadded a new and powerful guard unknown

 to any of them? If, on the contrary, he happened to be a man of

 calm and dispassionate feelings, he would indulge a sigh for the

 frailty of human nature, and would lament, that in a matter so

 interesting to the happiness of millions, the true merits of the

 question should be perplexed and entangled by expedients so

 unfriendly to an impartial and right determination. Even such a man

 could hardly forbear remarking, that a conduct of this kind has too

 much the appearance of an intention to mislead the people by

 alarming their passions, rather than to convince them by arguments

 addressed to their understandings.

But however little this objection may be countenanced, even by

 precedents among ourselves, it may be satisfactory to take a nearer

 view of its intrinsic merits. From a close examination it will

 appear that restraints upon the discretion of the legislature in

 respect to military establishments in time of peace, would be

 improper to be imposed, and if imposed, from the necessities of

 society, would be unlikely to be observed.

Though a wide ocean separates the United States from Europe, yet

 there are various considerations that warn us against an excess of

 confidence or security. On one side of us, and stretching far into

 our rear, are growing settlements subject to the dominion of Britain.

 On the other side, and extending to meet the British settlements,

 are colonies and establishments subject to the dominion of Spain.

 This situation and the vicinity of the West India Islands,

 belonging to these two powers create between them, in respect to

 their American possessions and in relation to us, a common interest.

 The savage tribes on our Western frontier ought to be regarded as

 our natural enemies, their natural allies, because they have most to

 fear from us, and most to hope from them. The improvements in the

 art of navigation have, as to the facility of communication,

 rendered distant nations, in a great measure, neighbors. Britain

 and Spain are among the principal maritime powers of Europe. A

 future concert of views between these nations ought not to be

 regarded as improbable. The increasing remoteness of consanguinity

 is every day diminishing the force of the family compact between

 France and Spain. And politicians have ever with great reason

 considered the ties of blood as feeble and precarious links of

 political connection. These circumstances combined, admonish us not

 to be too sanguine in considering ourselves as entirely out of the

 reach of danger.

Previous to the Revolution, and ever since the peace, there has

 been a constant necessity for keeping small garrisons on our Western

 frontier. No person can doubt that these will continue to be

 indispensable, if it should only be against the ravages and

 depredations of the Indians. These garrisons must either be

 furnished by occasional detachments from the militia, or by

 permanent corps in the pay of the government. The first is

 impracticable; and if practicable, would be pernicious. The

 militia would not long, if at all, submit to be dragged from their

 occupations and families to perform that most disagreeable duty in

 times of profound peace. And if they could be prevailed upon or

 compelled to do it, the increased expense of a frequent rotation of

 service, and the loss of labor and disconcertion of the industrious

 pursuits of individuals, would form conclusive objections to the

 scheme. It would be as burdensome and injurious to the public as

 ruinous to private citizens. The latter resource of permanent corps

 in the pay of the government amounts to a standing army in time of

 peace; a small one, indeed, but not the less real for being small.

 Here is a simple view of the subject, that shows us at once the

 impropriety of a constitutional interdiction of such establishments,

 and the necessity of leaving the matter to the discretion and

 prudence of the legislature.

In proportion to our increase in strength, it is probable, nay,

 it may be said certain, that Britain and Spain would augment their

 military establishments in our neighborhood. If we should not be

 willing to be exposed, in a naked and defenseless condition, to

 their insults and encroachments, we should find it expedient to

 increase our frontier garrisons in some ratio to the force by which

 our Western settlements might be annoyed. There are, and will be,

 particular posts, the possession of which will include the command

 of large districts of territory, and facilitate future invasions of

 the remainder. It may be added that some of those posts will be

 keys to the trade with the Indian nations. Can any man think it

 would be wise to leave such posts in a situation to be at any

 instant seized by one or the other of two neighboring and formidable

 powers? To act this part would be to desert all the usual maxims of

 prudence and policy.

If we mean to be a commercial people, or even to be secure on

 our Atlantic side, we must endeavor, as soon as possible, to have a

 navy. To this purpose there must be dock-yards and arsenals; and

 for the defense of these, fortifications, and probably garrisons.

 When a nation has become so powerful by sea that it can protect its

 dock-yards by its fleets, this supersedes the necessity of garrisons

 for that purpose; but where naval establishments are in their

 infancy, moderate garrisons will, in all likelihood, be found an

 indispensable security against descents for the destruction of the

 arsenals and dock-yards, and sometimes of the fleet itself.


FNA1@@1 This statement of the matter is taken from the printed

 collection of State constitutions. Pennsylvania and North Carolina

 are the two which contain the interdiction in these words: ``As

 standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, THEY

 OUGHT NOT to be kept up.'' This is, in truth, rather a CAUTION than

 a PROHIBITION. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Maryland

 have, in each of their bils of rights, a clause to this effect:

 ``Standing armies are dangerous to liberty, and ought not to be

 raised or kept up WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE LEGISLATURE''; which

 is a formal admission of the authority of the Legislature. New York

 has no bills of rights, and her constitution says not a word about

 the matter. No bills of rights appear annexed to the constitutions

 of the other States, except the foregoing, and their constitutions

 are equally silent. I am told, however that one or two States have

 bills of rights which do not appear in this collection; but that

 those also recognize the right of the legislative authority in this






The Same Subject Continued

(The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered)

From the New York Packet.

Friday, December 21, 1787.




To the People of the State of New York:

IT MAY perhaps be urged that the objects enumerated in the

 preceding number ought to be provided for by the State governments,

 under the direction of the Union. But this would be, in reality, an

 inversion of the primary principle of our political association, as

 it would in practice transfer the care of the common defense from

 the federal head to the individual members: a project oppressive to

 some States, dangerous to all, and baneful to the Confederacy.

The territories of Britain, Spain, and of the Indian nations in

 our neighborhood do not border on particular States, but encircle

 the Union from Maine to Georgia. The danger, though in different

 degrees, is therefore common. And the means of guarding against it

 ought, in like manner, to be the objects of common councils and of a

 common treasury. It happens that some States, from local situation,

 are more directly exposed. New York is of this class. Upon the

 plan of separate provisions, New York would have to sustain the

 whole weight of the establishments requisite to her immediate

 safety, and to the mediate or ultimate protection of her neighbors.

 This would neither be equitable as it respected New York nor safe

 as it respected the other States. Various inconveniences would

 attend such a system. The States, to whose lot it might fall to

 support the necessary establishments, would be as little able as

 willing, for a considerable time to come, to bear the burden of

 competent provisions. The security of all would thus be subjected

 to the parsimony, improvidence, or inability of a part. If the

 resources of such part becoming more abundant and extensive, its

 provisions should be proportionally enlarged, the other States would

 quickly take the alarm at seeing the whole military force of the

 Union in the hands of two or three of its members, and those

 probably amongst the most powerful. They would each choose to have

 some counterpoise, and pretenses could easily be contrived. In this

 situation, military establishments, nourished by mutual jealousy,

 would be apt to swell beyond their natural or proper size; and

 being at the separate disposal of the members, they would be engines

 for the abridgment or demolition of the national authcrity.

Reasons have been already given to induce a supposition that the

 State governments will too naturally be prone to a rivalship with

 that of the Union, the foundation of which will be the love of

 power; and that in any contest between the federal head and one of

 its members the people will be most apt to unite with their local

 government. If, in addition to this immense advantage, the ambition

 of the members should be stimulated by the separate and independent

 possession of military forces, it would afford too strong a

 temptation and too great a facility to them to make enterprises

 upon, and finally to subvert, the constitutional authority of the

 Union. On the other hand, the liberty of the people would be less

 safe in this state of things than in that which left the national

 forces in the hands of the national government. As far as an army

 may be considered as a dangerous weapon of power, it had better be

 in those hands of which the people are most likely to be jealous

 than in those of which they are least likely to be jealous. For it

 is a truth, which the experience of ages has attested, that the

 people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their

 rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the

 least suspicion.

The framers of the existing Confederation, fully aware of the

 danger to the Union from the separate possession of military forces

 by the States, have, in express terms, prohibited them from having

 either ships or troops, unless with the consent of Congress. The

 truth is, that the existence of a federal government and military

 establishments under State authority are not less at variance with

 each other than a due supply of the federal treasury and the system

 of quotas and requisitions.

There are other lights besides those already taken notice of, in

 which the impropriety of restraints on the discretion of the

 national legislature will be equally manifest. The design of the

 objection, which has been mentioned, is to preclude standing armies

 in time of peace, though we have never been informed how far it is

 designed the prohibition should extend; whether to raising armies

 as well as to KEEPING THEM UP in a season of tranquillity or not.

 If it be confined to the latter it will have no precise

 signification, and it will be ineffectual for the purpose intended.

 When armies are once raised what shall be denominated ``keeping

 them up,'' contrary to the sense of the Constitution? What time

 shall be requisite to ascertain the violation? Shall it be a week,

 a month, a year? Or shall we say they may be continued as long as

 the danger which occasioned their being raised continues? This

 would be to admit that they might be kept up IN TIME OF PEACE,

 against threatening or impending danger, which would be at once to

 deviate from the literal meaning of the prohibition, and to

 introduce an extensive latitude of construction. Who shall judge of

 the continuance of the danger? This must undoubtedly be submitted

 to the national government, and the matter would then be brought to

 this issue, that the national government, to provide against

 apprehended danger, might in the first instance raise troops, and

 might afterwards keep them on foot as long as they supposed the

 peace or safety of the community was in any degree of jeopardy. It

 is easy to perceive that a discretion so latitudinary as this would

 afford ample room for eluding the force of the provision.

The supposed utility of a provision of this kind can only be

 founded on the supposed probability, or at least possibility, of a

 combination between the executive and the legislative, in some

 scheme of usurpation. Should this at any time happen, how easy

 would it be to fabricate pretenses of approaching danger! Indian

 hostilities, instigated by Spain or Britain, would always be at hand.

 Provocations to produce the desired appearances might even be

 given to some foreign power, and appeased again by timely

 concessions. If we can reasonably presume such a combination to

 have been formed, and that the enterprise is warranted by a

 sufficient prospect of success, the army, when once raised, from

 whatever cause, or on whatever pretext, may be applied to the

 execution of the project.

If, to obviate this consequence, it should be resolved to extend

 the prohibition to the RAISING of armies in time of peace, the

 United States would then exhibit the most extraordinary spectacle

 which the world has yet seen, gthat of a nation incapacitated by its

 Constitution to prepare for defense, before it was actually invaded.

 As the ceremony of a formal denunciation of war has of late fallen

 into disuse, the presence of an enemy within our territories must be

 waited for, as the legal warrant to the government to begin its

 levies of men for the protection of the State. We must receive the

 blow, before we could even prepare to return it. All that kind of

 policy by which nations anticipate distant danger, and meet the

 gathering storm, must be abstained from, as contrary to the genuine

 maxims of a free government. We must expose our property and

 liberty to the mercy of foreign invaders, and invite them by our

 weakness to seize the naked and defenseless prey, because we are

 afraid that rulers, created by our choice, dependent on our will,

 might endanger that liberty, by an abuse of the means necessary to

 its preservation.

Here I expect we shall be told that the militia of the country

 is its natural bulwark, and would be at all times equal to the

 national defense. This doctrine, in substance, had like to have

 lost us our independence. It cost millions to the United States

 that might have been saved. The facts which, from our own

 experience, forbid a reliance of this kind, are too recent to permit

 us to be the dupes of such a suggestion. The steady operations of

 war against a regular and disciplined army can only be successfully

 conducted by a force of the same kind. Considerations of economy,

 not less than of stability and vigor, confirm this position. The

 American militia, in the course of the late war, have, by their

 valor on numerous occasions, erected eternal monuments to their

 fame; but the bravest of them feel and know that the liberty of

 their country could not have been established by their efforts

 alone, however great and valuable they were. War, like most other

 things, is a science to be acquired and perfected by diligence, by

 perserverance, by time, and by practice.

All violent policy, as it is contrary to the natural and

 experienced course of human affairs, defeats itself. Pennsylvania,

 at this instant, affords an example of the truth of this remark.

 The Bill of Rights of that State declares that standing armies are

 dangerous to liberty, and ought not to be kept up in time of peace.

 Pennsylvania, nevertheless, in a time of profound peace, from the

 existence of partial disorders in one or two of her counties, has

 resolved to raise a body of troops; and in all probability will

 keep them up as long as there is any appearance of danger to the

 public peace. The conduct of Massachusetts affords a lesson on the

 same subject, though on different ground. That State (without

 waiting for the sanction of Congress, as the articles of the

 Confederation require) was compelled to raise troops to quell a

 domestic insurrection, and still keeps a corps in pay to prevent a

 revival of the spirit of revolt. The particular constitution of

 Massachusetts opposed no obstacle to the measure; but the instance

 is still of use to instruct us that cases are likely to occur under

 our government, as well as under those of other nations, which will

 sometimes render a military force in time of peace essential to the

 security of the society, and that it is therefore improper in this

 respect to control the legislative discretion. It also teaches us,

 in its application to the United States, how little the rights of a

 feeble government are likely to be respected, even by its own

 constituents. And it teaches us, in addition to the rest, how

 unequal parchment provisions are to a struggle with public necessity


It was a fundamental maxim of the Lacedaemonian commonwealth,

 that the post of admiral should not be conferred twice on the same

 person. The Peloponnesian confederates, having suffered a severe

 defeat at sea from the Athenians, demanded Lysander, who had before

 served with success in that capacity, to command the combined fleets.

 The Lacedaemonians, to gratify their allies, and yet preserve the

 semblance of an adherence to their ancient institutions, had

 recourse to the flimsy subterfuge of investing Lysander with the

 real power of admiral, under the nominal title of vice-admiral.

 This instance is selected from among a multitude that might be

 cited to confirm the truth already advanced and illustrated by

 domestic examples; which is, that nations pay little regard to

 rules and maxims calculated in their very nature to run counter to

 the necessities of society. Wise politicians will be cautious about

 fettering the government with restrictions that cannot be observed,

 because they know that every breach of the fundamental laws, though

 dictated by necessity, impairs that sacred reverence which ought to

 be maintained in the breast of rulers towards the constitution of a

 country, and forms a precedent for other breaches where the same

 plea of necessity does not exist at all, or is less urgent and







The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the

 Common Defense Considered

For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

IT WAS a thing hardly to be expected that in a popular

 revolution the minds of men should stop at that happy mean which

 marks the salutary boundary between POWER and PRIVILEGE, and

 combines the energy of government with the security of private

 rights. A failure in this delicate and important point is the great

 source of the inconveniences we experience, and if we are not

 cautious to avoid a repetition of the error, in our future attempts

 to rectify and ameliorate our system, we may travel from one

 chimerical project to another; we may try change after change; but

 we shall never be likely to make any material change for the better.

The idea of restraining the legislative authority, in the means

 of providing for the national defense, is one of those refinements

 which owe their origin to a zeal for liberty more ardent than

 enlightened. We have seen, however, that it has not had thus far an

 extensive prevalency; that even in this country, where it made its

 first appearance, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are the only two

 States by which it has been in any degree patronized; and that all

 the others have refused to give it the least countenance; wisely

 judging that confidence must be placed somewhere; that the

 necessity of doing it, is implied in the very act of delegating

 power; and that it is better to hazard the abuse of that confidence

 than to embarrass the government and endanger the public safety by

 impolitic restrictions on the legislative authority. The opponents

 of the proposed Constitution combat, in this respect, the general

 decision of America; and instead of being taught by experience the

 propriety of correcting any extremes into which we may have

 heretofore run, they appear disposed to conduct us into others still

 more dangerous, and more extravagant. As if the tone of government

 had been found too high, or too rigid, the doctrines they teach are

 calculated to induce us to depress or to relax it, by expedients

 which, upon other occasions, have been condemned or forborne. It

 may be affirmed without the imputation of invective, that if the

 principles they inculcate, on various points, could so far obtain as

 to become the popular creed, they would utterly unfit the people of

 this country for any species of government whatever. But a danger

 of this kind is not to be apprehended. The citizens of America have

 too much discernment to be argued into anarchy. And I am much

 mistaken, if experience has not wrought a deep and solemn conviction

 in the public mind, that greater energy of government is essential

 to the welfare and prosperity of the community.

It may not be amiss in this place concisely to remark the origin

 and progress of the idea, which aims at the exclusion of military

 establishments in time of peace. Though in speculative minds it may

 arise from a contemplation of the nature and tendency of such

 institutions, fortified by the events that have happened in other

 ages and countries, yet as a national sentiment, it must be traced

 to those habits of thinking which we derive from the nation from

 whom the inhabitants of these States have in general sprung.

In England, for a long time after the Norman Conquest, the

 authority of the monarch was almost unlimited. Inroads were

 gradually made upon the prerogative, in favor of liberty, first by

 the barons, and afterwards by the people, till the greatest part of

 its most formidable pretensions became extinct. But it was not till

 the revolution in 1688, which elevated the Prince of Orange to the

 throne of Great Britain, that English liberty was completely

 triumphant. As incident to the undefined power of making war, an

 acknowledged prerogative of the crown, Charles II. had, by his own

 authority, kept on foot in time of peace a body of 5,000 regular

 troops. And this number James II. increased to 30,000; who were

 paid out of his civil list. At the revolution, to abolish the

 exercise of so dangerous an authority, it became an article of the

 Bill of Rights then framed, that ``the raising or keeping a standing

 army within the kingdom in time of peace, UNLESS WITH THE CONSENT OF

 PARLIAMENT, was against law.''

