The Federalist Papers


General Introduction
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the
subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate
on  a new Constitution for the United States of America. The
subject  speaks its own importance; comprehending in its
consequences  nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the
safety and welfare  of the parts of which it is composed, the
fate of an empire in many  respects the most interesting in the
world. It has been frequently  remarked that it seems to have
been reserved to the people of this  country, by their conduct
and example, to decide the important  question, whether societies
of men are really capable or not of  establishing good government
from reflection and choice, or whether  they are forever destined
to depend for their political constitutions on accident and
force. If there be any truth in the  remark, the crisis at which
we are arrived may with propriety be  regarded as the era in
which that decision is to be made; and a  wrong election of the
part we shall act may, in this view, deserve  to be considered as
the general misfortune of mankind.
This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of 
patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and 
good men must feel for the event. Happy will it be if our choice 
should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, 
unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the 
public good. But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than 
seriously to be expected. The plan offered to our deliberations 
affects too many particular interests, innovates upon too many
local  institutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety
of objects  foreign to its merits, and of views, passions and
prejudices little  favorable to the discovery of truth.
Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new
Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished
the  obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to
resist  all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power,
emolument,  and consequence of the offices they hold under the
State establishments; and the perverted ambition of another class
of men,  who will either hope to aggrandize themselves by the
confusions of  their country, or will flatter themselves with
fairer prospects of  elevation from the subdivision of the empire
into several partial  confederacies than from its union under one
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:
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


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


To the People of the State of New York:
WHEN the people of America reflect that they are now called upon
to decide a question, which, in its consequences, must prove one
of  the most important that ever engaged their attention, the
propriety  of their taking a very comprehensive, as well as a
very serious,  view of it, will be evident.
Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of
government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and
however  it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of
their natural  rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.
It is well worthy  of consideration therefore, whether it would
conduce more to the  interest of the people of America that they
should, to all general  purposes, be one nation, under one
federal government, or that they  should divide themselves into
separate confederacies, and give to  the head of each the same
kind of powers which they are advised to  place in one national
It has until lately been a received and uncontradicted opinion
that the prosperity of the people of America depended on their
continuing firmly united, and the wishes, prayers, and efforts of
our best and wisest citizens have been constantly directed to
that  object. But politicians now appear, who insist that this
opinion is  erroneous, and that instead of looking for safety and
happiness in  union, we ought to seek it in a division of the
States into distinct  confederacies or sovereignties. However
extraordinary this new  doctrine may appear, it nevertheless has
its advocates; and certain  characters who were much opposed to
it formerly, are at present of  the number. Whatever may be the
arguments or inducements which have  wrought this change in the
sentiments and declarations of these  gentlemen, it certainly
would not be wise in the people at large to  adopt these new
political tenets without being fully convinced that  they are
founded in truth and sound policy.
It has often given me pleasure to observe that independent
America was not composed of detached and distant territories,
but  that one connected, fertile, widespreading country was the
portion  of our western sons of liberty. Providence has in a
particular  manner blessed it with a variety of soils and
productions, and  watered it with innumerable streams, for the
delight and accommodation of its inhabitants. A succession of
navigable waters  forms a kind of chain round its borders, as if
to bind it together;  while the most noble rivers in the world,
running at convenient  distances, present them with highways for
the easy communication of  friendly aids, and the mutual
transportation and exchange of their  various commodities.
With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence
has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united
people--a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the
same  language, professing the same religion, attached to the
same  principles of government, very similar in their manners and
customs,  and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts,
fighting side  by side throughout a long and bloody war, have
nobly established  general liberty and independence.
This country and this people seem to have been made for each
other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that
an  inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren,
united  to each other by the strongest ties, should never be
split into a  number of unsocial, jealous, and alien
Similar sentiments have hitherto prevailed among all orders and
denominations of men among us. To all general purposes we have
uniformly been one people each individual citizen everywhere
enjoying the same national rights, privileges, and protection. As
a  nation we have made peace and war; as a nation we have
vanquished  our common enemies; as a nation we have formed
alliances, and made  treaties, and entered into various compacts
and conventions with  foreign states.
A strong sense of the value and blessings of union induced the
people, at a very early period, to institute a federal government
to  preserve and perpetuate it. They formed it almost as soon as
they  had a political existence; nay, at a time when their
habitations  were in flames, when many of their citizens were
bleeding, and when  the progress of hostility and desolation left
little room for those  calm and mature inquiries and reflections
which must ever precede  the formation of a wise and wellbalanced
government for a free  people. It is not to be wondered at, that
a government instituted  in times so inauspicious, should on
experiment be found greatly  deficient and inadequate to the
purpose it was intended to answer. This intelligent people
perceived and regretted these defects.  Still continuing no less
attached to union than enamored of  liberty, they observed the
danger which immediately threatened the  former and more remotely
the latter; and being pursuaded that ample  security for both
could only be found in a national government more  wisely framed,
they as with one voice, convened the late convention  at
Philadelphia, to take that important subject under consideration.
This convention composed of men who possessed the confidence of
the people, and many of whom had become highly distinguished by
their patriotism, virtue and wisdom, in times which tried the
minds  and hearts of men, undertook the arduous task. In the mild
season  of peace, with minds unoccupied by other subjects, they
passed many  months in cool, uninterrupted, and daily
consultation; and finally,  without having been awed by power, or
influenced by any passions  except love for their country, they
presented and recommended to the  people the plan produced by
their joint and very unanimous councils. Admit, for so is the
fact, that this plan is only RECOMMENDED,  not imposed, yet let
it be remembered that it is neither recommended  to BLIND
approbation, nor to BLIND reprobation; but to that sedate  and
candid consideration which the magnitude and importance of the
subject demand, and which it certainly ought to receive. But this
(as was remarked in the foregoing number of this paper) is more
to  be wished than expected, that it may be so considered and
examined.  Experience on a former occasion teaches us not to be
too sanguine  in such hopes. It is not yet forgotten that well-
grounded apprehensions of imminent danger induced the people of
America to  form the memorable Congress of 1774. That body
recommended certain  measures to their constituents, and the
event proved their wisdom;  yet it is fresh in our memories how
soon the press began to teem  with pamphlets and weekly papers
against those very measures. Not  only many of the officers of
government, who obeyed the dictates of  personal interest, but
others, from a mistaken estimate of  consequences, or the undue
influence of former attachments, or whose  ambition aimed at
objects which did not correspond with the public  good, were
indefatigable in their efforts to pursuade the people to  reject
the advice of that patriotic Congress. Many, indeed, were
deceived and deluded, but the great majority of the people
reasoned  and decided judiciously; and happy they are in
reflecting that they  did so.
They considered that the Congress was composed of many wise and
experienced men. That, being convened from different parts of the
country, they brought with them and communicated to each other a
variety of useful information. That, in the course of the time
they  passed together in inquiring into and discussing the true
interests  of their country, they must have acquired very
accurate knowledge on  that head. That they were individually
interested in the public  liberty and prosperity, and therefore
that it was not less their  inclination than their duty to
recommend only such measures as,  after the most mature
deliberation, they really thought prudent and  advisable.
These and similar considerations then induced the people to rely
greatly on the judgment and integrity of the Congress; and they
took their advice, notwithstanding the various arts and endeavors
used to deter them from it. But if the people at large had reason
to confide in the men of that Congress, few of whom had been
fully  tried or generally known, still greater reason have they
now to  respect the judgment and advice of the convention, for it
is well  known that some of the most distinguished members of
that Congress,  who have been since tried and justly approved for
patriotism and  abilities, and who have grown old in acquiring
political information, were also members of this convention, and
carried into  it their accumulated knowledge and experience.
It is worthy of remark that not only the first, but every
succeeding Congress, as well as the late convention, have
invariably  joined with the people in thinking that the
prosperity of America  depended on its Union. To preserve and
perpetuate it was the great  object of the people in forming that
convention, and it is also the  great object of the plan which
the convention has advised them to  adopt. With what propriety,
therefore, or for what good purposes,  are attempts at this
particular period made by some men to  depreciate the importance
of the Union? Or why is it suggested that  three or four
confederacies would be better than one? I am  persuaded in my own
mind that the people have always thought right  on this subject,
and that their universal and uniform attachment to  the cause of
the Union rests on great and weighty reasons, which I  shall
endeavor to develop and explain in some ensuing papers. They  who
promote the idea of substituting a number of distinct
confederacies in the room of the plan of the convention, seem 
clearly to foresee that the rejection of it would put the
continuance of the Union in the utmost jeopardy. That certainly 
would be the case, and I sincerely wish that it may be as clearly 
foreseen by every good citizen, that whenever the dissolution of
the  Union arrives, America will have reason to exclaim, in the
words of  the poet: ``FAREWELL! A LONG FAREWELL TO ALL MY


The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence)
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
IT IS not a new observation that the people of any country (if,
like the Americans, intelligent and wellinformed) seldom adopt
and  steadily persevere for many years in an erroneous opinion
respecting  their interests. That consideration naturally tends
to create great  respect for the high opinion which the people of
America have so  long and uniformly entertained of the importance
of their continuing  firmly united under one federal government,
vested with sufficient  powers for all general and national
The more attentively I consider and investigate the reasons
which appear to have given birth to this opinion, the more I
become  convinced that they are cogent and conclusive.
Among the many objects to which a wise and free people find it
necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their
SAFETY seems to be the first. The SAFETY of the people doubtless
has relation to a great variety of circumstances and
considerations,  and consequently affords great latitude to those
who wish to define  it precisely and comprehensively.
At present I mean only to consider it as it respects security
for the preservation of peace and tranquillity, as well as
against  dangers from FOREIGN ARMS AND INFLUENCE, as from dangers
of the LIKE  KIND arising from domestic causes. As the former of
these comes  first in order, it is proper it should be the first
discussed. Let  us therefore proceed to examine whether the
people are not right in  their opinion that a cordial Union,
under an efficient national  government, affords them the best
security that can be devised  against HOSTILITIES from abroad.
The number of wars which have happened or will happen in the
world will always be found to be in proportion to the number and
weight of the causes, whether REAL or PRETENDED, which PROVOKE or
INVITE them. If this remark be just, it becomes useful to inquire
whether so many JUST causes of war are likely to be given by
UNITED  AMERICA as by DISUNITED America; for if it should turn
out that  United America will probably give the fewest, then it
will follow  that in this respect the Union tends most to
preserve the people in  a state of peace with other nations.
The JUST causes of war, for the most part, arise either from
violation of treaties or from direct violence. America has
already  formed treaties with no less than six foreign nations,
and all of  them, except Prussia, are maritime, and therefore
able to annoy and  injure us. She has also extensive commerce
with Portugal, Spain,  and Britain, and, with respect to the two
latter, has, in addition,  the circumstance of neighborhood to
attend to.
It is of high importance to the peace of America that she observe
the laws of nations towards all these powers, and to me it
appears evident that this will be more perfectly and punctually
done  by one national government than it could be either by
thirteen  separate States or by three or four distinct
confederacies. Because when once an efficient national government
is established, the best men in the country will not only consent
to  serve, but also will generally be appointed to manage it;
for,  although town or country, or other contracted influence,
may place  men in State assemblies, or senates, or courts of
justice, or  executive departments, yet more general and
extensive reputation for talents and other qualifications will be
necessary to recommend men  to offices under the national
government,--especially as it will have  the widest field for
choice, and never experience that want of  proper persons which
is not uncommon in some of the States. Hence,  it will result
that the administration, the political counsels, and  the
judicial decisions of the national government will be more wise,
systematical, and judicious than those of individual States, and
consequently more satisfactory with respect to other nations, as
well as more SAFE with respect to us.
Because, under the national government, treaties and articles of
treaties, as well as the laws of nations, will always be
expounded  in one sense and executed in the same manner,--
whereas, adjudications  on the same points and questions, in
thirteen States, or in three or  four confederacies, will not
always accord or be consistent; and  that, as well from the
variety of independent courts and judges  appointed by different
and independent governments, as from the  different local laws
and interests which may affect and influence  them. The wisdom of
the convention, in committing such questions to  the jurisdiction
and judgment of courts appointed by and responsible  only to one
national government, cannot be too much commended. Because the
prospect of present loss or advantage may often  tempt the
governing party in one or two States to swerve from good  faith
and justice; but those temptations, not reaching the other
States, and consequently having little or no influence on the
national government, the temptation will be fruitless, and good
faith and justice be preserved. The case of the treaty of peace
with Britain adds great weight to this reasoning.
Because, even if the governing party in a State should be
disposed to resist such temptations, yet as such temptations may,
and commonly do, result from circumstances peculiar to the State,
and may affect a great number of the inhabitants, the governing
party may not always be able, if willing, to prevent the
injustice  meditated, or to punish the aggressors. But the
national government, not being affected by those local
circumstances, will  neither be induced to commit the wrong
themselves, nor want power or  inclination to prevent or punish
its commission by others. So far, therefore, as either designed
or accidental violations  of treaties and the laws of nations
afford JUST causes of war, they  are less to be apprehended under
one general government than under  several lesser ones, and in
that respect the former most favors the  SAFETY of the people.
As to those just causes of war which proceed from direct and
unlawful violence, it appears equally clear to me that one good
national government affords vastly more security against dangers
of  that sort than can be derived from any other quarter.
Because such violences are more frequently caused by the passions
and interests of a part than of the whole; of one or two  States
than of the Union. Not a single Indian war has yet been
occasioned by aggressions of the present federal government,
feeble  as it is; but there are several instances of Indian
hostilities  having been provoked by the improper conduct of
individual States,  who, either unable or unwilling to restrain
or punish offenses, have  given occasion to the slaughter of many
innocent inhabitants. The neighborhood of Spanish and British
territories, bordering  on some States and not on others,
naturally confines the causes of  quarrel more immediately to the
borderers. The bordering States, if  any, will be those who,
under the impulse of sudden irritation, and  a quick sense of
apparent interest or injury, will be most likely,  by direct
violence, to excite war with these nations; and nothing  can so
effectually obviate that danger as a national government,  whose
wisdom and prudence will not be diminished by the passions  which
actuate the parties immediately interested.
But not only fewer just causes of war will be given by the
national government, but it will also be more in their power to
accommodate and settle them amicably. They will be more temperate
and cool, and in that respect, as well as in others, will be more
in  capacity to act advisedly than the offending State. The pride
of  states, as well as of men, naturally disposes them to justify
all  their actions, and opposes their acknowledging, correcting,
or  repairing their errors and offenses. The national government,
in  such cases, will not be affected by this pride, but will
proceed  with moderation and candor to consider and decide on the
means most  proper to extricate them from the difficulties which
threaten them. Besides, it is well known that acknowledgments,
explanations,  and compensations are often accepted as
satisfactory from a strong  united nation, which would be
rejected as unsatisfactory if offered  by a State or confederacy
of little consideration or power. In the year 1685, the state of
Genoa having offended Louis XIV.,  endeavored to appease him. He
demanded that they should send their  Doge, or chief magistrate,
accompanied by four of their senators, to FRANCE, to ask his
pardon and receive his terms. They  were obliged to submit to it
for the sake of peace. Would he on any  occasion either have
demanded or have received the like humiliation  from Spain, or
Britain, or any other POWERFUL nation?


The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence)
For the Independent Journal.


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 
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
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.


The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence)
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
QUEEN ANNE, in her letter of the 1st July, 1706, to the Scotch 
Parliament, makes some observations on the importance of the
UNION  then forming between England and Scotland, which merit our
attention.   I shall present the public with one or two extracts
from it: ``An  entire and perfect union will be the solid
foundation of lasting  peace: It will secure your religion,
liberty, and property; remove  the animosities amongst
yourselves, and the jealousies and  differences betwixt our two
kingdoms. It must increase your  strength, riches, and trade; and
by this union the whole island,  being joined in affection and
free from all apprehensions of  different interest, will be
recommend to you calmness and unanimity in this  great and
weighty affair, that the union may be brought to a happy 
conclusion, being the only EFFECTUAL way to secure our present
and  future happiness, and disappoint the designs of our and your 
enemies, who will doubtless, on this occasion, USE THEIR UTMOST 
It was remarked in the preceding paper, that weakness and
divisions at home would invite dangers from abroad; and that 
nothing would tend more to secure us from them than union,
strength,  and good government within ourselves. This subject is
copious and  cannot easily be exhausted.
The history of Great Britain is the one with which we are in 
general the best acquainted, and it gives us many useful lessons. 
We may profit by their experience without paying the price which
it  cost them. Although it seems obvious to common sense that the 
people of such an island should be but one nation, yet we find
that  they were for ages divided into three, and that those three
were  almost constantly embroiled in quarrels and wars with one
another.  Notwithstanding their true interest with respect to the
continental  nations was really the same, yet by the arts and
policy and  practices of those nations, their mutual jealousies
were perpetually  kept inflamed, and for a long series of years
they were far more  inconvenient and troublesome than they were
useful and assisting to  each other.
Should the people of America divide themselves into three or 
four nations, would not the same thing happen? Would not similar 
jealousies arise, and be in like manner cherished? Instead of
their  being ``joined in affection'' and free from all
apprehension of  different ``interests,'' envy and jealousy would
soon extinguish  confidence and affection, and the partial
interests of each  confederacy, instead of the general interests
of all America, would  be the only objects of their policy and
pursuits. Hence, like most  other BORDERING nations, they would
always be either involved in  disputes and war, or live in the
constant apprehension of them. The most sanguine advocates for
three or four confederacies  cannot reasonably suppose that they
would long remain exactly on an  equal footing in point of
strength, even if it was possible to form  them so at first; but,
admitting that to be practicable, yet what  human contrivance can
secure the continuance of such equality?  Independent of those
local circumstances which tend to beget and  increase power in
one part and to impede its progress in another, we  must advert
to the effects of that superior policy and good  management which
would probably distinguish the government of one  above the rest,
and by which their relative equality in strength and 
consideration would be destroyed. For it cannot be presumed that 
the same degree of sound policy, prudence, and foresight would 
uniformly be observed by each of these confederacies for a long 
succession of years.
Whenever, and from whatever causes, it might happen, and happen 
it would, that any one of these nations or confederacies should
rise  on the scale of political importance much above the degree
of her  neighbors, that moment would those neighbors behold her
with envy  and with fear. Both those passions would lead them to
countenance,  if not to promote, whatever might promise to
diminish her importance; and would also restrain them from
measures calculated  to advance or even to secure her prosperity.
Much time would not be  necessary to enable her to discern these
unfriendly dispositions.  She would soon begin, not only to lose
confidence in her neighbors,  but also to feel a disposition
equally unfavorable to them.  Distrust naturally creates
distrust, and by nothing is good-will  and kind conduct more
speedily changed than by invidious jealousies  and uncandid
imputations, whether expressed or implied.
The North is generally the region of strength, and many local 
circumstances render it probable that the most Northern of the 
proposed confederacies would, at a period not very distant, be 
unquestionably more formidable than any of the others. No sooner 
would this become evident than the NORTHERN HIVE would excite the 
same ideas and sensations in the more southern parts of America 
which it formerly did in the southern parts of Europe. Nor does
it  appear to be a rash conjecture that its young swarms might
often be  tempted to gather honey in the more blooming fields and
milder air  of their luxurious and more delicate neighbors.
They who well consider the history of similar divisions and 
confederacies will find abundant reason to apprehend that those
in  contemplation would in no other sense be neighbors than as
they  would be borderers; that they would neither love nor trust
one  another, but on the contrary would be a prey to discord,
jealousy,  and mutual injuries; in short, that they would place
us exactly in  the situations in which some nations doubtless
wish to see us, viz.,  FORMIDABLE ONLY TO EACH OTHER.
From these considerations it appears that those gentlemen are 
greatly mistaken who suppose that alliances offensive and
defensive  might be formed between these confederacies, and would
produce that  combination and union of wills of arms and of
resources, which would  be necessary to put and keep them in a
formidable state of defense  against foreign enemies.
When did the independent states, into which Britain and Spain 
were formerly divided, combine in such alliance, or unite their 
forces against a foreign enemy? The proposed confederacies will
be  DISTINCT NATIONS. Each of them would have its commerce with 
foreigners to regulate by distinct treaties; and as their
productions and commodities are different and proper for
different  markets, so would those treaties be essentially
different.  Different commercial concerns must create different
interests, and  of course different degrees of political
attachment to and  connection with different foreign nations.
Hence it might and  probably would happen that the foreign nation
with whom the SOUTHERN  confederacy might be at war would be the
one with whom the NORTHERN  confederacy would be the most
desirous of preserving peace and  friendship. An alliance so
contrary to their immediate interest  would not therefore be easy
to form, nor, if formed, would it be  observed and fulfilled with
perfect good faith.
Nay, it is far more probable that in America, as in Europe, 
neighboring nations, acting under the impulse of opposite
interests  and unfriendly passions, would frequently be found
taking different  sides. Considering our distance from Europe, it
would be more  natural for these confederacies to apprehend
danger from one another  than from distant nations, and therefore
that each of them should be  more desirous to guard against the
others by the aid of foreign  alliances, than to guard against
foreign dangers by alliances  between themselves. And here let us
not forget how much more easy  it is to receive foreign fleets
into our ports, and foreign armies  into our country, than it is
to persuade or compel them to depart.  How many conquests did the
Romans and others make in the characters  of allies, and what
innovations did they under the same character  introduce into the
governments of those whom they pretended to  protect.
Let candid men judge, then, whether the division of America into 
any given number of independent sovereignties would tend to
secure  us against the hostilities and improper interference of
foreign  nations.


Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE three last numbers of this paper have been dedicated to an
enumeration of the dangers to which we should be exposed, in a
state  of disunion, from the arms and arts of foreign nations. I
shall now  proceed to delineate dangers of a different and,
perhaps, still more  alarming kind--those which will in all
probability flow from  dissensions between the States themselves,
and from domestic  factions and convulsions. These have been
already in some instances  slightly anticipated; but they deserve
a more particular and more  full investigation.
A man must be far gone in Utopian speculations who can seriously 
doubt that, if these States should either be wholly disunited, or 
only united in partial confederacies, the subdivisions into which 
they might be thrown would have frequent and violent contests
with  each other. To presume a want of motives for such contests
as an  argument against their existence, would be to forget that
men are  ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious. To look for a
continuation of  harmony between a number of independent,
unconnected sovereignties  in the same neighborhood, would be to
disregard the uniform course  of human events, and to set at
defiance the accumulated experience  of ages.
The causes of hostility among nations are innumerable. There  are
some which have a general and almost constant operation upon the 
collective bodies of society. Of this description are the love of 
power or the desire of pre-eminence and dominion--the jealousy of 
power, or the desire of equality and safety. There are others
which  have a more circumscribed though an equally operative
influence  within their spheres. Such are the rivalships and
competitions of  commerce between commercial nations. And there
are others, not less  numerous than either of the former, which
take their origin entirely  in private passions; in the
attachments, enmities, interests,  hopes, and fears of leading
individuals in the communities of which  they are members. Men of
this class, whether the favorites of a  king or of a people, have
in too many instances abused the  confidence they possessed; and
assuming the pretext of some public  motive, have not scrupled to
sacrifice the national tranquillity to  personal advantage or
personal gratification.
The celebrated Pericles, in compliance with the resentment of a 
prostitute,1 at the expense of much of the blood and treasure of
his countrymen, attacked, vanquished, and destroyed the city of
the  SAMNIANS. The same man, stimulated by private pique against
the  MEGARENSIANS,2 another nation of Greece, or to avoid a
prosecution with which he was threatened as an accomplice of a 
supposed theft of the statuary Phidias,3 or to get rid of the 
accusations prepared to be brought against him for dissipating
the  funds of the state in the purchase of popularity,4 or from a 
combination of all these causes, was the primitive author of that 
famous and fatal war, distinguished in the Grecian annals by the 
name of the PELOPONNESIAN war; which, after various vicissitudes, 
intermissions, and renewals, terminated in the ruin of the
Athenian  commonwealth.
The ambitious cardinal, who was prime minister to Henry VIII., 
permitting his vanity to aspire to the triple crown,5
entertained hopes of succeeding in the acquisition of that
splendid  prize by the influence of the Emperor Charles V. To
secure the  favor and interest of this enterprising and powerful
monarch, he  precipitated England into a war with France,
contrary to the  plainest dictates of policy, and at the hazard
of the safety and  independence, as well of the kingdom over
which he presided by his  counsels, as of Europe in general. For
if there ever was a  sovereign who bid fair to realize the
project of universal monarchy,  it was the Emperor Charles V., of
whose intrigues Wolsey was at once  the instrument and the dupe.
The influence which the bigotry of one female,6 the petulance of
another,7 and the cabals of a third,8 had in the contemporary
policy, ferments, and pacifications, of a  considerable part of
Europe, are topics that have been too often  descanted upon not
to be generally known.
To multiply examples of the agency of personal considerations in 
the production of great national events, either foreign or
domestic,  according to their direction, would be an unnecessary
waste of time.  Those who have but a superficial acquaintance
with the sources from  which they are to be drawn, will
themselves recollect a variety of  instances; and those who have
a tolerable knowledge of human nature  will not stand in need of
such lights to form their opinion either  of the reality or
extent of that agency. Perhaps, however, a  reference, tending to
illustrate the general principle, may with  propriety be made to
a case which has lately happened among  ourselves. If Shays had
not been a DESPERATE DEBTOR, it is much to  be doubted whether
Massachusetts would have been plunged into a  civil war.
But notwithstanding the concurring testimony of experience, in 
this particular, there are still to be found visionary or
designing  men, who stand ready to advocate the paradox of
perpetual peace  between the States, though dismembered and
alienated from each other.   The genius of republics (say they)
is pacific; the spirit of  commerce has a tendency to soften the
manners of men, and to  extinguish those inflammable humors which
have so often kindled into  wars. Commercial republics, like
ours, will never be disposed to  waste themselves in ruinous
contentions with each other. They will  be governed by mutual
interest, and will cultivate a spirit of  mutual amity and
Is it not (we may ask these projectors in politics) the true 
interest of all nations to cultivate the same benevolent and 
philosophic spirit? If this be their true interest, have they in
fact pursued it? Has it not, on the contrary, invariably been
found  that momentary passions, and immediate interest, have a
more active  and imperious control over human conduct than
general or remote  considerations of policy, utility or justice?
Have republics in  practice been less addicted to war than
monarchies? Are not the  former administered by MEN as well as
the latter? Are there not  aversions, predilections, rivalships,
and desires of unjust  acquisitions, that affect nations as well
as kings? Are not popular  assemblies frequently subject to the
impulses of rage, resentment,  jealousy, avarice, and of other
irregular and violent propensities?  Is it not well known that
their determinations are often governed  by a few individuals in
whom they place confidence, and are, of  course, liable to be
tinctured by the passions and views of those  individuals? Has
commerce hitherto done anything more than change  the objects of
war? Is not the love of wealth as domineering and  enterprising a
passion as that of power or glory? Have there not  been as many
wars founded upon commercial motives since that has  become the
prevailing system of nations, as were before occasioned  by the
cupidity of territory or dominion? Has not the spirit of 
commerce, in many instances, administered new incentives to the 
appetite, both for the one and for the other? Let experience, the 
least fallible guide of human opinions, be appealed to for an
answer  to these inquiries.
Sparta, Athens, Rome, and Carthage were all republics; two of 
them, Athens and Carthage, of the commercial kind. Yet were they
as  often engaged in wars, offensive and defensive, as the
neighboring  monarchies of the same times. Sparta was little
better than a  wellregulated camp; and Rome was never sated of
carnage and  conquest.
Carthage, though a commercial republic, was the aggressor in the 
very war that ended in her destruction. Hannibal had carried her 
arms into the heart of Italy and to the gates of Rome, before 
Scipio, in turn, gave him an overthrow in the territories of 
Carthage, and made a conquest of the commonwealth.
Venice, in later times, figured more than once in wars of
ambition, till, becoming an object to the other Italian states,
Pope  Julius II. found means to accomplish that formidable
league,9  which gave a deadly blow to the power and pride of this
haughty  republic.
The provinces of Holland, till they were overwhelmed in debts 
and taxes, took a leading and conspicuous part in the wars of
Europe.   They had furious contests with England for the dominion
of the  sea, and were among the most persevering and most
implacable of the  opponents of Louis XIV.
In the government of Britain the representatives of the people 
compose one branch of the national legislature. Commerce has been 
for ages the predominant pursuit of that country. Few nations, 
nevertheless, have been more frequently engaged in war; and the 
wars in which that kingdom has been engaged have, in numerous 
instances, proceeded from the people.
There have been, if I may so express it, almost as many popular 
as royal wars. The cries of the nation and the importunities of 
their representatives have, upon various occasions, dragged their 
monarchs into war, or continued them in it, contrary to their 
inclinations, and sometimes contrary to the real interests of the 
State. In that memorable struggle for superiority between the
rival  houses of AUSTRIA and BOURBON, which so long kept Europe
in a flame,  it is well known that the antipathies of the English
against the  French, seconding the ambition, or rather the
avarice, of a favorite  leader,10 protracted the war beyond the
limits marked out by  sound policy, and for a considerable time
in opposition to the views  of the court.
The wars of these two last-mentioned nations have in a great 
measure grown out of commercial considerations,--the desire of 
supplanting and the fear of being supplanted, either in
particular  branches of traffic or in the general advantages of
trade and  navigation.
From this summary of what has taken place in other countries, 
whose situations have borne the nearest resemblance to our own,
what  reason can we have to confide in those reveries which would
seduce  us into an expectation of peace and cordiality between
the members  of the present confederacy, in a state of
separation? Have we not  already seen enough of the fallacy and
extravagance of those idle  theories which have amused us with
promises of an exemption from the  imperfections, weaknesses and
evils incident to society in every  shape? Is it not time to
awake from the deceitful dream of a golden  age, and to adopt as
a practical maxim for the direction of our  political conduct
that we, as well as the other inhabitants of the  globe, are yet
remote from the happy empire of perfect wisdom and  perfect
Let the point of extreme depression to which our national dignity
and credit have sunk, let the inconveniences felt everywhere 
from a lax and ill administration of government, let the revolt
of a  part of the State of North Carolina, the late menacing
disturbances  in Pennsylvania, and the actual insurrections and
rebellions in  Massachusetts, declare--!
So far is the general sense of mankind from corresponding with 
the tenets of those who endeavor to lull asleep our apprehensions
of  discord and hostility between the States, in the event of
disunion,  that it has from long observation of the progress of
society become  a sort of axiom in politics, that vicinity or
nearness of situation,  constitutes nations natural enemies. An
intelligent writer  expresses himself on this subject to this
effect: ``NEIGHBORING  NATIONS (says he) are naturally enemies of
each other unless their  common weakness forces them to league in
a CONFEDERATE REPUBLIC, and  their constitution prevents the
differences that neighborhood  occasions, extinguishing that
secret jealousy which disposes all  states to aggrandize
themselves at the expense of their neighbors.''11 This passage,
at the same time, points out the  EVIL and suggests the REMEDY.
1 Aspasia, vide ``Plutarch's Life of Pericles.''
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 ] Ibid. Phidias was supposed to have stolen some public
gold, with the connivance of Pericles, for the embellishment of
the  statue of Minerva.
5 P Worn by the popes.
6 Madame de Maintenon.
7 Duchess of Marlborough.
8 Madame de Pompadour.
9 The League of Cambray, comprehending the Emperor, the King of 
France, the King of Aragon, and most of the Italian princes and 
10 The Duke of Marlborough.
11 Vide ``Principes des Negociations'' par 1'Abbe de Mably.


The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States)
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
IT IS sometimes asked, with an air of seeming triumph, what 
inducements could the States have, if disunited, to make war upon 
each other? It would be a full answer to this question to say--
precisely the same inducements which have, at different times, 
deluged in blood all the nations in the world. But, unfortunately 
for us, the question admits of a more particular answer. There
are  causes of differences within our immediate contemplation, of
the  tendency of which, even under the restraints of a federal
constitution, we have had sufficient experience to enable us to
form  a judgment of what might be expected if those restraints
were  removed.
Territorial disputes have at all times been found one of the 
most fertile sources of hostility among nations. Perhaps the 
greatest proportion of wars that have desolated the earth have 
sprung from this origin. This cause would exist among us in full 
force. We have a vast tract of unsettled territory within the 
boundaries of the United States. There still are discordant and 
undecided claims between several of them, and the dissolution of
the  Union would lay a foundation for similar claims between them
all.  It is well known that they have heretofore had serious and
animated  discussion concerning the rights to the lands which
were ungranted  at the time of the Revolution, and which usually
went under the name  of crown lands. The States within the limits
of whose colonial  governments they were comprised have claimed
them as their property,  the others have contended that the
rights of the crown in this  article devolved upon the Union;
especially as to all that part of  the Western territory which,
either by actual possession, or through  the submission of the
Indian proprietors, was subjected to the  jurisdiction of the
king of Great Britain, till it was relinquished  in the treaty of
peace. This, it has been said, was at all events  an acquisition
to the Confederacy by compact with a foreign power.  It has been
the prudent policy of Congress to appease this  controversy, by
prevailing upon the States to make cessions to the  United States
for the benefit of the whole. This has been so far  accomplished
as, under a continuation of the Union, to afford a  decided
prospect of an amicable termination of the dispute. A 
dismemberment of the Confederacy, however, would revive this 
dispute, and would create others on the same subject. At present,
a  large part of the vacant Western territory is, by cession at
least,  if not by any anterior right, the common property of the
Union. If  that were at an end, the States which made the
cession, on a  principle of federal compromise, would be apt when
the motive of the  grant had ceased, to reclaim the lands as a
reversion. The other  States would no doubt insist on a
proportion, by right of representation. Their argument would be,
that a grant, once made,  could not be revoked; and that the
justice of participating in  territory acquired or secured by the
joint efforts of the Confederacy, remained undiminished. If,
contrary to probability, it  should be admitted by all the
States, that each had a right to a  share of this common stock,
there would still be a difficulty to be  surmounted, as to a
proper rule of apportionment. Different  principles would be set
up by different States for this purpose;  and as they would
affect the opposite interests of the parties,  they might not
easily be susceptible of a pacific adjustment. In the wide field
of Western territory, therefore, we perceive  an ample theatre
for hostile pretensions, without any umpire or  common judge to
interpose between the contending parties. To reason  from the
past to the future, we shall have good ground to apprehend,  that
the sword would sometimes be appealed to as the arbiter of  their
differences. The circumstances of the dispute between 
Connecticut and Pennsylvania, respecting the land at Wyoming, 
admonish us not to be sanguine in expecting an easy accommodation
of  such differences. The articles of confederation obliged the
parties  to submit the matter to the decision of a federal court.
The  submission was made, and the court decided in favor of
Pennsylvania.  But Connecticut gave strong indications of
dissatisfaction with  that determination; nor did she appear to
be entirely resigned to  it, till, by negotiation and management,
something like an  equivalent was found for the loss she supposed
herself to have  sustained. Nothing here said is intended to
convey the slightest  censure on the conduct of that State. She
no doubt sincerely  believed herself to have been injured by the
decision; and States,  like individuals, acquiesce with great
reluctance in determinations  to their disadvantage.
Those who had an opportunity of seeing the inside of the
transactions which attended the progress of the controversy
between  this State and the district of Vermont, can vouch the
opposition we  experienced, as well from States not interested as
from those which  were interested in the claim; and can attest
the danger to which  the peace of the Confederacy might have been
exposed, had this State  attempted to assert its rights by force.
Two motives preponderated  in that opposition: one, a jealousy
entertained of our future  power; and the other, the interest of
certain individuals of  influence in the neighboring States, who
had obtained grants of  lands under the actual government of that
district. Even the States  which brought forward claims, in
contradiction to ours, seemed more  solicitous to dismember this
State, than to establish their own  pretensions. These were New
Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. New Jersey and Rhode
Island, upon all occasions,  discovered a warm zeal for the
independence of Vermont; and  Maryland, till alarmed by the
appearance of a connection between  Canada and that State,
entered deeply into the same views. These  being small States,
saw with an unfriendly eye the perspective of  our growing
greatness. In a review of these transactions we may  trace some
of the causes which would be likely to embroil the States  with
each other, if it should be their unpropitious destiny to  become
The competitions of commerce would be another fruitful source of 
contention. The States less favorably circumstanced would be 
desirous of escaping from the disadvantages of local situation,
and  of sharing in the advantages of their more fortunate
neighbors.  Each State, or separate confederacy, would pursue a
system of  commercial policy peculiar to itself. This would
occasion distinctions, preferences, and exclusions, which would
beget  discontent. The habits of intercourse, on the basis of
equal  privileges, to which we have been accustomed since the
earliest  settlement of the country, would give a keener edge to
those causes  of discontent than they would naturally have
independent of this  circumstance. WE SHOULD BE READY TO
DISTINCT INTEREST. The spirit of  enterprise, which characterizes
the commercial part of America, has  left no occasion of
displaying itself unimproved. It is not at all  probable that
this unbridled spirit would pay much respect to those 
regulations of trade by which particular States might endeavor to 
secure exclusive benefits to their own citizens. The infractions
of  these regulations, on one side, the efforts to prevent and
repel  them, on the other, would naturally lead to outrages, and
these to  reprisals and wars.
The opportunities which some States would have of rendering 
others tributary to them by commercial regulations would be 
impatiently submitted to by the tributary States. The relative 
situation of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey would afford
an  example of this kind. New York, from the necessities of
revenue,  must lay duties on her importations. A great part of
these duties  must be paid by the inhabitants of the two other
States in the  capacity of consumers of what we import. New York
would neither be  willing nor able to forego this advantage. Her
citizens would not  consent that a duty paid by them should be
remitted in favor of the  citizens of her neighbors; nor would it
be practicable, if there  were not this impediment in the way, to
distinguish the customers in  our own markets. Would Connecticut
and New Jersey long submit to be  taxed by New York for her
exclusive benefit? Should we be long  permitted to remain in the
quiet and undisturbed enjoyment of a  metropolis, from the
possession of which we derived an advantage so  odious to our
neighbors, and, in their opinion, so oppressive?  Should we be
able to preserve it against the incumbent weight of  Connecticut
on the one side, and the co-operating pressure of New  Jersey on
the other? These are questions that temerity alone will  answer
in the affirmative.
The public debt of the Union would be a further cause of
collision between the separate States or confederacies. The 
apportionment, in the first instance, and the progressive
extinguishment afterward, would be alike productive of ill-humor
and  animosity. How would it be possible to agree upon a rule of 
apportionment satisfactory to all? There is scarcely any that can 
be proposed which is entirely free from real objections. These,
as  usual, would be exaggerated by the adverse interest of the
parties.  There are even dissimilar views among the States as to
the general  principle of discharging the public debt. Some of
them, either less  impressed with the importance of national
credit, or because their  citizens have little, if any, immediate
interest in the question,  feel an indifference, if not a
repugnance, to the payment of the  domestic debt at any rate.
These would be inclined to magnify the  difficulties of a
distribution. Others of them, a numerous body of  whose citizens
are creditors to the public beyond proportion of the  State in
the total amount of the national debt, would be strenuous  for
some equitable and effective provision. The procrastinations of 
the former would excite the resentments of the latter. The 
settlement of a rule would, in the meantime, be postponed by real 
differences of opinion and affected delays. The citizens of the 
States interested would clamour; foreign powers would urge for
the  satisfaction of their just demands, and the peace of the
States  would be hazarded to the double contingency of external
invasion and  internal contention.
Suppose the difficulties of agreeing upon a rule surmounted, and 
the apportionment made. Still there is great room to suppose that 
the rule agreed upon would, upon experiment, be found to bear
harder  upon some States than upon others. Those which were
sufferers by it  would naturally seek for a mitigation of the
burden. The others  would as naturally be disinclined to a
revision, which was likely to  end in an increase of their own
incumbrances. Their refusal would  be too plausible a pretext to
the complaining States to withhold  their contributions, not to
be embraced with avidity; and the  non-compliance of these States
with their engagements would be a  ground of bitter discussion
and altercation. If even the rule  adopted should in practice
justify the equality of its principle,  still delinquencies in
payments on the part of some of the States  would result from a
diversity of other causes--the real deficiency of  resources; the
mismanagement of their finances; accidental  disorders in the
management of the government; and, in addition to  the rest, the
reluctance with which men commonly part with money for  purposes
that have outlived the exigencies which produced them, and 
interfere with the supply of immediate wants. Delinquencies, from 
whatever causes, would be productive of complaints,
recriminations,  and quarrels. There is, perhaps, nothing more
likely to disturb the  tranquillity of nations than their being
bound to mutual contributions for any common object that does not
yield an equal and  coincident benefit. For it is an observation,
as true as it is  trite, that there is nothing men differ so
readily about as the  payment of money.
Laws in violation of private contracts, as they amount to
aggressions on the rights of those States whose citizens are
injured  by them, may be considered as another probable source of
hostility.  We are not authorized to expect that a more liberal
or more  equitable spirit would preside over the legislations of
the  individual States hereafter, if unrestrained by any
additional  checks, than we have heretofore seen in too many
instances  disgracing their several codes. We have observed the
disposition to  retaliation excited in Connecticut in consequence
of the enormities  perpetrated by the Legislature of Rhode
Island; and we reasonably  infer that, in similar cases, under
other circumstances, a war, not  of PARCHMENT, but of the sword,
would chastise such atrocious  breaches of moral obligation and
social justice.
The probability of incompatible alliances between the different 
States or confederacies and different foreign nations, and the 
effects of this situation upon the peace of the whole, have been 
sufficiently unfolded in some preceding papers. From the view
they  have exhibited of this part of the subject, this conclusion
is to be  drawn, that America, if not connected at all, or only
by the feeble  tie of a simple league, offensive and defensive,
would, by the  operation of such jarring alliances, be gradually
entangled in all  the pernicious labyrinths of European politics
and wars; and by the  destructive contentions of the parts into
which she was divided,  would be likely to become a prey to the
artifices and machinations  of powers equally the enemies of them
all. Divide et impera1 must be the motto of every nation that
either hates or  fears us.2 PUBLIUS.
1 Divide and command.
2 In order that the whole subject of these papers may as soon as 
possible be laid before the public, it is proposed to publish
them  four times a week--on Tuesday in the New York Packet and on 
Thursday in the Daily Advertiser.


The Consequences of Hostilities Between the States
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, November 20, 1787.


To the People of the State of New York:
ASSUMING it therefore as an established truth that the several 
States, in case of disunion, or such combinations of them as
might  happen to be formed out of the wreck of the general
Confederacy,  would be subject to those vicissitudes of peace and
war, of  friendship and enmity, with each other, which have
fallen to the lot  of all neighboring nations not united under
one government, let us  enter into a concise detail of some of
the consequences that would  attend such a situation.
War between the States, in the first period of their separate 
existence, would be accompanied with much greater distresses than
it  commonly is in those countries where regular military
establishments  have long obtained. The disciplined armies always
kept on foot on  the continent of Europe, though they bear a
malignant aspect to  liberty and economy, have, notwithstanding,
been productive of the  signal advantage of rendering sudden
conquests impracticable, and of  preventing that rapid desolation
which used to mark the progress of  war prior to their
introduction. The art of fortification has  contributed to the
same ends. The nations of Europe are encircled  with chains of
fortified places, which mutually obstruct invasion.  Campaigns
are wasted in reducing two or three frontier garrisons,  to gain
admittance into an enemy's country. Similar impediments  occur at
every step, to exhaust the strength and delay the progress  of an
invader. Formerly, an invading army would penetrate into the 
heart of a neighboring country almost as soon as intelligence of
its  approach could be received; but now a comparatively small
force of  disciplined troops, acting on the defensive, with the
aid of posts,  is able to impede, and finally to frustrate, the
enterprises of one  much more considerable. The history of war,
in that quarter of the  globe, is no longer a history of nations
subdued and empires  overturned, but of towns taken and retaken;
of battles that decide  nothing; of retreats more beneficial than
victories; of much  effort and little acquisition.
In this country the scene would be altogether reversed. The 
jealousy of military establishments would postpone them as long
as  possible. The want of fortifications, leaving the frontiers
of one  state open to another, would facilitate inroads. The
populous  States would, with little difficulty, overrun their
less populous  neighbors. Conquests would be as easy to be made
as difficult to be  retained. War, therefore, would be desultory
and predatory.  PLUNDER and devastation ever march in the train
of irregulars. The  calamities of individuals would make the
principal figure in the  events which would characterize our
military exploits.
This picture is not too highly wrought; though, I confess, it 
would not long remain a just one. Safety from external danger is 
the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent 
love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The 
violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the 
continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual
danger,  will compel nations the most attached to liberty to
resort for  repose and security to institutions which have a
tendency to destroy  their civil and political rights. To be more
safe, they at length  become willing to run the risk of being
less free.
The institutions chiefly alluded to are STANDING ARMIES and the 
correspondent appendages of military establishments. Standing 
armies, it is said, are not provided against in the new
Constitution; and it is therefore inferred that they may exist 
under it.1 Their existence, however, from the very terms of the 
proposition, is, at most, problematical and uncertain. But
standing  armies, it may be replied, must inevitably result from
a dissolution  of the Confederacy. Frequent war and constant
apprehension, which  require a state of as constant preparation,
will infallibly produce  them. The weaker States or confederacies
would first have recourse  to them, to put themselves upon an
equality with their more potent  neighbors. They would endeavor
to supply the inferiority of  population and resources by a more
regular and effective system of  defense, by disciplined troops,
and by fortifications. They would,  at the same time, be
necessitated to strengthen the executive arm of  government, in
doing which their constitutions would acquire a  progressive
direction toward monarchy. It is of the nature of war  to
increase the executive at the expense of the legislative 
The expedients which have been mentioned would soon give the 
States or confederacies that made use of them a superiority over 
their neighbors. Small states, or states of less natural
strength,  under vigorous governments, and with the assistance of
disciplined  armies, have often triumphed over large states, or
states of greater  natural strength, which have been destitute of
these advantages.  Neither the pride nor the safety of the more
important States or  confederacies would permit them long to
submit to this mortifying  and adventitious superiority. They
would quickly resort to means  similar to those by which it had
been effected, to reinstate  themselves in their lost pre-
eminence. Thus, we should, in a little  time, see established in
every part of this country the same engines  of despotism which
have been the scourge of the Old World. This, at  least, would be
the natural course of things; and our reasonings  will be the
more likely to be just, in proportion as they are  accommodated
to this standard.
These are not vague inferences drawn from supposed or speculative
defects in a Constitution, the whole power of which is  lodged in
the hands of a people, or their representatives and  delegates,
but they are solid conclusions, drawn from the natural  and
necessary progress of human affairs.
It may, perhaps, be asked, by way of objection to this, why did 
not standing armies spring up out of the contentions which so
often  distracted the ancient republics of Greece? Different
answers,  equally satisfactory, may be given to this question.
The industrious habits of the people of the present day, absorbed
in the  pursuits of gain, and devoted to the improvements of
agriculture and  commerce, are incompatible with the condition of
a nation of  soldiers, which was the true condition of the people
of those  republics. The means of revenue, which have been so
greatly  multiplied by the increase of gold and silver and of the
arts of  industry, and the science of finance, which is the
offspring of  modern times, concurring with the habits of
nations, have produced  an entire revolution in the system of
war, and have rendered  disciplined armies, distinct from the
body of the citizens, the  inseparable companions of frequent
There is a wide difference, also, between military establishments
in a country seldom exposed by its situation to  internal
invasions, and in one which is often subject to them, and  always
apprehensive of them. The rulers of the former can have a  good
pretext, if they are even so inclined, to keep on foot armies  so
numerous as must of necessity be maintained in the latter. These 
armies being, in the first case, rarely, if at all, called into 
activity for interior defense, the people are in no danger of
being  broken to military subordination. The laws are not
accustomed to  relaxations, in favor of military exigencies; the
civil state  remains in full vigor, neither corrupted, nor
confounded with the  principles or propensities of the other
state. The smallness of the  army renders the natural strength of
the community an over-match for  it; and the citizens, not
habituated to look up to the military  power for protection, or
to submit to its oppressions, neither love  nor fear the
soldiery; they view them with a spirit of jealous  acquiescence
in a necessary evil, and stand ready to resist a power  which
they suppose may be exerted to the prejudice of their rights. 
The army under such circumstances may usefully aid the magistrate 
to suppress a small faction, or an occasional mob, or
insurrection;  but it will be unable to enforce encroachments
against the united  efforts of the great body of the people.
In a country in the predicament last described, the contrary of 
all this happens. The perpetual menacings of danger oblige the 
government to be always prepared to repel it; its armies must be 
numerous enough for instant defense. The continual necessity for 
their services enhances the importance of the soldier, and 
proportionably degrades the condition of the citizen. The
military  state becomes elevated above the civil. The inhabitants
of  territories, often the theatre of war, are unavoidably
subjected to  frequent infringements on their rights, which serve
to weaken their  sense of those rights; and by degrees the people
are brought to  consider the soldiery not only as their
protectors, but as their  superiors. The transition from this
disposition to that of  considering them masters, is neither
remote nor difficult; but it  is very difficult to prevail upon a
people under such impressions,  to make a bold or effectual
resistance to usurpations supported by  the military power.
The kingdom of Great Britain falls within the first description. 
An insular situation, and a powerful marine, guarding it in a
great  measure against the possibility of foreign invasion,
supersede the  necessity of a numerous army within the kingdom. A
sufficient force  to make head against a sudden descent, till the
militia could have  time to rally and embody, is all that has
been deemed requisite. No  motive of national policy has
demanded, nor would public opinion  have tolerated, a larger
number of troops upon its domestic  establishment. There has
been, for a long time past, little room  for the operation of the
other causes, which have been enumerated as  the consequences of
internal war. This peculiar felicity of  situation has, in a
great degree, contributed to preserve the  liberty which that
country to this day enjoys, in spite of the  prevalent venality
and corruption. If, on the contrary, Britain had  been situated
on the continent, and had been compelled, as she would  have
been, by that situation, to make her military establishments at 
home coextensive with those of the other great powers of Europe, 
she, like them, would in all probability be, at this day, a
victim  to the absolute power of a single man. 'T is possible,
though not  easy, that the people of that island may be enslaved
from other  causes; but it cannot be by the prowess of an army so
inconsiderable as that which has been usually kept up within the 
If we are wise enough to preserve the Union we may for ages 
enjoy an advantage similar to that of an insulated situation. 
Europe is at a great distance from us. Her colonies in our 
vicinity will be likely to continue too much disproportioned in 
strength to be able to give us any dangerous annoyance. Extensive 
military establishments cannot, in this position, be necessary to 
our security. But if we should be disunited, and the integral
parts  should either remain separated, or, which is most
probable, should  be thrown together into two or three
confederacies, we should be, in  a short course of time, in the
predicament of the continental powers  of Europe --our liberties
would be a prey to the means of defending  ourselves against the
ambition and jealousy of each other. This is an idea not
superficial or futile, but solid and weighty.   It deserves the
most serious and mature consideration of every  prudent and
honest man of whatever party. If such men will make a  firm and
solemn pause, and meditate dispassionately on the  importance of
this interesting idea; if they will contemplate it in  all its
attitudes, and trace it to all its consequences, they will  not
hesitate to part with trivial objections to a Constitution, the 
rejection of which would in all probability put a final period to 
the Union. The airy phantoms that flit before the distempered 
imaginations of some of its adversaries would quickly give place
to  the more substantial forms of dangers, real, certain, and
formidable. PUBLIUS.
1 This objection will be fully examined in its proper place, and 
it will be shown that the only natural precaution which could
have  been taken on this subject has been taken; and a much
better one  than is to be found in any constitution that has been
heretofore  framed in America, most of which contain no guard at
all on this  subject.


