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Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence
For the Independent Journal.

Author: John Jay

To the People of the State of New York:

WHEN the people of America reflect that they are now called upon to decide a question, which, in its consequences, must prove one of the most important that ever engaged their attention, the propriety of their taking a very comprehensive, as well as a very serious, view of it, will be evident.

Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers. It is well worthy of consideration therefore, whether it would conduce more to the interest of the people of America that they should, to all general purposes, be one nation, under one federal government, or that they should divide themselves into separate confederacies, and give to the head of each the same kind of powers which they are advised to place in one national government.

It has until lately been a received and uncontradicted opinion that the prosperity of the people of America depended on their continuing firmly united, and the wishes, prayers, and efforts of our best and wisest citizens have been constantly directed to that object. But politicians now appear, who insist that this opinion is erroneous, and that instead of looking for safety and happiness in union, we ought to seek it in a division of the States into distinct confederacies or sovereignties. However extraordinary this new doctrine may appear, it nevertheless has its advocates; and certain characters who were much opposed to it formerly, are at present of the number. Whatever may be the arguments or inducements which have wrought this change in the sentiments and declarations of these gentlemen, it certainly would not be wise in the people at large to adopt these new political tenets without being fully convinced that they are founded in truth and sound policy.

It has often given me pleasure to observe that independent America was not composed of detached and distant territories, but that one connected, fertile, widespreading country was the portion of our western sons of liberty. Providence has in a particular manner blessed it with a variety of soils and productions, and watered it with innumerable streams, for the delight and accommodation of its inhabitants. A succession of navigable waters forms a kind of chain round its borders, as if to bind it together; while the most noble rivers in the world, running at convenient distances, present them with highways for the easy communication of friendly aids, and the mutual transportation and exchange of their various commodities.

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people–a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.

This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.

Similar sentiments have hitherto prevailed among all orders and denominations of men among us. To all general purposes we have uniformly been one people each individual citizen everywhere enjoying the same national rights, privileges, and protection. As a nation we have made peace and war; as a nation we have vanquished our common enemies; as a nation we have formed alliances, and made treaties, and entered into various compacts and conventions with foreign states.

A strong sense of the value and blessings of union induced the people, at a very early period, to institute a federal government to preserve and perpetuate it. They formed it almost as soon as they had a political existence; nay, at a time when their habitations were in flames, when many of their citizens were bleeding, and when the progress of hostility and desolation left little room for those calm and mature inquiries and reflections which must ever precede the formation of a wise and wellbalanced government for a free people. It is not to be wondered at, that a government instituted in times so inauspicious, should on experiment be found greatly deficient and inadequate to the purpose it was intended to answer.

This intelligent people perceived and regretted these defects. Still continuing no less attached to union than enamored of liberty, they observed the danger which immediately threatened the former and more remotely the latter; and being pursuaded that ample security for both could only be found in a national government more wisely framed, they as with one voice, convened the late convention at Philadelphia, to take that important subject under consideration.

This convention composed of men who possessed the confidence of the people, and many of whom had become highly distinguished by their patriotism, virtue and wisdom, in times which tried the minds and hearts of men, undertook the arduous task. In the mild season of peace, with minds unoccupied by other subjects, they passed many months in cool, uninterrupted, and daily consultation; and finally, without having been awed by power, or influenced by any passions except love for their country, they presented and recommended to the people the plan produced by their joint and very unanimous councils.

Admit, for so is the fact, that this plan is only RECOMMENDED, not imposed, yet let it be remembered that it is neither recommended to BLIND approbation, nor to BLIND reprobation; but to that sedate and candid consideration which the magnitude and importance of the subject demand, and which it certainly ought to receive. But this (as was remarked in the foregoing number of this paper) is more to be wished than expected, that it may be so considered and examined. Experience on a former occasion teaches us not to be too sanguine in such hopes. It is not yet forgotten that well-grounded apprehensions of imminent danger induced the people of America to form the memorable Congress of 1774. That body recommended certain measures to their constituents, and the event proved their wisdom; yet it is fresh in our memories how soon the press began to teem with pamphlets and weekly papers against those very measures. Not only many of the officers of government, who obeyed the dictates of personal interest, but others, from a mistaken estimate of consequences, or the undue influence of former attachments, or whose ambition aimed at objects which did not correspond with the public good, were indefatigable in their efforts to pursuade the people to reject the advice of that patriotic Congress. Many, indeed, were deceived and deluded, but the great majority of the people reasoned and decided judiciously; and happy they are in reflecting that they did so.

