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The Same Subject Continued: Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence
For the Independent Journal.

Author: John Jay

To the People of the State of New York:

MY LAST paper assigned several reasons why the safety of the people would be best secured by union against the danger it may be exposed to by JUST causes of war given to other nations; and those reasons show that such causes would not only be more rarely given, but would also be more easily accommodated, by a national government than either by the State governments or the proposed little confederacies.

But the safety of the people of America against dangers from FOREIGN force depends not only on their forbearing to give JUST causes of war to other nations, but also on their placing and continuing themselves in such a situation as not to INVITE hostility or insult; for it need not be observed that there are PRETENDED as well as just causes of war.

It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people. But, independent of these inducements to war, which are more prevalent in absolute monarchies, but which well deserve our attention, there are others which affect nations as often as kings; and some of them will on examination be found to grow out of our relative situation and circumstances.

With France and with Britain we are rivals in the fisheries, and can supply their markets cheaper than they can themselves, notwithstanding any efforts to prevent it by bounties on their own or duties on foreign fish.

With them and with most other European nations we are rivals in navigation and the carrying trade; and we shall deceive ourselves if we suppose that any of them will rejoice to see it flourish; for, as our carrying trade cannot increase without in some degree diminishing theirs, it is more their interest, and will be more their policy, to restrain than to promote it.

In the trade to China and India, we interfere with more than one nation, inasmuch as it enables us to partake in advantages which they had in a manner monopolized, and as we thereby supply ourselves with commodities which we used to purchase from them.

The extension of our own commerce in our own vessels cannot give pleasure to any nations who possess territories on or near this continent, because the cheapness and excellence of our productions, added to the circumstance of vicinity, and the enterprise and address of our merchants and navigators, will give us a greater share in the advantages which those territories afford, than consists with the wishes or policy of their respective sovereigns.

Spain thinks it convenient to shut the Mississippi against us on the one side, and Britain excludes us from the Saint Lawrence on the other; nor will either of them permit the other waters which are between them and us to become the means of mutual intercourse and traffic.

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 composure.

The people of America are aware that inducements to war may arise out of these circumstances, as well as from others not so obvious at present, and that whenever such inducements may find fit time and opportunity for operation, pretenses to color and justify them will not be wanting. Wisely, therefore, do they consider union and a good national government as necessary to put and keep them in SUCH A SITUATION as, instead of INVITING war, will tend to repress and discourage it. That situation consists in the best possible state of defense, and necessarily depends on the government, the arms, and the resources of the country.

As the safety of the whole is the interest of the whole, and cannot be provided for without government, either one or more or many, let us inquire whether one good government is not, relative to the object in question, more competent than any other given number whatever.

One government can collect and avail itself of the talents and experience of the ablest men, in whatever part of the Union they may be found. It can move on uniform principles of policy. It can harmonize, assimilate, and protect the several parts and members, and extend the benefit of its foresight and precautions to each. In the formation of treaties, it will regard the interest of the whole, and the particular interests of the parts as connected with that of the whole. It can apply the resources and power of the whole to the defense of any particular part, and that more easily and expeditiously than State governments or separate confederacies can possibly do, for want of concert and unity of system. It can place the militia under one plan of discipline, and, by putting their officers in a proper line of subordination to the Chief Magistrate, will, as it were, consolidate them into one corps, and thereby render them more efficient than if divided into thirteen or into three or four distinct independent companies.

What would the militia of Britain be if the English militia obeyed the government of England, if the Scotch militia obeyed the government of Scotland, and if the Welsh militia obeyed the government of Wales? Suppose an invasion; would those three governments (if they agreed at all) be able, with all their respective forces, to operate against the enemy so effectually as the single government of Great Britain would?

We have heard much of the fleets of Britain, and the time may come, if we are wise, when the fleets of America may engage attention. But if one national government, had not so regulated the navigation of Britain as to make it a nursery for seamen–if one national government had not called forth all the national means and materials for forming fleets, their prowess and their thunder would never have been celebrated. Let England have its navigation and fleet–let Scotland have its navigation and fleet–let Wales have its navigation and fleet–let Ireland have its navigation and fleet–let those four of the constituent parts of the British empire be be under four independent governments, and it is easy to perceive how soon they would each dwindle into comparative insignificance.

Apply these facts to our own case. Leave America divided into thirteen or, if you please, into three or four independent governments–what armies could they raise and pay–what fleets could they ever hope to have? If one was attacked, would the others fly to its succor, and spend their blood and money in its defense? Would there be no danger of their being flattered into neutrality by its specious promises, or seduced by a too great fondness for peace to decline hazarding their tranquillity and present safety for the sake of neighbors, of whom perhaps they have been jealous, and whose importance they are content to see diminished? Although such conduct would not be wise, it would, nevertheless, be natural. The history of the states of Greece, and of other countries, abounds with such instances, and it is not improbable that what has so often happened would, under similar circumstances, happen again.

But admit that they might be willing to help the invaded State or confederacy. How, and when, and in what proportion shall aids of men and money be afforded? Who shall command the allied armies, and from which of them shall he receive his orders? Who shall settle the terms of peace, and in case of disputes what umpire shall decide between them and compel acquiescence? Various difficulties and inconveniences would be inseparable from such a situation; whereas one government, watching over the general and common interests, and combining and directing the powers and resources of the whole, would be free from all these embarrassments, and conduce far more to the safety of the people.

But whatever may be our situation, whether firmly united under one national government, or split into a number of confederacies, certain it is, that foreign nations will know and view it exactly as it is; and they will act toward us accordingly. If they see that our national government is efficient and well administered, our trade prudently regulated, our militia properly organized and disciplined, our resources and finances discreetly managed, our credit re-established, our people free, contented, and united, they will be much more disposed to cultivate our friendship than provoke our resentment. If, on the other hand, they find us either destitute of an effectual government (each State doing right or wrong, as to its rulers may seem convenient), or split into three or four independent and probably discordant republics or confederacies, one inclining to Britain, another to France, and a third to Spain, and perhaps played off against each other by the three, what a poor, pitiful figure will America make in their eyes! How liable would she become not only to their contempt but to their outrage, and how soon would dear-bought experience proclaim that when a people or family so divide, it never fails to be against themselves.

PUBLIUS.

Guest Essayist: Andrew Baskin, ConSource Researcher

Article II, Section 2, Clause 1

1: The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

The President of the United States may choose to be addressed merely as “Mr. President,” but another title more accurately conveys the tremendous power and prestige associated with the modern position; that of “Commander in Chief.” This fact might have surprised the nation’s founders. They did not intend for the position of military leader to be the most important function of the chief executive. The title itself is grouped in a clause which also instructs the President to form a cabinet and issue pardons. Congress, not the President, received the more substantial powers of declaring war and raising an army. Yet in modern times, it is the President who firmly controls the strongest standing military in the world, with the ability to act on a global scale without consulting the legislative branch of government. Congress has not declared war since the 1940s, but U.S. Presidents have deployed millions of soldiers into dozens of military engagements. The meaning of Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 has not changed, but its broad mandate and the increased military might of the United States has resulted in the development of a powerful executive that the framers of the Constitution could scarcely have envisioned.