In that kingdom, when the pulse of liberty was at its highest

 pitch, no security against the danger of standing armies was thought

 requisite, beyond a prohibition of their being raised or kept up by

 the mere authority of the executive magistrate. The patriots, who

 effected that memorable revolution, were too temperate, too

 wellinformed, to think of any restraint on the legislative

 discretion. They were aware that a certain number of troops for

 guards and garrisons were indispensable; that no precise bounds

 could be set to the national exigencies; that a power equal to

 every possible contingency must exist somewhere in the government:

 and that when they referred the exercise of that power to the

 judgment of the legislature, they had arrived at the ultimate point

 of precaution which was reconcilable with the safety of the


From the same source, the people of America may be said to have

 derived an hereditary impression of danger to liberty, from standing

 armies in time of peace. The circumstances of a revolution

 quickened the public sensibility on every point connected with the

 security of popular rights, and in some instances raise the warmth

 of our zeal beyond the degree which consisted with the due

 temperature of the body politic. The attempts of two of the States

 to restrict the authority of the legislature in the article of

 military establishments, are of the number of these instances. The

 principles which had taught us to be jealous of the power of an

 hereditary monarch were by an injudicious excess extended to the

 representatives of the people in their popular assemblies. Even in

 some of the States, where this error was not adopted, we find

 unnecessary declarations that standing armies ought not to be kept


 call them unnecessary, because the reason which had introduced a

 similar provision into the English Bill of Rights is not applicable

 to any of the State constitutions. The power of raising armies at

 all, under those constitutions, can by no construction be deemed to

 reside anywhere else, than in the legislatures themselves; and it

 was superfluous, if not absurd, to declare that a matter should not

 be done without the consent of a body, which alone had the power of

 doing it. Accordingly, in some of these constitutions, and among

 others, in that of this State of New York, which has been justly

 celebrated, both in Europe and America, as one of the best of the

 forms of government established in this country, there is a total

 silence upon the subject.

It is remarkable, that even in the two States which seem to have

 meditated an interdiction of military establishments in time of

 peace, the mode of expression made use of is rather cautionary than

 prohibitory. It is not said, that standing armies SHALL NOT BE kept

 up, but that they OUGHT NOT to be kept up, in time of peace. This

 ambiguity of terms appears to have been the result of a conflict

 between jealousy and conviction; between the desire of excluding

 such establishments at all events, and the persuasion that an

 absolute exclusion would be unwise and unsafe.

Can it be doubted that such a provision, whenever the situation

 of public affairs was understood to require a departure from it,

 would be interpreted by the legislature into a mere admonition, and

 would be made to yield to the necessities or supposed necessities of

 the State? Let the fact already mentioned, with respect to

 Pennsylvania, decide. What then (it may be asked) is the use of

 such a provision, if it cease to operate the moment there is an

 inclination to disregard it?

Let us examine whether there be any comparison, in point of

 efficacy, between the provision alluded to and that which is

 contained in the new Constitution, for restraining the

 appropriations of money for military purposes to the period of two

 years. The former, by aiming at too much, is calculated to effect

 nothing; the latter, by steering clear of an imprudent extreme, and

 by being perfectly compatible with a proper provision for the

 exigencies of the nation, will have a salutary and powerful


The legislature of the United States will be OBLIGED, by this

 provision, once at least in every two years, to deliberate upon the

 propriety of keeping a military force on foot; to come to a new

 resolution on the point; and to declare their sense of the matter,

 by a formal vote in the face of their constituents. They are not AT

 LIBERTY to vest in the executive department permanent funds for the

 support of an army, if they were even incautious enough to be

 willing to repose in it so improper a confidence. As the spirit of

 party, in different degrees, must be expected to infect all

 political bodies, there will be, no doubt, persons in the national

 legislature willing enough to arraign the measures and criminate the

 views of the majority. The provision for the support of a military

 force will always be a favorable topic for declamation. As often as

 the question comes forward, the public attention will be roused and

 attracted to the subject, by the party in opposition; and if the

 majority should be really disposed to exceed the proper limits, the

 community will be warned of the danger, and will have an opportunity

 of taking measures to guard against it. Independent of parties in

 the national legislature itself, as often as the period of

 discussion arrived, the State legislatures, who will always be not

 only vigilant but suspicious and jealous guardians of the rights of

 the citizens against encroachments from the federal government, will

 constantly have their attention awake to the conduct of the national

 rulers, and will be ready enough, if any thing improper appears, to

 sound the alarm to the people, and not only to be the VOICE, but, if

 necessary, the ARM of their discontent.

Schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community REQUIRE

 TIME to mature them for execution. An army, so large as seriously

 to menace those liberties, could only be formed by progressive

 augmentations; which would suppose, not merely a temporary

 combination between the legislature and executive, but a continued

 conspiracy for a series of time. Is it probable that such a

 combination would exist at all? Is it probable that it would be

 persevered in, and transmitted along through all the successive

 variations in a representative body, which biennial elections would

 naturally produce in both houses? Is it presumable, that every man,

 the instant he took his seat in the national Senate or House of

 Representatives, would commence a traitor to his constituents and to

 his country? Can it be supposed that there would not be found one

 man, discerning enough to detect so atrocious a conspiracy, or bold

 or honest enough to apprise his constituents of their danger? If

 such presumptions can fairly be made, there ought at once to be an

 end of all delegated authority. The people should resolve to recall

 all the powers they have heretofore parted with out of their own

 hands, and to divide themselves into as many States as there are

 counties, in order that they may be able to manage their own

 concerns in person.

If such suppositions could even be reasonably made, still the

 concealment of the design, for any duration, would be impracticable.

 It would be announced, by the very circumstance of augmenting the

 army to so great an extent in time of profound peace. What

 colorable reason could be assigned, in a country so situated, for

 such vast augmentations of the military force? It is impossible

 that the people could be long deceived; and the destruction of the

 project, and of the projectors, would quickly follow the discovery.

It has been said that the provision which limits the

 appropriation of money for the support of an army to the period of

 two years would be unavailing, because the Executive, when once

 possessed of a force large enough to awe the people into submission,

 would find resources in that very force sufficient to enable him to

 dispense with supplies from the acts of the legislature. But the

 question again recurs, upon what pretense could he be put in

 possession of a force of that magnitude in time of peace? If we

 suppose it to have been created in consequence of some domestic

 insurrection or foreign war, then it becomes a case not within the

 principles of the objection; for this is levelled against the power

 of keeping up troops in time of peace. Few persons will be so

 visionary as seriously to contend that military forces ought not to

 be raised to quell a rebellion or resist an invasion; and if the

 defense of the community under such circumstances should make it

 necessary to have an army so numerous as to hazard its liberty, this

 is one of those calamaties for which there is neither preventative

 nor cure. It cannot be provided against by any possible form of

 government; it might even result from a simple league offensive and

 defensive, if it should ever be necessary for the confederates or

 allies to form an army for common defense.

But it is an evil infinitely less likely to attend us in a

 united than in a disunited state; nay, it may be safely asserted

 that it is an evil altogether unlikely to attend us in the latter

 situation. It is not easy to conceive a possibility that dangers so

 formidable can assail the whole Union, as to demand a force

 considerable enough to place our liberties in the least jeopardy,

 especially if we take into our view the aid to be derived from the

 militia, which ought always to be counted upon as a valuable and

 powerful auxiliary. But in a state of disunion (as has been fully

 shown in another place), the contrary of this supposition would

 become not only probable, but almost unavoidable.






The Same Subject Continued

(The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to

 the Common Defense Considered)

From the New York Packet.

Tuesday, December 25, 1787.




To the People of the State of New York:

IT HAS been urged, in different shapes, that a Constitution of

 the kind proposed by the convention cannot operate without the aid

 of a military force to execute its laws. This, however, like most

 other things that have been alleged on that side, rests on mere

 general assertion, unsupported by any precise or intelligible

 designation of the reasons upon which it is founded. As far as I

 have been able to divine the latent meaning of the objectors, it

 seems to originate in a presupposition that the people will be

 disinclined to the exercise of federal authority in any matter of an

 internal nature. Waiving any exception that might be taken to the

 inaccuracy or inexplicitness of the distinction between internal and

 external, let us inquire what ground there is to presuppose that

 disinclination in the people. Unless we presume at the same time

 that the powers of the general government will be worse administered

 than those of the State government, there seems to be no room for

 the presumption of ill-will, disaffection, or opposition in the

 people. I believe it may be laid down as a general rule that their

 confidence in and obedience to a government will commonly be

 proportioned to the goodness or badness of its administration. It

 must be admitted that there are exceptions to this rule; but these

 exceptions depend so entirely on accidental causes, that they cannot

 be considered as having any relation to the intrinsic merits or

 demerits of a constitution. These can only be judged of by general

 principles and maxims.

Various reasons have been suggested, in the course of these

 papers, to induce a probability that the general government will be

 better administered than the particular governments; the principal

 of which reasons are that the extension of the spheres of election

 will present a greater option, or latitude of choice, to the people;

 that through the medium of the State legislaturesgwhich are select

 bodies of men, and which are to appoint the members of the national

 Senategthere is reason to expect that this branch will generally be

 composed with peculiar care and judgment; that these circumstances

 promise greater knowledge and more extensive information in the

 national councils, and that they will be less apt to be tainted by

 the spirit of faction, and more out of the reach of those occasional

 ill-humors, or temporary prejudices and propensities, which, in

 smaller societies, frequently contaminate the public councils, beget

 injustice and oppression of a part of the community, and engender

 schemes which, though they gratify a momentary inclination or

 desire, terminate in general distress, dissatisfaction, and disgust.

 Several additional reasons of considerable force, to fortify that

 probability, will occur when we come to survey, with a more critical

 eye, the interior structure of the edifice which we are invited to

 erect. It will be sufficient here to remark, that until

 satisfactory reasons can be assigned to justify an opinion, that the

 federal government is likely to be administered in such a manner as

 to render it odious or contemptible to the people, there can be no

 reasonable foundation for the supposition that the laws of the Union

 will meet with any greater obstruction from them, or will stand in

 need of any other methods to enforce their execution, than the laws

 of the particular members.

The hope of impunity is a strong incitement to sedition; the

 dread of punishment, a proportionably strong discouragement to it.

 Will not the government of the Union, which, if possessed of a due

 degree of power, can call to its aid the collective resources of the

 whole Confederacy, be more likely to repress the FORMER sentiment

 and to inspire the LATTER, than that of a single State, which can

 only command the resources within itself? A turbulent faction in a

 State may easily suppose itself able to contend with the friends to

 the government in that State; but it can hardly be so infatuated as

 to imagine itself a match for the combined efforts of the Union. If

 this reflection be just, there is less danger of resistance from

 irregular combinations of individuals to the authority of the

 Confederacy than to that of a single member.

I will, in this place, hazard an observation, which will not be

 the less just because to some it may appear new; which is, that the

 more the operations of the national authority are intermingled in

 the ordinary exercise of government, the more the citizens are

 accustomed to meet with it in the common occurrences of their

 political life, the more it is familiarized to their sight and to

 their feelings, the further it enters into those objects which touch

 the most sensible chords and put in motion the most active springs

 of the human heart, the greater will be the probability that it will

 conciliate the respect and attachment of the community. Man is very

 much a creature of habit. A thing that rarely strikes his senses

 will generally have but little influence upon his mind. A

 government continually at a distance and out of sight can hardly be

 expected to interest the sensations of the people. The inference

 is, that the authority of the Union, and the affections of the

 citizens towards it, will be strengthened, rather than weakened, by

 its extension to what are called matters of internal concern; and

 will have less occasion to recur to force, in proportion to the

 familiarity and comprehensiveness of its agency. The more it

 circulates through those channls and currents in which the passions

 of mankind naturally flow, the less will it require the aid of the

 violent and perilous expedients of compulsion.

One thing, at all events, must be evident, that a government

 like the one proposed would bid much fairer to avoid the necessity

 of using force, than that species of league contend for by most of

 its opponents; the authority of which should only operate upon the

 States in their political or collective capacities. It has been

 shown that in such a Confederacy there can be no sanction for the

 laws but force; that frequent delinquencies in the members are the

 natural offspring of the very frame of the government; and that as

 often as these happen, they can only be redressed, if at all, by war

 and violence.

The plan reported by the convention, by extending the authority

 of the federal head to the individual citizens of the several

 States, will enable the government to employ the ordinary magistracy

 of each, in the execution of its laws. It is easy to perceive that

 this will tend to destroy, in the common apprehension, all

 distinction between the sources from which they might proceed; and

 will give the federal government the same advantage for securing a

 due obedience to its authority which is enjoyed by the government of

 each State, in addition to the influence on public opinion which

 will result from the important consideration of its having power to

 call to its assistance and support the resources of the whole Union.

 It merits particular attention in this place, that the laws of the

 Confederacy, as to the ENUMERATED and LEGITIMATE objects of its

 jurisdiction, will become the SUPREME LAW of the land; to the

 observance of which all officers, legislative, executive, and

 judicial, in each State, will be bound by the sanctity of an oath.

 Thus the legislatures, courts, and magistrates, of the respective

 members, will be incorporated into the operations of the national


 and will be rendered auxiliary to the enforcement of its laws.%n1%n

 Any man who will pursue, by his own reflections, the consequences

 of this situation, will perceive that there is good ground to

 calculate upon a regular and peaceable execution of the laws of the

 Union, if its powers are administered with a common share of

 prudence. If we will arbitrarily suppose the contrary, we may

 deduce any inferences we please from the supposition; for it is

 certainly possible, by an injudicious exercise of the authorities of

 the best government that ever was, or ever can be instituted, to

 provoke and precipitate the people into the wildest excesses. But

 though the adversaries of the proposed Constitution should presume

 that the national rulers would be insensible to the motives of

 public good, or to the obligations of duty, I would still ask them

 how the interests of ambition, or the views of encroachment, can be

 promoted by such a conduct?


FNA1@@1 The sophistry which has been employed to show that this will

 tend to the destruction of the State governments, will, in its will,

 in its proper place, be fully detected.





The Same Subject Continued

(The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to

 the Common Defense Considered)

For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

THAT there may happen cases in which the national government may

 be necessitated to resort to force, cannot be denied. Our own

 experience has corroborated the lessons taught by the examples of

 other nations; that emergencies of this sort will sometimes arise

 in all societies, however constituted; that seditions and

 insurrections are, unhappily, maladies as inseparable from the body

 politic as tumors and eruptions from the natural body; that the

 idea of governing at all times by the simple force of law (which we

 have been told is the only admissible principle of republican

 government), has no place but in the reveries of those political

 doctors whose sagacity disdains the admonitions of experimental


Should such emergencies at any time happen under the national

 government, there could be no remedy but force. The means to be

 employed must be proportioned to the extent of the mischief. If it

 should be a slight commotion in a small part of a State, the militia

 of the residue would be adequate to its suppression; and the

 national presumption is that they would be ready to do their duty.

 An insurrection, whatever may be its immediate cause, eventually

 endangers all government. Regard to the public peace, if not to the

 rights of the Union, would engage the citizens to whom the contagion

 had not communicated itself to oppose the insurgents; and if the

 general government should be found in practice conducive to the

 prosperity and felicity of the people, it were irrational to believe

 that they would be disinclined to its support.

If, on the contrary, the insurrection should pervade a whole

 State, or a principal part of it, the employment of a different kind

 of force might become unavoidable. It appears that Massachusetts

 found it necessary to raise troops for repressing the disorders

 within that State; that Pennsylvania, from the mere apprehension of

 commotions among a part of her citizens, has thought proper to have

 recourse to the same measure. Suppose the State of New York had

 been inclined to re-establish her lost jurisdiction over the

 inhabitants of Vermont, could she have hoped for success in such an

 enterprise from the efforts of the militia alone? Would she not

 have been compelled to raise and to maintain a more regular force

 for the execution of her design? If it must then be admitted that

 the necessity of recurring to a force different from the militia, in

 cases of this extraordinary nature, is applicable to the State

 governments themselves, why should the possibility, that the

 national government might be under a like necessity, in similar

 extremities, be made an objection to its existence? Is it not

 surprising that men who declare an attachment to the Union in the

 abstract, should urge as an objection to the proposed Constitution

 what applies with tenfold weight to the plan for which they contend;

 and what, as far as it has any foundation in truth, is an

 inevitable consequence of civil society upon an enlarged scale? Who

 would not prefer that possibility to the unceasing agitations and

 frequent revolutions which are the continual scourges of petty


Let us pursue this examination in another light. Suppose, in

 lieu of one general system, two, or three, or even four

 Confederacies were to be formed, would not the same difficulty

 oppose itself to the operations of either of these Confederacies?

 Would not each of them be exposed to the same casualties; and when

 these happened, be obliged to have recourse to the same expedients

 for upholding its authority which are objected to in a government

 for all the States? Would the militia, in this supposition, be more

 ready or more able to support the federal authority than in the case

 of a general union? All candid and intelligent men must, upon due

 consideration, acknowledge that the principle of the objection is

 equally applicable to either of the two cases; and that whether we

 have one government for all the States, or different governments for

 different parcels of them, or even if there should be an entire

 separation of the States, there might sometimes be a necessity to

 make use of a force constituted differently from the militia, to

 preserve the peace of the community and to maintain the just

 authority of the laws against those violent invasions of them which

 amount to insurrections and rebellions.

