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Remember that there is no such thing as a "Latin" nation, race, or ethnic group---there is only the racist colonial term of "Latin America" ("Latino" just means Latin in Spanish) which refers to the colonialists and the colonial possessions of the Europeans of southern Europe (Spaniards, Portuguese, and French) in the "Western Hemisphere" (our land). The only thing "Latin" about our land is the 500 years of racist colonialism that has killed 95% of our population, and the theft of our land and its wealth.

"Latino" denies us our true Nican Tlaca (Indigenous) identity and heritage. It keeps us slaves to European interests and Spaniard culture.

Collectively, we have no Latin genealogy, Latin blood group, Latin history, or a common Latin culture of food or mythology.

The "Latino" labeling of our people is a colonialist-racist act of Genocide---an attempt to "kill off" our people's true identity, history, independence, and our rights to our land and its wealth. Notice how this is not about "Latino Americans" in the U.S. This is about all of the "Spanish speaker" European Spaniards and their colonies of Nican Tlaca and Africans in the "Americas". What they are in fact doing is separating us from our Anahuac Heritage (Mexican and "Central American" Nican Tlaca identity and history) and enslaving us to their needs.

THE CONCEPT OF HISPANIC is even more racist than "Latino" because it completely denies us our true Nican Tlaca heritage by not even referring to our colonized condition of being in "Latin America". We now become direct possessions of Spaniards. This is an attempt (successful so far) to actively reactivate the Spanish colonial empire through their colonials on our land. The media is their main tool in this parasitic renewed colonialist machine of the European Spaniards.

A side note: A Mixed-blood is not a Criollo or a European.


Spaniards, Europeans, And Their Squatter Descendants On Our Land Who Force Their Eurocentric, Racist, & Anti-Indigenous "Hispanic" & "Latino" Labels On Our People!
Eurocentric, Racist, & Anti-Indigenous Cuban-Miami Television & Mexico City Criollos (White People) Who Control Our Knowledge, Identity & Future!
Eurocentric, Racist, & Anti-Indigenous Concepts of "Mestizo" & "Raza" That Enslave Our People To European Interests & Identities!
The Europeans And Their Descendants Who Have Denied Us The Beauty Of Our True Anahuac Heritage And The Ownership Of The Wealth Of Our Land!

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1) THEFT OF OUR LAND was the initial crime of the Europeans. We did not ever give up the ownership of our land, nor did we ever invite Europeans onto our lands.
by Europeans (along with the violation of our laws) and their unethical and immoral behavior, were what brought about their taking of our land, the genocide of our people, the enslavement of our remaining population, and all of their uncountable crimes against us.
3) RACIST TERRORISM has been the European method that was used to shock us into submitting to their control of our land and our lives.
4) PIRACY (looting, taking what is not yours to take) has been the European profession of choice by which they stole our people's wealth of precious jewels, gold, silver, and other valuables, along with the wealth of our land.
5) VANDALISM has been another signature of European barbaric assaults on our civilization and culture. This defacement was done upon our physical landscape and upon the psychological well-being of our people.
6) KIDNAPPING of our people (as a prelude to extortion and /or enslavement) has been a violation of all nations' sense of decency, law, and civilized behavior.
7) EXTORTION (usually for gold) from our lands has been another favorite crime of the Europeans. They mostly killed their victims, even when ransom was paid.
8) MURDER OF OUR LEADERS was a peculiarly vicious and dishonorable ongoing crime of Europeans. This crime exhibited the total failure of a sense of honor amongst the Europeans. Deceit was usually involved in the murder of our leaders.
9) MASSACRES of unarmed civilian men, women, and children on our lands. This at first happened in the dozens, then hundreds, and eventually it led to routine slaughters in the thousands.
10) GENOCIDE of our people became possible when they discovered that they had built-in biological weapons of mass destruction in their bodies' exposure to smallpox and other diseases---for which we had no immune defenses. They used this biological weapon which was 90 to 98% effective in killing us.
11) TORTURE AND MUTILATION was initially used to get us to surrender all gold objects to Europe. This technique was later used by the church to force conversions and to get confessions out of our people.
12) GRAVE ROBBERY has been an ongoing habit of Europeans from the beginning. This was a way of quickly stealing wealth that was not guarded.
13) ENSLAVEMENT OF OUR PEOPLE to do the work that they were too lazy to do themselves, has been another nasty European habit.
14) DESTRUCTION OF CITIES to take away our pride in our heritage, has been an almost totally successful European crime.
15) BURNING LIBRARY BOOKS in the tens of thousands by Europeans, has been one of the most devastating crimes that can never be mended or reconstructed.
16) UNIVERSITIES & SCHOOLS DESTROYED as a means of enslaving us to ignorance and to serving the interests of Europeans.
17) RACIAL RAPE of our people defiled us as a nation and tainted our people with the filth of their racism that says: More European blood is better.
18) CULTURAL CASTRATION in which laws were decreed that prohibited our people from learning our own culture, our languages, or even the simplicity of having our true names and identity.
19) PROHIBITION OF OUR THEOLOGY which forced the hypocritical version of Christianity on our people.
20) CONTINUATIONS OF THESE CRIMES up to the present day without guilt, reparations, or the "reality thought" that Europeans were in any way evil or monstrous in their actions.

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1885. . . . .184 1895. . . . .171
1886. . . . .138 1896. . . . .131
1887. . . . .122 1897. . . . .166
1888. . . . .142 1898. . . . .127
1889. . . . .176 1899. . . . .107
1890. . . . .127 1900. . . . .115
1891. . . . .192 1901. . . . .135
1892. . . . .235 1902. . . . .96
1893. . . . .200 1903(to Sept. 14,
eight and a half months). . . . .76
1894. . . . .190

Total lynchings. Whites. Negroes. In the South. In the North.
1900. . . . . . . 115 8 107 107 8
1901. . . . . . . 135 26 107 121 14
1902. . . . . . . . 96 9 86 87 9
1903(to Sept. 14). . . . .76 13 63 66 10

Causes Assigned. 1900 1901.* 1902.† 1903.
Murder 39 39 37 32
Rape 18 19 19 8
Attempted rape 13 9 11 5
Race prejudice 10 9 2 3
Assaulting whites 6 - 3 3
Threats to kill 5 - 1 -
Burglary 4 1 - -
Attempt to murder 4 9 4 6
Informing 2 - - -
Robbery 2 “Theft” 12 1 -
Complicity in murder 2 6 3 5
Rape and murder - - - 1
Suspicion of murder 2 3 1 3
Suspicion of robbery 1 - - -
No offence 1 - - -
Arson 2 4 - -
Suspicion of arson 1 - - -
Aiding escape of murderer 1 - 1 -
Insulting a white woman - 1 - -
Cattle and horse stealing - 7 1 -
Quarrel over profit-sharing - 5 - -
Suspicion of rape - 1 - -
Suspicion of rape and murder - 1 - -
Unknown offences 2 6 - 4
Mistaken identity - 1 1 3

NOTE.—The lynchings in the various States and Territories in 1900 were as follows:
Alabama 8 New York 0
Arkansas 6 Nevada 0
California 0 North Carolina 3
Colorado 3 North Dakota 0
Connecticut 0 Ohio 0
Delaware 0 Oregon 0
Florida 9 Pennsylvania 0
Georgia 16 Rhode Island 0
Idaho 0 South Carolina 2
Illinois 0 South Dakota 0
Indiana 3 Tennessee 7
Iowa 0 Texas 4
Kansas 2 Vermont 0
Kentucky 1 Virginia 6
Louisiana 20 West Virginia 2
Maine 0 Wisconsin 0
Maryland 1 Washington 0
Massachusetts 0 ! Wyoming 0
Michigan 0 Arizona 0
Minnesota 0 District of Columbia 0
Mississippi 20 New Mexico 0
Missouri 2 Utah 0
Montana 0 Indian Territory 0
Nebraska 0 Oklahoma 0
New Jersey 0 Alaska 0
New Hampshire 0

* In 1901 one Indian and one Chinaman lynched. † In 1902 one Indian lynched.

From these tables certain facts may be deduced. The first is that, in the year of which an analysis is given (1900), over nine-tenths of the lynchings occurred in the South, where only about one-third of the population of the country were, but where nine- tenths of the negroes were; secondly, that, of these lynchings, about nine-tenths were of negroes and one-third were in the three States where the negroes are most numerous; thirdly, that, while the lynchings appear to be diminishing at the South, the ratio, at least, is increasing at the North.

It further appears that, though lynching began as a punishment for assault on white women, it has extended until less than one-fourth of the instances are for this crime, while over three-fourths of them are for murder, attempts at murder, or some less heinous offence. This may be accounted for, in part, by the fact that the murders in the South partake somewhat of the nature of race-conflicts.

Over 2,700 lynchings in eighteen years are enough to stagger the mind. Either we are relapsing into barbarism, or there is some terrific cause for our reversion to the methods of mediaevalism, and our laws are inefficient to meet it. The only gleam of light is that, of late years, the number appears to have diminished.

To get at the remedy, we must first get at the cause.

Time was when the crime of assault was unknown throughout the South. During the whole period of slavery, it did not exist, nor did it exist to any considerable extent for some years after Emancipation. During the War, the men were away in the army, and the negroes were the loyal guardians of the women and children. On isolated plantations and in lonely ! neighbor hoods, women were as secure as in the streets of Boston or New York.

Then came the period and process of Reconstruction, with its teachings. Among these was the teaching that the negro was the equal of the white, that the white was his enemy, and that he must assert his equality. The growth of the idea was a gradual one in the negro’s mind. This was followed by a number of cases where members of the negro militia ravished white women; in some instances in the presence of their families.*[A]

The result of the hostility between the Southern whites and Government at that time was to throw the former upon their own acts for their defence or revenge, with a consequent training in lawless punishment of acts which should have been punished by law. And here lynching had its evil origin.