The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and
Insurrection For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
A FIRM Union will be of the utmost moment to the peace and
liberty of the States, as a barrier against domestic faction and 
insurrection. It is impossible to read the history of the petty 
republics of Greece and Italy without feeling sensations of
horror  and disgust at the distractions with which they were
continually  agitated, and at the rapid succession of revolutions
by which they  were kept in a state of perpetual vibration
between the extremes of  tyranny and anarchy. If they exhibit
occasional calms, these only  serve as short-lived contrast to
the furious storms that are to  succeed. If now and then
intervals of felicity open to view, we  behold them with a
mixture of regret, arising from the reflection  that the pleasing
scenes before us are soon to be overwhelmed by the  tempestuous
waves of sedition and party rage. If momentary rays of  glory
break forth from the gloom, while they dazzle us with a 
transient and fleeting brilliancy, they at the same time admonish
us  to lament that the vices of government should pervert the
direction  and tarnish the lustre of those bright talents and
exalted  endowments for which the favored soils that produced
them have been  so justly celebrated.
From the disorders that disfigure the annals of those republics 
the advocates of despotism have drawn arguments, not only against 
the forms of republican government, but against the very
principles  of civil liberty. They have decried all free
government as  inconsistent with the order of society, and have
indulged themselves  in malicious exultation over its friends and
partisans. Happily for  mankind, stupendous fabrics reared on the
basis of liberty, which  have flourished for ages, have, in a few
glorious instances, refuted  their gloomy sophisms. And, I trust,
America will be the broad and  solid foundation of other
edifices, not less magnificent, which will  be equally permanent
monuments of their errors.
But it is not to be denied that the portraits they have sketched 
of republican government were too just copies of the originals
from  which they were taken. If it had been found impracticable
to have  devised models of a more perfect structure, the
enlightened friends  to liberty would have been obliged to
abandon the cause of that  species of government as indefensible.
The science of politics,  however, like most other sciences, has
received great improvement.  The efficacy of various principles
is now well understood, which  were either not known at all, or
imperfectly known to the ancients.  The regular distribution of
power into distinct departments; the  introduction of legislative
balances and checks; the institution of  courts composed of
judges holding their offices during good  behavior; the
representation of the people in the legislature by  deputies of
their own election: these are wholly new discoveries,  or have
made their principal progress towards perfection in modern 
times. They are means, and powerful means, by which the
excellences  of republican government may be retained and its
imperfections  lessened or avoided. To this catalogue of
circumstances that tend  to the amelioration of popular systems
of civil government, I shall  venture, however novel it may
appear to some, to add one more, on a  principle which has been
made the foundation of an objection to the  new Constitution; I
mean the ENLARGEMENT of the ORBIT within which  such systems are
to revolve, either in respect to the dimensions of  a single
State or to the consolidation of several smaller States  into one
great Confederacy. The latter is that which immediately  concerns
the object under consideration. It will, however, be of  use to
examine the principle in its application to a single State, 
which shall be attended to in another place.
The utility of a Confederacy, as well to suppress faction and to 
guard the internal tranquillity of States, as to increase their 
external force and security, is in reality not a new idea. It has 
been practiced upon in different countries and ages, and has 
received the sanction of the most approved writers on the subject
of  politics. The opponents of the plan proposed have, with great 
assiduity, cited and circulated the observations of Montesquieu
on  the necessity of a contracted territory for a republican
government.  But they seem not to have been apprised of the
sentiments of that  great man expressed in another part of his
work, nor to have  adverted to the consequences of the principle
to which they  subscribe with such ready acquiescence.
When Montesquieu recommends a small extent for republics, the 
standards he had in view were of dimensions far short of the
limits  of almost every one of these States. Neither Virginia,
Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, nor
Georgia  can by any means be compared with the models from which
he reasoned  and to which the terms of his description apply. If
we therefore  take his ideas on this point as the criterion of
truth, we shall be  driven to the alternative either of taking
refuge at once in the  arms of monarchy, or of splitting
ourselves into an infinity of  little, jealous, clashing,
tumultuous commonwealths, the wretched  nurseries of unceasing
discord, and the miserable objects of  universal pity or
contempt. Some of the writers who have come  forward on the other
side of the question seem to have been aware of  the dilemma; and
have even been bold enough to hint at the division  of the larger
States as a desirable thing. Such an infatuated  policy, such a
desperate expedient, might, by the multiplication of  petty
offices, answer the views of men who possess not qualifications
to extend their influence beyond the narrow circles  of personal
intrigue, but it could never promote the greatness or  happiness
of the people of America.
Referring the examination of the principle itself to another 
place, as has been already mentioned, it will be sufficient to 
remark here that, in the sense of the author who has been most 
emphatically quoted upon the occasion, it would only dictate a 
reduction of the SIZE of the more considerable MEMBERS of the
Union,  but would not militate against their being all
comprehended in one  confederate government. And this is the true
question, in the  discussion of which we are at present
So far are the suggestions of Montesquieu from standing in
opposition to a general Union of the States, that he explicitly 
treats of a CONFEDERATE REPUBLIC as the expedient for extending
the  sphere of popular government, and reconciling the advantages
of  monarchy with those of republicanism.
``It is very probable,'' (says he1) ``that mankind would
have been obliged at length to live constantly under the
government  of a single person, had they not contrived a kind of
constitution  that has all the internal advantages of a
republican, together with  the external force of a monarchical
government. I mean a
``This form of government is a convention by which several
smaller STATES agree to become members of a larger ONE, which
they  intend to form. It is a kind of assemblage of societies
that  constitute a new one, capable of increasing, by means of
new  associations, till they arrive to such a degree of power as
to be  able to provide for the security of the united body.
``A republic of this kind, able to withstand an external force, 
may support itself without any internal corruptions. The form of 
this society prevents all manner of inconveniences.
``If a single member should attempt to usurp the supreme
authority, he could not be supposed to have an equal authority
and  credit in all the confederate states. Were he to have too
great  influence over one, this would alarm the rest. Were he to
subdue a  part, that which would still remain free might oppose
him with  forces independent of those which he had usurped and
overpower him  before he could be settled in his usurpation.
``Should a popular insurrection happen in one of the confederate 
states the others are able to quell it. Should abuses creep into 
one part, they are reformed by those that remain sound. The state 
may be destroyed on one side, and not on the other; the
confederacy  may be dissolved, and the confederates preserve
their sovereignty. ``As this government is composed of small
republics, it enjoys  the internal happiness of each; and with
respect to its external  situation, it is possessed, by means of
the association, of all the  advantages of large monarchies.''
I have thought it proper to quote at length these interesting 
passages, because they contain a luminous abridgment of the 
principal arguments in favor of the Union, and must effectually 
remove the false impressions which a misapplication of other
parts  of the work was calculated to make. They have, at the same
time, an  intimate connection with the more immediate design of
this paper;  which is, to illustrate the tendency of the Union to
repress  domestic faction and insurrection.
A distinction, more subtle than accurate, has been raised between
a CONFEDERACY and a CONSOLIDATION of the States. The  essential
characteristic of the first is said to be, the restriction  of
its authority to the members in their collective capacities, 
without reaching to the individuals of whom they are composed. It 
is contended that the national council ought to have no concern
with  any object of internal administration. An exact equality of 
suffrage between the members has also been insisted upon as a 
leading feature of a confederate government. These positions are, 
in the main, arbitrary; they are supported neither by principle
nor  precedent. It has indeed happened, that governments of this
kind  have generally operated in the manner which the distinction
taken  notice of, supposes to be inherent in their nature; but
there have  been in most of them extensive exceptions to the
practice, which  serve to prove, as far as example will go, that
there is no absolute  rule on the subject. And it will be clearly
shown in the course of  this investigation that as far as the
principle contended for has  prevailed, it has been the cause of
incurable disorder and  imbecility in the government.
The definition of a CONFEDERATE REPUBLIC seems simply to be ``an 
assemblage of societies,'' or an association of two or more
states  into one state. The extent, modifications, and objects of
the  federal authority are mere matters of discretion. So long as
the  separate organization of the members be not abolished; so
long as  it exists, by a constitutional necessity, for local
purposes;  though it should be in perfect subordination to the
general  authority of the union, it would still be, in fact and
in theory, an  association of states, or a confederacy. The
proposed Constitution,  so far from implying an abolition of the
State governments, makes  them constituent parts of the national
sovereignty, by allowing them  a direct representation in the
Senate, and leaves in their  possession certain exclusive and
very important portions of  sovereign power. This fully
corresponds, in every rational import  of the terms, with the
idea of a federal government.
In the Lycian confederacy, which consisted of twenty-three CITIES
or republics, the largest were entitled to THREE votes in the 
COMMON COUNCIL, those of the middle class to TWO, and the
smallest  to ONE. The COMMON COUNCIL had the appointment of all
the judges  and magistrates of the respective CITIES. This was
certainly the  most, delicate species of interference in their
internal administration; for if there be any thing that seems
exclusively  appropriated to the local jurisdictions, it is the
appointment of  their own officers. Yet Montesquieu, speaking of
this association,  says: ``Were I to give a model of an excellent
Confederate  Republic, it would be that of Lycia.'' Thus we
perceive that the  distinctions insisted upon were not within the
contemplation of this  enlightened civilian; and we shall be led
to conclude, that they  are the novel refinements of an erroneous
1 ``Spirit of Lawa,'' vol. i., book ix., chap. i.


The Same Subject Continued
(The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and
From the New York Packet.
Friday, November 23, 1787.


To the People of the State of New York:
AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a wellconstructed 
Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its 
tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend 
of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for
their  character and fate, as when he contemplates their
propensity to this  dangerous vice. He will not fail, therefore,
to set a due value on  any plan which, without violating the
principles to which he is  attached, provides a proper cure for
it. The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the
public councils, have,  in truth, been the mortal diseases under
which popular governments  have everywhere perished; as they
continue to be the favorite and  fruitful topics from which the
adversaries to liberty derive their  most specious declamations.
The valuable improvements made by the  American constitutions on
the popular models, both ancient and  modern, cannot certainly be
too much admired; but it would be an  unwarrantable partiality,
to contend that they have as effectually  obviated the danger on
this side, as was wished and expected.  Complaints are everywhere
heard from our most considerate and  virtuous citizens, equally
the friends of public and private faith,  and of public and
personal liberty, that our governments are too  unstable, that
the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of  rival
parties, and that measures are too often decided, not  according
to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party,  but
by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority. 
However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no 
foundation, the evidence, of known facts will not permit us to
deny  that they are in some degree true. It will be found,
indeed, on a  candid review of our situation, that some of the
distresses under  which we labor have been erroneously charged on
the operation of our  governments; but it will be found, at the
same time, that other  causes will not alone account for many of
our heaviest misfortunes;  and, particularly, for that prevailing
and increasing distrust of  public engagements, and alarm for
private rights, which are echoed  from one end of the continent
to the other. These must be chiefly,  if not wholly, effects of
the unsteadiness and injustice with which  a factious spirit has
tainted our public administrations.
By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether
amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are
united  and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of
interest,  adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the
permanent and  aggregate interests of the community.
There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the 
one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its
effects. There are again two methods of removing the causes of
faction:  the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential
to its  existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same
opinions,  the same passions, and the same interests.
It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that 
it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is
to  fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it
could  not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential
to  political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would
be to  wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal
life,  because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.
The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be 
unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he
is  at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.
As  long as the connection subsists between his reason and his 
self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal 
influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which 
the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties 
of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less
an  insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The
protection  of these faculties is the first object of government.
From the  protection of different and unequal faculties of
acquiring property,  the possession of different degrees and
kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of
these on the  sentiments and views of the respective proprietors,
ensues a  division of the society into different interests and
parties. The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature
of man;  and we see them everywhere brought into different
degrees of  activity, according to the different circumstances of
civil society.  A zeal for different opinions concerning
religion, concerning  government, and many other points, as well
of speculation as of  practice; an attachment to different
leaders ambitiously contending  for pre-eminence and power; or to
persons of other descriptions  whose fortunes have been
interesting to the human passions, have, in  turn, divided
mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual  animosity, and
rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress  each other
than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is  this
propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that 
where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous 
and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their 
unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But 
the most common and durable source of factions has been the
various  and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and
those who  are without property have ever formed distinct
interests in society.  Those who are creditors, and those who are
debtors, fall under a  like discrimination. A landed interest, a
manufacturing interest, a  mercantile interest, a moneyed
interest, with many lesser interests,  grow up of necessity in
civilized nations, and divide them into  different classes,
actuated by different sentiments and views. The  regulation of
these various and interfering interests forms the  principal task
of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of  party and
faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the 
No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his 
interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, 
corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a
body  of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same
time;  yet what are many of the most important acts of
legislation, but so  many judicial determinations, not indeed
concerning the rights of  single persons, but concerning the
rights of large bodies of  citizens? And what are the different
classes of legislators but  advocates and parties to the causes
which they determine? Is a law  proposed concerning private
debts? It is a question to which the  creditors are parties on
one side and the debtors on the other.  Justice ought to hold the
balance between them. Yet the parties  are, and must be,
themselves the judges; and the most numerous  party, or, in other
words, the most powerful faction must be  expected to prevail.
Shall domestic manufactures be encouraged, and  in what degree,
by restrictions on foreign manufactures? are  questions which
would be differently decided by the landed and the  manufacturing
classes, and probably by neither with a sole regard to  justice
and the public good. The apportionment of taxes on the  various
descriptions of property is an act which seems to require  the
most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative 
act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a 
predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every 
shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a 
shilling saved to their own pockets.
It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to 
adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient
to  the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at
the  helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at
all  without taking into view indirect and remote considerations,
which  will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one
party may  find in disregarding the rights of another or the good
of the whole. The inference to which we are brought is, that the
CAUSES of  faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to
be sought in  the means of controlling its EFFECTS.
If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied
by the republican principle, which enables the majority to 
defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the 
administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be
unable  to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the
Constitution.   When a majority is included in a faction, the
form of popular  government, on the other hand, enables it to
sacrifice to its ruling  passion or interest both the public good
and the rights of other  citizens. To secure the public good and
private rights against the  danger of such a faction, and at the
same time to preserve the  spirit and the form of popular
government, is then the great object  to which our inquiries are
directed. Let me add that it is the  great desideratum by which
this form of government can be rescued  from the opprobrium under
which it has so long labored, and be  recommended to the esteem
and adoption of mankind.
By what means is this object attainable? Evidently by one of  two
only. Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a 
majority at the same time must be prevented, or the majority,
having  such coexistent passion or interest, must be rendered, by
their  number and local situation, unable to concert and carry
into effect  schemes of oppression. If the impulse and the
opportunity be  suffered to coincide, we well know that neither
moral nor religious  motives can be relied on as an adequate
control. They are not found  to be such on the injustice and
violence of individuals, and lose  their efficacy in proportion
to the number combined together, that  is, in proportion as their
efficacy becomes needful.
From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure 
democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number
of  citizens, who assemble and administer the government in
person, can  admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A
common passion or  interest will, in almost every case, be felt
by a majority of the  whole; a communication and concert result
from the form of  government itself; and there is nothing to
check the inducements to  sacrifice the weaker party or an
obnoxious individual. Hence it is  that such democracies have
ever been spectacles of turbulence and  contention; have ever
been found incompatible with personal  security or the rights of
property; and have in general been as  short in their lives as
they have been violent in their deaths.  Theoretic politicians,
who have patronized this species of  government, have erroneously
supposed that by reducing mankind to a  perfect equality in their
political rights, they would, at the same  time, be perfectly
equalized and assimilated in their possessions,  their opinions,
and their passions.
A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of 
representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and
promises  the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the
points in  which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall
comprehend both  the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it
must derive from  the Union.
The two great points of difference between a democracy and a 
republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the 
latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; 
secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of 
country, over which the latter may be extended.
The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine
and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the  medium
of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern  the
true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of 
justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or
partial  considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well
happen that  the public voice, pronounced by the representatives
of the people,  will be more consonant to the public good than if
pronounced by the  people themselves, convened for the purpose.
On the other hand, the  effect may be inverted. Men of factious
tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by
intrigue, by corruption,  or by other means, first obtain the
suffrages, and then betray the  interests, of the people. The
question resulting is, whether small  or extensive republics are
more favorable to the election of proper  guardians of the public
weal; and it is clearly decided in favor of  the latter by two
obvious considerations:
In the first place, it is to be remarked that, however small the 
republic may be, the representatives must be raised to a certain 
number, in order to guard against the cabals of a few; and that, 
however large it may be, they must be limited to a certain
number,  in order to guard against the confusion of a multitude.
Hence, the  number of representatives in the two cases not being
in proportion  to that of the two constituents, and being
proportionally greater in  the small republic, it follows that,
if the proportion of fit  characters be not less in the large
than in the small republic, the  former will present a greater
option, and consequently a greater  probability of a fit choice.
In the next place, as each representative will be chosen by a 
greater number of citizens in the large than in the small
republic,  it will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to
practice with  success the vicious arts by which elections are
too often carried;  and the suffrages of the people being more
free, will be more  likely to centre in men who possess the most
attractive merit and  the most diffusive and established
It must be confessed that in this, as in most other cases, there 
is a mean, on both sides of which inconveniences will be found to 
lie. By enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the 
representatives too little acquainted with all their local 
circumstances and lesser interests; as by reducing it too much,
you  render him unduly attached to these, and too little fit to 
comprehend and pursue great and national objects. The federal 
Constitution forms a happy combination in this respect; the great 
and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local 
and particular to the State legislatures.
The other point of difference is, the greater number of citizens 
and extent of territory which may be brought within the compass
of  republican than of democratic government; and it is this
circumstance principally which renders factious combinations less
to  be dreaded in the former than in the latter. The smaller the 
society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and 
interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and 
interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the
same  party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing
a  majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are
placed,  the more easily will they concert and execute their
plans of  oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a
greater variety of  parties and interests; you make it less
probable that a majority of  the whole will have a common motive
to invade the rights of other  citizens; or if such a common
motive exists, it will be more  difficult for all who feel it to
discover their own strength, and to  act in unison with each
other. Besides other impediments, it may be  remarked that, where
there is a consciousness of unjust or  dishonorable purposes,
communication is always checked by distrust  in proportion to the
number whose concurrence is necessary. Hence, it clearly appears,
that the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy, in
controlling the effects of  faction, is enjoyed by a large over a
small republic,--is enjoyed by  the Union over the States
composing it. Does the advantage consist  in the substitution of
representatives whose enlightened views and  virtuous sentiments
render them superior to local prejudices and  schemes of
injustice? It will not be denied that the representation  of the
Union will be most likely to possess these requisite  endowments.
Does it consist in the greater security afforded by a  greater
variety of parties, against the event of any one party being 
able to outnumber and oppress the rest? In an equal degree does
the  increased variety of parties comprised within the Union,
increase  this security. Does it, in fine, consist in the greater
obstacles  opposed to the concert and accomplishment of the
secret wishes of an  unjust and interested majority? Here, again,
the extent of the  Union gives it the most palpable advantage.
The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within 
their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general 
conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may 
degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; 
but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it
must  secure the national councils against any danger from that
source. A  rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for
an equal  division of property, or for any other improper or
wicked project,  will be less apt to pervade the whole body of
the Union than a  particular member of it; in the same proportion
as such a malady is  more likely to taint a particular county or
district, than an entire  State.
In the extent and proper structure of the Union, therefore, we 
behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to 
republican government. And according to the degree of pleasure
and  pride we feel in being republicans, ought to be our zeal in 
cherishing the spirit and supporting the character of
Federalists. PUBLIUS.


The Utility of the Union in Respect to Commercial Relations and a 
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE importance of the Union, in a commercial light, is one of 
those points about which there is least room to entertain a 
difference of opinion, and which has, in fact, commanded the most 
general assent of men who have any acquaintance with the subject. 
This applies as well to our intercourse with foreign countries as 
with each other.
There are appearances to authorize a supposition that the
adventurous spirit, which distinguishes the commercial character
of  America, has already excited uneasy sensations in several of
the  maritime powers of Europe. They seem to be apprehensive of
our too  great interference in that carrying trade, which is the
support of  their navigation and the foundation of their naval
strength. Those  of them which have colonies in America look
forward to what this  country is capable of becoming, with
painful solicitude. They  foresee the dangers that may threaten
their American dominions from  the neighborhood of States, which
have all the dispositions, and  would possess all the means,
requisite to the creation of a powerful  marine. Impressions of
this kind will naturally indicate the policy  of fostering
divisions among us, and of depriving us, as far as  possible, of
an ACTIVE COMMERCE in our own bottoms. This would  answer the
threefold purpose of preventing our interference in their 
navigation, of monopolizing the profits of our trade, and of 
clipping the wings by which we might soar to a dangerous
greatness.  Did not prudence forbid the detail, it would not be
difficult to  trace, by facts, the workings of this policy to the
cabinets of  ministers.
If we continue united, we may counteract a policy so unfriendly 
to our prosperity in a variety of ways. By prohibitory
regulations,  extending, at the same time, throughout the States,
we may oblige  foreign countries to bid against each other, for
the privileges of  our markets. This assertion will not appear
chimerical to those who  are able to appreciate the importance of
the markets of three  millions of people--increasing in rapid
progression, for the most  part exclusively addicted to
agriculture, and likely from local  circumstances to remain so--
to any manufacturing nation; and the  immense difference there
would be to the trade and navigation of  such a nation, between a
direct communication in its own ships, and  an indirect
conveyance of its products and returns, to and from  America, in
the ships of another country. Suppose, for instance, we  had a
government in America, capable of excluding Great Britain  (with
whom we have at present no treaty of commerce) from all our 
ports; what would be the probable operation of this step upon her 
politics? Would it not enable us to negotiate, with the fairest 
prospect of success, for commercial privileges of the most
valuable  and extensive kind, in the dominions of that kingdom?
When these  questions have been asked, upon other occasions, they
have received  a plausible, but not a solid or satisfactory
answer. It has been  said that prohibitions on our part would
produce no change in the  system of Britain, because she could
prosecute her trade with us  through the medium of the Dutch, who
would be her immediate  customers and paymasters for those
articles which were wanted for  the supply of our markets. But
would not her navigation be  materially injured by the loss of
the important advantage of being  her own carrier in that trade?
Would not the principal part of its  profits be intercepted by
the Dutch, as a compensation for their  agency and risk? Would
not the mere circumstance of freight  occasion a considerable
deduction? Would not so circuitous an  intercourse facilitate the
competitions of other nations, by  enhancing the price of British
commodities in our markets, and by  transferring to other hands
the management of this interesting  branch of the British
A mature consideration of the objects suggested by these
questions will justify a belief that the real disadvantages to 
Britain from such a state of things, conspiring with the pre-
possessions of a great part of the nation in favor of the 
American trade, and with the importunities of the West India 
islands, would produce a relaxation in her present system, and
would  let us into the enjoyment of privileges in the markets of
those  islands elsewhere, from which our trade would derive the
most  substantial benefits. Such a point gained from the British 
government, and which could not be expected without an equivalent
in  exemptions and immunities in our markets, would be likely to
have a  correspondent effect on the conduct of other nations, who
would not  be inclined to see themselves altogether supplanted in
our trade. A further resource for influencing the conduct of
European nations toward us, in this respect, would arise from the
establishment of a federal navy. There can be no doubt that the 
continuance of the Union under an efficient government would put
it  in our power, at a period not very distant, to create a navy
which,  if it could not vie with those of the great maritime
powers, would  at least be of respectable weight if thrown into
the scale of either  of two contending parties. This would be
more peculiarly the case  in relation to operations in the West
Indies. A few ships of the  line, sent opportunely to the
reinforcement of either side, would  often be sufficient to
decide the fate of a campaign, on the event  of which interests
of the greatest magnitude were suspended. Our  position is, in
this respect, a most commanding one. And if to this 
consideration we add that of the usefulness of supplies from this 
country, in the prosecution of military operations in the West 
Indies, it will readily be perceived that a situation so
favorable  would enable us to bargain with great advantage for
commercial  privileges. A price would be set not only upon our
friendship, but  upon our neutrality. By a steady adherence to
the Union we may  hope, erelong, to become the arbiter of Europe
in America, and to be  able to incline the balance of European
competitions in this part of  the world as our interest may
But in the reverse of this eligible situation, we shall discover 
that the rivalships of the parts would make them checks upon each 
other, and would frustrate all the tempting advantages which
nature  has kindly placed within our reach. In a state so
insignificant our  commerce would be a prey to the wanton
intermeddlings of all nations  at war with each other; who,
having nothing to fear from us, would  with little scruple or
remorse, supply their wants by depredations  on our property as
often as it fell in their way. The rights of  neutrality will
only be respected when they are defended by an  adequate power. A
nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even  the privilege
of being neutral.
Under a vigorous national government, the natural strength and 
resources of the country, directed to a common interest, would 
baffle all the combinations of European jealousy to restrain our 
growth. This situation would even take away the motive to such 
combinations, by inducing an impracticability of success. An
active  commerce, an extensive navigation, and a flourishing
marine would  then be the offspring of moral and physical
necessity. We might  defy the little arts of the little
politicians to control or vary  the irresistible and unchangeable
course of nature.
But in a state of disunion, these combinations might exist and 
might operate with success. It would be in the power of the 
maritime nations, availing themselves of our universal impotence,
to  prescribe the conditions of our political existence; and as
they  have a common interest in being our carriers, and still
more in  preventing our becoming theirs, they would in all
probability  combine to embarrass our navigation in such a manner
as would in  effect destroy it, and confine us to a PASSIVE
COMMERCE. We should  then be compelled to content ourselves with
the first price of our  commodities, and to see the profits of
our trade snatched from us to  enrich our enemies and p
rsecutors. That unequaled spirit of  enterprise, which signalizes
the genius of the American merchants  and navigators, and which
is in itself an inexhaustible mine of  national wealth, would be
stifled and lost, and poverty and disgrace  would overspread a
country which, with wisdom, might make herself  the admiration
and envy of the world.
There are rights of great moment to the trade of America which 
are rights of the Union--I allude to the fisheries, to the
navigation  of the Western lakes, and to that of the Mississippi.
dissolution of the Confederacy would give room for delicate 
questions concerning the future existence of these rights; which 
the interest of more powerful partners would hardly fail to solve
to  our disadvantage. The disposition of Spain with regard to the 
Mississippi needs no comment. France and Britain are concerned
with  us in the fisheries, and view them as of the utmost moment
to their  navigation. They, of course, would hardly remain long
indifferent  to that decided mastery, of which experience has
shown us to be  possessed in this valuable branch of traffic, and
by which we are  able to undersell those nations in their own
markets. What more  natural than that they should be disposed to
exclude from the lists  such dangerous competitors?
This branch of trade ought not to be considered as a partial 
benefit. All the navigating States may, in different degrees, 
advantageously participate in it, and under circumstances of a 
greater extension of mercantile capital, would not be unlikely to
do  it. As a nursery of seamen, it now is, or when time shall
have more  nearly assimilated the principles of navigation in the
several  States, will become, a universal resource. To the
establishment of  a navy, it must be indispensable.
To this great national object, a NAVY, union will contribute in 
various ways. Every institution will grow and flourish in
proportion to the quantity and extent of the means concentred 
towards its formation and support. A navy of the United States,
as  it would embrace the resources of all, is an object far less
remote  than a navy of any single State or partial confederacy,
which would  only embrace the resources of a single part. It
happens, indeed,  that different portions of confederated America
possess each some  peculiar advantage for this essential
establishment. The more  southern States furnish in greater
abundance certain kinds of naval  stores--tar, pitch, and
turpentine. Their wood for the construction  of ships is also of
a more solid and lasting texture. The difference in the duration
of the ships of which the navy might be  composed, if chiefly
constructed of Southern wood, would be of  signal importance,
either in the view of naval strength or of  national economy.
Some of the Southern and of the Middle States  yield a greater
plenty of iron, and of better quality. Seamen must  chiefly be
drawn from the Northern hive. The necessity of naval  protection
to external or maritime commerce does not require a  particular
elucidation, no more than the conduciveness of that  species of
commerce to the prosperity of a navy.
An unrestrained intercourse between the States themselves will 
advance the trade of each by an interchange of their respective 
productions, not only for the supply of reciprocal wants at home, 
but for exportation to foreign markets. The veins of commerce in 
every part will be replenished, and will acquire additional
motion  and vigor from a free circulation of the commodities of
every part.  Commercial enterprise will have much greater scope,
from the  diversity in the productions of different States. When
the staple  of one fails from a bad harvest or unproductive crop,
it can call to  its aid the staple of another. The variety, not
less than the  value, of products for exportation contributes to
the activity of  foreign commerce. It can be conducted upon much
better terms with a  large number of materials of a given value
than with a small number  of materials of the same value; arising
from the competitions of  trade and from the fluctations of
markets. Particular articles may  be in great demand at certain
periods, and unsalable at others; but  if there be a variety of
articles, it can scarcely happen that they  should all be at one
time in the latter predicament, and on this  account the
operations of the merchant would be less liable to any 
considerable obstruction or stagnation. The speculative trader
will  at once perceive the force of these observations, and will 
acknowledge that the aggregate balance of the commerce of the
United  States would bid fair to be much more favorable than that
of the  thirteen States without union or with partial unions.
It may perhaps be replied to this, that whether the States are 
united or disunited, there would still be an intimate intercourse 
between them which would answer the same ends; this intercourse 
would be fettered, interrupted, and narrowed by a multiplicity of 
causes, which in the course of these papers have been amply
detailed.   A unity of commercial, as well as political,
interests, can only  result from a unity of government.
There are other points of view in which this subject might be 
placed, of a striking and animating kind. But they would lead us 
too far into the regions of futurity, and would involve topics
not  proper for a newspaper discussion. I shall briefly observe,
that  our situation invites and our interests prompt us to aim at
an  ascendant in the system of American affairs. The world may 
politically, as well as geographically, be divided into four
parts,  each having a distinct set of interests. Unhappily for
the other  three, Europe, by her arms and by her negotiations, by
force and by  fraud, has, in different degrees, extended her
dominion over them  all. Africa, Asia, and America, have
successively felt her  domination. The superiority she has long
maintained has tempted her  to plume herself as the Mistress of
the World, and to consider the  rest of mankind as created for
her benefit. Men admired as profound  philosophers have, in
direct terms, attributed to her inhabitants a  physical
superiority, and have gravely asserted that all animals,  and
with them the human species, degenerate in America--that even 
dogs cease to bark after having breathed awhile in our
atmosphere.1 Facts have too long supported these arrogant
pretensions of the Europeans. It belongs to us to vindicate the 
honor of the human race, and to teach that assuming brother, 
moderation. Union will enable us to do it. Disunion will will add 
another victim to his triumphs. Let Americans disdain to be the 
instruments of European greatness! Let the thirteen States, bound 
together in a strict and indissoluble Union, concur in erecting
one  great American system, superior to the control of all
transatlantic  force or influence, and able to dictate the terms
of the connection  between the old and the new world! 
``Recherches philosophiques sur les Americains.''


The Utility of the Union In Respect to Revenue
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, November 27, 1787.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE effects of Union upon the commercial prosperity of the States
have been sufficiently delineated. Its tendency to promote  the
interests of revenue will be the subject of our present inquiry.
The prosperity of commerce is now perceived and acknowledged by 
all enlightened statesmen to be the most useful as well as the
most  productive source of national wealth, and has accordingly
become a  primary object of their political cares. By multipying
the means of  gratification, by promoting the introduction and
circulation of the  precious metals, those darling objects of
human avarice and  enterprise, it serves to vivify and invigorate
the channels of  industry, and to make them flow with greater
activity and copiousness. The assiduous merchant, the laborious
husbandman, the  active mechanic, and the industrious
manufacturer,--all orders of  men, look forward with eager
expectation and growing alacrity to  this pleasing reward of
their toils. The often-agitated question  between agriculture and
commerce has, from indubitable experience,  received a decision
which has silenced the rivalship that once  subsisted between
them, and has proved, to the satisfaction of their  friends, that
their interests are intimately blended and interwoven.  It has
been found in various countries that, in proportion as  commerce
has flourished, land has risen in value. And how could it  have
happened otherwise? Could that which procures a freer vent for 
the products of the earth, which furnishes new incitements to the 
cultivation of land, which is the most powerful instrument in 
increasing the quantity of money in a state--could that, in fine, 
which is the faithful handmaid of labor and industry, in every 
shape, fail to augment that article, which is the prolific parent
of  far the greatest part of the objects upon which they are
exerted?  It is astonishing that so simple a truth should ever
have had an  adversary; and it is one, among a multitude of
proofs, how apt a  spirit of ill-informed jealousy, or of too
great abstraction and  refinement, is to lead men astray from the
plainest truths of reason  and conviction.
The ability of a country to pay taxes must always be
proportioned, in a great degree, to the quantity of money in 
circulation, and to the celerity with which it circulates. 
Commerce, contributing to both these objects, must of necessity 
render the payment of taxes easier, and facilitate the requisite 
supplies to the treasury. The hereditary dominions of the Emperor 
of Germany contain a great extent of fertile, cultivated, and 
populous territory, a large proportion of which is situated in
mild  and luxuriant climates. In some parts of this territory are
to be  found the best gold and silver mines in Europe. And yet,
from the  want of the fostering influence of commerce, that
monarch can boast  but slender revenues. He has several times
been compelled to owe  obligations to the pecuniary succors of
other nations for the  preservation of his essential interests,
and is unable, upon the  strength of his own resources, to
sustain a long or continued war. But it is not in this aspect of
the subject alone that Union  will be seen to conduce to the
purpose of revenue. There are other  points of view, in which its
influence will appear more immediate  and decisive. It is evident
from the state of the country, from the  habits of the people,
from the experience we have had on the point  itself, that it is
impracticable to raise any very considerable sums  by direct
taxation. Tax laws have in vain been multiplied; new  methods to
enforce the collection have in vain been tried; the  public
expectation has been uniformly disappointed, and the  treasuries
of the States have remained empty. The popular system of 
administration inherent in the nature of popular government, 
coinciding with the real scarcity of money incident to a languid
and  mutilated state of trade, has hitherto defeated every
experiment for  extensive collections, and has at length taught
the different  legislatures the folly of attempting them.
No person acquainted with what happens in other countries will 
be surprised at this circumstance. In so opulent a nation as that 
of Britain, where direct taxes from superior wealth must be much 
more tolerable, and, from the vigor of the government, much more 
practicable, than in America, far the greatest part of the
national  revenue is derived from taxes of the indirect kind,
from imposts,  and from excises. Duties on imported articles form
a large branch  of this latter description.
In America, it is evident that we must a long time depend for 
the means of revenue chiefly on such duties. In most parts of it, 
excises must be confined within a narrow compass. The genius of
the  people will ill brook the inquisitive and peremptory spirit
of  excise laws. The pockets of the farmers, on the other hand,
will  reluctantly yield but scanty supplies, in the unwelcome
shape of  impositions on their houses and lands; and personal
property is too  precarious and invisible a fund to be laid hold
of in any other way  than by the inperceptible agency of taxes on
If these remarks have any foundation, that state of things which 
will best enable us to improve and extend so valuable a resource 
must be best adapted to our political welfare. And it cannot
admit  of a serious doubt, that this state of things must rest on
the basis  of a general Union. As far as this would be conducive
to the  interests of commerce, so far it must tend to the
extension of the  revenue to be drawn from that source. As far as
it would contribute  to rendering regulations for the collection
of the duties more  simple and efficacious, so far it must serve
to answer the purposes  of making the same rate of duties more
productive, and of putting it  into the power of the government
to increase the rate without  prejudice to trade.
The relative situation of these States; the number of rivers 
with which they are intersected, and of bays that wash there
shores;  the facility of communication in every direction; the
affinity of  language and manners; the familiar habits of
intercourse; --all  these are circumstances that would conspire
to render an illicit  trade between them a matter of little
difficulty, and would insure  frequent evasions of the commercial
regulations of each other. The  separate States or confederacies
would be necessitated by mutual  jealousy to avoid the
temptations to that kind of trade by the  lowness of their
duties. The temper of our governments, for a long  time to come,
would not permit those rigorous precautions by which  the
European nations guard the avenues into their respective 
countries, as well by land as by water; and which, even there,
are  found insufficient obstacles to the adventurous stratagems
of  avarice.
In France, there is an army of patrols (as they are called) 
constantly employed to secure their fiscal regulations against
the  inroads of the dealers in contraband trade. Mr. Neckar
computes the  number of these patrols at upwards of twenty
thousand. This shows  the immense difficulty in preventing that
species of traffic, where  there is an inland communication, and
places in a strong light the  disadvantages with which the
collection of duties in this country  would be encumbered, if by
disunion the States should be placed in a  situation, with
respect to each other, resembling that of France  with respect to
her neighbors. The arbitrary and vexatious powers  with which the
patrols are necessarily armed, would be intolerable  in a free
If, on the contrary, there be but one government pervading all 
the States, there will be, as to the principal part of our
commerce,  but ONE SIDE to guard--the ATLANTIC COAST. Vessels
arriving directly  from foreign countries, laden with valuable
cargoes, would rarely  choose to hazard themselves to the
complicated and critical perils  which would attend attempts to
unlade prior to their coming into  port. They would have to dread
both the dangers of the coast, and  of detection, as well after
as before their arrival at the places of  their final
destination. An ordinary degree of vigilance would be  competent
to the prevention of any material infractions upon the  rights of
the revenue. A few armed vessels, judiciously stationed  at the
entrances of our ports, might at a small expense be made  useful
sentinels of the laws. And the government having the same 
interest to provide against violations everywhere, the co-
operation  of its measures in each State would have a powerful
tendency to  render them effectual. Here also we should preserve
by Union, an  advantage which nature holds out to us, and which
would be  relinquished by separation. The United States lie at a
great  distance from Europe, and at a considerable distance from
all other  places with which they would have extensive
connections of foreign  trade. The passage from them to us, in a
few hours, or in a single  night, as between the coasts of France
and Britain, and of other  neighboring nations, would be
impracticable. This is a prodigious  security against a direct
contraband with foreign countries; but a  circuitous contraband
to one State, through the medium of another,  would be both easy
and safe. The difference between a direct  importation from
abroad, and an indirect importation through the  channel of a
neighboring State, in small parcels, according to time  and
opportunity, with the additional facilities of inland
communication, must be palpable to every man of discernment. It
is therefore evident, that one national government would be 
able, at much less expense, to extend the duties on imports,
beyond  comparison, further than would be practicable to the
States  separately, or to any partial confederacies. Hitherto, I
believe,  it may safely be asserted, that these duties have not
upon an  average exceeded in any State three per cent. In France
they are  estimated to be about fifteen per cent., and in Britain
they exceed  this proportion.1 There seems to be nothing to
hinder their  being increased in this country to at least treble
their present  amount. The single article of ardent spirits,
under federal  regulation, might be made to furnish a
considerable revenue. Upon a  ratio to the importation into this
State, the whole quantity  imported into the United States may be
estimated at four millions of  gallons; which, at a shilling per
gallon, would produce two hundred  thousand pounds. That article
would well bear this rate of duty;  and if it should tend to
diminish the consumption of it, such an  effect would be equally
favorable to the agriculture, to the  economy, to the morals, and
to the health of the society. There is,  perhaps, nothing so much
a subject of national extravagance as these  spirits.
What will be the consequence, if we are not able to avail
ourselves of the resource in question in its full extent? A
nation  cannot long exist without revenues. Destitute of this
essential  support, it must resign its independence, and sink
into the degraded  condition of a province. This is an extremity
to which no government will of choice accede. Revenue, therefore,
must be had  at all events. In this country, if the principal
part be not drawn  from commerce, it must fall with oppressive
weight upon land. It  has been already intimated that excises, in
their true signification, are too little in unison with the
feelings of the  people, to admit of great use being made of that
mode of taxation;  nor, indeed, in the States where almost the
sole employment is  agriculture, are the objects proper for
excise sufficiently numerous  to permit very ample collections in
that way. Personal estate (as  has been before remarked), from
the difficulty in tracing it, cannot  be subjected to large
contributions, by any other means than by  taxes on consumption.
In populous cities, it may be enough the  subject of conjecture,
to occasion the oppression of individuals,  without much
aggregate benefit to the State; but beyond these  circles, it
must, in a great measure, escape the eye and the hand of  the
tax-gatherer. As the necessities of the State, nevertheless, 
must be satisfied in some mode or other, the defect of other 
resources must throw the principal weight of public burdens on
the  possessors of land. And as, on the other hand, the wants of
the  government can never obtain an adequate supply, unless all
the  sources of revenue are open to its demands, the finances of
the  community, under such embarrassments, cannot be put into a
situation  consistent with its respectability or its security.
Thus we shall  not even have the consolations of a full treasury,
to atone for the  oppression of that valuable class of the
citizens who are employed  in the cultivation of the soil. But
public and private distress  will keep pace with each other in
gloomy concert; and unite in  deploring the infatuation of those
counsels which led to disunion. PUBLIUS.
1 If my memory be right they amount to twenty per cent.


Advantage of the Union in Respect to Economy in Government
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
As CONNECTED with the subject of revenue, we may with propriety 
consider that of economy. The money saved from one object may be 
usefully applied to another, and there will be so much the less
to  be drawn from the pockets of the people. If the States are
united  under one government, there will be but one national
civil list to  support; if they are divided into several
confederacies, there will  be as many different national civil
lists to be provided for--and  each of them, as to the principal
departments, coextensive with that  which would be necessary for
a government of the whole. The entire  separation of the States
into thirteen unconnected sovereignties is  a project too
extravagant and too replete with danger to have many  advocates.
The ideas of men who speculate upon the dismemberment of  the
empire seem generally turned toward three confederacies--one 
consisting of the four Northern, another of the four Middle, and
a  third of the five Southern States. There is little probability
that  there would be a greater number. According to this
distribution,  each confederacy would comprise an extent of
territory larger than  that of the kingdom of Great Britain. No
well-informed man will  suppose that the affairs of such a
confederacy can be properly  regulated by a government less
comprehensive in its organs or  institutions than that which has
been proposed by the convention.  When the dimensions of a State
attain to a certain magnitude, it  requires the same energy of
government and the same forms of  administration which are
requisite in one of much greater extent.  This idea admits not of
precise demonstration, because there is no  rule by which we can
measure the momentum of civil power necessary  to the government
of any given number of individuals; but when we  consider that
the island of Britain, nearly commensurate with each  of the
supposed confederacies, contains about eight millions of  people,
and when we reflect upon the degree of authority required to 
direct the passions of so large a society to the public good, we 
shall see no reason to doubt that the like portion of power would
be  sufficient to perform the same task in a society far more
numerous.  Civil power, properly organized and exerted, is
capable of  diffusing its force to a very great extent; and can,
in a manner,  reproduce itself in every part of a great empire by
a judicious  arrangement of subordinate institutions.
The supposition that each confederacy into which the States 
would be likely to be divided would require a government not less 
comprehensive than the one proposed, will be strengthened by
another  supposition, more probable than that which presents us
with three  confederacies as the alternative to a general Union.
If we attend  carefully to geographical and commercial
considerations, in  conjunction with the habits and prejudices of
the different States,  we shall be led to conclude that in case
of disunion they will most  naturally league themselves under two
governments. The four Eastern  States, from all the causes that
form the links of national sympathy  and connection, may with
certainty be expected to unite. New York,  situated as she is,
would never be unwise enough to oppose a feeble  and unsupported
flank to the weight of that confederacy. There are  other obvious
reasons that would facilitate her accession to it.  New Jersey is
too small a State to think of being a frontier, in  opposition to
this still more powerful combination; nor do there  appear to be
any obstacles to her admission into it. Even Pennsylvania would
have strong inducements to join the Northern  league. An active
foreign commerce, on the basis of her own  navigation, is her
true policy, and coincides with the opinions and  dispositions of
her citizens. The more Southern States, from  various
circumstances, may not think themselves much interested in  the
encouragement of navigation. They may prefer a system which 
would give unlimited scope to all nations to be the carriers as
well  as the purchasers of their commodities. Pennsylvania may
not choose  to confound her interests in a connection so adverse
to her policy.  As she must at all events be a frontier, she may
deem it most  consistent with her safety to have her exposed side
turned towards  the weaker power of the Southern, rather than
towards the stronger  power of the Northern, Confederacy. This
would give her the fairest  chance to avoid being the Flanders of
America. Whatever may be the  determination of Pennsylvania, if
the Northern Confederacy includes  New Jersey, there is no
likelihood of more than one confederacy to  the south of that
Nothing can be more evident than that the thirteen States will 
be able to support a national government better than one half, or 
one third, or any number less than the whole. This reflection
must  have great weight in obviating that objection to the
proposed plan,  which is founded on the principle of expense; an
objection,  however, which, when we come to take a nearer view of
it, will  appear in every light to stand on mistaken ground.
If, in addition to the consideration of a plurality of civil 
lists, we take into view the number of persons who must
necessarily  be employed to guard the inland communication
between the different  confederacies against illicit trade, and
who in time will infallibly  spring up out of the necessities of
revenue; and if we also take  into view the military
establishments which it has been shown would  unavoidably result
from the jealousies and conflicts of the several  nations into
which the States would be divided, we shall clearly  discover
that a separation would be not less injurious to the  economy,
than to the tranquillity, commerce, revenue, and liberty of 
every part.


Objections to the Proposed Constitution From Extent of Territory 
From the New York Packet.
Friday, November 30, 1787.


To the People of the State of New York:
WE HAVE seen the necessity of the Union, as our bulwark against 
foreign danger, as the conservator of peace among ourselves, as
the  guardian of our commerce and other common interests, as the
only  substitute for those military establishments which have
subverted  the liberties of the Old World, and as the proper
antidote for the  diseases of faction, which have proved fatal to
other popular  governments, and of which alarming symptoms have
been betrayed by  our own. All that remains, within this branch
of our inquiries, is  to take notice of an objection that may be
drawn from the great  extent of country which the Union embraces.
A few observations on  this subject will be the more proper, as
it is perceived that the  adversaries of the new Constitution are
availing themselves of the  prevailing prejudice with regard to
the practicable sphere of  republican administration, in order to
supply, by imaginary  difficulties, the want of those solid
objections which they endeavor  in vain to find.
The error which limits republican government to a narrow district
has been unfolded and refuted in preceding papers. I  remark here
only that it seems to owe its rise and prevalence  chiefly to the
confounding of a republic with a democracy, applying  to the
former reasonings drawn from the nature of the latter. The  true
distinction between these forms was also adverted to on a  former
occasion. It is, that in a democracy, the people meet and 
exercise the government in person; in a republic, they assemble
and  administer it by their representatives and agents. A
democracy,  consequently, will be confined to a small spot. A
republic may be  extended over a large region.
To this accidental source of the error may be added the artifice 
of some celebrated authors, whose writings have had a great share
in  forming the modern standard of political opinions. Being
subjects  either of an absolute or limited monarchy, they have
endeavored to  heighten the advantages, or palliate the evils of
those forms, by  placing in comparison the vices and defects of
the republican, and  by citing as specimens of the latter the
turbulent democracies of  ancient Greece and modern Italy. Under
the confusion of names, it  has been an easy task to transfer to
a republic observations  applicable to a democracy only; and
among others, the observation  that it can never be established
but among a small number of people,  living within a small
compass of territory.
Such a fallacy may have been the less perceived, as most of the 
popular governments of antiquity were of the democratic species; 
and even in modern Europe, to which we owe the great principle of 
representation, no example is seen of a government wholly
popular,  and founded, at the same time, wholly on that
principle. If Europe  has the merit of discovering this great
mechanical power in  government, by the simple agency of which
the will of the largest  political body may be concentred, and
its force directed to any  object which the public good requires,
America can claim the merit  of making the discovery the basis of
unmixed and extensive republics.   It is only to be lamented that
any of her citizens should wish to  deprive her of the additional
merit of displaying its full efficacy  in the establishment of
the comprehensive system now under her  consideration.
As the natural limit of a democracy is that distance from the 
central point which will just permit the most remote citizens to 
assemble as often as their public functions demand, and will
include  no greater number than can join in those functions; so
the natural  limit of a republic is that distance from the centre
which will  barely allow the representatives to meet as often as
may be  necessary for the administration of public affairs. Can
it be said  that the limits of the United States exceed this
distance? It will  not be said by those who recollect that the
Atlantic coast is the  longest side of the Union, that during the
term of thirteen years,  the representatives of the States have
been almost continually  assembled, and that the members from the
most distant States are not  chargeable with greater
intermissions of attendance than those from  the States in the
neighborhood of Congress.
That we may form a juster estimate with regard to this
interesting subject, let us resort to the actual dimensions of
the  Union. The limits, as fixed by the treaty of peace, are: on
the  east the Atlantic, on the south the latitude of thirty-one
degrees,  on the west the Mississippi, and on the north an
irregular line  running in some instances beyond the forty-fifth
degree, in others  falling as low as the forty-second. The
southern shore of Lake Erie  lies below that latitude. Computing
the distance between the  thirty-first and forty-fifth degrees,
it amounts to nine hundred and  seventy-three common miles;
computing it from thirty-one to  forty-two degrees, to seven
hundred and sixty-four miles and a half.  Taking the mean for the
distance, the amount will be eight hundred  and sixty-eight miles
and three-fourths. The mean distance from the  Atlantic to the
Mississippi does not probably exceed seven hundred  and fifty
miles. On a comparison of this extent with that of  several
countries in Europe, the practicability of rendering our  system
commensurate to it appears to be demonstrable. It is not a  great
deal larger than Germany, where a diet representing the whole 
empire is continually assembled; or than Poland before the late 
dismemberment, where another national diet was the depositary of
the  supreme power. Passing by France and Spain, we find that in
Great  Britain, inferior as it may be in size, the
representatives of the  northern extremity of the island have as
far to travel to the  national council as will be required of
those of the most remote  parts of the Union.
Favorable as this view of the subject may be, some observations 
remain which will place it in a light still more satisfactory. In
the first place it is to be remembered that the general
government is not to be charged with the whole power of making
and  administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain 
enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the
republic,  but which are not to be attained by the separate
provisions of any.  The subordinate governments, which can extend
their care to all  those other subjects which can be separately
provided for, will  retain their due authority and activity. Were
it proposed by the  plan of the convention to abolish the
governments of the particular  States, its adversaries would have
some ground for their objection;  though it would not be
difficult to show that if they were  abolished the general
government would be compelled, by the  principle of self-
preservation, to reinstate them in their proper  jurisdiction.
A second observation to be made is that the immediate object of 
the federal Constitution is to secure the union of the thirteen 
primitive States, which we know to be practicable; and to add to 
them such other States as may arise in their own bosoms, or in
their  neighborhoods, which we cannot doubt to be equally
practicable. The  arrangements that may be necessary for those
angles and fractions of  our territory which lie on our
northwestern frontier, must be left  to those whom further
discoveries and experience will render more  equal to the task.
Let it be remarked, in the third place, that the intercourse 
throughout the Union will be facilitated by new improvements.
Roads  will everywhere be shortened, and kept in better order;
accommodations for travelers will be multiplied and meliorated;
an  interior navigation on our eastern side will be opened
throughout,  or nearly throughout, the whole extent of the
thirteen States. The  communication between the Western and
Atlantic districts, and  between different parts of each, will be
rendered more and more easy  by those numerous canals with which
the beneficence of nature has  intersected our country, and which
art finds it so little difficult  to connect and complete.
A fourth and still more important consideration is, that as 
almost every State will, on one side or other, be a frontier, and 
will thus find, in regard to its safety, an inducement to make
some  sacrifices for the sake of the general protection; so the
States  which lie at the greatest distance from the heart of the
Union, and  which, of course, may partake least of the ordinary
circulation of its benefits, will be at the same time immediately
contiguous to  foreign nations, and will consequently stand, on
particular  occasions, in greatest need of its strength and
resources. It may  be inconvenient for Georgia, or the States
forming our western or  northeastern borders, to send their
representatives to the seat of  government; but they would find
it more so to struggle alone  against an invading enemy, or even
to support alone the whole  expense of those precautions which
may be dictated by the neighborhood of continual danger. If they
should derive less  benefit, therefore, from the Union in some
respects than the less  distant States, they will derive greater
benefit from it in other  respects, and thus the proper
equilibrium will be maintained  throughout.
I submit to you, my fellow-citizens, these considerations, in 
full confidence that the good sense which has so often marked
your  decisions will allow them their due weight and effect; and
that you  will never suffer difficulties, however formidable in
appearance, or  however fashionable the error on which they may
be founded, to drive  you into the gloomy and perilous scene into
which the advocates for  disunion would conduct you. Hearken not
to the unnatural voice  which tells you that the people of
America, knit together as they  are by so many cords of
affection, can no longer live together as  members of the same
family; can no longer continue the mutual  guardians of their
mutual happiness; can no longer be fellow citizens of one great,
respectable, and flourishing empire.  Hearken not to the voice
which petulantly tells you that the form  of government
recommended for your adoption is a novelty in the  political
world; that it has never yet had a place in the theories  of the
wildest projectors; that it rashly attempts what it is 
impossible to accomplish. No, my countrymen, shut your ears
against  this unhallowed language. Shut your hearts against the
poison which  it conveys; the kindred blood which flows in the
veins of American  citizens, the mingled blood which they have
shed in defense of their  sacred rights, consecrate their Union,
and excite horror at the idea  of their becoming aliens, rivals,
enemies. And if novelties are to  be shunned, believe me, the
most alarming of all novelties, the most  wild of all projects,
the most rash of all attempts, is that of  rendering us in
pieces, in order to preserve our liberties and  promote our
happiness. But why is the experiment of an extended  republic to
be rejected, merely because it may comprise what is new?  Is it
not the glory of the people of America, that, whilst they  have
paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other 
nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, 
for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their
own  good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the
lessons of  their own experience? To this manly spirit, posterity
will be  indebted for the possession, and the world for the
example, of the  numerous innovations displayed on the American
theatre, in favor of  private rights and public happiness. Had no
important step been  taken by the leaders of the Revolution for
which a precedent could  not be discovered, no government
established of which an exact model  did not present itself, the
people of the United States might, at  this moment have been
numbered among the melancholy victims of  misguided councils,
must at best have been laboring under the weight  of some of
those forms which have crushed the liberties of the rest  of
mankind. Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole 
human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They 
accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of 
human society. They reared the fabrics of governments which have
no  model on the face of the globe. They formed the design of a
great  Confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors to
improve  and perpetuate. If their works betray imperfections, we
wonder at  the fewness of them. If they erred most in the
structure of the  Union, this was the work most difficult to be
executed; this is the  work which has been new modelled by the
act of your convention, and  it is that act on which you are now
to deliberate and to decide. PUBLIUS.