Independent of all other reasonings upon the subject, it is a

 full answer to those who require a more peremptory provision against

 military establishments in time of peace, to say that the whole

 power of the proposed government is to be in the hands of the

 representatives of the people. This is the essential, and, after

 all, only efficacious security for the rights and privileges of the

 people, which is attainable in civil society.%n1%n

If the representatives of the people betray their constituents,

 there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original

 right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of

 government, and which against the usurpations of the national

 rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success

 than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a

 single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become

 usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which

 it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no

 regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously

 to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except

 in their courage and despair. The usurpers, clothed with the forms

 of legal authority, can too often crush the opposition in embryo.

 The smaller the extent of the territory, the more difficult will it

 be for the people to form a regular or systematic plan of

 opposition, and the more easy will it be to defeat their early

 efforts. Intelligence can be more speedily obtained of their

 preparations and movements, and the military force in the possession

 of the usurpers can be more rapidly directed against the part where

 the opposition has begun. In this situation there must be a

 peculiar coincidence of circumstances to insure success to the

 popular resistance.

The obstacles to usurpation and the facilities of resistance

 increase with the increased extent of the state, provided the

 citizens understand their rights and are disposed to defend them.

 The natural strength of the people in a large community, in

 proportion to the artificial strength of the government, is greater

 than in a small, and of course more competent to a struggle with the

 attempts of the government to establish a tyranny. But in a

 confederacy the people, without exaggeration, may be said to be

 entirely the masters of their own fate. Power being almost always

 the rival of power, the general government will at all times stand

 ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these

 will have the same disposition towards the general government. The

 people, by throwing themselves into either scale, will infallibly

 make it preponderate. If their rights are invaded by either, they

 can make use of the other as the instrument of redress. How wise

 will it be in them by cherishing the union to preserve to themselves

 an advantage which can never be too highly prized!

It may safely be received as an axiom in our political system,

 that the State governments will, in all possible contingencies,

 afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by

 the national authority. Projects of usurpation cannot be masked

 under pretenses so likely to escape the penetration of select bodies

 of men, as of the people at large. The legislatures will have

 better means of information. They can discover the danger at a

 distance; and possessing all the organs of civil power, and the

 confidence of the people, they can at once adopt a regular plan of

 opposition, in which they can combine all the resources of the

 community. They can readily communicate with each other in the

 different States, and unite their common forces for the protection

 of their common liberty.

The great extent of the country is a further security. We have

 already experienced its utility against the attacks of a foreign

 power. And it would have precisely the same effect against the

 enterprises of ambitious rulers in the national councils. If the

 federal army should be able to quell the resistance of one State,

 the distant States would have it in their power to make head with

 fresh forces. The advantages obtained in one place must be

 abandoned to subdue the opposition in others; and the moment the

 part which had been reduced to submission was left to itself, its

 efforts would be renewed, and its resistance revive.

We should recollect that the extent of the military force must,

 at all events, be regulated by the resources of the country. For a

 long time to come, it will not be possible to maintain a large army;

 and as the means of doing this increase, the population and natural

 strength of the community will proportionably increase. When will

 the time arrive that the federal government can raise and maintain

 an army capable of erecting a despotism over the great body of the

 people of an immense empire, who are in a situation, through the

 medium of their State governments, to take measures for their own

 defense, with all the celerity, regularity, and system of

 independent nations? The apprehension may be considered as a

 disease, for which there can be found no cure in the resources of

 argument and reasoning.


FNA1@@1 Its full efficacy will be examined hereafter.





Concerning the Militia

From the Daily Advertiser.

Thursday, January 10, 1788




To the People of the State of New York:

THE power of regulating the militia, and of commanding its

 services in times of insurrection and invasion are natural incidents

 to the duties of superintending the common defense, and of watching

 over the internal peace of the Confederacy.

It requires no skill in the science of war to discern that

 uniformity in the organization and discipline of the militia would

 be attended with the most beneficial effects, whenever they were

 called into service for the public defense. It would enable them to

 discharge the duties of the camp and of the field with mutual

 intelligence and concertgan advantage of peculiar moment in the

 operations of an army; and it would fit them much sooner to acquire

 the degree of proficiency in military functions which would be

 essential to their usefulness. This desirable uniformity can only

 be accomplished by confiding the regulation of the militia to the

 direction of the national authority. It is, therefore, with the

 most evident propriety, that the plan of the convention proposes to

 empower the Union ``to provide for organizing, arming, and

 disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may

 be employed in the service of the United States, RESERVING TO THE




Of the different grounds which have been taken in opposition to

 the plan of the convention, there is none that was so little to have

 been expected, or is so untenable in itself, as the one from which

 this particular provision has been attacked. If a well-regulated

 militia be the most natural defense of a free country, it ought

 certainly to be under the regulation and at the disposal of that

 body which is constituted the guardian of the national security. If

 standing armies are dangerous to liberty, an efficacious power over

 the militia, in the body to whose care the protection of the State

 is committed, ought, as far as possible, to take away the inducement

 and the pretext to such unfriendly institutions. If the federal

 government can command the aid of the militia in those emergencies

 which call for the military arm in support of the civil magistrate,

 it can the better dispense with the employment of a different kind

 of force. If it cannot avail itself of the former, it will be

 obliged to recur to the latter. To render an army unnecessary, will

 be a more certain method of preventing its existence than a thousand

 prohibitions upon paper.

In order to cast an odium upon the power of calling forth the

 militia to execute the laws of the Union, it has been remarked that

 there is nowhere any provision in the proposed Constitution for

 calling out the POSSE COMITATUS, to assist the magistrate in the

 execution of his duty, whence it has been inferred, that military

 force was intended to be his only auxiliary. There is a striking

 incoherence in the objections which have appeared, and sometimes

 even from the same quarter, not much calculated to inspire a very

 favorable opinion of the sincerity or fair dealing of their authors.

 The same persons who tell us in one breath, that the powers of the

 federal government will be despotic and unlimited, inform us in the

 next, that it has not authority sufficient even to call out the

 POSSE COMITATUS. The latter, fortunately, is as much short of the

 truth as the former exceeds it. It would be as absurd to doubt,

 that a right to pass all laws NECESSARY AND PROPER to execute its

 declared powers, would include that of requiring the assistance of

 the citizens to the officers who may be intrusted with the execution

 of those laws, as it would be to believe, that a right to enact laws

 necessary and proper for the imposition and collection of taxes

 would involve that of varying the rules of descent and of the

 alienation of landed property, or of abolishing the trial by jury in

 cases relating to it. It being therefore evident that the

 supposition of a want of power to require the aid of the POSSE

 COMITATUS is entirely destitute of color, it will follow, that the

 conclusion which has been drawn from it, in its application to the

 authority of the federal government over the militia, is as uncandid

 as it is illogical. What reason could there be to infer, that force

 was intended to be the sole instrument of authority, merely because

 there is a power to make use of it when necessary? What shall we

 think of the motives which could induce men of sense to reason in

 this manner? How shall we prevent a conflict between charity and


By a curious refinement upon the spirit of republican jealousy,

 we are even taught to apprehend danger from the militia itself, in

 the hands of the federal government. It is observed that select

 corps may be formed, composed of the young and ardent, who may be

 rendered subservient to the views of arbitrary power. What plan for

 the regulation of the militia may be pursued by the national

 government, is impossible to be foreseen. But so far from viewing

 the matter in the same light with those who object to select corps

 as dangerous, were the Constitution ratified, and were I to deliver

 my sentiments to a member of the federal legislature from this State

 on the subject of a militia establishment, I should hold to him, in

 substance, the following discourse:

``The project of disciplining all the militia of the United

 States is as futile as it would be injurious, if it were capable of

 being carried into execution. A tolerable expertness in military

 movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not

 a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it.

 To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes

 of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through

 military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to

 acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the

 character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to

 the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss. It would

 form an annual deduction from the productive labor of the country,

 to an amount which, calculating upon the present numbers of the

 people, would not fall far short of the whole expense of the civil

 establishments of all the States. To attempt a thing which would

 abridge the mass of labor and industry to so considerable an extent,

 would be unwise: and the experiment, if made, could not succeed,

 because it would not long be endured. Little more can reasonably be

 aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them

 properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not

 neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in

 the course of a year.

``But though the scheme of disciplining the whole nation must be

 abandoned as mischievous or impracticable; yet it is a matter of

 the utmost importance that a well-digested plan should, as soon as

 possible, be adopted for the proper establishment of the militia.

 The attention of the government ought particularly to be directed

 to the formation of a select corps of moderate extent, upon such

 principles as will really fit them for service in case of need. By

 thus circumscribing the plan, it will be possible to have an

 excellent body of well-trained militia, ready to take the field

 whenever the defense of the State shall require it. This will not

 only lessen the call for military establishments, but if

 circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an

 army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the

 liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens,

 little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of

 arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their

 fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be

 devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against

 it, if it should exist.''

Thus differently from the adversaries of the proposed

 Constitution should I reason on the same subject, deducing arguments

 of safety from the very sources which they represent as fraught with

 danger and perdition. But how the national legislature may reason

 on the point, is a thing which neither they nor I can foresee.

There is something so far-fetched and so extravagant in the idea

 of danger to liberty from the militia, that one is at a loss whether

 to treat it with gravity or with raillery; whether to consider it

 as a mere trial of skill, like the paradoxes of rhetoricians; as a

 disingenuous artifice to instil prejudices at any price; or as the

 serious offspring of political fanaticism. Where in the name of

 common-sense, are our fears to end if we may not trust our sons, our

 brothers, our neighbors, our fellow-citizens? What shadow of danger

 can there be from men who are daily mingling with the rest of their

 countrymen and who participate with them in the same feelings,

 sentiments, habits and interests? What reasonable cause of

 apprehension can be inferred from a power in the Union to prescribe

 regulations for the militia, and to command its services when

 necessary, while the particular States are to have the SOLE AND


 seriously to indulge a jealousy of the militia upon any conceivable

 establishment under the federal government, the circumstance of the

 officers being in the appointment of the States ought at once to

 extinguish it. There can be no doubt that this circumstance will

 always secure to them a preponderating influence over the militia.

In reading many of the publications against the Constitution, a

 man is apt to imagine that he is perusing some ill-written tale or

 romance, which instead of natural and agreeable images, exhibits to

 the mind nothing but frightful and distorted shapesg

DPA2@@``Gorgons, hydras, and chimeras dire'';

DPAC1@@discoloring and disfiguring whatever it represents, and

 transforming everything it touches into a monster.

A sample of this is to be observed in the exaggerated and

 improbable suggestions which have taken place respecting the power

 of calling for the services of the militia. That of New Hampshire

 is to be marched to Georgia, of Georgia to New Hampshire, of New

 York to Kentucky, and of Kentucky to Lake Champlain. Nay, the debts

 due to the French and Dutch are to be paid in militiamen instead of

 louis d'ors and ducats. At one moment there is to be a large army

 to lay prostrate the liberties of the people; at another moment the

 militia of Virginia are to be dragged from their homes five or six

 hundred miles, to tame the republican contumacy of Massachusetts;

 and that of Massachusetts is to be transported an equal distance to

 subdue the refractory haughtiness of the aristocratic Virginians.

 Do the persons who rave at this rate imagine that their art or

 their eloquence can impose any conceits or absurdities upon the

 people of America for infallible truths?

If there should be an army to be made use of as the engine of

 despotism, what need of the militia? If there should be no army,

 whither would the militia, irritated by being called upon to

 undertake a distant and hopeless expedition, for the purpose of

 riveting the chains of slavery upon a part of their countrymen,

 direct their course, but to the seat of the tyrants, who had

 meditated so foolish as well as so wicked a project, to crush them

 in their imagined intrenchments of power, and to make them an

 example of the just vengeance of an abused and incensed people? Is

 this the way in which usurpers stride to dominion over a numerous

 and enlightened nation? Do they begin by exciting the detestation

 of the very instruments of their intended usurpations? Do they

 usually commence their career by wanton and disgustful acts of

 power, calculated to answer no end, but to draw upon themselves

 universal hatred and execration? Are suppositions of this sort the

 sober admonitions of discerning patriots to a discerning people? Or

 are they the inflammatory ravings of incendiaries or distempered

 enthusiasts? If we were even to suppose the national rulers

 actuated by the most ungovernable ambition, it is impossible to

 believe that they would employ such preposterous means to accomplish

 their designs.

In times of insurrection, or invasion, it would be natural and

 proper that the militia of a neighboring State should be marched

 into another, to resist a common enemy, or to guard the republic

 against the violence of faction or sedition. This was frequently

 the case, in respect to the first object, in the course of the late

 war; and this mutual succor is, indeed, a principal end of our

 political association. If the power of affording it be placed under

 the direction of the Union, there will be no danger of a supine and

 listless inattention to the dangers of a neighbor, till its near

 approach had superadded the incitements of selfpreservation to the

 too feeble impulses of duty and sympathy.






Concerning the General Power of Taxation

From the New York Packet.

Friday, December 28, 1787.




To the People of the State of New York:

IT HAS been already observed that the federal government ought

 to possess the power of providing for the support of the national

 forces; in which proposition was intended to be included the

 expense of raising troops, of building and equipping fleets, and all

 other expenses in any wise connected with military arrangements and

 operations. But these are not the only objects to which the

 jurisdiction of the Union, in respect to revenue, must necessarily

 be empowered to extend. It must embrace a provision for the support

 of the national civil list; for the payment of the national debts

 contracted, or that may be contracted; and, in general, for all

 those matters which will call for disbursements out of the national

 treasury. The conclusion is, that there must be interwoven, in the

 frame of the government, a general power of taxation, in one shape

 or another.

Money is, with propriety, considered as the vital principle of

 the body politic; as that which sustains its life and motion, and

 enables it to perform its most essential functions. A complete

 power, therefore, to procure a regular and adequate supply of it, as

 far as the resources of the community will permit, may be regarded

 as an indispensable ingredient in every constitution. From a

 deficiency in this particular, one of two evils must ensue; either

 the people must be subjected to continual plunder, as a substitute

 for a more eligible mode of supplying the public wants, or the

 government must sink into a fatal atrophy, and, in a short course of

 time, perish.

In the Ottoman or Turkish empire, the sovereign, though in other

 respects absolute master of the lives and fortunes of his subjects,

 has no right to impose a new tax. The consequence is that he

 permits the bashaws or governors of provinces to pillage the people

 without mercy; and, in turn, squeezes out of them the sums of which

 he stands in need, to satisfy his own exigencies and those of the

 state. In America, from a like cause, the government of the Union

 has gradually dwindled into a state of decay, approaching nearly to

 annihilation. Who can doubt, that the happiness of the people in

 both countries would be promoted by competent authorities in the

 proper hands, to provide the revenues which the necessities of the

 public might require?

The present Confederation, feeble as it is intended to repose in

 the United States, an unlimited power of providing for the pecuniary

 wants of the Union. But proceeding upon an erroneous principle, it

 has been done in such a manner as entirely to have frustrated the

 intention. Congress, by the articles which compose that compact (as

 has already been stated), are authorized to ascertain and call for

 any sums of money necessary, in their judgment, to the service of

 the United States; and their requisitions, if conformable to the

 rule of apportionment, are in every constitutional sense obligatory

 upon the States. These have no right to question the propriety of

 the demand; no discretion beyond that of devising the ways and

 means of furnishing the sums demanded. But though this be strictly

 and truly the case; though the assumption of such a right would be

 an infringement of the articles of Union; though it may seldom or

 never have been avowedly claimed, yet in practice it has been

 constantly exercised, and would continue to be so, as long as the

 revenues of the Confederacy should remain dependent on the

 intermediate agency of its members. What the consequences of this

 system have been, is within the knowledge of every man the least

 conversant in our public affairs, and has been amply unfolded in

 different parts of these inquiries. It is this which has chiefly

 contributed to reduce us to a situation, which affords ample cause

 both of mortification to ourselves, and of triumph to our enemies.

What remedy can there be for this situation, but in a change of

 the system which has produced itgin a change of the fallacious and

 delusive system of quotas and requisitions? What substitute can

 there be imagined for this ignis fatuus in finance, but that of

 permitting the national government to raise its own revenues by the

 ordinary methods of taxation authorized in every well-ordered

 constitution of civil government? Ingenious men may declaim with

 plausibility on any subject; but no human ingenuity can point out

 any other expedient to rescue us from the inconveniences and

 embarrassments naturally resulting from defective supplies of the

 public treasury.

The more intelligent adversaries of the new Constitution admit

 the force of this reasoning; but they qualify their admission by a

 distinction between what they call INTERNAL and EXTERNAL taxation.

 The former they would reserve to the State governments; the

 latter, which they explain into commercial imposts, or rather duties

 on imported articles, they declare themselves willing to concede to

 the federal head. This distinction, however, would violate the

 maxim of good sense and sound policy, which dictates that every

 POWER ought to be in proportion to its OBJECT; and would still

 leave the general government in a kind of tutelage to the State

 governments, inconsistent with every idea of vigor or efficiency.