They considered that the Congress was composed of many wise and experienced men. That, being convened from different parts of the country, they brought with them and communicated to each other a variety of useful information. That, in the course of the time they passed together in inquiring into and discussing the true interests of their country, they must have acquired very accurate knowledge on that head. That they were individually interested in the public liberty and prosperity, and therefore that it was not less their inclination than their duty to recommend only such measures as, after the most mature deliberation, they really thought prudent and 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 or four confederacies would be better than one? I am persuaded in my own mind that the people have always thought right on this subject, and that their universal and uniform attachment to the cause of the Union rests on great and weighty reasons, which I shall endeavor to develop and explain in some ensuing papers. They who promote the idea of substituting a number of distinct confederacies in the room of the plan of the convention, seem clearly to foresee that the rejection of it would put the continuance of the Union in the utmost jeopardy. That certainly would be the case, and I sincerely wish that it may be as clearly foreseen by every good citizen, that whenever the dissolution of the Union arrives, America will have reason to exclaim, in the words of the poet: “FAREWELL! A LONG FAREWELL TO ALL MY GREATNESS.”

PUBLIUS.

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Some great discussion going on!  Love the give and take. I am learning so much from everyone’s analysis and comments, so I thought tonight I would highlight some of the quotes from Federalist No. 2, and from the posts and blog comments which especially resonate with me.

My good friend, Marc Lampkin, did an excellent job as Guest Blogger today.  We especially appreciate Marc coming back on in the afternoon to further expound on John Jay – he provided some enlightening background information.

Have you all been watching Janine’s Daily Podcasts on the website? I highly recommend you check them out each day for the lighter side of Constituting America.  Yesterday she gave us a tour of her ranch and longhorns (don’t you love their names?), and today we got to see where she does her best work – her car!  Janine and I have an ongoing battle of who has the most miles on their car.  Mine is currently at 130,405 and I believe Janine may be beating me by about 10,000 miles.  As moms, it seems we spend the majority of our day driving or sitting in parking lots waiting.  Amazing how much you can get done in a parking lot!

As for Federalist No. 2, I had several favorite passages:

“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.”

As Shannon pointed out, the people cede power to the government.  And similar to the point Janine made in her post, when we are not educated and informed, when we are lax, or not paying attention, we are making the decision to cede even more of our individual rights and liberties.

The other quote that caught my eye, and was highlighted earlier today by Susan, was:

“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.”

Again, the theme is an educated, engaged and thoughtful electorate.  Issues of great magnitude deserve thorough consideration. When we ground ourselves in the U.S. Constitution and the principles upon which this country was founded, we have a road map to guide us through the maze of public policy proposals that can easily lead down roads that will ultimately take our country in the wrong direction.

A big thank you to all of you who are blogging! We invite our silent partners to find your voice and let us hear from you!

And a final big thank you to our founder and co-chair, Janine Turner! Janine had the idea for Constituting America over a year ago, promptly registered the domain name, and got to work organizing!   It is her vision that has brought us the 90 in 90 = 180: History Holds the Key to the Future program. Janine is an inspiration to me, as she continually puts God, her daughter, and her country first in her life. It is an honor to serve with her in this effort.

Good night!

Cathy Gillespie

5 Responses to “April 292010 – Federalist No2 – Cathy Gillespie

  1. Amy Winchester says:

    I am so grateful for this Website and have been telling my friends, e-mailing them, and telling others I work with. I have never read the Federalist Papers and have found so much foundational truth and we are only on #4. What a gold mine! Anecdote: re: being informed and educated. I was at the public library the other day waiting for my grandson and thought I would read my daily Federalist reading so asked the librarian if they had a copy of theFederalist Papers. She did not know what they were and someone overhearing my said, ” I think I have heart that name before. What are they?” So I was able to inform them and the librarian took down the Web site information. We have to keep spreading the word. This is great!

  2. Susan Craig says:

    How sad that librarians need to be informed as to the debates about our founding documents!

  3. This is a great website and Miss Turner certainly has an incredible grasp of the constitution…..read: The divider in chief….at…..
    http://cooperscopy.blogspot.com/

  4. Roger Jett says:

    I just happened upon this website tonight and have not fully digested all that’s available here. I am impressed with what I see. We are in danger as a nation and one of the biggest challenges I see us facing is our lack of understanding and appreciation of what we have been blessed with. As a people, I’m afraid we have over time grown quite ignorant, but the American People are not generally stupid and ignorance can be overcome by learning and developing the ability to discern truth. To all who have played a roll in building this website I say thank you and may God bless you.

  5. Rich_H says:

    Jay’s opening statement, “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.” Is relevant today, Americans will have to reflect that they now must decide a question; will we return to the Constitution or abandon it for Obama’s transformation into a lesser America under the ruling thumb of a gigantic government.

    Some people suggest we need a Constitutional Convention today but do we today have people of the caliber of out Founders? Whom Jay describes as, “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” who “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.”