During the drafting of the Constitution, few objected to giving the President supreme command over the military, especially once the principle of creating a unitary executive had been agreed upon. The bloody struggle for independence from Britain and the problems involved in coordinating the efforts of independent-minded States had taught America’s founders the importance of having at times a single decision-maker, able to marshal the resources of the entire country in its common defense. Many of the existing State constitutions already placed their governor or chief executive in charge of the militia. John Jay, writing in Federalist No. 4, argued that the separate armies of the States, “in a proper line of subordination to the Chief Magistrate,” would perform far more effectively than a divided military. However, in keeping with the principle of checks and balances, the unquestioned military authority of the executive branch was mitigated by legislature. Crucially, the Commander in Chief only performed his duties “when called into the actual Service of the United States.” Alexander Hamilton believed that this provision, coupled with the lack of any significant standing army or navy, meant the President would serve merely as “first General and Admiral of the confederacy.” Except in cases of national defense, Congress would have to declare war and provide funds in order for the President to effectively exercise his authority as Commander in Chief. Civilian control of the military was thus firmly established and divided between the executive and the legislature, while also establishing a clear chain of command. The President would have very strong powers as Commander in Chief during wartime, but otherwise would depend on the approval and cooperation of Congress.

In upholding the Constitution, the President of the United States, in his capacity as Commander in Chief, swears to provide for the “common defense.” While it would appear at first glance that the framers intended for the President to act in this capacity only when the United States was attacked or when authorized by Congress, the intricacies of international conflict and diplomacy often complicated which branch of government held the edge in war powers. When pirates attacked American merchant ships in the early 1800s, President Jefferson responded by arming merchant ships and invading Tripoli. Congress authorized the measure, but did not declare war. Hamilton insisted that “when a foreign nation declares…war upon the United States…any declaration on the part of Congress is nugatory; it is at least unnecessary.” Such an interpretation suggested that the Commander in Chief could deploy the military in any way he saw fit, if America had been attacked first. Nearly fifty years later, the creation of a standing army allowed President Polk to initiate the Mexican-American War. American forces ordered close to the disputed boundary with Mexico fought a border skirmish, and Congress was forced to support the actions of United States troops already committed to battle. The position of Commander in Chief proved to be the decisive foreign policy tool for a President willing to wield it.

The balance of power would continue to shift back and forth between Congress and the President, until decidedly moving in favor of the executive branch during the Cold War. In order to compete with the Soviet Union, Congress approved huge increases in military spending while simultaneously differing to a series of strong Presidents on foreign and military policy. The United States, now with military commitments around the world, needed a Commander in Chief willing to exercise American power swiftly, without constant consultation with Congress. During the Korean War, President Truman created a precedent by specifically citing his position as Commander in Chief as sufficient authority for deploying troops to the Korean peninsula. By further classifying the deployment as a “police action,” Truman avoided seeking the permission of Congress. Like the Congress of Polk’s day, the legislature was thus faced with the uncomfortable decision of either supporting the President or cutting funding for troops already in combat. In most subsequent military actions, including Vietnam and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Congress has passed bills authorizing the use of military force. Other times, such as President Reagan’s invasion of Lebanon or President Obama’s bombing of Libya, the executive branch has relied solely on the Commander and Chief clause. Under this interpretation, which continues to hold sway, the President can unilaterally use the military as he or she sees fit when American interests are at stake.

The framers rightly predicted that the country would need an executive strong enough to respond to the volatile emergencies of war, but they could not have foreseen the future success and growth of their fragile republic. The powers of the President thus expanded exponentially along with America’s military and international commitments. At the same time, Congress diminished its own war making powers, first by creating a standing military force and then by passing resolutions authorizing indefinite and nearly unlimited military action. The American people should be grateful that the framers designed a flexible system which allowed for a strong Commander in Chief in times of crisis, but they should also be mindful of the restrictions originally placed on the President, and the vital war-time responsibilities given to Congress.

Andrew Baskin is a researcher at the Constitutional Sources Project (www.ConSource.org). His past projects have focused on the evolving nature of war powers in the United States. He graduated with a B.A. in history from Washington University in St. Louis.

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Essay # 3 investigates the causes of war. Publius seems to raise the question, not merely from curiosity but rather because it’s important to be prepared to prevail in war and also to place one’s state in the position to avoid war. The Federalist Papers seem to adopt this perspective in its approach to foreign policy inquiring not how to adopt an active posture for engaging in war but rather how to make war as little likely as possible. The argument is laid out by the end of the third essay, and then stated outright in the fourth essay, where he says of the American people, “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.” This deterrence theory is based on a number of factors deriving from human nature, and it therefore forces us to ask whether Publius generally understands the causes of war. Again, in the third essay we see a claim that the pace of America highly depends upon observance of the laws of nature towards all foreign powers, a thing more perfectly accomplished in proportion as we have one national government rather than thirteen or some other number of states. We expect, therefore, to close with an argument from efficiency, less chance, greater consistency, and greater stability in foreign relations.

Surprisingly, Publius does not do that in the third essay. He instead states the following: “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.” He argues not from efficiency but from the character and talents of the officeholders. The first reason for increased national security is clearly that one obtain the best statesmen. The question of safety calls for intelligence and consistency.

It is wise to avoid war, and Publius illustrates this by arguing that “Hence, it will result that the administration, the political councils and the judicial decisions of the national Government will be more wise, systematical, and judicious, than those of the individual States, and consequently more satisfactory with respect to other nations, as well as more safe with respect to us.” The chief means to avoid war is good order at home, and it includes satisfying other nations.

A third reason for a foreign policy of justice and consistency is that the national government will avoid tempting other nations to offend the United States because a United States that is well organized will be successful and prosperous, and that is what will bring peace. It will dispose other nations to cultivate our friendship as well as yielding strength. This will attract other nations into peaceful association, and this is what makes it possible to avoid war.

W. B. Allen

Michigan State University


Professor William B. Allen is emeritus dean and professor of Political Philosophy at Michigan State University.

39 Responses to “April 302010 – Federalist No3 – The Same Subject ContinuedConcerning Dangers From ForeignForce and Influence (Jay) – Guest BloggerWilliam BAllenProfessor of Political Philosophy at Michigan StateUniversity

  1. Susan Craig says:

    So far the argument for union, is the implied understanding that in strength there is peace.

  2. Carolyn Attaway says:

    There was so much in Paper #3 that lends itself to a good discussion. However; the 3rd and 4th paragraphs sum up the whole paper for me when John Jay talks of Foreign Arms and Influence; and Like Kind arising from domestic causes. And whether the wars happen or will happen because of REAL or PRETEND causes that will PROVOKE or INVITE them.

    I am constantly amazed at the insight our Founders had regarding the present State of the Union during their time, as well as future conditions that could, and most likely will, occur. Without the strength of a Union, the individual states existence were in danger because of their lack of reinforcements from the other states; that combined with their statenot only ensured safety of external forces, but internal conflicts as well.

    Think of all the small countries in Europe that have been abolished and/or reformed into other countries because of internal or external conflicts. The country of Yugoslavia, for example; until 1941 was the First State of Yugoslavia with a monarchy rule. The Second of Yugoslavia was from November 29, 1943 until June 25, 1991, and it was a socialist successor state to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and existed under various names.

    The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was from April 27, 1992 until February 4, 2003 and it was a federation on the territory of the two remaining republics of Serbia and Montenegro.
    The Union of Serbia and Montenegro was formed on February 4, 2003, and officially abolished the name “Yugoslavia.” On June 3 and June 5, 2006, Montenegro and Serbia respectively declared their independence, thereby ending the last remnants of the former Yugoslav federation.

    This present day example could have very easily happened to any individual state during the Founders time if they allowed themselves to believe they were stronger as an individual entity as opposed to an entity within a greater union. As John Jay explains, there were threatening forces for the Border States, as well as internal conflicts with native Indians within other states. With a Union, individual states were protected from aggressors, as well as being prevented from becoming a rogue state that would threaten the security of the Union.