 Who can pretend that commercial imposts are, or would be, alone

 equal to the present and future exigencies of the Union? Taking

 into the account the existing debt, foreign and domestic, upon any

 plan of extinguishment which a man moderately impressed with the

 importance of public justice and public credit could approve, in

 addition to the establishments which all parties will acknowledge to

 be necessary, we could not reasonably flatter ourselves, that this

 resource alone, upon the most improved scale, would even suffice for

 its present necessities. Its future necessities admit not of

 calculation or limitation; and upon the principle, more than once

 adverted to, the power of making provision for them as they arise

 ought to be equally unconfined. I believe it may be regarded as a

 position warranted by the history of mankind, that, IN THE USUAL



To say that deficiencies may be provided for by requisitions

 upon the States, is on the one hand to acknowledge that this system

 cannot be depended upon, and on the other hand to depend upon it for

 every thing beyond a certain limit. Those who have carefully

 attended to its vices and deformities as they have been exhibited by

 experience or delineated in the course of these papers, must feel

 invincible repugnancy to trusting the national interests in any

 degree to its operation. Its inevitable tendency, whenever it is

 brought into activity, must be to enfeeble the Union, and sow the

 seeds of discord and contention between the federal head and its

 members, and between the members themselves. Can it be expected

 that the deficiencies would be better supplied in this mode than the

 total wants of the Union have heretofore been supplied in the same

 mode? It ought to be recollected that if less will be required from

 the States, they will have proportionably less means to answer the

 demand. If the opinions of those who contend for the distinction

 which has been mentioned were to be received as evidence of truth,

 one would be led to conclude that there was some known point in the

 economy of national affairs at which it would be safe to stop and to

 say: Thus far the ends of public happiness will be promoted by

 supplying the wants of government, and all beyond this is unworthy

 of our care or anxiety. How is it possible that a government half

 supplied and always necessitous, can fulfill the purposes of its

 institution, can provide for the security, advance the prosperity,

 or support the reputation of the commonwealth? How can it ever

 possess either energy or stability, dignity or credit, confidence at

 home or respectability abroad? How can its administration be any

 thing else than a succession of expedients temporizing, impotent,

 disgraceful? How will it be able to avoid a frequent sacrifice of

 its engagements to immediate necessity? How can it undertake or

 execute any liberal or enlarged plans of public good?

Let us attend to what would be the effects of this situation in

 the very first war in which we should happen to be engaged. We will

 presume, for argument's sake, that the revenue arising from the

 impost duties answers the purposes of a provision for the public

 debt and of a peace establishment for the Union. Thus

 circumstanced, a war breaks out. What would be the probable conduct

 of the government in such an emergency? Taught by experience that

 proper dependence could not be placed on the success of

 requisitions, unable by its own authority to lay hold of fresh

 resources, and urged by considerations of national danger, would it

 not be driven to the expedient of diverting the funds already

 appropriated from their proper objects to the defense of the State?

 It is not easy to see how a step of this kind could be avoided;

 and if it should be taken, it is evident that it would prove the

 destruction of public credit at the very moment that it was becoming

 essential to the public safety. To imagine that at such a crisis

 credit might be dispensed with, would be the extreme of infatuation.

 In the modern system of war, nations the most wealthy are obliged

 to have recourse to large loans. A country so little opulent as

 ours must feel this necessity in a much stronger degree. But who

 would lend to a government that prefaced its overtures for borrowing

 by an act which demonstrated that no reliance could be placed on the

 steadiness of its measures for paying? The loans it might be able

 to procure would be as limited in their extent as burdensome in

 their conditions. They would be made upon the same principles that

 usurers commonly lend to bankrupt and fraudulent debtors,gwith a

 sparing hand and at enormous premiums.

It may perhaps be imagined that, from the scantiness of the

 resources of the country, the necessity of diverting the established

 funds in the case supposed would exist, though the national

 government should possess an unrestrained power of taxation. But

 two considerations will serve to quiet all apprehension on this

 head: one is, that we are sure the resources of the community, in

 their full extent, will be brought into activity for the benefit of

 the Union; the other is, that whatever deficiences there may be,

 can without difficulty be supplied by loans.

The power of creating new funds upon new objects of taxation, by

 its own authority, would enable the national government to borrow as

 far as its necessities might require. Foreigners, as well as the

 citizens of America, could then reasonably repose confidence in its

 engagements; but to depend upon a government that must itself

 depend upon thirteen other governments for the means of fulfilling

 its contracts, when once its situation is clearly understood, would

 require a degree of credulity not often to be met with in the

 pecuniary transactions of mankind, and little reconcilable with the

 usual sharp-sightedness of avarice.

Reflections of this kind may have trifling weight with men who

 hope to see realized in America the halcyon scenes of the poetic or

 fabulous age; but to those who believe we are likely to experience

 a common portion of the vicissitudes and calamities which have

 fallen to the lot of other nations, they must appear entitled to

 serious attention. Such men must behold the actual situation of

 their country with painful solicitude, and deprecate the evils which

 ambition or revenge might, with too much facility, inflict upon it.






The Same Subject Continued

(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)

From the New York Packet.

Tuesday, January 1, 1788.




To the People of the State of New York:

IN DISQUISITIONS of every kind, there are certain primary

 truths, or first principles, upon which all subsequent reasonings

 must depend. These contain an internal evidence which, antecedent

 to all reflection or combination, commands the assent of the mind.

 Where it produces not this effect, it must proceed either from some

 defect or disorder in the organs of perception, or from the

 influence of some strong interest, or passion, or prejudice. Of

 this nature are the maxims in geometry, that ``the whole is greater

 than its part; things equal to the same are equal to one another;

 two straight lines cannot enclose a space; and all right angles

 are equal to each other.'' Of the same nature are these other

 maxims in ethics and politics, that there cannot be an effect

 without a cause; that the means ought to be proportioned to the

 end; that every power ought to be commensurate with its object;

 that there ought to be no limitation of a power destined to effect

 a purpose which is itself incapable of limitation. And there are

 other truths in the two latter sciences which, if they cannot

 pretend to rank in the class of axioms, are yet such direct

 inferences from them, and so obvious in themselves, and so agreeable

 to the natural and unsophisticated dictates of common-sense, that

 they challenge the assent of a sound and unbiased mind, with a

 degree of force and conviction almost equally irresistible.

The objects of geometrical inquiry are so entirely abstracted

 from those pursuits which stir up and put in motion the unruly

 passions of the human heart, that mankind, without difficulty, adopt

 not only the more simple theorems of the science, but even those

 abstruse paradoxes which, however they may appear susceptible of

 demonstration, are at variance with the natural conceptions which

 the mind, without the aid of philosophy, would be led to entertain

 upon the subject. The INFINITE DIVISIBILITY of matter, or, in other

 words, the INFINITE divisibility of a FINITE thing, extending even

 to the minutest atom, is a point agreed among geometricians, though

 not less incomprehensible to common-sense than any of those

 mysteries in religion, against which the batteries of infidelity

 have been so industriously leveled.

But in the sciences of morals and politics, men are found far

 less tractable. To a certain degree, it is right and useful that

 this should be the case. Caution and investigation are a necessary

 armor against error and imposition. But this untractableness may be

 carried too far, and may degenerate into obstinacy, perverseness, or

 disingenuity. Though it cannot be pretended that the principles of

 moral and political knowledge have, in general, the same degree of

 certainty with those of the mathematics, yet they have much better

 claims in this respect than, to judge from the conduct of men in

 particular situations, we should be disposed to allow them. The

 obscurity is much oftener in the passions and prejudices of the

 reasoner than in the subject. Men, upon too many occasions, do not

 give their own understandings fair play; but, yielding to some

 untoward bias, they entangle themselves in words and confound

 themselves in subtleties.

How else could it happen (if we admit the objectors to be

 sincere in their opposition), that positions so clear as those which

 manifest the necessity of a general power of taxation in the

 government of the Union, should have to encounter any adversaries

 among men of discernment? Though these positions have been

 elsewhere fully stated, they will perhaps not be improperly

 recapitulated in this place, as introductory to an examination of

 what may have been offered by way of objection to them. They are in

 substance as follows:

A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to

 the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care, and to

 the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible,

 free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to

 the sense of the people.

As the duties of superintending the national defense and of

 securing the public peace against foreign or domestic violence

 involve a provision for casualties and dangers to which no possible

 limits can be assigned, the power of making that provision ought to

 know no other bounds than the exigencies of the nation and the

 resources of the community.

As revenue is the essential engine by which the means of

 answering the national exigencies must be procured, the power of

 procuring that article in its full extent must necessarily be

 comprehended in that of providing for those exigencies.

As theory and practice conspire to prove that the power of

 procuring revenue is unavailing when exercised over the States in

 their collective capacities, the federal government must of

 necessity be invested with an unqualified power of taxation in the

 ordinary modes.

Did not experience evince the contrary, it would be natural to

 conclude that the propriety of a general power of taxation in the

 national government might safely be permitted to rest on the

 evidence of these propositions, unassisted by any additional

 arguments or illustrations. But we find, in fact, that the

 antagonists of the proposed Constitution, so far from acquiescing in

 their justness or truth, seem to make their principal and most

 zealous effort against this part of the plan. It may therefore be

 satisfactory to analyze the arguments with which they combat it.

Those of them which have been most labored with that view, seem

 in substance to amount to this: ``It is not true, because the

 exigencies of the Union may not be susceptible of limitation, that

 its power of laying taxes ought to be unconfined. Revenue is as

 requisite to the purposes of the local administrations as to those

 of the Union; and the former are at least of equal importance with

 the latter to the happiness of the people. It is, therefore, as

 necessary that the State governments should be able to command the

 means of supplying their wants, as that the national government

 should possess the like faculty in respect to the wants of the Union.

 But an indefinite power of taxation in the LATTER might, and

 probably would in time, deprive the FORMER of the means of providing

 for their own necessities; and would subject them entirely to the

 mercy of the national legislature. As the laws of the Union are to

 become the supreme law of the land, as it is to have power to pass

 all laws that may be NECESSARY for carrying into execution the

 authorities with which it is proposed to vest it, the national

 government might at any time abolish the taxes imposed for State

 objects upon the pretense of an interference with its own. It might

 allege a necessity of doing this in order to give efficacy to the

 national revenues. And thus all the resources of taxation might by

 degrees become the subjects of federal monopoly, to the entire

 exclusion and destruction of the State governments.''

This mode of reasoning appears sometimes to turn upon the

 supposition of usurpation in the national government; at other

 times it seems to be designed only as a deduction from the

 constitutional operation of its intended powers. It is only in the

 latter light that it can be admitted to have any pretensions to

 fairness. The moment we launch into conjectures about the

 usurpations of the federal government, we get into an unfathomable

 abyss, and fairly put ourselves out of the reach of all reasoning.

 Imagination may range at pleasure till it gets bewildered amidst

 the labyrinths of an enchanted castle, and knows not on which side

 to turn to extricate itself from the perplexities into which it has

 so rashly adventured. Whatever may be the limits or modifications

 of the powers of the Union, it is easy to imagine an endless train

 of possible dangers; and by indulging an excess of jealousy and

 timidity, we may bring ourselves to a state of absolute scepticism

 and irresolution. I repeat here what I have observed in substance

 in another place, that all observations founded upon the danger of

 usurpation ought to be referred to the composition and structure of

 the government, not to the nature or extent of its powers. The

 State governments, by their original constitutions, are invested

 with complete sovereignty. In what does our security consist

 against usurpation from that quarter? Doubtless in the manner of

 their formation, and in a due dependence of those who are to

 administer them upon the people. If the proposed construction of

 the federal government be found, upon an impartial examination of

 it, to be such as to afford, to a proper extent, the same species of

 security, all apprehensions on the score of usurpation ought to be


It should not be forgotten that a disposition in the State

 governments to encroach upon the rights of the Union is quite as

 probable as a disposition in the Union to encroach upon the rights

 of the State governments. What side would be likely to prevail in

 such a conflict, must depend on the means which the contending

 parties could employ toward insuring success. As in republics

 strength is always on the side of the people, and as there are

 weighty reasons to induce a belief that the State governments will

 commonly possess most influence over them, the natural conclusion is

 that such contests will be most apt to end to the disadvantage of

 the Union; and that there is greater probability of encroachments

 by the members upon the federal head, than by the federal head upon

 the members. But it is evident that all conjectures of this kind

 must be extremely vague and fallible: and that it is by far the

 safest course to lay them altogether aside, and to confine our

 attention wholly to the nature and extent of the powers as they are

 delineated in the Constitution. Every thing beyond this must be

 left to the prudence and firmness of the people; who, as they will

 hold the scales in their own hands, it is to be hoped, will always

 take care to preserve the constitutional equilibrium between the

 general and the State governments. Upon this ground, which is

 evidently the true one, it will not be difficult to obviate the

 objections which have been made to an indefinite power of taxation

 in the United States.






The Same Subject Continued

(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)

From the Daily Advertiser.

Thursday, January 3, 1788.




To the People of the State of New York:

ALTHOUGH I am of opinion that there would be no real danger of

 the consequences which seem to be apprehended to the State

 governments from a power in the Union to control them in the levies

 of money, because I am persuaded that the sense of the people, the

 extreme hazard of provoking the resentments of the State

 governments, and a conviction of the utility and necessity of local

 administrations for local purposes, would be a complete barrier

 against the oppressive use of such a power; yet I am willing here

 to allow, in its full extent, the justness of the reasoning which

 requires that the individual States should possess an independent

 and uncontrollable authority to raise their own revenues for the

 supply of their own wants. And making this concession, I affirm

 that (with the sole exception of duties on imports and exports) they

 would, under the plan of the convention, retain that authority in

 the most absolute and unqualified sense; and that an attempt on the

 part of the national government to abridge them in the exercise of

 it, would be a violent assumption of power, unwarranted by any

 article or clause of its Constitution.

An entire consolidation of the States into one complete national

 sovereignty would imply an entire subordination of the parts; and

 whatever powers might remain in them, would be altogether dependent

 on the general will. But as the plan of the convention aims only at

 a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would

 clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had,

 and which were not, by that act, EXCLUSIVELY delegated to the United

 States. This exclusive delegation, or rather this alienation, of

 State sovereignty, would only exist in three cases: where the

 Constitution in express terms granted an exclusive authority to the

 Union; where it granted in one instance an authority to the Union,

 and in another prohibited the States from exercising the like

 authority; and where it granted an authority to the Union, to which

 a similar authority in the States would be absolutely and totally

 CONTRADICTORY and REPUGNANT. I use these terms to distinguish this

 last case from another which might appear to resemble it, but which

 would, in fact, be essentially different; I mean where the exercise

 of a concurrent jurisdiction might be productive of occasional

 interferences in the POLICY of any branch of administration, but

 would not imply any direct contradiction or repugnancy in point of

 constitutional authority. These three cases of exclusive

 jurisdiction in the federal government may be exemplified by the

 following instances: The last clause but one in the eighth section

 of the first article provides expressly that Congress shall exercise

 ``EXCLUSIVE LEGISLATION'' over the district to be appropriated as

 the seat of government. This answers to the first case. The first

 clause of the same section empowers Congress ``TO LAY AND COLLECT

 TAXES, DUTIES, IMPOSTS AND EXCISES''; and the second clause of the

 tenth section of the same article declares that, ``NO STATE SHALL,

 without the consent of Congress, LAY ANY IMPOSTS OR DUTIES ON

 IMPORTS OR EXPORTS, except for the purpose of executing its

 inspection laws.'' Hence would result an exclusive power in the

 Union to lay duties on imports and exports, with the particular

 exception mentioned; but this power is abridged by another clause,

 which declares that no tax or duty shall be laid on articles

 exported from any State; in consequence of which qualification, it

 now only extends to the DUTIES ON IMPORTS. This answers to the

 second case. The third will be found in that clause which declares

 that Congress shall have power ``to establish an UNIFORM RULE of

 naturalization throughout the United States.'' This must

 necessarily be exclusive; because if each State had power to

 prescribe a DISTINCT RULE, there could not be a UNIFORM RULE.

A case which may perhaps be thought to resemble the latter, but

 which is in fact widely different, affects the question immediately

 under consideration. I mean the power of imposing taxes on all

 articles other than exports and imports. This, I contend, is

 manifestly a concurrent and coequal authority in the United States

 and in the individual States. There is plainly no expression in the

 granting clause which makes that power EXCLUSIVE in the Union.