It was suggested some time ago, in a thoughtful paper read by Professor Wilcox, that a condition something like this had its rise in France during the religious wars.

The first instance of rape, outside of these attacks by armed negroes, and of consequent lynching, that attracted the attention of the country was a case which occurred in Mississippi, where the teaching of equality and of violence found one of its most fruitful fields. A negro dragged a woman down into the woods, and tying her, kept her bound there a prisoner for several days, when he butchered her. He was caught and was lynched.

With the resumption of local power by the whites came the temporary and partial ending of the crimes of assault and of lynching.

As the old relation, which had survived even the strain of Reconstruction, dwindled with the passing of the old generation from the stage, and the “New Issue” with the new teaching took its place, the crime broke out again with renewed violence. The idea of equality began to percolate more extensively among the negroes. In evidence of it is the fact that since the assaults began again they have been chiefly directed against the plainer order of people, instances of ! attacks on women of the upper class, though not unknown, being of rare occurrence.*[B]

Conditions in the South render the commission of this crime peculiarly easy. The white population is sparse, the forests are extensive, the officers of the law distant and difficult to reach; but, above all, the negro population has appeared inclined to condone the fact of mere assault.

Twenty-five years ago, women went unaccompanied and unafraid throughout the South, as they still go throughout the North. To-day, no white woman, or girl, or female child, goes alone out of sight of the house except on necessity; and no man leaves his wife alone in his house, if he can help it. Cases have occurred of assault and murder in broad day, within sight and sound of the victim’s home. Indeed, an instance occurred not a great while ago in the District of Columbia, within a hundred yards of a fashionable drive, when, about three o’clock of a bright June day, a young girl was attacked within sight and sound of her house, and when she screamed her throat was cut. So near to her home was the spot that her mother and an officer, hearing her cries, reached her before life was extinct.

For a time, the ordinary course of the law was, in the main, relied on to meet the trouble; but it was found that, notwithstanding the inevitable infliction of the death penalty, several evils resulted therefrom. The chief one was that the ravishing of women, instead of diminishing, steadily increased. The criminal, under the ministrations of his preachers, usually professed to have “gotten religion,” and from the shadow of the gallows called on his friends to follow him to glory. So that the punishment lost to these emotional people much of its deterrent force, especially where the real sympathy of the race was mainly with the criminal rather than with his victim. Another evil was the dreadful necessity of calling on the innocent victim, who, if she survived, as she rarely did, was already bowed to the earth by shame, to relate in public! the sto ry of the assault--an ordeal which was worse than death. Yet another was the delay in the execution of the law. With these, however, was one other which, perhaps, did more than all the rest together to wrest the trial and punishment from the Courts and carry them out by mob-violence. This was the unnamable brutality with which the causing crime was, in nearly every case, attended. The death of the victim of the ravisher was generally the least of the attendant horrors. In Texas, in Mississippi, in Georgia, in Kentucky, in Colorado, as later in Delaware, the facts in the case were so unspeakable that they have never been put in print. They could not be put in print. It is these unnamable horrors which have outraged the minds of those who live in regions where they have occurred, and where they may at any time occur again, and, upsetting reason, have swept from their bearings cool men and changed them into madmen, drunk with the lust of revenge.

Not unnaturally, such barbarity as burning at the stake has shocked the sense of the rest of the country, and, indeed, of the world. But it is well for the rest of the country, and for the world, to know that it has also shocked the sense of the South, and, in their calmer moments, even the sense of those men who, in their frenzy, have been guilty of it. Only, a deeper shock than even this is at the bottom of their ferocious rage—the shock which comes from the ravishing and butchery of their women and children.

It is not necessary to be an apologist for barbarity because one states with bluntness the cause. The stern underlying principle of the people who commit these barbarities is one that has its root deep in the basic passions of humanity; the determination to put an end to the ravishing of their women by an inferior race, no matter what the consequence.

For a time, a speedy execution by hanging was the only mode of retribution resorted to by the lynchers; then, when this failed of its purpose, a more savage method was essayed, born of a! savage fury at the failure of the first, and a stern resolve to strike a deeper terror into those whom the other method had failed to awe.

The following may serve as an illustration. Ten or twelve years ago, the writer lectured one afternoon in the early spring in a town in the cotton-belt of Texas--one of the prettiest towns in the Southwest. The lecture was delivered in the Court-house. The writer was introduced by a gentleman who had been a member of the Confederate Cabinet and a Senator of the United States, and the audience was composed of refined and cultured people, representing, perhaps, every State from Maine to Texas.

Two days later, the papers contained the account of the burning at the stake in this town of a negro. He had picked up a little girl of five or six years of age on the street where she was playing in front of her home, and carried her off, telling her that her mother had sent him for her; and when she cried, he had soothed her with candy which, with deliberate prevision, he had bought for the purpose. When she was found, she was unrecognizable. With her little body broken and mangled, he had cut her throat and thrown her into a ditch.

A strong effort was made to save him for the law, but without avail: the people had reverted to the primal law of vengeance. Farmers came from fifty miles to see that vengeance was exacted. They had resolved to strike terror into the breasts of all, so that such a crime could never occur again. This was, perhaps, the second or third instance of burning in the country.

Of late, lynching at the stake has spread beyond the region where it has such reason for existence as may be given by the conditions that prevail in the South. Three frightful instances by burning have occurred recently in Northern States, in communities where some of these conditions were partly wanting. The horror of the main fact of lynching was increased, in two of the cases, by a concerted attack on a large element of the negro population which was wholly i! nnocent. Even the unoffending negroes were driven from their homes, a consequence which has never followed in the South, where it might seem there was more occasion for it.

It thus appears that the original crime, and also the consequent one in its most brutal form, are not confined to the South, and, possibly, are only more frequent there because of the greater number of negroes in that section. The deep racial instincts are not limited by geographical bounds.

These last-mentioned lynchings were so ferocious, and so unwarranted by any such necessity, real or fancied, as may be thought to exist at the South by reason of the frequency of assault and the absence of a strong police force, that they not unnaturally called forth almost universal condemnation. The President felt it proper to write an open letter, commending the action of the Governor of Indiana on the proper and efficient exercise of his authority to uphold the law and restore order in his State. But who has ever thought it necessary to commend the Governors of the Southern States under similar circumstances? The militia of some of the Southern States are almost veterans, so frequently have they been called on to protect wretches whose crimes stank in the nostrils of all decent men. The Governor of Virginia boasted, a few years ago, that no lynching should take place during his incumbency, and he nearly made good his boast; though, to do so, he had to call out at one time or another almost the entire force of the State.

Editorials in some of the Eastern papers note with astonishment recent instances where law-officers in the South have protected their prisoners or eluded a mob. The writers of these editorials know so little of the South that one is scarcely surprised at their ignorance. But men are hanged by law for this crime of assault every few months in some State in the South. A few years ago, Sheriff Smith, of Birmingham, protected a murderer at the cost of many lives; a little later, Mayor Prout, of Roanoke, defended a n! egro rav isher and murderer, and, though the mob finally succeeded in their aim, six men were killed by the guards before the jail was carried. These are only two of the many instances in which brave and faithful officers have, at the risk of their lives, defended their charges against that most terrible of all assailants—a determined mob.*

*The following table is from the Chicago Tribune. The number of legal executions in 1900 was 118, as compared with 131 in 1899, 109 in 1898, 128 in 1897, 122 in 1896, 132 in 1895, 132 in 1894, 126 in 1893, and 107 in 1892. The executions in the several States and Territories were in 1900 as follows:
Alabama 4 New York 3
Arkansas 0 Nevada 0
California 5 North Carolina 9
Colorado 0 North Dakota 1
Connecticut 1 Ohio 1
Delaware 0 Oregon 1
Florida 1 Pennsylvania 15
Georgia 14 Rhode Island 0
Idaho 2 South Carolina 3
Illinois 0 South Dakota 0
Indiana 0 Tennessee 4
Iowa 0 Texas 18
Kansas 0 Vermont 0
Kentucky 0 Virginia 7
Louisiana 6 West Virginia 0
Maine 0 Wisconsin 0
Maryland 3 Wyoming 0
Massachusetts 0 Washington 2
Michigan 0 Arizona 4
Minnesota 0 District of Columbia 3
Mississippi 1 New Mexico 0
Missouri 3 Utah 0
Montana 3 Indian Territory 0
Nebraska 0 Oklahoma 0
New Jersey 4 Alaska 0
New Hampshire 0

There were 80 hanged in the South and 39 in the North, of whom 60 were whites, 58 were blacks, and one a Chinaman. The crimes for which they were executed were: murder, 113; rape, 5; arson, 1. Thus, of the 119 hangings, about two-thirds (80) were in the South and one-third (39) in the North; about one-half (60) of the entire number were of whites, and one-half (58) were of blacks. So, the South appears to have done its part in the matter of punishing by law as well as by violence.

For a time, the assaults by negroes were confined to young women who were caught alone in solitary and secluded places. The company even of a child was sufficient to protect ! them. Th en the ravishers grew bolder, and attacks followed on women when they were in company. And then, not content with this, the ravishers began to attack women in their own homes. Sundry instances of this have occurred within the last few years. As an illustration, may be cited the notorious case of Samuel Hose, who, after making a bet with a negro preacher that he could have access
to a white woman, went into a farmer’s house while the family, father, mother, and child, were at supper; brained the man with his axe; threw the child into a corner with a violence which knocked it senseless, and ravished the wife and mother with unnamable horrors, butchered her and bore away with him the indisputable proof of having won his wager. He was caught and was burnt.