    Today, many of our states are experiencing turmoil from neighboring countries, other states, and citizens. The Founders had put in place measures on the Federal level to keep the Union secure. However; I find it ironic, that today it is the Federal government that is threatening the security of the Individual States.

  3. Chuck Plano, Tx says:

    The very argument that is made in Federalist #3 for Peace through Strength was the very essence of the Ronald Regan Administration. Remember when he refused to give up SDI and the media belittled him and yet what do we see today, missile defense. When Regan let the summit in Iceland go with out an agreement with the USSR on arms control every one said we were doomed and yet who fell from the world stage, the USSR and not the United States. The most important question is where are we headed today and how will we mantain our strength when those who are supposed to be our leaders and willing to give up our strenth by crippling our economy after all it is economic strength that produces the real stength in any nation.

  4. Bill Kenagy says:

    In “strength bringing peace” the opportunity then will present itself to aid our fellow man rather than war with our fellow ma.

  5. Shannon Castleman says:

    Chuck, insightful. I fear where we are headed today is disater on a global scale. I think Jay ande others of the time would tell us today, “Let’s be as strong militarily as e can, so that others will not cause us harm. In return, let’s not have troops in fifty nations, (lik we do today), so that other nations will not feel the need to wage war against us.”

    What better use of our resources if we took 80% of the troops we have spread around the world and secured our borders, south and north. I care not what the North Koreans do (our troops there); I care intensely what the Mexicans do.

  6. Susan H. says:

    Hi All,

    I’m catching up on my reading today. Thank you everyone for your great comments.

    I was struck today by the passage “Because when once an efficient national government is established, the best men in the country will not only consent to serve, but will also generally be appointed to manage it…..” I feel like maybe at this point in time we don’t have the best men or women in the country serving. Of course this behooves the population to place better people in office.

    I also wanted to say that I agreed with the comment from a few days ago regarding how the founding fathers WANTED the people to know what the government was doing. It really does feel to me like the present government is being sneaky.

  7. Randy Nutt says:

    I took from Federalist #3 the need for a centralized govt to protect the whole of the States and wage war if necessary… Federalist #3 ties in to the border question we have today in my opinion… if we have between 12 and 25 million illegals crossing the border and Art IV section 4 of the Constitution has the Federal Govt responsible for protecting the borders from an invasion, then if the numbers I stated are correct, what, pray tell, would constitute an invading force than up to 25 million non-citizens?

    Just saying…

  8. Chuck Plano, Tx says:

    Shannon it is very frightful as we see what is going on, on our southern border. In the late 1980′s after Casper Winberger was Secetary of Defense he wrote a novel outlining 5 senerios where the USA could fing itself in war. One of those was Mexico, as that country would become so corrupt and violent due to it’s drug problem that the US would have to send troops to stabilize it in “our” national security interest. It appears we have reached that point but our Federal Government has niether the plan or the will to do so much less secure our own borders.

  9. Morning. It’s Janine. I think it is very interesting and quite relevant how John Jay talks about the states dealing with their neighboring countries in a passionate manner as opposed to the Federal government who would deal with the state’s neighboring countries in a cool, objective manner.

    This begs the question: If the Federal government is to protect the states re her foreign borders then should they not neglect the states needs and causes? What happens if the states are left in middle of desperate situations with no aid from the Federal government. Is this where the Tenth Amendment comes into play?

  10. Susan Craig says:

    I think that in their worldview the order of responsibility went person, family, local, state and last and only as a final resort federal.

  11. Damon Wilson says:

    Professor Allen points out something that I’d never thought about before — the question of what should nations do to avoid invasion. It appears that the founders didn’t think that merely being friendly was a sufficient basis for ensuring that one would be free from an attack. President Reagan comes to mind, but I’d be curious what Presidents over the 20th and the 19th Century before thought about this principle?

  12. Gary says:

    Janine. I think your scenario is a prime example of when the 10th Amendment would be very operative. After all, the central government cannot state that an obligation is Constitutionally reserved to it, then refuse to exercise that obligation. I beleive Congress has defacto abrogated the right to “control naturalization” and the sovereign states must do it themselves.

  13. Carolyn Merritt says:

    @Constituting America and Gary: James Madison wrote in the Federalist No. 45 that “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the StateGovernments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace negotiation, and foreign commerce;…The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects , which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state.”

    In my humble opinion, I believe Arizona is correctly operating under the States’ Rights set forth in the 10th Amendment because the Congress is not doing its duty to protect Arizona from its loss of life, liberty, property and prosperity.

    What say someone else?

  14. Carolyn Merritt says:

    Federalist #3 is the first of 3 of Jay’s arguments that the Articles of Confederation are inadequate for our defense. In this third paper, Jay puts great emphasis on the reasoning for a national united Government as opposed to the 13 states each governing their own way.

    He states that we Americans long hold the belief that in order to continue with peace and prosperity; we do so under a single governing body, the federal government. The first provision by the governing body is the safety of our Country and We the people. Though the Founders were more concerned about our being protected against foreigninvasions and influence, they were also concerned even then about the dangers of domestic insecurity. Jay goes on to state that through a friendly and efficient national government can we best be protected from foreign hostilities. Our Nation would not be the provocateur because we would be an America that is united. “The Union tends most to preserve the people in a state of peace with other nations.”

    Jay goes on to state that it is extremely important that in order to maintain the peace of America we respect and observe the laws of nations in which we have signed treaties and this can be done only by and through one united Government, not by the several states or sovereignties.

    He gives the sound reasoning as to why we needed a national government run by men of intellect appointed to serve wisely, systematically, and judicially. Jay felt that left to their own governing, separate states would selfishly guard their own peoples and borders.

  15. Maggie says:

    Federalist #3, for me, drew the strongest parallel thus far to what we are experiencing today. Jay states that “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.” Has our government lost sight of this? “We the people” have stated time and time again that our biggest concern is safety. Jay also states that “The neighborhood of Spanish and British territories, bordering on some States and not non 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”. Doesn’t the Federal government have a duty and an obligation to HELP AZ? Is this not one reason WHY a centralized government was established rather than having several smaller governments?

  16. Maggie says:

    @ Carolyn….I too was struck by the fact that our founding fathers had the foresight to understand that dangers can come not only from “Foreign Arms”, but can also arise “from domestic causes”. These wonderful men seemed to have thought of everything that could possibly go wrong. God Bless them.

  17. Susan H. says:

    To Carolyn M.

    I wholeheartedly agree that AZ is doing the correct thing considering that the Federal government can’s seem to find the will to protect that border. Here we are reading the writing of our founding fathers arguing that the federal government is needed for just this sort of thing and yet currently the federal government is failing. It will be interesting to see if any other states follow suit in this issue.

  18. Howdy from Texas. I thank you for joining us today and I thank today’s guest scholar, William BAllen, for his words of wisdom about Federalist Paper #3. Thanks William!

    What I continue to find fascinating is how the Federalist Papers are consistently relevant today. John Jay’sFederalist Paper #3 is one that really motivates contemplation. Publius speaks about how the unity of the country, the states, is the best way to combat an enemy or foreign intrigues. Unity, a house united, is definitely more advantageous than a house divided. Objectivity trumps subjectivity.

    Yet, if the states are to acquiesce their rights and inclinations to defend themselves, then it is the duty of the Federal government to adequately protect the states. The father must protect his children. The Federal government needs to pay heed.

    John Jay provides examples of how domestic disputes amongst small countries in Europe often lead to major battles – battles that then enveloped several nations for many years. We have certainly seen this repeat itself subsequently and most recently in the 20th century yielding morbid and tragic devastation.

