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THE FEDERALIST PAPERS

By Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison




FEDERALIST No. 1

General Introduction

For the Independent Journal. Saturday, October 27, 1787


HAMILTON

To the People of the State of New York:

AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficacy of the subsisting
federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new
Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its
own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the
existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it
is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting
in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been
reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example,
to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really
capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and
choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their
political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth
in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be
regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong
election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be
considered as the general misfortune of mankind.

This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of
patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good
men must feel for the event. Happy will it be if our choice should be
directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, unperplexed and
unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good. But this
is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected. The
plan offered to our deliberations affects too many particular interests,
innovates upon too many local institutions, not to involve in its
discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits, and of views,
passions and prejudices little favorable to the discovery of truth.

Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new Constitution
will have to encounter may readily be distinguished the obvious interest
of a certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which
may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument, and consequence of
the offices they hold under the State establishments; and the perverted
ambition of another class of men, who will either hope to aggrandize
themselves by the confusions of their country, or will flatter
themselves with fairer prospects of elevation from the subdivision of
the empire into several partial confederacies than from its union under
one government.

It is not, however, my design to dwell upon observations of this
nature. I am well aware that it would be disingenuous to resolve
indiscriminately the opposition of any set of men (merely because their
situations might subject them to suspicion) into interested or ambitious
views. Candor will oblige us to admit that even such men may be actuated
by upright intentions; and it cannot be doubted that much of the
opposition which has made its appearance, or may hereafter make its
appearance, will spring from sources, blameless at least, if not
respectable--the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived
jealousies and fears. So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes
which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many
occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right
side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance,
if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those
who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any
controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might
be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those
who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their
antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition,
and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate
as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a
question. Were there not even these inducements to moderation, nothing
could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all
times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion,
it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword.
Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.

And yet, however just these sentiments will be allowed to be, we have
already sufficient indications that it will happen in this as in all
former cases of great national discussion. A torrent of angry and
malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the conduct of the
opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually
hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the
number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the
bitterness of their invectives. An enlightened zeal for the energy
and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a
temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty.
An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people,
which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be
represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity
at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one
hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble
enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and
illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that
the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that,
in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their
interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more
often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the
people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and
efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been
found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than
the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties
of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying
an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending
tyrants.

In the course of the preceding observations, I have had an eye, my
fellow-citizens, to putting you upon your guard against all attempts,
from whatever quarter, to influence your decision in a matter of the
utmost moment to your welfare, by any impressions other than those which
may result from the evidence of truth. You will, no doubt, at the same
time, have collected from the general scope of them, that they
proceed from a source not unfriendly to the new Constitution. Yes,
my countrymen, I own to you that, after having given it an attentive
consideration, I am clearly of opinion it is your interest to adopt it.
I am convinced that this is the safest course for your liberty, your
dignity, and your happiness. I affect not reserves which I do not feel.
I will not amuse you with an appearance of deliberation when I have
decided. I frankly acknowledge to you my convictions, and I will freely
lay before you the reasons on which they are founded. The consciousness
of good intentions disdains ambiguity. I shall not, however, multiply
professions on this head. My motives must remain in the depository of
my own breast. My arguments will be open to all, and may be judged of by
all. They shall at least be offered in a spirit which will not disgrace
the cause of truth.

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

THE UTILITY OF THE UNION TO YOUR POLITICAL PROSPERITY THE INSUFFICIENCY
OF THE PRESENT CONFEDERATION TO PRESERVE THAT UNION THE NECESSITY OF
A GOVERNMENT AT LEAST EQUALLY ENERGETIC WITH THE ONE PROPOSED, TO THE
ATTAINMENT OF THIS OBJECT THE CONFORMITY OF THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTION
TO THE TRUE PRINCIPLES OF REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT ITS ANALOGY TO YOUR
OWN STATE CONSTITUTION and lastly, THE ADDITIONAL SECURITY WHICH ITS
ADOPTION WILL AFFORD TO THE PRESERVATION OF THAT SPECIES OF GOVERNMENT,
TO LIBERTY, AND TO PROPERTY.

In the progress of this discussion I shall endeavor to give a
satisfactory answer to all the objections which shall have made their
appearance, that may seem to have any claim to your attention.

It may perhaps be thought superfluous to offer arguments to prove the
utility of the UNION, a point, no doubt, deeply engraved on the hearts
of the great body of the people in every State, and one, which it may be
imagined, has no adversaries. But the fact is, that we already hear
it whispered in the private circles of those who oppose the new
Constitution, that the thirteen States are of too great extent for
any general system, and that we must of necessity resort to separate
confederacies of distinct portions of the whole.(1) This doctrine will,
in all probability, be gradually propagated, till it has votaries enough
to countenance an open avowal of it. For nothing can be more evident,
to those who are able to take an enlarged view of the subject, than the
alternative of an adoption of the new Constitution or a dismemberment
of the Union. It will therefore be of use to begin by examining the
advantages of that Union, the certain evils, and the probable dangers,
to which every State will be exposed from its dissolution. This shall
accordingly constitute the subject of my next address.

PUBLIUS

1. The same idea, tracing the arguments to their consequences, is held
out in several of the late publications against the new Constitution.




FEDERALIST No. 2

Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence

For the Independent Journal. Wednesday, October 31, 1787

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.



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