Another instance, only less appalling, occurred two years ago in Lynchburg, Virginia, where the colored janitor of a white female school, who had been brought up and promoted by the Superintendent of Schools, and was regarded as a shining example of what education might accomplish with his race, entered the house of a respectable man one morning, after the husband, who was a foreman in a factory, had gone to his work; and ravished the wife, and then putting his knee on her breast, coolly cut her throat as he might have done a calf’s. There was no attempt at lynching; but the Governor, resolved to preserve the good name of the commonwealth, felt it necessary to order out two regiments of soldiers, in which course he was sustained by the entire sentiment of the State.

These cases were neither worse nor better than many of those which have occurred in the South in the last twenty years, and in that period hundreds of women and a number of children have been ravished and slain.

Now, how is this crime of assault to be stopped? For stopped it must be, and stopped it will be, whatever the cost. One proposition is that separation of the races, complete separation, is the only remedy. The theory appears Utopian. Colonization has been! the dre am of certain philanthropists for a hundred years. And, meantime, the negroes have increased from less than a million to nine millions. They will never be deported; not because we have not the money, for an amount equal to that spent in pensions during three years would pay the expenses of such deportation, and an amount equal to that paid in six years would set them up in a new country. But the negroes have rights; many of them are estimable citizens; and even the body of them, when well regulated, are valuable laborers. It might, therefore, as well be assumed that this plan will never be carried out, unless the occasion becomes so imperative that all other rights give way to the supreme right of necessity.

It is plain, then, that we must deal with the matter in a more practicable manner, accepting conditions as they are, and applying to them legal methods which will be effective. Lynching does not end ravishing, and that is the prime necessity. Most right- thinking men are agreed as to this. Indeed, lynching, through lacking the supreme principle of law, the deliberateness from which is supposed to come the certainty of identification, fails utterly to meet the necessity of the case even as a deterrent. Not only have assaults occurred again and again in the same neighborhood where lynching has followed such crime; but, a few years ago, it was publicly stated that a negro who had just witnessed a lynching for this crime actually committed an assault on his way home. However this may be, lynching as a remedy is a ghastly failure; and its brutalizing effect on the community is incalculable.

The charge that is often made, that the innocent are sometimes lynched, has little foundation. The rage of a mob is not directed against the innocent, but against the guilty; and its fury would not be satisfied with any other sacrifices than the death of the real criminal. Nor does the criminal merit any consideration, however terrible the punishment. The real injury is to the perpetrators of the crime ! of destr oying the law, and to the community in which the law is slain.[C]

It is pretty generally conceded that the “law’s delay” is partly responsible for the “wild justice” of mob vengeance, and this has undoubtedly been the cause of many mobs. But it is far from certain if any change in the methods of administration of law will effect the stopping of lynching; while to remedy this evil we may bring about a greater peril. Trial by jury is the bed-rock of our liberties, and the inherent principle of such trial is its deliberateness. It has been said that the whole purpose of the Constitution of Great Britain is that twelve men may sit in the jury-box. The methods of the law may well be reformed; but any movement should be jealously scanned which touches the chief barrier of all liberty. The first step, then, would appear to be the establishment of a system securing a reasonably prompt trial and speedy execution by law, rather than a wholesome revolution of the existing system.

Many expedients have been suggested; some of the most drastic by Northern men. One of them proposed, not long since, that to meet the mob--spirit, a trial somewhat in the nature of a drum-head court-martial might be established by law, by which the accused may be tried and, if found guilty, executed immediately. Others have proposed as a remedy emasculation by law; while a Justice of the Supreme Court has recently given the weight of his personal opinion in favor of prompt trial and the abolishment of appeals in such cases. Even the terrible suggestion has been made that burning at the stake might be legalized!

These suggestions testify how grave the matter is considered to be by those who make them.

But none of these, unless it be the one relating to emasculation, is more than an expedient. The trouble lies deeper. The crime of lynching is not likely to cease until the crime of ravishing and murdering women and children is less frequent than it has been of late. And this crime, which is will-nigh wholly con! fined to the negro race, will not greatly diminish until the negroes themselves take it in hand and stamp it out.

From recent developments, it may be properly inferred that the absence of this crime during the period of Slavery was due more to the feeling among the negroes themselves than to any repressive measures on the part of the whites. The negro had the same animal instincts in Slavery that he exhibits now; the punishment that follows the crime now is as certain, as terrible, and as swift as it could have been then. So, to what is due the alarming increase of this terrible brutality?

To the writer it appears plain that it is due to two things: first, to racial antagonism and to the talk of social inequality, from which it first sprang, that inflames the ignorant negro, who has grown up unregulated and undisciplined; and, secondly, to the absence of a strong restraining public opinion among the negroes of any class, which alone can extirpate the crime. In the first place, the negro does not generally believe in the virtue of women. It is beyond his experience. He does not generally believe in the existence of actual assault. It is beyond his comprehension. In the next place, his passion, always his controlling force, is now, since the new teaching, for the white woman.*[D]

That there are many negroes who are law-abiding and whose influence is for good, no one who knows the worthy members of the race, those who represent the better element, will deny. But while there are, of course, notable exceptions, they are not often of the “New Issue,” nor even generally among the prominent leaders: those who publish papers and control conventions.

As the crime of rape had its baleful origin in the teaching of equality and the placing of power in the ignorant negroes’ hands, so its perpetration and increase have undoubtedly been due in large part to the same teaching. The intelligent negro may understand what social equality truly means; but to the ignorant and brutal young negro, it ! signifie s but one thing: the opportunity to enjoy, equally with white men, the privilege of cohabiting with white women. This the whites of the South understand; and if it were understood abroad, it would serve to explain some things which have not been understood hitherto. It will explain, in part, the universal and furious hostility of the South to even the least suggestion of social equality.

A close following of the instances of rape and lynching, and the public discussion consequent thereon, has led the writer to the painful realization that even the leaders of the negro race--at least, those who are prominent enough to hold conventions and write papers on the subject--have rarely, by act or word, shown a true appreciation of the enormity of the crime of ravishing and murdering women. Their discussion and denunciation have been almost invariably and exclusively devoted to the crime of lynching. Underlying most of their protests is the suggestion, that the victim of the mob is innocent and a martyr. Now and then, there is a mild generalization on the evil of lawbreaking and the violation of women; but, for one stern word of protest against violating women and cutting their throats, the records of negro meetings will show many against the attack of the mob on the criminal. And, as to any serious and determined effort to take hold of and stamp out the crime that is blackening the entire negro race to- day, and arousing against them the fatal and possibly the undying enmity of the stronger race, there is, with the exception of the utterances of a few score individuals like Booker Washington, who always speaks for the right, Hannibal Thomas and Bishop Turner, hardly a trace of such a thing. A crusade has been preached against lynching, even as far as England; but none has been thought of against the ravishing and tearing to pieces of white women and children.

Happily, there is an element of sound-minded, law-abiding negroes, representative of the old negro, who without parade stand for good order! , and do what they can to repress lawlessness among their people. But for this class and the kindly relations which are preserved between them and the whites, the situation in the South would long since have become unbearable. These, however, are not generally among the leaders, and, unfortunately, their influence is not sufficiently extended to counteract the evil influences which are at work with such fatal results.

One who reads the utterances of negro orators and preachers on the subject of lynching, and who knows the negro race, cannot doubt that, at bottom, their sympathy is generally with the “victim” of the mob, and not with his victim.

Until the negroes shall create among themselves a sound public opinion which, instead of fostering, shall reprobate and sternly repress the crime of assaulting women and children, the crime will never be extirpated, and until this crime is stopped the crime of lynching will never be extirpated. Lynching will never be done away with while the sympathy of the whites is with the lynchers, and no more will ravishing be done away with while the sympathy of the negroes is with the ravisher. When the negroes shall stop applying all their energies to harboring and defending negroes, no matter what their crime so it be against the whites, and shall distinguish between the law-abiding negro and the law-breaker, a long step will have been taken.

Should the negroes sturdily and faithfully set themselves to prevent the crime of rape by members of that race, it could be stamped out. Should the whites set themselves against lynching, lynching would be stopped. The remedy then is plain. Let the negroes take charge of the crime of ravishing and firmly put it away from them, and let the whites take charge of the crime of lynching and put it away from them. It is time that the races should address themselves to the task; for it is with nations as with individual men; whatsoever they sow that shall they also reap.

It is the writer’s belief that the arrest and ! the prom pt handing over to the law of negroes by negroes, for assault on white women, would do more to break up ravishing, and to restore amicable relations between the two races, than all the resolutions of all the Conventions and all the harangues of all the politicians.

It has been tried in various States to put an end to lynching by making the county in which the lynching occurs liable in damages for the crime. It is a good theory; and, if it has not worked well, it is because of the difficulty of executing the provision. Could some plan be devised to array each race against the crime to which it is prone, both rape and lynching might be diminished, if not wholly prevented.

The practical application of such a principle is difficult, but, perhaps, it is not impossible. It is possible that in every community negroes might be appointed officers of the law, to look exclusively after lawbreakers of their own race. The English in the East manage such matters well, under equally complicated and delicate conditions. For example, in the Island of Malta, where the population are of different classes among whom a certain jealousy exists, there are several classes of police: the naval police, the military police, and the civil or municipal police. To each of these is assigned more especially the charge of one of the three classes of whom the population of the Island is composed. Again, in Hong Kong, where the situation is even more delicate, there are several classes of police: the English, the Chinese, and the Indian police. Only the first are empowered to make general arrests; the others have powers relating exclusively to the good order of the races to which they belong, though they may in all cases be called in to assist the English police.