    During our country’s infancy, unity amongst the states was paramount for a strong and unilateral defense.
    However, ironically, the same principle applies today. With the current situation in Arizona, we should remain first and foremost unified in dealing with the crisis at hand. Brother against brother, state against state, breeds contempt and failure.

    It is prophetically proposed by our founding fathers that a unified action yields the best result for the nation.
    Let us remember that unity will reign victorious and gather wisdom to deal with all obstacles.

    We are the United States of America.

    God Bless,

    Janine Turner
    April 302010

    P.S. Don’t forget to check out our “We the People 9.17 Contest” for kids, my daily Video Podcasts and the archive of the daily essays written by Cathy and me and our daily guest scholar!

  19. Susan says:

    I am struck by the amount of thought put into these papers to explain the authors’ reasoning for the adoption of the Constitution to the people. It is a stark contrast to today’s bills which are so long and convoluted that I don’t think anyone can read them let alone explain them and probably few even try.

  20. John Harris says:

    I believe some of the founding fathers had an idealistic view of it’s new country and republic. Most specifically, Monroe believed that the brotherhood of republics transcended national boarders and expansion of induvidual liberties was central to the policies of modern governments born of revolution and the revolution would tear down national bounaries and unite mankind. Once the revolution was over he/they realized real quick that self interest was a greater force than any republic. England, France and others coveted the riches of the new world. The founding fathers found themselves having to preserve the united colonies (thank you Federalist Papers), protect them from invasion and promote trade abroad. And the best way at the time was through diplomacy and not war.

    Translating to our present situation we find ourselves relying on others for natural resources, trade abroad has resulted in a large deficit, and our boarders have been invaded. It is vital that every citizen in America today understand our Constitution and how it was formed. If we dismiss the wisdom of our forefathers we are doomed to tyranny.

  21. Jesse Stewart says:

    You all have said things that struck me when reading Federalist 3. But what really stood out, as others have suggested, was that the best men will fill the roles of “administration, the political counsels, and the judicial decisions” of the national government because there is a large population in the Union from which to draw these men.

    Would Jay roll over in his grave given the quality and honor of those serving today? It is our responsibility as citizens to ensure that the “best men” are filling those important roles!

    PS: realized I didn’t put my last name on previous comments; not intentional!

  22. Eli Hazelett says:

    There would seem to be many ways that a country could fall apart — does an invasion have to be formally waged by a nation as such or can it come from an unorganized group?

  23. Peggy Brittain says:

    “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.”

    It seems to me that our national representative government has turned this around. They are the ones who justify their actions, and oppose their acknowledging, correcting, or repairing their errors and offenses.

    If we cannot believe in our national government to protect us from harm and ensure our safety then don’t the states have the right to protect themselves?

    I don’t think our founders intended for our representatives to be career politicians. This state has led to our elected officials being more protective of their own self interests and their voting blocks than protecting the citizens of the states. Today, the interests of our elected officials is all about power and control. To them our founding documents are living documents meant to change with the times. I am learning that it is just the opposite. Our founding documents are just as relevent today as they were at the time of their writing.

  24. Christina Quinn says:

    It is staggering to me from our vantage point now looking back through time that that we in this present generation have so much greater abilities than our forefathers to both study historical documents and communicate to our fellow citizens, yet do not. It was beyond comprehension that a day would come where information regarding all past and present civilizations, their failures and successes, their forms of governments would be or could be juxtaposed and weighed against each other. The vast superiority of Our Constitution is not even debatable in world history and is in fact I would suggest self-evident to all that apply their reason, but therein lies the rub. It was a given during the time of our forefathers that applied reason would win the argument and that the citizenry out of self-interest would deem it necessary to educate themselves in a form of government that was to be run by themselves. Out of all the considerations, safeguards, checks and balances, they sought to circumvent or eliminate in the wording of the Constitution the one blind spot now a glaring omission was not to mandate it’s reading by the citizenry. The implied self-interest of a government by the people for the people for our forefathers it went without saying that all citizens would know and read the Constitution and thus understand our foundation and liberty. Again beyond their comprehension would be a day that “self interest” for a majority of citizens regarding their government could be assessed as what they can “Get from” it not “Vest To” it, yet here we are. While “Foreign Force and influence” were on Jays mind clearly foreseen as a great potential threat not so was the idea of threat of domestic ignorance… that specter that topples all freedom and liberty, let us pray for the defeat of ignorance in our this Constitution Revolution:-) .

  25. I to am amazed at the foresight of the Founding Fathers. I’m as amazed at the ignorance or disregard from our current leaders to bring history forward as guidance on what NOT to do to overcome troubles today.

    Fed Paper #3 – As I read it, I couldn’t focus on the paper itself…all I could focus on is the relevance to Arizona vs. the Federal Government. Jay states that a national government is more likely derterrent for warding off war than astate…and I agree. But since the Federal Government has been unable the state has to step in.

  26. Ron Meier says:

    @ Janine, the Arizona situation seems to bring rebirth to the Confederation instead of the Union. Only 4 states share the Mexico border and our Representatives and Senators spend their days about 2,000 miles away in Washinton, DC, far from the points of conflict. Because they are so far away, and the 46 states they represent don’t have the samedirect problems with illegal immigration, they seem to be acting as if they lived in a Confederation, where they don’t care enough to act on the problem because the problem is not in their own districts.
    In many instances such as this, our elected representatives are acting more like delegates than representatives of a Republic. As delegates of a state, they vote only for those things that are problems for their own states; as representatives, they should be voting for those things that are in the national best interest, even if not in the best interest of their home state.

  27. Greg Zorbach says:

    @John Harris… I agree in your entire post, but would amplify your statement: “And the best way at the time was through diplomacy and not war.” It was probably true that in 1787 the new country was weak enough to the point that diplomacy was the only option in most cases of foreign provocation or dispute (therefore, the recurring argument for adoption of the proposed Constitution to replace the AOC in order to give the country a stronger national government). Several times in our history when we were not strong enough militarily, our diplomatic efforts proved to be impotent. The best explanation of national power or effectiveness in foreign affairs I have heard was presented at the Naval War College by a visiting lecturer from the government in the late 80’s: any nation’s power is like a stool with four legs. The legs are military power, economic power, national resolve or character, and the last one that depends the most on the other three – diplomatic skill. However, if the stool’s legs are not in relative balance, national effectiveness in foreign affairs (the most critical being the avoidance of war without resorting to the ‘tribute’ that led Jefferson to take on the Barbary pirates) is diminished. I believe that Chief Justice Jay was make this same point in argument for adoption in Federalist 3.

  28. Beverly Benson says:

    If our country became unified would it mean that we would have more people to select from in terms of making up the military force? And I guess I haven’t read the Articles of Confederation, but I noted that the Constitution allows the federal government of the U.S. to have a draft. Would unity mean that the founders wanted to be able to draft people from every single colony?

  29. Cindy Thompson says:

    Our country has truly been blessed to have men such as John Jay to take such an interest in the nation and to accept the risks that they did. It is really too bad that historians have tried to rewrite their profiles to turn them into lesser men. I am honored to read their essays and thankful for the Constitution we have. I’ll do my part to spread the word about it.

  30. Tricia says:

    It is amazing how persuasive the 3rd Federalist Paper is. I like how Publius used moderate language throughout the essay in order to gradually convince the reader of his cause. By the end, I found myself agreeing with him in the idea that “strength is peace.” I envy the eloquence of this essay!