The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the 
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York.
IN THE course of the preceding papers, I have endeavored, my 
fellow-citizens, to place before you, in a clear and convincing 
light, the importance of Union to your political safety and 
happiness. I have unfolded to you a complication of dangers to 
which you would be exposed, should you permit that sacred knot
which  binds the people of America together be severed or
dissolved by  ambition or by avarice, by jealousy or by
misrepresentation. In the  sequel of the inquiry through which I
propose to accompany you, the  truths intended to be inculcated
will receive further confirmation  from facts and arguments
hitherto unnoticed. If the road over which  you will still have
to pass should in some places appear to you  tedious or irksome,
you will recollect that you are in quest of  information on a
subject the most momentous which can engage the  attention of a
free people, that the field through which you have to  travel is
in itself spacious, and that the difficulties of the  journey
have been unnecessarily increased by the mazes with which 
sophistry has beset the way. It will be my aim to remove the 
obstacles from your progress in as compendious a manner as it can
be  done, without sacrificing utility to despatch.
In pursuance of the plan which I have laid down for the
discussion of the subject, the point next in order to be examined
is  the ``insufficiency of the present Confederation to the
preservation  of the Union.'' It may perhaps be asked what need
there is of  reasoning or proof to illustrate a position which is
not either  controverted or doubted, to which the understandings
and feelings of  all classes of men assent, and which in
substance is admitted by the  opponents as well as by the friends
of the new Constitution. It  must in truth be acknowledged that,
however these may differ in  other respects, they in general
appear to harmonize in this  sentiment, at least, that there are
material imperfections in our  national system, and that
something is necessary to be done to  rescue us from impending
anarchy. The facts that support this  opinion are no longer
objects of speculation. They have forced  themselves upon the
sensibility of the people at large, and have at  length extorted
from those, whose mistaken policy has had the  principal share in
precipitating the extremity at which we are  arrived, a reluctant
confession of the reality of those defects in  the scheme of our
federal government, which have been long pointed  out and
regretted by the intelligent friends of the Union. We may indeed
with propriety be said to have reached almost the  last stage of
national humiliation. There is scarcely anything that  can wound
the pride or degrade the character of an independent  nation
which we do not experience. Are there engagements to the 
performance of which we are held by every tie respectable among
men?  These are the subjects of constant and unblushing
violation. Do we  owe debts to foreigners and to our own citizens
contracted in a time  of imminent peril for the preservation of
our political existence?  These remain without any proper or
satisfactory provision for their  discharge. Have we valuable
territories and important posts in the  possession of a foreign
power which, by express stipulations, ought  long since to have
been surrendered? These are still retained, to  the prejudice of
our interests, not less than of our rights. Are we  in a
condition to resent or to repel the aggression? We have  neither
troops, nor treasury, nor government.1 Are we even in a 
condition to remonstrate with dignity? The just imputations on
our  own faith, in respect to the same treaty, ought first to be
removed.  Are we entitled by nature and compact to a free
participation in  the navigation of the Mississippi? Spain
excludes us from it. Is  public credit an indispensable resource
in time of public danger?  We seem to have abandoned its cause as
desperate and irretrievable.  Is commerce of importance to
national wealth? Ours is at the  lowest point of declension. Is
respectability in the eyes of  foreign powers a safeguard against
foreign encroachments? The  imbecility of our government even
forbids them to treat with us.  Our ambassadors abroad are the
mere pageants of mimic sovereignty.  Is a violent and unnatural
decrease in the value of land a symptom  of national distress?
The price of improved land in most parts of  the country is much
lower than can be accounted for by the quantity  of waste land at
market, and can only be fully explained by that  want of private
and public confidence, which are so alarmingly  prevalent among
all ranks, and which have a direct tendency to  depreciate
property of every kind. Is private credit the friend and  patron
of industry? That most useful kind which relates to  borrowing
and lending is reduced within the narrowest limits, and  this
still more from an opinion of insecurity than from the scarcity 
of money. To shorten an enumeration of particulars which can
afford  neither pleasure nor instruction, it may in general be
demanded,  what indication is there of national disorder,
poverty, and  insignificance that could befall a community so
peculiarly blessed  with natural advantages as we are, which does
not form a part of the  dark catalogue of our public misfortunes?
This is the melancholy situation to which we have been brought 
by those very maxims and councils which would now deter us from 
adopting the proposed Constitution; and which, not content with 
having conducted us to the brink of a precipice, seem resolved to 
plunge us into the abyss that awaits us below. Here, my
countrymen,  impelled by every motive that ought to influence an
enlightened  people, let us make a firm stand for our safety, our
tranquillity,  our dignity, our reputation. Let us at last break
the fatal charm  which has too long seduced us from the paths of
felicity and  prosperity.
It is true, as has been before observed that facts, too stubborn 
to be resisted, have produced a species of general assent to the 
abstract proposition that there exist material defects in our 
national system; but the usefulness of the concession, on the
part  of the old adversaries of federal measures, is destroyed by
a  strenuous opposition to a remedy, upon the only principles
that can  give it a chance of success. While they admit that the
government  of the United States is destitute of energy, they
contend against  conferring upon it those powers which are
requisite to supply that  energy. They seem still to aim at
things repugnant and
irreconcilable; at an augmentation of federal authority, without
a  diminution of State authority; at sovereignty in the Union,
and  complete independence in the members. They still, in fine,
seem to  cherish with blind devotion the political monster of an
imperium  in imperio. This renders a full display of the
principal defects  of the Confederation necessary, in order to
show that the evils we  experience do not proceed from minute or
partial imperfections, but  from fundamental errors in the
structure of the building, which  cannot be amended otherwise
than by an alteration in the first  principles and main pillars
of the fabric.
The great and radical vice in the construction of the existing 
Confederation is in the principle of LEGISLATION for STATES or 
contradistinguished from the INDIVIDUALS of which they consist. 
Though this principle does not run through all the powers
delegated  to the Union, yet it pervades and governs those on
which the  efficacy of the rest depends. Except as to the rule of
appointment,  the United States has an indefinite discretion to
make requisitions  for men and money; but they have no authority
to raise either, by  regulations extending to the individual
citizens of America. The  consequence of this is, that though in
theory their resolutions  concerning those objects are laws,
constitutionally binding on the  members of the Union, yet in
practice they are mere recommendations  which the States observe
or disregard at their option.
It is a singular instance of the capriciousness of the human 
mind, that after all the admonitions we have had from experience
on  this head, there should still be found men who object to the
new  Constitution, for deviating from a principle which has been
found  the bane of the old, and which is in itself evidently
incompatible  with the idea of GOVERNMENT; a principle, in short,
which, if it is  to be executed at all, must substitute the
violent and sanguinary  agency of the sword to the mild influence
of the magistracy. There is nothing absurd or impracticable in
the idea of a league  or alliance between independent nations for
certain defined purposes  precisely stated in a treaty regulating
all the details of time,  place, circumstance, and quantity;
leaving nothing to future  discretion; and depending for its
execution on the good faith of  the parties. Compacts of this
kind exist among all civilized  nations, subject to the usual
vicissitudes of peace and war, of  observance and non-observance,
as the interests or passions of the  contracting powers dictate.
In the early part of the present  century there was an epidemical
rage in Europe for this species of  compacts, from which the
politicians of the times fondly hoped for  benefits which were
never realized. With a view to establishing the  equilibrium of
power and the peace of that part of the world, all  the resources
of negotiation were exhausted, and triple and  quadruple
alliances were formed; but they were scarcely formed  before they
were broken, giving an instructive but afflicting lesson  to
mankind, how little dependence is to be placed on treaties which 
have no other sanction than the obligations of good faith, and
which  oppose general considerations of peace and justice to the
impulse of  any immediate interest or passion.
If the particular States in this country are disposed to stand 
in a similar relation to each other, and to drop the project of a 
general DISCRETIONARY SUPERINTENDENCE, the scheme would indeed be 
pernicious, and would entail upon us all the mischiefs which have 
been enumerated under the first head; but it would have the merit 
of being, at least, consistent and practicable Abandoning all
views  towards a confederate government, this would bring us to a
simple  alliance offensive and defensive; and would place us in a
situation  to be alternate friends and enemies of each other, as
our mutual  jealousies and rivalships, nourished by the intrigues
of foreign  nations, should prescribe to us.
But if we are unwilling to be placed in this perilous situation; 
if we still will adhere to the design of a national government,
or,  which is the same thing, of a superintending power, under
the  direction of a common council, we must resolve to
incorporate into  our plan those ingredients which may be
considered as forming the  characteristic difference between a
league and a government; we  must extend the authority of the
Union to the persons of the  citizens, --the only proper objects
of government.
Government implies the power of making laws. It is essential to 
the idea of a law, that it be attended with a sanction; or, in 
other words, a penalty or punishment for disobedience. If there
be  no penalty annexed to disobedience, the resolutions or
commands  which pretend to be laws will, in fact, amount to
nothing more than  advice or recommendation. This penalty,
whatever it may be, can  only be inflicted in two ways: by the
agency of the courts and  ministers of justice, or by military
force; by the COERCION of the  magistracy, or by the COERCION of
arms. The first kind can  evidently apply only to men; the last
kind must of necessity, be  employed against bodies politic, or
communities, or States. It is  evident that there is no process
of a court by which the observance  of the laws can, in the last
resort, be enforced. Sentences may be  denounced against them for
violations of their duty; but these  sentences can only be
carried into execution by the sword. In an  association where the
general authority is confined to the  collective bodies of the
communities, that compose it, every breach  of the laws must
involve a state of war; and military execution  must become the
only instrument of civil obedience. Such a state of  things can
certainly not deserve the name of government, nor would  any
prudent man choose to commit his happiness to it.
There was a time when we were told that breaches, by the States, 
of the regulations of the federal authority were not to be
expected;  that a sense of common interest would preside over the
conduct of  the respective members, and would beget a full
compliance with all  the constitutional requisitions of the
Union. This language, at the  present day, would appear as wild
as a great part of what we now  hear from the same quarter will
be thought, when we shall have  received further lessons from
that best oracle of wisdom, experience.   It at all times
betrayed an ignorance of the true springs by which  human conduct
is actuated, and belied the original inducements to  the
establishment of civil power. Why has government been
instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform
to  the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint. Has
it been  found that bodies of men act with more rectitude or
greater  disinterestedness than individuals? The contrary of this
has been  inferred by all accurate observers of the conduct of
mankind; and  the inference is founded upon obvious reasons.
Regard to reputation  has a less active influence, when the
infamy of a bad action is to  be divided among a number than when
it is to fall singly upon one.  A spirit of faction, which is apt
to mingle its poison in the  deliberations of all bodies of men,
will often hurry the persons of  whom they are composed into
improprieties and excesses, for which  they would blush in a
private capacity.
In addition to all this, there is, in the nature of sovereign 
power, an impatience of control, that disposes those who are 
invested with the exercise of it, to look with an evil eye upon
all  external attempts to restrain or direct its operations. From
this  spirit it happens, that in every political association
which is  formed upon the principle of uniting in a common
interest a number  of lesser sovereignties, there will be found a
kind of eccentric  tendency in the subordinate or inferior orbs,
by the operation of  which there will be a perpetual effort in
each to fly off from the  common centre. This tendency is not
difficult to be accounted for.  It has its origin in the love of
power. Power controlled or  abridged is almost always the rival
and enemy of that power by which  it is controlled or abridged.
This simple proposition will teach us  how little reason there is
to expect, that the persons intrusted  with the administration of
the affairs of the particular members of  a confederacy will at
all times be ready, with perfect good-humor,  and an unbiased
regard to the public weal, to execute the
resolutions or decrees of the general authority. The reverse of 
this results from the constitution of human nature.
If, therefore, the measures of the Confederacy cannot be
executed without the intervention of the particular
administrations,  there will be little prospect of their being
executed at all. The  rulers of the respective members, whether
they have a constitutional  right to do it or not, will undertake
to judge of the propriety of  the measures themselves. They will
consider the conformity of the  thing proposed or required to
their immediate interests or aims;  the momentary conveniences or
inconveniences that would attend its  adoption. All this will be
done; and in a spirit of interested and  suspicious scrutiny,
without that knowledge of national
circumstances and reasons of state, which is essential to a
right  judgment, and with that strong predilection in favor of
local  objects, which can hardly fail to mislead the decision.
The same  process must be repeated in every member of which the
body is  constituted; and the execution of the plans, framed by
the councils  of the whole, will always fluctuate on the
discretion of the  ill-informed and prejudiced opinion of every
part. Those who have  been conversant in the proceedings of
popular assemblies; who have  seen how difficult it often is,
where there is no exterior pressure  of circumstances, to bring
them to harmonious resolutions on  important points, will readily
conceive how impossible it must be to  induce a number of such
assemblies, deliberating at a distance from  each other, at
different times, and under different impressions,  long to co-
operate in the same views and pursuits.
In our case, the concurrence of thirteen distinct sovereign 
wills is requisite, under the Confederation, to the complete 
execution of every important measure that proceeds from the
Union.  It has happened as was to have been foreseen. The
measures of the  Union have not been executed; the delinquencies
of the States have,  step by step, matured themselves to an
extreme, which has, at  length, arrested all the wheels of the
national government, and  brought them to an awful stand.
Congress at this time scarcely  possess the means of keeping up
the forms of administration, till  the States can have time to
agree upon a more substantial substitute  for the present shadow
of a federal government. Things did not come  to this desperate
extremity at once. The causes which have been  specified produced
at first only unequal and disproportionate  degrees of compliance
with the requisitions of the Union. The  greater deficiencies of
some States furnished the pretext of example  and the temptation
of interest to the complying, or to the least  delinquent States.
Why should we do more in proportion than those  who are embarked
with us in the same political voyage? Why should  we consent to
bear more than our proper share of the common burden?  These were
suggestions which human selfishness could not withstand,  and
which even speculative men, who looked forward to remote 
consequences, could not, without hesitation, combat. Each State, 
yielding to the persuasive voice of immediate interest or
convenience, has successively withdrawn its support, till the
frail  and tottering edifice seems ready to fall upon our heads,
and to  crush us beneath its ruins.
1 ``I mean for the Union.''


The Same Subject Continued
(The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the 
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, December 4, 1787.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE tendency of the principle of legislation for States, or 
communities, in their political capacities, as it has been 
exemplified by the experiment we have made of it, is equally 
attested by the events which have befallen all other governments
of  the confederate kind, of which we have any account, in exact 
proportion to its prevalence in those systems. The confirmations
of  this fact will be worthy of a distinct and particular
examination.  I shall content myself with barely observing here,
that of all the  confederacies of antiquity, which history has
handed down to us, the  Lycian and Achaean leagues, as far as
there remain vestiges of them,  appear to have been most free
from the fetters of that mistaken  principle, and were
accordingly those which have best deserved, and  have most
liberally received, the applauding suffrages of political 
This exceptionable principle may, as truly as emphatically, be 
styled the parent of anarchy: It has been seen that delinquencies 
in the members of the Union are its natural and necessary
offspring;  and that whenever they happen, the only
constitutional remedy is  force, and the immediate effect of the
use of it, civil war. It remains to inquire how far so odious an
engine of government,  in its application to us, would even be
capable of answering its end.   If there should not be a large
army constantly at the disposal of  the national government it
would either not be able to employ force  at all, or, when this
could be done, it would amount to a war  between parts of the
Confederacy concerning the infractions of a  league, in which the
strongest combination would be most likely to  prevail, whether
it consisted of those who supported or of those who  resisted the
general authority. It would rarely happen that the  delinquency
to be redressed would be confined to a single member,  and if
there were more than one who had neglected their duty, 
similarity of situation would induce them to unite for common 
defense. Independent of this motive of sympathy, if a large and 
influential State should happen to be the aggressing member, it 
would commonly have weight enough with its neighbors to win over 
some of them as associates to its cause. Specious arguments of 
danger to the common liberty could easily be contrived; plausible 
excuses for the deficiencies of the party could, without
difficulty,  be invented to alarm the apprehensions, inflame the
passions, and  conciliate the good-will, even of those States
which were not  chargeable with any violation or omission of
duty. This would be  the more likely to take place, as the
delinquencies of the larger  members might be expected sometimes
to proceed from an ambitious  premeditation in their rulers, with
a view to getting rid of all  external control upon their designs
of personal aggrandizement; the  better to effect which it is
presumable they would tamper beforehand  with leading individuals
in the adjacent States. If associates  could not be found at
home, recourse would be had to the aid of  foreign powers, who
would seldom be disinclined to encouraging the  dissensions of a
Confederacy, from the firm union of which they had  so much to
fear. When the sword is once drawn, the passions of men  observe
no bounds of moderation. The suggestions of wounded pride,  the
instigations of irritated resentment, would be apt to carry the 
States against which the arms of the Union were exerted, to any 
extremes necessary to avenge the affront or to avoid the disgrace
of  submission. The first war of this kind would probably
terminate in  a dissolution of the Union.
This may be considered as the violent death of the Confederacy. 
Its more natural death is what we now seem to be on the point of 
experiencing, if the federal system be not speedily renovated in
a  more substantial form. It is not probable, considering the
genius  of this country, that the complying States would often be
inclined  to support the authority of the Union by engaging in a
war against  the non-complying States. They would always be more
ready to pursue  the milder course of putting themselves upon an
equal footing with  the delinquent members by an imitation of
their example. And the  guilt of all would thus become the
security of all. Our past  experience has exhibited the operation
of this spirit in its full  light. There would, in fact, be an
insuperable difficulty in  ascertaining when force could with
propriety be employed. In the  article of pecuniary contribution,
which would be the most usual  source of delinquency, it would
often be impossible to decide  whether it had proceeded from
disinclination or inability. The  pretense of the latter would
always be at hand. And the case must  be very flagrant in which
its fallacy could be detected with  sufficient certainty to
justify the harsh expedient of compulsion.  It is easy to see
that this problem alone, as often as it should  occur, would open
a wide field for the exercise of factious views,  of partiality,
and of oppression, in the majority that happened to  prevail in
the national council.
It seems to require no pains to prove that the States ought not 
to prefer a national Constitution which could only be kept in
motion  by the instrumentality of a large army continually on
foot to  execute the ordinary requisitions or decrees of the
government. And  yet this is the plain alternative involved by
those who wish to deny  it the power of extending its operations
to individuals. Such a  scheme, if practicable at all, would
instantly degenerate into a  military despotism; but it will be
found in every light
impracticable. The resources of the Union would not be equal to
the  maintenance of an army considerable enough to confine the
larger  States within the limits of their duty; nor would the
means ever be  furnished of forming such an army in the first
instance. Whoever  considers the populousness and strength of
several of these States  singly at the present juncture, and
looks forward to what they will  become, even at the distance of
half a century, will at once dismiss  as idle and visionary any
scheme which aims at regulating their  movements by laws to
operate upon them in their collective  capacities, and to be
executed by a coercion applicable to them in  the same
capacities. A project of this kind is little less romantic  than
the monster-taming spirit which is attributed to the fabulous 
heroes and demi-gods of antiquity.
Even in those confederacies which have been composed of members 
smaller than many of our counties, the principle of legislation
for  sovereign States, supported by military coercion, has never
been  found effectual. It has rarely been attempted to be
employed, but  against the weaker members; and in most instances
attempts to  coerce the refractory and disobedient have been the
signals of  bloody wars, in which one half of the confederacy has
displayed its  banners against the other half.
The result of these observations to an intelligent mind must be 
clearly this, that if it be possible at any rate to construct a 
federal government capable of regulating the common concerns and 
preserving the general tranquillity, it must be founded, as to
the  objects committed to its care, upon the reverse of the
principle  contended for by the opponents of the proposed
Constitution. It  must carry its agency to the persons of the
citizens. It must stand  in need of no intermediate legislations;
but must itself be  empowered to employ the arm of the ordinary
magistrate to execute  its own resolutions. The majesty of the
national authority must be  manifested through the medium of the
courts of justice. The  government of the Union, like that of
each State, must be able to  address itself immediately to the
hopes and fears of individuals;  and to attract to its support
those passions which have the  strongest influence upon the human
heart. It must, in short,  possess all the means, and have aright
to resort to all the methods,  of executing the powers with which
it is intrusted, that are  possessed and exercised by the
government of the particular States. To this reasoning it may
perhaps be objected, that if any State  should be disaffected to
the authority of the Union, it could at any  time obstruct the
execution of its laws, and bring the matter to the  same issue of
force, with the necessity of which the opposite scheme  is
The pausibility of this objection will vanish the moment we 
advert to the essential difference between a mere NON-COMPLIANCE
and  a DIRECT and ACTIVE RESISTANCE. If the interposition of the
State  legislatures be necessary to give effect to a measure of
the Union,  they have only NOT TO ACT, or to ACT EVASIVELY, and
the measure is  defeated. This neglect of duty may be disguised
under affected but  unsubstantial provisions, so as not to
appear, and of course not to  excite any alarm in the people for
the safety of the Constitution.  The State leaders may even make
a merit of their surreptitious  invasions of it on the ground of
some temporary convenience,  exemption, or advantage.
But if the execution of the laws of the national government 
should not require the intervention of the State legislatures, if 
they were to pass into immediate operation upon the citizens 
themselves, the particular governments could not interrupt their 
progress without an open and violent exertion of an
unconstitutional  power. No omissions nor evasions would answer
the end. They would  be obliged to act, and in such a manner as
would leave no doubt that  they had encroached on the national
rights. An experiment of this  nature would always be hazardous
in the face of a constitution in  any degree competent to its own
defense, and of a people enlightened  enough to distinguish
between a legal exercise and an illegal  usurpation of authority.
The success of it would require not merely  a factious majority
in the legislature, but the concurrence of the  courts of justice
and of the body of the people. If the judges were  not embarked
in a conspiracy with the legislature, they would  pronounce the
resolutions of such a majority to be contrary to the  supreme law
of the land, unconstitutional, and void. If the people  were not
tainted with the spirit of their State representatives,  they, as
the natural guardians of the Constitution, would throw  their
weight into the national scale and give it a decided 
preponderancy in the contest. Attempts of this kind would not
often  be made with levity or rashness, because they could seldom
be made  without danger to the authors, unless in cases of a
tyrannical  exercise of the federal authority.
If opposition to the national government should arise from the 
disorderly conduct of refractory or seditious individuals, it
could  be overcome by the same means which are daily employed
against the  same evil under the State governments. The
magistracy, being  equally the ministers of the law of the land,
from whatever source  it might emanate, would doubtless be as
ready to guard the national  as the local regulations from the
inroads of private licentiousness.  As to those partial
commotions and insurrections, which sometimes  disquiet society,
from the intrigues of an inconsiderable faction,  or from sudden
or occasional illhumors that do not infect the great  body of the
community the general government could command more  extensive
resources for the suppression of disturbances of that kind  than
would be in the power of any single member. And as to those 
mortal feuds which, in certain conjunctures, spread a
conflagration  through a whole nation, or through a very large
proportion of it,  proceeding either from weighty causes of
discontent given by the  government or from the contagion of some
violent popular paroxysm,  they do not fall within any ordinary
rules of calculation. When  they happen, they commonly amount to
revolutions and dismemberments  of empire. No form of government
can always either avoid or control  them. It is in vain to hope
to guard against events too mighty for  human foresight or
precaution, and it would be idle to object to a  government
because it could not perform impossibilities.


The Same Subject Continued
(The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the 
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
AN OBJECTION, of a nature different from that which has been 
stated and answered, in my last address, may perhaps be likewise 
urged against the principle of legislation for the individual 
citizens of America. It may be said that it would tend to render 
the government of the Union too powerful, and to enable it to
absorb  those residuary authorities, which it might be judged
proper to  leave with the States for local purposes. Allowing the
utmost  latitude to the love of power which any reasonable man
can require,  I confess I am at a loss to discover what
temptation the persons  intrusted with the administration of the
general government could  ever feel to divest the States of the
authorities of that
description. The regulation of the mere domestic police of a
State  appears to me to hold out slender allurements to ambition. 
Commerce, finance, negotiation, and war seem to comprehend all
the  objects which have charms for minds governed by that
passion; and  all the powers necessary to those objects ought, in
the first  instance, to be lodged in the national depository. The
administration of private justice between the citizens of the
same  State, the supervision of agriculture and of other concerns
of a  similar nature, all those things, in short, which are
proper to be  provided for by local legislation, can never be
desirable cares of a  general jurisdiction. It is therefore
improbable that there should  exist a disposition in the federal
councils to usurp the powers with  which they are connected;
because the attempt to exercise those  powers would be as
troublesome as it would be nugatory; and the  possession of them,
for that reason, would contribute nothing to the  dignity, to the
importance, or to the splendor of the national  government.
But let it be admitted, for argument's sake, that mere
wantonness and lust of domination would be sufficient to beget
that  disposition; still it may be safely affirmed, that the
sense of the  constituent body of the national representatives,
or, in other  words, the people of the several States, would
control the  indulgence of so extravagant an appetite. It will
always be far  more easy for the State governments to encroach
upon the national  authorities than for the national government
to encroach upon the  State authorities. The proof of this
proposition turns upon the  greater degree of influence which the
State governments if they  administer their affairs with
uprightness and prudence, will  generally possess over the
people; a circumstance which at the same  time teaches us that
there is an inherent and intrinsic weakness in  all federal
constitutions; and that too much pains cannot be taken  in their
organization, to give them all the force which is  compatible
with the principles of liberty.
The superiority of influence in favor of the particular
governments would result partly from the diffusive construction
of  the national government, but chiefly from the nature of the
objects  to which the attention of the State administrations
would be  directed.
It is a known fact in human nature, that its affections are 
commonly weak in proportion to the distance or diffusiveness of
the  object. Upon the same principle that a man is more attached
to his  family than to his neighborhood, to his neighborhood than
to the  community at large, the people of each State would be apt
to feel a  stronger bias towards their local governments than
towards the  government of the Union; unless the force of that
principle should  be destroyed by a much better administration of
the latter. This strong propensity of the human heart would find
powerful  auxiliaries in the objects of State regulation.
The variety of more minute interests, which will necessarily 
fall under the superintendence of the local administrations, and 
which will form so many rivulets of influence, running through
every  part of the society, cannot be particularized, without
involving a  detail too tedious and uninteresting to compensate
for the  instruction it might afford.
There is one transcendant advantage belonging to the province of 
the State governments, which alone suffices to place the matter
in a  clear and satisfactory light,--I mean the ordinary
administration of  criminal and civil justice. This, of all
others, is the most  powerful, most universal, and most
attractive source of popular  obedience and attachment. It is
that which, being the immediate and  visible guardian of life and
property, having its benefits and its  terrors in constant
activity before the public eye, regulating all  those personal
interests and familiar concerns to which the  sensibility of
individuals is more immediately awake, contributes,  more than
any other circumstance, to impressing upon the minds of  the
people, affection, esteem, and reverence towards the government. 
This great cement of society, which will diffuse itself almost 
wholly through the channels of the particular governments, 
independent of all other causes of influence, would insure them
so  decided an empire over their respective citizens as to render
them  at all times a complete counterpoise, and, not
unfrequently,  dangerous rivals to the power of the Union.
The operations of the national government, on the other hand, 
falling less immediately under the observation of the mass of the 
citizens, the benefits derived from it will chiefly be perceived
and  attended to by speculative men. Relating to more general
interests,  they will be less apt to come home to the feelings of
the people;  and, in proportion, less likely to inspire an
habitual sense of  obligation, and an active sentiment of
The reasoning on this head has been abundantly exemplified by 
the experience of all federal constitutions with which we are 
acquainted, and of all others which have borne the least analogy
to  them.
Though the ancient feudal systems were not, strictly speaking, 
confederacies, yet they partook of the nature of that species of 
association. There was a common head, chieftain, or sovereign, 
whose authority extended over the whole nation; and a number of 
subordinate vassals, or feudatories, who had large portions of
land  allotted to them, and numerous trains of INFERIOR vassals
or  retainers, who occupied and cultivated that land upon the
tenure of  fealty or obedience, to the persons of whom they held
it. Each  principal vassal was a kind of sovereign, within his
particular  demesnes. The consequences of this situation were a
continual  opposition to authority of the sovereign, and frequent
wars between  the great barons or chief feudatories themselves.
The power of the  head of the nation was commonly too weak,
either to preserve the  public peace, or to protect the people
against the oppressions of  their immediate lords. This period of
European affairs is
emphatically styled by historians, the times of feudal anarchy.
When the sovereign happened to be a man of vigorous and warlike 
temper and of superior abilities, he would acquire a personal
weight  and influence, which answered, for the time, the purpose
of a more  regular authority. But in general, the power of the
barons  triumphed over that of the prince; and in many instances
his  dominion was entirely thrown off, and the great fiefs were
erected  into independent principalities or States. In those
instances in  which the monarch finally prevailed over his
vassals, his success  was chiefly owing to the tyranny of those
vassals over their  dependents. The barons, or nobles, equally
the enemies of the  sovereign and the oppressors of the common
people, were dreaded and  detested by both; till mutual danger
and mutual interest effected a  union between them fatal to the
power of the aristocracy. Had the  nobles, by a conduct of
clemency and justice, preserved the fidelity  and devotion of
their retainers and followers, the contests between  them and the
prince must almost always have ended in their favor,  and in the
abridgment or subversion of the royal authority. This is not an
assertion founded merely in speculation or
conjecture. Among other illustrations of its truth which might
be  cited, Scotland will furnish a cogent example. The spirit of 
clanship which was, at an early day, introduced into that
kingdom,  uniting the nobles and their dependants by ties
equivalent to those  of kindred, rendered the aristocracy a
constant overmatch for the  power of the monarch, till the
incorporation with England subdued  its fierce and ungovernable
spirit, and reduced it within those  rules of subordination which
a more rational and more energetic  system of civil polity had
previously established in the latter  kingdom.
The separate governments in a confederacy may aptly be compared 
with the feudal baronies; with this advantage in their favor,
that  from the reasons already explained, they will generally
possess the  confidence and good-will of the people, and with so
important a  support, will be able effectually to oppose all
encroachments of the  national government. It will be well if
they are not able to  counteract its legitimate and necessary
authority. The points of  similitude consist in the rivalship of
power, applicable to both,  and in the CONCENTRATION of large
portions of the strength of the  community into particular
DEPOSITS, in one case at the disposal of  individuals, in the
other case at the disposal of political bodies. A concise review
of the events that have attended confederate  governments will
further illustrate this important doctrine; an  inattention to
which has been the great source of our political  mistakes, and
has given our jealousy a direction to the wrong side.  This
review shall form the subject of some ensuing papers. PUBLIUS.


The Same Subject Continued
(The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the 
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
AMONG the confederacies of antiquity, the most considerable was 
that of the Grecian republics, associated under the Amphictyonic 
council. From the best accounts transmitted of this celebrated 
institution, it bore a very instructive analogy to the present 
Confederation of the American States.
The members retained the character of independent and sovereign 
states, and had equal votes in the federal council. This council 
had a general authority to propose and resolve whatever it judged 
necessary for the common welfare of Greece; to declare and carry
on  war; to decide, in the last resort, all controversies between
the  members; to fine the aggressing party; to employ the whole
force  of the confederacy against the disobedient; to admit new
members.  The Amphictyons were the guardians of religion, and of
the immense  riches belonging to the temple of Delphos, where
they had the right  of jurisdiction in controversies between the
inhabitants and those  who came to consult the oracle. As a
further provision for the  efficacy of the federal powers, they
took an oath mutually to defend  and protect the united cities,
to punish the violators of this oath,  and to inflict vengeance
on sacrilegious despoilers of the temple. In theory, and upon
paper, this apparatus of powers seems amply  sufficient for all
general purposes. In several material instances,  they exceed the
powers enumerated in the articles of confederation.  The
Amphictyons had in their hands the superstition of the times, 
one of the principal engines by which government was then
maintained; they had a declared authority to use coercion
against  refractory cities, and were bound by oath to exert this
authority on  the necessary occasions.
Very different, nevertheless, was the experiment from the theory. 
The powers, like those of the present Congress, were
administered  by deputies appointed wholly by the cities in their
political  capacities; and exercised over them in the same
capacities. Hence  the weakness, the disorders, and finally the
destruction of the  confederacy. The more powerful members,
instead of being kept in  awe and subordination, tyrannized
successively over all the rest.  Athens, as we learn from
Demosthenes, was the arbiter of Greece  seventy-three years. The
Lacedaemonians next governed it
twenty-nine years; at a subsequent period, after the battle of 
Leuctra, the Thebans had their turn of domination.
It happened but too often, according to Plutarch, that the
deputies of the strongest cities awed and corrupted those of the 
weaker; and that judgment went in favor of the most powerful
party. Even in the midst of defensive and dangerous wars with
Persia  and Macedon, the members never acted in concert, and
were, more or  fewer of them, eternally the dupes or the
hirelings of the common  enemy. The intervals of foreign war were
filled up by domestic  vicissitudes convulsions, and carnage.
After the conclusion of the war with Xerxes, it appears that the 
Lacedaemonians required that a number of the cities should be
turned  out of the confederacy for the unfaithful part they had
acted. The  Athenians, finding that the Lacedaemonians would lose
fewer  partisans by such a measure than themselves, and would
become  masters of the public deliberations, vigorously opposed
and defeated  the attempt. This piece of history proves at once
the inefficiency  of the union, the ambition and jealousy of its
most powerful  members, and the dependent and degraded condition
of the rest. The  smaller members, though entitled by the theory
of their system to  revolve in equal pride and majesty around the
common center, had  become, in fact, satellites of the orbs of
primary magnitude. Had the Greeks, says the Abbe Milot, been as
wise as they were  courageous, they would have been admonished by
experience of the  necessity of a closer union, and would have
availed themselves of  the peace which followed their success
against the Persian arms, to  establish such a reformation.
Instead of this obvious policy,  Athens and Sparta, inflated with
the victories and the glory they  had acquired, became first
rivals and then enemies; and did each  other infinitely more
mischief than they had suffered from Xerxes.  Their mutual
jealousies, fears, hatreds, and injuries ended in the  celebrated
Peloponnesian war; which itself ended in the ruin and  slavery of
the Athenians who had begun it.
As a weak government, when not at war, is ever agitated by
internal dissentions, so these never fail to bring on fresh 
calamities from abroad. The Phocians having ploughed up some 
consecrated ground belonging to the temple of Apollo, the
Amphictyonic council, according to the superstition of the age, 
imposed a fine on the sacrilegious offenders. The Phocians, being 
abetted by Athens and Sparta, refused to submit to the decree.
The  Thebans, with others of the cities, undertook to maintain
the  authority of the Amphictyons, and to avenge the violated
god. The  latter, being the weaker party, invited the assistance
of Philip of  Macedon, who had secretly fostered the contest.
Philip gladly  seized the opportunity of executing the designs he
had long planned  against the liberties of Greece. By his
intrigues and bribes he won  over to his interests the popular
leaders of several cities; by  their influence and votes, gained
admission into the Amphictyonic  council; and by his arts and his
arms, made himself master of the  confederacy.
Such were the consequences of the fallacious principle on which 
this interesting establishment was founded. Had Greece, says a 
judicious observer on her fate, been united by a stricter
confederation, and persevered in her union, she would never have 
worn the chains of Macedon; and might have proved a barrier to
the  vast projects of Rome.
The Achaean league, as it is called, was another society of 
Grecian republics, which supplies us with valuable instruction.
The Union here was far more intimate, and its organization much 
wiser, than in the preceding instance. It will accordingly
appear,  that though not exempt from a similar catastrophe, it by
no means  equally deserved it.
The cities composing this league retained their municipal
jurisdiction, appointed their own officers, and enjoyed a
perfect  equality. The senate, in which they were represented,
had the sole  and exclusive right of peace and war; of sending
and receiving  ambassadors; of entering into treaties and
alliances; of
appointing a chief magistrate or praetor, as he was called, who 
commanded their armies, and who, with the advice and consent of
ten  of the senators, not only administered the government in the
recess  of the senate, but had a great share in its
deliberations, when  assembled. According to the primitive
constitution, there were two  praetors associated in the
administration; but on trial a single  one was preferred.
It appears that the cities had all the same laws and customs, 
the same weights and measures, and the same money. But how far
this  effect proceeded from the authority of the federal council
is left  in uncertainty. It is said only that the cities were in
a manner  compelled to receive the same laws and usages. When
Lacedaemon was  brought into the league by Philopoemen, it was
attended with an  abolition of the institutions and laws of
Lycurgus, and an adoption  of those of the Achaeans. The
Amphictyonic confederacy, of which  she had been a member, left
her in the full exercise of her  government and her legislation.
This circumstance alone proves a  very material difference in the
genius of the two systems. It is much to be regretted that such
imperfect monuments remain  of this curious political fabric.
Could its interior structure and  regular operation be
ascertained, it is probable that more light  would be thrown by
it on the science of federal government, than by  any of the like
experiments with which we are acquainted.
One important fact seems to be witnessed by all the historians 
who take notice of Achaean affairs. It is, that as well after the 
renovation of the league by Aratus, as before its dissolution by
the  arts of Macedon, there was infinitely more of moderation and
justice  in the administration of its government, and less of
violence and  sedition in the people, than were to be found in
any of the cities  exercising SINGLY all the prerogatives of
sovereignty. The Abbe  Mably, in his observations on Greece, says
that the popular  government, which was so tempestuous elsewhere,
caused no disorders  in the members of the Achaean republic,
OF THE CONFEDERACY. We are not to conclude too hastily, however,
that faction did  not, in a certain degree, agitate the
particular cities; much less  that a due subordination and
harmony reigned in the general system.  The contrary is
sufficiently displayed in the vicissitudes and fate  of the
Whilst the Amphictyonic confederacy remained, that of the
Achaeans, which comprehended the less important cities only,
made  little figure on the theatre of Greece. When the former
became a  victim to Macedon, the latter was spared by the policy
of Philip and  Alexander. Under the successors of these princes,
however, a  different policy prevailed. The arts of division were
practiced  among the Achaeans. Each city was seduced into a
separate interest;  the union was dissolved. Some of the cities
fell under the tyranny  of Macedonian garrisons; others under
that of usurpers springing  out of their own confusions. Shame
and oppression erelong awaken  their love of liberty. A few
cities reunited. Their example was  followed by others, as
opportunities were found of cutting off their  tyrants. The
league soon embraced almost the whole Peloponnesus.  Macedon saw
its progress; but was hindered by internal dissensions  from
stopping it. All Greece caught the enthusiasm and seemed ready 
to unite in one confederacy, when the jealousy and envy in Sparta 
and Athens, of the rising glory of the Achaeans, threw a fatal
damp  on the enterprise. The dread of the Macedonian power
induced the  league to court the alliance of the Kings of Egypt
and Syria, who,  as successors of Alexander, were rivals of the
king of Macedon.  This policy was defeated by Cleomenes, king of
Sparta, who was led  by his ambition to make an unprovoked attack
on his neighbors, the  Achaeans, and who, as an enemy to Macedon,
had interest enough with  the Egyptian and Syrian princes to
effect a breach of their  engagements with the league.
The Achaeans were now reduced to the dilemma of submitting to 
Cleomenes, or of supplicating the aid of Macedon, its former 
oppressor. The latter expedient was adopted. The contests of the 
Greeks always afforded a pleasing opportunity to that powerful 
neighbor of intermeddling in their affairs. A Macedonian army 
quickly appeared. Cleomenes was vanquished. The Achaeans soon 
experienced, as often happens, that a victorious and powerful
ally  is but another name for a master. All that their most
abject  compliances could obtain from him was a toleration of the
exercise  of their laws. Philip, who was now on the throne of
Macedon, soon  provoked by his tyrannies, fresh combinations
among the Greeks. The  Achaeans, though weakenened by internal
dissensions and by the  revolt of Messene, one of its members,
being joined by the AEtolians  and Athenians, erected the
standard of opposition. Finding  themselves, though thus
supported, unequal to the undertaking, they  once more had
recourse to the dangerous expedient of introducing the  succor of
foreign arms. The Romans, to whom the invitation was  made,
eagerly embraced it. Philip was conquered; Macedon subdued.  A
new crisis ensued to the league. Dissensions broke out among it 
members. These the Romans fostered. Callicrates and other popular 
leaders became mercenary instruments for inveigling their
countrymen.   The more effectually to nourish discord and
disorder the Romans  had, to the astonishment of those who
confided in their sincerity,  already proclaimed universal
liberty1 throughout Greece. With  the same insidious views, they
now seduced the members from the  league, by representing to
their pride the violation it committed on  their sovereignty. By
these arts this union, the last hope of  Greece, the last hope of
ancient liberty, was torn into pieces; and  such imbecility and
distraction introduced, that the arms of Rome  found little
difficulty in completing the ruin which their arts had 
commenced. The Achaeans were cut to pieces, and Achaia loaded
with  chains, under which it is groaning at this hour.
I have thought it not superfluous to give the outlines of this 
important portion of history; both because it teaches more than
one  lesson, and because, as a supplement to the outlines of the
Achaean  constitution, it emphatically illustrates the tendency
of federal  bodies rather to anarchy among the members, than to
tyranny in the  head.
1 This was but another name more specious for the independence 
of the members on the federal head.


The Same Subject Continued
(The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the 
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE examples of ancient confederacies, cited in my last paper, 
have not exhausted the source of experimental instruction on this 
subject. There are existing institutions, founded on a similar 
principle, which merit particular consideration. The first which 
presents itself is the Germanic body.
In the early ages of Christianity, Germany was occupied by seven 
distinct nations, who had no common chief. The Franks, one of the 
number, having conquered the Gauls, established the kingdom which 
has taken its name from them. In the ninth century Charlemagne,
its  warlike monarch, carried his victorious arms in every
direction;  and Germany became a part of his vast dominions. On
dismemberment, which took place under his sons, this part was 
erected into a separate and independent empire. Charlemagne and
his  immediate descendants possessed the reality, as well as the
ensigns  and dignity of imperial power. But the principal
vassals, whose  fiefs had become hereditary, and who composed the
national diets  which Charlemagne had not abolished, gradually
threw off the yoke  and advanced to sovereign jurisdiction and
independence. The force  of imperial sovereignty was insufficient
to restrain such powerful  dependants; or to preserve the unity
and tranquillity of the empire.   The most furious private wars,
accompanied with every species of  calamity, were carried on
between the different princes and states.  The imperial
authority, unable to maintain the public order,  declined by
degrees till it was almost extinct in the anarchy, which 
agitated the long interval between the death of the last emperor
of  the Suabian, and the accession of the first emperor of the
Austrian  lines. In the eleventh century the emperors enjoyed
sovereignty: In the fifteenth they had little more than the
symbols  and decorations of power.
Out of this feudal system, which has itself many of the
important features of a confederacy, has grown the federal
system  which constitutes the Germanic empire. Its powers are
vested in a  diet representing the component members of the
confederacy; in the  emperor, who is the executive magistrate,
with a negative on the  decrees of the diet; and in the imperial
chamber and the aulic  council, two judiciary tribunals having
supreme jurisdiction in  controversies which concern the empire,
or which happen among its  members.
The diet possesses the general power of legislating for the 
empire; of making war and peace; contracting alliances; assessing 
quotas of troops and money; constructing fortresses; regulating 
coin; admitting new members; and subjecting disobedient members
to  the ban of the empire, by which the party is degraded from
his  sovereign rights and his possessions forfeited. The members
of the  confederacy are expressly restricted from entering into
compacts  prejudicial to the empire; from imposing tolls and
duties on their  mutual intercourse, without the consent of the
emperor and diet;  from altering the value of money; from doing
injustice to one  another; or from affording assistance or
retreat to disturbers of  the public peace. And the ban is
denounced against such as shall  violate any of these
restrictions. The members of the diet, as  such, are subject in
all cases to be judged by the emperor and diet,  and in their
private capacities by the aulic council and imperial  chamber.
The prerogatives of the emperor are numerous. The most
important of them are: his exclusive right to make propositions
to  the diet; to negative its resolutions; to name ambassadors;
to  confer dignities and titles; to fill vacant electorates; to
found  universities; to grant privileges not injurious to the
states of  the empire; to receive and apply the public revenues;
generally to watch over the public safety. In certain cases, the 
electors form a council to him. In quality of emperor, he
possesses  no territory within the empire, nor receives any
revenue for his  support. But his revenue and dominions, in other
qualities,  constitute him one of the most powerful princes in
Europe. From such a parade of constitutional powers, in the
representatives and head of this confederacy, the natural
supposition would be, that it must form an exception to the
general  character which belongs to its kindred systems. Nothing
would be  further from the reality. The fundamental principle on
which it  rests, that the empire is a community of sovereigns,
that the diet  is a representation of sovereigns and that the
laws are addressed to  sovereigns, renders the empire a nerveless
body, incapable of  regulating its own members, insecure against
external dangers, and  agitated with unceasing fermentations in
its own bowels.
The history of Germany is a history of wars between the emperor 
and the princes and states; of wars among the princes and states 
themselves; of the licentiousness of the strong, and the
oppression  of the weak; of foreign intrusions, and foreign
intrigues; of  requisitions of men and money disregarded, or
partially complied  with; of attempts to enforce them, altogether
abortive, or attended  with slaughter and desolation, involving
the innocent with the  guilty; of general inbecility, confusion,
and misery.
In the sixteenth century, the emperor, with one part of the 
empire on his side, was seen engaged against the other princes
and  states. In one of the conflicts, the emperor himself was put
to  flight, and very near being made prisoner by the elector of
Saxony.  The late king of Prussia was more than once pitted
against his  imperial sovereign; and commonly proved an overmatch
for him.  Controversies and wars among the members themselves
have been so  common, that the German annals are crowded with the
bloody pages  which describe them. Previous to the peace of
Westphalia, Germany  was desolated by a war of thirty years, in
which the emperor, with  one half of the empire, was on one side,
and Sweden, with the other  half, on the opposite side. Peace was
at length negotiated, and  dictated by foreign powers; and the
articles of it, to which  foreign powers are parties, made a
fundamental part of the Germanic  constitution.
If the nation happens, on any emergency, to be more united by 
the necessity of self-defense, its situation is still deplorable. 
Military preparations must be preceded by so many tedious
discussions, arising from the jealousies, pride, separate views,
and  clashing pretensions of sovereign bodies, that before the
diet can  settle the arrangements, the enemy are in the field;
and before the  federal troops are ready to take it, are retiring
into winter  quarters.
The small body of national troops, which has been judged
necessary in time of peace, is defectively kept up, badly paid, 
infected with local prejudices, and supported by irregular and 
disproportionate contributions to the treasury.
The impossibility of maintaining order and dispensing justice 
among these sovereign subjects, produced the experiment of
dividing  the empire into nine or ten circles or districts; of
giving them an  interior organization, and of charging them with
the military  execution of the laws against delinquent and
contumacious members.  This experiment has only served to
demonstrate more fully the  radical vice of the constitution.
Each circle is the miniature  picture of the deformities of this
political monster. They either  fail to execute their
commissions, or they do it with all the  devastation and carnage
of civil war. Sometimes whole circles are  defaulters; and then
they increase the mischief which they were  instituted to remedy.
We may form some judgment of this scheme of military coercion 
from a sample given by Thuanus. In Donawerth, a free and imperial 
city of the circle of Suabia, the Abb 300 de St. Croix enjoyed 
certain immunities which had been reserved to him. In the
exercise  of these, on some public occasions, outrages were
committed on him  by the people of the city. The consequence was
that the city was  put under the ban of the empire, and the Duke
of Bavaria, though  director of another circle, obtained an
appointment to enforce it.  He soon appeared before the city with
a corps of ten thousand  troops, and finding it a fit occasion,
as he had secretly intended  from the beginning, to revive an
antiquated claim, on the pretext  that his ancestors had suffered
the place to be dismembered from his  territory,1 he took
possession of it in his own name, disarmed,  and punished the
inhabitants, and reannexed the city to his domains. It may be
asked, perhaps, what has so long kept this disjointed  machine
from falling entirely to pieces? The answer is obvious:  The
weakness of most of the members, who are unwilling to expose 
themselves to the mercy of foreign powers; the weakness of most
of  the principal members, compared with the formidable powers
all  around them; the vast weight and influence which the emperor 
derives from his separate and heriditary dominions; and the 
interest he feels in preserving a system with which his family
pride  is connected, and which constitutes him the first prince
in Europe;  --these causes support a feeble and precarious Union;
whilst the  repellant quality, incident to the nature of
sovereignty, and which  time continually strengthens, prevents
any reform whatever, founded  on a proper consolidation. Nor is
it to be imagined, if this  obstacle could be surmounted, that
the neighboring powers would  suffer a revolution to take place
which would give to the empire the  force and preeminence to
which it is entitled. Foreign nations have  long considered
themselves as interested in the changes made by  events in this
constitution; and have, on various occasions,  betrayed their
policy of perpetuating its anarchy and weakness. If more direct
examples were wanting, Poland, as a government  over local
sovereigns, might not improperly be taken notice of. Nor  could
any proof more striking be given of the calamities flowing  from
such institutions. Equally unfit for self-government and  self-
defense, it has long been at the mercy of its powerful 
neighbors; who have lately had the mercy to disburden it of one 
third of its people and territories.
The connection among the Swiss cantons scarcely amounts to a 
confederacy; though it is sometimes cited as an instance of the 
stability of such institutions.
They have no common treasury; no common troops even in war; no 
common coin; no common judicatory; nor any other common mark of 
They are kept together by the peculiarity of their topographical 
position; by their individual weakness and insignificancy; by the 
fear of powerful neighbors, to one of which they were formerly 
subject; by the few sources of contention among a people of such 
simple and homogeneous manners; by their joint interest in their 
dependent possessions; by the mutual aid they stand in need of,
for  suppressing insurrections and rebellions, an aid expressly 
stipulated and often required and afforded; and by the necessity
of  some regular and permanent provision for accomodating
disputes among  the cantons. The provision is, that the parties
at variance shall  each choose four judges out of the neutral
cantons, who, in case of  disagreement, choose an umpire. This
tribunal, under an oath of  impartiality, pronounces definitive
sentence, which all the cantons  are bound to enforce. The
competency of this regulation may be  estimated by a clause in
their treaty of 1683, with Victor Amadeus  of Savoy; in which he
obliges himself to interpose as mediator in  disputes between the
cantons, and to employ force, if necessary,  against the
contumacious party.
So far as the peculiarity of their case will admit of comparison 
with that of the United States, it serves to confirm the
principle  intended to be established. Whatever efficacy the
union may have  had in ordinary cases, it appears that the moment
a cause of  difference sprang up, capable of trying its strength,
it failed.  The controversies on the subject of religion, which
in three  instances have kindled violent and bloody contests, may
be said, in  fact, to have severed the league. The Protestant and
Catholic  cantons have since had their separate diets, where all
the most  important concerns are adjusted, and which have left
the general  diet little other business than to take care of the
common bailages. That separation had another consequence, which
merits attention.  It produced opposite alliances with foreign
powers: of Berne, at  the head of the Protestant association,
with the United Provinces;  and of Luzerne, at the head of the
Catholic association, with  France.
1 Pfeffel, ``Nouvel Abreg. Chronol. de l'Hist., etc.,
d'Allemagne,'' says the pretext was to indemnify himself for the 
expense of the expedition.