Somewhat in the same way, the negroes might be given within their province powers sufficiently full to enable them to keep order among their people, and they might on the other hand be held to a certain accountability for such good order. It might even be ! required that every person should be listed and steadily kept track of, as is one in Germany at present. The recent vagrant laws of Georgia, where there are more negroes than in the entire North, are an attempt in this direction.

In the same way, the white officials charged with the good order of the county or town might be given enlarged powers of summoning posses, and might be held to a high accountability. For example, ipso facto forfeiture of the official bond and removal from office, with perpetual disability to hold any office again, might be provided as a penalty for permitting any persons to be taken out of their hands.

Few ravishings by negroes would occur if the more influential members of the race were held accountable for the good order of their race in every community; and few lynchings would occur, at least after the prisoners were in the hands of the officers of the law, if those officers, by the mere fact of relinquishing their prisoners should be disqualified from ever holding office again.

These suggestions may be as Utopian as others which have been made; but if they cannot be carried out, it is because the ravishings by negroes and the murders by mobs have their roots so deep in racial instincts that nothing can eradicate them, and in such case the ultimate issue will be a resort to the final test of might, which in the last analysis underlies everything.







It was stated by Russell Means that he was given documents
from scholars in Turin, Italy (the true home of the Shroud of Turin) that
the Native people of this continent were called "Indians", not because of so
called confusion between this land and India, but because the early
explorers to this continent saw the spiritual nature of the Original Man
living here and wrote back to Italy and Spain and said "these people are
Indios (In-Dios)"  meaning, In God or with God.
Please share this little known fact with the Universal Zulu Nation. Respect
due, Bro. Ernie Panicciolio



That Phoebe Fraunces a Black women saved George Washington's life on the eve

of the Revolutionary War. The British had a agent Irishman name Thomas Hickey,

who was George Washingtons bodyguard who had an intimate friendship with Fraunces and gave her

a dish of poisoned peas to served Washington when he came for dinner. She became suspicious of the Irishmans

actions and warned Washington, who threw away the peas into the yard, where some chickens ate the peas and fell dead

. For Hickey assassination attempt on Washington's life, he was hanged before a crowed of 20,000 in

New York City. Both Miss Fraunces and her father, Black Sam were officially recognized by the Continental

Congress for their service to the fledging country and given a sum of money. When George became Americas

President, he appointed Fraunces White House steward.


That President Ulysses Grant was probably the first and only American President to be arrested, and that it was a Black

District of Columbia policeman by the name of Officer William West who performed the deed in

the 19th century. Officer West book the President for violating the district speeding law and for professionalism as an officer of the law,

the President later on promoted Officer West to a mounted policeman. President Grant not want to be in the public eye as someone who is above the law.



 Noontide Press      Moors  Paper Writing :: Book Reports :: American ...    KKK SITES

Moroccan African Moors     Mulims First to America?      Islam in America 

Muslim Legacy in Early Americas - W. Africans, Moors     tribal Terrorism


American History From About    African-Amercian History   The African     African Americans Indians

The African-American Mosaic Exhibition (Library of Congress)     Native Americans  

 The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History    America's West - Development & History

American Indian Genealogy and Media Sites by Phil Konstantin    American Indian History Resources

On This Date in North American Indian History by Phil Konstantin   African Americans - Black Indians

   American President: Presidential History Resources       American President   

 The North Star: A Journal of African-American Religious History   THE SLAUGHTER 

Black Indians (Afro-Native Americans)    American Women's History: A Research Guide

 Documents For The Study Of American History  American Military History   LYNCHINGS

 American History, Page 1, Spanish Conquest of Native America   American History Sites

 Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division's First 100 Years    

       Our Shared History, African American Heritage   African American History: Welcome  



 Hitchhiker's Guide to American History   Popular Songs in American History   VODOUN

 American Cultural History - Decade 1920-1929  Center for History of Physics Home Page

 The Avalon Project : Chronology of American History   Money in North American History

  American History Government  African American History - Black History Resources - Academic Info

 Colonial American History Social Studies Resources   Historical Text Archive    BLACK INDIANS

 The Journal of the Moorish Paradigm  First Nations Histories   


 Civil War American History 1860 1865 Timeline Battle Map  Maps of Native American Nations, History, Info

 Bibliography II     NATIVE AMERICANS   A History of RACISM  



1499 Amerigo Vespucci and Alonso de Hojeda sail for South America and reach mouth of Amazon

1502 Vespucci, after second voyage, concludes South America is not part of India and names it Mundus Novus.

1513  Balboa crosses Isthmus of Panama and reaches Pacific for the first time, but believes it to be part of the  Indian Ocean.

1513  Ponce de Leon, searching for the "fountain of youth" reaches and names Florida.

1519  Cortes enters Tenochtitlan (Mexico City); Domenico de Pineda explores Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Vera Cruz.

1522  Andagoya discovers Peru

1523  Jamaica founded.

1531  Pizarro invades Peru, conquers Incas.

1535  Lima founded.

1536  Buenos Aires founded.

1538  Bogota founded.

1539  First printing press in New  World set up in Mexico City.

1540  Grand Canyon discovered.

1541  De soto discovers Mississippi River; Coronado explores from New  Mexico across Texas, Oklahoma, and eastern Kansas.

1549  Jesuit missionaries arrive in South America.

1551  Universities founded in Lima and Mexico City;

1565  ST. Augustine founded (razed by Francis Drake in 1586).

1567  Rio de Janeiro founded.

1605  Santa Fe, New Mexico founded (date in dispute; some say 1609).

A Lesson in Black History
The Statue of Liberty

It is hard to believe that after my many years of schooling (secondary and
post) the following facts about the Statue of Liberty were never taught.

Hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people including myself have
visited the Statue of Liberty over the years but yet I'm unable to find one
person who knows the true history behind the Statue...amazing!

Yes, amazing that so much important Black history (such as this) is hidden
from us (Black and White). What makes this even worse is the fact that the
current twist on history perpetuates and promotes white supremacy at the
expense of Black Pride!

During my visit to France I saw the original Statue of Liberty. However,
there was a difference...the statue in France is BLACK!!!!!!

"Ya learn something new everyday!"

The Statue of Liberty was originally a Black woman. But, as memory serves,
it was because the model was Black. In a book called "The Journey of The
Songhai People," as Dr. Jim Haskins (a member of the National Education
Advisory Committee of the Liberty-Ellis Island Committee, professor of
English at the University of Florida, and prolific Black author) points out
that is what stimulated the original idea for that 151 foot statue in the
harbor. He says that the idea for the creation of the statue initially was
to acknowledge the part that Black soldiers played in the ending of Black
African Bondage in the United States.

It was created in the mind of the French historian Edourd de Laboulaye,
Chairman of the French Anti-Slavery Society, who, together with sculptor
Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, proposed to the French government that the
people of France present to the people of the United States through the
American Abolitionist Society, the gift of a Statue of Liberty in
recognition of the fact that Black soldiers won the Civil War in the United
States. It was widely known then that it was Black Soldiers who played the
pivotal role in winning the war, and this gift would be a tribute to their

Suzanne Nakasian, director of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island
Foundations' National Ethnic Campaign said that the Black Americans' direct
connection to Lady Liberty is unknown to the majority of Americans, BLACK

When the statue was presented to the US. Minister to France in 1884, it is
said that he remonstrated that the dominant view of the broken shackles
would be offensive to the U.S. South because the statue was a reminder of
Blacks winning their freedom. It was a reminder to a beaten South of the
ones who caused their defeat, their despised former captives.

Documents of Proof:

1.) You may go and see the original model of the Statue of Liberty, with
the broken chains at her feet and in her left hand. Go to the Museum of the
City of NY, Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street (212) 534-1672 or call the same
number and dial ext. 208 and speak to Peter Simmons and he can send you
some documentation.

2.) Check with the N. Y. Times magazine, part II May 18, 1986.

3.) The dark original face of the Statue of Liberty can be seen in the N.
Y. Post June 17, 1986, also the Post stated the reason for the broken
chains at her feet.

4.) Finally, you may check with the French Mission or the French Embassy at
the U.N. or in Washington, D.C. and ask for some original French material
on the Statue of Liberty, including the Bartholdi original model. You can
call (202) 944-6060 or 6400.

Please pass this information along! Be sure to send it to people with
children! Open a dialog and discuss it with your friends! Let this be the
beginning of your quest for the Truth about American History past and




The contests herein give a historical development of

Police forces in the U.S.


19th Century

Organized polices forces as we know them today are a comparatively recent thing in U.S. history. Until the middle of the 19th century, the cities were usually guarded by what was called the “watch system”, meaning a handful of men who patrolled the streets during the night, sometimes calling out the time and the state of the weather. The night watch system was noted for disorganization and inefficiency. Little was expected of it and it wasn’t considered an important service to deserve much money or attention. Watchmen were notorious for falling asleep or being drunk on the job.


            The first major change in this system came when Boston introduced a “DAY” watch, composed of six men, to compliment its night watch.


            New York City created a “Day and Night Police”, the first to combine both day and night watches into a single force. This was the forerunner of the modern city police, and its example was followed by many cities;

                        1851 Chicago

                        1852 Cincinnati and New Orleans

                        1854 Philadelphia and Boston

                        1857 Baltimore and Newark

            By the 1870’s, virtually every major city in the U.S. had created an organized police force along the lines that are still the basis of most police organizations in this country.

What happened during this period that prompted this increase in police power?

            The usual answer given by liberal police historians stresses the increasing population density and ethnic diversity in the cities that came with the beginning of massive immigration from the 1830’s onward. This explanation only scratches the surface and is basically misleading. Although increasing population and ethnic diversity were important features of this period, there is no reason why, in themselves, they should call forth greatly increased use of police force.