  31. Seij De Leon says:

    The Federalist Papers no3 makes a point to explain how things will go well, concerning the people running the country. It states that the best men will serve the country, and to defend that explains that “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.” Like what Jesse Stewart was saying, this is nowadays an overall hollow statement, and I’m sure that John Jay could not of envisioned how things really work today. Just because there is a large selection of people to choose from does not mean the best men will be chosen, an unavoidable flaw in any society where the people can make decisions such as these.

  32. Nancy Martin says:

    It interests me that three men could agree so strongly on the benefits of the new constitution that they could all use the same pen name Publius. I’m curious about what this means in terms of the trust they had for one another?

  33. Shannon Castleman says:

    Nancy, thoughtful question. These men trusted each other because they were Statesmen, not “politicians”. They loved their new country more than they loved to disagree with one another.

    They don’t make people like that anymore, at least not many. Could you imagine Pelosi, Paul Ryan, Harry Reid, and a Libertarian doing this together?

    I can’t.

  34. Peter says:

    Dumas captured the spirit of Federalist #3 when he wrote “All for one – and one for all.”

  35. Susan Craig says:

    What has become inverted is the foundation of peace. What the founders here argued is that diplomacy functions best when supported by three legs. These legs are; one a strong defensive capability (making it hazardous to attack), two a strong economy (ability to sustain) and three a collective understanding of principle and the will to back them up. Currently termites are attacking all three legs and still insisting that diplomacy unsupported will work.

  36. Hello all. Peace through strength,,I think the founders knew this and up until these past few years that axiom has held us in a secure grip in a very dangerous world.Reality exists and to pretend that we can behave out side it because it suits our wishes is a dangerous and irresponsible failure of understanding.I expect our Government to be adults,people who will hold themselves errect and bear the burdens of truth, and this does not mean we are imperialist ,Facist,etc.These over the top charges make me wonder about the depth of understanding of those using these distructive words.It stikes me as as very young and immature teen who has heard a few new words and can’t wait to use them,and have no idea how foolish they appear .I am imbarrased for them most of the time.
    Strong mature silence is quiet and deliberate in its action and words. Unity is in our best interest and I pray for a leap of comprehension on the part of America.

  37. Andy Sparks says:

    Shannon, you may find it interesting to know that two of the people who wrote the Federalist Papers (Alexander Hamilton and James Madison) went on to become bitter enemies. Madison switched sides so to speak, and joined Jefferson’s Republicans and denounced and worked against Hamilton’s Federalists, and vice versa. Once the Constitution was ratified, they did not work together as statesmen, but became politicians.

  38. Patrina L. says:

    RE the statement by Seij De Leon: “Just because there is a large selection of people to choose from does not mean the best men will be chosen, an unavoidable flaw in any society where the people can make decisions such as these.”

    It is true that people can, have done, and will make mistakes in selecting their leaders via their voters’ voice; however, I fear how much WORSE it would be if the PEOPLE did NOT have the power to make these monumental choices…

    Would anyone want the current leaders (or any leaders, for that matter) making these important choices of leadership for us? How much worse would that be? We, as a people, have the CHOICE to oust, what we perceive to be as, any bad lot of leaders at the voter’s box. This is what gives US the power. We must jealously guard it through our own education regarding our national history and our current events. This is what Benjamin Franklin meant when asked by a woman what kind of government the Founding Fathers had given the Country. He responded, “A Republic- if you can keep it.” His answer implies that we bear an ACTIVE responsibility toward maintaining our power as a people. Not only must we educate ourselves, but we must also actively exercise our freedoms through voting. We have been given a rich wealth of freedom and power through our national inheritance, but we cannot become passive because our inheritance will not maintain itself. We, as the ones who have inherited this great gift, have an ETERNAL RESPONSIBILITY toward ACTIVELY preserving it by being knowledgeable, diligent, and vigilant regarding its upkeep, or else it will be stolen from us while we slumber. We the People must insist upon learning about our inheritance of power and freedom, and preserving it through proper tending, or else it will surely wilt and die, yielding us nothing but disappointment and grief, making us very poor inheritors, indeed.

    So, the truth of the matter is that if the PEOPLE did not make the choices of leadership, the outcomes would be far worse. I believe that is why the Founding Fathers put the “US” in the USA.

  39. CJ says:

    Amazing how forthright the Founders were and how devastated they’d be today.
    There are certainly a lot of words and as my High School teacher said of my essays….”flowery pansies”….The speaking back then certainly were colorful.

    In my mind I summed it up to: Together we are strong, separate open to prey..

    In this section of Federalist 2 it seems to be their lack of foresight and elitism that America would be a people of thesame kind and equal in religion manners and customs…CJ

    Federalist 2……
    ..”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…”

    These paragraphs in 4 struck out at me: CJ

    Federalist 4
    …”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.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>.
    hostility and insult have been invited. CJ
    >>>>>>>>>>>>

    It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature,
    that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect
    of getting anything by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make
    war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the
    purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military
    glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts
    to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans.
    These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of
    the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by
    justice or the voice and interests of his people. But, independent
    of these inducements to war, which are more prevalent in absolute
    monarchies, but which well deserve our attention, there are others
    which affect nations as often as kings; and some of them will on
    examination be found to grow out of our relative situation and
    circumstances….”
    >>>>>>>>
    …. “Have our wars been sanctified by justice……”CJ

    …………
    This is sad for our government has put us in this position…I fear today with this administration even more so.
    America was so very young…… CJ


 

May 3, 2010 – Federalist No. 4 – Cathy Gillespie

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Hello from Virginia! I made it back from Texas in the wee hours of the morning, thanks to some thunderstorms and unexpected equipment on the runway at Reagan National Airport!

To all who have been posting – Thank you!! We invite all our visitors to add their comments! We love the sense of community, and are learning so much from each of you.  If you have a question, please ask it, and if we can’t answer it, hopefully some of our blog participants can!

Federalist #4 elaborates upon a phrase stated in the preamble to the Constitution: ”We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

I’m reminded of a quote of a famous Texan from the 1970′s and 1980″s, Eddie Chiles, who said all he wanted the federal government to do was defend the shores, deliver the mail, and leave him alone!  It is no accident that Eddie Chiles started his quote with “defend the shores,” and that so many of the first Federalist Papers touch on this theme of defending our country.  It is one of the powers enumerated in the Constitution that the federal government is best equipped to perform.

The other quote that caught my eye was the last phrase: “……how soon would dear-bought experience proclaim that when a people or family so divide, it never fails to be against themselves.”  As citizens of the United States, the more common ground we can find with each other, the better. And the more educated our citizens are about the founding principles of our country, the easier it will be for us to find common ground.

Good night!

Cathy Gillespie

7 Responses to “May 32010 – Federalist No4 – Cathy Gillespie

  1. Bill Kenagy says:

    Note in the preable it says, “promote the general welfare.” Not to provide for the general welfare.

  2. Bache says:

    A quote from Benjamin Franklin…” The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” His saying reflects the ideology of the preamble “to promote the general welfare.”

  3. Roger Jett says:

    Good Morning Cathy Gillespie and All !

    In penning what was to become our national anthem, Francis Scott Key in 1814 at Fort McHenry, in his second verse and fourth verse, continued on the theme, “defend our shores” :

    On the shore, dimly seen through the mist of the deep,
    Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
    What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
    As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses ?
    Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
    In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
    ‘Tis the star-spangled banner ! Oh long may it wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave

    Oh! thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
    Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
    Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
    Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation,
    Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
    And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

    May God bless us, preserve us and keep us brave and free!