    Do we have such people who would be in that convention today?! No! We do not need a convention. We need a return to the original Constitution.

    Contrast the difference between the patriots founding our country and the leaders betraying America today. Our Founders “only RECOMMENDED, not imposed” this plan and explained the 7 page Constitution in detail with 33federalist papers. Today Obama/Dems rammed through an over 1000 page health care plan against public will, unseen and unexplained, in fact lied about. Pelosi said it needed to be passed so we would know what’s in it. How have we sunk so far?

    If the progressive left is not stopped and their damage undone, we shall surely be saying of our beloved America, “FAREWELL! A LONG FAREWELL TO ALL MY GREATNESS.”

 

 

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Howdy from Texas! I thank you for joining us today! I am thoroughly enjoying this process and I am learning so much from the readings, our exceptional scholar’s essays and from all of you who are blogging. I want to say how appreciative I am that Marc S. Lampkin joined us today as our “guest scholar” and I thank him for his wonderful interpretation and explanation of Federalist Paper #2 by John Jay. Thanks Marc!

There are many aspects in our readings of the United States Constitution and “The Federalist” that are relevant today. However, as I was juggling many pertinent points from Federalist Paper #2, suddenly a more general observation manifested.

Our forefathers were intent on explaining the Constitution to the people of the United States. They wanted the Republic to understand what was in the “bill,” and they undertook great pains and efforts to make sure that happened – 85 different Opinion Editorials published in newspapers and spearheaded by Alexander Hamilton.

Not only did they go to great pains to explain the contents of the Constitution, which was only seven pages, they knew that the American public would demand to know what was in it before they ratified it. This brings about two conclusions:

1. The American people of the 18th century wanted to know what their government was doing, felt very much involved in the process, and were passionate about the direction of their country
2. Publius and the signatories of the United States Constitution felt obligated to explain it to them, and did so in great detail and they could – as they had written it and they understood it.

A very different atmosphere exists today. Both the American people and the United States government are to blame for the obscurity in which we wander. The bloated bills and ignorance of their intentions are the fault of both the governor and the governed. We, as collective countrymen and women, grew discordant and lax in the affairs of the state, and like a child pushing the boundaries with their parents, the United States government got away with what they could. It’s human nature. Men are not angels – hence, the Constitution.

But times have changed. Our country’s woes are like trying times for the soul. Difficult times are God’s way of shaping our character – making us into the people He wants us to be – a light, a leader. Now Americans are waking up and realizing that we must once again demand to understand. What is really in the bill and what is really the direction of our country? We are realizing that we must vet, vote and find our voice. In our blood is the ancestry of righteousness.

We must stress to our elective officials that we will accept nothing less than clarity. In Federalist Paper #62 James Madison zeros in on this point:

It will be of little avail to the people, that
the laws are made by men of their own choice,
if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before
they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes, that no man who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known or less fixed.

The title of John Jay’s Federalist Paper No. 2, “Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence,” is applicable today as well. If we do not gain control of the economy we are going to be like Greece and times of economic stress are ripe for tyranny.
If we do not gain control of our spending and deficit then we are a sitting duck for the hunters who wait in the night – “Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence.” As Benjamin Franklin said, “Think, when you run into debt, you give to another power over your Liberty.”

John Jay’s ends this paper, from over two hundred years ago, with a Shakespearean quote, it echoes eerily across our current environment. It is a battle cry and ominous warning of something we do not want to ever shout, “FAREWELL! A LONG FAREWELL TO ALL MY GREATNESS”

As the present necessity of unity prevails, we the people will gather with the mission of preserving our great country and we will be spurred by our patriotism and launched by our learning.

God Bless,

Janine Turner

6 Responses to “April 292010 – Federalist No2 – Janine Turner

  1. Richard Gruver says:

    Janine, Those are great thoughts on our current state of government. When the press and the governed decided that character no longer mattered but only progressive press aligned political ideology and many of the governed became incessantly dependent on government handouts and fixated on class envy promoted by progressives and the media we lost our way. The Bible says don’t covet thy neighbor’s property, wife, goods…etc. but preogressive envy everything of those who work hard and want it all taken and redistributed to the envyors. It will take dedication, courage and a divine hand once again to re-establish our nation to its’ founders principals. It starts a the ballot box and voting for elected officials who put the constitution and the people above themselves. I hope we can be sucessful as the alternative is not very good for our future generations.

  2. Seij De Leon says:

    I find it very interesting how when the country was being constructed, the people were so ready and willing to learn about the constitution. Nowadays I think this overall involvement in the direction of the country has definitely weaned, which is understandable as they are not dealing with the insecurity and troubles of forming a new system of government after the relatively ineffective and weak Articles of Confederation. If more people were to take an active role in examining politicians and seeing what they put first, instead of trusting the news media, then the nation could start to head in a better direction, like how Gruver says, it starts at the ballot box.