            The basic social process going on from the 1830’s to the 1860’s was the beginning of industrial capitalism in the United States, and the emergence of the typical class structure that industrial capitalism creates. Before this time, of course there were poor people in the cities: but capitalist industrialization  dramatically increased their numbers, their visibility, and their militancy, and therefore increased the problems of “social control.”

Regional Police Department: Northeast/Midwest

            Immigration from the American countryside and from overseas (at this time mainly from Ireland and Germany) provided a steady supply of cheap labor for the growing factories of the industrial Northeast and Midwest. Between 1810 and 1870, the number of factory workers in the U.S.; as a whole increased from about 75 thousand to about 2.5 million. This early industrial work force was subject to harsh exploitation in the factories and grim living conditions in the growing  slums of the industrial cities.

            Militant conflict between workers and owners began on a large scale with the first stirrings of a significant American Labor Movement. At the same time, rioting in the cities was common and rates of crime were high. The wealthy and powerful began to define working people and the unemployed poor as the “dangerous classes” and to demand more effective means of controlling and disciplining them. They had an example available over seas since England had undergone the process of capitalist industrialization somewhat earlier, they also were the first to develop modern police forces, and most of the early U.S. police departments took their basic form from the London police , created in 183?


            The development of the police was somewhat different in the south and southwest. In the south, the early urban police forces were designed mainly to control slave and free blacks in the cities, and in the southwest the early police were developed in connection with the subordination of Mexicans and Native Americans, rather than an immigrant industrial working class.

What is revealed?

Brutality and unpredictability in behavior.

            Although these early police forces were designed as instruments of class domination, they were generally ineffective instruments and were usually regarded as such. There were two main reasons for this;

1.      The early police were sometimes to close to the

Classes and communities they were suppose to

Be controlling

2.      When they were not, they relied almost entirely

On the most primitive method of control, BRUTE FORCE

            Although designed to intimidate and control the “dangerous classes”, the police were usually recruited at least partly from those classes and were therefore unreliable often as enforcers of the interests of property and power. It’s doubtful that the police forces of many cities ever consistently represented the interests of the poor, but they were sometimes sympathetic with them to a significant extent. This became especially clear during some of the labor violence of the 1880’s, when several local police forces refused to intimidate strikers, and military troops had to be called in.

            The development of the National Guard system, which took place between 1877 and 1892, was one result of this unreliability of the local police. Originally officered mainly by business and professional men, and sometimes directly subsidized by wealthy industrialists, the National Guard was specifically designed to be a more direct and therefore more reliable instrument of the wealthy and propertied.


 Bell did not invent telephone, US rules

Scot accused of finding fame by stealing Italian's ideas

Rory Carroll in Rome
Monday June 17, 2002
The Guardian

Italy hailed the redress of a historic injustice yesterday after the
US Congress recognised an impoverished Florentine immigrant as the
inventor of the telephone rather than Alexander Graham Bell.
Historians and Italian-Americans won their battle to persuade
Washington to recognise a little-known mechanical genius, Antonio
Meucci, as a father of modern communications, 113 years after his

The vote by the House of Representatives prompted joyous claims in
Meucci's homeland that finally Bell had been outed as a perfidious
Scot who found fortune and fame by stealing another man's work.

Calling the Italian's career extraordinary and tragic, the resolution
said his "teletrofono", demonstrated in New York in 1860, made him
the inventor of the telephone in the place of Bell, who had access to
Meucci's materials and who took out a patent 16 years later.

"It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the life and
achievements of Antonio Meucci should be recognised, and his work in
the invention of the telephone should be acknowledged," the
resolution stated.

Bell's immortalisation in books and films has rankled with
generations of Italians who know Meucci's story. Born in 1808, he
studied design and mechanical engineering at the Academy of Fine Arts
in Florence, and as a stage technician at the city's Teatro della
Pergola developed a primitive system to help colleagues communicate.

In the 1830s he moved to Cuba and, while working on methods to treat
illnesses with electric shocks, found that sounds could travel by
electrical impulses through copper wire. Sensing potential, he moved
to Staten Island, near New York City, in 1850 to develop the

When Meucci's wife, Ester, became paralysed he rigged a system to
link her bedroom with his neighbouring workshop and in 1860 held a
public demonstration which was reported in New York's Italian-
language press.

In between giving shelter to political exiles, Meucci struggled to
find financial backing, failed to master English and was severely
burned in an accident aboard a steamship.

Forced to make new prototype telephones after Ester sold his machines
for $6 to a secondhand shop, his models became more sophisticated. An
inductor formed around an iron core in the shape of a cylinder was a
technique so sophisticated that it was used decades later for long-
distance connections.

Meucci could not afford the $250 needed for a definitive patent for
his "talking telegraph" so in 1871 filed a one-year renewable notice
of an impending patent. Three years later he could not even afford
the $10 to renew it.

He sent a model and technical details to the Western Union telegraph
company but failed to win a meeting with executives. When he asked
for his materials to be returned, in 1874, he was told they had been
lost. Two years later Bell, who shared a laboratory with Meucci,
filed a patent for a telephone, became a celebrity and made a
lucrative deal with Western Union.

Meucci sued and was nearing victory - the supreme court agreed to
hear the case and fraud charges were initiated against Bell - when
the Florentine died in 1889. The legal action died with him.

Yesterday the newspaper La Repubblica welcomed the vote to recognise
the Tuscan inventor as a belated comeuppance for Bell, a "cunning
Scotsman" and "usurper" whose per- fidy built a communications

  From: EIngram517

                  Startling Facts.....
       These facts are very interesting. Here are a few of the things learned
     at the Black Think Tank this week.


    1. The first Americans or native Americans going back to 13,000 BC were
        black! Look up the Folsom people who lived in Arizona.

     2. Best reason to stop our use of the term African American and say
     Black. A white person who was born in Africa, who moves to America is an
  African American and qualifies for financial aid, etc., but will get the  
    jobs/pay privileges afforded to whites.
      3. Look up the Slavery Law of 1665 (which stayed in effect until 1968)
    and the Maryland Doctrine of Exclusion (1638): both laws state that  
    blacks must be excluded from the benefits afforded whites and that   
    blacks must remain noncompetitive with whites, except in sports and   
     4. Two white men: Bill Gates and Larry Elision, combined have more
     wealth than the combined wealth of all 36 million blacks in America.  
    Civil Rights did not change the economic landscape or the balance of  power
    in America.

       5. Asians received 80% of all government minority set aside contracts.
       6. Blacks eat more fish than whites by a four to one margin. For every 
      dollar whites spend on fish, blacks spend nine dollars on fish. Fish   
     sold wholesale for  will retail at $2.50 --$3.00. Guess what business   we
    should be in as Blacks?
      7. There are no black owned national cable or major network television 
   stations. The black woman who owns our only black owned radio stations,
     plans to sell to white owners after hearing the deal Bob Johnson  
  received for selling BET. (Cathy Hughes is from OMAHA, ya'll!)

     8. There are no black owned companies on the Wall Street Stock Exchange
  where blacks own the majority or controlling interest of the stock.

     9. 96% of all black inmates are men.

   10. Over the next two years 440,000 black inmates will be released from
     prison. The State has no place to put them as they reenter society.   
  Halfway house business!

      11. In 1860, 98% of all Blacks in America worked for White people.2001,
      98% of all Blacks in America still work for white people.
      12. In 1860, blacks in America had a combined net worth of half of one
     percentage point. Guess what in 2001, after Civil Rights, Jesse Jackson,
    Oprah, Shaq, NAACP, and Urban League, our combined net worth is half a 
   percentage point.

    13. For every dollar earned by a Jewish person, that dollar touches 
    12-18 Jewish hands before it leaves their community. For every dollar 
    earned by a black person it leaves the community soon as he or she earns  
     14. Last week in Washington, DC black teenagers where arrested and
    booked for eating McDonalds on the metro subway. Cops cited the recent
    5-4 court decision as the permission to arrest lawbreakers even for  minor

   15. 67% of all hate crimes in America are against blacks. After we get   
   through being pleased that we have carpet in our office, a secretary,   our
   name on the door and make six figures, we do not own anything. What   will
   happen if you miss six months of work without pay? All we have left our
   children is debt not an inheritance. You cannot   pass welfare or food
   stamps onto our kids as a nest egg! We are not even  in the race. By the
   way, the word "race" hit the English language in the    16th century when
   Europeans held a contest to see who will win the race
   to   gather the most wealth through exploitation of blacks.
       You must read Powernomics by Claude Anderson. This is our blueprint to
        create wealth, not just have a job, but be a business owner, so you can
        hire people, be listed on the stock exchange, develop businesses to meet
        our needs.



  African Spirituality and its Influences on
Howard University- Blackburn Center / Room 148

Tony Browder s book. Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization, is
correcting some of the misconceptions so the reader, in fact, can be
introduced to a Nile Valley civilization in order to understand its
role as
the parent of future civilizations.
These events are free and open to the public and are
sponsored by NCOBRA, UBIQUITY and IKG.
For information call 301-853-2465.