  4. The equality of all people stand on the OPPORTUNITY that our freedom provides. We all have the same OPPORTUNITY to “pursue happiness” without the overreach of government taking from one and giving to another. Everyone has the same opportunity to work hard and succeed, what one chooses to do with that opportunity is up to them. And if you think someone needs help use your money to help them don’t take mine(not that I have any) But I believe that we “reap what we sow” so I’m still sowing baby………

  5. Julie Bedard says:

    @Bill Kenagy—well said. There is a big difference between “promote” and “provide”. The next queston becomes–what did they mean when they wrote “general welfare”? As we know this also has been twisted and misconstrued throughout time to move towards “social justice” policies. I take it to mean “to promote the general welfare of the UNION”–again to protect and defend the Union from external and internal sources so it remains intact for all people within the Union to live peacefully and pursue their dreams without fear of disharmony, chaos, and war.

  6. Susan Craig says:

    The conflict of promote and provide occurs within the constitution itself. The Preamble says promote while article 1 says provide.

  7. Kellie says:

    @Julie Bedard: Well said on the issue of interpreting the “general welfare” of the Union. I have found that those truly well-versed on the Constitution know and understand that meaning to be for the protection of the Union from external and internal sources, NOT that we provide welfare to those in need within the Union, as is currently interpreted. My fear is that it’s proper meaning is not being taught in the schools…

 

 

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Howdy from Texas! Welcome to our third week of “90 in 90 – History Holds the Key to the Future.” I can’t believe it is the third week. I thank you for joining us and for all of your thought provoking blogs!! I thank William B. Allen for his wonderful, insightful essays. How lucky we are to have his participation. Thanks William!

This is such an important collaboration! Spread the word about our national conversation and don’t forget to do the readings of the day with your children and/or loved ones! Also, don’t forget to encourage your children to join our We the People 9.17 Contest. Scholarships, Travel, Public Appearances!!

My interpretation of John Jay’s Federalist Paper No. 4 is unity provides strength and strength provides a strategic defense. A strong defense promotes peace, respect and profitable commerce. If a foreign country senses weakness or internal strife then it will be more likely to strike.
The wolf waits for a sheep to separates from the herd before it attacks, attacking only when the sheep is defenseless and without aid.

Relevant today? I say yes. Are we, as patriots, adequately united for the common good? Are we strong economically? Are we strong militarily? Are our representatives ready to face our adversaries with competence and preparedness? Are we truly united as brothers and sister, counties, regions, states? Are we so myopic in our domestic mire that we have lost sight of the wolf? On the wave of the wind wails the wolf. Do we hear it? Are we listening?

God Bless,

Janine Turner

2 Responses to “May 32010 – Federalist No4 – Janine Turner

  1. The news coming out of New York at this very moment about the arrest of a suspect in the attempt to detonate a car bomb in Times Square indicates just how relevant John Jay’s Federalist Paper No4 is today. We must never let our guard down.

    That our enemies all over the world are willing to and want to wage war as soon as we show weakness was demonstrated this weekend.

    As the famous flag says so succinctly, ‘Unite or Die’.

  2. Well said Janine Turner!!! and thanks for this opportunity.

 

 

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Having established the “utility” of the Union for avoiding foreign wars, Publius proceeds to reinforce the argument in essay number four. In the second paragraph he acknowledged the claim that the United States should avoid inviting hostilities, insults, from other nations. But the third paragraph shows how difficult that might be.  It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it, nay that absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it but for purposes and objects merely personal… These and a variety of 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. What this suggests is that many of the wars that arise will do so because people having the power to make war or to a void war yield to temptations that we find perfectly ordinary in human nature. People see opportunities and try to take advantage of them.

We should question the causes of war and the premise that if we knew the causes it would be easier to avoid war. In this point, though, it seems that the very resource we relied upon in the beginning == namely, the people with the power to decide — is also one of the chief causes of war. People in office who yield to temptation happen to be one of the chief causes of war, and Publius reminds us of this.

This is not an aberration. All we need do is to expect leaders to be human to expect these causes to operate. That is not the exclusive cause of war. Publius is clear about this, but it is the most difficult to deal with. And in that respect we ask once again is the Union better at dealing with the causes of war? will the Union make it less likely that notional office holders yield to personal illusions that carry their nation into war? The significance of this is that with the national union our personal illusions come packed wait a far greater punch In spite of that, Publius argues that, yes, in spite of greater fire power, the greater temptations, the greater illusions, the answer is yes. How?

Publius does not claim to alter human nature one bit. He suggests, though, that we need to pay as close attention to the effect of the new government upon the governed as upon those who govern. There is a deterrence theory in essay four that suggests the response: “Wisely, therefore, do they consider union and a good national government as necessary to put and them in in such a situation as, instead of inviting war, will tend to repress and discourage it.” Then he repeats the argument from essay three, namely, that a Union will foster the involvement of the “experience of the ablest men” in the entire nation in guiding the nation. But he adds a caveat that was not in essay number three, namely, that “it can harmonize, assimilate, and protect the several parts and members, and extend the benefit of its foresight and precautions to each.” That is a new argument, an argument that a government for the union can in fact create homogeneity where diversity existed previously: e pluribus unum.

Professor William B. Allen is emeritus dean and professor of Political Philosophy at Michigan State University.

28 Responses to “May 32010 – Federalist No4 – The Same Subject ContinuedConcerning Dangers from Foreign Forceand Influence, for the Independent Journal (Jay) – Guest BloggerWilliam BAllenemeritus dean and professor ofPolitical Philosophy at Michigan State University

  1. Ron Meier says:

    Those bumper stickers “War is Never the Answer,” and similar slogans always bother me because they assume that there are no humans who would ever choose war over peace. History proves that this simply is not true. I don’t know where I read it, but I remember reading sometime in the past several years that there have been at least two wars going on somewhere in the world every year of recorded history.
    The idealistic left assumes that peace is normal and conflict is abnormal; in my analysis of history, conflict is normal and peace is an anomaly. We don’t even have to look at the history of nations; we can look at families, homeowners associations, clubs, and the like, and what we find is that conflict is normal and peace is not. When good nations have unilaterally disarmed in the name of peace, we normally find that war comes shortly thereafter. Therefore, we should always be prepared with a strong defense.

  2. Shannon Castleman says:

    My question to you all: After reading #2-#4, Do you believe our Founders-if the came here in a time machine-would support or not support our being in the Middle East right now?

    Most of me says no, but a small part of me says maybe. Any thoughts??

  3. Susan Craig says:

    I find it very telling that the first four papers in defense of the new Constitution dealt solely with mutual defense and security! It is almost as if they wished the primary and dare I say almost the only purpose of the Federal government was dealing with external influences leaving the internal to the individuals and their respective States?

  4. Jeff James says:

    Isn’t it interesting that one of the main points in Federalist #4 is the balance of trade and the U.S. ability to supply ourselves with commodities once supplied by India and China. Times sure hve changed!

  5. Roger Jett says:

    In answer to Shannon, who posed the question ….” would our founders support or not support our being in the Middle East right now? I think that at least some insight can be obtained by studying our involvement in the “First Barbary War 1801-1805″ and the “Second Barbary War 1815″. Based upon the bold actions taken by the young United States with it’s fledgling military at that time, I believe it is probable that the Founders would be in support of any action that has taken place in recent decades to protect American Citizens and American commercial interest. However, I suspect they would not have engaged in the level of police action and nation building that our modern time leaders have burdened us with.

  6. Carolyn Attaway says:

    I am going to miss John Jay’s writings in these Papers. I find his Papers very easy to read and very thought provoking.