The Same Subject Continued
(The Insufficiency fo the Present Confederation to Preserve the 
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, December 11, 1787.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE United Netherlands are a confederacy of republics, or rather 
of aristocracies of a very remarkable texture, yet confirming all 
the lessons derived from those which we have already reviewed.
The union is composed of seven coequal and sovereign states, and 
each state or province is a composition of equal and independent 
cities. In all important cases, not only the provinces but the 
cities must be unanimous.
The sovereignty of the Union is represented by the
States-General, consisting usually of about fifty deputies
appointed  by the provinces. They hold their seats, some for
life, some for  six, three, and one years; from two provinces
they continue in  appointment during pleasure.
The States-General have authority to enter into treaties and 
alliances; to make war and peace; to raise armies and equip 
fleets; to ascertain quotas and demand contributions. In all
these  cases, however, unanimity and the sanction of their
constituents are  requisite. They have authority to appoint and
receive ambassadors;  to execute treaties and alliances already
formed; to provide for  the collection of duties on imports and
exports; to regulate the  mint, with a saving to the provincial
rights; to govern as  sovereigns the dependent territories. The
provinces are restrained,  unless with the general consent, from
entering into foreign  treaties; from establishing imposts
injurious to others, or  charging their neighbors with higher
duties than their own subjects.  A council of state, a chamber of
accounts, with five colleges of  admiralty, aid and fortify the
federal administration.
The executive magistrate of the union is the stadtholder, who is 
now an hereditary prince. His principal weight and influence in
the  republic are derived from this independent title; from his
great  patrimonial estates; from his family connections with some
of the  chief potentates of Europe; and, more than all, perhaps,
from his  being stadtholder in the several provinces, as well as
for the  union; in which provincial quality he has the
appointment of town  magistrates under certain regulations,
executes provincial decrees,  presides when he pleases in the
provincial tribunals, and has  throughout the power of pardon.
As stadtholder of the union, he has, however, considerable
In his political capacity he has authority to settle disputes 
between the provinces, when other methods fail; to assist at the 
deliberations of the States-General, and at their particular 
conferences; to give audiences to foreign ambassadors, and to
keep  agents for his particular affairs at foreign courts.
In his military capacity he commands the federal troops,
provides for garrisons, and in general regulates military
affairs;  disposes of all appointments, from colonels to ensigns,
and of the  governments and posts of fortified towns.
In his marine capacity he is admiral-general, and superintends 
and directs every thing relative to naval forces and other naval 
affairs; presides in the admiralties in person or by proxy; 
appoints lieutenant-admirals and other officers; and establishes 
councils of war, whose sentences are not executed till he
approves  them.
His revenue, exclusive of his private income, amounts to three 
hundred thousand florins. The standing army which he commands 
consists of about forty thousand men.
Such is the nature of the celebrated Belgic confederacy, as 
delineated on parchment. What are the characters which practice
has  stamped upon it? Imbecility in the government; discord among
the  provinces; foreign influence and indignities; a precarious 
existence in peace, and peculiar calamities from war.
It was long ago remarked by Grotius, that nothing but the hatred 
of his countrymen to the house of Austria kept them from being 
ruined by the vices of their constitution.
The union of Utrecht, says another respectable writer, reposes 
an authority in the States-General, seemingly sufficient to
secure  harmony, but the jealousy in each province renders the
practice very  different from the theory.
The same instrument, says another, obliges each province to levy 
certain contributions; but this article never could, and probably 
never will, be executed; because the inland provinces, who have 
little commerce, cannot pay an equal quota.
In matters of contribution, it is the practice to waive the 
articles of the constitution. The danger of delay obliges the 
consenting provinces to furnish their quotas, without waiting for 
the others; and then to obtain reimbursement from the others, by 
deputations, which are frequent, or otherwise, as they can. The 
great wealth and influence of the province of Holland enable her
to  effect both these purposes.
It has more than once happened, that the deficiencies had to be 
ultimately collected at the point of the bayonet; a thing
practicable, though dreadful, in a confedracy where one of the 
members exceeds in force all the rest, and where several of them
are  too small to meditate resistance; but utterly impracticable
in one  composed of members, several of which are equal to each
other in  strength and resources, and equal singly to a vigorous
and  persevering defense.
Foreign ministers, says Sir William Temple, who was himself a 
foreign minister, elude matters taken ad referendum, by
tampering with the provinces and cities. In 1726, the treaty of 
Hanover was delayed by these means a whole year. Instances of a 
like nature are numerous and notorious.
In critical emergencies, the States-General are often compelled 
to overleap their constitutional bounds. In 1688, they concluded
a  treaty of themselves at the risk of their heads. The treaty of 
Westphalia, in 1648, by which their independence was formerly and 
finally recognized, was concluded without the consent of Zealand. 
Even as recently as the last treaty of peace with Great Britain, 
the constitutional principle of unanimity was departed from. A
weak  constitution must necessarily terminate in dissolution, for
want of  proper powers, or the usurpation of powers requisite for
the public  safety. Whether the usurpation, when once begun, will
stop at the  salutary point, or go forward to the dangerous
extreme, must depend  on the contingencies of the moment. Tyranny
has perhaps oftener  grown out of the assumptions of power,
called for, on pressing  exigencies, by a defective constitution,
than out of the full  exercise of the largest constitutional
Notwithstanding the calamities produced by the stadtholdership, 
it has been supposed that without his influence in the individual 
provinces, the causes of anarchy manifest in the confederacy
would  long ago have dissolved it. ``Under such a government,''
says the  Abbe Mably, ``the Union could never have subsisted, if
the provinces  had not a spring within themselves, capable of
quickening their  tardiness, and compelling them to the same way
of thinking. This  spring is the stadtholder.'' It is remarked by
Sir William Temple,  ``that in the intermissions of the
stadtholdership, Holland, by her  riches and her authority, which
drew the others into a sort of  dependence, supplied the place.''
These are not the only circumstances which have controlled the 
tendency to anarchy and dissolution. The surrounding powers
impose  an absolute necessity of union to a certain degree, at
the same time  that they nourish by their intrigues the
constitutional vices which  keep the republic in some degree
always at their mercy.
The true patriots have long bewailed the fatal tendency of these 
vices, and have made no less than four regular experiments by 
EXTRAORDINARY ASSEMBLIES, convened for the special purpose, to
apply  a remedy. As many times has their laudable zeal found it
impossible  to UNITE THE PUBLIC COUNCILS in reforming the known,
acknowledged, the fatal evils of the existing constitution. Let
us  pause, my fellow-citizens, for one moment, over this
melancholy and  monitory lesson of history; and with the tear
that drops for the  calamities brought on mankind by their
adverse opinions and selfish  passions, let our gratitude mingle
an ejaculation to Heaven, for the  propitious concord which has
distinguished the consultations for our  political happiness.
A design was also conceived of establishing a general tax to be 
administered by the federal authority. This also had its
adversaries and failed.
This unhappy people seem to be now suffering from popular
convulsions, from dissensions among the states, and from the
actual  invasion of foreign arms, the crisis of their distiny.
All nations  have their eyes fixed on the awful spectacle. The
first wish  prompted by humanity is, that this severe trial may
issue in such a  revolution of their government as will establish
their union, and  render it the parent of tranquillity, freedom
and happiness: The  next, that the asylum under which, we trust,
the enjoyment of these  blessings will speedily be secured in
this country, may receive and  console them for the catastrophe
of their own.
I make no apology for having dwelt so long on the contemplation 
of these federal precedents. Experience is the oracle of truth; 
and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be
conclusive and sacred. The important truth, which it
unequivocally  pronounces in the present case, is that a
sovereignty over  sovereigns, a government over governments, a
legislation for  communities, as contradistinguished from
individuals, as it is a  solecism in theory, so in practice it is
subversive of the order and  ends of civil polity, by
substituting VIOLENCE in place of LAW, or  the destructive
COERCION of the SWORD in place of the mild and  salutary COERCION


Other Defects of the Present Confederation
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
HAVING in the three last numbers taken a summary review of the 
principal circumstances and events which have depicted the genius 
and fate of other confederate governments, I shall now proceed in 
the enumeration of the most important of those defects which have 
hitherto disappointed our hopes from the system established among 
ourselves. To form a safe and satisfactory judgment of the proper 
remedy, it is absolutely necessary that we should be well
acquainted  with the extent and malignity of the disease.
The next most palpable defect of the subsisting Confederation, 
is the total want of a SANCTION to its laws. The United States,
as  now composed, have no powers to exact obedience, or punish 
disobedience to their resolutions, either by pecuniary mulcts, by
a  suspension or divestiture of privileges, or by any other
constitutional mode. There is no express delegation of authority
to  them to use force against delinquent members; and if such a
right  should be ascribed to the federal head, as resulting from
the nature  of the social compact between the States, it must be
by inference  and construction, in the face of that part of the
second article, by  which it is declared, ``that each State shall
retain every power,  jurisdiction, and right, not EXPRESSLY
delegated to the United  States in Congress assembled.'' There
is, doubtless, a striking  absurdity in supposing that a right of
this kind does not exist, but  we are reduced to the dilemma
either of embracing that supposition,  preposterous as it may
seem, or of contravening or explaining away a  provision, which
has been of late a repeated theme of the eulogies  of those who
oppose the new Constitution; and the want of which, in  that
plan, has been the subject of much plausible animadversion, and 
severe criticism. If we are unwilling to impair the force of this 
applauded provision, we shall be obliged to conclude, that the 
United States afford the extraordinary spectacle of a government 
destitute even of the shadow of constitutional power to enforce
the  execution of its own laws. It will appear, from the
specimens which  have been cited, that the American Confederacy,
in this particular,  stands discriminated from every other
institution of a similar kind,  and exhibits a new and unexampled
phenomenon in the political world. The want of a mutual guaranty
of the State governments is
another capital imperfection in the federal plan. There is
nothing  of this kind declared in the articles that compose it;
and to imply  a tacit guaranty from considerations of utility,
would be a still  more flagrant departure from the clause which
has been mentioned,  than to imply a tacit power of coercion from
the like considerations . The want of a guaranty, though it might
in its consequences  endanger the Union, does not so immediately
attack its existence as  the want of a constitutional sanction to
its laws.
Without a guaranty the assistance to be derived from the Union 
in repelling those domestic dangers which may sometimes threaten
the  existence of the State constitutions, must be renounced.
Usurpation  may rear its crest in each State, and trample upon
the liberties of  the people, while the national government could
legally do nothing  more than behold its encroachments with
indignation and regret. A  successful faction may erect a tyranny
on the ruins of order and  law, while no succor could
constitutionally be afforded by the Union  to the friends and
supporters of the government. The tempestuous  situation from
which Massachusetts has scarcely emerged, evinces  that dangers
of this kind are not merely speculative. Who can  determine what
might have been the issue of her late convulsions, if  the
malcontents had been headed by a Caesar or by a Cromwell? Who 
can predict what effect a despotism, established in
Massachusetts,  would have upon the liberties of New Hampshire or
Rhode Island, of  Connecticut or New York?
The inordinate pride of State importance has suggested to some 
minds an objection to the principle of a guaranty in the federal 
government, as involving an officious interference in the
domestic  concerns of the members. A scruple of this kind would
deprive us of  one of the principal advantages to be expected
from union, and can  only flow from a misapprehension of the
nature of the provision  itself. It could be no impediment to
reforms of the State
constitution by a majority of the people in a legal and
peaceable  mode. This right would remain undiminished. The
guaranty could  only operate against changes to be effected by
violence. Towards  the preventions of calamities of this kind,
too many checks cannot  be provided. The peace of society and the
stability of government  depend absolutely on the efficacy of the
precautions adopted on this  head. Where the whole power of the
government is in the hands of  the people, there is the less
pretense for the use of violent  remedies in partial or
occasional distempers of the State. The  natural cure for an ill-
administration, in a popular or
representative constitution, is a change of men. A guaranty by
the  national authority would be as much levelled against the
usurpations  of rulers as against the ferments and outrages of
faction and  sedition in the community.
The principle of regulating the contributions of the States to 
the common treasury by QUOTAS is another fundamental error in the 
Confederation. Its repugnancy to an adequate supply of the
national  exigencies has been already pointed out, and has
sufficiently  appeared from the trial which has been made of it.
I speak of it  now solely with a view to equality among the
States. Those who have  been accustomed to contemplate the
circumstances which produce and  constitute national wealth, must
be satisfied that there is no  common standard or barometer by
which the degrees of it can be  ascertained. Neither the value of
lands, nor the numbers of the  people, which have been
successively proposed as the rule of State  contributions, has
any pretension to being a just representative.  If we compare the
wealth of the United Netherlands with that of  Russia or Germany,
or even of France, and if we at the same time  compare the total
value of the lands and the aggregate population of  that
contracted district with the total value of the lands and the 
aggregate population of the immense regions of either of the
three  last-mentioned countries, we shall at once discover that
there is no  comparison between the proportion of either of these
two objects and  that of the relative wealth of those nations. If
the like parallel  were to be run between several of the American
States, it would  furnish a like result. Let Virginia be
contrasted with North  Carolina, Pennsylvania with Connecticut,
or Maryland with New  Jersey, and we shall be convinced that the
respective abilities of  those States, in relation to revenue,
bear little or no analogy to  their comparative stock in lands or
to their comparative population.  The position may be equally
illustrated by a similar process  between the counties of the
same State. No man who is acquainted  with the State of New York
will doubt that the active wealth of  King's County bears a much
greater proportion to that of Montgomery  than it would appear to
be if we should take either the total value  of the lands or the
total number of the people as a criterion! The wealth of nations
depends upon an infinite variety of causes.  Situation, soil,
climate, the nature of the productions, the  nature of the
government, the genius of the citizens, the degree of 
information they possess, the state of commerce, of arts, of 
industry, these circumstances and many more, too complex, minute,
or  adventitious to admit of a particular specification, occasion 
differences hardly conceivable in the relative opulence and
riches  of different countries. The consequence clearly is that
there can  be no common measure of national wealth, and, of
course, no general  or stationary rule by which the ability of a
state to pay taxes can  be determined. The attempt, therefore, to
regulate the
contributions of the members of a confederacy by any such rule, 
cannot fail to be productive of glaring inequality and extreme 
This inequality would of itself be sufficient in America to work 
the eventual destruction of the Union, if any mode of enforcing a 
compliance with its requisitions could be devised. The suffering 
States would not long consent to remain associated upon a
principle  which distributes the public burdens with so unequal a
hand, and  which was calculated to impoverish and oppress the
citizens of some  States, while those of others would scarcely be
conscious of the  small proportion of the weight they were
required to sustain. This,  however, is an evil inseparable from
the principle of quotas and  requisitions.
There is no method of steering clear of this inconvenience, but 
by authorizing the national government to raise its own revenues
in  its own way. Imposts, excises, and, in general, all duties
upon  articles of consumption, may be compared to a fluid, which
will, in  time, find its level with the means of paying them. The
amount to  be contributed by each citizen will in a degree be at
his own  option, and can be regulated by an attention to his
resources. The  rich may be extravagant, the poor can be frugal;
and private  oppression may always be avoided by a judicious
selection of objects  proper for such impositions. If
inequalities should arise in some  States from duties on
particular objects, these will, in all  probability, be
counterbalanced by proportional inequalities in  other States,
from the duties on other objects. In the course of  time and
things, an equilibrium, as far as it is attainable in so 
complicated a subject, will be established everywhere. Or, if 
inequalities should still exist, they would neither be so great
in  their degree, so uniform in their operation, nor so odious in
their  appearance, as those which would necessarily spring from
quotas,  upon any scale that can possibly be devised.
It is a signal advantage of taxes on articles of consumption, 
that they contain in their own nature a security against excess. 
They prescribe their own limit; which cannot be exceeded without 
defeating the end proposed, that is, an extension of the revenue. 
When applied to this object, the saying is as just as it is
witty,  that, ``in political arithmetic, two and two do not
always make four .'' If duties are too high, they lessen the
consumption; the  collection is eluded; and the product to the
treasury is not so  great as when they are confined within proper
and moderate bounds.  This forms a complete barrier against any
material oppression of  the citizens by taxes of this class, and
is itself a natural  limitation of the power of imposing them.
Impositions of this kind usually fall under the denomination of 
indirect taxes, and must for a long time constitute the chief
part  of the revenue raised in this country. Those of the direct
kind,  which principally relate to land and buildings, may admit
of a rule  of apportionment. Either the value of land, or the
number of the  people, may serve as a standard. The state of
agriculture and the  populousness of a country have been
considered as nearly connected  with each other. And, as a rule,
for the purpose intended, numbers,  in the view of simplicity and
certainty, are entitled to a  preference. In every country it is
a herculean task to obtain a  valuation of the land; in a country
imperfectly settled and  progressive in improvement, the
difficulties are increased almost to  impracticability. The
expense of an accurate valuation is, in all  situations, a
formidable objection. In a branch of taxation where  no limits to
the discretion of the government are to be found in the  nature
of things, the establishment of a fixed rule, not
incompatible with the end, may be attended with fewer
inconveniences  than to leave that discretion altogether at


The Same Subject Continued
(Other Defects of the Present Confederation)
From the New York Packet.
Friday, December 14, 1787.


To the People of the State of New York:
IN ADDITION to the defects already enumerated in the existing 
federal system, there are others of not less importance, which 
concur in rendering it altogether unfit for the administration of 
the affairs of the Union.
The want of a power to regulate commerce is by all parties
allowed to be of the number. The utility of such a power has
been  anticipated under the first head of our inquiries; and for
this  reason, as well as from the universal conviction
entertained upon  the subject, little need be added in this
place. It is indeed  evident, on the most superficial view, that
there is no object,  either as it respects the interests of trade
or finance, that more  strongly demands a federal
superintendence. The want of it has  already operated as a bar to
the formation of beneficial treaties  with foreign powers, and
has given occasions of dissatisfaction  between the States. No
nation acquainted with the nature of our  political association
would be unwise enough to enter into  stipulations with the
United States, by which they conceded  privileges of any
importance to them, while they were apprised that  the
engagements on the part of the Union might at any moment be 
violated by its members, and while they found from experience
that  they might enjoy every advantage they desired in our
markets,  without granting us any return but such as their
momentary  convenience might suggest. It is not, therefore, to be
wondered at  that Mr. Jenkinson, in ushering into the House of
Commons a bill for  regulating the temporary intercourse between
the two countries,  should preface its introduction by a
declaration that similar  provisions in former bills had been
found to answer every purpose to  the commerce of Great Britain,
and that it would be prudent to  persist in the plan until it
should appear whether the American  government was likely or not
to acquire greater consistency.%n1%n Several States have
endeavored, by separate prohibitions,
restrictions, and exclusions, to influence the conduct of that 
kingdom in this particular, but the want of concert, arising from 
the want of a general authority and from clashing and dissimilar 
views in the State, has hitherto frustrated every experiment of
the  kind, and will continue to do so as long as the same
obstacles to a  uniformity of measures continue to exist.
The interfering and unneighborly regulations of some States, 
contrary to the true spirit of the Union, have, in different 
instances, given just cause of umbrage and complaint to others,
and  it is to be feared that examples of this nature, if not
restrained  by a national control, would be multiplied and
extended till they  became not less serious sources of animosity
and discord than  injurious impediments to the intcrcourse
between the different parts  of the Confederacy. ``The commerce
of the German empire%n2%n is in  continual trammels from the
multiplicity of the duties which the  several princes and states
exact upon the merchandises passing  through their territories,
by means of which the fine streams and  navigable rivers with
which Germany is so happily watered are  rendered almost
useless.'' Though the genius of the people of this  country might
never permit this description to be strictly  applicable to us,
yet we may reasonably expect, from the gradual  conflicts of
State regulations, that the citizens of each would at  length
come to be considered and treated by the others in no better 
light than that of foreigners and aliens.
The power of raising armies, by the most obvious construction of 
the articles of the Confederation, is merely a power of making 
requisitions upon the States for quotas of men. This practice in 
the course of the late war, was found replete with obstructions
to a  vigorous and to an economical system of defense. It gave
birth to a  competition between the States which created a kind
of auction for  men. In order to furnish the quotas required of
them, they outbid  each other till bounties grew to an enormous
and insupportable size.  The hope of a still further increase
afforded an inducement to  those who were disposed to serve to
procrastinate their enlistment,  and disinclined them from
engaging for any considerable periods.  Hence, slow and scanty
levies of men, in the most critical  emergencies of our affairs;
short enlistments at an unparalleled  expense; continual
fluctuations in the troops, ruinous to their  discipline and
subjecting the public safety frequently to the  perilous crisis
of a disbanded army. Hence, also, those oppressive  expedients
for raising men which were upon several occasions  practiced, and
which nothing but the enthusiasm of liberty would  have induced
the people to endure.
This method of raising troops is not more unfriendly to economy 
and vigor than it is to an equal distribution of the burden. The 
States near the seat of war, influenced by motives of
self-preservation, made efforts to furnish their quotas, which
even  exceeded their abilities; while those at a distance from
danger  were, for the most part, as remiss as the others were
diligent, in  their exertions. The immediate pressure of this
inequality was not  in this case, as in that of the contributions
of money, alleviated  by the hope of a final liquidation. The
States which did not pay  their proportions of money might at
least be charged with their  deficiencies; but no account could
be formed of the deficiencies in  the supplies of men. We shall
not, however, see much reason to  reget the want of this hope,
when we consider how little prospect  there is, that the most
delinquent States will ever be able to make  compensation for
their pecuniary failures. The system of quotas and  requisitions,
whether it be applied to men or money, is, in every  view, a
system of imbecility in the Union, and of inequality and 
injustice among the members.
The right of equal suffrage among the States is another
exceptionable part of the Confederation. Every idea of
proportion  and every rule of fair representation conspire to
condemn a  principle, which gives to Rhode Island an equal weight
in the scale  of power with Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or New
York; and to  Deleware an equal voice in the national
deliberations with  Pennsylvania, or Virginia, or North Carolina.
Its operation  contradicts the fundamental maxim of republican
government, which  requires that the sense of the majority should
prevail. Sophistry  may reply, that sovereigns are equal, and
that a majority of the  votes of the States will be a majority of
confederated America. But  this kind of logical legerdemain will
never counteract the plain  suggestions of justice and common-
sense. It may happen that this  majority of States is a small
minority of the people of
America%n3%n; and two thirds of the people of America could not 
long be persuaded, upon the credit of artificial distinctions and 
syllogistic subtleties, to submit their interests to the
management  and disposal of one third. The larger States would
after a while  revolt from the idea of receiving the law from the
smaller. To  acquiesce in such a privation of their due
importance in the  political scale, would be not merely to be
insensible to the love of  power, but even to sacrifice the
desire of equality. It is neither  rational to expect the first,
nor just to require the last. The  smaller States, considering
how peculiarly their safety and welfare  depend on union, ought
readily to renounce a pretension which, if  not relinquished,
would prove fatal to its duration.
It may be objected to this, that not seven but nine States, or 
two thirds of the whole number, must consent to the most
important  resolutions; and it may be thence inferred that nine
States would  always comprehend a majority of the Union. But this
does not  obviate the impropriety of an equal vote between States
of the most  unequal dimensions and populousness; nor is the
inference accurate  in point of fact; for we can enumerate nine
States which contain  less than a majority of the people%n4%n;
and it is constitutionally  possible that these nine may give the
vote. Besides, there are  matters of considerable moment
determinable by a bare majority; and  there are others,
concerning which doubts have been entertained,  which, if
interpreted in favor of the sufficiency of a vote of seven 
States, would extend its operation to interests of the first 
magnitude. In addition to this, it is to be observed that there
is  a probability of an increase in the number of States, and no 
provision for a proportional augmentation of the ratio of votes.
But this is not all: what at first sight may seem a remedy, is, 
in reality, a poison. To give a minority a negative upon the 
majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is 
requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the
sense  of the greater number to that of the lesser. Congress,
from the  nonattendance of a few States, have been frequently in
the situation  of a Polish diet, where a single VOTE has been
sufficient to put a  stop to all their movements. A sixtieth part
of the Union, which is  about the proportion of Delaware and
Rhode Island, has several times  been able to oppose an entire
bar to its operations. This is one of  those refinements which,
in practice, has an effect the reverse of  what is expected from
it in theory. The necessity of unanimity in  public bodies, or of
something approaching towards it, has been  founded upon a
supposition that it would contribute to security.  But its real
operation is to embarrass the administration, to  destroy the
energy of the government, and to substitute the  pleasure,
caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or  corrupt
junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a 
respectable majority. In those emergencies of a nation, in which 
the goodness or badness, the weakness or strength of its
government,  is of the greatest importance, there is commonly a
necessity for  action. The public business must, in some way or
other, go forward.  If a pertinacious minority can control the
opinion of a majority,  respecting the best mode of conducting
it, the majority, in order  that something may be done, must
conform to the views of the  minority; and thus the sense of the
smaller number will overrule  that of the greater, and give a
tone to the national proceedings.  Hence, tedious delays;
continual negotiation and intrigue;  contemptible compromises of
the public good. And yet, in such a  system, it is even happy
when such compromises can take place: for  upon some occasions
things will not admit of accommodation; and  then the measures of
government must be injuriously suspended, or  fatally defeated.
It is often, by the impracticability of obtaining  the
concurrence of the necessary number of votes, kept in a state of 
inaction. Its situation must always savor of weakness, sometimes 
border upon anarchy.
It is not difficult to discover, that a principle of this kind 
gives greater scope to foreign corruption, as well as to domestic 
faction, than that which permits the sense of the majority to 
decide; though the contrary of this has been presumed. The
mistake  has proceeded from not attending with due care to the
mischiefs that  may be occasioned by obstructing the progress of
government at  certain critical seasons. When the concurrence of
a large number is  required by the Constitution to the doing of
any national act, we  are apt to rest satisfied that all is safe,
because nothing improper  will be likely TO BE DONE, but we
forget how much good may be  prevented, and how much ill may be
produced, by the power of  hindering the doing what may be
necessary, and of keeping affairs in  the same unfavorable
posture in which they may happen to stand at  particular periods.
Suppose, for instance, we were engaged in a war, in conjunction 
with one foreign nation, against another. Suppose the necessity
of  our situation demanded peace, and the interest or ambition of
our  ally led him to seek the prosecution of the war, with views
that  might justify us in making separate terms. In such a state
of  things, this ally of ours would evidently find it much
easier, by  his bribes and intrigues, to tie up the hands of
government from  making peace, where two thirds of all the votes
were requisite to  that object, than where a simple majority
would suffice. In the  first case, he would have to corrupt a
smaller number; in the last,  a greater number. Upon the same
principle, it would be much easier  for a foreign power with
which we were at war to perplex our  councils and embarrass our
exertions. And, in a commercial view, we  may be subjected to
similar inconveniences. A nation, with which we  might have a
treaty of commerce, could with much greater facility  prevent our
forming a connection with her competitor in trade,  though such a
connection should be ever so beneficial to ourselves. Evils of
this description ought not to be regarded as imaginary.  One of
the weak sides of republics, among their numerous
advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign 
corruption. An hereditary monarch, though often disposed to 
sacrifice his subjects to his ambition, has so great a personal 
interest in the government and in the external glory of the
nation,  that it is not easy for a foreign power to give him an
equivalent  for what he would sacrifice by treachery to the
state. The world  has accordingly been witness to few examples of
this species of  royal prostitution, though there have been
abundant specimens of  every other kind.
In republics, persons elevated from the mass of the community, 
by the suffrages of their fellow-citizens, to stations of great 
pre-eminence and power, may find compensations for betraying
their  trust, which, to any but minds animated and guided by
superior  virtue, may appear to exceed the proportion of interest
they have in  the common stock, and to overbalance the
obligations of duty. Hence  it is that history furnishes us with
so many mortifying examples of  the prevalency of foreign
corruption in republican governments. How  much this contributed
to the ruin of the ancient commonwealths has  been already
delineated. It is well known that the deputies of the  United
Provinces have, in various instances, been purchased by the 
emissaries of the neighboring kingdoms. The Earl of Chesterfield 
(if my memory serves me right), in a letter to his court,
intimates  that his success in an important negotiation must
depend on his  obtaining a major's commission for one of those
deputies. And in  Sweden the parties were alternately bought by
France and England in  so barefaced and notorious a manner that
it excited universal  disgust in the nation, and was a principal
cause that the most  limited monarch in Europe, in a single day,
without tumult,  violence, or opposition, became one of the most
absolute and  uncontrolled.
A circumstance which crowns the defects of the Confederation 
remains yet to be mentioned, the want of a judiciary power. Laws 
are a dead letter without courts to expound and define their true 
meaning and operation. The treaties of the United States, to have 
any force at all, must be considered as part of the law of the
land.  Their true import, as far as respects individuals, must,
like all  other laws, be ascertained by judicial determinations.
To produce  uniformity in these determinations, they ought to be
submitted, in  the last resort, to one SUPREME TRIBUNAL. And this
tribunal ought  to be instituted under the same authority which
forms the treaties  themselves. These ingredients are both
indispensable. If there is  in each State a court of final
jurisdiction, there may be as many  different final
determinations on the same point as there are courts.  There are
endless diversities in the opinions of men. We often  see not
only different courts but the judges of the came court  differing
from each other. To avoid the confusion which would  unavoidably
result from the contradictory decisions of a number of 
independent judicatories, all nations have found it necessary to 
establish one court paramount to the rest, possessing a general 
superintendence, and authorized to settle and declare in the last 
resort a uniform rule of civil justice.
This is the more necessary where the frame of the government is 
so compounded that the laws of the whole are in danger of being 
contravened by the laws of the parts. In this case, if the 
particular tribunals are invested with a right of ultimate 
jurisdiction, besides the contradictions to be expected from 
difference of opinion, there will be much to fear from the bias
of  local views and prejudices, and from the interference of
local  regulations. As often as such an interference was to
happen, there  would be reason to apprehend that the provisions
of the particular  laws might be preferred to those of the
general laws; for nothing  is more natural to men in office than
to look with peculiar  deference towards that authority to which
they owe their official  existence. The treaties of the United
States, under the present  Constitution, are liable to the
infractions of thirteen different  legislatures, and as many
different courts of final jurisdiction,  acting under the
authority of those legislatures. The faith, the  reputation, the
peace of the whole Union, are thus continually at  the mercy of
the prejudices, the passions, and the interests of  every member
of which it is composed. Is it possible that foreign  nations can
either respect or confide in such a government? Is it  possible
that the people of America will longer consent to trust  their
honor, their happiness, their safety, on so precarious a 
In this review of the Confederation, I have confined myself to 
the exhibition of its most material defects; passing over those 
imperfections in its details by which even a great part of the
power  intended to be conferred upon it has been in a great
measure  rendered abortive. It must be by this time evident to
all men of  reflection, who can divest themselves of the
prepossessions of  preconceived opinions, that it is a system so
radically vicious and  unsound, as to admit not of amendment but
by an entire change in its  leading features and characters.
The organization of Congress is itself utterly improper for the 
exercise of those powers which are necessary to be deposited in
the  Union. A single assembly may be a proper receptacle of those 
slender, or rather fettered, authorities, which have been
heretofore  delegated to the federal head; but it would be
inconsistent with  all the principles of good government, to
intrust it with those  additional powers which, even the moderate
and more rational  adversaries of the proposed Constitution
admit, ought to reside in  the United States. If that plan should
not be adopted, and if the  necessity of the Union should be able
to withstand the ambitious  aims of those men who may indulge
magnificent schemes of personal  aggrandizement from its
dissolution, the probability would be, that  we should run into
the project of conferring supplementary powers  upon Congress, as
they are now constituted; and either the machine,  from the
intrinsic feebleness of its structure, will moulder into  pieces,
in spite of our ill-judged efforts to prop it; or, by  successive
augmentations of its force an energy, as necessity might  prompt,
we shall finally accumulate, in a single body, all the most 
important prerogatives of sovereignty, and thus entail upon our 
posterity one of the most execrable forms of government that
human  infatuation ever contrived. Thus, we should create in
reality that  very tyranny which the adversaries of the new
Constitution either  are, or affect to be, solicitous to avert.
It has not a little contributed to the infirmities of the
existing federal system, that it never had a ratification by the 
PEOPLE. Resting on no better foundation than the consent of the 
several legislatures, it has been exposed to frequent and
intricate  questions concerning the validity of its powers, and
has, in some  instances, given birth to the enormous doctrine of
a right of  legislative repeal. Owing its ratification to the law
of a State,  it has been contended that the same authority might
repeal the law  by which it was ratified. However gross a heresy
it may be to  maintain that a PARTY to a COMPACT has a right to
revoke that  COMPACT, the doctrine itself has had respectable
advocates. The  possibility of a question of this nature proves
the necessity of  laying the foundations of our national
government deeper than in the  mere sanction of delegated
authority. The fabric of American empire  ought to rest on the
solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The  streams of
national power ought to flow immediately from that pure, 
original fountain of all legitimate authority.
FNA1@@1 This, as nearly as I can recollect, was the sense of his 
speech on introducing the last bill.
FNA1@@2 Encyclopedia, article ``Empire.''
FNA1@@3 New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware,
Georgia,  South Carolina, and Maryland are a majority of the
whole number of  the States, but they do not contain one third of
the people. FNA1@@4 Add New York and Connecticut to the foregoing
seven, and they  will be less than a majority.

The Necessity of a Government as Energetic as the One Proposed to 
the Preservation of the Union
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, December 18, 1787.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE necessity of a Constitution, at least equally energetic with 
the one proposed, to the preservation of the Union, is the point
at  the examination of which we are now arrived.
This inquiry will naturally divide itself into three
branches the objects to be provided for by the federal
government,  the quantity of power necessary to the
accomplishment of those  objects, the persons upon whom that
power ought to operate. Its  distribution and organization will
more properly claim our attention  under the succeeding head.
The principal purposes to be answered by union are these the 
common defense of the members; the preservation of the public
peace  as well against internal convulsions as external attacks;
the  regulation of commerce with other nations and between the
States;  the superintendence of our intercourse, political and
commercial,  with foreign countries.
The authorities essential to the common defense are these: to 
raise armies; to build and equip fleets; to prescribe rules for 
the government of both; to direct their operations; to provide
for  their support. These powers ought to exist without
SATISFY THEM. The circumstances  that endanger the safety of
nations are infinite, and for this  reason no constitutional
shackles can wisely be imposed on the power  to which the care of
it is committed. This power ought to be  coextensive with all the
possible combinations of such
circumstances; and ought to be under the direction of the same 
councils which are appointed to preside over the common defense.
This is one of those truths which, to a correct and unprejudiced 
mind, carries its own evidence along with it; and may be
obscured,  but cannot be made plainer by argument or reasoning.
It rests upon  axioms as simple as they are universal; the MEANS
ought to be  proportioned to the END; the persons, from whose
agency the  attainment of any END is expected, ought to possess
the MEANS by  which it is to be attained.
Whether there ought to be a federal government intrusted with 
the care of the common defense, is a question in the first
instance,  open for discussion; but the moment it is decided in
affirmative, it will follow, that that government ought to be 
clothed with all the powers requisite to complete execution of
its  trust. And unless it can be shown that the circumstances
which may  affect the public safety are reducible within certain
determinate  limits; unless the contrary of this position can be
fairly and  rationally disputed, it must be admitted, as a
consequence, that there can be no limitation of that authority
which  is to provide for the defense and protection of the
community, in  any matter essential to its efficacy that is, in
any matter  essential to the FORMATION, DIRECTION, or SUPPORT of
Defective as the present Confederation has been proved to be, 
this principle appears to have been fully recognized by the
framers  of it; though they have not made proper or adequate
provision for  its exercise. Congress have an unlimited
discretion to make  requisitions of men and money; to govern the
army and navy; to  direct their operations. As their requisitions
are made
constitutionally binding upon the States, who are in fact under
the  most solemn obligations to furnish the supplies required of
them,  the intention evidently was that the United States should
command  whatever resources were by them judged requisite to the
``common  defense and general welfare.'' It was presumed that a
sense of  their true interests, and a regard to the dictates of
good faith,  would be found sufficient pledges for the punctual
performance of  the duty of the members to the federal head.
The experiment has, however, demonstrated that this expectation 
was ill-founded and illusory; and the observations, made under
the  last head, will, I imagine, have sufficed to convince the
impartial  and discerning, that there is an absolute necessity
for an entire  change in the first principles of the system; that
if we are in  earnest about giving the Union energy and duration,
we must abandon  the vain project of legislating upon the States
in their collective  capacities; we must extend the laws of the
federal government to  the individual citizens of America; we
must discard the fallacious  scheme of quotas and requisitions,
as equally impracticable and  unjust. The result from all this is
that the Union ought to be  invested with full power to levy
troops; to build and equip fleets;  and to raise the revenues
which will be required for the formation  and support of an army
and navy, in the customary and ordinary modes  practiced in other
If the circumstances of our country are such as to demand a 
compound instead of a simple, a confederate instead of a sole, 
government, the essential point which will remain to be adjusted 
will be to discriminate the OBJECTS, as far as it can be done,
which  shall appertain to the different provinces or departments
of power;  allowing to each the most ample authority for
fulfilling the  objects committed to its charge. Shall the Union
be constituted the  guardian of the common safety? Are fleets and
armies and revenues  necessary to this purpose? The government of
the Union must be  empowered to pass all laws, and to make all
regulations which have  relation to them. The same must be the
case in respect to commerce,  and to every other matter to which
its jurisdiction is permitted to  extend. Is the administration
of justice between the citizens of  the same State the proper
department of the local governments?  These must possess all the
authorities which are connected with  this object, and with every
other that may be allotted to their  particular cognizance and
direction. Not to confer in each case a  degree of power
commensurate to the end, would be to violate the  most obvious
rules of prudence and propriety, and improvidently to  trust the
great interests of the nation to hands which are disabled  from
managing them with vigor and success.
Who is likely to make suitable provisions for the public
defense, as that body to which the guardianship of the public
safety  is confided; which, as the centre of information, will
best  understand the extent and urgency of the dangers that
threaten; as  the representative of the WHOLE, will feel itself
most deeply  interested in the preservation of every part; which,
from the  responsibility implied in the duty assigned to it, will
be most  sensibly impressed with the necessity of proper
exertions; and  which, by the extension of its authority
throughout the States, can  alone establish uniformity and
concert in the plans and measures by  which the common safety is
to be secured? Is there not a manifest  inconsistency in
devolving upon the federal government the care of  the general
defense, and leaving in the State governments the  EFFECTIVE
powers by which it is to be provided for? Is not a want  of co-
operation the infallible consequence of such a system? And  will
not weakness, disorder, an undue distribution of the burdens  and
calamities of war, an unnecessary and intolerable increase of 
expense, be its natural and inevitable concomitants? Have we not 
had unequivocal experience of its effects in the course of the 
revolution which we have just accomplished?
Every view we may take of the subject, as candid inquirers after 
truth, will serve to convince us, that it is both unwise and 
dangerous to deny the federal government an unconfined authority,
as  to all those objects which are intrusted to its management.
It will  indeed deserve the most vigilant and careful attention
of the  people, to see that it be modeled in such a manner as to
admit of  its being safely vested with the requisite powers. If
any plan  which has been, or may be, offered to our
consideration, should not,  upon a dispassionate inspection, be
found to answer this
description, it ought to be rejected. A government, the
constitution of which renders it unfit to be trusted with all
the  powers which a free people OUGHT TO DELEGATE TO ANY
GOVERNMENT,  would be an unsafe and improper depositary of the
NATIONAL INTERESTS.  Wherever THESE can with propriety be
confided, the coincident  powers may safely accompany them. This
is the true result of all  just reasoning upon the subject. And
the adversaries of the plan  promulgated by the convention ought
to have confined themselves to  showing, that the internal
structure of the proposed government was  such as to render it
unworthy of the confidence of the people. They  ought not to have
wandered into inflammatory declamations and  unmeaning cavils
about the extent of the powers. The POWERS are not  too extensive
for the OBJECTS of federal administration, or, in  other words,
for the management of our NATIONAL INTERESTS; nor can  any
satisfactory argument be framed to show that they are chargeable 
with such an excess. If it be true, as has been insinuated by
some  of the writers on the other side, that the difficulty
arises from  the nature of the thing, and that the extent of the
country will not  permit us to form a government in which such
ample powers can safely  be reposed, it would prove that we ought
to contract our views, and  resort to the expedient of separate
confederacies, which will move  within more practicable spheres.
For the absurdity must continually  stare us in the face of
confiding to a government the direction of  the most essential
national interests, without daring to trust it to  the
authorities which are indispensible to their proper and 
efficient management. Let us not attempt to reconcile
contradictions, but firmly embrace a rational alternative. I
trust, however, that the impracticability of one general
system cannot be shown. I am greatly mistaken, if any thing of 
weight has yet been advanced of this tendency; and I flatter 
myself, that the observations which have been made in the course
of  these papers have served to place the reverse of that
position in as  clear a light as any matter still in the womb of
time and experience  can be susceptible of. This, at all events,
must be evident, that  the very difficulty itself, drawn from the
extent of the country, is  the strongest argument in favor of an
energetic government; for any  other can certainly never preserve
the Union of so large an empire.  If we embrace the tenets of
those who oppose the adoption of the  proposed Constitution, as
the standard of our political creed, we  cannot fail to verify
the gloomy doctrines which predict the  impracticability of a
national system pervading entire limits of the  present


The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered For
the Independent Journal.

To the People of the State of New York:
To THE powers proposed to be conferred upon the federal
government, in respect to the creation and direction of the
national  forces, I have met with but one specific objection,
which, if I  understand it right, is this, that proper provision
has not been  made against the existence of standing armies in
time of peace; an  objection which, I shall now endeavor to show,
rests on weak and  unsubstantial foundations.
It has indeed been brought forward in the most vague and general 
form, supported only by bold assertions, without the appearance
of  argument; without even the sanction of theoretical opinions;
in  contradiction to the practice of other free nations, and to
the  general sense of America, as expressed in most of the
existing  constitutions. The proprietory of this remark will
appear, the  moment it is recollected that the objection under
consideration  turns upon a supposed necessity of restraining the
LEGISLATIVE  authority of the nation, in the article of military
establishments;  a principle unheard of, except in one or two of
our State
constitutions, and rejected in all the rest.
A stranger to our politics, who was to read our newspapers at 
the present juncture, without having previously inspected the
plan  reported by the convention, would be naturally led to one
of two  conclusions: either that it contained a positive
injunction, that  standing armies should be kept up in time of
peace; or that it  vested in the EXECUTIVE the whole power of
levying troops, without  subjecting his discretion, in any shape,
to the control of the  legislature.
If he came afterwards to peruse the plan itself, he would be 
surprised to discover, that neither the one nor the other was the 
case; that the whole power of raising armies was lodged in the 
LEGISLATURE, not in the EXECUTIVE; that this legislature was to
be  a popular body, consisting of the representatives of the
people  periodically elected; and that instead of the provision
he had  supposed in favor of standing armies, there was to be
found, in  respect to this object, an important qualification
even of the  legislative discretion, in that clause which forbids
appropriation of money for the support of an army for any longer 
period than two years a precaution which, upon a nearer view of
it,  will appear to be a great and real security against the
keeping up  of troops without evident necessity.
Disappointed in his first surmise, the person I have supposed 
would be apt to pursue his conjectures a little further. He would 
naturally say to himself, it is impossible that all this vehement 
and pathetic declamation can be without some colorable pretext.
It  must needs be that this people, so jealous of their
liberties, have,  in all the preceding models of the
constitutions which they have  established, inserted the most
precise and rigid precautions on this  point, the omission of
which, in the new plan, has given birth to  all this apprehension
and clamor.
If, under this impression, he proceeded to pass in review the 
several State constitutions, how great would be his
disappointment  to find that TWO ONLY of them%n1%n contained an
interdiction of  standing armies in time of peace; that the other
eleven had either  observed a profound silence on the subject, or
had in express terms  admitted the right of the Legislature to
authorize their existence. Still, however he would be persuaded
that there must be some  plausible foundation for the cry raised
on this head. He would  never be able to imagine, while any
source of information remained  unexplored, that it was nothing
more than an experiment upon the  public credulity, dictated
either by a deliberate intention to  deceive, or by the
overflowings of a zeal too intemperate to be  ingenuous. It would
probably occur to him, that he would be likely  to find the
precautions he was in search of in the primitive compact  between
the States. Here, at length, he would expect to meet with a 
solution of the enigma. No doubt, he would observe to himself,
the  existing Confederation must contain the most explicit
provisions  against military establishments in time of peace; and
a departure  from this model, in a favorite point, has occasioned
the discontent  which appears to influence these political
If he should now apply himself to a careful and critical survey 
of the articles of Confederation, his astonishment would not only
be  increased, but would acquire a mixture of indignation, at the 
unexpected discovery, that these articles, instead of containing
the  prohibition he looked for, and though they had, with jealous 
circumspection, restricted the authority of the State
legislatures  in this particular, had not imposed a single
restraint on that of  the United States. If he happened to be a
man of quick sensibility,  or ardent temper, he could now no
longer refrain from regarding  these clamors as the dishonest
artifices of a sinister and  unprincipled opposition to a plan
which ought at least to receive a  fair and candid examination
from all sincere lovers of their  country! How else, he would
say, could the authors of them have  been tempted to vent such
loud censures upon that plan, about a  point in which it seems to
have conformed itself to the general  sense of America as
declared in its different forms of government,  and in which it
has even superadded a new and powerful guard unknown  to any of
them? If, on the contrary, he happened to be a man of  calm and
dispassionate feelings, he would indulge a sigh for the  frailty
of human nature, and would lament, that in a matter so 
interesting to the happiness of millions, the true merits of the 
question should be perplexed and entangled by expedients so 
unfriendly to an impartial and right determination. Even such a
man  could hardly forbear remarking, that a conduct of this kind
has too  much the appearance of an intention to mislead the
people by  alarming their passions, rather than to convince them
by arguments  addressed to their understandings.
But however little this objection may be countenanced, even by 
precedents among ourselves, it may be satisfactory to take a
nearer  view of its intrinsic merits. From a close examination it
will  appear that restraints upon the discretion of the
legislature in  respect to military establishments in time of
peace, would be  improper to be imposed, and if imposed, from the
necessities of  society, would be unlikely to be observed.
Though a wide ocean separates the United States from Europe, yet 
there are various considerations that warn us against an excess
of  confidence or security. On one side of us, and stretching far
into  our rear, are growing settlements subject to the dominion
of Britain.  On the other side, and extending to meet the British
settlements,  are colonies and establishments subject to the
dominion of Spain.  This situation and the vicinity of the West
India Islands,  belonging to these two powers create between
them, in respect to  their American possessions and in relation
to us, a common interest.  The savage tribes on our Western
frontier ought to be regarded as  our natural enemies, their
natural allies, because they have most to  fear from us, and most
to hope from them. The improvements in the  art of navigation
have, as to the facility of communication,  rendered distant
nations, in a great measure, neighbors. Britain  and Spain are
among the principal maritime powers of Europe. A  future concert
of views between these nations ought not to be  regarded as
improbable. The increasing remoteness of consanguinity  is every
day diminishing the force of the family compact between  France
and Spain. And politicians have ever with great reason 
considered the ties of blood as feeble and precarious links of 
political connection. These circumstances combined, admonish us
not  to be too sanguine in considering ourselves as entirely out
of the  reach of danger.
Previous to the Revolution, and ever since the peace, there has 
been a constant necessity for keeping small garrisons on our
Western  frontier. No person can doubt that these will continue
to be  indispensable, if it should only be against the ravages
and  depredations of the Indians. These garrisons must either be 
furnished by occasional detachments from the militia, or by 
permanent corps in the pay of the government. The first is 
impracticable; and if practicable, would be pernicious. The 
militia would not long, if at all, submit to be dragged from
their  occupations and families to perform that most disagreeable
duty in  times of profound peace. And if they could be prevailed
upon or  compelled to do it, the increased expense of a frequent
rotation of  service, and the loss of labor and disconcertion of
the industrious  pursuits of individuals, would form conclusive
objections to the  scheme. It would be as burdensome and
injurious to the public as  ruinous to private citizens. The
latter resource of permanent corps  in the pay of the government
amounts to a standing army in time of  peace; a small one,
indeed, but not the less real for being small.  Here is a simple
view of the subject, that shows us at once the  impropriety of a
constitutional interdiction of such establishments,  and the
necessity of leaving the matter to the discretion and  prudence
of the legislature.
In proportion to our increase in strength, it is probable, nay, 
it may be said certain, that Britain and Spain would augment
their  military establishments in our neighborhood. If we should
not be  willing to be exposed, in a naked and defenseless
condition, to  their insults and encroachments, we should find it
expedient to  increase our frontier garrisons in some ratio to
the force by which  our Western settlements might be annoyed.
There are, and will be,  particular posts, the possession of
which will include the command  of large districts of territory,
and facilitate future invasions of  the remainder. It may be
added that some of those posts will be  keys to the trade with
the Indian nations. Can any man think it  would be wise to leave
such posts in a situation to be at any  instant seized by one or
the other of two neighboring and formidable  powers? To act this
part would be to desert all the usual maxims of  prudence and
If we mean to be a commercial people, or even to be secure on 
our Atlantic side, we must endeavor, as soon as possible, to have
a  navy. To this purpose there must be dock-yards and arsenals;
and  for the defense of these, fortifications, and probably
garrisons.  When a nation has become so powerful by sea that it
can protect its  dock-yards by its fleets, this supersedes the
necessity of garrisons  for that purpose; but where naval
establishments are in their  infancy, moderate garrisons will, in
all likelihood, be found an  indispensable security against
descents for the destruction of the  arsenals and dock-yards, and
sometimes of the fleet itself. PUBLIUS.
FNA1@@1 This statement of the matter is taken from the printed 
collection of State constitutions. Pennsylvania and North
Carolina  are the two which contain the interdiction in these
words: ``As  standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to
liberty, THEY  OUGHT NOT to be kept up.'' This is, in truth,
rather a CAUTION than  a PROHIBITION. New Hampshire,
Massachusetts, Delaware, and Maryland  have, in each of their
bils of rights, a clause to this effect:  ``Standing armies are
dangerous to liberty, and ought not to be  raised or kept up
admission of the authority of the Legislature. New York  has no
bills of rights, and her constitution says not a word about  the
matter. No bills of rights appear annexed to the constitutions 
of the other States, except the foregoing, and their
constitutions  are equally silent. I am told, however that one or
two States have  bills of rights which do not appear in this
collection; but that  those also recognize the right of the
legislative authority in this  respect.


The Same Subject Continued
(The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered)
From the New York Packet.
Friday, December 21, 1787.