  3. Kellie says:

    Given this new passion sweeping the country, which our current leadership has so graciously created, I am anxious and excited to see what happens in November. I am hoping and praying that it will be the catalyst for the people of this country to continue to pay attention, spread the word and make their voices heard. We may be on the eve of a scary, yet possibly exciting, new revolution…

  4. Charles Babb says:

    Janine; you and Cathy have provided a wonderful service by making this educational tool available.

    How, and why has the practice of writing such confusing and lengthy bills evolved? Was it just to confuse the electorate so that we would have less control over our legislators?

    How we go about demanding clarity in the way legislation is written will be another story, but with the armor of knowledge and the weapon of truth, we will prevail.

  5. tommy says:

    Just wanted to say I really liked the post. You have really put a lot of energy into your posts and it is just awesome!

  6. Jim S says:

    Charles & All,

    Legislation has become more lengthly because we expect it to be specific. The Constitution, on the other hand, is simply the framework for our government. If we wanted to fairly compare the two, we should include with the Constitution Congress’ rules of order, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and all military regulations, rules of decorum for the Supreme Court, and Executive procedures. This compendium would outline exactly how the government should be run, as the healthcare bill outlines for its role. Then we may complain about our 2000+ page Constitution.

    Jim

 

 

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Federalist Paper #2 was written by future Federalist party chieftain John Jay to address what many founders felt was a critical deficiency regarding the then existing government authorized by the Articles of Confederation.  The deficiency was the major vulnerability the young nation faced because it lacked sufficient national authority to defend itself or to enforce its laws.

Reflecting his view that the public “choose” the new central government contemplated in the Constitution rather than simply acquiesce in it, Jay presents his arguments in terms of the “self interest” of the readers.  “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.”

John Jay was the oldest contributor to the Federalist Papers at age 41.  Jay, a staunch abolitionist who would go on to become governor of New York and successfully ban slavery statewide, also had served as President of the Continental Congress and was a principal negotiator of the Treaty of Paris.  After the U.S. Constitution was ratified, he would become the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

At the time of the writing of Federalist #2, it had only been a few years since the Revolutionary War had ended.  Although the Americans had just successfully defeated one of the most powerful military forces on the planet when it successfully won its independence against England, barely five years later the capacity to carry off a similar feat was dramatically undermined by the operation of the Articles of Confederation.  In addition, compounding matters there was increasing sentiment among the political class that instead of presenting a “united” front as part of a United States of America, the states should actively consider whether even the loose association authorized by the Articles was either useful or worthwhile.

John Jay vigorously argues that not only should the states remain united; they should adopt the proposed Constitution’s federal style of government.  It was Jay’s view that the crisis of the Revolutionary War had led to the hasty creation of the Articles of Confederation and even as its defects became apparent, those deficiencies were not great enough to prevent America from prevailing in the war.

Now that the war was over, the problems of the Articles had been so severe that the Philadelphia Convention had been convened to attempt to ameliorate its difficulties.  Of course the result of the convention was an entirely new compact being drafted.  The central theme of this compact is that it contains a Federal Government with specific authority and power to carry out its limited but important duties in a way that the Federal Government authorized under the Articles of Confederation could not.

John Jay presents two basic premises that are basis for his argument:  it is a fundamental responsibility of government that it has the necessary power to regulate conflict and administer the laws it has lawfully enacted.  Secondly, in order for any grant of authority to be legitimate it must be consensual — that is the people must grant the government the powers.

While Jay recognized that any of the government powers exercised ultimately came from the people, the issue was which of these powers should be reserved for citizens and which were usefully granted to the government.  The test for Jay was whether a particular grant of authority best protected the safety and interests of the American populace.   However, this problem was made more difficult when the question of whether the Americans should unite under one national government or instead become separate states.

To Jay the answer was a strong union. He believed that for all intents and purposes, the confederation of states were already a union.  He argued that the geographical make up of the nation including its topography and “navigable waters” created natural boundaries that encouraged commonality.  Additionally the faith, language, principles and customs of the people who dwelled in this land which were overwhelmingly similar also argued for a strong union.

“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.”

Since the land, people and language made it naturally more efficient to remain together then Jay believed that it was essential that the government they were subject to had the authority and power to carry out its duties in a way that the Articles of Confederation had never allowed.  “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.” It was John Jay’s considered view that the adoption of the Constitution in the long term would prove beneficial to all Americans both in a time of military conflict and in times of peace.

Marc S. Lampkin, partner at Quinn Gillespie and Associates LLC is a graduate of Boston College Law School