    Shannon, in paragraph 3, our conflicts with Iran and Iraq immediately jumped into my mind. Many speculate why we entered this war; national security, oil, democracy, many more views, and a combination of many. But with both Iraq and Iran, their leaders have expressed an ambition for themselves and their country that has enveloped the rest of the world. Unfortunately, a down side of the founder’s logic of being a strong union is that we have became too strong and we are depended upon by the rest of the world to intervene in global crisis. I do not believe our founders would have wanted this for their beloved Union, but could they themselves have prevented it given the cost of noinvolvement. As Edmund Burke, a supporter of the American Revolution said “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. If the Middle East conflicts happened during our founder’s time, we probably would not have become involved, at least not to the degree we are now. But given the domino effect of global fallouts today, I believe they would feel they had no choice but to intervene.

    Why? In paragraphs 7 through 10, John Jay writes of America’s involvement with China and India, and how that trade involves other countries. He explains how this trade can irritate other countries with our success in commerce and in our navigation of the oceans that give America a greater share in the territories that they at one time monopolized. So even at this time, America was heavily involved in foreign affairs and commerce; the founder’s wanted to protect the Union’s stakes of interest in other countries and this was one of their reasons for the States to be unified.

    The last paragraph could be taken from any Tea Party and Patriot Activist Guide Book today. Of the many Rallies, Town Halls, and Prosperity meetings I have attended, this is the rallying call: “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, what a poor, pitiful figure will America make in their eyes! How liable would she become not only to their contempt but to their outrage, and how soon would dear-bought experience proclaim that when a people or family so divide, it never fails to be against themselves.”

    The Conservative Movement feels it is way past time to return America to her previous Glory. Was she perfect? No. And a lot of things changed to make her better and her people freer. But the change we did not need is our overbearing and non-transparent government, an overregulated and crippling trade policy, liberal agendas to dictate our military, our resources and finances in ruins, our credit in the toilet, our citizens losing freedoms to the NannyState and becoming quickly discontented and divided.

    Was America perfect? No. But; she was the closest thing to liberty and freedom the civilized world had ever known.

    I believe most of us on this site probably believe this, otherwise why bother being here.

  7. Donna Hardeman says:

    @Bob Greenslade-before I get immersed in the next Federalist paper, I wanted to take a moment to thank you sincerely for your reply to my question about the Bill of Rights. It was an excellent read – one of the main reasons I’m on this site because of bloggers like you!

  8. Neal C White says:

    Shannon asks the question whether our Founders were to visit us would they or would they not support our being in the Middle East now? It is a good question and one we all should examine. I think the answer to this question depends on the faith we have in who our elected officials are and whether we are convinced of their resolve and purpose. Most of us do not have the time to research and totally understand such matters.

    Unfortunately, at present it is doubtful that our leadership are capable of steering our country in the right direction. I guess in the end we will have to depend on God having control and guiding our leaders to make the correct decisions.

  9. Marc W. Stauffer says:

    Remember the school yard bully? How that bully singled out and picked on the weak? There are always going to be the “school yard bullies” out there in the big bad world. Remember what happened when “the picked upon” banded together? You found out that the “school yard bully” wasn’t so big and bad after all and they turned to easier prey.
    I think Publius makes an excellent point with his fleets of Britain and trade market competition. The corner on the trade market was held by Britain and the inference that human nature would not stand idly by and allow that hold to simply be taken from them by a small, relatively defenseless state or confederation merits a good understanding. When you are banded together with a common cause strength is realized and with that strength comes deterrence…something every “school yard bully” thinks twice about.

  10. Bache says:

    In the First Barbary Wars,family letters written by Daniel T. Patterson from the Tripoli Prison, Nov. 23, 1803 are fascinating. He was a midshipman, from the shipwrecked frigate Philadelphia and now a prisoner at the age of 17. The prisoners were kept in “a stone bulding, the walls very thick, it is about 20 ft. wide, 25 ft. high, and about 80 ft long, with arches overhead, the walls could scarely be distinquished from cob-webs, and dirt, it had formerly been used to dry hides in, and had never been cleaned out, the strings by which they suspended them are still hanging there. The light and air is admitted through a space in the top, about 4 ft.square, grated over with Iron Bars, by 2 small holes in the side wall near the top, which are almost choked up with dirt and a small grated window near the door, there was the ground for seats and an old sail spread for beds, this place was to contain three hundred persons, the doors shut every evening at sunset and opened at daylight when they want any fot the men to work, they arrange them all in a line and take those they like…but when they misbehaved they are bastionandoed, two small loaves of bread made of barley bran and as much water they can drink is all they live upon.” He latter writes that the Turks had 50-60 million dollars in their treasury, in unchained captivity 1,500 Christians…a demand of $3,000 per sailor for ransom is made to President Thomas Jefferson.

    I find these letters from a young man held in captivity along with Captain Bainbridge and fellow officers enlightening. His words paint a picture of the demands of the First War of Terror on our newly founded republic and navy.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    After reading the fourth paper, the last paragraph jumped out at me. It seemed as though it was written for today and how the world views us. Are we sure it was written in 1787? Talking about how foreign nations, “if they see that our national government is efficient and well administered…they will be more disopsed to cultivate our friendship than provoke our resentment…How much more true does that ring today?

  12. Susan Craig says:

    I think this is a function of our founding fathers knowledge and understanding of human nature and realistic approaches to dealing with it. Whereas today’s ‘leaders’ wish try and impose their picture of an ideal. They ignore at their peril the human nature that resents and resists imposition of someone else’s picture of how we should be vice how we truly are; flawed and sinful.

  13. Carolyn Merritt says:

    I too, was taken with the past paragraph of #4 and how it rings true today. We must continue to show our strength and unity, if we do not and we continue on the path our current government is trying to take our Nation, we are going to keep losing the respect we once had from other Nations.

    The last sentence of John Jay’s argument was echoed almost 100 years later by Abraham Lincoln: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (1858) This holds true today as well.

  14. Ron Parson says:

    Three short points:
    – first: We subsidize consumption and tax investment, which is “eating the seed corn.” It leads to poverty. Thus, a wholehearted second to Carolyn Attaway’s point above, in part quoting “our resources and finances discreetly managed, our credit re-established.” We must do this, and quickly.
    – second: re Iraq and Afghanistan: both lacked a “strategy”; both were a full level below that, at “operations.” To distinguish strategy from operations, ask . . . “and then what?” as in, We capture Baghdad . . . and then what? We flatten the Taliban (temporarily) . . . and then what? Both operations implied nation-building, which was scarcely anyone was thinking about; and I believe it impossible by outsiders.
    – third: In Washington, a “strategic plan” is neither; Washington abounds in incoherent scraps of strategy. A coherent strategy has 7 elements: context, assumptions, ends/objectives, ways/concepts, means/resources, The Plan, review-adapt loop. If we’d applied that template to Iraq & Afgh before moving in, likely we wouldn’t have done so. The best monograph I know of on this is at http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=641 by a Dr. Harry Yarger.

  15. Will says:

    I strongly suspect that the standing and respect we once had in the world has been declining for some time, at least since the close of the Marshall Plan (itself a big social spending program). It’s being going on long before the current administration.

  16. Susan Craig says:

    Ron your second point is a function tieing our hands via the UN and limiting conflicts to police actions. War is not a sporting event in which ties are a good resolution to the game. War is a Darwinian evolution of the survival of the fittest.
    Your third point is one of the things the world holds against us – a lack of continuity/consistency between administrations. Case in point the missile shield promised to eastern Europe in the Bush administration and reneged upon by the Obama.