To the People of the State of New York:
IT MAY perhaps be urged that the objects enumerated in the
preceding number ought to be provided for by the State
governments,  under the direction of the Union. But this would
be, in reality, an  inversion of the primary principle of our
political association, as  it would in practice transfer the care
of the common defense from  the federal head to the individual
members: a project oppressive to  some States, dangerous to all,
and baneful to the Confederacy. The territories of Britain,
Spain, and of the Indian nations in  our neighborhood do not
border on particular States, but encircle  the Union from Maine
to Georgia. The danger, though in different  degrees, is
therefore common. And the means of guarding against it  ought, in
like manner, to be the objects of common councils and of a 
common treasury. It happens that some States, from local
situation,  are more directly exposed. New York is of this class.
Upon the  plan of separate provisions, New York would have to
sustain the  whole weight of the establishments requisite to her
immediate  safety, and to the mediate or ultimate protection of
her neighbors.  This would neither be equitable as it respected
New York nor safe  as it respected the other States. Various
inconveniences would  attend such a system. The States, to whose
lot it might fall to  support the necessary establishments, would
be as little able as  willing, for a considerable time to come,
to bear the burden of  competent provisions. The security of all
would thus be subjected  to the parsimony, improvidence, or
inability of a part. If the  resources of such part becoming more
abundant and extensive, its  provisions should be proportionally
enlarged, the other States would  quickly take the alarm at
seeing the whole military force of the  Union in the hands of two
or three of its members, and those  probably amongst the most
powerful. They would each choose to have  some counterpoise, and
pretenses could easily be contrived. In this  situation, military
establishments, nourished by mutual jealousy,  would be apt to
swell beyond their natural or proper size; and  being at the
separate disposal of the members, they would be engines  for the
abridgment or demolition of the national authcrity. Reasons have
been already given to induce a supposition that the  State
governments will too naturally be prone to a rivalship with  that
of the Union, the foundation of which will be the love of  power;
and that in any contest between the federal head and one of  its
members the people will be most apt to unite with their local 
government. If, in addition to this immense advantage, the
ambition  of the members should be stimulated by the separate and
independent  possession of military forces, it would afford too
strong a  temptation and too great a facility to them to make
enterprises  upon, and finally to subvert, the constitutional
authority of the  Union. On the other hand, the liberty of the
people would be less  safe in this state of things than in that
which left the national  forces in the hands of the national
government. As far as an army  may be considered as a dangerous
weapon of power, it had better be  in those hands of which the
people are most likely to be jealous  than in those of which they
are least likely to be jealous. For it  is a truth, which the
experience of ages has attested, that the  people are always most
in danger when the means of injuring their  rights are in the
possession of those of whom they entertain the  least suspicion.
The framers of the existing Confederation, fully aware of the 
danger to the Union from the separate possession of military
forces  by the States, have, in express terms, prohibited them
from having  either ships or troops, unless with the consent of
Congress. The  truth is, that the existence of a federal
government and military  establishments under State authority are
not less at variance with  each other than a due supply of the
federal treasury and the system  of quotas and requisitions.
There are other lights besides those already taken notice of, in 
which the impropriety of restraints on the discretion of the 
national legislature will be equally manifest. The design of the 
objection, which has been mentioned, is to preclude standing
armies  in time of peace, though we have never been informed how
far it is  designed the prohibition should extend; whether to
raising armies  as well as to KEEPING THEM UP in a season of
tranquillity or not.  If it be confined to the latter it will
have no precise
signification, and it will be ineffectual for the purpose
intended.  When armies are once raised what shall be denominated
``keeping  them up,'' contrary to the sense of the Constitution?
What time  shall be requisite to ascertain the violation? Shall
it be a week,  a month, a year? Or shall we say they may be
continued as long as  the danger which occasioned their being
raised continues? This  would be to admit that they might be kept
up IN TIME OF PEACE,  against threatening or impending danger,
which would be at once to  deviate from the literal meaning of
the prohibition, and to  introduce an extensive latitude of
construction. Who shall judge of  the continuance of the danger?
This must undoubtedly be submitted  to the national government,
and the matter would then be brought to  this issue, that the
national government, to provide against  apprehended danger,
might in the first instance raise troops, and  might afterwards
keep them on foot as long as they supposed the  peace or safety
of the community was in any degree of jeopardy. It  is easy to
perceive that a discretion so latitudinary as this would  afford
ample room for eluding the force of the provision.
The supposed utility of a provision of this kind can only be 
founded on the supposed probability, or at least possibility, of
a  combination between the executive and the legislative, in some 
scheme of usurpation. Should this at any time happen, how easy 
would it be to fabricate pretenses of approaching danger! Indian 
hostilities, instigated by Spain or Britain, would always be at
hand.  Provocations to produce the desired appearances might even
be  given to some foreign power, and appeased again by timely
concessions. If we can reasonably presume such a combination to 
have been formed, and that the enterprise is warranted by a 
sufficient prospect of success, the army, when once raised, from 
whatever cause, or on whatever pretext, may be applied to the 
execution of the project.
If, to obviate this consequence, it should be resolved to extend 
the prohibition to the RAISING of armies in time of peace, the 
United States would then exhibit the most extraordinary spectacle 
which the world has yet seen, that of a nation incapacitated by
its  Constitution to prepare for defense, before it was actually
invaded.  As the ceremony of a formal denunciation of war has of
late fallen  into disuse, the presence of an enemy within our
territories must be  waited for, as the legal warrant to the
government to begin its  levies of men for the protection of the
State. We must receive the  blow, before we could even prepare to
return it. All that kind of  policy by which nations anticipate
distant danger, and meet the  gathering storm, must be abstained
from, as contrary to the genuine  maxims of a free government. We
must expose our property and  liberty to the mercy of foreign
invaders, and invite them by our  weakness to seize the naked and
defenseless prey, because we are  afraid that rulers, created by
our choice, dependent on our will,  might endanger that liberty,
by an abuse of the means necessary to  its preservation.
Here I expect we shall be told that the militia of the country 
is its natural bulwark, and would be at all times equal to the 
national defense. This doctrine, in substance, had like to have 
lost us our independence. It cost millions to the United States 
that might have been saved. The facts which, from our own
experience, forbid a reliance of this kind, are too recent to
permit  us to be the dupes of such a suggestion. The steady
operations of  war against a regular and disciplined army can
only be successfully  conducted by a force of the same kind.
Considerations of economy,  not less than of stability and vigor,
confirm this position. The  American militia, in the course of
the late war, have, by their  valor on numerous occasions,
erected eternal monuments to their  fame; but the bravest of them
feel and know that the liberty of  their country could not have
been established by their efforts  alone, however great and
valuable they were. War, like most other  things, is a science to
be acquired and perfected by diligence, by  perserverance, by
time, and by practice.
All violent policy, as it is contrary to the natural and
experienced course of human affairs, defeats itself.
Pennsylvania,  at this instant, affords an example of the truth
of this remark.  The Bill of Rights of that State declares that
standing armies are  dangerous to liberty, and ought not to be
kept up in time of peace.  Pennsylvania, nevertheless, in a time
of profound peace, from the  existence of partial disorders in
one or two of her counties, has  resolved to raise a body of
troops; and in all probability will  keep them up as long as
there is any appearance of danger to the  public peace. The
conduct of Massachusetts affords a lesson on the  same subject,
though on different ground. That State (without  waiting for the
sanction of Congress, as the articles of the  Confederation
require) was compelled to raise troops to quell a  domestic
insurrection, and still keeps a corps in pay to prevent a 
revival of the spirit of revolt. The particular constitution of 
Massachusetts opposed no obstacle to the measure; but the
instance  is still of use to instruct us that cases are likely to
occur under  our government, as well as under those of other
nations, which will  sometimes render a military force in time of
peace essential to the  security of the society, and that it is
therefore improper in this  respect to control the legislative
discretion. It also teaches us,  in its application to the United
States, how little the rights of a  feeble government are likely
to be respected, even by its own  constituents. And it teaches
us, in addition to the rest, how  unequal parchment provisions
are to a struggle with public necessity .
It was a fundamental maxim of the Lacedaemonian commonwealth, 
that the post of admiral should not be conferred twice on the
same  person. The Peloponnesian confederates, having suffered a
severe  defeat at sea from the Athenians, demanded Lysander, who
had before  served with success in that capacity, to command the
combined fleets.  The Lacedaemonians, to gratify their allies,
and yet preserve the  semblance of an adherence to their ancient
institutions, had  recourse to the flimsy subterfuge of investing
Lysander with the  real power of admiral, under the nominal title
of vice-admiral.  This instance is selected from among a
multitude that might be  cited to confirm the truth already
advanced and illustrated by  domestic examples; which is, that
nations pay little regard to  rules and maxims calculated in
their very nature to run counter to  the necessities of society.
Wise politicians will be cautious about  fettering the government
with restrictions that cannot be observed,  because they know
that every breach of the fundamental laws, though  dictated by
necessity, impairs that sacred reverence which ought to  be
maintained in the breast of rulers towards the constitution of a 
country, and forms a precedent for other breaches where the same 
plea of necessity does not exist at all, or is less urgent and 


The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to
the  Common Defense Considered
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
IT WAS a thing hardly to be expected that in a popular
revolution the minds of men should stop at that happy mean which 
marks the salutary boundary between POWER and PRIVILEGE, and 
combines the energy of government with the security of private 
rights. A failure in this delicate and important point is the
great  source of the inconveniences we experience, and if we are
not  cautious to avoid a repetition of the error, in our future
attempts  to rectify and ameliorate our system, we may travel
from one  chimerical project to another; we may try change after
change; but  we shall never be likely to make any material change
for the better. The idea of restraining the legislative
authority, in the means  of providing for the national defense,
is one of those refinements  which owe their origin to a zeal for
liberty more ardent than  enlightened. We have seen, however,
that it has not had thus far an  extensive prevalency; that even
in this country, where it made its  first appearance,
Pennsylvania and North Carolina are the only two  States by which
it has been in any degree patronized; and that all  the others
have refused to give it the least countenance; wisely  judging
that confidence must be placed somewhere; that the  necessity of
doing it, is implied in the very act of delegating  power; and
that it is better to hazard the abuse of that confidence  than to
embarrass the government and endanger the public safety by 
impolitic restrictions on the legislative authority. The
opponents  of the proposed Constitution combat, in this respect,
the general  decision of America; and instead of being taught by
experience the  propriety of correcting any extremes into which
we may have  heretofore run, they appear disposed to conduct us
into others still  more dangerous, and more extravagant. As if
the tone of government  had been found too high, or too rigid,
the doctrines they teach are  calculated to induce us to depress
or to relax it, by expedients  which, upon other occasions, have
been condemned or forborne. It  may be affirmed without the
imputation of invective, that if the  principles they inculcate,
on various points, could so far obtain as  to become the popular
creed, they would utterly unfit the people of  this country for
any species of government whatever. But a danger  of this kind is
not to be apprehended. The citizens of America have  too much
discernment to be argued into anarchy. And I am much  mistaken,
if experience has not wrought a deep and solemn conviction  in
the public mind, that greater energy of government is essential 
to the welfare and prosperity of the community.
It may not be amiss in this place concisely to remark the origin 
and progress of the idea, which aims at the exclusion of military 
establishments in time of peace. Though in speculative minds it
may  arise from a contemplation of the nature and tendency of
such  institutions, fortified by the events that have happened in
other  ages and countries, yet as a national sentiment, it must
be traced  to those habits of thinking which we derive from the
nation from  whom the inhabitants of these States have in general
sprung. In England, for a long time after the Norman Conquest,
authority of the monarch was almost unlimited. Inroads were 
gradually made upon the prerogative, in favor of liberty, first
by  the barons, and afterwards by the people, till the greatest
part of  its most formidable pretensions became extinct. But it
was not till  the revolution in 1688, which elevated the Prince
of Orange to the  throne of Great Britain, that English liberty
was completely  triumphant. As incident to the undefined power of
making war, an  acknowledged prerogative of the crown, Charles
II. had, by his own  authority, kept on foot in time of peace a
body of 5,000 regular  troops. And this number James II.
increased to 30,000; who were  paid out of his civil list. At the
revolution, to abolish the  exercise of so dangerous an
authority, it became an article of the  Bill of Rights then
framed, that ``the raising or keeping a standing  army within the
kingdom in time of peace, UNLESS WITH THE CONSENT OF  PARLIAMENT,
was against law.''
In that kingdom, when the pulse of liberty was at its highest 
pitch, no security against the danger of standing armies was
thought  requisite, beyond a prohibition of their being raised or
kept up by  the mere authority of the executive magistrate. The
patriots, who  effected that memorable revolution, were too
temperate, too  wellinformed, to think of any restraint on the
legislative  discretion. They were aware that a certain number of
troops for  guards and garrisons were indispensable; that no
precise bounds  could be set to the national exigencies; that a
power equal to  every possible contingency must exist somewhere
in the government:  and that when they referred the exercise of
that power to the  judgment of the legislature, they had arrived
at the ultimate point  of precaution which was reconcilable with
the safety of the  community.
From the same source, the people of America may be said to have 
derived an hereditary impression of danger to liberty, from
standing  armies in time of peace. The circumstances of a
revolution  quickened the public sensibility on every point
connected with the  security of popular rights, and in some
instances raise the warmth  of our zeal beyond the degree which
consisted with the due  temperature of the body politic. The
attempts of two of the States  to restrict the authority of the
legislature in the article of  military establishments, are of
the number of these instances. The  principles which had taught
us to be jealous of the power of an  hereditary monarch were by
an injudicious excess extended to the  representatives of the
people in their popular assemblies. Even in  some of the States,
where this error was not adopted, we find  unnecessary
declarations that standing armies ought not to be kept  up, in
them unnecessary, because the reason which had introduced a 
similar provision into the English Bill of Rights is not
applicable  to any of the State constitutions. The power of
raising armies at  all, under those constitutions, can by no
construction be deemed to  reside anywhere else, than in the
legislatures themselves; and it  was superfluous, if not absurd,
to declare that a matter should not  be done without the consent
of a body, which alone had the power of  doing it. Accordingly,
in some of these constitutions, and among  others, in that of
this State of New York, which has been justly  celebrated, both
in Europe and America, as one of the best of the  forms of
government established in this country, there is a total  silence
upon the subject.
It is remarkable, that even in the two States which seem to have 
meditated an interdiction of military establishments in time of 
peace, the mode of expression made use of is rather cautionary
than  prohibitory. It is not said, that standing armies SHALL NOT
BE kept  up, but that they OUGHT NOT to be kept up, in time of
peace. This  ambiguity of terms appears to have been the result
of a conflict  between jealousy and conviction; between the
desire of excluding  such establishments at all events, and the
persuasion that an  absolute exclusion would be unwise and
Can it be doubted that such a provision, whenever the situation 
of public affairs was understood to require a departure from it, 
would be interpreted by the legislature into a mere admonition,
and  would be made to yield to the necessities or supposed
necessities of  the State? Let the fact already mentioned, with
respect to  Pennsylvania, decide. What then (it may be asked) is
the use of  such a provision, if it cease to operate the moment
there is an  inclination to disregard it?
Let us examine whether there be any comparison, in point of 
efficacy, between the provision alluded to and that which is 
contained in the new Constitution, for restraining the
appropriations of money for military purposes to the period of
two  years. The former, by aiming at too much, is calculated to
effect  nothing; the latter, by steering clear of an imprudent
extreme, and  by being perfectly compatible with a proper
provision for the  exigencies of the nation, will have a salutary
and powerful  operation.
The legislature of the United States will be OBLIGED, by this 
provision, once at least in every two years, to deliberate upon
the  propriety of keeping a military force on foot; to come to a
new  resolution on the point; and to declare their sense of the
matter,  by a formal vote in the face of their constituents. They
are not AT  LIBERTY to vest in the executive department permanent
funds for the  support of an army, if they were even incautious
enough to be  willing to repose in it so improper a confidence.
As the spirit of  party, in different degrees, must be expected
to infect all  political bodies, there will be, no doubt, persons
in the national  legislature willing enough to arraign the
measures and criminate the  views of the majority. The provision
for the support of a military  force will always be a favorable
topic for declamation. As often as  the question comes forward,
the public attention will be roused and  attracted to the
subject, by the party in opposition; and if the  majority should
be really disposed to exceed the proper limits, the  community
will be warned of the danger, and will have an opportunity  of
taking measures to guard against it. Independent of parties in 
the national legislature itself, as often as the period of 
discussion arrived, the State legislatures, who will always be
not  only vigilant but suspicious and jealous guardians of the
rights of  the citizens against encroachments from the federal
government, will  constantly have their attention awake to the
conduct of the national  rulers, and will be ready enough, if any
thing improper appears, to  sound the alarm to the people, and
not only to be the VOICE, but, if  necessary, the ARM of their
Schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community REQUIRE 
TIME to mature them for execution. An army, so large as seriously 
to menace those liberties, could only be formed by progressive 
augmentations; which would suppose, not merely a temporary 
combination between the legislature and executive, but a
continued  conspiracy for a series of time. Is it probable that
such a  combination would exist at all? Is it probable that it
would be  persevered in, and transmitted along through all the
successive  variations in a representative body, which biennial
elections would  naturally produce in both houses? Is it
presumable, that every man,  the instant he took his seat in the
national Senate or House of  Representatives, would commence a
traitor to his constituents and to  his country? Can it be
supposed that there would not be found one  man, discerning
enough to detect so atrocious a conspiracy, or bold  or honest
enough to apprise his constituents of their danger? If  such
presumptions can fairly be made, there ought at once to be an 
end of all delegated authority. The people should resolve to
recall  all the powers they have heretofore parted with out of
their own  hands, and to divide themselves into as many States as
there are  counties, in order that they may be able to manage
their own  concerns in person.
If such suppositions could even be reasonably made, still the 
concealment of the design, for any duration, would be
impracticable.  It would be announced, by the very circumstance
of augmenting the  army to so great an extent in time of profound
peace. What  colorable reason could be assigned, in a country so
situated, for  such vast augmentations of the military force? It
is impossible  that the people could be long deceived; and the
destruction of the  project, and of the projectors, would quickly
follow the discovery. It has been said that the provision which
limits the
appropriation of money for the support of an army to the period
of  two years would be unavailing, because the Executive, when
once  possessed of a force large enough to awe the people into
submission,  would find resources in that very force sufficient
to enable him to  dispense with supplies from the acts of the
legislature. But the  question again recurs, upon what pretense
could he be put in  possession of a force of that magnitude in
time of peace? If we  suppose it to have been created in
consequence of some domestic  insurrection or foreign war, then
it becomes a case not within the  principles of the objection;
for this is levelled against the power  of keeping up troops in
time of peace. Few persons will be so  visionary as seriously to
contend that military forces ought not to  be raised to quell a
rebellion or resist an invasion; and if the  defense of the
community under such circumstances should make it  necessary to
have an army so numerous as to hazard its liberty, this  is one
of those calamaties for which there is neither preventative  nor
cure. It cannot be provided against by any possible form of 
government; it might even result from a simple league offensive
and  defensive, if it should ever be necessary for the
confederates or  allies to form an army for common defense.
But it is an evil infinitely less likely to attend us in a
united than in a disunited state; nay, it may be safely asserted 
that it is an evil altogether unlikely to attend us in the latter 
situation. It is not easy to conceive a possibility that dangers
so  formidable can assail the whole Union, as to demand a force 
considerable enough to place our liberties in the least jeopardy, 
especially if we take into our view the aid to be derived from
the  militia, which ought always to be counted upon as a valuable
and  powerful auxiliary. But in a state of disunion (as has been
fully  shown in another place), the contrary of this supposition
would  become not only probable, but almost unavoidable.


The Same Subject Continued
(The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to 
the Common Defense Considered)
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, December 25, 1787.


To the People of the State of New York:
IT HAS been urged, in different shapes, that a Constitution of 
the kind proposed by the convention cannot operate without the
aid  of a military force to execute its laws. This, however, like
most  other things that have been alleged on that side, rests on
mere  general assertion, unsupported by any precise or
intelligible  designation of the reasons upon which it is
founded. As far as I  have been able to divine the latent meaning
of the objectors, it  seems to originate in a presupposition that
the people will be  disinclined to the exercise of federal
authority in any matter of an  internal nature. Waiving any
exception that might be taken to the  inaccuracy or
inexplicitness of the distinction between internal and  external,
let us inquire what ground there is to presuppose that 
disinclination in the people. Unless we presume at the same time 
that the powers of the general government will be worse
administered  than those of the State government, there seems to
be no room for  the presumption of ill-will, disaffection, or
opposition in the  people. I believe it may be laid down as a
general rule that their  confidence in and obedience to a
government will commonly be  proportioned to the goodness or
badness of its administration. It  must be admitted that there
are exceptions to this rule; but these  exceptions depend so
entirely on accidental causes, that they cannot  be considered as
having any relation to the intrinsic merits or  demerits of a
constitution. These can only be judged of by general  principles
and maxims.
Various reasons have been suggested, in the course of these 
papers, to induce a probability that the general government will
be  better administered than the particular governments; the
principal  of which reasons are that the extension of the spheres
of election  will present a greater option, or latitude of
choice, to the people;  that through the medium of the State
legislatures which are select  bodies of men, and which are to
appoint the members of the national  Senate there is reason to
expect that this branch will generally be  composed with peculiar
care and judgment; that these circumstances  promise greater
knowledge and more extensive information in the  national
councils, and that they will be less apt to be tainted by  the
spirit of faction, and more out of the reach of those occasional 
ill-humors, or temporary prejudices and propensities, which, in 
smaller societies, frequently contaminate the public councils,
beget  injustice and oppression of a part of the community, and
engender  schemes which, though they gratify a momentary
inclination or  desire, terminate in general distress,
dissatisfaction, and disgust.  Several additional reasons of
considerable force, to fortify that  probability, will occur when
we come to survey, with a more critical  eye, the interior
structure of the edifice which we are invited to  erect. It will
be sufficient here to remark, that until
satisfactory reasons can be assigned to justify an opinion, that
the  federal government is likely to be administered in such a
manner as  to render it odious or contemptible to the people,
there can be no  reasonable foundation for the supposition that
the laws of the Union  will meet with any greater obstruction
from them, or will stand in  need of any other methods to enforce
their execution, than the laws  of the particular members.
The hope of impunity is a strong incitement to sedition; the 
dread of punishment, a proportionably strong discouragement to
it.  Will not the government of the Union, which, if possessed of
a due  degree of power, can call to its aid the collective
resources of the  whole Confederacy, be more likely to repress
the FORMER sentiment  and to inspire the LATTER, than that of a
single State, which can  only command the resources within
itself? A turbulent faction in a  State may easily suppose itself
able to contend with the friends to  the government in that
State; but it can hardly be so infatuated as  to imagine itself a
match for the combined efforts of the Union. If  this reflection
be just, there is less danger of resistance from  irregular
combinations of individuals to the authority of the  Confederacy
than to that of a single member.
I will, in this place, hazard an observation, which will not be 
the less just because to some it may appear new; which is, that
the  more the operations of the national authority are
intermingled in  the ordinary exercise of government, the more
the citizens are  accustomed to meet with it in the common
occurrences of their  political life, the more it is familiarized
to their sight and to  their feelings, the further it enters into
those objects which touch  the most sensible chords and put in
motion the most active springs  of the human heart, the greater
will be the probability that it will  conciliate the respect and
attachment of the community. Man is very  much a creature of
habit. A thing that rarely strikes his senses  will generally
have but little influence upon his mind. A
government continually at a distance and out of sight can hardly
be  expected to interest the sensations of the people. The
inference  is, that the authority of the Union, and the
affections of the  citizens towards it, will be strengthened,
rather than weakened, by  its extension to what are called
matters of internal concern; and  will have less occasion to
recur to force, in proportion to the  familiarity and
comprehensiveness of its agency. The more it  circulates through
those channls and currents in which the passions  of mankind
naturally flow, the less will it require the aid of the  violent
and perilous expedients of compulsion.
One thing, at all events, must be evident, that a government 
like the one proposed would bid much fairer to avoid the
necessity  of using force, than that species of league contend
for by most of  its opponents; the authority of which should only
operate upon the  States in their political or collective
capacities. It has been  shown that in such a Confederacy there
can be no sanction for the  laws but force; that frequent
delinquencies in the members are the  natural offspring of the
very frame of the government; and that as  often as these happen,
they can only be redressed, if at all, by war  and violence.
The plan reported by the convention, by extending the authority 
of the federal head to the individual citizens of the several 
States, will enable the government to employ the ordinary
magistracy  of each, in the execution of its laws. It is easy to
perceive that  this will tend to destroy, in the common
apprehension, all  distinction between the sources from which
they might proceed; and  will give the federal government the
same advantage for securing a  due obedience to its authority
which is enjoyed by the government of  each State, in addition to
the influence on public opinion which  will result from the
important consideration of its having power to  call to its
assistance and support the resources of the whole Union.  It
merits particular attention in this place, that the laws of the 
Confederacy, as to the ENUMERATED and LEGITIMATE objects of its 
jurisdiction, will become the SUPREME LAW of the land; to the 
observance of which all officers, legislative, executive, and 
judicial, in each State, will be bound by the sanctity of an
oath.  Thus the legislatures, courts, and magistrates, of the
respective  members, will be incorporated into the operations of
the national  government AS FAR AS ITS JUST AND CONSTITUTIONAL
AUTHORITY EXTENDS;  and will be rendered auxiliary to the
enforcement of its laws.%n1%n  Any man who will pursue, by his
own reflections, the consequences  of this situation, will
perceive that there is good ground to  calculate upon a regular
and peaceable execution of the laws of the  Union, if its powers
are administered with a common share of  prudence. If we will
arbitrarily suppose the contrary, we may  deduce any inferences
we please from the supposition; for it is  certainly possible, by
an injudicious exercise of the authorities of  the best
government that ever was, or ever can be instituted, to  provoke
and precipitate the people into the wildest excesses. But  though
the adversaries of the proposed Constitution should presume  that
the national rulers would be insensible to the motives of  public
good, or to the obligations of duty, I would still ask them  how
the interests of ambition, or the views of encroachment, can be 
promoted by such a conduct?
FNA1@@1 The sophistry which has been employed to show that this
will  tend to the destruction of the State governments, will, in
its will,  in its proper place, be fully detected.


The Same Subject Continued
(The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to 
the Common Defense Considered)
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
THAT there may happen cases in which the national government may 
be necessitated to resort to force, cannot be denied. Our own 
experience has corroborated the lessons taught by the examples of 
other nations; that emergencies of this sort will sometimes arise 
in all societies, however constituted; that seditions and
insurrections are, unhappily, maladies as inseparable from the
body  politic as tumors and eruptions from the natural body; that
the  idea of governing at all times by the simple force of law
(which we  have been told is the only admissible principle of
republican  government), has no place but in the reveries of
those political  doctors whose sagacity disdains the admonitions
of experimental  instruction.
Should such emergencies at any time happen under the national 
government, there could be no remedy but force. The means to be 
employed must be proportioned to the extent of the mischief. If
it  should be a slight commotion in a small part of a State, the
militia  of the residue would be adequate to its suppression; and
the  national presumption is that they would be ready to do their
duty.  An insurrection, whatever may be its immediate cause,
eventually  endangers all government. Regard to the public peace,
if not to the  rights of the Union, would engage the citizens to
whom the contagion  had not communicated itself to oppose the
insurgents; and if the  general government should be found in
practice conducive to the  prosperity and felicity of the people,
it were irrational to believe  that they would be disinclined to
its support.
If, on the contrary, the insurrection should pervade a whole 
State, or a principal part of it, the employment of a different
kind  of force might become unavoidable. It appears that
Massachusetts  found it necessary to raise troops for repressing
the disorders  within that State; that Pennsylvania, from the
mere apprehension of  commotions among a part of her citizens,
has thought proper to have  recourse to the same measure. Suppose
the State of New York had  been inclined to re-establish her lost
jurisdiction over the  inhabitants of Vermont, could she have
hoped for success in such an  enterprise from the efforts of the
militia alone? Would she not  have been compelled to raise and to
maintain a more regular force  for the execution of her design?
If it must then be admitted that  the necessity of recurring to a
force different from the militia, in  cases of this extraordinary
nature, is applicable to the State  governments themselves, why
should the possibility, that the  national government might be
under a like necessity, in similar  extremities, be made an
objection to its existence? Is it not  surprising that men who
declare an attachment to the Union in the  abstract, should urge
as an objection to the proposed Constitution  what applies with
tenfold weight to the plan for which they contend;  and what, as
far as it has any foundation in truth, is an
inevitable consequence of civil society upon an enlarged scale?
Who  would not prefer that possibility to the unceasing
agitations and  frequent revolutions which are the continual
scourges of petty  republics?
Let us pursue this examination in another light. Suppose, in 
lieu of one general system, two, or three, or even four
Confederacies were to be formed, would not the same difficulty 
oppose itself to the operations of either of these Confederacies? 
Would not each of them be exposed to the same casualties; and
when  these happened, be obliged to have recourse to the same
expedients  for upholding its authority which are objected to in
a government  for all the States? Would the militia, in this
supposition, be more  ready or more able to support the federal
authority than in the case  of a general union? All candid and
intelligent men must, upon due  consideration, acknowledge that
the principle of the objection is  equally applicable to either
of the two cases; and that whether we  have one government for
all the States, or different governments for  different parcels
of them, or even if there should be an entire  separation of the
States, there might sometimes be a necessity to  make use of a
force constituted differently from the militia, to  preserve the
peace of the community and to maintain the just  authority of the
laws against those violent invasions of them which  amount to
insurrections and rebellions.
Independent of all other reasonings upon the subject, it is a 
full answer to those who require a more peremptory provision
against  military establishments in time of peace, to say that
the whole  power of the proposed government is to be in the hands
of the  representatives of the people. This is the essential,
and, after  all, only efficacious security for the rights and
privileges of the  people, which is attainable in civil
If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, 
there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that
original  right of self-defense which is paramount to all
positive forms of  government, and which against the usurpations
of the national  rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better
prospect of success  than against those of the rulers of an
individual state. In a  single state, if the persons intrusted
with supreme power become  usurpers, the different parcels,
subdivisions, or districts of which  it consists, having no
distinct government in each, can take no  regular measures for
defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously  to arms, without
concert, without system, without resource; except  in their
courage and despair. The usurpers, clothed with the forms  of
legal authority, can too often crush the opposition in embryo. 
The smaller the extent of the territory, the more difficult will
it  be for the people to form a regular or systematic plan of
opposition, and the more easy will it be to defeat their early 
efforts. Intelligence can be more speedily obtained of their 
preparations and movements, and the military force in the
possession  of the usurpers can be more rapidly directed against
the part where  the opposition has begun. In this situation there
must be a  peculiar coincidence of circumstances to insure
success to the  popular resistance.
The obstacles to usurpation and the facilities of resistance 
increase with the increased extent of the state, provided the 
citizens understand their rights and are disposed to defend them. 
The natural strength of the people in a large community, in 
proportion to the artificial strength of the government, is
greater  than in a small, and of course more competent to a
struggle with the  attempts of the government to establish a
tyranny. But in a  confederacy the people, without exaggeration,
may be said to be  entirely the masters of their own fate. Power
being almost always  the rival of power, the general government
will at all times stand  ready to check the usurpations of the
state governments, and these  will have the same disposition
towards the general government. The  people, by throwing
themselves into either scale, will infallibly  make it
preponderate. If their rights are invaded by either, they  can
make use of the other as the instrument of redress. How wise 
will it be in them by cherishing the union to preserve to
themselves  an advantage which can never be too highly prized!
It may safely be received as an axiom in our political system, 
that the State governments will, in all possible contingencies, 
afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty
by  the national authority. Projects of usurpation cannot be
masked  under pretenses so likely to escape the penetration of
select bodies  of men, as of the people at large. The
legislatures will have  better means of information. They can
discover the danger at a  distance; and possessing all the organs
of civil power, and the  confidence of the people, they can at
once adopt a regular plan of  opposition, in which they can
combine all the resources of the  community. They can readily
communicate with each other in the  different States, and unite
their common forces for the protection  of their common liberty.
The great extent of the country is a further security. We have 
already experienced its utility against the attacks of a foreign 
power. And it would have precisely the same effect against the 
enterprises of ambitious rulers in the national councils. If the 
federal army should be able to quell the resistance of one State, 
the distant States would have it in their power to make head with 
fresh forces. The advantages obtained in one place must be 
abandoned to subdue the opposition in others; and the moment the 
part which had been reduced to submission was left to itself, its 
efforts would be renewed, and its resistance revive.
We should recollect that the extent of the military force must, 
at all events, be regulated by the resources of the country. For
a  long time to come, it will not be possible to maintain a large
army;  and as the means of doing this increase, the population
and natural  strength of the community will proportionably
increase. When will  the time arrive that the federal government
can raise and maintain  an army capable of erecting a despotism
over the great body of the  people of an immense empire, who are
in a situation, through the  medium of their State governments,
to take measures for their own  defense, with all the celerity,
regularity, and system of
independent nations? The apprehension may be considered as a 
disease, for which there can be found no cure in the resources of 
argument and reasoning.
FNA1@@1 Its full efficacy will be examined hereafter.


Concerning the Militia
From the Daily Advertiser.
Thursday, January 10, 1788


To the People of the State of New York:
THE power of regulating the militia, and of commanding its
services in times of insurrection and invasion are natural
incidents  to the duties of superintending the common defense,
and of watching  over the internal peace of the Confederacy.
It requires no skill in the science of war to discern that
uniformity in the organization and discipline of the militia
would  be attended with the most beneficial effects, whenever
they were  called into service for the public defense. It would
enable them to  discharge the duties of the camp and of the field
with mutual  intelligence and concert an advantage of peculiar
moment in the  operations of an army; and it would fit them much
sooner to acquire  the degree of proficiency in military
functions which would be  essential to their usefulness. This
desirable uniformity can only  be accomplished by confiding the
regulation of the militia to the  direction of the national
authority. It is, therefore, with the  most evident propriety,
that the plan of the convention proposes to  empower the Union
``to provide for organizing, arming, and  disciplining the
militia, and for governing such part of them as may  be employed
in the service of the United States, RESERVING TO THE  STATES
Of the different grounds which have been taken in opposition to 
the plan of the convention, there is none that was so little to
have  been expected, or is so untenable in itself, as the one
from which  this particular provision has been attacked. If a
well-regulated  militia be the most natural defense of a free
country, it ought  certainly to be under the regulation and at
the disposal of that  body which is constituted the guardian of
the national security. If  standing armies are dangerous to
liberty, an efficacious power over  the militia, in the body to
whose care the protection of the State  is committed, ought, as
far as possible, to take away the inducement  and the pretext to
such unfriendly institutions. If the federal  government can
command the aid of the militia in those emergencies  which call
for the military arm in support of the civil magistrate,  it can
the better dispense with the employment of a different kind  of
force. If it cannot avail itself of the former, it will be 
obliged to recur to the latter. To render an army unnecessary,
will  be a more certain method of preventing its existence than a
thousand  prohibitions upon paper.
In order to cast an odium upon the power of calling forth the 
militia to execute the laws of the Union, it has been remarked
that  there is nowhere any provision in the proposed Constitution
for  calling out the POSSE COMITATUS, to assist the magistrate in
the  execution of his duty, whence it has been inferred, that
military  force was intended to be his only auxiliary. There is a
striking  incoherence in the objections which have appeared, and
sometimes  even from the same quarter, not much calculated to
inspire a very  favorable opinion of the sincerity or fair
dealing of their authors.  The same persons who tell us in one
breath, that the powers of the  federal government will be
despotic and unlimited, inform us in the  next, that it has not
authority sufficient even to call out the  POSSE COMITATUS. The
latter, fortunately, is as much short of the  truth as the former
exceeds it. It would be as absurd to doubt,  that a right to pass
all laws NECESSARY AND PROPER to execute its  declared powers,
would include that of requiring the assistance of  the citizens
to the officers who may be intrusted with the execution  of those
laws, as it would be to believe, that a right to enact laws 
necessary and proper for the imposition and collection of taxes 
would involve that of varying the rules of descent and of the 
alienation of landed property, or of abolishing the trial by jury
in  cases relating to it. It being therefore evident that the
supposition of a want of power to require the aid of the POSSE 
COMITATUS is entirely destitute of color, it will follow, that
the  conclusion which has been drawn from it, in its application
to the  authority of the federal government over the militia, is
as uncandid  as it is illogical. What reason could there be to
infer, that force  was intended to be the sole instrument of
authority, merely because  there is a power to make use of it
when necessary? What shall we  think of the motives which could
induce men of sense to reason in  this manner? How shall we
prevent a conflict between charity and  judgment?
By a curious refinement upon the spirit of republican jealousy, 
we are even taught to apprehend danger from the militia itself,
in  the hands of the federal government. It is observed that
select  corps may be formed, composed of the young and ardent,
who may be  rendered subservient to the views of arbitrary power.
What plan for  the regulation of the militia may be pursued by
the national  government, is impossible to be foreseen. But so
far from viewing  the matter in the same light with those who
object to select corps  as dangerous, were the Constitution
ratified, and were I to deliver  my sentiments to a member of the
federal legislature from this State  on the subject of a militia
establishment, I should hold to him, in  substance, the following
``The project of disciplining all the militia of the United 
States is as futile as it would be injurious, if it were capable
of  being carried into execution. A tolerable expertness in
military  movements is a business that requires time and
practice. It is not  a day, or even a week, that will suffice for
the attainment of it.  To oblige the great body of the yeomanry,
and of the other classes  of the citizens, to be under arms for
the purpose of going through  military exercises and evolutions,
as often as might be necessary to  acquire the degree of
perfection which would entitle them to the  character of a well-
regulated militia, would be a real grievance to  the people, and
a serious public inconvenience and loss. It would  form an annual
deduction from the productive labor of the country,  to an amount
which, calculating upon the present numbers of the  people, would
not fall far short of the whole expense of the civil 
establishments of all the States. To attempt a thing which would 
abridge the mass of labor and industry to so considerable an
extent,  would be unwise: and the experiment, if made, could not
succeed,  because it would not long be endured. Little more can
reasonably be  aimed at, with respect to the people at large,
than to have them  properly armed and equipped; and in order to
see that this be not  neglected, it will be necessary to assemble
them once or twice in  the course of a year.
``But though the scheme of disciplining the whole nation must be 
abandoned as mischievous or impracticable; yet it is a matter of 
the utmost importance that a well-digested plan should, as soon
as  possible, be adopted for the proper establishment of the
militia.  The attention of the government ought particularly to
be directed  to the formation of a select corps of moderate
extent, upon such  principles as will really fit them for service
in case of need. By  thus circumscribing the plan, it will be
possible to have an  excellent body of well-trained militia,
ready to take the field  whenever the defense of the State shall
require it. This will not  only lessen the call for military
establishments, but if
circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form
an  army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to
the  liberties of the people while there is a large body of
citizens,  little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and
the use of  arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and
those of their  fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only
substitute that can be  devised for a standing army, and the best
possible security against  it, if it should exist.''
Thus differently from the adversaries of the proposed
Constitution should I reason on the same subject, deducing
arguments  of safety from the very sources which they represent
as fraught with  danger and perdition. But how the national
legislature may reason  on the point, is a thing which neither
they nor I can foresee. There is something so far-fetched and so
extravagant in the idea  of danger to liberty from the militia,
that one is at a loss whether  to treat it with gravity or with
raillery; whether to consider it  as a mere trial of skill, like
the paradoxes of rhetoricians; as a  disingenuous artifice to
instil prejudices at any price; or as the  serious offspring of
political fanaticism. Where in the name of  common-sense, are our
fears to end if we may not trust our sons, our  brothers, our
neighbors, our fellow-citizens? What shadow of danger  can there
be from men who are daily mingling with the rest of their 
countrymen and who participate with them in the same feelings, 
sentiments, habits and interests? What reasonable cause of 
apprehension can be inferred from a power in the Union to
prescribe  regulations for the militia, and to command its
services when  necessary, while the particular States are to have
possible  seriously to indulge a jealousy of the militia upon any
conceivable  establishment under the federal government, the
circumstance of the  officers being in the appointment of the
States ought at once to  extinguish it. There can be no doubt
that this circumstance will  always secure to them a
preponderating influence over the militia. In reading many of the
publications against the Constitution, a  man is apt to imagine
that he is perusing some ill-written tale or  romance, which
instead of natural and agreeable images, exhibits to  the mind
nothing but frightful and distorted shapes ``Gorgons, hydras, 
and chimeras dire''; discoloring and disfiguring whatever it
represents,  and transforming everything it touches into a
A sample of this is to be observed in the exaggerated and
improbable suggestions which have taken place respecting the
power  of calling for the services of the militia. That of New
Hampshire  is to be marched to Georgia, of Georgia to New
Hampshire, of New  York to Kentucky, and of Kentucky to Lake
Champlain. Nay, the debts  due to the French and Dutch are to be
paid in militiamen instead of  louis d'ors and ducats. At one
moment there is to be a large army  to lay prostrate the
liberties of the people; at another moment the  militia of
Virginia are to be dragged from their homes five or six  hundred
miles, to tame the republican contumacy of Massachusetts;  and
that of Massachusetts is to be transported an equal distance to 
subdue the refractory haughtiness of the aristocratic Virginians. 
Do the persons who rave at this rate imagine that their art or 
their eloquence can impose any conceits or absurdities upon the 
people of America for infallible truths?
If there should be an army to be made use of as the engine of 
despotism, what need of the militia? If there should be no army, 
whither would the militia, irritated by being called upon to 
undertake a distant and hopeless expedition, for the purpose of 
riveting the chains of slavery upon a part of their countrymen, 
direct their course, but to the seat of the tyrants, who had 
meditated so foolish as well as so wicked a project, to crush
them  in their imagined intrenchments of power, and to make them
an  example of the just vengeance of an abused and incensed
people? Is  this the way in which usurpers stride to dominion
over a numerous  and enlightened nation? Do they begin by
exciting the detestation  of the very instruments of their
intended usurpations? Do they  usually commence their career by
wanton and disgustful acts of  power, calculated to answer no
end, but to draw upon themselves  universal hatred and
execration? Are suppositions of this sort the  sober admonitions
of discerning patriots to a discerning people? Or  are they the
inflammatory ravings of incendiaries or distempered  enthusiasts?
If we were even to suppose the national rulers  actuated by the
most ungovernable ambition, it is impossible to  believe that
they would employ such preposterous means to accomplish  their
In times of insurrection, or invasion, it would be natural and 
proper that the militia of a neighboring State should be marched 
into another, to resist a common enemy, or to guard the republic 
against the violence of faction or sedition. This was frequently 
the case, in respect to the first object, in the course of the
late  war; and this mutual succor is, indeed, a principal end of
our  political association. If the power of affording it be
placed under  the direction of the Union, there will be no danger
of a supine and  listless inattention to the dangers of a
neighbor, till its near  approach had superadded the incitements
of selfpreservation to the  too feeble impulses of duty and


Concerning the General Power of Taxation
From the New York Packet.
Friday, December 28, 1787.


To the People of the State of New York:
IT HAS been already observed that the federal government ought 
to possess the power of providing for the support of the national 
forces; in which proposition was intended to be included the 
expense of raising troops, of building and equipping fleets, and
all  other expenses in any wise connected with military
arrangements and  operations. But these are not the only objects
to which the  jurisdiction of the Union, in respect to revenue,
must necessarily  be empowered to extend. It must embrace a
provision for the support  of the national civil list; for the
payment of the national debts  contracted, or that may be
contracted; and, in general, for all  those matters which will
call for disbursements out of the national  treasury. The
conclusion is, that there must be interwoven, in the  frame of
the government, a general power of taxation, in one shape  or
Money is, with propriety, considered as the vital principle of 
the body politic; as that which sustains its life and motion, and 
enables it to perform its most essential functions. A complete 
power, therefore, to procure a regular and adequate supply of it,
as  far as the resources of the community will permit, may be
regarded  as an indispensable ingredient in every constitution.
From a  deficiency in this particular, one of two evils must
ensue; either  the people must be subjected to continual plunder,
as a substitute  for a more eligible mode of supplying the public
wants, or the  government must sink into a fatal atrophy, and, in
a short course of  time, perish.
In the Ottoman or Turkish empire, the sovereign, though in other 
respects absolute master of the lives and fortunes of his
subjects,  has no right to impose a new tax. The consequence is
that he  permits the bashaws or governors of provinces to pillage
the people  without mercy; and, in turn, squeezes out of them the
sums of which  he stands in need, to satisfy his own exigencies
and those of the  state. In America, from a like cause, the
government of the Union  has gradually dwindled into a state of
decay, approaching nearly to  annihilation. Who can doubt, that
the happiness of the people in  both countries would be promoted
by competent authorities in the  proper hands, to provide the
revenues which the necessities of the  public might require?
The present Confederation, feeble as it is intended to repose in 
the United States, an unlimited power of providing for the
pecuniary  wants of the Union. But proceeding upon an erroneous
principle, it  has been done in such a manner as entirely to have
frustrated the  intention. Congress, by the articles which
compose that compact (as  has already been stated), are
authorized to ascertain and call for  any sums of money
necessary, in their judgment, to the service of  the United
States; and their requisitions, if conformable to the  rule of
apportionment, are in every constitutional sense obligatory  upon
the States. These have no right to question the propriety of  the
demand; no discretion beyond that of devising the ways and  means
of furnishing the sums demanded. But though this be strictly  and
truly the case; though the assumption of such a right would be 
an infringement of the articles of Union; though it may seldom or 
never have been avowedly claimed, yet in practice it has been 
constantly exercised, and would continue to be so, as long as the 
revenues of the Confederacy should remain dependent on the 
intermediate agency of its members. What the consequences of this 
system have been, is within the knowledge of every man the least 
conversant in our public affairs, and has been amply unfolded in 
different parts of these inquiries. It is this which has chiefly 
contributed to reduce us to a situation, which affords ample
cause  both of mortification to ourselves, and of triumph to our
enemies. What remedy can there be for this situation, but in a
change of  the system which has produced it in a change of the
fallacious and  delusive system of quotas and requisitions? What
substitute can  there be imagined for this ignis fatuus in
finance, but that of  permitting the national government to raise
its own revenues by the  ordinary methods of taxation authorized
in every well-ordered  constitution of civil government?
Ingenious men may declaim with  plausibility on any subject; but
no human ingenuity can point out  any other expedient to rescue
us from the inconveniences and  embarrassments naturally
resulting from defective supplies of the  public treasury.
The more intelligent adversaries of the new Constitution admit 
the force of this reasoning; but they qualify their admission by
a  distinction between what they call INTERNAL and EXTERNAL
taxation.  The former they would reserve to the State
governments; the  latter, which they explain into commercial
imposts, or rather duties  on imported articles, they declare
themselves willing to concede to  the federal head. This
distinction, however, would violate the  maxim of good sense and
sound policy, which dictates that every  POWER ought to be in
proportion to its OBJECT; and would still  leave the general
government in a kind of tutelage to the State  governments,
inconsistent with every idea of vigor or efficiency.  Who can
pretend that commercial imposts are, or would be, alone  equal to
the present and future exigencies of the Union? Taking  into the
account the existing debt, foreign and domestic, upon any  plan
of extinguishment which a man moderately impressed with the 
importance of public justice and public credit could approve, in 
addition to the establishments which all parties will acknowledge
to  be necessary, we could not reasonably flatter ourselves, that
this  resource alone, upon the most improved scale, would even
suffice for  its present necessities. Its future necessities
admit not of  calculation or limitation; and upon the principle,
more than once  adverted to, the power of making provision for
them as they arise  ought to be equally unconfined. I believe it
may be regarded as a  position warranted by the history of
LEAST EQUAL TO ITS RESOURCES. To say that deficiencies may be
provided for by requisitions  upon the States, is on the one hand
to acknowledge that this system  cannot be depended upon, and on
the other hand to depend upon it for  every thing beyond a
certain limit. Those who have carefully  attended to its vices
and deformities as they have been exhibited by  experience or
delineated in the course of these papers, must feel  invincible
repugnancy to trusting the national interests in any  degree to
its operation. Its inevitable tendency, whenever it is  brought
into activity, must be to enfeeble the Union, and sow the  seeds
of discord and contention between the federal head and its 
members, and between the members themselves. Can it be expected 
that the deficiencies would be better supplied in this mode than
the  total wants of the Union have heretofore been supplied in
the same  mode? It ought to be recollected that if less will be
required from  the States, they will have proportionably less
means to answer the  demand. If the opinions of those who contend
for the distinction  which has been mentioned were to be received
as evidence of truth,  one would be led to conclude that there
was some known point in the  economy of national affairs at which
it would be safe to stop and to  say: Thus far the ends of public
happiness will be promoted by  supplying the wants of government,
and all beyond this is unworthy  of our care or anxiety. How is
it possible that a government half  supplied and always
necessitous, can fulfill the purposes of its  institution, can
provide for the security, advance the prosperity,  or support the
reputation of the commonwealth? How can it ever  possess either
energy or stability, dignity or credit, confidence at  home or
respectability abroad? How can its administration be any  thing
else than a succession of expedients temporizing, impotent, 
disgraceful? How will it be able to avoid a frequent sacrifice of 
its engagements to immediate necessity? How can it undertake or 
execute any liberal or enlarged plans of public good?
Let us attend to what would be the effects of this situation in 
the very first war in which we should happen to be engaged. We
will  presume, for argument's sake, that the revenue arising from
the  impost duties answers the purposes of a provision for the
public  debt and of a peace establishment for the Union. Thus
circumstanced, a war breaks out. What would be the probable
conduct  of the government in such an emergency? Taught by
experience that  proper dependence could not be placed on the
success of
requisitions, unable by its own authority to lay hold of fresh 
resources, and urged by considerations of national danger, would
it  not be driven to the expedient of diverting the funds already 
appropriated from their proper objects to the defense of the
State?  It is not easy to see how a step of this kind could be
avoided;  and if it should be taken, it is evident that it would
prove the  destruction of public credit at the very moment that
it was becoming  essential to the public safety. To imagine that
at such a crisis  credit might be dispensed with, would be the
extreme of infatuation.  In the modern system of war, nations the
most wealthy are obliged  to have recourse to large loans. A
country so little opulent as  ours must feel this necessity in a
much stronger degree. But who  would lend to a government that
prefaced its overtures for borrowing  by an act which
demonstrated that no reliance could be placed on the  steadiness
of its measures for paying? The loans it might be able  to
procure would be as limited in their extent as burdensome in 
their conditions. They would be made upon the same principles
that  usurers commonly lend to bankrupt and fraudulent debtors,
with a  sparing hand and at enormous premiums.
It may perhaps be imagined that, from the scantiness of the 
resources of the country, the necessity of diverting the
established  funds in the case supposed would exist, though the
national  government should possess an unrestrained power of
taxation. But  two considerations will serve to quiet all
apprehension on this  head: one is, that we are sure the
resources of the community, in  their full extent, will be
brought into activity for the benefit of  the Union; the other
is, that whatever deficiences there may be,  can without
difficulty be supplied by loans.
The power of creating new funds upon new objects of taxation, by 
its own authority, would enable the national government to borrow
as  far as its necessities might require. Foreigners, as well as
the  citizens of America, could then reasonably repose confidence
in its  engagements; but to depend upon a government that must
itself  depend upon thirteen other governments for the means of
fulfilling  its contracts, when once its situation is clearly
understood, would  require a degree of credulity not often to be
met with in the  pecuniary transactions of mankind, and little
reconcilable with the  usual sharp-sightedness of avarice.
Reflections of this kind may have trifling weight with men who 
hope to see realized in America the halcyon scenes of the poetic
or  fabulous age; but to those who believe we are likely to
experience  a common portion of the vicissitudes and calamities
which have  fallen to the lot of other nations, they must appear
entitled to  serious attention. Such men must behold the actual
situation of  their country with painful solicitude, and
deprecate the evils which  ambition or revenge might, with too
much facility, inflict upon it. PUBLIUS.


The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, January 1, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
IN DISQUISITIONS of every kind, there are certain primary
truths, or first principles, upon which all subsequent
reasonings  must depend. These contain an internal evidence
which, antecedent  to all reflection or combination, commands the
assent of the mind.  Where it produces not this effect, it must
proceed either from some  defect or disorder in the organs of
perception, or from the  influence of some strong interest, or
passion, or prejudice. Of  this nature are the maxims in
geometry, that ``the whole is greater  than its part; things
equal to the same are equal to one another;  two straight lines
cannot enclose a space; and all right angles  are equal to each
other.'' Of the same nature are these other  maxims in ethics and
politics, that there cannot be an effect  without a cause; that
the means ought to be proportioned to the  end; that every power
ought to be commensurate with its object;  that there ought to be
no limitation of a power destined to effect  a purpose which is
itself incapable of limitation. And there are  other truths in
the two latter sciences which, if they cannot  pretend to rank in
the class of axioms, are yet such direct  inferences from them,
and so obvious in themselves, and so agreeable  to the natural
and unsophisticated dictates of common-sense, that  they
challenge the assent of a sound and unbiased mind, with a  degree
of force and conviction almost equally irresistible. The objects
of geometrical inquiry are so entirely abstracted  from those
pursuits which stir up and put in motion the unruly  passions of
the human heart, that mankind, without difficulty, adopt  not
only the more simple theorems of the science, but even those 
abstruse paradoxes which, however they may appear susceptible of 
demonstration, are at variance with the natural conceptions which 
the mind, without the aid of philosophy, would be led to
entertain  upon the subject. The INFINITE DIVISIBILITY of matter,
or, in other  words, the INFINITE divisibility of a FINITE thing,
extending even  to the minutest atom, is a point agreed among
geometricians, though  not less incomprehensible to common-sense
than any of those  mysteries in religion, against which the
batteries of infidelity  have been so industriously leveled.
But in the sciences of morals and politics, men are found far 
less tractable. To a certain degree, it is right and useful that 
this should be the case. Caution and investigation are a
necessary  armor against error and imposition. But this
untractableness may be  carried too far, and may degenerate into
obstinacy, perverseness, or  disingenuity. Though it cannot be
pretended that the principles of  moral and political knowledge
have, in general, the same degree of  certainty with those of the
mathematics, yet they have much better  claims in this respect
than, to judge from the conduct of men in  particular situations,
we should be disposed to allow them. The  obscurity is much
oftener in the passions and prejudices of the  reasoner than in
the subject. Men, upon too many occasions, do not  give their own
understandings fair play; but, yielding to some  untoward bias,
they entangle themselves in words and confound  themselves in
How else could it happen (if we admit the objectors to be
sincere in their opposition), that positions so clear as those
which  manifest the necessity of a general power of taxation in
the  government of the Union, should have to encounter any
adversaries  among men of discernment? Though these positions
have been  elsewhere fully stated, they will perhaps not be
improperly  recapitulated in this place, as introductory to an
examination of  what may have been offered by way of objection to
them. They are in  substance as follows:
A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to 
the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care, and
to  the complete execution of the trusts for which it is
responsible,  free from every other control but a regard to the
public good and to  the sense of the people.
As the duties of superintending the national defense and of 
securing the public peace against foreign or domestic violence 
involve a provision for casualties and dangers to which no
possible  limits can be assigned, the power of making that
provision ought to  know no other bounds than the exigencies of
the nation and the  resources of the community.
As revenue is the essential engine by which the means of
answering the national exigencies must be procured, the power of 
procuring that article in its full extent must necessarily be 
comprehended in that of providing for those exigencies.
As theory and practice conspire to prove that the power of
procuring revenue is unavailing when exercised over the States
in  their collective capacities, the federal government must of 
necessity be invested with an unqualified power of taxation in
the  ordinary modes.
Did not experience evince the contrary, it would be natural to 
conclude that the propriety of a general power of taxation in the 
national government might safely be permitted to rest on the 
evidence of these propositions, unassisted by any additional 
arguments or illustrations. But we find, in fact, that the 
antagonists of the proposed Constitution, so far from acquiescing
in  their justness or truth, seem to make their principal and
most  zealous effort against this part of the plan. It may
therefore be  satisfactory to analyze the arguments with which
they combat it. Those of them which have been most labored with
that view, seem  in substance to amount to this: ``It is not
true, because the  exigencies of the Union may not be susceptible
of limitation, that  its power of laying taxes ought to be
unconfined. Revenue is as  requisite to the purposes of the local
administrations as to those  of the Union; and the former are at
least of equal importance with  the latter to the happiness of
the people. It is, therefore, as  necessary that the State
governments should be able to command the  means of supplying
their wants, as that the national government  should possess the
like faculty in respect to the wants of the Union.  But an
indefinite power of taxation in the LATTER might, and  probably
would in time, deprive the FORMER of the means of providing  for
their own necessities; and would subject them entirely to the 
mercy of the national legislature. As the laws of the Union are
to  become the supreme law of the land, as it is to have power to
pass  all laws that may be NECESSARY for carrying into execution
the  authorities with which it is proposed to vest it, the
national  government might at any time abolish the taxes imposed
for State  objects upon the pretense of an interference with its
own. It might  allege a necessity of doing this in order to give
efficacy to the  national revenues. And thus all the resources of
taxation might by  degrees become the subjects of federal
monopoly, to the entire  exclusion and destruction of the State
This mode of reasoning appears sometimes to turn upon the
supposition of usurpation in the national government; at other 
times it seems to be designed only as a deduction from the 
constitutional operation of its intended powers. It is only in
the  latter light that it can be admitted to have any pretensions
to  fairness. The moment we launch into conjectures about the
usurpations of the federal government, we get into an
unfathomable  abyss, and fairly put ourselves out of the reach of
all reasoning.  Imagination may range at pleasure till it gets
bewildered amidst  the labyrinths of an enchanted castle, and
knows not on which side  to turn to extricate itself from the
perplexities into which it has  so rashly adventured. Whatever
may be the limits or modifications  of the powers of the Union,
it is easy to imagine an endless train  of possible dangers; and
by indulging an excess of jealousy and  timidity, we may bring
ourselves to a state of absolute scepticism  and irresolution. I
repeat here what I have observed in substance  in another place,
that all observations founded upon the danger of  usurpation
ought to be referred to the composition and structure of  the
government, not to the nature or extent of its powers. The  State
governments, by their original constitutions, are invested  with
complete sovereignty. In what does our security consist  against
usurpation from that quarter? Doubtless in the manner of  their
formation, and in a due dependence of those who are to 
administer them upon the people. If the proposed construction of 
the federal government be found, upon an impartial examination of 
it, to be such as to afford, to a proper extent, the same species
of  security, all apprehensions on the score of usurpation ought
to be  discarded.
It should not be forgotten that a disposition in the State
governments to encroach upon the rights of the Union is quite as 
probable as a disposition in the Union to encroach upon the
rights  of the State governments. What side would be likely to
prevail in  such a conflict, must depend on the means which the
contending  parties could employ toward insuring success. As in
republics  strength is always on the side of the people, and as
there are  weighty reasons to induce a belief that the State
governments will  commonly possess most influence over them, the
natural conclusion is  that such contests will be most apt to end
to the disadvantage of  the Union; and that there is greater
probability of encroachments  by the members upon the federal
head, than by the federal head upon  the members. But it is
evident that all conjectures of this kind  must be extremely
vague and fallible: and that it is by far the  safest course to
lay them altogether aside, and to confine our  attention wholly
to the nature and extent of the powers as they are  delineated in
the Constitution. Every thing beyond this must be  left to the
prudence and firmness of the people; who, as they will  hold the
scales in their own hands, it is to be hoped, will always  take
care to preserve the constitutional equilibrium between the 
general and the State governments. Upon this ground, which is 
evidently the true one, it will not be difficult to obviate the 
objections which have been made to an indefinite power of
taxation  in the United States.