 There is no independent clause or sentence which prohibits the

 States from exercising it. So far is this from being the case, that

 a plain and conclusive argument to the contrary is to be deduced

 from the restraint laid upon the States in relation to duties on

 imports and exports. This restriction implies an admission that, if

 it were not inserted, the States would possess the power it

 excludes; and it implies a further admission, that as to all other

 taxes, the authority of the States remains undiminished. In any

 other view it would be both unnecessary and dangerous; it would be

 unnecessary, because if the grant to the Union of the power of

 laying such duties implied the exclusion of the States, or even

 their subordination in this particular, there could be no need of

 such a restriction; it would be dangerous, because the introduction

 of it leads directly to the conclusion which has been mentioned, and

 which, if the reasoning of the objectors be just, could not have

 been intended; I mean that the States, in all cases to which the

 restriction did not apply, would have a concurrent power of taxation

 with the Union. The restriction in question amounts to what lawyers

 call a NEGATIVE PREGNANTgthat is, a NEGATION of one thing, and an

 AFFIRMANCE of another; a negation of the authority of the States to

 impose taxes on imports and exports, and an affirmance of their

 authority to impose them on all other articles. It would be mere

 sophistry to argue that it was meant to exclude them ABSOLUTELY from

 the imposition of taxes of the former kind, and to leave them at

 liberty to lay others SUBJECT TO THE CONTROL of the national

 legislature. The restraining or prohibitory clause only says, that

 they shall not, WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF CONGRESS, lay such duties;

 and if we are to understand this in the sense last mentioned, the

 Constitution would then be made to introduce a formal provision for

 the sake of a very absurd conclusion; which is, that the States,

 WITH THE CONSENT of the national legislature, might tax imports and

 exports; and that they might tax every other article, UNLESS

 CONTROLLED by the same body. If this was the intention, why not

 leave it, in the first instance, to what is alleged to be the

 natural operation of the original clause, conferring a general power

 of taxation upon the Union? It is evident that this could not have

 been the intention, and that it will not bear a construction of the


As to a supposition of repugnancy between the power of taxation

 in the States and in the Union, it cannot be supported in that sense

 which would be requisite to work an exclusion of the States. It is,

 indeed, possible that a tax might be laid on a particular article by

 a State which might render it INEXPEDIENT that thus a further tax

 should be laid on the same article by the Union; but it would not

 imply a constitutional inability to impose a further tax. The

 quantity of the imposition, the expediency or inexpediency of an

 increase on either side, would be mutually questions of prudence;

 but there would be involved no direct contradiction of power. The

 particular policy of the national and of the State systems of

 finance might now and then not exactly coincide, and might require

 reciprocal forbearances. It is not, however a mere possibility of

 inconvenience in the exercise of powers, but an immediate

 constitutional repugnancy that can by implication alienate and

 extinguish a pre-existing right of sovereignty.

The necessity of a concurrent jurisdiction in certain cases

 results from the division of the sovereign power; and the rule that

 all authorities, of which the States are not explicitly divested in

 favor of the Union, remain with them in full vigor, is not a

 theoretical consequence of that division, but is clearly admitted by

 the whole tenor of the instrument which contains the articles of the

 proposed Constitution. We there find that, notwithstanding the

 affirmative grants of general authorities, there has been the most

 pointed care in those cases where it was deemed improper that the

 like authorities should reside in the States, to insert negative

 clauses prohibiting the exercise of them by the States. The tenth

 section of the first article consists altogether of such provisions.

 This circumstance is a clear indication of the sense of the

 convention, and furnishes a rule of interpretation out of the body

 of the act, which justifies the position I have advanced and refutes

 every hypothesis to the contrary.






The Same Subject Continued

(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)

From the Daily Advertiser.

January 3, 1788.




To the People of the State of New York:

THE residue of the argument against the provisions of the

 Constitution in respect to taxation is ingrafted upon the following

 clause. The last clause of the eighth section of the first article

 of the plan under consideration authorizes the national legislature

 ``to make all laws which shall be NECESSARY and PROPER for carrying

 into execution THE POWERS by that Constitution vested in the

 government of the United States, or in any department or officer

 thereof''; and the second clause of the sixth article declares,

 ``that the Constitution and the laws of the United States made IN

 PURSUANCE THEREOF, and the treaties made by their authority shall be

 the SUPREME LAW of the land, any thing in the constitution or laws

 of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.''

These two clauses have been the source of much virulent

 invective and petulant declamation against the proposed Constitution.

 They have been held up to the people in all the exaggerated colors

 of misrepresentation as the pernicious engines by which their local

 governments were to be destroyed and their liberties exterminated;

 as the hideous monster whose devouring jaws would spare neither sex

 nor age, nor high nor low, nor sacred nor profane; and yet, strange

 as it may appear, after all this clamor, to those who may not have

 happened to contemplate them in the same light, it may be affirmed

 with perfect confidence that the constitutional operation of the

 intended government would be precisely the same, if these clauses

 were entirely obliterated, as if they were repeated in every article.

 They are only declaratory of a truth which would have resulted by

 necessary and unavoidable implication from the very act of

 constituting a federal government, and vesting it with certain

 specified powers. This is so clear a proposition, that moderation

 itself can scarcely listen to the railings which have been so

 copiously vented against this part of the plan, without emotions

 that disturb its equanimity.

What is a power, but the ability or faculty of doing a thing?

 What is the ability to do a thing, but the power of employing the

 MEANS necessary to its execution? What is a LEGISLATIVE power, but

 a power of making LAWS? What are the MEANS to execute a LEGISLATIVE

 power but LAWS? What is the power of laying and collecting taxes,

 but a LEGISLATIVE POWER, or a power of MAKING LAWS, to lay and

 collect taxes? What are the propermeans of executing such a power,

 but NECESSARY and PROPER laws?

This simple train of inquiry furnishes us at once with a test by

 which to judge of the true nature of the clause complained of. It

 conducts us to this palpable truth, that a power to lay and collect

 taxes must be a power to pass all laws NECESSARY and PROPER for the

 execution of that power; and what does the unfortunate and

 culumniated provision in question do more than declare the same

 truth, to wit, that the national legislature, to whom the power of

 laying and collecting taxes had been previously given, might, in the

 execution of that power, pass all laws NECESSARY and PROPER to carry

 it into effect? I have applied these observations thus particularly

 to the power of taxation, because it is the immediate subject under

 consideration, and because it is the most important of the

 authorities proposed to be conferred upon the Union. But the same

 process will lead to the same result, in relation to all other

 powers declared in the Constitution. And it is EXPRESSLY to execute

 these powers that the sweeping clause, as it has been affectedly

 called, authorizes the national legislature to pass all NECESSARY

 and PROPER laws. If there is any thing exceptionable, it must be

 sought for in the specific powers upon which this general

 declaration is predicated. The declaration itself, though it may be

 chargeable with tautology or redundancy, is at least perfectly


But SUSPICION may ask, Why then was it introduced? The answer

 is, that it could only have been done for greater caution, and to

 guard against all cavilling refinements in those who might hereafter

 feel a disposition to curtail and evade the legitimatb authorities

 of the Union. The Convention probably foresaw, what it has been a

 principal aim of these papers to inculcate, that the danger which

 most threatens our political welfare is that the State governments

 will finally sap the foundations of the Union; and might therefore

 think it necessary, in so cardinal a point, to leave nothing to

 construction. Whatever may have been the inducement to it, the

 wisdom of the precaution is evident from the cry which has been

 raised against it; as that very cry betrays a disposition to

 question the great and essential truth which it is manifestly the

 object of that provision to declare.

But it may be again asked, Who is to judge of the NECESSITY and

 PROPRIETY of the laws to be passed for executing the powers of the

 Union? I answer, first, that this question arises as well and as

 fully upon the simple grant of those powers as upon the declaratory

 clause; and I answer, in the second place, that the national

 government, like every other, must judge, in the first instance, of

 the proper exercise of its powers, and its constituents in the last.

 If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its

 authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose

 creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and

 take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as

 the exigency may suggest and prudence justify. The propriety of a

 law, in a constitutional light, must always be determined by the

 nature of the powers upon which it is founded. Suppose, by some

 forced constructions of its authority (which, indeed, cannot easily

 be imagined), the Federal legislature should attempt to vary the law

 of descent in any State, would it not be evident that, in making

 such an attempt, it had exceeded its jurisdiction, and infringed

 upon that of the State? Suppose, again, that upon the pretense of

 an interference with its revenues, it should undertake to abrogate a

 landtax imposed by the authority of a State; would it not be

 equally evident that this was an invasion of that concurrent

 jurisdiction in respect to this species of tax, which its

 Constitution plainly supposes to exist in the State governments? If

 there ever should be a doubt on this head, the credit of it will be

 entirely due to those reasoners who, in the imprudent zeal of their

 animosity to the plan of the convention, have labored to envelop it

 in a cloud calculated to obscure the plainest and simplest truths.

But it is said that the laws of the Union are to be the SUPREME

 LAW of the land. But what inference can be drawn from this, or what

 would they amount to, if they were not to be supreme? It is evident

 they would amount to nothing. A LAW, by the very meaning of the

 term, includes supremacy. It is a rule which those to whom it is

 prescribed are bound to observe. This results from every political

 association. If individuals enter into a state of society, the laws

 of that society must be the supreme regulator of their conduct. If

 a number of political societies enter into a larger political

 society, the laws which the latter may enact, pursuant to the powers

 intrusted to it by its constitution, must necessarily be supreme

 over those societies, and the individuals of whom they are composed.

 It would otherwise be a mere treaty, dependent on the good faith of

 the parties, and not a goverment, which is only another word for

 POLITICAL POWER AND SUPREMACY. But it will not follow from this

 doctrine that acts of the large society which are NOT PURSUANT to

 its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary

 authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of

 the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve

 to be treated as such. Hence we perceive that the clause which

 declares the supremacy of the laws of the Union, like the one we

 have just before considered, only declares a truth, which flows

 immediately and necessarily from the institution of a federal

 government. It will not, I presume, have escaped observation, that

 it EXPRESSLY confines this supremacy to laws made PURSUANT TO THE

 CONSTITUTION; which I mention merely as an instance of caution in

 the convention; since that limitation would have been to be

 understood, though it had not been expressed.

Though a law, therefore, laying a tax for the use of the United

 States would be supreme in its nature, and could not legally be

 opposed or controlled, yet a law for abrogating or preventing the

 collection of a tax laid by the authority of the State, (unless upon

 imports and exports), would not be the supreme law of the land, but

 a usurpation of power not granted by the Constitution. As far as an

 improper accumulation of taxes on the same object might tend to

 render the collection difficult or precarious, this would be a

 mutual inconvenience, not arising from a superiority or defect of

 power on either side, but from an injudicious exercise of power by

 one or the other, in a manner equally disadvantageous to both. It

 is to be hoped and presumed, however, that mutual interest would

 dictate a concert in this respect which would avoid any material

 inconvenience. The inference from the whole is, that the individual

 States would, under the proposed Constitution, retain an independent

 and uncontrollable authority to raise revenue to any extent of which

 they may stand in need, by every kind of taxation, except duties on

 imports and exports. It will be shown in the next paper that this

 CONCURRENT JURISDICTION in the article of taxation was the only

 admissible substitute for an entire subordination, in respect to

 this branch of power, of the State authority to that of the Union.






The Same Subject Continued

(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)

From the New York Packet.

Friday, January 4, 1788.




To the People of the State of New York:

I FLATTER myself it has been clearly shown in my last number

 that the particular States, under the proposed Constitution, would

 have COEQUAL authority with the Union in the article of revenue,

 except as to duties on imports. As this leaves open to the States

 far the greatest part of the resources of the community, there can

 be no color for the assertion that they would not possess means as

 abundant as could be desired for the supply of their own wants,

 independent of all external control. That the field is sufficiently

 wide will more fully appear when we come to advert to the

 inconsiderable share of the public expenses for which it will fall

 to the lot of the State governments to provide.

To argue upon abstract principles that this co-ordinate

 authority cannot exist, is to set up supposition and theory against

 fact and reality. However proper such reasonings might be to show

 that a thing OUGHT NOT TO EXIST, they are wholly to be rejected when

 they are made use of to prove that it does not exist contrary to the

 evidence of the fact itself. It is well known that in the Roman

 republic the legislative authority, in the last resort, resided for

 ages in two different political bodiesgnot as branches of the same

 legislature, but as distinct and independent legislatures, in each

 of which an opposite interest prevailed: in one the patrician; in

 the other, the plebian. Many arguments might have been adduced to

 prove the unfitness of two such seemingly contradictory authorities,

 each having power to ANNUL or REPEAL the acts of the other. But a

 man would have been regarded as frantic who should have attempted at

 Rome to disprove their existence. It will be readily understood

 that I allude to the COMITIA CENTURIATA and the COMITIA TRIBUTA.

 The former, in which the people voted by centuries, was so arranged

 as to give a superiority to the patrician interest; in the latter,

 in which numbers prevailed, the plebian interest had an entire

 predominancy. And yet these two legislatures coexisted for ages,

 and the Roman republic attained to the utmost height of human


In the case particularly under consideration, there is no such

 contradiction as appears in the example cited; there is no power on

 either side to annul the acts of the other. And in practice there

 is little reason to apprehend any inconvenience; because, in a

 short course of time, the wants of the States will naturally reduce

 themselves within A VERY NARROW COMPASS; and in the interim, the

 United States will, in all probability, find it convenient to

 abstain wholly from those objects to which the particular States

 would be inclined to resort.

To form a more precise judgment of the true merits of this

 question, it will be well to advert to the proportion between the

 objects that will require a federal provision in respect to revenue,

 and those which will require a State provision. We shall discover

 that the former are altogether unlimited, and that the latter are

 circumscribed within very moderate bounds. In pursuing this

 inquiry, we must bear in mind that we are not to confine our view to

 the present period, but to look forward to remote futurity.

 Constitutions of civil government are not to be framed upon a

 calculation of existing exigencies, but upon a combination of these

 with the probable exigencies of ages, according to the natural and

 tried course of human affairs. Nothing, therefore, can be more

 fallacious than to infer the extent of any power, proper to be

 lodged in the national government, from an estimate of its immediate

 necessities. There ought to be a CAPACITY to provide for future

 contingencies as they may happen; and as these are illimitable in

 their nature, it is impossible safely to limit that capacity. It is

 true, perhaps, that a computation might be made with sufficient

 accuracy to answer the purpose of the quantity of revenue requisite

 to discharge the subsisting engagements of the Union, and to

 maintain those establishments which, for some time to come, would

 suffice in time of peace. But would it be wise, or would it not

 rather be the extreme of folly, to stop at this point, and to leave

 the government intrusted with the care of the national defense in a

 state of absolute incapacity to provide for the protection of the

 community against future invasions of the public peace, by foreign

 war or domestic convulsions? If, on the contrary, we ought to

 exceed this point, where can we stop, short of an indefinite power

 of providing for emergencies as they may arise? Though it is easy

 to assert, in general terms, the possibility of forming a rational

 judgment of a due provision against probable dangers, yet we may

 safely challenge those who make the assertion to bring forward their

 data, and may affirm that they would be found as vague and uncertain

 as any that could be produced to establish the probable duration of

 the world. Observations confined to the mere prospects of internal

 attacks can deserve no weight; though even these will admit of no

 satisfactory calculation: but if we mean to be a commercial people,

 it must form a part of our policy to be able one day to defend that

 commerce. The support of a navy and of naval wars would involve

 contingencies that must baffle all the efforts of political


Admitting that we ought to try the novel and absurd experiment

 in politics of tying up the hands of government from offensive war

 founded upon reasons of state, yet certainly we ought not to disable

 it from guarding the community against the ambition or enmity of

 other nations. A cloud has been for some time hanging over the

 European world. If it should break forth into a storm, who can

 insure us that in its progress a part of its fury would not be spent

 upon us? No reasonable man would hastily pronounce that we are

 entirely out of its reach. Or if the combustible materials that now

 seem to be collecting should be dissipated without coming to

 maturity, or if a flame should be kindled without extending to us,

 what security can we have that our tranquillity will long remain

 undisturbed from some other cause or from some other quarter? Let

 us recollect that peace or war will not always be left to our

 option; that however moderate or unambitious we may be, we cannot

 count upon the moderation, or hope to extinguish the ambition of

 others. Who could have imagined at the conclusion of the last war

 that France and Britain, wearied and exhausted as they both were,

 would so soon have looked with so hostile an aspect upon each other?

 To judge from the history of mankind, we shall be compelled to

 conclude that the fiery and destructive passions of war reign in the

 human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and

 beneficent sentiments of peace; and that to model our political

 systems upon speculations of lasting tranquillity, is to calculate

 on the weaker springs of the human character.

What are the chief sources of expense in every government? What

 has occasioned that enormous accumulation of debts with which

 several of the European nations are oppressed? The answers plainly

 is, wars and rebellions; the support of those institutions which

 are necessary to guard the body politic against these two most

 mortal diseases of society. The expenses arising from those

 institutions which are relative to the mere domestic police of a

 state, to the support of its legislative, executive, and judicial

 departments, with their different appendages, and to the

 encouragement of agriculture and manufactures (which will comprehend

 almost all the objects of state expenditure), are insignificant in

 comparison with those which relate to the national defense.

In the kingdom of Great Britain, where all the ostentatious

 apparatus of monarchy is to be provided for, not above a fifteenth

 part of the annual income of the nation is appropriated to the class

 of expenses last mentioned; the other fourteen fifteenths are

 absorbed in the payment of the interest of debts contracted for

 carrying on the wars in which that country has been engaged, and in

 the maintenance of fleets and armies. If, on the one hand, it

 should be observed that the expenses incurred in the prosecution of

 the ambitious enterprises and vainglorious pursuits of a monarchy

 are not a proper standard by which to judge of those which might be

 necessary in a republic, it ought, on the other hand, to be remarked

 that there should be as great a disproportion between the profusion

 and extravagance of a wealthy kingdom in its domestic

 administration, and the frugality and economy which in that

 particular become the modest simplicity of republican government.

 If we balance a proper deduction from one side against that which

 it is supposed ought to be made from the other, the proportion may

 still be considered as holding good.