  17. Carolyn Attaway says:

    Susan, you have apoint about the lack of continuity between administrations, but I do not believe our past presidents strayed so far from each other as our current President has. Whether Reagan, either Bush, or Clinton; I do not believe our Allies ever considered that the USA would sever ties with them, or desert them. Now, I believe they are unsure of their relationship with us. You mention the world holds this inconsistency against us, but the sad part is many of our own citizens hate America as much as our enemies do. I came across a liberal the other day that hated America so much she said it was time we became a 3rd World country and suffer the abuses we inflicted on other countries. Her history was so skewed, I could not make any headway with her.

    So picking up Ron’s point of a strategic plan, I agree that we shouldn’t enter a war with just the first line of attack planned out, and then when that is over, you say “Now what?” I also realize that the world in constantly changing, and priorities are constantly changing, so National Security, our first and foremost proirity, needs to be constantly one step ahead of the world, and sometimes that is very hard to do. Ron, I look forward to checking out the link you provided. I joined Liz Cheney’s group “Keep America Safe”, and she and her contributors have indepth information on our current State of National Security. I haven’t been able to get to the site lately, but I recommend it.

  18. Hello all…….There are so many problems these days it is hard to keep up.The question was asked about our waring in the Middle East… great question and a very tall one.I suppose to bring the war to them could be argued for,WE were attacked by an idology not a country,this is very unconventional and a bit elusive by our past experiences.Our tactics need to be contemporary ….(going back, when the English attacked us during the revolution they followed strict and cumbersome methods of war,marching in bright red coats, and were quiet horrified that the militias did not line up and march in neat lines as they attacked, they instead used slight of view, snipers, etc.War had evolved and the Brits fought (may I dare say ,in a bit of an old fashon way) .Are we in a similiar delema ,fighting terrorist who fade from full annoument of their presence sneaking up using our very freedoms against us.Perhaps we need to reconsider some of our tactics.One way I think this is being done are the drone attacks.I know there are those who have objection to their use , but I like using stealt as often as possible .
    The mention of BIG government was also brought up. The thought that comes to mind over and over again when I see an attempt to control salt use,sweets , meat. fats and the such is the Temperence movement, and Prohibition. It was so against the Nature of humans and merely a product of the imaginations of the movers of Prohibition that we went right on doing what we knew was our own business.Crime rose and the repeal followed 13 years later. Of course this is a problems for sure but the most important problems we are facing is the Admin, taking control of Health Care, Banks, Financial markets, Car industry,errosion of Property ownership,wiping out contracts and so on and so on.We have much to right and thank God for our Constitution and the will of the people coming to life. This effort that has been offered to us by the contributers of the Constituting America site is a thrill.

  19. WeThePeople says:

    I really like the attitude this takes toward war: that it’s not something we ever want to invite upon ourselves. Its nice to know that the creators and supporters of our constitution strongly believed that peaceful solutions could be reached. It’s obvious that the constitution did need to give consideration to our national defense, but still. Now, if only our government had this same attitude today…

  20. Charles Babb says:

    This has been a wonderful opportunity to better understand what my ancestors faced, when they took their “Oath of Allegiance to North Carolina” at a Safety Committee meeting in Bute County (later to become Warren and Franklin Counties) in 1775.

    My question is; Where have all the Statesmen gone?

    They seem to have been replaced by patisan political thugs (result of career politicans?) that have usurped authority never granted them in the Constitution and have intentionally allowed our Nation to be invaded by a foreign forcewhich they hope will allow them to rip away the very last vestiges of freedom our Founding Fathers had intrusted to us.

    When America wakes up and realises what her apathy has brought us, I pray it is not too late for the People to regain control.

    Your posts give me hope that the United States can regain her way.

  21. Susan Craig says:

    Having spent sometime overseas (government sponsored tours and college) and listening to my hosts, it was a generic theme even back in the 1970′s. At that time it was Viet Nam Kennedy had committed to them and Nixon backed out under domestic political pressure.

  22. Tricia says:

    After reading the fourth Federalist Paper, I’m confused. John Jay sought to show how having a large, unified government would help protect the different states. He uses examples of how monarchies have started wars over personal matters and how three or four little governments aren’t as strong as one big one.

    But what’s to stop the leader of the US government from declaring war for personal reasons? What would keep the president in check? I don’t know if I missed that point or if it’s going to be further developed later…

  23. wow the founding fathers were right in so many aspects about war, trade, and just life in general. This country now feeks that we need to be in everyones affairs where as many of the founding fathers felt we needed to stay out of europes affairs. I wish the government was like this today, and that we needed to stay united unlike the polotics of today

  24. Andy Sparks says:

    To understand fully Jay’s essays regarding foreign relations, it is important to look to the near future of his time. The new republic’s life blood was trade with Europe. While America was rich in staples such as tobacco, timber, indigo, and rice; our manufacturing was relatively non-existant. Basically, we traded our raw materials for manufactured goods. The Quasi-War with France and the War of 1812 with Britain grew out of the disruption of trade with those respective countries. When both countries began boarding, impounding, and confiscating our merchant ships, it became a potential cause for war. Adams was able to avoid a conflict in the late 1790′s through shrewd diplomacy; Jefferson also avoided conflict by implementing a disasterous embargo policy that plunged the new nation into an economic crisis; Madison was not able to avoid war as the war hawks like Henry Clay and John Calhoun demanded the U.S. go to war with Britain in 1812. And although the U.S. claimed impressment and trade violations as the ultimate reason for war; imperial designs on Canada were as much a factor as those sited. So, despite (or because of) Jay’s warnings in Federalist #4, the nation not only could not avoid war, but in the case of 1812, actively sought it out.

  25. Peter says:

    There are some great comments being made tonight. It is interesting, but in a way obvious (at least to me) that the first few Federalist papers dealt with national security. Not only is the primary purpose of the state to organize for war – something the indiviudal is least prepared to do of all government functions – it is in my judgment the best argument for why the various colonies/states needed to come together into a centralized arrangement – or as one of the founders put it, for their mutual protection and, and this is important, defense.

  26. Seij De Leon says:

    In the last section of the article, Publius makes a remark saying that basically, if we as a nation are strong and powerful, other nations will want to befriend us and not provoke us. At the time, this may have been a more beneficial concept. But now as we are a large world power it has not only earned better feelings from other countries, but their dependency on dealing with larger affairs that our founding fathers may not of foreseen, and in turn made things what some might consider worse for us. I think it is interesting how goals were met, but even with the very thorough analysis that is offered by the federalist papers not everything can be predicted such as foreign dependency.

  27. Sandra Rodas says:

    I am very much enjoying this reading project and the blog. I read every comment each day. I have been meaning to read The Federalist Papers from “cover to cover” for some time now, and it is nice to have someone inspire me to get busy and do it. It is especially nice to get so many insights from others as I read. Thank you Cathy and Janine for sponsoring this.

    In #4 the comment, “when a people or family so divide, it never fails to be against themselves,” keeps coming back to my mind.
    There have always been different opinions and different sides of issues — some of them very nation-changing and serious — but I feel a lack of unity in our country at this time that alarms me. It somehow feels different and more hostile.
    We are dividing against ourselves. We need to realize that we can disagree without the hostility. The “shape” of our nation will be irregular and asymmetrical as we all push and pull in the different directions that our hard-won freedoms allow. That is OK—it is even good. The harmony improves the melody. However, we need to remember that our center should be one.

  28. Greg Zorbach says:

    re Tricia and her question: “But what’s to stop the leader of the US government from declaring war for personal reasons? What would keep the president in check?” Only the congress candeclare war. it was true with FDR in 1941 and with W in 2002. Yjey both had to make their points with the people and their representatives in congress.