The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)
From the Daily Advertiser.
Thursday, January 3, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
ALTHOUGH I am of opinion that there would be no real danger of 
the consequences which seem to be apprehended to the State 
governments from a power in the Union to control them in the
levies  of money, because I am persuaded that the sense of the
people, the  extreme hazard of provoking the resentments of the
governments, and a conviction of the utility and necessity of
local  administrations for local purposes, would be a complete
barrier  against the oppressive use of such a power; yet I am
willing here  to allow, in its full extent, the justness of the
reasoning which  requires that the individual States should
possess an independent  and uncontrollable authority to raise
their own revenues for the  supply of their own wants. And making
this concession, I affirm  that (with the sole exception of
duties on imports and exports) they  would, under the plan of the
convention, retain that authority in  the most absolute and
unqualified sense; and that an attempt on the  part of the
national government to abridge them in the exercise of  it, would
be a violent assumption of power, unwarranted by any  article or
clause of its Constitution.
An entire consolidation of the States into one complete national 
sovereignty would imply an entire subordination of the parts; and 
whatever powers might remain in them, would be altogether
dependent  on the general will. But as the plan of the convention
aims only at  a partial union or consolidation, the State
governments would  clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty
which they before had,  and which were not, by that act,
EXCLUSIVELY delegated to the United  States. This exclusive
delegation, or rather this alienation, of  State sovereignty,
would only exist in three cases: where the  Constitution in
express terms granted an exclusive authority to the  Union; where
it granted in one instance an authority to the Union,  and in
another prohibited the States from exercising the like 
authority; and where it granted an authority to the Union, to
which  a similar authority in the States would be absolutely and
totally  CONTRADICTORY and REPUGNANT. I use these terms to
distinguish this  last case from another which might appear to
resemble it, but which  would, in fact, be essentially different;
I mean where the exercise  of a concurrent jurisdiction might be
productive of occasional  interferences in the POLICY of any
branch of administration, but  would not imply any direct
contradiction or repugnancy in point of  constitutional
authority. These three cases of exclusive
jurisdiction in the federal government may be exemplified by the 
following instances: The last clause but one in the eighth
section  of the first article provides expressly that Congress
shall exercise  ``EXCLUSIVE LEGISLATION'' over the district to be
appropriated as  the seat of government. This answers to the
first case. The first  clause of the same section empowers
EXCISES''; and the second clause of the  tenth section of the
same article declares that, ``NO STATE SHALL,  without the
EXPORTS, except for the purpose of executing its  inspection
laws.'' Hence would result an exclusive power in the  Union to
lay duties on imports and exports, with the particular  exception
mentioned; but this power is abridged by another clause,  which
declares that no tax or duty shall be laid on articles  exported
from any State; in consequence of which qualification, it  now
only extends to the DUTIES ON IMPORTS. This answers to the 
second case. The third will be found in that clause which
declares  that Congress shall have power ``to establish an
UNIFORM RULE of  naturalization throughout the United States.''
This must
necessarily be exclusive; because if each State had power to 
prescribe a DISTINCT RULE, there could not be a UNIFORM RULE. A
case which may perhaps be thought to resemble the latter, but 
which is in fact widely different, affects the question
immediately  under consideration. I mean the power of imposing
taxes on all  articles other than exports and imports. This, I
contend, is  manifestly a concurrent and coequal authority in the
United States  and in the individual States. There is plainly no
expression in the  granting clause which makes that power
EXCLUSIVE in the Union.  There is no independent clause or
sentence which prohibits the  States from exercising it. So far
is this from being the case, that  a plain and conclusive
argument to the contrary is to be deduced  from the restraint
laid upon the States in relation to duties on  imports and
exports. This restriction implies an admission that, if  it were
not inserted, the States would possess the power it  excludes;
and it implies a further admission, that as to all other  taxes,
the authority of the States remains undiminished. In any  other
view it would be both unnecessary and dangerous; it would be 
unnecessary, because if the grant to the Union of the power of 
laying such duties implied the exclusion of the States, or even 
their subordination in this particular, there could be no need of 
such a restriction; it would be dangerous, because the
introduction  of it leads directly to the conclusion which has
been mentioned, and  which, if the reasoning of the objectors be
just, could not have  been intended; I mean that the States, in
all cases to which the  restriction did not apply, would have a
concurrent power of taxation  with the Union. The restriction in
question amounts to what lawyers  call a NEGATIVE PREGNANT that
is, a NEGATION of one thing, and an  AFFIRMANCE of another; a
negation of the authority of the States to  impose taxes on
imports and exports, and an affirmance of their  authority to
impose them on all other articles. It would be mere  sophistry to
argue that it was meant to exclude them ABSOLUTELY from  the
imposition of taxes of the former kind, and to leave them at 
liberty to lay others SUBJECT TO THE CONTROL of the national 
legislature. The restraining or prohibitory clause only says,
that  they shall not, WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF CONGRESS, lay such
duties;  and if we are to understand this in the sense last
mentioned, the  Constitution would then be made to introduce a
formal provision for  the sake of a very absurd conclusion; which
is, that the States,  WITH THE CONSENT of the national
legislature, might tax imports and  exports; and that they might
tax every other article, UNLESS  CONTROLLED by the same body. If
this was the intention, why not  leave it, in the first instance,
to what is alleged to be the  natural operation of the original
clause, conferring a general power  of taxation upon the Union?
It is evident that this could not have  been the intention, and
that it will not bear a construction of the  kind.
As to a supposition of repugnancy between the power of taxation 
in the States and in the Union, it cannot be supported in that
sense  which would be requisite to work an exclusion of the
States. It is,  indeed, possible that a tax might be laid on a
particular article by  a State which might render it INEXPEDIENT
that thus a further tax  should be laid on the same article by
the Union; but it would not  imply a constitutional inability to
impose a further tax. The  quantity of the imposition, the
expediency or inexpediency of an  increase on either side, would
be mutually questions of prudence;  but there would be involved
no direct contradiction of power. The  particular policy of the
national and of the State systems of  finance might now and then
not exactly coincide, and might require  reciprocal forbearances.
It is not, however a mere possibility of  inconvenience in the
exercise of powers, but an immediate
constitutional repugnancy that can by implication alienate and 
extinguish a pre-existing right of sovereignty.
The necessity of a concurrent jurisdiction in certain cases 
results from the division of the sovereign power; and the rule
that  all authorities, of which the States are not explicitly
divested in  favor of the Union, remain with them in full vigor,
is not a  theoretical consequence of that division, but is
clearly admitted by  the whole tenor of the instrument which
contains the articles of the  proposed Constitution. We there
find that, notwithstanding the  affirmative grants of general
authorities, there has been the most  pointed care in those cases
where it was deemed improper that the  like authorities should
reside in the States, to insert negative  clauses prohibiting the
exercise of them by the States. The tenth  section of the first
article consists altogether of such provisions.  This
circumstance is a clear indication of the sense of the 
convention, and furnishes a rule of interpretation out of the
body  of the act, which justifies the position I have advanced
and refutes  every hypothesis to the contrary.


The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)
From the Daily Advertiser.
January 3, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE residue of the argument against the provisions of the
Constitution in respect to taxation is ingrafted upon the
following  clause. The last clause of the eighth section of the
first article  of the plan under consideration authorizes the
national legislature  ``to make all laws which shall be NECESSARY
and PROPER for carrying  into execution THE POWERS by that
Constitution vested in the  government of the United States, or
in any department or officer  thereof''; and the second clause of
the sixth article declares,  ``that the Constitution and the laws
of the United States made IN  PURSUANCE THEREOF, and the treaties
made by their authority shall be  the SUPREME LAW of the land,
any thing in the constitution or laws  of any State to the
contrary notwithstanding.''
These two clauses have been the source of much virulent
invective and petulant declamation against the proposed
Constitution.  They have been held up to the people in all the
exaggerated colors  of misrepresentation as the pernicious
engines by which their local  governments were to be destroyed
and their liberties exterminated;  as the hideous monster whose
devouring jaws would spare neither sex  nor age, nor high nor
low, nor sacred nor profane; and yet, strange  as it may appear,
after all this clamor, to those who may not have  happened to
contemplate them in the same light, it may be affirmed  with
perfect confidence that the constitutional operation of the 
intended government would be precisely the same, if these clauses 
were entirely obliterated, as if they were repeated in every
article.  They are only declaratory of a truth which would have
resulted by  necessary and unavoidable implication from the very
act of  constituting a federal government, and vesting it with
certain  specified powers. This is so clear a proposition, that
moderation  itself can scarcely listen to the railings which have
been so  copiously vented against this part of the plan, without
emotions  that disturb its equanimity.
What is a power, but the ability or faculty of doing a thing? 
What is the ability to do a thing, but the power of employing the 
MEANS necessary to its execution? What is a LEGISLATIVE power,
but  a power of making LAWS? What are the MEANS to execute a
LEGISLATIVE  power but LAWS? What is the power of laying and
collecting taxes,  but a LEGISLATIVE POWER, or a power of MAKING
LAWS, to lay and  collect taxes? What are the propermeans of
executing such a power,  but NECESSARY and PROPER laws?
This simple train of inquiry furnishes us at once with a test by 
which to judge of the true nature of the clause complained of. It 
conducts us to this palpable truth, that a power to lay and
collect  taxes must be a power to pass all laws NECESSARY and
PROPER for the  execution of that power; and what does the
unfortunate and  culumniated provision in question do more than
declare the same  truth, to wit, that the national legislature,
to whom the power of  laying and collecting taxes had been
previously given, might, in the  execution of that power, pass
all laws NECESSARY and PROPER to carry  it into effect? I have
applied these observations thus particularly  to the power of
taxation, because it is the immediate subject under 
consideration, and because it is the most important of the 
authorities proposed to be conferred upon the Union. But the same 
process will lead to the same result, in relation to all other 
powers declared in the Constitution. And it is EXPRESSLY to
execute  these powers that the sweeping clause, as it has been
affectedly  called, authorizes the national legislature to pass
all NECESSARY  and PROPER laws. If there is any thing
exceptionable, it must be  sought for in the specific powers upon
which this general
declaration is predicated. The declaration itself, though it may
be  chargeable with tautology or redundancy, is at least
perfectly  harmless.
But SUSPICION may ask, Why then was it introduced? The answer 
is, that it could only have been done for greater caution, and to 
guard against all cavilling refinements in those who might
hereafter  feel a disposition to curtail and evade the legitimatb
authorities  of the Union. The Convention probably foresaw, what
it has been a  principal aim of these papers to inculcate, that
the danger which  most threatens our political welfare is that
the State governments  will finally sap the foundations of the
Union; and might therefore  think it necessary, in so cardinal a
point, to leave nothing to  construction. Whatever may have been
the inducement to it, the  wisdom of the precaution is evident
from the cry which has been  raised against it; as that very cry
betrays a disposition to  question the great and essential truth
which it is manifestly the  object of that provision to declare.
But it may be again asked, Who is to judge of the NECESSITY and 
PROPRIETY of the laws to be passed for executing the powers of
the  Union? I answer, first, that this question arises as well
and as  fully upon the simple grant of those powers as upon the
declaratory  clause; and I answer, in the second place, that the
national  government, like every other, must judge, in the first
instance, of  the proper exercise of its powers, and its
constituents in the last.  If the federal government should
overpass the just bounds of its  authority and make a tyrannical
use of its powers, the people, whose  creature it is, must appeal
to the standard they have formed, and  take such measures to
redress the injury done to the Constitution as  the exigency may
suggest and prudence justify. The propriety of a  law, in a
constitutional light, must always be determined by the  nature of
the powers upon which it is founded. Suppose, by some  forced
constructions of its authority (which, indeed, cannot easily  be
imagined), the Federal legislature should attempt to vary the law 
of descent in any State, would it not be evident that, in making 
such an attempt, it had exceeded its jurisdiction, and infringed 
upon that of the State? Suppose, again, that upon the pretense of 
an interference with its revenues, it should undertake to
abrogate a  landtax imposed by the authority of a State; would it
not be  equally evident that this was an invasion of that
concurrent  jurisdiction in respect to this species of tax, which
Constitution plainly supposes to exist in the State governments?
If  there ever should be a doubt on this head, the credit of it
will be  entirely due to those reasoners who, in the imprudent
zeal of their  animosity to the plan of the convention, have
labored to envelop it  in a cloud calculated to obscure the
plainest and simplest truths. But it is said that the laws of the
Union are to be the SUPREME  LAW of the land. But what inference
can be drawn from this, or what  would they amount to, if they
were not to be supreme? It is evident  they would amount to
nothing. A LAW, by the very meaning of the  term, includes
supremacy. It is a rule which those to whom it is  prescribed are
bound to observe. This results from every political  association.
If individuals enter into a state of society, the laws  of that
society must be the supreme regulator of their conduct. If  a
number of political societies enter into a larger political 
society, the laws which the latter may enact, pursuant to the
powers  intrusted to it by its constitution, must necessarily be
supreme  over those societies, and the individuals of whom they
are composed.  It would otherwise be a mere treaty, dependent on
the good faith of  the parties, and not a goverment, which is
only another word for  POLITICAL POWER AND SUPREMACY. But it will
not follow from this  doctrine that acts of the large society
which are NOT PURSUANT to  its constitutional powers, but which
are invasions of the residuary  authorities of the smaller
societies, will become the supreme law of  the land. These will
be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve  to be treated as
such. Hence we perceive that the clause which  declares the
supremacy of the laws of the Union, like the one we  have just
before considered, only declares a truth, which flows 
immediately and necessarily from the institution of a federal 
government. It will not, I presume, have escaped observation,
that  it EXPRESSLY confines this supremacy to laws made PURSUANT
TO THE  CONSTITUTION; which I mention merely as an instance of
caution in  the convention; since that limitation would have been
to be  understood, though it had not been expressed.
Though a law, therefore, laying a tax for the use of the United 
States would be supreme in its nature, and could not legally be 
opposed or controlled, yet a law for abrogating or preventing the 
collection of a tax laid by the authority of the State, (unless
upon  imports and exports), would not be the supreme law of the
land, but  a usurpation of power not granted by the Constitution.
As far as an  improper accumulation of taxes on the same object
might tend to  render the collection difficult or precarious,
this would be a  mutual inconvenience, not arising from a
superiority or defect of  power on either side, but from an
injudicious exercise of power by  one or the other, in a manner
equally disadvantageous to both. It  is to be hoped and presumed,
however, that mutual interest would  dictate a concert in this
respect which would avoid any material  inconvenience. The
inference from the whole is, that the individual  States would,
under the proposed Constitution, retain an independent  and
uncontrollable authority to raise revenue to any extent of which 
they may stand in need, by every kind of taxation, except duties
on  imports and exports. It will be shown in the next paper that
this  CONCURRENT JURISDICTION in the article of taxation was the
only  admissible substitute for an entire subordination, in
respect to  this branch of power, of the State authority to that
of the Union. PUBLIUS.


The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)
From the New York Packet.
Friday, January 4, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
I FLATTER myself it has been clearly shown in my last number 
that the particular States, under the proposed Constitution,
would  have COEQUAL authority with the Union in the article of
revenue,  except as to duties on imports. As this leaves open to
the States  far the greatest part of the resources of the
community, there can  be no color for the assertion that they
would not possess means as  abundant as could be desired for the
supply of their own wants,  independent of all external control.
That the field is sufficiently  wide will more fully appear when
we come to advert to the
inconsiderable share of the public expenses for which it will
fall  to the lot of the State governments to provide.
To argue upon abstract principles that this co-ordinate
authority cannot exist, is to set up supposition and theory
against  fact and reality. However proper such reasonings might
be to show  that a thing OUGHT NOT TO EXIST, they are wholly to
be rejected when  they are made use of to prove that it does not
exist contrary to the  evidence of the fact itself. It is well
known that in the Roman  republic the legislative authority, in
the last resort, resided for  ages in two different political
bodies not as branches of the same  legislature, but as distinct
and independent legislatures, in each  of which an opposite
interest prevailed: in one the patrician; in  the other, the
plebian. Many arguments might have been adduced to  prove the
unfitness of two such seemingly contradictory authorities,  each
having power to ANNUL or REPEAL the acts of the other. But a  man
would have been regarded as frantic who should have attempted at 
Rome to disprove their existence. It will be readily understood 
that I allude to the COMITIA CENTURIATA and the COMITIA TRIBUTA. 
The former, in which the people voted by centuries, was so
arranged  as to give a superiority to the patrician interest; in
the latter,  in which numbers prevailed, the plebian interest had
an entire  predominancy. And yet these two legislatures coexisted
for ages,  and the Roman republic attained to the utmost height
of human  greatness.
In the case particularly under consideration, there is no such 
contradiction as appears in the example cited; there is no power
on  either side to annul the acts of the other. And in practice
there  is little reason to apprehend any inconvenience; because,
in a  short course of time, the wants of the States will
naturally reduce  themselves within A VERY NARROW COMPASS; and in
the interim, the  United States will, in all probability, find it
convenient to  abstain wholly from those objects to which the
particular States  would be inclined to resort.
To form a more precise judgment of the true merits of this
question, it will be well to advert to the proportion between
the  objects that will require a federal provision in respect to
revenue,  and those which will require a State provision. We
shall discover  that the former are altogether unlimited, and
that the latter are  circumscribed within very moderate bounds.
In pursuing this  inquiry, we must bear in mind that we are not
to confine our view to  the present period, but to look forward
to remote futurity.  Constitutions of civil government are not to
be framed upon a  calculation of existing exigencies, but upon a
combination of these  with the probable exigencies of ages,
according to the natural and  tried course of human affairs.
Nothing, therefore, can be more  fallacious than to infer the
extent of any power, proper to be  lodged in the national
government, from an estimate of its immediate  necessities. There
ought to be a CAPACITY to provide for future  contingencies as
they may happen; and as these are illimitable in  their nature,
it is impossible safely to limit that capacity. It is  true,
perhaps, that a computation might be made with sufficient 
accuracy to answer the purpose of the quantity of revenue
requisite  to discharge the subsisting engagements of the Union,
and to  maintain those establishments which, for some time to
come, would  suffice in time of peace. But would it be wise, or
would it not  rather be the extreme of folly, to stop at this
point, and to leave  the government intrusted with the care of
the national defense in a  state of absolute incapacity to
provide for the protection of the  community against future
invasions of the public peace, by foreign  war or domestic
convulsions? If, on the contrary, we ought to  exceed this point,
where can we stop, short of an indefinite power  of providing for
emergencies as they may arise? Though it is easy  to assert, in
general terms, the possibility of forming a rational  judgment of
a due provision against probable dangers, yet we may  safely
challenge those who make the assertion to bring forward their 
data, and may affirm that they would be found as vague and
uncertain  as any that could be produced to establish the
probable duration of  the world. Observations confined to the
mere prospects of internal  attacks can deserve no weight; though
even these will admit of no  satisfactory calculation: but if we
mean to be a commercial people,  it must form a part of our
policy to be able one day to defend that  commerce. The support
of a navy and of naval wars would involve  contingencies that
must baffle all the efforts of political  arithmetic.
Admitting that we ought to try the novel and absurd experiment 
in politics of tying up the hands of government from offensive
war  founded upon reasons of state, yet certainly we ought not to
disable  it from guarding the community against the ambition or
enmity of  other nations. A cloud has been for some time hanging
over the  European world. If it should break forth into a storm,
who can  insure us that in its progress a part of its fury would
not be spent  upon us? No reasonable man would hastily pronounce
that we are  entirely out of its reach. Or if the combustible
materials that now  seem to be collecting should be dissipated
without coming to  maturity, or if a flame should be kindled
without extending to us,  what security can we have that our
tranquillity will long remain  undisturbed from some other cause
or from some other quarter? Let  us recollect that peace or war
will not always be left to our  option; that however moderate or
unambitious we may be, we cannot  count upon the moderation, or
hope to extinguish the ambition of  others. Who could have
imagined at the conclusion of the last war  that France and
Britain, wearied and exhausted as they both were,  would so soon
have looked with so hostile an aspect upon each other?  To judge
from the history of mankind, we shall be compelled to  conclude
that the fiery and destructive passions of war reign in the 
human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and 
beneficent sentiments of peace; and that to model our political 
systems upon speculations of lasting tranquillity, is to
calculate  on the weaker springs of the human character.
What are the chief sources of expense in every government? What 
has occasioned that enormous accumulation of debts with which 
several of the European nations are oppressed? The answers
plainly  is, wars and rebellions; the support of those
institutions which  are necessary to guard the body politic
against these two most  mortal diseases of society. The expenses
arising from those  institutions which are relative to the mere
domestic police of a  state, to the support of its legislative,
executive, and judicial  departments, with their different
appendages, and to the
encouragement of agriculture and manufactures (which will
comprehend  almost all the objects of state expenditure), are
insignificant in  comparison with those which relate to the
national defense. In the kingdom of Great Britain, where all the
ostentatious  apparatus of monarchy is to be provided for, not
above a fifteenth  part of the annual income of the nation is
appropriated to the class  of expenses last mentioned; the other
fourteen fifteenths are  absorbed in the payment of the interest
of debts contracted for  carrying on the wars in which that
country has been engaged, and in  the maintenance of fleets and
armies. If, on the one hand, it  should be observed that the
expenses incurred in the prosecution of  the ambitious
enterprises and vainglorious pursuits of a monarchy  are not a
proper standard by which to judge of those which might be 
necessary in a republic, it ought, on the other hand, to be
remarked  that there should be as great a disproportion between
the profusion  and extravagance of a wealthy kingdom in its
administration, and the frugality and economy which in that 
particular become the modest simplicity of republican government. 
If we balance a proper deduction from one side against that which 
it is supposed ought to be made from the other, the proportion
may  still be considered as holding good.
But let us advert to the large debt which we have ourselves 
contracted in a single war, and let us only calculate on a common 
share of the events which disturb the peace of nations, and we
shall  instantly perceive, without the aid of any elaborate
illustration,  that there must always be an immense disproportion
between the  objects of federal and state expenditures. It is
true that several  of the States, separately, are encumbered with
considerable debts,  which are an excrescence of the late war.
But this cannot happen  again, if the proposed system be adopted;
and when these debts are  discharged, the only call for revenue
of any consequence, which the  State governments will continue to
experience, will be for the mere  support of their respective
civil list; to which, if we add all  contingencies, the total
amount in every State ought to fall  considerably short of two
hundred thousand pounds.
In framing a government for posterity as well as ourselves, we 
ought, in those provisions which are designed to be permanent, to 
calculate, not on temporary, but on permanent causes of expense.
If  this principle be a just one our attention would be directed
to a  provision in favor of the State governments for an annual
sum of  about two hundred thousand pounds; while the exigencies
of the  Union could be susceptible of no limits, even in
imagination. In  this view of the subject, by what logic can it
be maintained that  the local governments ought to command, in
perpetuity, an EXCLUSIVE  source of revenue for any sum beyond
the extent of two hundred  thousand pounds? To extend its power
further, in EXCLUSION of the  authority of the Union, would be to
take the resources of the  community out of those hands which
stood in need of them for the  public welfare, in order to put
them into other hands which could  have no just or proper
occasion for them.
Suppose, then, the convention had been inclined to proceed upon 
the principle of a repartition of the objects of revenue, between 
the Union and its members, in PROPORTION to their comparative 
necessities; what particular fund could have been selected for
the  use of the States, that would not either have been too much
or too  little too little for their present, too much for their
future  wants? As to the line of separation between external and
internal  taxes, this would leave to the States, at a rough
computation, the  command of two thirds of the resources of the
community to defray  from a tenth to a twentieth part of its
expenses; and to the Union,  one third of the resources of the
community, to defray from nine  tenths to nineteen twentieths of
its expenses. If we desert this  boundary and content ourselves
with leaving to the States an  exclusive power of taxing houses
and lands, there would still be a  great disproportion between
the MEANS and the END; the possession  of one third of the
resources of the community to supply, at most,  one tenth of its
wants. If any fund could have been selected and  appropriated,
equal to and not greater than the object, it would  have been
inadequate to the discharge of the existing debts of the 
particular States, and would have left them dependent on the
Union  for a provision for this purpose.
The preceding train of observation will justify the position 
which has been elsewhere laid down, that ``A CONCURRENT
JURISDICTION  in the article of taxation was the only admissible
substitute for an  entire subordination, in respect to this
branch of power, of State  authority to that of the Union.'' Any
separation of the objects of  revenue that could have been fallen
upon, would have amounted to a  sacrifice of the great INTERESTS
of the Union to the POWER of the  individual States. The
convention thought the concurrent
jurisdiction preferable to that subordination; and it is evident 
that it has at least the merit of reconciling an indefinite 
constitutional power of taxation in the Federal government with
an  adequate and independent power in the States to provide for
their  own necessities. There remain a few other lights, in which
this  important subject of taxation will claim a further
consideration. PUBLIUS.


The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
BEFORE we proceed to examine any other objections to an
indefinite power of taxation in the Union, I shall make one
general  remark; which is, that if the jurisdiction of the
national  government, in the article of revenue, should be
restricted to  particular objects, it would naturally occasion an
undue proportion  of the public burdens to fall upon those
objects. Two evils would  spring from this source: the oppression
of particular branches of  industry; and an unequal distribution
of the taxes, as well among  the several States as among the
citizens of the same State. Suppose, as has been contended for,
the federal power of
taxation were to be confined to duties on imports, it is evident 
that the government, for want of being able to command other 
resources, would frequently be tempted to extend these duties to
an  injurious excess. There are persons who imagine that they can
never  be carried to too great a length; since the higher they
are, the  more it is alleged they will tend to discourage an
extravagant  consumption, to produce a favorable balance of
trade, and to promote  domestic manufactures. But all extremes
are pernicious in various  ways. Exorbitant duties on imported
articles would beget a general  spirit of smuggling; which is
always prejudicial to the fair  trader, and eventually to the
revenue itself: they tend to render  other classes of the
community tributary, in an improper degree, to  the manufacturing
classes, to whom they give a premature monopoly of  the markets;
they sometimes force industry out of its more natural  channels
into others in which it flows with less advantage; and in  the
last place, they oppress the merchant, who is often obliged to 
pay them himself without any retribution from the consumer. When 
the demand is equal to the quantity of goods at market, the
consumer  generally pays the duty; but when the markets happen to
be  overstocked, a great proportion falls upon the merchant, and 
sometimes not only exhausts his profits, but breaks in upon his 
capital. I am apt to think that a division of the duty, between
the  seller and the buyer, more often happens than is commonly
imagined.  It is not always possible to raise the price of a
commodity in  exact proportion to every additional imposition
laid upon it. The  merchant, especially in a country of small
commercial capital, is  often under a necessity of keeping prices
down in order to a more  expeditious sale.
The maxim that the consumer is the payer, is so much oftener 
true than the reverse of the proposition, that it is far more 
equitable that the duties on imports should go into a common
stock,  than that they should redound to the exclusive benefit of
the  importing States. But it is not so generally true as to
render it  equitable, that those duties should form the only
national fund.  When they are paid by the merchant they operate
as an additional  tax upon the importing State, whose citizens
pay their proportion of  them in the character of consumers. In
this view they are
productive of inequality among the States; which inequality
would  be increased with the increased extent of the duties. The
confinement of the national revenues to this species of imposts 
would be attended with inequality, from a different cause,
between  the manufacturing and the non-manufacturing States. The
States  which can go farthest towards the supply of their own
wants, by  their own manufactures, will not, according to their
numbers or  wealth, consume so great a proportion of imported
articles as those  States which are not in the same favorable
situation. They would  not, therefore, in this mode alone
contribute to the public treasury  in a ratio to their abilities.
To make them do this it is necessary  that recourse be had to
excises, the proper objects of which are  particular kinds of
manufactures. New York is more deeply
interested in these considerations than such of her citizens as 
contend for limiting the power of the Union to external taxation
may  be aware of. New York is an importing State, and is not
likely  speedily to be, to any great extent, a manufacturing
State. She  would, of course, suffer in a double light from
restraining the  jurisdiction of the Union to commercial imposts.
So far as these observations tend to inculcate a danger of the 
import duties being extended to an injurious extreme it may be 
observed, conformably to a remark made in another part of these 
papers, that the interest of the revenue itself would be a 
sufficient guard against such an extreme. I readily admit that
this  would be the case, as long as other resources were open;
but if the  avenues to them were closed, HOPE, stimulated by
necessity, would  beget experiments, fortified by rigorous
precautions and additional  penalties, which, for a time, would
have the intended effect, till  there had been leisure to
contrive expedients to elude these new  precautions. The first
success would be apt to inspire false  opinions, which it might
require a long course of subsequent  experience to correct.
Necessity, especially in politics, often  occasions false hopes,
false reasonings, and a system of measures  correspondingly
erroneous. But even if this supposed excess should  not be a
consequence of the limitation of the federal power of  taxation,
the inequalities spoken of would still ensue, though not  in the
same degree, from the other causes that have been noticed.  Let
us now return to the examination of objections.
One which, if we may judge from the frequency of its repetition, 
seems most to be relied on, is, that the House of Representatives
is  not sufficiently numerous for the reception of all the
different  classes of citizens, in order to combine the interests
and feelings  of every part of the community, and to produce a
due sympathy  between the representative body and its
constituents. This argument  presents itself under a very
specious and seducing form; and is  well calculated to lay hold
of the prejudices of those to whom it is  addressed. But when we
come to dissect it with attention, it will  appear to be made up
of nothing but fair-sounding words. The object  it seems to aim
at is, in the first place, impracticable, and in the  sense in
which it is contended for, is unnecessary. I reserve for  another
place the discussion of the question which relates to the 
sufficiency of the representative body in respect to numbers, and 
shall content myself with examining here the particular use which 
has been made of a contrary supposition, in reference to the 
immediate subject of our inquiries.
The idea of an actual representation of all classes of the
people, by persons of each class, is altogether visionary.
Unless  it were expressly provided in the Constitution, that each
different  occupation should send one or more members, the thing
would never  take place in practice. Mechanics and manufacturers
will always be  inclined, with few exceptions, to give their
votes to merchants, in  preference to persons of their own
professions or trades. Those  discerning citizens are well aware
that the mechanic and
manufacturing arts furnish the materials of mercantile
enterprise  and industry. Many of them, indeed, are immediately
connected with  the operations of commerce. They know that the
merchant is their  natural patron and friend; and they are aware,
that however great  the confidence they may justly feel in their
own good sense, their  interests can be more effectually promoted
by the merchant than by  themselves. They are sensible that their
habits in life have not  been such as to give them those acquired
endowments, without which,  in a deliberative assembly, the
greatest natural abilities are for  the most part useless; and
that the influence and weight, and  superior acquirements of the
merchants render them more equal to a  contest with any spirit
which might happen to infuse itself into the  public councils,
unfriendly to the manufacturing and trading  interests. These
considerations, and many others that might be  mentioned prove,
and experience confirms it, that artisans and  manufacturers will
commonly be disposed to bestow their votes upon  merchants and
those whom they recommend. We must therefore consider  merchants
as the natural representatives of all these classes of the 
With regard to the learned professions, little need be observed; 
they truly form no distinct interest in society, and according to 
their situation and talents, will be indiscriminately the objects
of  the confidence and choice of each other, and of other parts
of the  community.
Nothing remains but the landed interest; and this, in a
political view, and particularly in relation to taxes, I take to
be  perfectly united, from the wealthiest landlord down to the
poorest  tenant. No tax can be laid on land which will not affect
the  proprietor of millions of acres as well as the proprietor of
a  single acre. Every landholder will therefore have a common
interest  to keep the taxes on land as low as possible; and
common interest  may always be reckoned upon as the surest bond
of sympathy. But if  we even could suppose a distinction of
interest between the opulent  landholder and the middling farmer,
what reason is there to  conclude, that the first would stand a
better chance of being  deputed to the national legislature than
the last? If we take fact  as our guide, and look into our own
senate and assembly, we shall  find that moderate proprietors of
land prevail in both; nor is this  less the case in the senate,
which consists of a smaller number,  than in the assembly, which
is composed of a greater number. Where  the qualifications of the
electors are the same, whether they have  to choose a small or a
large number, their votes will fall upon  those in whom they have
most confidence; whether these happen to be  men of large
fortunes, or of moderate property, or of no property at  all.
It is said to be necessary, that all classes of citizens should 
have some of their own number in the representative body, in
order  that their feelings and interests may be the better
understood and  attended to. But we have seen that this will
never happen under any  arrangement that leaves the votes of the
people free. Where this is  the case, the representative body,
with too few exceptions to have  any influence on the spirit of
the government, will be composed of  landholders, merchants, and
men of the learned professions. But  where is the danger that the
interests and feelings of the different  classes of citizens will
not be understood or attended to by these  three descriptions of
men? Will not the landholder know and feel  whatever will promote
or insure the interest of landed property?  And will he not, from
his own interest in that species of property,  be sufficiently
prone to resist every attempt to prejudice or  encumber it? Will
not the merchant understand and be disposed to  cultivate, as far
as may be proper, the interests of the mechanic  and
manufacturing arts, to which his commerce is so nearly allied? 
Will not the man of the learned profession, who will feel a 
neutrality to the rivalships between the different branches of 
industry, be likely to prove an impartial arbiter between them, 
ready to promote either, so far as it shall appear to him
conducive  to the general interests of the society?
If we take into the account the momentary humors or dispositions 
which may happen to prevail in particular parts of the society,
and  to which a wise administration will never be inattentive, is
the man  whose situation leads to extensive inquiry and
information less  likely to be a competent judge of their nature,
extent, and  foundation than one whose observation does not
travel beyond the  circle of his neighbors and acquaintances? Is
it not natural that a  man who is a candidate for the favor of
the people, and who is  dependent on the suffrages of his fellow-
citizens for the
continuance of his public honors, should take care to inform
himself  of their dispositions and inclinations, and should be
willing to  allow them their proper degree of influence upon his
conduct? This  dependence, and the necessity of being bound
himself, and his  posterity, by the laws to which he gives his
assent, are the true,  and they are the strong chords of sympathy
between the
representative and the constituent.
There is no part of the administration of government that
requires extensive information and a thorough knowledge of the 
principles of political economy, so much as the business of
taxation.  The man who understands those principles best will be
least likely  to resort to oppressive expedients, or sacrifice
any particular  class of citizens to the procurement of revenue.
It might be  demonstrated that the most productive system of
finance will always  be the least burdensome. There can be no
doubt that in order to a  judicious exercise of the power of
taxation, it is necessary that  the person in whose hands it
should be acquainted with the general  genius, habits, and modes
of thinking of the people at large, and  with the resources of
the country. And this is all that can be  reasonably meant by a
knowledge of the interests and feelings of the  people. In any
other sense the proposition has either no meaning,  or an absurd
one. And in that sense let every considerate citizen  judge for
himself where the requisite qualification is most likely  to be


The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday January 8, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
WE HAVE seen that the result of the observations, to which the 
foregoing number has been principally devoted, is, that from the 
natural operation of the different interests and views of the 
various classes of the community, whether the representation of
the  people be more or less numerous, it will consist almost
entirely of  proprietors of land, of merchants, and of members of
the learned  professions, who will truly represent all those
different interests  and views. If it should be objected that we
have seen other  descriptions of men in the local legislatures, I
answer that it is  admitted there are exceptions to the rule, but
not in sufficient  number to influence the general complexion or
character of the  government. There are strong minds in every
walk of life that will  rise superior to the disadvantages of
situation, and will command  the tribute due to their merit, not
only from the classes to which  they particularly belong, but
from the society in general. The door  ought to be equally open
to all; and I trust, for the credit of  human nature, that we
shall see examples of such vigorous plants  flourishing in the
soil of federal as well as of State legislation;  but occasional
instances of this sort will not render the reasoning  founded
upon the general course of things, less conclusive. The subject
might be placed in several other lights that would  all lead to
the same result; and in particular it might be asked,  What
greater affinity or relation of interest can be conceived 
between the carpenter and blacksmith, and the linen manufacturer
or  stocking weaver, than between the merchant and either of
them? It  is notorious that there are often as great rivalships
between  different branches of the mechanic or manufacturing arts
as there  are between any of the departments of labor and
industry; so that,  unless the representative body were to be far
more numerous than  would be consistent with any idea of
regularity or wisdom in its  deliberations, it is impossible that
what seems to be the spirit of  the objection we have been
considering should ever be realized in  practice. But I forbear
to dwell any longer on a matter which has  hitherto worn too
loose a garb to admit even of an accurate  inspection of its real
shape or tendency.
There is another objection of a somewhat more precise nature 
that claims our attention. It has been asserted that a power of 
internal taxation in the national legislature could never be 
exercised with advantage, as well from the want of a sufficient 
knowledge of local circumstances, as from an interference between 
the revenue laws of the Union and of the particular States. The 
supposition of a want of proper knowledge seems to be entirely 
destitute of foundation. If any question is depending in a State 
legislature respecting one of the counties, which demands a 
knowledge of local details, how is it acquired? No doubt from the 
information of the members of the county. Cannot the like
knowledge  be obtained in the national legislature from the
representatives of  each State? And is it not to be presumed that
the men who will  generally be sent there will be possessed of
the necessary degree of  intelligence to be able to communicate
that information? Is the  knowledge of local circumstances, as
applied to taxation, a minute  topographical acquaintance with
all the mountains, rivers, streams,  highways, and bypaths in
each State; or is it a general
acquaintance with its situation and resources, with the state of
its  agriculture, commerce, manufactures, with the nature of its
products  and consumptions, with the different degrees and kinds
of its  wealth, property, and industry?
Nations in general, even under governments of the more popular 
kind, usually commit the administration of their finances to
single  men or to boards composed of a few individuals, who
digest and  prepare, in the first instance, the plans of
taxation, which are  afterwards passed into laws by the authority
of the sovereign or  legislature.
Inquisitive and enlightened statesmen are deemed everywhere best 
qualified to make a judicious selection of the objects proper for 
revenue; which is a clear indication, as far as the sense of 
mankind can have weight in the question, of the species of
knowledge  of local circumstances requisite to the purposes of
taxation. The taxes intended to be comprised under the general
denomination of internal taxes may be subdivided into those of
the  DIRECT and those of the INDIRECT kind. Though the objection
be made  to both, yet the reasoning upon it seems to be confined
to the  former branch. And indeed, as to the latter, by which
must be  understood duties and excises on articles of
consumption, one is at  a loss to conceive what can be the nature
of the difficulties  apprehended. The knowledge relating to them
must evidently be of a  kind that will either be suggested by the
nature of the article  itself, or can easily be procured from any
well-informed man,  especially of the mercantile class. The
circumstances that may  distinguish its situation in one State
from its situation in another  must be few, simple, and easy to
be comprehended. The principal  thing to be attended to, would be
to avoid those articles which had  been previously appropriated
to the use of a particular State; and  there could be no
difficulty in ascertaining the revenue system of  each. This
could always be known from the respective codes of laws,  as well
as from the information of the members from the several  States.
The objection, when applied to real property or to houses and 
lands, appears to have, at first sight, more foundation, but even
in  this view it will not bear a close examination. Land taxes
are co  monly laid in one of two modes, either by ACTUAL
valuations,  permanent or periodical, or by OCCASIONAL
assessments, at the  discretion, or according to the best
judgment, of certain officers  whose duty it is to make them. In
either case, the EXECUTION of the  business, which alone requires
the knowledge of local details, must  be devolved upon discreet
persons in the character of commissioners  or assessors, elected
by the people or appointed by the government  for the purpose.
All that the law can do must be to name the  persons or to
prescribe the manner of their election or appointment,  to fix
their numbers and qualifications and to draw the general 
outlines of their powers and duties. And what is there in all
this  that cannot as well be performed by the national
legislature as by a  State legislature? The attention of either
can only reach to  general principles; local details, as already
observed, must be  referred to those who are to execute the plan.
But there is a simple point of view in which this matter may be 
placed that must be altogether satisfactory. The national
legislature can make use of the SYSTEM OF EACH STATE WITHIN THAT 
STATE. The method of laying and collecting this species of taxes
in  each State can, in all its parts, be adopted and employed by
the  federal government.
Let it be recollected that the proportion of these taxes is not 
to be left to the discretion of the national legislature, but is
to  be determined by the numbers of each State, as described in
the  second section of the first article. An actual census or
enumeration of the people must furnish the rule, a circumstance 
which effectually shuts the door to partiality or oppression. The 
abuse of this power of taxation seems to have been provided
against  with guarded circumspection. In addition to the
precaution just  mentioned, there is a provision that ``all
duties, imposts, and  excises shall be UNIFORM throughout the
United States.''
It has been very properly observed by different speakers and 
writers on the side of the Constitution, that if the exercise of
the  power of internal taxation by the Union should be discovered
on  experiment to be really inconvenient, the federal government
may  then forbear the use of it, and have recourse to
requisitions in its  stead. By way of answer to this, it has been
triumphantly asked,  Why not in the first instance omit that
ambiguous power, and rely  upon the latter resource? Two solid
answers may be given. The  first is, that the exercise of that
power, if convenient, will be  preferable, because it will be
more effectual; and it is impossible  to prove in theory, or
otherwise than by the experiment, that it  cannot be
advantageously exercised. The contrary, indeed, appears  most
probable. The second answer is, that the existence of such a 
power in the Constitution will have a strong influence in giving 
efficacy to requisitions. When the States know that the Union can 
apply itself without their agency, it will be a powerful motive
for  exertion on their part.
As to the interference of the revenue laws of the Union, and of 
its members, we have already seen that there can be no clashing
or  repugnancy of authority. The laws cannot, therefore, in a
legal  sense, interfere with each other; and it is far from
impossible to  avoid an interference even in the policy of their
different systems.  An effectual expedient for this purpose will
be, mutually, to  abstain from those objects which either side
may have first had  recourse to. As neither can CONTROL the
other, each will have an  obvious and sensible interest in this
reciprocal forbearance. And  where there is an IMMEDIATE common
interest, we may safely count  upon its operation. When the
particular debts of the States are  done away, and their expenses
come to be limited within their  natural compass, the possibility
almost of interference will vanish.  A small land tax will answer
the purpose of the States, and will be  their most simple and
most fit resource.
Many spectres have been raised out of this power of internal 
taxation, to excite the apprehensions of the people: double sets
of  revenue officers, a duplication of their burdens by double 
taxations, and the frightful forms of odious and oppressive 
poll-taxes, have been played off with all the ingenious dexterity
of  political legerdemain.
As to the first point, there are two cases in which there can be 
no room for double sets of officers: one, where the right of 
imposing the tax is exclusively vested in the Union, which
applies  to the duties on imports; the other, where the object
has not  fallen under any State regulation or provision, which
may be  applicable to a variety of objects. In other cases, the
probability  is that the United States will either wholly abstain
from the  objects preoccupied for local purposes, or will make
use of the  State officers and State regulations for collecting
the additional  imposition. This will best answer the views of
revenue, because it  will save expense in the collection, and
will best avoid any  occasion of disgust to the State governments
and to the people. At  all events, here is a practicable
expedient for avoiding such an  inconvenience; and nothing more
can be required than to show that  evils predicted to not
necessarily result from the plan.
As to any argument derived from a supposed system of influence, 
it is a sufficient answer to say that it ought not to be
presumed;  but the supposition is susceptible of a more precise
answer. If  such a spirit should infest the councils of the
Union, the most  certain road to the accomplishment of its aim
would be to employ the  State officers as much as possible, and
to attach them to the Union  by an accumulation of their
emoluments. This would serve to turn  the tide of State influence
into the channels of the national  government, instead of making
federal influence flow in an opposite  and adverse current. But
all suppositions of this kind are  invidious, and ought to be
banished from the consideration of the  great question before the
people. They can answer no other end than  to cast a mist over
the truth.
As to the suggestion of double taxation, the answer is plain. 
The wants of the Union are to be supplied in one way or another; 
if to be done by the authority of the federal government, it will 
not be to be done by that of the State government. The quantity
of  taxes to be paid by the community must be the same in either
case;  with this advantage, if the provision is to be made by the 
Union that the capital resource of commercial imposts, which is
the  most convenient branch of revenue, can be prudently improved
to a  much greater extent under federal than under State
regulation, and  of course will render it less necessary to recur
to more
inconvenient methods; and with this further advantage, that as
far  as there may be any real difficulty in the exercise of the
power of  internal taxation, it will impose a disposition to
greater care in  the choice and arrangement of the means; and
must naturally tend to  make it a fixed point of policy in the
national administration to go  as far as may be practicable in
making the luxury of the rich  tributary to the public treasury,
in order to diminish the necessity  of those impositions which
might create dissatisfaction in the  poorer and most numerous
classes of the society. Happy it is when  the interest which the
government has in the preservation of its own  power, coincides
with a proper distribution of the public burdens,  and tends to
guard the least wealthy part of the community from  oppression!
As to poll taxes, I, without scruple, confess my disapprobation 
of them; and though they have prevailed from an early period in 
those States%n1%n which have uniformly been the most tenacious of 
their rights, I should lament to see them introduced into
practice  under the national government. But does it follow
because there is  a power to lay them that they will actually be
laid? Every State in  the Union has power to impose taxes of this
kind; and yet in  several of them they are unknown in practice.
Are the State  governments to be stigmatized as tyrannies,
because they possess  this power? If they are not, with what
propriety can the like power  justify such a charge against the
national government, or even be  urged as an obstacle to its
adoption? As little friendly as I am to  the species of
imposition, I still feel a thorough conviction that  the power of
having recourse to it ought to exist in the federal  government.
There are certain emergencies of nations, in which  expedients,
that in the ordinary state of things ought to be  forborne,
become essential to the public weal. And the government,  from
the possibility of such emergencies, ought ever to have the 
option of making use of them. The real scarcity of objects in
this  country, which may be considered as productive sources of
revenue,  is a reason peculiar to itself, for not abridging the
discretion of  the national councils in this respect. There may
exist certain  critical and tempestuous conjunctures of the
State, in which a poll  tax may become an inestimable resource.
And as I know nothing to  exempt this portion of the globe from
the common calamities that  have befallen other parts of it, I
acknowledge my aversion to every  project that is calculated to
disarm the government of a single  weapon, which in any possible
contingency might be usefully employed  for the general defense
and security.
I have now gone through the examination of such of the powers 
proposed to be vested in the United States, which may be
considered  as having an immediate relation to the energy of the
government;  and have endeavored to answer the principal
objections which have  been made to them. I have passed over in
silence those minor  authorities, which are either too
inconsiderable to have been  thought worthy of the hostilities of
the opponents of the
Constitution, or of too manifest propriety to admit of
controversy.  The mass of judiciary power, however, might have
claimed an  investigation under this head, had it not been for
the consideration  that its organization and its extent may be
more advantageously  considered in connection. This has
determined me to refer it to the  branch of our inquiries upon
which we shall next enter.
FNA1@@1 The New England States.


Concerning the Difficulties of the Convention in Devising a
Proper  Form of Government
From the Daily Advertiser.
Friday, January 11, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
IN REVIEWING the defects of the existing Confederation, and 
showing that they cannot be supplied by a government of less
energy  than that before the public, several of the most
important  principles of the latter fell of course under
consideration. But as  the ultimate object of these papers is to
determine clearly and  fully the merits of this Constitution, and
the expediency of  adopting it, our plan cannot be complete
without taking a more  critical and thorough survey of the work
of the convention, without  examining it on all its sides,
comparing it in all its parts, and  calculating its probable
That this remaining task may be executed under impressions
conducive to a just and fair result, some reflections must in
this  place be indulged, which candor previously suggests.
It is a misfortune, inseparable from human affairs, that public 
measures are rarely investigated with that spirit of moderation 
which is essential to a just estimate of their real tendency to 
advance or obstruct the public good; and that this spirit is more 
apt to be diminished than promoted, by those occasions which
require  an unusual exercise of it. To those who have been led by
experience  to attend to this consideration, it could not appear
surprising,  that the act of the convention, which recommends so
many important  changes and innovations, which may be viewed in
so many lights and  relations, and which touches the springs of
so many passions and  interests, should find or excite
dispositions unfriendly, both on  one side and on the other, to a
fair discussion and accurate  judgment of its merits. In some, it
has been too evident from their  own publications, that they have
scanned the proposed Constitution,  not only with a
predisposition to censure, but with a
predetermination to condemn; as the language held by others
betrays  an opposite predetermination or bias, which must render
their  opinions also of little moment in the question. In
placing,  however, these different characters on a level, with
respect to the  weight of their opinions, I wish not to insinuate
that there may not  be a material difference in the purity of
their intentions. It is  but just to remark in favor of the
latter description, that as our  situation is universally
admitted to be peculiarly critical, and to  require indispensably
that something should be done for our relief,  the predetermined
patron of what has been actually done may have  taken his bias
from the weight of these considerations, as well as  from
considerations of a sinister nature. The predetermined 
adversary, on the other hand, can have been governed by no venial 
motive whatever. The intentions of the first may be upright, as 
they may on the contrary be culpable. The views of the last
cannot  be upright, and must be culpable. But the truth is, that
these  papers are not addressed to persons falling under either
of these  characters. They solicit the attention of those only,
who add to a  sincere zeal for the happiness of their country, a
temper favorable  to a just estimate of the means of promoting
Persons of this character will proceed to an examination of the 
plan submitted by the convention, not only without a disposition
to  find or to magnify faults; but will see the propriety of
reflecting, that a faultless plan was not to be expected. Nor
will  they barely make allowances for the errors which may be
chargeable  on the fallibility to which the convention, as a body
of men, were  liable; but will keep in mind, that they themselves
also are but  men, and ought not to assume an infallibility in
rejudging the  fallible opinions of others.
With equal readiness will it be perceived, that besides these 
inducements to candor, many allowances ought to be made for the 
difficulties inherent in the very nature of the undertaking
referred  to the convention.
The novelty of the undertaking immediately strikes us. It has 
been shown in the course of these papers, that the existing 
Confederation is founded on principles which are fallacious; that 
we must consequently change this first foundation, and with it
the  superstructure resting upon it. It has been shown, that the
other  confederacies which could be consulted as precedents have
been  vitiated by the same erroneous principles, and can
therefore furnish  no other light than that of beacons, which
give warning of the  course to be shunned, without pointing out
that which ought to be  pursued. The most that the convention
could do in such a situation,  was to avoid the errors suggested
by the past experience of other  countries, as well as of our
own; and to provide a convenient mode  of rectifying their own
errors, as future experiences may unfold  them.
Among the difficulties encountered by the convention, a very 
important one must have lain in combining the requisite stability 
and energy in government, with the inviolable attention due to 
liberty and to the republican form. Without substantially
accomplishing this part of their undertaking, they would have
very  imperfectly fulfilled the object of their appointment, or
the  expectation of the public; yet that it could not be easily 
accomplished, will be denied by no one who is unwilling to betray 
his ignorance of the subject. Energy in government is essential
to  that security against external and internal danger, and to
that  prompt and salutary execution of the laws which enter into
the very  definition of good government. Stability in government
is essential  to national character and to the advantages annexed
to it, as well  as to that repose and confidence in the minds of
the people, which  are among the chief blessings of civil
society. An irregular and  mutable legislation is not more an
evil in itself than it is odious  to the people; and it may be
pronounced with assurance that the  people of this country,
enlightened as they are with regard to the  nature, and
interested, as the great body of them are, in the  effects of
good government, will never be satisfied till some remedy  be
applied to the vicissitudes and uncertainties which characterize 
the State administrations. On comparing, however, these valuable 
ingredients with the vital principles of liberty, we must
perceive  at once the difficulty of mingling them together in
their due  proportions. The genius of republican liberty seems to
demand on  one side, not only that all power should be derived
from the people,  but that those intrusted with it should be kept
in independence on  the people, by a short duration of their
appointments; and that  even during this short period the trust
should be placed not in a  few, but a number of hands. Stability,
on the contrary, requires  that the hands in which power is
lodged should continue for a length  of time the same. A frequent
change of men will result from a  frequent return of elections;
and a frequent change of measures  from a frequent change of men:
whilst energy in government requires  not only a certain duration
of power, but the execution of it by a  single hand.
How far the convention may have succeeded in this part of their 
work, will better appear on a more accurate view of it. From the 
cursory view here taken, it must clearly appear to have been an 
arduous part.
Not less arduous must have been the task of marking the proper 
line of partition between the authority of the general and that
of  the State governments. Every man will be sensible of this
difficulty, in proportion as he has been accustomed to
contemplate  and discriminate objects extensive and complicated
in their nature.  The faculties of the mind itself have never yet
been distinguished  and defined, with satisfactory precision, by
all the efforts of the  most acute and metaphysical philosophers.
Sense, perception,  judgment, desire, volition, memory,
imagination, are found to be  separated by such delicate shades
and minute gradations that their  boundaries have eluded the most
subtle investigations, and remain a  pregnant source of ingenious
disquisition and controversy. The  boundaries between the great
kingdom of nature, and, still more,  between the various
provinces, and lesser portions, into which they  are subdivided,
afford another illustration of the same important  truth. The
most sagacious and laborious naturalists have never yet 
succeeded in tracing with certainty the line which separates the 
district of vegetable life from the neighboring region of
unorganized matter, or which marks the ermination of the former
and  the commencement of the animal empire. A still greater
obscurity  lies in the distinctive characters by which the
objects in each of  these great departments of nature have been
arranged and assorted. When we pass from the works of nature, in
which all the
delineations are perfectly accurate, and appear to be otherwise
only  from the imperfection of the eye which surveys them, to the 
institutions of man, in which the obscurity arises as well from
the  object itself as from the organ by which it is contemplated,
we must  perceive the necessity of moderating still further our
expectations  and hopes from the efforts of human sagacity.
Experience has  instructed us that no skill in the science of
government has yet  been able to discriminate and define, with
sufficient certainty, its  three great provinces the legislative,
executive, and judiciary; or  even the privileges and powers of
the different legislative branches.  Questions daily occur in the
course of practice, which prove the  obscurity which reins in
these subjects, and which puzzle the  greatest adepts in
political science.
The experience of ages, with the continued and combined labors 
of the most enlightened legislatures and jurists, has been
equally  unsuccessful in delineating the several objects and
limits of  different codes of laws and different tribunals of
justice. The  precise extent of the common law, and the statute
law, the maritime  law, the ecclesiastical law, the law of
corporations, and other  local laws and customs, remains still to
be clearly and finally  established in Great Britain, where
accuracy in such subjects has  been more industriously pursued
than in any other part of the world.  The jurisdiction of her
several courts, general and local, of law,  of equity, of
admiralty, etc., is not less a source of frequent and  intricate
discussions, sufficiently denoting the indeterminate  limits by
which they are respectively circumscribed. All new laws,  though
penned with the greatest technical skill, and passed on the 
fullest and most mature deliberation, are considered as more or
less  obscure and equivocal, until their meaning be liquidated
and  ascertained by a series of particular discussions and
adjudications.  Besides the obscurity arising from the complexity
of objects, and  the imperfection of the human faculties, the
medium through which  the conceptions of men are conveyed to each
other adds a fresh  embarrassment. The use of words is to express
ideas. Perspicuity,  therefore, requires not only that the ideas
should be distinctly  formed, but that they should be expressed
by words distinctly and  exclusively appropriate to them. But no
language is so copious as  to supply words and phrases for every
complex idea, or so correct as  not to include many equivocally
denoting different ideas. Hence it  must happen that however
accurately objects may be discriminated in  themselves, and
however accurately the discrimination may be  considered, the
definition of them may be rendered inaccurate by the  inaccuracy
of the terms in which it is delivered. And this  unavoidable
inaccuracy must be greater or less, according to the  complexity
and novelty of the objects defined. When the Almighty  himself
condescends to address mankind in their own language, his 
meaning, luminous as it must be, is rendered dim and doubtful by
the  cloudy medium through which it is communicated.
Here, then, are three sources of vague and incorrect
definitions: indistinctness of the object, imperfection of the 
organ of conception, inadequateness of the vehicle of ideas. Any 
one of these must produce a certain degree of obscurity. The 
convention, in delineating the boundary between the federal and 
State jurisdictions, must have experienced the full effect of
them  all.
To the difficulties already mentioned may be added the
interfering pretensions of the larger and smaller States. We
cannot  err in supposing that the former would contend for a
participation  in the government, fully proportioned to their
superior wealth and  importance; and that the latter would not be
less tenacious of the  equality at present enjoyed by them. We
may well suppose that  neither side would entirely yield to the
other, and consequently  that the struggle could be terminated
only by compromise. It is  extremely probable, also, that after
the ratio of representation had  been adjusted, this very
compromise must have produced a fresh  struggle between the same
parties, to give such a turn to the  organization of the
government, and to the distribution of its  powers, as would
increase the importance of the branches, in forming  which they
had respectively obtained the greatest share of influence.  There
are features in the Constitution which warrant each of these 
suppositions; and as far as either of them is well founded, it 
shows that the convention must have been compelled to sacrifice 
theoretical propriety to the force of extraneous considerations.
Nor could it have been the large and small States only, which 
would marshal themselves in opposition to each other on various 
points. Other combinations, resulting from a difference of local 
position and policy, must have created additional difficulties.
As  every State may be divided into different districts, and its 
citizens into different classes, which give birth to contending 
interests and local jealousies, so the different parts of the
United  States are distinguished from each other by a variety of
circumstances, which produce a like effect on a larger scale.
And  although this variety of interests, for reasons sufficiently 
explained in a former paper, may have a salutary influence on the 
administration of the government when formed, yet every one must
be  sensible of the contrary influence, which must have been
experienced  in the task of forming it.
Would it be wonderful if, under the pressure of all these
difficulties, the convention should have been forced into some 
deviations from that artificial structure and regular symmetry
which  an abstract view of the subject might lead an ingenious
theorist to  bestow on a Constitution planned in his closet or in
imagination? The real wonder is that so many difficulties should 
have been surmounted, and surmounted with a unanimity almost as 
unprecedented as it must have been unexpected. It is impossible
for  any man of candor to reflect on this circumstance without
partaking  of the astonishment. It is impossible for the man of
pious  reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty
hand  which has been so frequently and signally extended to our
relief in  the critical stages of the revolution.
We had occasion, in a former paper, to take notice of the
repeated trials which have been unsuccessfully made in the
United  Netherlands for reforming the baneful and notorious vices
of their  constitution. The history of almost all the great
councils and  consultations held among mankind for reconciling
their discordant  opinions, assuaging their mutual jealousies,
and adjusting their  respective interests, is a history of
factions, contentions, and  disappointments, and may be classed
among the most dark and degraded  pictures which display the
infirmities and depravities of the human  character. If, in a few
scattered instances, a brighter aspect is  presented, they serve
only as exceptions to admonish us of the  general truth; and by
their lustre to darken the gloom of the  adverse prospect to
which they are contrasted. In revolving the  causes from which
these exceptions result, and applying them to the  particular
instances before us, we are necessarily led to two  important
conclusions. The first is, that the convention must have 
enjoyed, in a very singular degree, an exemption from the
pestilential influence of party animosities the disease most 
incident to deliberative bodies, and most apt to contaminate
their  proceedings. The second conclusion is that all the
deputations  composing the convention were satisfactorily
accommodated by the  final act, or were induced to accede to it
by a deep conviction of  the necessity of sacrificing private
opinions and partial interests  to the public good, and by a
despair of seeing this necessity  diminished by delays or by new