Click Here: http://www.auser.org/tour.html"
African Centered Tour of Chocolate City

BOOKS by Anthony Browder3
1) From The Browder Files
2) Nile Valley Contributions To Civilization
3) Survival Strategies For African Americans

Washington, D.C. is significant because it was the first city, built
modern times, which was laid out on paper before construction began.
layout and design of the city was based on plans of city planning and
orientation which were first developed in ancient Kemet (Egypt) andÂ
incorporated in the building of many cities in Europe. The founding
of the United States borrowed many aspects of Nile Valley symbolism
philosophy and incorporated them into the very fabric of the creation
of this
nation. Their intention was to recreate the spiritual essence of Egypt
in the
Americas. The African origins of architecture, symbolism and temple
orientation are discussed during the tour. Also established is the
origins of Masonry and the Masonic influence on the development of the
States and the District of Columbia.
The African Centered Tour of Washington, D.C. was designed by Tony
Browder in
1986, after his travel to Egypt and realization that many symbols of
Africa were perpetuated in Washington, D.C. architecture. His tour,
in part to 'instill a sense of self-worth in black Americans about
heritage', underscores the architectural and symbolic relationships
the Nation's Capital and ancient Egypt.
 The sites visited include:
The sites visited include:
 Meridian Hill Park
 Scottish Rite Temple
 The House of the Temple
 Lafayette Park
 The White House
 The Lincoln Memorial
 The Washington Monument
 L'Enfant Plaza
 The Library of Congress
 The Capitol
 This tour will reveal:
 The Egyptian Origins of Architecture & Masonry
 Sacred Architecture & Symbolism
 The True Meaning of the Washington Monument
 The Spiritual Significance of 16th Street
 Masonic Influences on the Design of Washington, D.C.
 A Symbolic Interpretation of Numbers
 The Library of Congress & the African Origins of Mankind

Recommended Reading




Bill of Rights

Amendment I


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.



A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.



No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.



The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.



No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.



In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.



In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.



Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.



The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.



The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.


The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.


The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;--The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.


Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.


Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.


Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.


Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.


Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.


Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.


Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.


The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislatures.


When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.


This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.


Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.


Section 2. The Congress and the several states shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.


The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.


Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.


Section 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.


Section 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.


Section 4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.


Section 5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.


Section 6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission


Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.


Section 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.


Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.


Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.


Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission to the states by the Congress.


Section 1. The District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:


A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a state, but in no event more than the least populous state; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the states, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a state; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.


Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.


Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.


Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.


Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.


Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.


Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.


Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.


No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.


Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.




NO 1: Introduction

by Alexander Hamilton


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 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 pretence 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 forbidding appearance of zeal for the firmness and

efficiency of the 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:- The utility of the UNION to your political

prosperity- The insufficiency of the present Confederation to preserve

that Union- The necessity of a government at least equally energetic

with the one proposed, to the attainment of this object- The

conformity of the proposed Constitution to the true principles of

republican government- Its analogy to your own State constitution- and

lastly, The additional security which its adoption will afford to

the preservation of that species of government to liberty, and to


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. *001 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.


NO 2: Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence

by John Jay


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, wide-spreading 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 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 well-balanced 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 persuaded 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 team 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 persuade the people to reject the

advice of that patriotic Congress. Many, indeed, were deceived and

deluded, but the 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 advisable.

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 of 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 poet: "Farewell! A Long Farewell to All My



NO 3: The Same Subject Continued

by John Jay


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

the Americans, intelligent and well-informed) 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

violations 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?


NO 4: The Same Subject Continued

by John Jay


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 any thing by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make war

when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for purposes and

objects merely personal, such as a 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 then 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; not 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

defence, 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 then 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

defence 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 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 defence? 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 towards 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.


NO 5: The Same Subject Continued

by John Jay


QUEEN Anne, in her letter of the 1st July, 1706, to the Scotch

Parliament, makes some observations on the importance of the Union

then forming between England and Scotland, which merit our

attention. I shall present the public with one or two extracts from

it: "An entire and perfect union will be the solid foundation of

lasting peace: It will secure your religion, liberty, and property;

remove the animosities amongst yourselves, and the jealousies and

differences betwixt our two kingdoms. It must increase your

strength, riches, and trade; and by this union the whole island, being

joined in affection and free from all apprehensions of different

interest, will be enabled to resist all its enemies." "We most

earnestly recommend to you calmness and unanimity in this great and

weighty affair, that the union may be brought to a happy conclusion,

being the only effectual way to secure our present and future

happiness, and disappoint the designs of our and your enemies, who

will doubtless, on this occasion, use their utmost endeavors to

prevent or delay this union."

It was remarked in the preceding paper, that weakness and

divisions at home would invite dangers from abroad; and that nothing

would tend more to secure us from them than union, strength, and

good government within ourselves. This subjects is copious and

cannot easily be exhausted.

The history of Great Britain is the one with which we are in general

the best acquainted, and it gives us many useful lessons. We may

profit by their experience without paying the price which it cost

them. Although it seems obvious to common sense that the people of

such an island should be but one nation, yet we find that they were

for ages divided into three, and that those three were almost

constantly embroiled in quarrels and wars with one another.

Notwithstanding their true interest with respect to the continental

nations was really the same, yet by the arts and policy and

practices of those nations, their mutual jealousies were perpetually

kept inflamed, and for a long series of years they were far more

inconvenient and troublesome than they were useful and assisting to

each other.

Should the people of America divide themselves into three or four

nations, would not the same thing happen? Would not similar jealousies

arise, and be in like manner cherished? Instead of their being "joined

in affection" and free from all apprehension of different "interests,"

envy and jealousy would soon extinguish confidence and affection,

and the partial interests of each confederacy, instead of the

general interests of all America, would be the only objects of their

policy and pursuits. Hence, like most other bordering nations, they

would always be either involved in disputes and war, or live in the

constant apprehension of them.

The most sanguine advocates for three or four confederacies cannot

reasonably suppose that they would long remain exactly on an equal

footing in point of strength, even if it was possible to form them

so at first; but, admitting that to be practicable, yet what human

contrivance can secure the continuance of such equality? Independent

of those local circumstances which tend to beget and increase power in

one part and to impede its progress in another, we must advert to

the effects of that superior policy and good management which would

probably distinguish the government of one above the rest, and by

which their relative equality in strength and consideration would be

destroyed. For it cannot be presumed that the same degree of sound

policy, prudence, and foresight would uniformly be observed by each of

these confederacies for a long succession of years.

Whenever, and from whatever causes, it might happen, and happen it

would, that any one of these nations or confederacies should rise on

the scale of political importance much above the degree of her

neighbors, that moment would those neighbors behold her with envy

and with fear. Both those passions would lead them to countenance,

if not to promote, whatever might promise to diminish her

importance; and would also restrain them from measures calculated to

advance or even to secure her prosperity. Much time would not be

necessary to enable her to discern these unfriendly dispositions.

She would soon begin, not only to lose confidence in her neighbors,

but also to feel a disposition equally unfavorable to them. Distrust

naturally creates distrust, and by nothing is good-will and kind

conduct more speedily changed than by invidious jealousies and

uncandid imputations, whether expressed or implied.

The North is generally the region of strength, and many local

circumstances render it probable that the most Northern of the

proposed confederacies would, at a period not very distant, be

unquestionably more formidable than any of the others. No sooner would

this become evident than the Northern Hive would excite the same ideas

and sensations in the more southern parts of America which it formerly

did in the southern parts of Europe. Nor does it appear to be a rash

conjecture that its young swarms might often be tempted to gather

honey in the more blooming fields and milder air of their luxurious

and more delicate neighbors.

They who well consider the history of similar divisions and

confederacies will find abundant reason to apprehend that those in

contemplation would in no other sense be neighbors than as they

would be borderers; that they would neither love nor trust one

another, but on the contrary would be a prey to discord, jealousy, and

mutual injuries; in short, that they would place us exactly in the

situations in which some nations doubtless wish to see us, viz.,

formidable only to each other.

From these considerations it appears that those gentlemen are

greatly mistaken who suppose that alliances offensive and defensive

might be formed between these confederacies, and would produce that

combination and union of wills, of arms, and of resources, which would

be necessary to put and keep them in a formidable state of defence

against foreign enemies.

When did the independent states, into which Britain and Spain were

formerly divided, combine in such alliance, or unite their forces

against a foreign enemy? The proposed confederacies will be distinct

nations. Each of them would have its commerce with foreigners to

regulate by distinct treaties; and as their productions and

commodities are different and proper for different markets, so would

those treaties be essentially different. Different commercial concerns

must create different interests, and of course different degrees of

political attachment to and connection with different foreign nations.

Hence it might and probably would happen that the foreign nation

with whom the Southern confederacy might be at war would be the one

with whom the Northern confederacy would be the most desirous of

preserving peace and friendship. An alliance so contrary to their

immediate interest would not therefore be easy to form, nor, if

formed, would it be observed and fulfilled with perfect good faith.

Nay, it is far more probable that in America, as in Europe,

neighboring nations, acting under the impulse of opposite interests

and unfriendly passions, would frequently be found taking different

sides. Considering our distance from Europe, it would be more

natural for these confederacies to apprehend danger from one another

than from distant nations, and therefore that each of them should be

more desirous to guard against the others by the aid of foreign

alliances, than to guard against foreign dangers by alliances

between themselves. And here let us not forget how much more easy it

is to receive foreign fleets into our ports, and foreign armies into

our country, than it is to persuade or compel them to depart. How many

conquests did the Romans and others make in the characters of allies,

and what innovations did they under the same character introduce into

the governments of those whom they pretended to protect.

Let candid men judge, then, whether the division of America into any

given number of independent sovereignties would tend to secure us

against the hostilities and improper interference of foreign nations.


NO 6: Concerning Dangers From War Between the States

by Alexander Hamilton


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


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 preeminence 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, *002 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, *003 another nation of Greece, or to avoid a prosecution

with which he was threatened as an accomplice in a supposed theft of

the statuary of Phidias, *004 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, *005 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 commonwealth.

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

permitting his vanity to aspire to the triple crown, *006 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, *007 the petulance of

another, *008 and the cabals of a third, *009 had in the contemporary

policy, ferments, and pacifications, of a considerable part of Europe,

are to 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 interests, 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 any thing 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

well-regulated camp; and Rome was never sated of carnage and conquest.

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, *010

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 the

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, *011

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 navigation.

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

CONFEDERATIVE 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 neighbours." *012 This passage, at the same time,

points out the EVIL and suggests the REMEDY.


NO 7: The Subject Continued and Particular Causes Enumerated

by Alexander Hamilton


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 removed.