But let us advert to the large debt which we have ourselves

 contracted in a single war, and let us only calculate on a common

 share of the events which disturb the peace of nations, and we shall

 instantly perceive, without the aid of any elaborate illustration,

 that there must always be an immense disproportion between the

 objects of federal and state expenditures. It is true that several

 of the States, separately, are encumbered with considerable debts,

 which are an excrescence of the late war. But this cannot happen

 again, if the proposed system be adopted; and when these debts are

 discharged, the only call for revenue of any consequence, which the

 State governments will continue to experience, will be for the mere

 support of their respective civil list; to which, if we add all

 contingencies, the total amount in every State ought to fall

 considerably short of two hundred thousand pounds.

In framing a government for posterity as well as ourselves, we

 ought, in those provisions which are designed to be permanent, to

 calculate, not on temporary, but on permanent causes of expense. If

 this principle be a just one our attention would be directed to a

 provision in favor of the State governments for an annual sum of

 about two hundred thousand pounds; while the exigencies of the

 Union could be susceptible of no limits, even in imagination. In

 this view of the subject, by what logic can it be maintained that

 the local governments ought to command, in perpetuity, an EXCLUSIVE

 source of revenue for any sum beyond the extent of two hundred

 thousand pounds? To extend its power further, in EXCLUSION of the

 authority of the Union, would be to take the resources of the

 community out of those hands which stood in need of them for the

 public welfare, in order to put them into other hands which could

 have no just or proper occasion for them.

Suppose, then, the convention had been inclined to proceed upon

 the principle of a repartition of the objects of revenue, between

 the Union and its members, in PROPORTION to their comparative

 necessities; what particular fund could have been selected for the

 use of the States, that would not either have been too much or too

 littlegtoo little for their present, too much for their future

 wants? As to the line of separation between external and internal

 taxes, this would leave to the States, at a rough computation, the

 command of two thirds of the resources of the community to defray

 from a tenth to a twentieth part of its expenses; and to the Union,

 one third of the resources of the community, to defray from nine

 tenths to nineteen twentieths of its expenses. If we desert this

 boundary and content ourselves with leaving to the States an

 exclusive power of taxing houses and lands, there would still be a

 great disproportion between the MEANS and the END; the possession

 of one third of the resources of the community to supply, at most,

 one tenth of its wants. If any fund could have been selected and

 appropriated, equal to and not greater than the object, it would

 have been inadequate to the discharge of the existing debts of the

 particular States, and would have left them dependent on the Union

 for a provision for this purpose.

The preceding train of observation will justify the position

 which has been elsewhere laid down, that ``A CONCURRENT JURISDICTION

 in the article of taxation was the only admissible substitute for an

 entire subordination, in respect to this branch of power, of State

 authority to that of the Union.'' Any separation of the objects of

 revenue that could have been fallen upon, would have amounted to a

 sacrifice of the great INTERESTS of the Union to the POWER of the

 individual States. The convention thought the concurrent

 jurisdiction preferable to that subordination; and it is evident

 that it has at least the merit of reconciling an indefinite

 constitutional power of taxation in the Federal government with an

 adequate and independent power in the States to provide for their

 own necessities. There remain a few other lights, in which this

 important subject of taxation will claim a further consideration.






The Same Subject Continued

(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)

For the Independent Journal.




To the People of the State of New York:

BEFORE we proceed to examine any other objections to an

 indefinite power of taxation in the Union, I shall make one general

 remark; which is, that if the jurisdiction of the national

 government, in the article of revenue, should be restricted to

 particular objects, it would naturally occasion an undue proportion

 of the public burdens to fall upon those objects. Two evils would

 spring from this source: the oppression of particular branches of

 industry; and an unequal distribution of the taxes, as well among

 the several States as among the citizens of the same State.

Suppose, as has been contended for, the federal power of

 taxation were to be confined to duties on imports, it is evident

 that the government, for want of being able to command other

 resources, would frequently be tempted to extend these duties to an

 injurious excess. There are persons who imagine that they can never

 be carried to too great a length; since the higher they are, the

 more it is alleged they will tend to discourage an extravagant

 consumption, to produce a favorable balance of trade, and to promote

 domestic manufactures. But all extremes are pernicious in various

 ways. Exorbitant duties on imported articles would beget a general

 spirit of smuggling; which is always prejudicial to the fair

 trader, and eventually to the revenue itself: they tend to render

 other classes of the community tributary, in an improper degree, to

 the manufacturing classes, to whom they give a premature monopoly of

 the markets; they sometimes force industry out of its more natural

 channels into others in which it flows with less advantage; and in

 the last place, they oppress the merchant, who is often obliged to

 pay them himself without any retribution from the consumer. When

 the demand is equal to the quantity of goods at market, the consumer

 generally pays the duty; but when the markets happen to be

 overstocked, a great proportion falls upon the merchant, and

 sometimes not only exhausts his profits, but breaks in upon his

 capital. I am apt to think that a division of the duty, between the

 seller and the buyer, more often happens than is commonly imagined.

 It is not always possible to raise the price of a commodity in

 exact proportion to every additional imposition laid upon it. The

 merchant, especially in a country of small commercial capital, is

 often under a necessity of keeping prices down in order to a more

 expeditious sale.

The maxim that the consumer is the payer, is so much oftener

 true than the reverse of the proposition, that it is far more

 equitable that the duties on imports should go into a common stock,

 than that they should redound to the exclusive benefit of the

 importing States. But it is not so generally true as to render it

 equitable, that those duties should form the only national fund.

 When they are paid by the merchant they operate as an additional

 tax upon the importing State, whose citizens pay their proportion of

 them in the character of consumers. In this view they are

 productive of inequality among the States; which inequality would

 be increased with the increased extent of the duties. The

 confinement of the national revenues to this species of imposts

 would be attended with inequality, from a different cause, between

 the manufacturing and the non-manufacturing States. The States

 which can go farthest towards the supply of their own wants, by

 their own manufactures, will not, according to their numbers or

 wealth, consume so great a proportion of imported articles as those

 States which are not in the same favorable situation. They would

 not, therefore, in this mode alone contribute to the public treasury

 in a ratio to their abilities. To make them do this it is necessary

 that recourse be had to excises, the proper objects of which are

 particular kinds of manufactures. New York is more deeply

 interested in these considerations than such of her citizens as

 contend for limiting the power of the Union to external taxation may

 be aware of. New York is an importing State, and is not likely

 speedily to be, to any great extent, a manufacturing State. She

 would, of course, suffer in a double light from restraining the

 jurisdiction of the Union to commercial imposts.

So far as these observations tend to inculcate a danger of the

 import duties being extended to an injurious extreme it may be

 observed, conformably to a remark made in another part of these

 papers, that the interest of the revenue itself would be a

 sufficient guard against such an extreme. I readily admit that this

 would be the case, as long as other resources were open; but if the

 avenues to them were closed, HOPE, stimulated by necessity, would

 beget experiments, fortified by rigorous precautions and additional

 penalties, which, for a time, would have the intended effect, till

 there had been leisure to contrive expedients to elude these new

 precautions. The first success would be apt to inspire false

 opinions, which it might require a long course of subsequent

 experience to correct. Necessity, especially in politics, often

 occasions false hopes, false reasonings, and a system of measures

 correspondingly erroneous. But even if this supposed excess should

 not be a consequence of the limitation of the federal power of

 taxation, the inequalities spoken of would still ensue, though not

 in the same degree, from the other causes that have been noticed.

 Let us now return to the examination of objections.

One which, if we may judge from the frequency of its repetition,

 seems most to be relied on, is, that the House of Representatives is

 not sufficiently numerous for the reception of all the different

 classes of citizens, in order to combine the interests and feelings

 of every part of the community, and to produce a due sympathy

 between the representative body and its constituents. This argument

 presents itself under a very specious and seducing form; and is

 well calculated to lay hold of the prejudices of those to whom it is

 addressed. But when we come to dissect it with attention, it will

 appear to be made up of nothing but fair-sounding words. The object

 it seems to aim at is, in the first place, impracticable, and in the

 sense in which it is contended for, is unnecessary. I reserve for

 another place the discussion of the question which relates to the

 sufficiency of the representative body in respect to numbers, and

 shall content myself with examining here the particular use which

 has been made of a contrary supposition, in reference to the

 immediate subject of our inquiries.

The idea of an actual representation of all classes of the

 people, by persons of each class, is altogether visionary. Unless

 it were expressly provided in the Constitution, that each different

 occupation should send one or more members, the thing would never

 take place in practice. Mechanics and manufacturers will always be

 inclined, with few exceptions, to give their votes to merchants, in

 preference to persons of their own professions or trades. Those

 discerning citizens are well aware that the mechanic and

 manufacturing arts furnish the materials of mercantile enterprise

 and industry. Many of them, indeed, are immediately connected with

 the operations of commerce. They know that the merchant is their

 natural patron and friend; and they are aware, that however great

 the confidence they may justly feel in their own good sense, their

 interests can be more effectually promoted by the merchant than by

 themselves. They are sensible that their habits in life have not

 been such as to give them those acquired endowments, without which,

 in a deliberative assembly, the greatest natural abilities are for

 the most part useless; and that the influence and weight, and

 superior acquirements of the merchants render them more equal to a

 contest with any spirit which might happen to infuse itself into the

 public councils, unfriendly to the manufacturing and trading

 interests. These considerations, and many others that might be

 mentioned prove, and experience confirms it, that artisans and

 manufacturers will commonly be disposed to bestow their votes upon

 merchants and those whom they recommend. We must therefore consider

 merchants as the natural representatives of all these classes of the


With regard to the learned professions, little need be observed;

 they truly form no distinct interest in society, and according to

 their situation and talents, will be indiscriminately the objects of

 the confidence and choice of each other, and of other parts of the


Nothing remains but the landed interest; and this, in a

 political view, and particularly in relation to taxes, I take to be

 perfectly united, from the wealthiest landlord down to the poorest

 tenant. No tax can be laid on land which will not affect the

 proprietor of millions of acres as well as the proprietor of a

 single acre. Every landholder will therefore have a common interest

 to keep the taxes on land as low as possible; and common interest

 may always be reckoned upon as the surest bond of sympathy. But if

 we even could suppose a distinction of interest between the opulent

 landholder and the middling farmer, what reason is there to

 conclude, that the first would stand a better chance of being

 deputed to the national legislature than the last? If we take fact

 as our guide, and look into our own senate and assembly, we shall

 find that moderate proprietors of land prevail in both; nor is this

 less the case in the senate, which consists of a smaller number,

 than in the assembly, which is composed of a greater number. Where

 the qualifications of the electors are the same, whether they have

 to choose a small or a large number, their votes will fall upon

 those in whom they have most confidence; whether these happen to be

 men of large fortunes, or of moderate property, or of no property at


It is said to be necessary, that all classes of citizens should

 have some of their own number in the representative body, in order

 that their feelings and interests may be the better understood and

 attended to. But we have seen that this will never happen under any

 arrangement that leaves the votes of the people free. Where this is

 the case, the representative body, with too few exceptions to have

 any influence on the spirit of the government, will be composed of

 landholders, merchants, and men of the learned professions. But

 where is the danger that the interests and feelings of the different

 classes of citizens will not be understood or attended to by these

 three descriptions of men? Will not the landholder know and feel

 whatever will promote or insure the interest of landed property?

 And will he not, from his own interest in that species of property,

 be sufficiently prone to resist every attempt to prejudice or

 encumber it? Will not the merchant understand and be disposed to

 cultivate, as far as may be proper, the interests of the mechanic

 and manufacturing arts, to which his commerce is so nearly allied?

 Will not the man of the learned profession, who will feel a

 neutrality to the rivalships between the different branches of

 industry, be likely to prove an impartial arbiter between them,

 ready to promote either, so far as it shall appear to him conducive

 to the general interests of the society?

If we take into the account the momentary humors or dispositions

 which may happen to prevail in particular parts of the society, and

 to which a wise administration will never be inattentive, is the man

 whose situation leads to extensive inquiry and information less

 likely to be a competent judge of their nature, extent, and

 foundation than one whose observation does not travel beyond the

 circle of his neighbors and acquaintances? Is it not natural that a

 man who is a candidate for the favor of the people, and who is

 dependent on the suffrages of his fellow-citizens for the

 continuance of his public honors, should take care to inform himself

 of their dispositions and inclinations, and should be willing to

 allow them their proper degree of influence upon his conduct? This

 dependence, and the necessity of being bound himself, and his

 posterity, by the laws to which he gives his assent, are the true,

 and they are the strong chords of sympathy between the

 representative and the constituent.

There is no part of the administration of government that

 requires extensive information and a thorough knowledge of the

 principles of political economy, so much as the business of taxation.

 The man who understands those principles best will be least likely

 to resort to oppressive expedients, or sacrifice any particular

 class of citizens to the procurement of revenue. It might be

 demonstrated that the most productive system of finance will always

 be the least burdensome. There can be no doubt that in order to a

 judicious exercise of the power of taxation, it is necessary that

 the person in whose hands it should be acquainted with the general

 genius, habits, and modes of thinking of the people at large, and

 with the resources of the country. And this is all that can be

 reasonably meant by a knowledge of the interests and feelings of the

 people. In any other sense the proposition has either no meaning,

 or an absurd one. And in that sense let every considerate citizen

 judge for himself where the requisite qualification is most likely

 to be found.






The Same Subject Continued

(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)

From the New York Packet.

Tuesday January 8, 1788.




To the People of the State of New York:

WE HAVE seen that the result of the observations, to which the

 foregoing number has been principally devoted, is, that from the

 natural operation of the different interests and views of the

 various classes of the community, whether the representation of the

 people be more or less numerous, it will consist almost entirely of

 proprietors of land, of merchants, and of members of the learned

 professions, who will truly represent all those different interests

 and views. If it should be objected that we have seen other

 descriptions of men in the local legislatures, I answer that it is

 admitted there are exceptions to the rule, but not in sufficient

 number to influence the general complexion or character of the

 government. There are strong minds in every walk of life that will

 rise superior to the disadvantages of situation, and will command

 the tribute due to their merit, not only from the classes to which

 they particularly belong, but from the society in general. The door

 ought to be equally open to all; and I trust, for the credit of

 human nature, that we shall see examples of such vigorous plants

 flourishing in the soil of federal as well as of State legislation;

 but occasional instances of this sort will not render the reasoning

 founded upon the general course of things, less conclusive.

The subject might be placed in several other lights that would

 all lead to the same result; and in particular it might be asked,

 What greater affinity or relation of interest can be conceived

 between the carpenter and blacksmith, and the linen manufacturer or

 stocking weaver, than between the merchant and either of them? It

 is notorious that there are often as great rivalships between

 different branches of the mechanic or manufacturing arts as there

 are between any of the departments of labor and industry; so that,

 unless the representative body were to be far more numerous than

 would be consistent with any idea of regularity or wisdom in its

 deliberations, it is impossible that what seems to be the spirit of

 the objection we have been considering should ever be realized in

 practice. But I forbear to dwell any longer on a matter which has

 hitherto worn too loose a garb to admit even of an accurate

 inspection of its real shape or tendency.

There is another objection of a somewhat more precise nature

 that claims our attention. It has been asserted that a power of

 internal taxation in the national legislature could never be

 exercised with advantage, as well from the want of a sufficient

 knowledge of local circumstances, as from an interference between

 the revenue laws of the Union and of the particular States. The

 supposition of a want of proper knowledge seems to be entirely

 destitute of foundation. If any question is depending in a State

 legislature respecting one of the counties, which demands a

 knowledge of local details, how is it acquired? No doubt from the

 information of the members of the county. Cannot the like knowledge

 be obtained in the national legislature from the representatives of

 each State? And is it not to be presumed that the men who will

 generally be sent there will be possessed of the necessary degree of

 intelligence to be able to communicate that information? Is the

 knowledge of local circumstances, as applied to taxation, a minute

 topographical acquaintance with all the mountains, rivers, streams,

 highways, and bypaths in each State; or is it a general

 acquaintance with its situation and resources, with the state of its

 agriculture, commerce, manufactures, with the nature of its products

 and consumptions, with the different degrees and kinds of its

 wealth, property, and industry?

Nations in general, even under governments of the more popular

 kind, usually commit the administration of their finances to single

 men or to boards composed of a few individuals, who digest and

 prepare, in the first instance, the plans of taxation, which are

 afterwards passed into laws by the authority of the sovereign or


Inquisitive and enlightened statesmen are deemed everywhere best

 qualified to make a judicious selection of the objects proper for

 revenue; which is a clear indication, as far as the sense of

 mankind can have weight in the question, of the species of knowledge

 of local circumstances requisite to the purposes of taxation.