The Same Subject Continued, and the Incoherence of the Objections 
to the New Plan Exposed
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, January 15, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
IT IS not a little remarkable that in every case reported by 
ancient history, in which government has been established with 
deliberation and consent, the task of framing it has not been 
committed to an assembly of men, but has been performed by some 
individual citizen of preeminent wisdom and approved integrity.
Minos, we learn, was the primitive founder of the government of 
Crete, as Zaleucus was of that of the Locrians. Theseus first,
and  after him Draco and Solon, instituted the government of
Athens.  Lycurgus was the lawgiver of Sparta. The foundation of
the  original government of Rome was laid by Romulus, and the
work  completed by two of his elective successors, Numa and
Tullius  Hostilius. On the abolition of royalty the consular
administration  was substituted by Brutus, who stepped forward
with a project for  such a reform, which, he alleged, had been
prepared by Tullius  Hostilius, and to which his address obtained
the assent and  ratification of the senate and people. This
remark is applicable to  confederate governments also.
Amphictyon, we are told, was the  author of that which bore his
name. The Achaean league received its  first birth from Achaeus,
and its second from Aratus.
What degree of agency these reputed lawgivers might have in 
their respective establishments, or how far they might be clothed 
with the legitimate authority of the people, cannot in every 
instance be ascertained. In some, however, the proceeding was 
strictly regular. Draco appears to have been intrusted by the 
people of Athens with indefinite powers to reform its government
and  laws. And Solon, according to Plutarch, was in a manner
compelled,  by the universal suffrage of his fellow-citizens, to
take upon him  the sole and absolute power of new-modeling the
constitution. The  proceedings under Lycurgus were less regular;
but as far as the  advocates for a regular reform could prevail,
they all turned their  eyes towards the single efforts of that
celebrated patriot and sage,  instead of seeking to bring about a
revolution by the intervention  of a deliberative body of
Whence could it have proceeded, that a people, jealous as the 
Greeks were of their liberty, should so far abandon the rules of 
caution as to place their destiny in the hands of a single
citizen?  Whence could it have proceeded, that the Athenians, a
people who  would not suffer an army to be commanded by fewer
than ten generals,  and who required no other proof of danger to
their liberties than  the illustrious merit of a fellow-citizen,
should consider one  illustrious citizen as a more eligible
depositary of the fortunes of  themselves and their posterity,
than a select body of citizens, from  whose common deliberations
more wisdom, as well as more safety,  might have been expected?
These questions cannot be fully answered,  without supposing that
the fears of discord and disunion among a  number of counsellors
exceeded the apprehension of treachery or  incapacity in a single
individual. History informs us, likewise, of  the difficulties
with which these celebrated reformers had to  contend, as well as
the expedients which they were obliged to employ  in order to
carry their reforms into effect. Solon, who seems to  have
indulged a more temporizing policy, confessed that he had not 
given to his countrymen the government best suited to their 
happiness, but most tolerable to their prejudices. And Lycurgus, 
more true to his object, was under the necessity of mixing a
portion  of violence with the authority of superstition, and of
securing his  final success by a voluntary renunciation, first of
his country, and  then of his life. If these lessons teach us, on
one hand, to admire  the improvement made by America on the
ancient mode of preparing and  establishing regular plans of
government, they serve not less, on  the other, to admonish us of
the hazards and difficulties incident  to such experiments, and
of the great imprudence of unnecessarily  multiplying them.
Is it an unreasonable conjecture, that the errors which may be 
contained in the plan of the convention are such as have resulted 
rather from the defect of antecedent experience on this
complicated  and difficult subject, than from a want of accuracy
or care in the  investigation of it; and, consequently such as
will not be  ascertained until an actual trial shall have pointed
them out? This  conjecture is rendered probable, not only by many
considerations of  a general nature, but by the particular case
of the Articles of  Confederation. It is observable that among
the numerous objections  and amendments suggested by the several
States, when these articles  were submitted for their
ratification, not one is found which  alludes to the great and
radical error which on actual trial has  discovered itself. And
if we except the observations which New  Jersey was led to make,
rather by her local situation, than by her  peculiar foresight,
it may be questioned whether a single suggestion  was of
sufficient moment to justify a revision of the system. There  is
abundant reason, nevertheless, to suppose that immaterial as 
these objections were, they would have been adhered to with a
very  dangerous inflexibility, in some States, had not a zeal for
their  opinions and supposed interests been stifled by the more
powerful  sentiment of selfpreservation. One State, we may
remember,  persisted for several years in refusing her
concurrence, although  the enemy remained the whole period at our
gates, or rather in the  very bowels of our country. Nor was her
pliancy in the end effected  by a less motive, than the fear of
being chargeable with protracting  the public calamities, and
endangering the event of the contest.  Every candid reader will
make the proper reflections on these  important facts.
A patient who finds his disorder daily growing worse, and that 
an efficacious remedy can no longer be delayed without extreme 
danger, after coolly revolving his situation, and the characters
of  different physicians, selects and calls in such of them as he
judges  most capable of administering relief, and best entitled
to his  confidence. The physicians attend; the case of the
patient is  carefully examined; a consultation is held; they are
unanimously  agreed that the symptoms are critical, but that the
case, with  proper and timely relief, is so far from being
desperate, that it  may be made to issue in an improvement of his
constitution. They  are equally unanimous in prescribing the
remedy, by which this happy  effect is to be produced. The
prescription is no sooner made known,  however, than a number of
persons interpose, and, without denying  the reality or danger of
the disorder, assure the patient that the  prescription will be
poison to his constitution, and forbid him,  under pain of
certain death, to make use of it. Might not the  patient
reasonably demand, before he ventured to follow this advice, 
that the authors of it should at least agree among themselves on 
some other remedy to be substituted? And if he found them
differing  as much from one another as from his first
counsellors, would he not  act prudently in trying the experiment
unanimously recommended by  the latter, rather than be hearkening
to those who could neither  deny the necessity of a speedy
remedy, nor agree in proposing one? Such a patient and in such a
situation is America at this moment.  She has been sensible of
her malady. She has obtained a regular  and unanimous advice from
men of her own deliberate choice. And she  is warned by others
against following this advice under pain of the  most fatal
consequences. Do the monitors deny the reality of her  danger?
No. Do they deny the necessity of some speedy and powerful 
remedy? No. Are they agreed, are any two of them agreed, in their 
objections to the remedy proposed, or in the proper one to be 
substituted? Let them speak for themselves. This one tells us
that  the proposed Constitution ought to be rejected, because it
is not a  confederation of the States, but a government over
individuals.  Another admits that it ought to be a government
over individuals to  a certain extent, but by no means to the
extent proposed. A third  does not object to the government over
individuals, or to the extent  proposed, but to the want of a
bill of rights. A fourth concurs in  the absolute necessity of a
bill of rights, but contends that it  ought to be declaratory,
not of the personal rights of individuals,  but of the rights
reserved to the States in their political capacity.  A fifth is
of opinion that a bill of rights of any sort would be 
superfluous and misplaced, and that the plan would be
unexceptionable but for the fatal power of regulating the times
and  places of election. An objector in a large State exclaims
loudly  against the unreasonable equality of representation in
the Senate.  An objector in a small State is equally loud against
the dangerous  inequality in the House of Representatives. From
this quarter, we  are alarmed with the amazing expense, from the
number of persons who  are to administer the new government. From
another quarter, and  sometimes from the same quarter, on another
occasion, the cry is  that the Congress will be but a shadow of a
representation, and that  the government would be far less
objectionable if the number and the  expense were doubled. A
patriot in a State that does not import or  export, discerns
insuperable objections against the power of direct  taxation. The
patriotic adversary in a State of great exports and  imports, is
not less dissatisfied that the whole burden of taxes may  be
thrown on consumption. This politician discovers in the 
Constitution a direct and irresistible tendency to monarchy; that 
is equally sure it will end in aristocracy. Another is puzzled to 
say which of these shapes it will ultimately assume, but sees 
clearly it must be one or other of them; whilst a fourth is not 
wanting, who with no less confidence affirms that the
Constitution  is so far from having a bias towards either of
these dangers, that  the weight on that side will not be
sufficient to keep it upright  and firm against its opposite
propensities. With another class of  adversaries to the
Constitution the language is that the
legislative, executive, and judiciary departments are intermixed
in  such a manner as to contradict all the ideas of regular
government  and all the requisite precautions in favor of
liberty. Whilst this  objection circulates in vague and general
expressions, there are but  a few who lend their sanction to it.
Let each one come forward with  his particular explanation, and
scarce any two are exactly agreed  upon the subject. In the eyes
of one the junction of the Senate  with the President in the
responsible function of appointing to  offices, instead of
vesting this executive power in the Executive  alone, is the
vicious part of the organization. To another, the  exclusion of
the House of Representatives, whose numbers alone could  be a due
security against corruption and partiality in the exercise  of
such a power, is equally obnoxious. With another, the admission 
of the President into any share of a power which ever must be a 
dangerous engine in the hands of the executive magistrate, is an 
unpardonable violation of the maxims of republican jealousy. No 
part of the arrangement, according to some, is more inadmissible 
than the trial of impeachments by the Senate, which is
alternately a  member both of the legislative and executive
departments, when this  power so evidently belonged to the
judiciary department. ``We  concur fully,'' reply others, ``in
the objection to this part of the  plan, but we can never agree
that a reference of impeachments to the  judiciary authority
would be an amendment of the error. Our  principal dislike to the
organization arises from the extensive  powers already lodged in
that department.'' Even among the zealous  patrons of a council
of state the most irreconcilable variance is  discovered
concerning the mode in which it ought to be constituted.  The
demand of one gentleman is, that the council should consist of  a
small number to be appointed by the most numerous branch of the 
legislature. Another would prefer a larger number, and considers
it  as a fundamental condition that the appointment should be
made by  the President himself.
As it can give no umbrage to the writers against the plan of the 
federal Constitution, let us suppose, that as they are the most 
zealous, so they are also the most sagacious, of those who think
the  late convention were unequal to the task assigned them, and
that a  wiser and better plan might and ought to be substituted.
Let us  further suppose that their country should concur, both in
this  favorable opinion of their merits, and in their unfavorable
opinion  of the convention; and should accordingly proceed to
form them into  a second convention, with full powers, and for
the express purpose  of revising and remoulding the work of the
first. Were the  experiment to be seriously made, though it
required some effort to  view it seriously even in fiction, I
leave it to be decided by the  sample of opinions just exhibited,
whether, with all their enmity to  their predecessors, they
would, in any one point, depart so widely  from their example, as
in the discord and ferment that would mark  their own
deliberations; and whether the Constitution, now before  the
public, would not stand as fair a chance for immortality, as 
Lycurgus gave to that of Sparta, by making its change to depend
on  his own return from exile and death, if it were to be
immediately  adopted, and were to continue in force, not until a
BETTER, but  until ANOTHER should be agreed upon by this new
assembly of  lawgivers.
It is a matter both of wonder and regret, that those who raise 
so many objections against the new Constitution should never call
to  mind the defects of that which is to be exchanged for it. It
is not  necessary that the former should be perfect; it is
sufficient that  the latter is more imperfect. No man would
refuse to give brass for  silver or gold, because the latter had
some alloy in it. No man  would refuse to quit a shattered and
tottering habitation for a firm  and commodious building, because
the latter had not a porch to it,  or because some of the rooms
might be a little larger or smaller, or  the ceilings a little
higher or lower than his fancy would have  planned them. But
waiving illustrations of this sort, is it not  manifest that most
of the capital objections urged against the new  system lie with
tenfold weight against the existing Confederation?  Is an
indefinite power to raise money dangerous in the hands of the 
federal government? The present Congress can make requisitions to 
any amount they please, and the States are constitutionally bound
to  furnish them; they can emit bills of credit as long as they
will  pay for the paper; they can borrow, both abroad and at
home, as  long as a shilling will be lent. Is an indefinite power
to raise  troops dangerous? The Confederation gives to Congress
that power  also; and they have already begun to make use of it.
Is it  improper and unsafe to intermix the different powers of
government  in the same body of men? Congress, a single body of
men, are the  sole depositary of all the federal powers. Is it
particularly  dangerous to give the keys of the treasury, and the
command of the  army, into the same hands? The Confederation
places them both in  the hands of Congress. Is a bill of rights
essential to liberty?  The Confederation has no bill of rights.
Is it an objection  against the new Constitution, that it
empowers the Senate, with the  concurrence of the Executive, to
make treaties which are to be the  laws of the land? The existing
Congress, without any such control,  can make treaties which they
themselves have declared, and most of  the States have
recognized, to be the supreme law of the land. Is  the
importation of slaves permitted by the new Constitution for 
twenty years? By the old it is permitted forever.
I shall be told, that however dangerous this mixture of powers 
may be in theory, it is rendered harmless by the dependence of 
Congress on the State for the means of carrying them into
practice;  that however large the mass of powers may be, it is in
fact a  lifeless mass. Then, say I, in the first place, that the
Confederation is chargeable with the still greater folly of 
declaring certain powers in the federal government to be
absolutely  necessary, and at the same time rendering them
absolutely nugatory;  and, in the next place, that if the Union
is to continue, and no  better government be substituted,
effective powers must either be  granted to, or assumed by, the
existing Congress; in either of  which events, the contrast just
stated will hold good. But this is  not all. Out of this lifeless
mass has already grown an excrescent  power, which tends to
realize all the dangers that can be
apprehended from a defective construction of the supreme
government  of the Union. It is now no longer a point of
speculation and hope,  that the Western territory is a mine of
vast wealth to the United  States; and although it is not of such
a nature as to extricate  them from their present distresses, or
for some time to come, to  yield any regular supplies for the
public expenses, yet must it  hereafter be able, under proper
management, both to effect a gradual  discharge of the domestic
debt, and to furnish, for a certain  period, liberal tributes to
the federal treasury. A very large  proportion of this fund has
been already surrendered by individual  States; and it may with
reason be expected that the remaining  States will not persist in
withholding similar proofs of their  equity and generosity. We
may calculate, therefore, that a rich and  fertile country, of an
area equal to the inhabited extent of the  United States, will
soon become a national stock. Congress have  assumed the
administration of this stock. They have begun to render  it
productive. Congress have undertaken to do more: they have 
proceeded to form new States, to erect temporary governments, to 
appoint officers for them, and to prescribe the conditions on
which  such States shall be admitted into the Confederacy. All
this has  been done; and done without the least color of
constitutional  authority. Yet no blame has been whispered; no
alarm has been  sounded. A GREAT and INDEPENDENT fund of revenue
is passing into  the hands of a SINGLE BODY of men, who can RAISE
TROOPS to an  INDEFINITE NUMBER, and appropriate money to their
support for an  INDEFINITE PERIOD OF TIME. And yet there are men,
who have not only  been silent spectators of this prospect, but
who are advocates for  the system which exhibits it; and, at the
same time, urge against  the new system the objections which we
have heard. Would they not  act with more consistency, in urging
the establishment of the  latter, as no less necessary to guard
the Union against the future  powers and resources of a body
constructed like the existing  Congress, than to save it from the
dangers threatened by the present  impotency of that Assembly?
I mean not, by any thing here said, to throw censure on the 
measures which have been pursued by Congress. I am sensible they 
could not have done otherwise. The public interest, the necessity 
of the case, imposed upon them the task of overleaping their 
constitutional limits. But is not the fact an alarming proof of
the  danger resulting from a government which does not possess
regular  powers commensurate to its objects? A dissolution or
usurpation is  the dreadful dilemma to which it is continually


The Conformity of the Plan to Republican Principles
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE last paper having concluded the observations which were 
meant to introduce a candid survey of the plan of government 
reported by the convention, we now proceed to the execution of
that  part of our undertaking.
The first question that offers itself is, whether the general 
form and aspect of the government be strictly republican. It is 
evident that no other form would be reconcilable with the genius
of  the people of America; with the fundamental principles of the 
Revolution; or with that honorable determination which animates 
every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on 
the capacity of mankind for self-government. If the plan of the 
convention, therefore, be found to depart from the republican 
character, its advocates must abandon it as no longer defensible.
What, then, are the distinctive characters of the republican 
form? Were an answer to this question to be sought, not by 
recurring to principles, but in the application of the term by 
political writers, to the constitution of different States, no 
satisfactory one would ever be found. Holland, in which no
particle  of the supreme authority is derived from the people,
has passed  almost universally under the denomination of a
republic. The same  title has been bestowed on Venice, where
absolute power over the  great body of the people is exercised,
in the most absolute manner,  by a small body of hereditary
nobles. Poland, which is a mixture of  aristocracy and of
monarchy in their worst forms, has been dignified  with the same
appellation. The government of England, which has one  republican
branch only, combined with an hereditary aristocracy and 
monarchy, has, with equal impropriety, been frequently placed on
the  list of republics. These examples, which are nearly as
dissimilar  to each other as to a genuine republic, show the
extreme inaccuracy  with which the term has been used in
political disquisitions. If we resort for a criterion to the
different principles on  which different forms of government are
established, we may define a  republic to be, or at least may
bestow that name on, a government  which derives all its powers
directly or indirectly from the great  body of the people, and is
administered by persons holding their  offices during pleasure,
for a limited period, or during good  behavior. It is ESSENTIAL
to such a government that it be derived  from the great body of
the society, not from an inconsiderable  proportion, or a favored
class of it; otherwise a handful of  tyrannical nobles,
exercising their oppressions by a delegation of  their powers,
might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for  their
government the honorable title of republic. It is SUFFICIENT  for
such a government that the persons administering it be 
appointed, either directly or indirectly, by the people; and that 
they hold their appointments by either of the tenures just 
specified; otherwise every government in the United States, as
well  as every other popular government that has been or can be
well  organized or well executed, would be degraded from the
republican  character. According to the constitution of every
State in the  Union, some or other of the officers of government
are appointed  indirectly only by the people. According to most
of them, the chief  magistrate himself is so appointed. And
according to one, this mode  of appointment is extended to one of
the co-ordinate branches of the  legislature. According to all
the constitutions, also, the tenure  of the highest offices is
extended to a definite period, and in many  instances, both
within the legislative and executive departments, to  a period of
years. According to the provisions of most of the  constitutions,
again, as well as according to the most respectable  and received
opinions on the subject, the members of the judiciary  department
are to retain their offices by the firm tenure of good  behavior.
On comparing the Constitution planned by the convention with the 
standard here fixed, we perceive at once that it is, in the most 
rigid sense, conformable to it. The House of Representatives,
like  that of one branch at least of all the State legislatures,
is  elected immediately by the great body of the people. The
Senate,  like the present Congress, and the Senate of Maryland,
derives its  appointment indirectly from the people. The
President is indirectly  derived from the choice of the people,
according to the example in  most of the States. Even the judges,
with all other officers of the  Union, will, as in the several
States, be the choice, though a  remote choice, of the people
themselves, the duration of the  appointments is equally
conformable to the republican standard, and  to the model of
State constitutions The House of Representatives is  periodically
elective, as in all the States; and for the period of  two years,
as in the State of South Carolina. The Senate is  elective, for
the period of six years; which is but one year more  than the
period of the Senate of Maryland, and but two more than  that of
the Senates of New York and Virginia. The President is to 
continue in office for the period of four years; as in New York
and  Delaware, the chief magistrate is elected for three years,
and in  South Carolina for two years. In the other States the
election is  annual. In several of the States, however, no
constitutional  provision is made for the impeachment of the
chief magistrate. And  in Delaware and Virginia he is not
impeachable till out of office.  The President of the United
States is impeachable at any time  during his continuance in
office. The tenure by which the judges  are to hold their places,
is, as it unquestionably ought to be, that  of good behavior. The
tenure of the ministerial offices generally,  will be a subject
of legal regulation, conformably to the reason of  the case and
the example of the State constitutions.
Could any further proof be required of the republican complexion 
of this system, the most decisive one might be found in its
absolute  prohibition of titles of nobility, both under the
federal and the  State governments; and in its express guaranty
of the republican  form to each of the latter.
``But it was not sufficient,'' say the adversaries of the
proposed Constitution, ``for the convention to adhere to the 
republican form. They ought, with equal care, to have preserved
the  FEDERAL form, which regards the Union as a CONFEDERACY of
sovereign  states; instead of which, they have framed a NATIONAL
government,  which regards the Union as a CONSOLIDATION of the
States.'' And it  is asked by what authority this bold and
radical innovation was  undertaken? The handle which has been
made of this objection  requires that it should be examined with
some precision.
Without inquiring into the accuracy of the distinction on which 
the objection is founded, it will be necessary to a just estimate
of  its force, first, to ascertain the real character of the
government  in question; secondly, to inquire how far the
convention were  authorized to propose such a government; and
thirdly, how far the  duty they owed to their country could
supply any defect of regular  authority.
First. In order to ascertain the real character of the
government, it may be considered in relation to the foundation
on  which it is to be established; to the sources from which its 
ordinary powers are to be drawn; to the operation of those
powers;  to the extent of them; and to the authority by which
future  changes in the government are to be introduced.
On examining the first relation, it appears, on one hand, that 
the Constitution is to be founded on the assent and ratification
of  the people of America, given by deputies elected for the
special  purpose; but, on the other, that this assent and
ratification is to  be given by the people, not as individuals
composing one entire  nation, but as composing the distinct and
independent States to  which they respectively belong. It is to
be the assent and  ratification of the several States, derived
from the supreme  authority in each State, the authority of the
people themselves.  The act, therefore, establishing the
Constitution, will not be a  NATIONAL, but a FEDERAL act.
That it will be a federal and not a national act, as these terms 
are understood by the objectors; the act of the people, as
forming  so many independent States, not as forming one aggregate
nation, is  obvious from this single consideration, that it is to
result neither  from the decision of a MAJORITY of the people of
the Union, nor from  that of a MAJORITY of the States. It must
result from the UNANIMOUS  assent of the several States that are
parties to it, differing no  otherwise from their ordinary assent
than in its being expressed,  not by the legislative authority,
but by that of the people  themselves. Were the people regarded
in this transaction as forming  one nation, the will of the
majority of the whole people of the  United States would bind the
minority, in the same manner as the  majority in each State must
bind the minority; and the will of the  majority must be
determined either by a comparison of the individual  votes, or by
considering the will of the majority of the States as  evidence
of the will of a majority of the people of the United  States.
Neither of these rules have been adopted. Each State, in 
ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, 
independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own
voluntary  act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution
will, if  established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL
constitution. The next relation is, to the sources from which the
ordinary  powers of government are to be derived. The House of
Representatives will derive its powers from the people of
America;  and the people will be represented in the same
proportion, and on  the same principle, as they are in the
legislature of a particular  State. So far the government is
NATIONAL, not FEDERAL. The Senate,  on the other hand, will
derive its powers from the States, as  political and coequal
societies; and these will be represented on  the principle of
equality in the Senate, as they now are in the  existing
Congress. So far the government is FEDERAL, not NATIONAL.  The
executive power will be derived from a very compound source.  The
immediate election of the President is to be made by the States 
in their political characters. The votes allotted to them are in
a  compound ratio, which considers them partly as distinct and
coequal  societies, partly as unequal members of the same
society. The  eventual election, again, is to be made by that
branch of the  legislature which consists of the national
representatives; but in  this particular act they are to be
thrown into the form of  individual delegations, from so many
distinct and coequal bodies  politic. From this aspect of the
government it appears to be of a  mixed character, presenting at
least as many FEDERAL as NATIONAL  features.
The difference between a federal and national government, as it 
relates to the OPERATION OF THE GOVERNMENT, is supposed to
consist  in this, that in the former the powers operate on the
political  bodies composing the Confederacy, in their political
capacities; in  the latter, on the individual citizens composing
the nation, in  their individual capacities. On trying the
Constitution by this  criterion, it falls under the NATIONAL, not
the FEDERAL character;  though perhaps not so completely as has
been understood. In  several cases, and particularly in the trial
of controversies to  which States may be parties, they must be
viewed and proceeded  against in their collective and political
capacities only. So far  the national countenance of the
government on this side seems to be  disfigured by a few federal
features. But this blemish is perhaps  unavoidable in any plan;
and the operation of the government on the  people, in their
individual capacities, in its ordinary and most  essential
proceedings, may, on the whole, designate it, in this  relation,
a NATIONAL government.
But if the government be national with regard to the OPERATION 
of its powers, it changes its aspect again when we contemplate it
in  relation to the EXTENT of its powers. The idea of a national 
government involves in it, not only an authority over the
individual  citizens, but an indefinite supremacy over all
persons and things,  so far as they are objects of lawful
government. Among a people  consolidated into one nation, this
supremacy is completely vested in  the national legislature.
Among communities united for particular  purposes, it is vested
partly in the general and partly in the  municipal legislatures.
In the former case, all local authorities  are subordinate to the
supreme; and may be controlled, directed, or  abolished by it at
pleasure. In the latter, the local or municipal  authorities form
distinct and independent portions of the supremacy,  no more
subject, within their respective spheres, to the general 
authority, than the general authority is subject to them, within
its  own sphere. In this relation, then, the proposed government
cannot  be deemed a NATIONAL one; since its jurisdiction extends
to certain  enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several
States a  residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other
objects. It is  true that in controversies relating to the
boundary between the two  jurisdictions, the tribunal which is
ultimately to decide, is to be  established under the general
government. But this does not change  the principle of the case.
The decision is to be impartially made,  according to the rules
of the Constitution; and all the usual and  most effectual
precautions are taken to secure this impartiality.  Some such
tribunal is clearly essential to prevent an appeal to the  sword
and a dissolution of the compact; and that it ought to be 
established under the general rather than under the local
governments, or, to speak more properly, that it could be safely 
established under the first alone, is a position not likely to be 
If we try the Constitution by its last relation to the authority 
by which amendments are to be made, we find it neither wholly 
NATIONAL nor wholly FEDERAL. Were it wholly national, the supreme 
and ultimate authority would reside in the MAJORITY of the people
of  the Union; and this authority would be competent at all
times, like  that of a majority of every national society, to
alter or abolish  its established government. Were it wholly
federal, on the other  hand, the concurrence of each State in the
Union would be essential  to every alteration that would be
binding on all. The mode provided  by the plan of the convention
is not founded on either of these  principles. In requiring more
than a majority, and principles. In  requiring more than a
majority, and particularly in computing the  proportion by
STATES, not by CITIZENS, it departs from the NATIONAL  and
advances towards the FEDERAL character; in rendering the 
concurrence of less than the whole number of States sufficient,
it  loses again the FEDERAL and partakes of the NATIONAL
character. The proposed Constitution, therefore, is, in
strictness, neither  a national nor a federal Constitution, but a
composition of both.  In its foundation it is federal, not
national; in the sources from  which the ordinary powers of the
government are drawn, it is partly  federal and partly national;
in the operation of these powers, it  is national, not federal;
in the extent of them, again, it is  federal, not national; and,
finally, in the authoritative mode of  introducing amendments, it
is neither wholly federal nor wholly  national.

The Powers of the Convention to Form a Mixed Government Examined
and Sustained
From the New York Packet. 
Friday, January 18, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
THE SECOND point to be examined is, whether the convention were
authorized to frame and propose this mixed Constitution. The
powers of the convention ought, in strictness, to be determined
by an inspection of the commissions given to the members by their
respective constituents. As all of these, however, had reference,
either to the recommendation from the meeting at Annapolis, in
September, 1786, or to that from Congress, in February, 1787, it
will be sufficient to recur to these particular acts. The act
from Annapolis recommends the ``appointment of commissioners to
take into consideration the situation of the United States; to
devise SUCH FURTHER PROVISIONS as shall appear to them necessary
to render the Constitution of the federal government ADEQUATE TO
THE EXIGENCIES OF THE UNION; and to report such an act for that
purpose, to the United States in Congress assembled, as when
agreed to by them, and afterwards confirmed by the legislature of
every State, will effectually provide for the same. ''The
recommendatory act of Congress is in the words
following:``WHEREAS, There is provision in the articles of
Confederation and perpetual Union, for making alterations
therein, by the assent of a Congress of the United States, and of
the legislatures of the several States; and whereas experience
hath evinced, that there are defects in the present
Confederation; as a mean to remedy which, several of the States,
and PARTICULARLY THE STATE OF NEW YORK, by express instructions
to their delegates in Congress, have suggested a convention for
the purposes expressed in the following resolution; and such
convention appearing to be the most probable mean of establishing
in these States A FIRM NATIONAL GOVERNMENT:``Resolved, That in
the opinion of Congress it is expedient, that on the second
Monday of May next a convention of delegates, who shall have been
appointed by the several States, be held at Philadelphia, for the
sole and express purpose OF REVISING THE ARTICLES OF
CONFEDERATION, and reporting to Congress and the several
legislatures such ALTERATIONS AND PROVISIONS THEREIN, as shall,
when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the States, render
AND THE PRESERVATION OF THE UNION. ''From these two acts, it
appears, 1st, that the object of the convention was to establish,
in these States, A FIRM NATIONAL GOVERNMENT; 2d, that this
government was to be such as would be ADEQUATE TO THE EXIGENCIES
purposes were to be effected by ALTERATIONS AND PROVISIONS IN THE
ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION, as it is expressed in the act of
NECESSARY, as it stands in the recommendatory act from Annapolis;
4th, that the alterations and provisions were to be reported to
Congress, and to the States, in order to be agreed to by the
former and confirmed by the latter. From a comparison and fair
construction of these several modes of expression, is to be
deduced the authority under which the convention acted. They were
to frame a NATIONAL GOVERNMENT, adequate to the EXIGENCIES OF
GOVERNMENT, and OF THE UNION; and to reduce the articles of
Confederation into such form as to accomplish these purposes.
There are two rules of construction, dictated by plain reason, as
well as founded on legal axioms. The one is, that every part of
the expression ought, if possible, to be allowed some meaning,
and be made to conspire to some common end. The other is, that
where the several parts cannot be made to coincide, the less
important should give way to the more important part; the means
should be sacrificed to the end, rather than the end to the
means. Suppose, then, that the expressions defining the
authority of the convention were irreconcilably at variance with
each other; that a NATIONAL and ADEQUATE GOVERNMENT could not
possibly, in the judgment of the convention, be affected by
which part of the definition ought to have been embraced, and
which rejected? Which was the more important, which the less
important part? Which the end; which the means? Let the most
scrupulous expositors of delegated powers; let the most
inveterate objectors against those exercised by the convention,
answer these questions. Let them declare, whether it was of most
importance to the happiness of the people of America, that the
articles of Confederation should be disregarded, and an adequate
government be provided, and the Union preserved; or that an
adequate government should be omitted, and the articles of
Confederation preserved. Let them declare, whether the
preservation of these articles was the end, for securing which a
reform of the government was to be introduced as the means; or
whether the establishment of a government, adequate to the
national happiness, was the end at which these articles
themselves originally aimed, and to which they ought, as
insufficient means, to have been sacrificed. But is it necessary
to suppose that these expressions are absolutely irreconcilable
to each other; that no ALTERATIONS or PROVISIONS in THE ARTICLES
OF THE CONFEDERATION could possibly mould them into a national
and adequate government; into such a government as has been
proposed by the convention? No stress, it is presumed, will, in
this case, be laid on the TITLE; a change of that could never be
deemed an exercise of ungranted power. ALTERATIONS in the body of
the instrument are expressly authorized. NEW PROVISIONS therein
are also expressly authorized. Here then is a power to change the
title; to insert new articles; to alter old ones. Must it of
necessity be admitted that this power is infringed, so long as a
part of the old articles remain? Those who maintain the
affirmative ought at least to mark the boundary between
authorized and usurped innovations; between that degree of change
which lies within the compass of ALTERATIONS AND FURTHER
PROVISIONS, and that which amounts to a TRANSMUTATION of the
government. Will it be said that the alterations ought not to
have touched the substance of the Confederation? The States would
never have appointed a convention with so much solemnity, nor
described its objects with so much latitude, if some
SUBSTANTIAL reform had not been in contemplation. Will it be said
that the FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES of the Confederation were not
within the purview of the convention, and ought not to have been
varied? I ask, What are these principles? Do they require that,
in the establishment of the Constitution, the States should be
regarded as distinct and independent sovereigns? They are so
regarded by the Constitution proposed. Do they require that the
members of the government should derive their appointment from
the legislatures, not from the people of the States? One branch
of the new government is to be appointed by these legislatures;
and under the Confederation, the delegates to Congress MAY ALL be
appointed immediately by the people, and in two States1 are
actually so appointed. Do they require that the powers of the
government should act on the States, and not immediately on
individuals? In some instances, as has been shown, the powers of
the new government will act on the States in their collective
characters. In some instances, also, those of the existing
government act immediately on individuals. In cases of capture;
of piracy; of the post office; of coins, weights, and measures;
of trade with the Indians; of claims under grants of land by
different States; and, above all, in the case of trials by
courts-marshal in the army and navy, by which death may be
inflicted without the intervention of a jury, or even of a civil
magistrate; in all these cases the powers of the Confederation
operate immediately on the persons and interests of individual
citizens. Do these fundamental principles require, particularly,
that no tax should be levied without the intermediate agency of
the States? The Confederation itself authorizes a direct tax, to
a certain extent, on the post office. The power of coinage has
been so construed by Congress as to levy a tribute immediately
from that source also. But pretermitting these instances, was it
not an acknowledged object of the convention and the universal
expectation of the people, that the regulation of trade should be
submitted to the general government in such a form as would
render it an immediate source of general revenue? Had not
Congress repeatedly recommended this measure as not inconsistent
with the fundamental principles of the Confederation? Had not
every State but one; had not New York herself, so far complied
with the plan of Congress as to recognize the PRINCIPLE of the
innovation? Do these principles, in fine, require that the
powers of the general government should be limited, and that,
beyond this limit, the States should be left in possession of
their sovereignty and independence? We have seen that in the new
government, as in the old, the general powers are limited; and
that the States, in all unenumerated cases, are left in the
enjoyment of their sovereign and independent jurisdiction. The
truth is, that the great principles of the Constitution proposed
by the convention may be considered less as absolutely new, than
as the expansion of principles which are found in the articles of
Confederation. The misfortune under the latter system has been,
that these principles are so feeble and confined as to justify
all the charges of inefficiency which have been urged against it,
and to require a degree of enlargement which gives to the new
system the aspect of an entire transformation of the old. In one
particular it is admitted that the convention have departed from
the tenor of their commission. Instead of reporting a plan
requiring the confirmation OF THE LEGISLATURES OF ALL THE STATES,
they have reported a plan which is to be confirmed by the PEOPLE,
and may be carried into effect by NINE STATES ONLY. It is worthy
of remark that this objection, though the most plausible, has
been the least urged in the publications which have swarmed
against the convention. The forbearance can only have proceeded
from an irresistible conviction of the absurdity of subjecting
the fate of twelve States to the perverseness or corruption of a
thirteenth; from the example of inflexible opposition given by a
MAJORITY of one sixtieth of the people of America to a measure
approved and called for by the voice of twelve States, comprising
fifty-nine sixtieths of the people an example still fresh in the
memory and indignation of every citizen who has felt for the
wounded honor and prosperity of his country. As this objection,
therefore, has been in a manner waived by those who have
criticised the powers of the convention, I dismiss it without
further observation. The THIRD point to be inquired into is, how
far considerations of duty arising out of the case itself could
have supplied any defect of regular authority. In the preceding
inquiries the powers of the convention have been analyzed and
tried with the same rigor, and by the same rules, as if they had
been real and final powers for the establishment of a
Constitution for the United States. We have seen in what manner
they have borne the trial even on that supposition. It is time
now to recollect that the powers were merely advisory and
recommendatory; that they were so meant by the States, and so
understood by the convention; and that the latter have
accordingly planned and proposed a Constitution which is to be of
no more consequence than the paper on which it is written, unless
it be stamped with the approbation of those to whom it is
addressed. This reflection places the subject in a point of view
altogether different, and will enable us to judge with propriety
of the course taken by the convention. Let us view the ground on
which the convention stood. It may be collected from their
proceedings, that they were deeply and unanimously impressed with
the crisis, which had led their country almost with one voice to
make so singular and solemn an experiment for correcting the
errors of a system by which this crisis had been produced; that
they were no less deeply and unanimously convinced that such a
reform as they have proposed was absolutely necessary to effect
the purposes of their appointment. It could not be unknown to
them that the hopes and expectations of the great body of
citizens, throughout this great empire, were turned with the
keenest anxiety to the event of their deliberations. They had
every reason to believe that the contrary sentiments agitated the
minds and bosoms of every external and internal foe to the
liberty and prosperity of the United States. They had seen in the
origin and progress of the experiment, the alacrity with which
the PROPOSITION, made by a single State (Virginia), towards a
partial amendment of the Confederation, had been attended to and
promoted. They had seen the LIBERTY ASSUMED by a VERY FEW
deputies from a VERY FEW States, convened at Annapolis, of
recommending a great and critical object, wholly foreign to their
commission, not only justified by the public opinion, but
actually carried into effect by twelve out of the thirteen
States. They had seen, in a variety of instances, assumptions by
Congress, not only of recommendatory, but of operative, powers,
warranted, in the public estimation, by occasions and objects
infinitely less urgent than those by which their conduct was to
be governed. They must have reflected, that in all great changes
of established governments, forms ought to give way to substance;
that a rigid adherence in such cases to the former, would render
nominal and nugatory the transcendent and precious right of the
people to ``abolish or alter their governments as to them shall
seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness,''2 since
it is impossible for the people spontaneously and universally to
move in concert towards their object; and it is therefore
essential that such changes be instituted by some INFORMAL AND
UNAUTHORIZED PROPOSITIONS, made by some patriotic and respectable
citizen or number of citizens. They must have recollected that it
was by this irregular and assumed privilege of proposing to the
people plans for their safety and happiness, that the States were
first united against the danger with which they were
threatened by their ancient government; that committees and
congresses were formed for concentrating their efforts and
defending their rights; and that CONVENTIONS were ELECTED in THE
SEVERAL STATES for establishing the constitutions under which
they are now governed; nor could it have been forgotten that no
little ill-timed scruples, no zeal for adhering to ordinary
forms, were anywhere seen, except in those who wished to indulge,
under these masks, their secret enmity to the substance contended
for. They must have borne in mind, that as the plan to be framed
and proposed was to be submitted TO THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES, the
disapprobation of this supreme authority would destroy it
forever; its approbation blot out antecedent errors and
irregularities. It might even have occurred to them, that where a
disposition to cavil prevailed, their neglect to execute the
degree of power vested in them, and still more their
recommendation of any measure whatever, not warranted by their
commission, would not less excite animadversion, than a
recommendation at once of a measure fully commensurate to the
national exigencies. Had the convention, under all these
impressions, and in the midst of all these considerations,
instead of exercising a manly confidence in their country, by
whose confidence they had been so peculiarly distinguished, and
of pointing out a system capable, in their judgment, of securing
its happiness, taken the cold and sullen resolution of
disappointing its ardent hopes, of sacrificing substance to
forms, of committing the dearest interests of their country to
the uncertainties of delay and the hazard of events, let me ask
the man who can raise his mind to one elevated conception, who
can awaken in his bosom one patriotic emotion, what judgment
ought to have been pronounced by the impartial world, by the
friends of mankind, by every virtuous citizen, on the conduct and
character of this assembly? Or if there be a man whose
propensity to condemn is susceptible of no control, let me then
ask what sentence he has in reserve for the twelve States who
USURPED THE POWER of sending deputies to the convention, a body
utterly unknown to their constitutions; for Congress, who
recommended the appointment of this body, equally unknown to the
Confederation; and for the State of New York, in particular,
which first urged and then complied with this unauthorized
interposition? But that the objectors may be disarmed of every
pretext, it shall be granted for a moment that the convention
were neither authorized by their commission, nor justified by
circumstances in proposing a Constitution for their country: does
it follow that the Constitution ought, for that reason alone, to
be rejected? If, according to the noble precept, it be lawful to
accept good advice even from an enemy, shall we set the ignoble
example of refusing such advice even when it is offered by our
friends? The prudent inquiry, in all cases, ought surely to be,
not so much FROM WHOM the advice comes, as whether the advice be
GOOD. The sum of what has been here advanced and proved is, that
the charge against the convention of exceeding their powers,
except in one instance little urged by the objectors, has no
foundation to support it; that if they had exceeded their powers,
they were not only warranted, but required, as the confidential
servants of their country, by the circumstances in which they
were placed, to exercise the liberty which they assume; and that
finally, if they had violated both their powers and their
obligations, in proposing a Constitution, this ought nevertheless
to be embraced, if it be calculated to accomplish the views and
happiness of the people of America. How far this character is due
to the Constitution, is the subject under investigation. PUBLIUS.

Connecticut and Rhode Island. Declaration of Independence. 

General View of the Powers Conferred by The Constitution
For the Independent Journal. 


To the People of the State of New York:
THE Constitution proposed by the convention may be considered
under two general points of view. The FIRST relates to the sum or
quantity of power which it vests in the government, including the
restraints imposed on the States. The SECOND, to the
particular structure of the government, and the distribution of
this power among its several branches. Under the FIRST view of
the subject, two important questions arise: 1. Whether any part
of the powers transferred to the general government be
unnecessary or improper? 2. Whether the entire mass of them be
dangerous to the portion of jurisdiction left in the several
States? Is the aggregate power of the general government greater
than ought to have been vested in it? This is the FIRST
question. It cannot have escaped those who have attended with
candor to the arguments employed against the extensive powers of
the government, that the authors of them have very little
considered how far these powers were necessary means of attaining
a necessary end. They have chosen rather to dwell on the
inconveniences which must be unavoidably blended with all
political advantages; and on the possible abuses which must be
incident to every power or trust, of which a beneficial use can
be made. This method of handling the subject cannot impose on the
good sense of the people of America. It may display the subtlety
of the writer; it may open a boundless field for rhetoric and
declamation; it may inflame the passions of the unthinking, and
may confirm the prejudices of the misthinking: but cool and
candid people will at once reflect, that the purest of human
blessings must have a portion of alloy in them; that the choice
must always be made, if not of the lesser evil, at least of the
GREATER, not the PERFECT, good; and that in every political
institution, a power to advance the public happiness involves a
discretion which may be misapplied and abused. They will see,
therefore, that in all cases where power is to be conferred, the
point first to be decided is, whether such a power be necessary
to the public good; as the next will be, in case of an
affirmative decision, to guard as effectually as possible
against a perversion of the power to the public detriment. That
we may form a correct judgment on this subject, it will be proper
to review the several powers conferred on the government of the
Union; and that this may be the more conveniently done they may
be reduced into different classes as they relate to the following
different objects: 1. Security against foreign danger; 2.
Regulation of the intercourse with foreign nations; 3.
Maintenance of harmony and proper intercourse among the States;
4. Certain miscellaneous objects of general utility; 5.
Restraint of the States from certain injurious acts; 6.
Provisions for giving due efficacy to all these powers. The
powers falling within the FIRST class are those of declaring war
and granting letters of marque; of providing armies and fleets;
of regulating and calling forth the militia; of levying and
borrowing money. Security against foreign danger is one of the
primitive objects of civil society. It is an avowed and essential
object of the American Union. The powers requisite for attaining
it must be effectually confided to the federal councils. Is the
power of declaring war necessary? No man will answer this
question in the negative. It would be superfluous, therefore, to
enter into a proof of the affirmative. The existing Confederation
establishes this power in the most ample form. Is the power of
raising armies and equipping fleets necessary? This is involved
in the foregoing power. It is involved in the power of
self-defense. But was it necessary to give an INDEFINITE POWER of
raising TROOPS, as well as providing fleets; and of
maintaining both in PEACE, as well as in war? The answer to these
questions has been too far anticipated in another place to admit
an extensive discussion of them in this place. The answer indeed
seems to be so obvious and conclusive as scarcely to justify such
a discussion in any place. With what color of propriety could the
force necessary for defense be limited by those who cannot limit
the force of offense? If a federal Constitution could chain the
ambition or set bounds to the exertions of all other nations,
then indeed might it prudently chain the discretion of its own
government, and set bounds to the exertions for its own safety.
How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely
prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the
preparations and establishments of every hostile nation? The
means of security can only be regulated by the means and the
danger of attack. They will, in fact, be ever determined by these
rules, and by no others. It is in vain to oppose constitutional
barriers to the impulse of self-preservation. It is worse than in
vain; because it plants in the Constitution itself necessary
usurpations of power, every precedent of which is a germ of
unnecessary and multiplied repetitions. If one nation maintains
constantly a disciplined army, ready for the service of ambition
or revenge, it obliges the most pacific nations who may be within
the reach of its enterprises to take corresponding precautions.
The fifteenth century was the unhappy epoch of military
establishments in the time of peace. They were introduced by
Charles VII. of France. All Europe has followed, or been forced
into, the example. Had the example not been followed by other
nations, all Europe must long ago have worn the chains of a
universal monarch. Were every nation except France now to disband
its peace establishments, the same event might follow. The
veteran legions of Rome were an overmatch for the undisciplined
valor of all other nations and rendered her the mistress of the
world. Not the less true is it, that the liberties of Rome
proved the final victim to her military triumphs; and that the
liberties of Europe, as far as they ever existed, have, with few
exceptions, been the price of her military establishments. A
standing force, therefore, is a dangerous, at the same time that
it may be a necessary, provision. On the smallest scale it has
its inconveniences. On an extensive scale its consequences may be
fatal. On any scale it is an object of laudable circumspection
and precaution. A wise nation will combine all these
considerations; and, whilst it does not rashly preclude itself
from any resource which may become essential to its safety, will
exert all its prudence in diminishing both the necessity and the
danger of resorting to one which may be inauspicious to its
liberties. The clearest marks of this prudence are stamped on the
proposed Constitution. The Union itself, which it cements and
secures, destroys every pretext for a military establishment
which could be dangerous. America united, with a handful of
troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding
posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a
hundred thousand veterans ready for combat. It was remarked, on a
former occasion, that the want of this pretext had saved the
liberties of one nation in Europe. Being rendered by her insular
situation and her maritime resources impregnable to the armies of
her neighbors, the rulers of Great Britain have never been able,
by real or artificial dangers, to cheat the public into an
extensive peace establishment. The distance of the United States
from the powerful nations of the world gives them the same happy
security. A dangerous establishment can never be necessary or
plausible, so long as they continue a united people. But let it
never, for a moment, be forgotten that they are indebted for this
advantage to the Union alone. The moment of its dissolution will
be the date of a new order of things. The fears of the weaker, or
the ambition of the stronger States, or Confederacies, will set
the same example in the New, as Charles VII. did in the Old
World. The example will be followed here from the same motives
which produced universal imitation there. Instead of deriving
from our situation the precious advantage which Great Britain has
derived from hers, the face of America will be but a copy of that
of the continent of Europe. It will present liberty everywhere
crushed between standing armies and perpetual taxes. The fortunes
of disunited America will be even more disastrous than those of
Europe. The sources of evil in the latter are confined to her own
limits. No superior powers of another quarter of the globe
intrigue among her rival nations, inflame their mutual
animosities, and render them the instruments of foreign ambition,
jealousy, and revenge. In America the miseries springing from her
internal jealousies, contentions, and wars, would form a part
only of her lot. A plentiful addition of evils would have their
source in that relation in which Europe stands to this quarter of
the earth, and which no other quarter of the earth bears to
Europe. This picture of the consequences of disunion cannot be
too highly colored, or too often exhibited. Every man who loves
peace, every man who loves his country, every man who loves
liberty, ought to have it ever before his eyes, that he may
cherish in his heart a due attachment to the Union of America,
and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it.
Next to the effectual establishment of the Union, the best
possible precaution against danger from standing armies is a
limitation of the term for which revenue may be appropriated to
their support. This precaution the Constitution has prudently
added. I will not repeat here the observations which I flatter
myself have placed this subject in a just and satisfactory
light. But it may not be improper to take notice of an argument
against this part of the Constitution, which has been drawn from
the policy and practice of Great Britain. It is said that the
continuance of an army in that kingdom requires an annual vote of
the legislature; whereas the American Constitution has lengthened
this critical period to two years. This is the form in which the
comparison is usually stated to the public: but is it a just
form? Is it a fair comparison? Does the British Constitution
restrain the parliamentary discretion to one year? Does the
American impose on the Congress appropriations for two years? On
the contrary, it cannot be unknown to the authors of the fallacy
themselves, that the British Constitution fixes no limit whatever
to the discretion of the legislature, and that the American ties
down the legislature to two years, as the longest admissible
term. Had the argument from the British example been truly
stated, it would have stood thus: The term for which supplies may
be appropriated to the army establishment, though unlimited by
the British Constitution, has nevertheless, in practice, been
limited by parliamentary discretion to a single year. Now, if in
Great Britain, where the House of Commons is elected for seven
years; where so great a proportion of the members are elected by
so small a proportion of the people; where the electors are so
corrupted by the representatives, and the representatives so
corrupted by the Crown, the representative body can possess a
power to make appropriations to the army for an indefinite term,
without desiring, or without daring, to extend the term beyond a
single year, ought not suspicion herself to blush, in pretending
that the representatives of the United States, elected FREELY by
the WHOLE BODY of the people, every SECOND YEAR, cannot be safely
intrusted with the discretion over such appropriations, expressly
limited to the short period of TWO YEARS? A bad cause seldom
fails to betray itself. Of this truth, the management of the
opposition to the federal government is an unvaried
exemplification. But among all the blunders which have been
committed, none is more striking than the attempt to enlist on
that side the prudent jealousy entertained by the people, of
standing armies. The attempt has awakened fully the public
attention to that important subject; and has led to
investigations which must terminate in a thorough and universal
conviction, not only that the constitution has provided the most
effectual guards against danger from that quarter, but that
nothing short of a Constitution fully adequate to the national
defense and the preservation of the Union, can save America from
as many standing armies as it may be split into States or
Confederacies, and from such a progressive augmentation, of these
establishments in each, as will render them as burdensome to the
properties and ominous to the liberties of the people, as any
establishment that can become necessary, under a united and
efficient government, must be tolerable to the former and safe to
the latter. The palpable necessity of the power to provide and
maintain a navy has protected that part of the Constitution
against a spirit of censure, which has spared few other parts. It
must, indeed, be numbered among the greatest blessings of
America, that as her Union will be the only source of her
maritime strength, so this will be a principal source of her
security against danger from abroad. In this respect our
situation bears another likeness to the insular advantage of
Great Britain. The batteries most capable of repelling foreign
enterprises on our safety, are happily such as can never be
turned by a perfidious government against our liberties. The
inhabitants of the Atlantic frontier are all of them deeply
interested in this provision for naval protection, and if they
have hitherto been suffered to sleep quietly in their beds; if
their property has remained safe against the predatory spirit of
licentious adventurers; if their maritime towns have not yet been
compelled to ransom themselves from the terrors of a
conflagration, by yielding to the exactions of daring and sudden
invaders, these instances of good fortune are not to be ascribed
to the capacity of the existing government for the protection of
those from whom it claims allegiance, but to causes that are
fugitive and fallacious. If we except perhaps Virginia and
Maryland, which are peculiarly vulnerable on their eastern
frontiers, no part of the Union ought to feel more anxiety on
this subject than New York. Her seacoast is extensive. A very
important district of the State is an island. The State itself is
penetrated by a large navigable river for more than fifty
leagues. The great emporium of its commerce, the great reservoir
of its wealth, lies every moment at the mercy of events, and may
almost be regarded as a hostage for ignominious compliances with
the dictates of a foreign enemy, or even with the rapacious
demands of pirates and barbarians. Should a war be the result of
the precarious situation of European affairs, and all the unruly
passions attending it be let loose on the ocean, our escape from
insults and depredations, not only on that element, but every
part of the other bordering on it, will be truly miraculous. In
the present condition of America, the States more immediately
exposed to these calamities have nothing to hope from the phantom
of a general government which now exists; and if their single
resources were equal to the task of fortifying themselves against
the danger, the object to be protected would be almost consumed
by the means of protecting them. The power of regulating and
calling forth the militia has been already sufficiently
vindicated and explained. The power of levying and borrowing
money, being the sinew of that which is to be exerted in the
national defense, is properly thrown into the same class with it.
This power, also, has been examined already with much
attention, and has, I trust, been clearly shown to be necessary,
both in the extent and form given to it by the Constitution. I
will address one additional reflection only to those who contend
that the power ought to have been restrained to external
taxation by which they mean, taxes on articles imported from
other countries. It cannot be doubted that this will always be a
valuable source of revenue; that for a considerable time it must
be a principal source; that at this moment it is an essential
one. But we may form very mistaken ideas on this subject, if we
do not call to mind in our calculations, that the extent of
revenue drawn from foreign commerce must vary with the
variations, both in the extent and the kind of imports; and that
these variations do not correspond with the progress of
population, which must be the general measure of the public
wants. As long as agriculture continues the sole field of labor,
the importation of manufactures must increase as the consumers
multiply. As soon as domestic manufactures are begun by the hands
not called for by agriculture, the imported manufactures will
decrease as the numbers of people increase. In a more remote
stage, the imports may consist in a considerable part of raw
materials, which will be wrought into articles for exportation,
and will, therefore, require rather the encouragement of
bounties, than to be loaded with discouraging duties. A system of
government, meant for duration, ought to contemplate these
revolutions, and be able to accommodate itself to them. Some, who
have not denied the necessity of the power of taxation, have
grounded a very fierce attack against the Constitution, on the
language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed,
that the power ``to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and
excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and
general welfare of the United States,'' amounts to an unlimited
commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be
necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger
proof could be given of the distress under which these writers
labor for objections, than their stooping to such a
misconstruction. Had no other enumeration or definition of the
powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the
general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection
might have had some color for it; though it would have been
difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an
authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy
the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate
the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very
singularly expressed by the terms ``to raise money for the
general welfare. ''But what color can the objection have, when a
specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms
immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause
than a semicolon? If the different parts of the same instrument
ought to be so expounded, as to give meaning to every part which
will bear it, shall one part of the same sentence be excluded
altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more
doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent,
and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification
whatsoever? For what purpose could the enumeration of particular
powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be
included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural
nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to
explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea
of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor
qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to
confound and mislead, is an absurdity, which, as we are reduced
to the dilemma of charging either on the authors of the objection
or on the authors of the Constitution, we must take the liberty
of supposing, had not its origin with the latter. The objection
here is the more extraordinary, as it appears that the language
used by the convention is a copy from the articles of
Confederation. The objects of the Union among the States, as
described in article third, are ``their common defense, security
of their liberties, and mutual and general welfare. '' The terms
of article eighth are still more identical: ``All charges of war
and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common
defense or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in
Congress, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury,'' etc. A
similar language again occurs in article ninth. Construe either
of these articles by the rules which would justify the
construction put on the new Constitution, and they vest in the
existing Congress a power to legislate in all cases whatsoever.
But what would have been thought of that assembly, if, attaching
themselves to these general expressions, and disregarding the
specifications which ascertain and limit their import, they had
exercised an unlimited power of providing for the common defense
and general welfare? I appeal to the objectors themselves,
whether they would in that case have employed the same reasoning
in justification of Congress as they now make use of against the
convention. How difficult it is for error to escape its own
condemnation! PUBLIUS. 

