Hostile States

March 7, 2009 at 6:56 am Leave a comment


So far so good on my quest to get through the Federalist Papers. It is slow going but one day I am sure I will be done. If I keep to two a day it would be around 38 more days. Maybe less if I read them earlier in the day. Then I might get through 3 a day.

Letter 8 – The Consequences of Hostilities between the States

Here we get into what would likely happen to the states fighting with each other if they remained separate countries. The larger, more populated states would easily over-run smaller neighboring states. The caution suggested is that each state would ultimately give more power to their executive branches bringing each state into a monarchy type of government. Then following suit they would wind up with the same situations that they came to the new world to escape.

The suggestion here is that, if they would be wise enough to preserve the Union then they would enjoy the benefits of an insulated country. Europe being a great distance away would be unlikely to be of too much danger. However if the country were split into even two or three confederacies, then they would end up at risk of constant fighting from jealousy and conflict with each other.

Also mentioned is this, the Constitution does not provide against standing armies leaving the inference that a standing army may exist. (I was unfamiliar with the term so here is the definition, standing army is an army composed of full-time career soldiers who ‘stand over’, in other words, who do not disband during times of peace.) Apparently this issue of an army is addressed in a later letter as well.

Letter 9 – The Union as a Safeguard against Domestic Faction and Insurrection

Publius opens by saying that a firm Union would help prevent situations like the republics of Greece and Italy. The moments of glory for the nations are not enough to cover up for all the problems they have inside. People who thought government being run mostly through one leader or a specific group have not only issues with republican government but also against civil liberties. They decry free government as inconsistent with societies order. These are all things that they wanted to make sure that America did better.

“The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding 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 excellencies of republican government may be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided.”

Apparently one of the chief arguments against the proposed Union is found in the writings of Montesquieu. However the problem lies in that the scale of Montesquieu’s republics were far short of the limits of all the 13 colonies on their own. So if the choice was to follow Montesquieu then they would embrace a monarchy or they would end up fighting constantly about everything. However as one United country they could in fact create a republic. His ideal view of a confederate republic is that of the republic of Lycia.

It is very probable 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 CONFEDERATE REPUBLIC.” There is quite a bit more here that I could quote that lists more of these types of benefits that could be enjoyed if they were a republic.

The confederate republic is the assemblage of societies.  “The proposed Constitution, so far from implying an abolition of the state’s 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.

Here is a great link to an outline for Letter 9 “Stupendous Fabrics:” Notes on Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist No. 9

More on this subject tomorrow . . . .

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More fun with the Federalist Papers! Childrens Books Abound

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