The taxes intended to be comprised under the general

 denomination of internal taxes may be subdivided into those of the

 DIRECT and those of the INDIRECT kind. Though the objection be made

 to both, yet the reasoning upon it seems to be confined to the

 former branch. And indeed, as to the latter, by which must be

 understood duties and excises on articles of consumption, one is at

 a loss to conceive what can be the nature of the difficulties

 apprehended. The knowledge relating to them must evidently be of a

 kind that will either be suggested by the nature of the article

 itself, or can easily be procured from any well-informed man,

 especially of the mercantile class. The circumstances that may

 distinguish its situation in one State from its situation in another

 must be few, simple, and easy to be comprehended. The principal

 thing to be attended to, would be to avoid those articles which had

 been previously appropriated to the use of a particular State; and

 there could be no difficulty in ascertaining the revenue system of

 each. This could always be known from the respective codes of laws,

 as well as from the information of the members from the several


The objection, when applied to real property or to houses and

 lands, appears to have, at first sight, more foundation, but even in

 this view it will not bear a close examination. Land taxes are co

 monly laid in one of two modes, either by ACTUAL valuations,

 permanent or periodical, or by OCCASIONAL assessments, at the

 discretion, or according to the best judgment, of certain officers

 whose duty it is to make them. In either case, the EXECUTION of the

 business, which alone requires the knowledge of local details, must

 be devolved upon discreet persons in the character of commissioners

 or assessors, elected by the people or appointed by the government

 for the purpose. All that the law can do must be to name the

 persons or to prescribe the manner of their election or appointment,

 to fix their numbers and qualifications and to draw the general

 outlines of their powers and duties. And what is there in all this

 that cannot as well be performed by the national legislature as by a

 State legislature? The attention of either can only reach to

 general principles; local details, as already observed, must be

 referred to those who are to execute the plan.

But there is a simple point of view in which this matter may be

 placed that must be altogether satisfactory. The national

 legislature can make use of the SYSTEM OF EACH STATE WITHIN THAT

 STATE. The method of laying and collecting this species of taxes in

 each State can, in all its parts, be adopted and employed by the

 federal government.

Let it be recollected that the proportion of these taxes is not

 to be left to the discretion of the national legislature, but is to

 be determined by the numbers of each State, as described in the

 second section of the first article. An actual census or

 enumeration of the people must furnish the rule, a circumstance

 which effectually shuts the door to partiality or oppression. The

 abuse of this power of taxation seems to have been provided against

 with guarded circumspection. In addition to the precaution just

 mentioned, there is a provision that ``all duties, imposts, and

 excises shall be UNIFORM throughout the United States.''

It has been very properly observed by different speakers and

 writers on the side of the Constitution, that if the exercise of the

 power of internal taxation by the Union should be discovered on

 experiment to be really inconvenient, the federal government may

 then forbear the use of it, and have recourse to requisitions in its

 stead. By way of answer to this, it has been triumphantly asked,

 Why not in the first instance omit that ambiguous power, and rely

 upon the latter resource? Two solid answers may be given. The

 first is, that the exercise of that power, if convenient, will be

 preferable, because it will be more effectual; and it is impossible

 to prove in theory, or otherwise than by the experiment, that it

 cannot be advantageously exercised. The contrary, indeed, appears

 most probable. The second answer is, that the existence of such a

 power in the Constitution will have a strong influence in giving

 efficacy to requisitions. When the States know that the Union can

 apply itself without their agency, it will be a powerful motive for

 exertion on their part.

As to the interference of the revenue laws of the Union, and of

 its members, we have already seen that there can be no clashing or

 repugnancy of authority. The laws cannot, therefore, in a legal

 sense, interfere with each other; and it is far from impossible to

 avoid an interference even in the policy of their different systems.

 An effectual expedient for this purpose will be, mutually, to

 abstain from those objects which either side may have first had

 recourse to. As neither can CONTROL the other, each will have an

 obvious and sensible interest in this reciprocal forbearance. And

 where there is an IMMEDIATE common interest, we may safely count

 upon its operation. When the particular debts of the States are

 done away, and their expenses come to be limited within their

 natural compass, the possibility almost of interference will vanish.

 A small land tax will answer the purpose of the States, and will be

 their most simple and most fit resource.

Many spectres have been raised out of this power of internal

 taxation, to excite the apprehensions of the people: double sets of

 revenue officers, a duplication of their burdens by double

 taxations, and the frightful forms of odious and oppressive

 poll-taxes, have been played off with all the ingenious dexterity of

 political legerdemain.

As to the first point, there are two cases in which there can be

 no room for double sets of officers: one, where the right of

 imposing the tax is exclusively vested in the Union, which applies

 to the duties on imports; the other, where the object has not

 fallen under any State regulation or provision, which may be

 applicable to a variety of objects. In other cases, the probability

 is that the United States will either wholly abstain from the

 objects preoccupied for local purposes, or will make use of the

 State officers and State regulations for collecting the additional

 imposition. This will best answer the views of revenue, because it

 will save expense in the collection, and will best avoid any

 occasion of disgust to the State governments and to the people. At

 all events, here is a practicable expedient for avoiding such an

 inconvenience; and nothing more can be required than to show that

 evils predicted to not necessarily result from the plan.

As to any argument derived from a supposed system of influence,

 it is a sufficient answer to say that it ought not to be presumed;

 but the supposition is susceptible of a more precise answer. If

 such a spirit should infest the councils of the Union, the most

 certain road to the accomplishment of its aim would be to employ the

 State officers as much as possible, and to attach them to the Union

 by an accumulation of their emoluments. This would serve to turn

 the tide of State influence into the channels of the national

 government, instead of making federal influence flow in an opposite

 and adverse current. But all suppositions of this kind are

 invidious, and ought to be banished from the consideration of the

 great question before the people. They can answer no other end than

 to cast a mist over the truth.

As to the suggestion of double taxation, the answer is plain.

 The wants of the Union are to be supplied in one way or another;

 if to be done by the authority of the federal government, it will

 not be to be done by that of the State government. The quantity of

 taxes to be paid by the community must be the same in either case;

 with this advantage, if the provision is to be made by the

 Uniongthat the capital resource of commercial imposts, which is the

 most convenient branch of revenue, can be prudently improved to a

 much greater extent under federal than under State regulation, and

 of course will render it less necessary to recur to more

 inconvenient methods; and with this further advantage, that as far

 as there may be any real difficulty in the exercise of the power of

 internal taxation, it will impose a disposition to greater care in

 the choice and arrangement of the means; and must naturally tend to

 make it a fixed point of policy in the national administration to go

 as far as may be practicable in making the luxury of the rich

 tributary to the public treasury, in order to diminish the necessity

 of those impositions which might create dissatisfaction in the

 poorer and most numerous classes of the society. Happy it is when

 the interest which the government has in the preservation of its own

 power, coincides with a proper distribution of the public burdens,

 and tends to guard the least wealthy part of the community from


As to poll taxes, I, without scruple, confess my disapprobation

 of them; and though they have prevailed from an early period in

 those States%n1%n which have uniformly been the most tenacious of

 their rights, I should lament to see them introduced into practice

 under the national government. But does it follow because there is

 a power to lay them that they will actually be laid? Every State in

 the Union has power to impose taxes of this kind; and yet in

 several of them they are unknown in practice. Are the State

 governments to be stigmatized as tyrannies, because they possess

 this power? If they are not, with what propriety can the like power

 justify such a charge against the national government, or even be

 urged as an obstacle to its adoption? As little friendly as I am to

 the species of imposition, I still feel a thorough conviction that

 the power of having recourse to it ought to exist in the federal

 government. There are certain emergencies of nations, in which

 expedients, that in the ordinary state of things ought to be

 forborne, become essential to the public weal. And the government,

 from the possibility of such emergencies, ought ever to have the

 option of making use of them. The real scarcity of objects in this

 country, which may be considered as productive sources of revenue,

 is a reason peculiar to itself, for not abridging the discretion of

 the national councils in this respect. There may exist certain

 critical and tempestuous conjunctures of the State, in which a poll

 tax may become an inestimable resource. And as I know nothing to

 exempt this portion of the globe from the common calamities that

 have befallen other parts of it, I acknowledge my aversion to every

 project that is calculated to disarm the government of a single

 weapon, which in any possible contingency might be usefully employed

 for the general defense and security.

I have now gone through the examination of such of the powers

 proposed to be vested in the United States, which may be considered

 as having an immediate relation to the energy of the government;

 and have endeavored to answer the principal objections which have

 been made to them. I have passed over in silence those minor

 authorities, which are either too inconsiderable to have been

 thought worthy of the hostilities of the opponents of the

 Constitution, or of too manifest propriety to admit of controversy.

 The mass of judiciary power, however, might have claimed an

 investigation under this head, had it not been for the consideration

 that its organization and its extent may be more advantageously

 considered in connection. This has determined me to refer it to the

 branch of our inquiries upon which we shall next enter.


FNA1@@1 The New England States.





Concerning the Difficulties of the Convention in Devising a Proper

 Form of Government

From the Daily Advertiser.

Friday, January 11, 1788.




To the People of the State of New York:

IN REVIEWING the defects of the existing Confederation, and

 showing that they cannot be supplied by a government of less energy

 than that before the public, several of the most important

 principles of the latter fell of course under consideration. But as

 the ultimate object of these papers is to determine clearly and

 fully the merits of this Constitution, and the expediency of

 adopting it, our plan cannot be complete without taking a more

 critical and thorough survey of the work of the convention, without

 examining it on all its sides, comparing it in all its parts, and

 calculating its probable effects.

That this remaining task may be executed under impressions

 conducive to a just and fair result, some reflections must in this

 place be indulged, which candor previously suggests.

It is a misfortune, inseparable from human affairs, that public

 measures are rarely investigated with that spirit of moderation

 which is essential to a just estimate of their real tendency to

 advance or obstruct the public good; and that this spirit is more

 apt to be diminished than promoted, by those occasions which require

 an unusual exercise of it. To those who have been led by experience

 to attend to this consideration, it could not appear surprising,

 that the act of the convention, which recommends so many important

 changes and innovations, which may be viewed in so many lights and

 relations, and which touches the springs of so many passions and

 interests, should find or excite dispositions unfriendly, both on

 one side and on the other, to a fair discussion and accurate

 judgment of its merits. In some, it has been too evident from their

 own publications, that they have scanned the proposed Constitution,

 not only with a predisposition to censure, but with a

 predetermination to condemn; as the language held by others betrays

 an opposite predetermination or bias, which must render their

 opinions also of little moment in the question. In placing,

 however, these different characters on a level, with respect to the

 weight of their opinions, I wish not to insinuate that there may not

 be a material difference in the purity of their intentions. It is

 but just to remark in favor of the latter description, that as our

 situation is universally admitted to be peculiarly critical, and to

 require indispensably that something should be done for our relief,

 the predetermined patron of what has been actually done may have

 taken his bias from the weight of these considerations, as well as

 from considerations of a sinister nature. The predetermined

 adversary, on the other hand, can have been governed by no venial

 motive whatever. The intentions of the first may be upright, as

 they may on the contrary be culpable. The views of the last cannot

 be upright, and must be culpable. But the truth is, that these

 papers are not addressed to persons falling under either of these

 characters. They solicit the attention of those only, who add to a

 sincere zeal for the happiness of their country, a temper favorable

 to a just estimate of the means of promoting it.

Persons of this character will proceed to an examination of the

 plan submitted by the convention, not only without a disposition to

 find or to magnify faults; but will see the propriety of

 reflecting, that a faultless plan was not to be expected. Nor will

 they barely make allowances for the errors which may be chargeable

 on the fallibility to which the convention, as a body of men, were

 liable; but will keep in mind, that they themselves also are but

 men, and ought not to assume an infallibility in rejudging the

 fallible opinions of others.

With equal readiness will it be perceived, that besides these

 inducements to candor, many allowances ought to be made for the

 difficulties inherent in the very nature of the undertaking referred

 to the convention.

The novelty of the undertaking immediately strikes us. It has

 been shown in the course of these papers, that the existing

 Confederation is founded on principles which are fallacious; that

 we must consequently change this first foundation, and with it the

 superstructure resting upon it. It has been shown, that the other

 confederacies which could be consulted as precedents have been

 vitiated by the same erroneous principles, and can therefore furnish

 no other light than that of beacons, which give warning of the

 course to be shunned, without pointing out that which ought to be

 pursued. The most that the convention could do in such a situation,

 was to avoid the errors suggested by the past experience of other

 countries, as well as of our own; and to provide a convenient mode

 of rectifying their own errors, as future experiences may unfold


Among the difficulties encountered by the convention, a very

 important one must have lain in combining the requisite stability

 and energy in government, with the inviolable attention due to

 liberty and to the republican form. Without substantially

 accomplishing this part of their undertaking, they would have very

 imperfectly fulfilled the object of their appointment, or the

 expectation of the public; yet that it could not be easily

 accomplished, will be denied by no one who is unwilling to betray

 his ignorance of the subject. Energy in government is essential to

 that security against external and internal danger, and to that

 prompt and salutary execution of the laws which enter into the very

 definition of good government. Stability in government is essential

 to national character and to the advantages annexed to it, as well

 as to that repose and confidence in the minds of the people, which

 are among the chief blessings of civil society. An irregular and

 mutable legislation is not more an evil in itself than it is odious

 to the people; and it may be pronounced with assurance that the

 people of this country, enlightened as they are with regard to the

 nature, and interested, as the great body of them are, in the

 effects of good government, will never be satisfied till some remedy

 be applied to the vicissitudes and uncertainties which characterize

 the State administrations. On comparing, however, these valuable

 ingredients with the vital principles of liberty, we must perceive

 at once the difficulty of mingling them together in their due

 proportions. The genius of republican liberty seems to demand on

 one side, not only that all power should be derived from the people,

 but that those intrusted with it should be kept in independence on

 the people, by a short duration of their appointments; and that

 even during this short period the trust should be placed not in a

 few, but a number of hands. Stability, on the contrary, requires

 that the hands in which power is lodged should continue for a length

 of time the same. A frequent change of men will result from a

 frequent return of elections; and a frequent change of measures

 from a frequent change of men: whilst energy in government requires

 not only a certain duration of power, but the execution of it by a

 single hand.

How far the convention may have succeeded in this part of their

 work, will better appear on a more accurate view of it. From the

 cursory view here taken, it must clearly appear to have been an

 arduous part.

Not less arduous must have been the task of marking the proper

 line of partition between the authority of the general and that of

 the State governments. Every man will be sensible of this

 difficulty, in proportion as he has been accustomed to contemplate

 and discriminate objects extensive and complicated in their nature.

 The faculties of the mind itself have never yet been distinguished

 and defined, with satisfactory precision, by all the efforts of the

 most acute and metaphysical philosophers. Sense, perception,

 judgment, desire, volition, memory, imagination, are found to be

 separated by such delicate shades and minute gradations that their

 boundaries have eluded the most subtle investigations, and remain a

 pregnant source of ingenious disquisition and controversy. The

 boundaries between the great kingdom of nature, and, still more,

 between the various provinces, and lesser portions, into which they

 are subdivided, afford another illustration of the same important

 truth. The most sagacious and laborious naturalists have never yet

 succeeded in tracing with certainty the line which separates the

 district of vegetable life from the neighboring region of

 unorganized matter, or which marks the ermination of the former and

 the commencement of the animal empire. A still greater obscurity

 lies in the distinctive characters by which the objects in each of

 these great departments of nature have been arranged and assorted.

When we pass from the works of nature, in which all the

 delineations are perfectly accurate, and appear to be otherwise only

 from the imperfection of the eye which surveys them, to the

 institutions of man, in which the obscurity arises as well from the

 object itself as from the organ by which it is contemplated, we must

 perceive the necessity of moderating still further our expectations

 and hopes from the efforts of human sagacity. Experience has

 instructed us that no skill in the science of government has yet

 been able to discriminate and define, with sufficient certainty, its

 three great provincesgthe legislative, executive, and judiciary; or

 even the privileges and powers of the different legislative branches.

 Questions daily occur in the course of practice, which prove the

 obscurity which reins in these subjects, and which puzzle the

 greatest adepts in political science.

The experience of ages, with the continued and combined labors

 of the most enlightened legislatures and jurists, has been equally

 unsuccessful in delineating the several objects and limits of

 different codes of laws and different tribunals of justice. The

 precise extent of the common law, and the statute law, the maritime

 law, the ecclesiastical law, the law of corporations, and other

 local laws and customs, remains still to be clearly and finally

 established in Great Britain, where accuracy in such subjects has

 been more industriously pursued than in any other part of the world.

 The jurisdiction of her several courts, general and local, of law,

 of equity, of admiralty, etc., is not less a source of frequent and

 intricate discussions, sufficiently denoting the indeterminate

 limits by which they are respectively circumscribed. All new laws,

 though penned with the greatest technical skill, and passed on the

 fullest and most mature deliberation, are considered as more or less

 obscure and equivocal, until their meaning be liquidated and

 ascertained by a series of particular discussions and adjudications.

 Besides the obscurity arising from the complexity of objects, and

 the imperfection of the human faculties, the medium through which

 the conceptions of men are conveyed to each other adds a fresh

 embarrassment. The use of words is to express ideas. Perspicuity,

 therefore, requires not only that the ideas should be distinctly

 formed, but that they should be expressed by words distinctly and

 exclusively appropriate to them. But no language is so copious as

 to supply words and phrases for every complex idea, or so correct as

 not to include many equivocally denoting different ideas. Hence it

 must happen that however accurately objects may be discriminated in

 themselves, and however accurately the discrimination may be

 considered, the definition of them may be rendered inaccurate by the

 inaccuracy of the terms in which it is delivered. And this

 unavoidable inaccuracy must be greater or less, according to the

 complexity and novelty of the objects defined. When the Almighty

 himself condescends to address mankind in their own language, his

 meaning, luminous as it must be, is rendered dim and doubtful by the

 cloudy medium through which it is communicated.