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 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 land 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 circumstance. We should be ready to

denominate injuries those things which were in reality the justifiable

acts of independent sovereignties consulting a distinct interest.

The spirit of 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 cooperating

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 afterwards,

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 the 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 clamor; 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 there 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 impera *013 must be the

motto of every nation that either hates or fears us. *014


NO 8: The Effects of Internal War in Producing Standing Armies

and Other Institutions Unfriendly to Liberty

by Alexander Hamilton


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. *015 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 defence, 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 towards monarchy. It is of the nature of war to increase the

executive at the expense of the legislative authority.

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

preeminence. 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 no 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

defence, 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 overmatch 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 defence. 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. 'Tis 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 kingdom.

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.


NO 9: The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard

Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection

by Alexander Hamilton


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

contrasts 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 it 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 subjects 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, not 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 he) *016 "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


"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


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.


NO 10: The Same Subject Continued

by James Madison


AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed

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 the 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


By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting

to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by

some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the

rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate

interests of the community.

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: 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 or 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 preeminence

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 cooperate 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 government.

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 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

center 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

representative 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 to

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 country or district, than an entire State.

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.


NO 11: The Utility of the Union in Respect to Commerce and a Navy

by Alexander Hamilton


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 details, 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 it 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


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 prepossessions of a great

part of the nation in favor of the America 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 and 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

towards 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


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 have 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 persecutors. That unequalled spirit of

enterprise, which signalizes the genius of the American merchants

and navigators, and which is in itself in 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


This branch of the 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 concentrated 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 fluctuations 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; but 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 America 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. *017 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 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!


NO 12: The Utility of the Union in Respect to Revenue

by Alexander Hamilton


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 multiplying 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 imperceptible 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


The relative situation of these States; the number of rivers with

which they are intersected, and of bays that wash their shores; the

facility for 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 avarice.

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 unload 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 cooperation 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 percent. In France they are estimated to

be about fifteen percent., and in Britain they exceed this

proportion. *018 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

articlewould 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 spirits.

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

it 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.


NO 13: The Same Subject Continued with a View to Economy

by Alexander Hamilton


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 towards 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, form 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 our 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



NO 14: An Objection Drawn from the Extent of Country Answered

by James Madison


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


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

concentrated, 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 consideration.

As the natural limit of 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 center 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 the 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 objects 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 jurisdiction.

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 travellers 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


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 a 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 fellow-citizens 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 defence 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 rending 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.


NO 15: Concerning the Defects of the Present Confederation

in Relation to the Principle of Legislation

for the States in Their Collective Capacities

by Alexander Hamilton


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 to 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 lengthy 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 any thing 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. *019 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


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 prosperity.

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 apportionment, 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

negotiations 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 it 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 center.

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 cooperate in the same views and


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.


NO 16: The Same Subject Continued in Relation to the Same Principle

by Alexander Hamilton


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 writers.

This exceptional 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

parents 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 defence. 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 pretence 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; not 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 demigods 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 legislation; 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 a right to

resort to all the methods, of executing the powers with which it is

intrusted, that are possessed and exercised by the governments 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 plausibility 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


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 defence, 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 ill-humors 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.


NO 17: The Subject Continued and Illustrated by Examples

to Show the Tendency of Federal Governments Rather to Anarchy

Among the Members Than Tyranny in the Head

by Alexander Hamilton


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 appear 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 lusts 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 pain 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 directed.

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 transcendent 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 infrequently, 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 purposes 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 abridgement 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 dependents 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 kingdom.

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.


NO 18: The Subject Continued with Farther Examples

by Alexander Hamilton & James Madison


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 Leuctra, the Thebans had their turn of


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 dissensions, 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 confederacy.

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 tempered by the general

authority and laws of the confederacy.

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


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 awakened 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 weakened 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 its 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 liberty *020 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



NO 19: The Subject Continued with Farther Examples

by Alexander Hamilton & James Madison


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, have 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 dependents;

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


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 members.

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 chamber.

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 imbecility, 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 constitution.

If the nation happens, on any emergency, to be more united by the

necessity of self-defence, 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 quarters.

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


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 Abbe 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, *021 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 hereditary 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 repellent 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-defence, 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


The connection among the Swiss cantons scarcely amounts to a

confederacy; thought 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 sovereignty.

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 accommodating 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 and 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 France.


NO 20: The Subject Continued with Farther Examples

by Alexander Hamilton & James Madison


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

year; 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 them.

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 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


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 confederacy 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 defence.

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 formally 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


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 destiny. 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.


NO 21: Further Defects of the Present Constitution

by Alexander Hamilton


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 the 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

the resolutions, either by pecuniary mulcts, by a suspension of

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 of 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 constitutions 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 pretence

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,- these 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 oppression.

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 by 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 requisitions.

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.- that 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.


NO 22: The Same Subject Continued and Concluded

by Alexander Hamilton


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 interest 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. *022

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 intercourse between the different parts of the

Confederacy. "The commerce of the German empire *023 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


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 defence. 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 from them 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

regret 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 Delaware 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; *024 and two thirds of the people of America could

not long be persuaded, upon the credit of artificial distinction 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; *025 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 non-attendance 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, was 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 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 the 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

preeminence 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 uncontrolled.

A circumstance which crowns the defects of the Confederation remains

yet to be mentioned,- the 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 same 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

differences 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 foundation?

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 and 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.


NO 23: The Necessity of a Government at Least

Equally Energetic with the One Proposed

by Alexander Hamilton


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 branches- the

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 these- the common

defence 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 defence 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, because it is

impossible to foresee or define the extent and variety of national

exigencies, or the correspondent extend and variety of the means which

may be necessary to satisfy them. The circumstances 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 co-extensive

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 defence.

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 defence 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 defence and

protection of the community, in any matter essential to its

efficacy- that is, in any matter essential to the formation,

direction, or support of the NATIONAL FORCES.

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 where

by them judged requisite to the "common defence 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 so likely to make suitable provisions for the public defence

as that body to which the guardianship of the public safety is

confided; which, as the center 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 defence, 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, and 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 and 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 modelled 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; not 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 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 indispensable

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.


NO 24: The Subject Continued with an Answer

to an Objection Concerning Standing Armies

by Alexander Hamilton


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,- that 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 propriety 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


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

years- a 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 *026 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 defenceless 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 defence 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.


NO 25: The Subject Continued with the Same View

by Alexander Hamilton


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 defence 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

separation provisions, New York would have to sustain the whole weight

of the establishments requisite to her immediate safety, and to

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 counter-poise, and pretences 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 abridgement or demolition of

the national authority.

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


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 pretences 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, that of a nation incapacitated by its Constitution

to prepare for defence, 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 defenceless 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

defence. 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 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 perseverance, 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 normal title of

vice-admiral. The 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 governments 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



NO 26: The Subject Continued with the Same View

by Alexander Hamilton


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 defence, 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 this 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

acknowledge 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

well-informed, 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 community.

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 raised 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 the 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 be kept up, in time of peace, WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE

LEGISLATURE. I 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 those 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 form 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


Let us examine whether there be any comparison, in point of

efficacy, between the provisions 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 operation.

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 preserved 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 or 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 any 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 pretence 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 defence 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 calamities 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 defence.

But 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.


NO 27: The Subject Continued with the Same View

by Alexander Hamilton


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 have been alleged on that side, rests on mere general

assertion, unsupported by an 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


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 legislatures- which are select

bodies of men, and which are to appoint the members of the national

Senate- there 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 channels and

currents in which the passions of mankind naturally flow, the less

will it require the aid of the violent and perilous expedients of


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 the species of league contended 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

government as far as its just and constitutional authority extends;

and will be rendered auxiliary to the enforcement of its laws. *027

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?


NO 28: The Same Subject Concluded

by Alexander Hamilton


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

others 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 natural

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 republics?

Let us presume 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 they 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 powers

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. *028

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-defence 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 defence. 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 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

pretences 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 the 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

defence, 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.


NO 29: Concerning the Militia

by Alexander Hamilton


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 defence, 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 defence. It would enable them to

discharge the duties of the camp and of the field with mutual

intelligence and concert- an 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 the 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 States respectively the

appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia

according to the discipline prescribed by Congress."

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 defence 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 favorable opinion of

the sincerity of 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 judgment?

By a curious refinement upon the spirit of republican jealously,

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 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 if 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 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

defence of the State shall require it. This will not only lessen the

call of 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

exclusive appointment of the officers? If it were possible 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 shapes-


Gorgons, hydras, and chimeras dire;


discoloring and disfiguring whatever it represents, and transforming

every thing 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 debt 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


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 be 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 design.

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 self-preservation to the

too feeble impulses of duty and sympathy.


NO 30: Concerning Taxation

by Alexander Hamilton


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 produce 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,


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 as 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 composed 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 to 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 it- in 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 progress of things, the necessities of a

nation, in every stage of existence, will be found at least equal to

its resources.

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 to

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 proportionally 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 fulfil 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 defence 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- with 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 deficiencies 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.


NO 31: The Same Subject Continued

by Alexander Hamilton


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 its parts; 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 nature 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


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 levelled.

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 defence 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


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 an 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 pretence 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


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 skepticism and irresolution. I repeat

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 discarded.

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 towards 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: 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.


NO 32: The Same Subject Continued

by Alexander Hamilton


ALTHOUGH I am of opinion that there would be no real danger of

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

partial union or consolation, 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 the 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 PREGNANT- that 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 it will not bear a construction

of the kind.

As to a supposition of repugnancy between the power of taxation in

the States and in the Union, it cannot be supported in the 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 in expediency 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 preexisting 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.


NO 33: The Same Subject Continued

by Alexander Hamilton


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 proper means 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 calumniated

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 harmless.