Here, then, are three sources of vague and incorrect

 definitions: indistinctness of the object, imperfection of the

 organ of conception, inadequateness of the vehicle of ideas. Any

 one of these must produce a certain degree of obscurity. The

 convention, in delineating the boundary between the federal and

 State jurisdictions, must have experienced the full effect of them


To the difficulties already mentioned may be added the

 interfering pretensions of the larger and smaller States. We cannot

 err in supposing that the former would contend for a participation

 in the government, fully proportioned to their superior wealth and

 importance; and that the latter would not be less tenacious of the

 equality at present enjoyed by them. We may well suppose that

 neither side would entirely yield to the other, and consequently

 that the struggle could be terminated only by compromise. It is

 extremely probable, also, that after the ratio of representation had

 been adjusted, this very compromise must have produced a fresh

 struggle between the same parties, to give such a turn to the

 organization of the government, and to the distribution of its

 powers, as would increase the importance of the branches, in forming

 which they had respectively obtained the greatest share of influence.

 There are features in the Constitution which warrant each of these

 suppositions; and as far as either of them is well founded, it

 shows that the convention must have been compelled to sacrifice

 theoretical propriety to the force of extraneous considerations.

Nor could it have been the large and small States only, which

 would marshal themselves in opposition to each other on various

 points. Other combinations, resulting from a difference of local

 position and policy, must have created additional difficulties. As

 every State may be divided into different districts, and its

 citizens into different classes, which give birth to contending

 interests and local jealousies, so the different parts of the United

 States are distinguished from each other by a variety of

 circumstances, which produce a like effect on a larger scale. And

 although this variety of interests, for reasons sufficiently

 explained in a former paper, may have a salutary influence on the

 administration of the government when formed, yet every one must be

 sensible of the contrary influence, which must have been experienced

 in the task of forming it.

Would it be wonderful if, under the pressure of all these

 difficulties, the convention should have been forced into some

 deviations from that artificial structure and regular symmetry which

 an abstract view of the subject might lead an ingenious theorist to

 bestow on a Constitution planned in his closet or in his

 imagination? The real wonder is that so many difficulties should

 have been surmounted, and surmounted with a unanimity almost as

 unprecedented as it must have been unexpected. It is impossible for

 any man of candor to reflect on this circumstance without partaking

 of the astonishment. It is impossible for the man of pious

 reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand

 which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in

 the critical stages of the revolution.

We had occasion, in a former paper, to take notice of the

 repeated trials which have been unsuccessfully made in the United

 Netherlands for reforming the baneful and notorious vices of their

 constitution. The history of almost all the great councils and

 consultations held among mankind for reconciling their discordant

 opinions, assuaging their mutual jealousies, and adjusting their

 respective interests, is a history of factions, contentions, and

 disappointments, and may be classed among the most dark and degraded

 pictures which display the infirmities and depravities of the human

 character. If, in a few scattered instances, a brighter aspect is

 presented, they serve only as exceptions to admonish us of the

 general truth; and by their lustre to darken the gloom of the

 adverse prospect to which they are contrasted. In revolving the

 causes from which these exceptions result, and applying them to the

 particular instances before us, we are necessarily led to two

 important conclusions. The first is, that the convention must have

 enjoyed, in a very singular degree, an exemption from the

 pestilential influence of party animositiesgthe disease most

 incident to deliberative bodies, and most apt to contaminate their

 proceedings. The second conclusion is that all the deputations

 composing the convention were satisfactorily accommodated by the

 final act, or were induced to accede to it by a deep conviction of

 the necessity of sacrificing private opinions and partial interests

 to the public good, and by a despair of seeing this necessity

 diminished by delays or by new experiments.





The Same Subject Continued, and the Incoherence of the Objections

 to the New Plan Exposed

From the New York Packet.

Tuesday, January 15, 1788.




To the People of the State of New York:

IT IS not a little remarkable that in every case reported by

 ancient history, in which government has been established with

 deliberation and consent, the task of framing it has not been

 committed to an assembly of men, but has been performed by some

 individual citizen of preeminent wisdom and approved integrity.

Minos, we learn, was the primitive founder of the government of

 Crete, as Zaleucus was of that of the Locrians. Theseus first, and

 after him Draco and Solon, instituted the government of Athens.

 Lycurgus was the lawgiver of Sparta. The foundation of the

 original government of Rome was laid by Romulus, and the work

 completed by two of his elective successors, Numa and Tullius

 Hostilius. On the abolition of royalty the consular administration

 was substituted by Brutus, who stepped forward with a project for

 such a reform, which, he alleged, had been prepared by Tullius

 Hostilius, and to which his address obtained the assent and

 ratification of the senate and people. This remark is applicable to

 confederate governments also. Amphictyon, we are told, was the

 author of that which bore his name. The Achaean league received its

 first birth from Achaeus, and its second from Aratus.

What degree of agency these reputed lawgivers might have in

 their respective establishments, or how far they might be clothed

 with the legitimate authority of the people, cannot in every

 instance be ascertained. In some, however, the proceeding was

 strictly regular. Draco appears to have been intrusted by the

 people of Athens with indefinite powers to reform its government and

 laws. And Solon, according to Plutarch, was in a manner compelled,

 by the universal suffrage of his fellow-citizens, to take upon him

 the sole and absolute power of new-modeling the constitution. The

 proceedings under Lycurgus were less regular; but as far as the

 advocates for a regular reform could prevail, they all turned their

 eyes towards the single efforts of that celebrated patriot and sage,

 instead of seeking to bring about a revolution by the intervention

 of a deliberative body of citizens.

Whence could it have proceeded, that a people, jealous as the

 Greeks were of their liberty, should so far abandon the rules of

 caution as to place their destiny in the hands of a single citizen?

 Whence could it have proceeded, that the Athenians, a people who

 would not suffer an army to be commanded by fewer than ten generals,

 and who required no other proof of danger to their liberties than

 the illustrious merit of a fellow-citizen, should consider one

 illustrious citizen as a more eligible depositary of the fortunes of

 themselves and their posterity, than a select body of citizens, from

 whose common deliberations more wisdom, as well as more safety,

 might have been expected? These questions cannot be fully answered,

 without supposing that the fears of discord and disunion among a

 number of counsellors exceeded the apprehension of treachery or

 incapacity in a single individual. History informs us, likewise, of

 the difficulties with which these celebrated reformers had to

 contend, as well as the expedients which they were obliged to employ

 in order to carry their reforms into effect. Solon, who seems to

 have indulged a more temporizing policy, confessed that he had not

 given to his countrymen the government best suited to their

 happiness, but most tolerable to their prejudices. And Lycurgus,

 more true to his object, was under the necessity of mixing a portion

 of violence with the authority of superstition, and of securing his

 final success by a voluntary renunciation, first of his country, and

 then of his life. If these lessons teach us, on one hand, to admire

 the improvement made by America on the ancient mode of preparing and

 establishing regular plans of government, they serve not less, on

 the other, to admonish us of the hazards and difficulties incident

 to such experiments, and of the great imprudence of unnecessarily

 multiplying them.

Is it an unreasonable conjecture, that the errors which may be

 contained in the plan of the convention are such as have resulted

 rather from the defect of antecedent experience on this complicated

 and difficult subject, than from a want of accuracy or care in the

 investigation of it; and, consequently such as will not be

 ascertained until an actual trial shall have pointed them out? This

 conjecture is rendered probable, not only by many considerations of

 a general nature, but by the particular case of the Articles of

 Confederation. It is observable that among the numerous objections

 and amendments suggested by the several States, when these articles

 were submitted for their ratification, not one is found which

 alludes to the great and radical error which on actual trial has

 discovered itself. And if we except the observations which New

 Jersey was led to make, rather by her local situation, than by her

 peculiar foresight, it may be questioned whether a single suggestion

 was of sufficient moment to justify a revision of the system. There

 is abundant reason, nevertheless, to suppose that immaterial as

 these objections were, they would have been adhered to with a very

 dangerous inflexibility, in some States, had not a zeal for their

 opinions and supposed interests been stifled by the more powerful

 sentiment of selfpreservation. One State, we may remember,

 persisted for several years in refusing her concurrence, although

 the enemy remained the whole period at our gates, or rather in the

 very bowels of our country. Nor was her pliancy in the end effected

 by a less motive, than the fear of being chargeable with protracting

 the public calamities, and endangering the event of the contest.

 Every candid reader will make the proper reflections on these

 important facts.

A patient who finds his disorder daily growing worse, and that

 an efficacious remedy can no longer be delayed without extreme

 danger, after coolly revolving his situation, and the characters of

 different physicians, selects and calls in such of them as he judges

 most capable of administering relief, and best entitled to his

 confidence. The physicians attend; the case of the patient is

 carefully examined; a consultation is held; they are unanimously

 agreed that the symptoms are critical, but that the case, with

 proper and timely relief, is so far from being desperate, that it

 may be made to issue in an improvement of his constitution. They

 are equally unanimous in prescribing the remedy, by which this happy

 effect is to be produced. The prescription is no sooner made known,

 however, than a number of persons interpose, and, without denying

 the reality or danger of the disorder, assure the patient that the

 prescription will be poison to his constitution, and forbid him,

 under pain of certain death, to make use of it. Might not the

 patient reasonably demand, before he ventured to follow this advice,

 that the authors of it should at least agree among themselves on

 some other remedy to be substituted? And if he found them differing

 as much from one another as from his first counsellors, would he not

 act prudently in trying the experiment unanimously recommended by

 the latter, rather than be hearkening to those who could neither

 deny the necessity of a speedy remedy, nor agree in proposing one?

Such a patient and in such a situation is America at this moment.

 She has been sensible of her malady. She has obtained a regular

 and unanimous advice from men of her own deliberate choice. And she

 is warned by others against following this advice under pain of the

 most fatal consequences. Do the monitors deny the reality of her

 danger? No. Do they deny the necessity of some speedy and powerful

 remedy? No. Are they agreed, are any two of them agreed, in their

 objections to the remedy proposed, or in the proper one to be

 substituted? Let them speak for themselves. This one tells us that

 the proposed Constitution ought to be rejected, because it is not a

 confederation of the States, but a government over individuals.

 Another admits that it ought to be a government over individuals to

 a certain extent, but by no means to the extent proposed. A third

 does not object to the government over individuals, or to the extent

 proposed, but to the want of a bill of rights. A fourth concurs in

 the absolute necessity of a bill of rights, but contends that it

 ought to be declaratory, not of the personal rights of individuals,

 but of the rights reserved to the States in their political capacity.

 A fifth is of opinion that a bill of rights of any sort would be

 superfluous and misplaced, and that the plan would be

 unexceptionable but for the fatal power of regulating the times and

 places of election. An objector in a large State exclaims loudly

 against the unreasonable equality of representation in the Senate.

 An objector in a small State is equally loud against the dangerous

 inequality in the House of Representatives. From this quarter, we

 are alarmed with the amazing expense, from the number of persons who

 are to administer the new government. From another quarter, and

 sometimes from the same quarter, on another occasion, the cry is

 that the Congress will be but a shadow of a representation, and that

 the government would be far less objectionable if the number and the

 expense were doubled. A patriot in a State that does not import or

 export, discerns insuperable objections against the power of direct

 taxation. The patriotic adversary in a State of great exports and

 imports, is not less dissatisfied that the whole burden of taxes may

 be thrown on consumption. This politician discovers in the

 Constitution a direct and irresistible tendency to monarchy; that

 is equally sure it will end in aristocracy. Another is puzzled to

 say which of these shapes it will ultimately assume, but sees

 clearly it must be one or other of them; whilst a fourth is not

 wanting, who with no less confidence affirms that the Constitution

 is so far from having a bias towards either of these dangers, that

 the weight on that side will not be sufficient to keep it upright

 and firm against its opposite propensities. With another class of

 adversaries to the Constitution the language is that the

 legislative, executive, and judiciary departments are intermixed in

 such a manner as to contradict all the ideas of regular government

 and all the requisite precautions in favor of liberty. Whilst this

 objection circulates in vague and general expressions, there are but

 a few who lend their sanction to it. Let each one come forward with

 his particular explanation, and scarce any two are exactly agreed

 upon the subject. In the eyes of one the junction of the Senate

 with the President in the responsible function of appointing to

 offices, instead of vesting this executive power in the Executive

 alone, is the vicious part of the organization. To another, the

 exclusion of the House of Representatives, whose numbers alone could

 be a due security against corruption and partiality in the exercise

 of such a power, is equally obnoxious. With another, the admission

 of the President into any share of a power which ever must be a

 dangerous engine in the hands of the executive magistrate, is an

 unpardonable violation of the maxims of republican jealousy. No

 part of the arrangement, according to some, is more inadmissible

 than the trial of impeachments by the Senate, which is alternately a

 member both of the legislative and executive departments, when this

 power so evidently belonged to the judiciary department. ``We

 concur fully,'' reply others, ``in the objection to this part of the

 plan, but we can never agree that a reference of impeachments to the

 judiciary authority would be an amendment of the error. Our

 principal dislike to the organization arises from the extensive

 powers already lodged in that department.'' Even among the zealous

 patrons of a council of state the most irreconcilable variance is

 discovered concerning the mode in which it ought to be constituted.

 The demand of one gentleman is, that the council should consist of

 a small number to be appointed by the most numerous branch of the

 legislature. Another would prefer a larger number, and considers it

 as a fundamental condition that the appointment should be made by

 the President himself.

As it can give no umbrage to the writers against the plan of the

 federal Constitution, let us suppose, that as they are the most

 zealous, so they are also the most sagacious, of those who think the

 late convention were unequal to the task assigned them, and that a

 wiser and better plan might and ought to be substituted. Let us

 further suppose that their country should concur, both in this

 favorable opinion of their merits, and in their unfavorable opinion

 of the convention; and should accordingly proceed to form them into

 a second convention, with full powers, and for the express purpose

 of revising and remoulding the work of the first. Were the

 experiment to be seriously made, though it required some effort to

 view it seriously even in fiction, I leave it to be decided by the

 sample of opinions just exhibited, whether, with all their enmity to

 their predecessors, they would, in any one point, depart so widely

 from their example, as in the discord and ferment that would mark

 their own deliberations; and whether the Constitution, now before

 the public, would not stand as fair a chance for immortality, as

 Lycurgus gave to that of Sparta, by making its change to depend on

 his own return from exile and death, if it were to be immediately

 adopted, and were to continue in force, not until a BETTER, but

 until ANOTHER should be agreed upon by this new assembly of


It is a matter both of wonder and regret, that those who raise

 so many objections against the new Constitution should never call to

 mind the defects of that which is to be exchanged for it. It is not

 necessary that the former should be perfect; it is sufficient that

 the latter is more imperfect. No man would refuse to give brass for

 silver or gold, because the latter had some alloy in it. No man

 would refuse to quit a shattered and tottering habitation for a firm

 and commodious building, because the latter had not a porch to it,

 or because some of the rooms might be a little larger or smaller, or

 the ceilings a little higher or lower than his fancy would have

 planned them. But waiving illustrations of this sort, is it not

 manifest that most of the capital objections urged against the new

 system lie with tenfold weight against the existing Confederation?

 Is an indefinite power to raise money dangerous in the hands of the

 federal government? The present Congress can make requisitions to

 any amount they please, and the States are constitutionally bound to

 furnish them; they can emit bills of credit as long as they will

 pay for the paper; they can borrow, both abroad and at home, as

 long as a shilling will be lent. Is an indefinite power to raise

 troops dangerous? The Confederation gives to Congress that power

 also; and they have already begun to make use of it. Is it

 improper and unsafe to intermix the different powers of government

 in the same body of men? Congress, a single body of men, are the

 sole depositary of all the federal powers. Is it particularly

 dangerous to give the keys of the treasury, and the command of the

 army, into the same hands? The Confederation places them both in

 the hands of Congress. Is a bill of rights essential to liberty?

 The Confederation has no bill of rights. Is it an objection

 against the new Constitution, that it empowers the Senate, with the

 concurrence of the Executive, to make treaties which are to be the

 laws of the land? The existing Congress, without any such control,

 can make treaties which they themselves have declared, and most of

 the States have recognized, to be the supreme law of the land. Is

 the importation of slaves permitted by the new Constitution for

 twenty years? By the old it is permitted forever.

I shall be told, that however dangerous this mixture of powers

 may be in theory, it is rendered harmless by the dependence of

 Congress on the State for the means of carrying them into practice;

 that however large the mass of powers may be, it is in fact a

 lifeless mass. Then, say I, in the first place, that the

 Confederation is chargeable with the still greater folly of

 declaring certain powers in the federal government to be absolutely

 necessary, and at the same time rendering them absolutely nugatory;

 and, in the next place, that if the Union is to continue, and no

 better government be substituted, effective powers must either be

 granted to, or assumed by, the existing Congress; in either of

 which events, the contrast just stated will hold good. But this is

 not all. Out of this lifeless mass has already grown an excrescent

 power, which tends to realize all the dangers that can be

 apprehended from a defective construction of the supreme government

 of the Union. It is now no longer a point of speculation and hope,

 that the Western territory is a mine of vast wealth to the United

 States; and although it is not of such a nature as to extricate

 them from their present distresses, or for some time to come, to

 yield any regular supplies for the public expenses, yet must it

 hereafter be able, under proper management, both to effect a gradual

 discharge of the domestic debt, and to furnish, for a certain

 period, liberal tributes to the federa