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 legitimate 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


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 pretence of an

interference with its revenues, it should undertake to abrogate a

land-tax 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 form 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 government, which is only another word for

POLITICAL POWER AND SUPREMACY. But it will not follow from this

doctrine that acts of the larger 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.


NO 34: The Same Subject Continued

by Alexander Hamilton


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 coordinate 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 bodies- not 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

plebeian. 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

plebeian interest had an entire predominancy. And yet these two

legislatures coexisted for ages, and the Roman republic attained to

the utmost height of human greatness.

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 defence 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 course 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 answer 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 defence.

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 lists, 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 littletoo

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


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.


NO 35: The Same Subject Continued

by Alexander Hamilton


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 form 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 make 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 reasoning, 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


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 its, 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 community.

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 all.

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 of 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 to 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 is 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.


NO 36: The Same Subject Continued

by Alexander Hamilton


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

advantages, as well form 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 by-paths 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 legislature.

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 States.

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 commonly

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 source?

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 do no

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 or 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


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 Union- that 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 *029 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 defence 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.


NO 37: Concerning the Difficulties Which the Convention

Must Have Experienced in the Formation of a Proper Plan

by James Madison


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 descriptions, 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


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 experience may unfold them.

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 characterise 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 dependence 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

termination 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

form 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

provinces- the 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

reigns 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 legislators 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 all.

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

quality 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 animosities- the

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.


NO 38: The Subject Continued and the Incoherence

of the Objections to the Plan Exposed

by James Madison


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


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-modelling the constition. 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 exceed 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 at 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

self-preservation. 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, 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 see 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 must ever 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 lawgivers.

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 ceiling 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 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


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 States 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

federal treasury. A very large proportion of this fund has been

already surrendered by individual States; and it may with reason be

expected that the remaining States will not persist in withholding

similar proofs of their equity and generosity. We may calculate,

therefore, that a rich and fertile country, of an area equal to the

inhabited extent of the United States, will soon become a national

stock. Congress have assumed the administration of this stock. They

have begun to render it productive. Congress have undertaken to do

more: they have proceeded to form new States, to erect temporary

governments to appoint officers for them, and to prescribe the

conditions on which such States shall be admitted into the

Confederacy. All this has been done; and done without the least

color of constitutional authority. Yet no blame has been whispered; no

alarm has been sounded. A GREAT AND INDEPENDENT fund of revenue is

passing into the hands of a SINGLE BODY of men, who can RAISE TROOPS

to an INDEFINITE NUMBER, and appropriate money to their support for an

INDEFINITE PERIOD OF TIME. And yet there are men, who have not only

been silent spectators of this prospect, but who are advocates for the

system which exhibits it; and, at the same time, urge against the

new system the objections which we have heard. Would they not act with

more consistency, in urging the establishment of the latter, as no

less necessary to guard the Union against the future powers and

resources of a body constructed like the existing Congress, than to

save it from the dangers threatened by the present impotency of that


I mean not, by any thing here said, to throw censure on the measures

which have been pursued by Congress. I am sensible they could not have

done otherwise. The public interest, the necessity of the case,

imposed upon them the task of overleaping their constitutional limits.

But is not the fact an alarming proof of the danger resulting from a

government which does not possess regular powers commensurate to its

objects? A dissolution or usurpation is the dreadful dilemma to

which it is continually exposed.


NO 39: The Conformity of the Plan to Republican Principles:

An Objection in Respect to the Powers of the Convention Examined

by James Madison


THE last paper having concluded the observations which were meant to

introduce a candid survey of the plan of government reported by the

convention, we now proceed to the execution of that part of our


The first question that offers itself is, whether the general form

and aspect of the government be strictly republican. It is evident

that no other form would be reconcilable with the genius of the people

of America; with the fundamental principles of the Revolution; or with

that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom,

to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for

self-government. If the plan of the convention, therefore, be found to

depart from the republican character, its advocates must abandon it as

no longer defensible.

What, then, are the distinctive characters of the republican form?

Were an answer to this question to be sought, not by recurring to

principles, but in the application of the term by political writers,

to the constitutions of different States, no satisfactory one would

ever be found. Holland, in which no particle of the supreme

authority is derived from the people, has passed almost universally

under the denomination of a republic. The same title has been bestowed

on Venice, where absolute power over the great body of the people is

exercised, in the most absolute manner, by a small body of

hereditary nobles. Poland, which is a mixture of aristocracy and of

monarchy in their worst forms, has been dignified with the same

appellation. The government of England, which has one republican

branch only, combined with an hereditary aristocracy and monarchy,

has, with equal impropriety, been frequently placed on the list of

republics. These examples, which are nearly as dissimilar to each

other as to a genuine republic, show the extreme inaccuracy with which

the term has been used in political disquisitions.

If we resort for a criterion to the different principles on which

different forms of government are established, we may define a

republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government

which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great

body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their

offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good

behavior. It is essential to such a government that it be derived from

the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable

proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of

tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of

their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for

their government the honorable title of republic. It is sufficient for

such a government that the persons administering it be appointed,

either directly or indirectly, by the people; and that they hold their

appointments by either of the tenures just specified; otherwise

every government in the United States, as well as every other

popular government that has been or can be well organized or well

executed, would be degraded from the republican character. According

to the constitution of every State in the Union, some or other of

the officers of government are appointed indirectly only by the

people. According to most of them, the chief magistrate himself is

so appointed. And according to one, this mode of appointment is

extended to one of the coordinate branches of the legislature.

According to all the constitutions, also, the tenure of the highest

offices is extended to a definite period, and in many instances,

both within the legislative and executive departments, to a period

of years. According to the provisions of most of the constitutions,

again, as well as according to the most respectable and received

opinions on the subject, the members of the judiciary department are

to retain their offices by the firm tenure of good behavior.

On comparing the Constitution planned by the convention with the

standard here fixed, we perceive at once that it is, in the most rigid

sense, conformable to it. The House of Representatives, like that of

one branch at least of all the State legislatures, is elected

immediately by the great body of the people. The Senate, like the

present Congress, and the Senate of Maryland, derives its

appointment indirectly from the people. The President is indirectly

derived from the choice of the people, according to the example in

most of the States. Even the judges with all other officers of the

Union, will, as in the several States, be the choice, though a

remote choice, of the people themselves. The duration of the

appointments is equally conformable to the republican standard, and to

the model of State constitutions. The House of Representatives is

periodically elective, as in all the States; and for the period of two

years, as in the State of South Carolina. The Senate is elective,

for the period of six years; which is but one year more than the

period of the Senate of Maryland, and but two more than that of the

Senates of New York and Virginia. The President is to continue in

office for the period of four years; as in New York and Delaware the

chief magistrate is elected for three years, and in South Carolina for

two years. In the other States the election is annual. In several of

the States, however, no constitutional provision is made for the

impeachment of the chief magistrate. And in Delaware and Virginia he

is not impeachable till out of office. The President of the United

States is impeachable at any time during his continuance in office.

The tenure by which the judges are to hold their places, is, as it

unquestionably ought to be, that of good behavior. The tenure of the

ministerial offices generally, will be a subject of legal

regulation, conformably to the reason of the case and the example of

the State constitutions.

Could any further proof be required of the republican complexion

of this system, the most decisive one might be found in its absolute

prohibition of titles of nobility, both under the federal and the

State governments; and in its express guaranty of the republican

form to each of the latter.

"But it was not sufficient," say the adversaries of the proposed

Constitution, "for the convention to adhere to the republican form.

They ought, with equal care, to have preserved the federal form, which

regards the Union as a Confederacy of sovereign states; instead of

which, they have framed a national government, which regards the Union

as a consolidation of the States." And it is asked by what authority

this bold and radical innovation was undertaken? The handle which

has been made of this objection requires that it should be examined

with some precision.

Without inquiring into the accuracy of the distinction on which

the objection is founded, it will be necessary to a just estimate of

its force, first, to ascertain the real character of the government in

question; secondly, to inquire how far the convention were

authorized to propose such a government; and thirdly, how far the duty

they owed to their country could supply any defect of regular


First.- In order to ascertain the real character of the

government, it may be considered in relation to the foundation on

which it is to be established; to the sources from which its

ordinary powers are to be drawn; to the operation of those powers;

to the extent of them; and to the authority by which future changes in

the government are to be introduced.

On examining the first relation, it appears, on one hand, that the

Constitution is to be founded on the assent and ratification of the

people of America, given by deputies elected for the special

purpose; but, on the other, that this assent and ratification is to be

given by the people, not as individuals composing one entire nation,

but as composing the distinct and independent States to which they

respectively belong. It is to be the assent and ratification of the

several States, derived from the supreme authority in each State,- the

authority of the people themselves. The act, therefore, establishing

the Constitution, will not be a national, but a federal act.

That it will be a federal and not a national act, as these terms are

understood by the objectors; the act of the people, as forming so many

independent States, not as forming one aggregate nation, is obvious

from this single consideration, that it is to result neither from

the decision of a majority of the people of the Union, nor from that

of a majority of the States. It must result from the unanimous

assent of the several States that are parties to it, differing no

otherwise from their ordinary assent than in its being expressed,

not by the legislative authority, but by that of the people

themselves. Were the people regarded in this transaction as forming

one nation, the will of the majority of the whole people of the United

States would bind the minority, in the same manner as the majority

in each State must bind the minority; and the will of the majority

must be determined either by a comparison of the individual votes,

or by considering the will of the majority of the States as evidence

of the will of a majority of the people of the United States.

Neither of these rules has been adopted. Each State, in ratifying

the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of

all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this

relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a

federal, and not a national constitution.

The next relation is, to the sources from which the ordinary

powers of government are to be derived. The House of Representatives

will derive its powers from