The Powers Conferred by the Constitution Further Considered From
the New York Packet. Tuesday, January 22, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
THE SECOND class of powers, lodged in the general government,
consists of those which regulate the intercourse with foreign
nations, to wit: to make treaties; to send and receive
ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls; to define and
punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and
offenses against the law of nations; to regulate foreign
commerce, including a power to prohibit, after the year 1808, the
importation of slaves, and to lay an intermediate duty of ten
dollars per head, as a discouragement to such importations. This
class of powers forms an obvious and essential branch of the
federal administration. If we are to be one nation in any
respect, it clearly ought to be in respect to other nations. The
powers to make treaties and to send and receive ambassadors,
speak their own propriety. Both of them are comprised in the
articles of Confederation, with this difference only, that the 
former is disembarrassed, by the plan of the convention, of an
exception, under which treaties might be substantially frustrated
by regulations of the States; and that a power of appointing and
receiving ``other public ministers and consuls,'' is expressly
and very properly added to the former provision concerning
ambassadors. The term ambassador, if taken strictly, as seems to
be required by the second of the articles of Confederation,
comprehends the highest grade only of public ministers, and
excludes the grades which the United States will be most likely
to prefer, where foreign embassies may be necessary. And under no
latitude of construction will the term comprehend consuls. Yet it
has been found expedient, and has been the practice of Congress,
to employ the inferior grades of public ministers, and to send
and receive consuls. It is true, that where treaties of commerce
stipulate for the mutual appointment of consuls, whose functions
are connected with commerce, the admission of foreign consuls may
fall within the power of making commercial treaties; and that
where no such treaties exist, the mission of American consuls
into foreign countries may PERHAPS be covered under the
authority, given by the ninth article of the Confederation, to
appoint all such civil officers as may be necessary for managing
the general affairs of the United States. But the admission of
consuls into the United States, where no previous treaty has
stipulated it, seems to have been nowhere provided for. A supply
of the omission is one of the lesser instances in which the
convention have improved on the model before them. But the most
minute provisions become important when they tend to obviate the
necessity or the pretext for gradual and unobserved usurpations
of power. A list of the cases in which Congress have been
betrayed, or forced by the defects of the Confederation, into
violations of their chartered authorities, would not a little
surprise those who have paid no attention to the subject; and
would be no inconsiderable argument in favor of the new
Constitution, which seems to have provided no less studiously for
the lesser, than the more obvious and striking defects of the
old. The power to define and punish piracies and felonies
committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of
nations, belongs with equal propriety to the general government,
and is a still greater improvement on the articles of
Confederation. These articles contain no provision for the case
of offenses against the law of nations; and consequently leave it
in the power of any indiscreet member to embroil the
Confederacy with foreign nations. The provision of the federal
articles on the subject of piracies and felonies extends no
further than to the establishment of courts for the trial of
these offenses. The definition of piracies might, perhaps,
without inconveniency, be left to the law of nations; though a
legislative definition of them is found in most municipal codes.
A definition of felonies on the high seas is evidently
requisite. Felony is a term of loose signification, even in the
common law of England; and of various import in the statute law
of that kingdom. But neither the common nor the statute law of
that, or of any other nation, ought to be a standard for the
proceedings of this, unless previously made its own by
legislative adoption. The meaning of the term, as defined in the
codes of the several States, would be as impracticable as the
former would be a dishonorable and illegitimate guide. It is not
precisely the same in any two of the States; and varies in each
with every revision of its criminal laws. For the sake of
certainty and uniformity, therefore, the power of defining
felonies in this case was in every respect necessary and proper.
The regulation of foreign commerce, having fallen within several
views which have been taken of this subject, has been too fully
discussed to need additional proofs here of its being properly
submitted to the federal administration. It were doubtless to be
wished, that the power of prohibiting the importation of slaves
had not been postponed until the year 1808, or rather that it had
been suffered to have immediate operation. But it is not
difficult to account, either for this restriction on the general
government, or for the manner in which the whole clause is
expressed. It ought to be considered as a great point gained in
favor of humanity, that a period of twenty years may terminate
forever, within these States, a traffic which has so long and so
loudly upbraided the barbarism of modern policy; that within that
period, it will receive a considerable discouragement from the
federal government, and may be totally abolished, by a
concurrence of the few States which continue the unnatural
traffic, in the prohibitory example which has been given by so
great a majority of the Union. Happy would it be for the
unfortunate Africans, if an equal prospect lay before them of
being redeemed from the oppressions of their European brethren!
Attempts have been made to pervert this clause into an objection
against the Constitution, by representing it on one side as a
criminal toleration of an illicit practice, and on another as
calculated to prevent voluntary and beneficial emigrations from
Europe to America. I mention these misconstructions, not with a
view to give them an answer, for they deserve none, but as
specimens of the manner and spirit in which some have thought fit
to conduct their opposition to the proposed government. The
powers included in the THIRD class are those which provide for
the harmony and proper intercourse among the States. Under this
head might be included the particular restraints imposed on the
authority of the States, and certain powers of the judicial
department; but the former are reserved for a distinct class, and
the latter will be particularly examined when we arrive at the
structure and organization of the government. I shall confine
myself to a cursory review of the remaining powers comprehended
under this third description, to wit: to regulate commerce among
the several States and the Indian tribes; to coin money, regulate
the value thereof, and of foreign coin; to provide for the
punishment of counterfeiting the current coin and secureties of
the United States; to fix the standard of weights and measures;
to establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws
of bankruptcy, to prescribe the manner in which the public acts,
records, and judicial proceedings of each State shall be proved,
and the effect they shall have in other States; and to establish
post offices and post roads. The defect of power in the existing
Confederacy to regulate the commerce between its several members,
is in the number of those which have been clearly pointed out by
experience. To the proofs and remarks which former papers have
brought into view on this subject, it may be added that without
this supplemental provision, the great and essential power of
regulating foreign commerce would have been incomplete and
ineffectual. A very material object of this power was the relief
of the States which import and export through other States, from
the improper contributions levied on them by the latter. Were
these at liberty to regulate the trade between State and State,
it must be foreseen that ways would be found out to load the
articles of import and export, during the passage through their
jurisdiction, with duties which would fall on the makers of the
latter and the consumers of the former. We may be assured by past
experience, that such a practice would be introduced by future
contrivances; and both by that and a common knowledge of human
affairs, that it would nourish unceasing animosities, and not
improbably terminate in serious interruptions of the public
tranquillity. To those who do not view the question through the
medium of passion or of interest, the desire of the commercial
States to collect, in any form, an indirect revenue from their
uncommercial neighbors, must appear not less impolitic than it is
unfair; since it would stimulate the injured party, by resentment
as well as interest, to resort to less convenient channels for
their foreign trade. But the mild voice of reason, pleading the
cause of an enlarged and permanent interest, is but too often
drowned, before public bodies as well as individuals, by the
clamors of an impatient avidity for immediate and immoderate
gain. The necessity of a superintending authority over the
reciprocal trade of confederated States, has been illustrated by
other examples as well as our own. In Switzerland, where the
Union is so very slight, each canton is obliged to allow to
merchandises a passage through its jurisdiction into other
cantons, without an augmentation of the tolls. In Germany it is a
law of the empire, that the princes and states shall not lay
tolls or customs on bridges, rivers, or passages, without the
consent of the emperor and the diet; though it appears from a
quotation in an antecedent paper, that the practice in this, as
in many other instances in that confederacy, has not followed the
law, and has produced there the mischiefs which have been
foreseen here. Among the restraints imposed by the Union of the
Netherlands on its members, one is, that they shall not establish
imposts disadvantageous to their neighbors, without the general
permission. The regulation of commerce with the Indian tribes is
very properly unfettered from two limitations in the articles of
Confederation, which render the provision obscure and
contradictory. The power is there restrained to Indians, not
members of any of the States, and is not to violate or infringe
the legislative right of any State within its own limits. What
description of Indians are to be deemed members of a State, is
not yet settled, and has been a question of frequent perplexity
and contention in the federal councils. And how the trade with
Indians, though not members of a State, yet residing within its
legislative jurisdiction, can be regulated by an external
authority, without so far intruding on the internal rights of
legislation, is absolutely incomprehensible. This is not the only
case in which the articles of Confederation have inconsiderately
endeavored to accomplish impossibilities; to reconcile a partial
sovereignty in the Union, with complete sovereignty in the
States; to subvert a mathematical axiom, by taking away a part,
and letting the whole remain. All that need be remarked on the
power to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign
coin, is, that by providing for this last case, the Constitution
has supplied a material omission in the articles of
Confederation. The authority of the existing Congress is
restrained to the regulation of coin STRUCK by their own
authority, or that of the respective States. It must be seen at
once that the proposed uniformity in the VALUE of the current
coin might be destroyed by subjecting that of foreign coin to the
different regulations of the different States. The punishment of
counterfeiting the public securities, as well as the current
coin, is submitted of course to that authority which is to secure
the value of both. The regulation of weights and measures is
transferred from the articles of Confederation, and is founded on
like considerations with the preceding power of regulating coin.
The dissimilarity in the rules of naturalization has long been
remarked as a fault in our system, and as laying a foundation for
intricate and delicate questions. In the fourth article of the
Confederation, it is declared ``that the FREE INHABITANTS of each
of these States, paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice,
excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of
FREE CITIZENS in the several States; and THE PEOPLE of each State
shall, in every other, enjoy all the privileges of trade and
commerce,'' etc. There is a confusion of language here, which is
remarkable. Why the terms FREE INHABITANTS are used in one part
of the article, FREE CITIZENS in another, and PEOPLE in another;
or what was meant by superadding to ``all privileges and
immunities of free citizens,'' ``all the privileges of trade and
cannot easily be determined. It seems to be a construction
scarcely avoidable, however, that those who come under the
denomination of FREE INHABITANTS of a State, although not
citizens of such State, are entitled, in every other State, to
all the privileges of FREE CITIZENS of the latter; that is, to
greater privileges than they may be entitled to in their own
State: so that it may be in the power of a particular State, or
rather every State is laid under a necessity, not only to confer
the rights of citizenship in other States upon any whom it may
admit to such rights within itself, but upon any whom it may
allow to become inhabitants within its jurisdiction. But were an
exposition of the term ``inhabitants'' to be admitted which would
confine the stipulated privileges to citizens alone, the
difficulty is diminished only, not removed. The very improper
power would still be retained by each State, of naturalizing
aliens in every other State. In one State, residence for a short
term confirms all the rights of citizenship: in another,
qualifications of greater importance are required. An alien,
therefore, legally incapacitated for certain rights in the
latter, may, by previous residence only in the former, elude his
incapacity; and thus the law of one State be preposterously
rendered paramount to the law of another, within the jurisdiction
of the other. We owe it to mere casualty, that very serious
embarrassments on this subject have been hitherto escaped. By the
laws of several States, certain descriptions of aliens, who had
rendered themselves obnoxious, were laid under interdicts
inconsistent not only with the rights of citizenship but with the
privilege of residence. What would have been the consequence, if
such persons, by residence or otherwise, had acquired the
character of citizens under the laws of another State, and then
asserted their rights as such, both to residence and citizenship,
within the State proscribing them? Whatever the legal
consequences might have been, other consequences would probably
have resulted, of too serious a nature not to be provided
against. The new Constitution has accordingly, with great
propriety, made provision against them, and all others proceeding
from the defect of the Confederation on this head, by authorizing
the general government to establish a uniform rule of
naturalization throughout the United States. The power of
establishing uniform laws of bankruptcy is so intimately
connected with the regulation of commerce, and will prevent so
many frauds where the parties or their property may lie or be
removed into different States, that the expediency of it seems
not likely to be drawn into question. The power of prescribing by
general laws, the manner in which the public acts, records and
judicial proceedings of each State shall be proved, and the
effect they shall have in other States, is an evident and
valuable improvement on the clause relating to this subject in
the articles of Confederation. The meaning of the latter is
extremely indeterminate, and can be of little importance under
any interpretation which it will bear. The power here established
may be rendered a very convenient instrument of justice, and be
particularly beneficial on the borders of contiguous States,
where the effects liable to justice may be suddenly and secretly
translated, in any stage of the process, within a foreign
jurisdiction. The power of establishing post roads must, in every
view, be a harmless power, and may, perhaps, by judicious
management, become productive of great public conveniency.
Nothing which tends to facilitate the intercourse between the
States can be deemed unworthy of the public care. PUBLIUS. 

The Same Subject Continued(The Powers Conferred by the
Constitution Further Considered)
For the Independent Journal. 


To the People of the State of New York:
THE FOURTH class comprises the following miscellaneous powers:1.
A power ``to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by
securing, for a limited time, to authors and inventors, the
exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.
''The utility of this power will scarcely be questioned. The
copyright of authors has been solemnly adjudged, in Great
Britain, to be a right of common law. The right to useful
inventions seems with equal reason to belong to the inventors.
The public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of
individuals. The States cannot separately make effectual
provisions for either of the cases, and most of them have
anticipated the decision of this point, by laws passed at the
instance of Congress. 2. ``To exercise exclusive legislation, in
all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles
square) as may, by cession of particular States and the
acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the
United States; and to exercise like authority over all places
purchased by the consent of the legislatures of the States in
which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines,
arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings. ''The
indispensable necessity of complete authority at the seat of
government, carries its own evidence with it. It is a power
exercised by every legislature of the Union, I might say of the
world, by virtue of its general supremacy. Without it, not only
the public authority might be insulted and its proceedings
interrupted with impunity; but a dependence of the members of the
general government on the State comprehending the seat of the
government, for protection in the exercise of their duty, might
bring on the national councils an imputation of awe or influence,
equally dishonorable to the government and dissatisfactory to the
other members of the Confederacy. This consideration has the more
weight, as the gradual accumulation of public improvements at the
stationary residence of the government would be both too great a
public pledge to be left in the hands of a single State, and
would create so many obstacles to a removal of the government, as
still further to abridge its necessary independence. The extent
of this federal district is sufficiently circumscribed to satisfy
every jealousy of an opposite nature. And as it is to be
appropriated to this use with the consent of the State ceding it;
as the State will no doubt provide in the compact for the rights
and the consent of the citizens inhabiting it; as the inhabitants
will find sufficient inducements of interest to become willing
parties to the cession; as they will have had their voice in the
election of the government which is to exercise authority over
them; as a municipal legislature for local purposes, derived from
their own suffrages, will of course be allowed them; and as the
authority of the legislature of the State, and of the inhabitants
of the ceded part of it, to concur in the cession, will be
derived from the whole people of the State in their adoption of
the Constitution, every imaginable objection seems to be
obviated. The necessity of a like authority over forts,
magazines, etc. , established by the general government, is not
less evident. The public money expended on such places, and the
public property deposited in them, requires that they should be
exempt from the authority of the particular State. Nor would it
be proper for the places on which the security of the entire
Union may depend, to be in any degree dependent on a particular
member of it. All objections and scruples are here also obviated,
by requiring the concurrence of the States concerned, in every
such establishment. 3. ``To declare the punishment of treason,
but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or
forfeiture, except during the life of the person attained. ''As
treason may be committed against the United States, the authority
of the United States ought to be enabled to punish it. But as
new-fangled and artificial treasons have been the great engines
by which violent factions, the natural offspring of free
government, have usually wreaked their alternate malignity on
each other, the convention have, with great judgment, opposed a
barrier to this peculiar danger, by inserting a constitutional
definition of the crime, fixing the proof necessary for
conviction of it, and restraining the Congress, even in punishing
it, from extending the consequences of guilt beyond the person of
its author. 4. ``To admit new States into the Union; but no new
State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any
other State; nor any State be formed by the junction of two or
more States, or parts of States, without the consent of the
legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of the Congress.
''In the articles of Confederation, no provision is found on this
important subject. Canada was to be admitted of right, on her
joining in the measures of the United States; and the other
COLONIES, by which were evidently meant the other British
colonies, at the discretion of nine States. The eventual
establishment of NEW STATES seems to have been overlooked by the
compilers of that instrument. We have seen the inconvenience of
this omission, and the assumption of power into which Congress
have been led by it. With great propriety, therefore, has the new
system supplied the defect. The general precaution, that no new
States shall be formed, without the concurrence of the federal
authority, and that of the States concerned, is consonant to the
principles which ought to govern such transactions. The
particular precaution against the erection of new States, by the
partition of a State without its consent, quiets the jealousy of
the larger States; as that of the smaller is quieted by a like
precaution, against a junction of States without their consent.
5. ``To dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations
respecting the territory or other property belonging to the
United States, with a proviso, that nothing in the Constitution
shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United
States, or of any particular State. ''This is a power of very
great importance, and required by considerations similar to those
which show the propriety of the former. The proviso annexed is
proper in itself, and was probably rendered absolutely necessary
by jealousies and questions concerning the Western territory
sufficiently known to the public. 6. ``To guarantee to every
State in the Union a republican form of government; to protect
each of them against invasion; and on application of the
legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be
convened), against domestic violence. ''In a confederacy founded
on republican principles, and composed of republican members, the
superintending government ought clearly to possess authority to
defend the system against aristocratic or monarchial
innovations. The more intimate the nature of such a union may be,
the greater interest have the members in the political
institutions of each other; and the greater right to insist that
the forms of government under which the compact was entered into
should be SUBSTANTIALLY maintained. But a right implies a remedy;
and where else could the remedy be deposited, than where it is
deposited by the Constitution? Governments of dissimilar
principles and forms have been found less adapted to a federal
coalition of any sort, than those of a kindred nature. ``As the
confederate republic of Germany,'' says Montesquieu, ``consists
of free cities and petty states, subject to different princes,
experience shows us that it is more imperfect than that of
Holland and Switzerland. '' ``Greece was undone,'' he adds, ``as
soon as the king of Macedon obtained a seat among the
Amphictyons. '' In the latter case, no doubt, the
disproportionate force, as well as the monarchical form, of the
new confederate, had its share of influence on the events. It may
possibly be asked, what need there could be of such a
precaution, and whether it may not become a pretext for
alterations in the State governments, without the concurrence of
the States themselves. These questions admit of ready answers. If
the interposition of the general government should not be
needed, the provision for such an event will be a harmless
superfluity only in the Constitution. But who can say what
experiments may be produced by the caprice of particular States,
by the ambition of enterprising leaders, or by the intrigues and
influence of foreign powers? To the second question it may be
answered, that if the general government should interpose by
virtue of this constitutional authority, it will be, of course,
bound to pursue the authority. But the authority extends no
further than to a GUARANTY of a republican form of government,
which supposes a pre-existing government of the form which is to
be guaranteed. As long, therefore, as the existing republican
forms are continued by the States, they are guaranteed by the
federal Constitution. Whenever the States may choose to
substitute other republican forms, they have a right to do so,
and to claim the federal guaranty for the latter. The only
restriction imposed on them is, that they shall not exchange
republican for antirepublican Constitutions; a restriction
which, it is presumed, will hardly be considered as a grievance.
A protection against invasion is due from every society to the
parts composing it. The latitude of the expression here used
seems to secure each State, not only against foreign hostility,
but against ambitious or vindictive enterprises of its more
powerful neighbors. The history, both of ancient and modern
confederacies, proves that the weaker members of the union ought
not to be insensible to the policy of this article. Protection
against domestic violence is added with equal propriety. It has
been remarked, that even among the Swiss cantons, which, properly
speaking, are not under one government, provision is made for
this object; and the history of that league informs us that
mutual aid is frequently claimed and afforded; and as well by the
most democratic, as the other cantons. A recent and
well-known event among ourselves has warned us to be prepared for
emergencies of a like nature. At first view, it might seem not to
square with the republican theory, to suppose, either that a
majority have not the right, or that a minority will have the
force, to subvert a government; and consequently, that the
federal interposition can never be required, but when it would be
improper. But theoretic reasoning, in this as in most other
cases, must be qualified by the lessons of practice. Why may not
illicit combinations, for purposes of violence, be formed as well
by a majority of a State, especially a small State as by a
majority of a county, or a district of the same State; and if the
authority of the State ought, in the latter case, to protect the
local magistracy, ought not the federal authority, in the former,
to support the State authority? Besides, there are
certain parts of the State constitutions which are so interwoven
with the federal Constitution, that a violent blow cannot be
given to the one without communicating the wound to the other.
Insurrections in a State will rarely induce a federal
interposition, unless the number concerned in them bear some
proportion to the friends of government. It will be much better
that the violence in such cases should be repressed by the
superintending power, than that the majority should be left to
maintain their cause by a bloody and obstinate contest. The
existence of a right to interpose, will generally prevent the
necessity of exerting it. Is it true that force and right are
necessarily on the same side in republican governments? May not
the minor party possess such a superiority of pecuniary
resources, of military talents and experience, or of secret
succors from foreign powers, as will render it superior also in
an appeal to the sword? May not a more compact and advantageous
position turn the scale on the same side, against a superior
number so situated as to be less capable of a prompt and
collected exertion of its strength? Nothing can be more
chimerical than to imagine that in a trial of actual force,
victory may be calculated by the rules which prevail in a census
of the inhabitants, or which determine the event of an election! 
May it not happen, in fine, that the minority of CITIZENS may
become a majority of PERSONS, by the accession of alien
residents, of a casual concourse of adventurers, or of those whom
the constitution of the State has not admitted to the rights of
suffrage? I take no notice of an unhappy species of population
abounding in some of the States, who, during the calm of regular
government, are sunk below the level of men; but who, in the
tempestuous scenes of civil violence, may emerge into the human
character, and give a superiority of strength to any party with
which they may associate themselves. In cases where it may be
doubtful on which side justice lies, what better umpires could be
desired by two violent factions, flying to arms, and tearing a
State to pieces, than the representatives of confederate States,
not heated by the local flame? To the impartiality of judges,
they would unite the affection of friends. Happy would it be if
such a remedy for its infirmities could be enjoyed by all free
governments; if a project equally effectual could be established
for the universal peace of mankind! Should it be asked, what is
to be the redress for an insurrection pervading all the States,
and comprising a superiority of the entire force, though not a
constitutional right? the answer must be, that such a case, as it
would be without the compass of human remedies, so it is
fortunately not within the compass of human probability; and that
it is a sufficient recommendation of the federal
Constitution, that it diminishes the risk of a calamity for which
no possible constitution can provide a cure. Among the
advantages of a confederate republic enumerated by Montesquieu,
an important one is, ``that should a popular insurrection happen
in one of the States, the others are able to quell it. Should
abuses creep into one part, they are reformed by those that
remain sound. ''7. ``To consider all debts contracted, and
engagements entered into, before the adoption of this
Constitution, as being no less valid against the United States,
under this Constitution, than under the Confederation. ''This can
only be considered as a declaratory proposition; and may have
been inserted, among other reasons, for the satisfaction of the
foreign creditors of the United States, who cannot be strangers
to the pretended doctrine, that a change in the political form of
civil society has the magical effect of dissolving its moral
obligations. Among the lesser criticisms which have been
exercised on the Constitution, it has been remarked that the
validity of engagements ought to have been asserted in favor of
the United States, as well as against them; and in the spirit
which usually characterizes little critics, the omission has been
transformed and magnified into a plot against the national
rights. The authors of this discovery may be told, what few
others need to be informed of, that as engagements are in their
nature reciprocal, an assertion of their validity on one side,
necessarily involves a validity on the other side; and that as
the article is merely declaratory, the establishment of the
principle in one case is sufficient for every case. They may be
further told, that every constitution must limit its precautions
to dangers that are not altogether imaginary; and that no real
danger can exist that the government would DARE, with, or even
without, this constitutional declaration before it, to remit the
debts justly due to the public, on the pretext here condemned. 8.
``To provide for amendments to be ratified by three fourths of
the States under two exceptions only. ''That useful alterations
will be suggested by experience, could not but be foreseen. It
was requisite, therefore, that a mode for introducing them should
be provided. The mode preferred by the convention seems to be
stamped with every mark of propriety. It guards equally against
that extreme facility, which would render the Constitution too
mutable; and that extreme difficulty, which might perpetuate its
discovered faults. It, moreover, equally enables the general and
the State governments to originate the amendment of errors, as
they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the
other. The exception in favor of the equality of suffrage in the
Senate, was probably meant as a palladium to the residuary
sovereignty of the States, implied and secured by that principle
of representation in one branch of the legislature; and was
probably insisted on by the States particularly attached to that
equality. The other exception must have been admitted on the same
considerations which produced the privilege defended by it. 9.
``The ratification of the conventions of nine States shall be
sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the
States, ratifying the same. ''This article speaks for itself. The
express authority of the people alone could give due validity to
the Constitution. To have required the unanimous ratification of
the thirteen States, would have subjected the essential
interests of the whole to the caprice or corruption of a single
member. It would have marked a want of foresight in the
convention, which our own experience would have rendered
inexcusable. Two questions of a very delicate nature present
themselves on this occasion: 1. On what principle the
Confederation, which stands in the solemn form of a compact among
the States, can be superseded without the unanimous consent of
the parties to it? 2. What relation is to subsist between the
nine or more States ratifying the Constitution, and the remaining
few who do not become parties to it? The first question is
answered at once by recurring to the absolute necessity of the
case; to the great principle of self-preservation; to the
transcendent law of nature and of nature's God, which declares
that the safety and happiness of society are the objects at which
all political institutions aim, and to which all such
institutions must be sacrificed. PERHAPS, also, an answer may be
found without searching beyond the principles of the compact
itself. It has been heretofore noted among the defects of the
Confederation, that in many of the States it had received no
higher sanction than a mere legislative ratification. The
principle of reciprocality seems to require that its obligation
on the other States should be reduced to the same standard. A
compact between independent sovereigns, founded on ordinary acts
of legislative authority, can pretend to no higher validity than
a league or treaty between the parties. It is an established
doctrine on the subject of treaties, that all the articles are
mutually conditions of each other; that a breach of any one
article is a breach of the whole treaty; and that a breach,
committed by either of the parties, absolves the others, and
authorizes them, if they please, to pronounce the compact
violated and void. Should it unhappily be necessary to appeal to
these delicate truths for a justification for dispensing with the
consent of particular States to a dissolution of the federal
pact, will not the complaining parties find it a difficult task
to answer the MULTIPLIED and IMPORTANT infractions with which
they may be confronted? The time has been when it was incumbent
on us all to veil the ideas which this paragraph exhibits. The
scene is now changed, and with it the part which the same motives
dictate. The second question is not less delicate; and the
flattering prospect of its being merely hypothetical forbids an
overcurious discussion of it. It is one of those cases which must
be left to provide for itself. In general, it may be observed,
that although no political relation can subsist between the
assenting and dissenting States, yet the moral relations will
remain uncancelled. The claims of justice, both on one side and
on the other, will be in force, and must be fulfilled; the
rights of humanity must in all cases be duly and mutually
respected; whilst considerations of a common interest, and, above
all, the remembrance of the endearing scenes which are past, and
the anticipation of a speedy triumph over the obstacles to
reunion, will, it is hoped, not urge in vain MODERATION on one
side, and PRUDENCE on the other. PUBLIUS. 


Restrictions on the Authority of the Several States
From the New York Packet. Friday, January 25, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
A FIFTH class of provisions in favor of the federal authority
consists of the following restrictions on the authority of the
several States:1. ``No State shall enter into any treaty,
alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal;
coin money; emit bills of credit; make any thing but gold and
silver a legal tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of
attainder, ex-post-facto law, or law impairing the obligation of
contracts; or grant any title of nobility. ''The prohibition
against treaties, alliances, and confederations makes a part of
the existing articles of Union; and for reasons which need no
explanation, is copied into the new Constitution. The prohibition
of letters of marque is another part of the old system, but is
somewhat extended in the new. According to the former, letters of
marque could be granted by the States after a declaration of war;
according to the latter, these licenses must be obtained, as well
during war as previous to its declaration, from the government of
the United States. This alteration is fully justified by the
advantage of uniformity in all points which relate to foreign
powers; and of immediate responsibility to the nation in all
those for whose conduct the nation itself is to be responsible.
The right of coining money, which is here taken from the States,
was left in their hands by the Confederation, as a concurrent
right with that of Congress, under an exception in favor of the
exclusive right of Congress to regulate the alloy and value. In
this instance, also, the new provision is an improvement on the
old. Whilst the alloy and value depended on the general
authority, a right of coinage in the particular States could have
no other effect than to multiply expensive mints and diversify
the forms and weights of the circulating pieces. The latter
inconveniency defeats one purpose for which the power was
originally submitted to the federal head; and as far as the
former might prevent an inconvenient remittance of gold and
silver to the central mint for recoinage, the end can be as well
attained by local mints established under the general authority.
The extension of the prohibition to bills of credit must give
pleasure to every citizen, in proportion to his love of justice
and his knowledge of the true springs of public prosperity. The
loss which America has sustained since the peace, from the
pestilent effects of paper money on the necessary confidence
between man and man, on the necessary confidence in the public
councils, on the industry and morals of the people, and on the
character of republican government, constitutes an enormous debt
against the States chargeable with this unadvised measure, which
must long remain unsatisfied; or rather an accumulation of guilt,
which can be expiated no otherwise than by a voluntary sacrifice
on the altar of justice, of the power which has been the
instrument of it. In addition to these persuasive
considerations, it may be observed, that the same reasons which
show the necessity of denying to the States the power of
regulating coin, prove with equal force that they ought not to be
at liberty to substitute a paper medium in the place of coin. Had
every State a right to regulate the value of its coin, there
might be as many different currencies as States, and thus the
intercourse among them would be impeded; retrospective
alterations in its value might be made, and thus the citizens of
other States be injured, and animosities be kindled among the
States themselves. The subjects of foreign powers might suffer
from the same cause, and hence the Union be discredited and
embroiled by the indiscretion of a single member. No one of these
mischiefs is less incident to a power in the States to emit paper
money, than to coin gold or silver. The power to make any thing
but gold and silver a tender in payment of debts, is withdrawn
from the States, on the same principle with that of issuing a
paper currency. Bills of attainder, ex-post-facto laws, and laws
impairing the obligation of contracts, are contrary to the first
principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound
legislation. The two former are expressly prohibited by the
declarations prefixed to some of the State constitutions, and all
of them are prohibited by the spirit and scope of these
fundamental charters. Our own experience has taught us,
nevertheless, that additional fences against these dangers ought
not to be omitted. Very properly, therefore, have the convention
added this constitutional bulwark in favor of personal security
and private rights; and I am much deceived if they have not, in
so doing, as faithfully consulted the genuine sentiments as the
undoubted interests of their constituents. The sober people of
America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed
the public councils. They have seen with regret and indignation
that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases
affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of
enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-
industrious and lessinformed part of the community. They have
seen, too, that one legislative interference is but the first
link of a long chain of repetitions, every subsequent
interference being naturally produced by the effects of the
preceding. They very rightly infer, therefore, that some thorough
reform is wanting, which will banish speculations on public
measures, inspire a general prudence and industry, and give a
regular course to the business of society. The prohibition with
respect to titles of nobility is copied from the articles of
Confederation and needs no comment. 2. ``No State shall, without
the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports
or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing
its inspection laws, and the net produce of all duties and
imposts laid by any State on imports or exports, shall be for the
use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall
be subject to the revision and control of the Congress. No State
shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty on tonnage,
keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any
agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power,
or engage in war unless actually invaded, or in such imminent
danger as will not admit of delay. ''The restraint on the power
of the States over imports and exports is enforced by all the
arguments which prove the necessity of submitting the regulation
of trade to the federal councils. It is needless, therefore, to
remark further on this head, than that the manner in which the
restraint is qualified seems well calculated at once to secure to
the States a reasonable discretion in providing for the
conveniency of their imports and exports, and to the United
States a reasonable check against the abuse of this discretion.
The remaining particulars of this clause fall within reasonings
which are either so obvious, or have been so fully developed,
that they may be passed over without remark. The SIXTH and last
class consists of the several powers and provisions by which
efficacy is given to all the rest. 1. Of these the first is, the
``power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for
carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other
powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the
United States, or in any department or officer thereof. ''Few
parts of the Constitution have been assailed with more
intemperance than this; yet on a fair investigation of it, no
part can appear more completely invulnerable. Without the
SUBSTANCE of this power, the whole Constitution would be a dead
letter. Those who object to the article, therefore, as a part of
the Constitution, can only mean that the FORM of the provision is
improper. But have they considered whether a better form could
have been substituted? There are four other possible methods
which the Constitution might have taken on this subject. They
might have copied the second article of the existing
Confederation, which would have prohibited the exercise of any
power not EXPRESSLY delegated; they might have attempted a
positive enumeration of the powers comprehended under the general
terms ``necessary and proper''; they might have attempted a
negative enumeration of them, by specifying the powers excepted
from the general definition; they might have been altogether
silent on the subject, leaving these necessary and proper powers
to construction and inference. Had the convention taken the first
method of adopting the second article of Confederation, it is
evident that the new Congress would be continually exposed, as
their predecessors have been, to the alternative of construing
the term ``EXPRESSLY'' with so much rigor, as to disarm the
government of all real authority whatever, or with so much
latitude as to destroy altogether the force of the restriction.
It would be easy to show, if it were necessary, that no important
power, delegated by the articles of Confederation, has been or
can be executed by Congress, without recurring more or less to
the doctrine of CONSTRUCTION or IMPLICATION. As the powers
delegated under the new system are more extensive, the government
which is to administer it would find itself still more distressed
with the alternative of betraying the public interests by doing
nothing, or of violating the Constitution by exercising powers
indispensably necessary and proper, but, at the same time, not
EXPRESSLY granted. Had the convention attempted a positive
enumeration of the powers necessary and proper for carrying their
other powers into effect, the attempt would have involved a
complete digest of laws on every subject to which the
Constitution relates; accommodated too, not only to the existing
state of things, but to all the possible changes which futurity
may produce; for in every new application of a general power, the
PARTICULAR POWERS, which are the means of attaining the OBJECT of
the general power, must always necessarily vary with that object,
and be often properly varied whilst the object remains the same.
Had they attempted to enumerate the particular powers or means
not necessary or proper for carrying the general powers into
execution, the task would have been no less chimerical; and would
have been liable to this further objection, that every defect in
the enumeration would have been equivalent to a positive grant of
authority. If, to avoid this consequence, they had attempted a
partial enumeration of the exceptions, and described the residue
by the general terms, NOT NECESSARY OR PROPER, it must have
happened that the enumeration would comprehend a few of the
excepted powers only; that these would be such as would be least
likely to be assumed or tolerated, because the enumeration would
of course select such as would be least necessary or proper; and
that the unnecessary and improper powers included in the
residuum, would be less forcibly excepted, than if no partial
enumeration had been made. Had the Constitution been silent on
this head, there can be no doubt that all the particular powers
requisite as means of executing the general powers would have
resulted to the government, by unavoidable implication. No axiom
is more clearly established in law, or in reason, than that
wherever the end is required, the means are authorized; wherever
a general power to do a thing is given, every particular power
necessary for doing it is included. Had this last method,
therefore, been pursued by the convention, every objection now
urged against their plan would remain in all its plausibility;
and the real inconveniency would be incurred of not removing a
pretext which may be seized on critical occasions for drawing
into question the essential powers of the Union. If it be asked
what is to be the consequence, in case the Congress shall
misconstrue this part of the Constitution, and exercise powers
not warranted by its true meaning, I answer, the same as if they
should misconstrue or enlarge any other power vested in them; as
if the general power had been reduced to particulars, and any one
of these were to be violated; the same, in short, as if the State
legislatures should violate the irrespective constitutional
authorities. In the first instance, the success of the usurpation
will depend on the executive and judiciary departments, which are
to expound and give effect to the legislative acts; and in the
last resort a remedy must be obtained from the people who can, by
the election of more faithful representatives, annul the acts of
the usurpers. The truth is, that this ultimate redress may be
more confided in against unconstitutional acts of the federal
than of the State legislatures, for this plain reason, that as
every such act of the former will be an invasion of the rights of
the latter, these will be ever ready to mark the innovation, to
sound the alarm to the people, and to exert their local influence
in effecting a change of federal representatives. There being no
such intermediate body between the State legislatures and the
people interested in watching the conduct of the former,
violations of the State constitutions are more likely to remain
unnoticed and unredressed. 2. ``This Constitution and the laws of
the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and
all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the
authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the
land, and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any
thing in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary
notwithstanding. ''The indiscreet zeal of the adversaries to the
Constitution has betrayed them into an attack on this part of it
also, without which it would have been evidently and radically
defective. To be fully sensible of this, we need only suppose for
a moment that the supremacy of the State constitutions had been
left complete by a saving clause in their favor. In the first
place, as these constitutions invest the State legislatures with
absolute sovereignty, in all cases not excepted by the existing
articles of Confederation, all the authorities contained in the
proposed Constitution, so far as they exceed those enumerated in
the Confederation, would have been annulled, and the new Congress
would have been reduced to the same impotent condition with their
predecessors. In the next place, as the constitutions of some of
the States do not even expressly and fully recognize the existing
powers of the Confederacy, an express saving of the supremacy of
the former would, in such States, have brought into question
every power contained in the proposed Constitution. In the third
place, as the constitutions of the States differ much from each
other, it might happen that a treaty or national law, of great
and equal importance to the States, would interfere with some and
not with other constitutions, and would consequently be valid in
some of the States, at the same time that it would have no effect
in others. In fine, the world would have seen, for the first
time, a system of government founded on an inversion of the
fundamental principles of all government; it would have seen the
authority of the whole society every where subordinate to the
authority of the parts; it would have seen a monster, in which
the head was under the direction of the members. 3. ``The
Senators and Representatives, and the members of the several
State legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both
of the United States and the several States, shall be bound by
oath or affirmation to support this Constitution. ''It has been
asked why it was thought necessary, that the State magistracy
should be bound to support the federal Constitution, and
unnecessary that a like oath should be imposed on the officers of
the United States, in favor of the State constitutions. Several
reasons might be assigned for the distinction. I content myself
with one, which is obvious and conclusive. The members of the
federal government will have no agency in carrying the State
constitutions into effect. The members and officers of the State
governments, on the contrary, will have an essential agency in
giving effect to the federal Constitution. The election of the
President and Senate will depend, in all cases, on the
legislatures of the several States. And the election of the House
of Representatives will equally depend on the same authority in
the first instance; and will, probably, forever be conducted by
the officers, and according to the laws, of the States. 4. Among
the provisions for giving efficacy to the federal powers might be
added those which belong to the executive and judiciary
departments: but as these are reserved for particular examination
in another place, I pass them over in this. We have now
reviewed, in detail, all the articles composing the sum or
quantity of power delegated by the proposed Constitution to the
federal government, and are brought to this undeniable
conclusion, that no part of the power is unnecessary or improper
for accomplishing the necessary objects of the Union. The
question, therefore, whether this amount of power shall be
granted or not, resolves itself into another question, whether or
not a government commensurate to the exigencies of the Union
shall be established; or, in other words, whether the Union
itself shall be preserved. PUBLIUS. 


The Alleged Danger From the Powers of the Union to the State
Governments Considered
For the Independent Fournal. 


To the People of the State of New York:
HAVING shown that no one of the powers transferred to the federal
government is unnecessary or improper, the next question to be
considered is, whether the whole mass of them will be dangerous
to the portion of authority left in the several States. The
adversaries to the plan of the convention, instead of considering
in the first place what degree of power was absolutely necessary
for the purposes of the federal government, have exhausted
themselves in a secondary inquiry into the possible consequences
of the proposed degree of power to the governments of the
particular States. But if the Union, as has been shown, be
essential to the security of the people of America against
foreign danger; if it be essential to their security against
contentions and wars among the different States; if it be
essential to guard them against those violent and oppressive
factions which embitter the blessings of liberty, and against
those military establishments which must gradually poison its
very fountain; if, in a word, the Union be essential to the
happiness of the people of America, is it not preposterous, to
urge as an objection to a government, without which the objects
of the Union cannot be attained, that such a government may
derogate from the importance of the governments of the individual
States? Was, then, the American Revolution effected, was the
American Confederacy formed, was the precious blood of thousands
spilt, and the hard-earned substance of millions lavished, not
that the people of America should enjoy peace, liberty, and
safety, but that the government of the individual States, that
particular municipal establishments, might enjoy a certain extent
of power, and be arrayed with certain dignities and attributes of
sovereignty? We have heard of the impious doctrine in the Old
World, that the people were made for kings, not kings for the
people. Is the same doctrine to be revived in the New, in another
shape that the solid happiness of the people is to be sacrificed
to the views of political institutions of a different form? It is
too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting that the
public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is
the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government
whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the
attainment of this object. Were the plan of the convention
adverse to the public happiness, my voice would be, Reject the
plan. Were the Union itself inconsistent with the public
happiness, it would be, Abolish the Union. In like manner, as far
as the sovereignty of the States cannot be reconciled to the
happiness of the people, the voice of every good citizen must be,
Let the former be sacrificed to the latter. How far the sacrifice
is necessary, has been shown. How far the unsacrificed residue
will be endangered, is the question before us. Several important
considerations have been touched in the course of these papers,
which discountenance the supposition that the operation of the
federal government will by degrees prove fatal to the State
governments. The more I revolve the subject, the more fully I am
persuaded that the balance is much more likely to be disturbed by
the preponderancy of the last than of the first scale. We have
seen, in all the examples of ancient and modern confederacies,
the strongest tendency continually betraying itself in the
members, to despoil the general government of its authorities,
with a very ineffectual capacity in the latter to defend itself
against the encroachments. Although, in most of these examples,
the system has been so dissimilar from that under consideration
as greatly to weaken any inference concerning the latter from the
fate of the former, yet, as the States will retain, under the
proposed Constitution, a very extensive portion of active
sovereignty, the inference ought not to be wholly disregarded. In
the Achaean league it is probable that the federal head had a
degree and species of power, which gave it a considerable
likeness to the government framed by the convention. The Lycian
Confederacy, as far as its principles and form are transmitted,
must have borne a still greater analogy to it. Yet history does
not inform us that either of them ever degenerated, or tended to
degenerate, into one consolidated government. On the contrary, we
know that the ruin of one of them proceeded from the incapacity
of the federal authority to prevent the dissensions, and finally
the disunion, of the subordinate authorities. These cases are the
more worthy of our attention, as the external causes by which the
component parts were pressed together were much more numerous and
powerful than in our case; and consequently less powerful
ligaments within would be sufficient to bind the members to the
head, and to each other. In the feudal system, we have seen a
similar propensity exemplified. Notwithstanding the want of
proper sympathy in every instance between the local sovereigns
and the people, and the sympathy in some instances between the
general sovereign and the latter, it usually happened that the
local sovereigns prevailed in the rivalship for encroachments.
Had no external dangers enforced internal harmony and
subordination, and particularly, had the local sovereigns
possessed the affections of the people, the great kingdoms in
Europe would at this time consist of as many independent princes
as there were formerly feudatory barons. The State government
will have the advantage of the Federal government, whether we
compare them in respect to the immediate dependence of the one on
the other; to the weight of personal influence which each side
will possess; to the powers respectively vested in them; to the
predilection and probable support of the people; to the
disposition and faculty of resisting and frustrating the measures
of each other. The State governments may be regarded as
constituent and essential parts of the federal government; whilst
the latter is nowise essential to the operation or organization
of the former. Without the intervention of the State
legislatures, the President of the United States cannot be
elected at all. They must in all cases have a great share in his
appointment, and will, perhaps, in most cases, of themselves
determine it. The Senate will be elected absolutely and
exclusively by the State legislatures. Even the House of
Representatives, though drawn immediately from the people, will
be chosen very much under the influence of that class of men,
whose influence over the people obtains for themselves an
election into the State legislatures. Thus, each of the principal
branches of the federal government will owe its existence more or
less to the favor of the State governments, and must consequently
feel a dependence, which is much more likely to beget a
disposition too obsequious than too overbearing towards them. On
the other side, the component parts of the State governments will
in no instance be indebted for their appointment to the direct
agency of the federal government, and very little, if at all, to
the local influence of its members. The number of individuals
employed under the Constitution of the United States will be much
smaller than the number employed under the particular States.
There will consequently be less of personal influence on the side
of the former than of the latter. The members of the legislative,
executive, and judiciary departments of thirteen and more States,
the justices of peace, officers of militia, ministerial officers
of justice, with all the county, corporation, and town officers,
for three millions and more of people, intermixed, and having
particular acquaintance with every class and circle of people,
must exceed, beyond all proportion, both in number and influence,
those of every description who will be employed in the
administration of the federal system. Compare the members of the
three great departments of the thirteen States, excluding from
the judiciary department the justices of peace, with the members
of the corresponding departments of the single government of the
Union; compare the militia officers of three millions of people
with the military and marine officers of any establishment which
is within the compass of probability, or, I may add, of
possibility, and in this view alone, we may pronounce the
advantage of the States to be decisive. If the federal government
is to have collectors of revenue, the State governments will have
theirs also. And as those of the former will be principally on
the seacoast, and not very numerous, whilst those of the latter
will be spread over the face of the country, and will be very
numerous, the advantage in this view also lies on the same side.
It is true, that the Confederacy is to possess, and may exercise,
the power of collecting internal as well as external taxes
throughout the States; but it is probable that this power will
not be resorted to, except for supplemental purposes of revenue;
that an option will then be given to the States to supply their
quotas by previous collections of their own; and that the
eventual collection, under the immediate authority of the Union,
will generally be made by the officers, and according to the
rules, appointed by the several States. Indeed it is extremely
probable, that in other instances, particularly in the
organization of the judicial power, the officers of the States
will be clothed with the correspondent authority of the Union.
Should it happen, however, that separate collectors of internal
revenue should be appointed under the federal government, the
influence of the whole number would not bear a comparison with
that of the multitude of State officers in the opposite scale.
Within every district to which a federal collector would be
allotted, there would not be less than thirty or forty, or even
more, officers of different descriptions, and many of them
persons of character and weight, whose influence would lie on the
side of the State. The powers delegated by the proposed
Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those
which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and
indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external
objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with
which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be
connected. 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. The
operations of the federal government will be most extensive and
important in times of war and danger; those of the State
governments, in times of peace and security. As the former
periods will probably bear a small proportion to the latter, the
State governments will here enjoy another advantage over the
federal government. The more adequate, indeed, the federal powers
may be rendered to the national defense, the less frequent will
be those scenes of danger which might favor their ascendancy over
the governments of the particular States. If the new Constitution
be examined with accuracy and candor, it will be found that the
change which it proposes consists much less in the addition of
NEW POWERS to the Union, than in the invigoration of its ORIGINAL
POWERS. The regulation of commerce, it is true, is a new power;
but that seems to be an addition which few oppose, and from which
no apprehensions are entertained. The powers relating to war and
peace, armies and fleets, treaties and finance, with the other
more considerable powers, are all vested in the existing Congress
by the articles of Confederation. The proposed change does not
enlarge these powers; it only substitutes a more effectual mode
of administering them. The change relating to taxation may be
regarded as the most important; and yet the present Congress have
as complete authority to REQUIRE of the States indefinite
supplies of money for the common defense and general welfare, as
the future Congress will have to require them of individual
citizens; and the latter will be no more bound than the States
themselves have been, to pay the quotas respectively taxed on
them. Had the States complied punctually with the articles of
Confederation, or could their compliance have been enforced by as
peaceable means as may be used with success towards single
persons, our past experience is very far from countenancing an
opinion, that the State governments would have lost their
constitutional powers, and have gradually undergone an entire
consolidation. To maintain that such an event would have ensued,
would be to say at once, that the existence of the State
governments is incompatible with any system whatever that
accomplishes the essental purposes of the Union. PUBLIUS. 


The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared From
the New York Packet. Tuesday, January 29, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
RESUMING the subject of the last paper, I proceed to inquire
whether the federal government or the State governments will have
the advantage with regard to the predilection and support of the
people. Notwithstanding the different modes in which they are
appointed, we must consider both of them as substantially
dependent on the great body of the citizens of the United States.
I assume this position here as it respects the first, reserving
the proofs for another place. The federal and State governments
are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people,
constituted with different powers, and designed for different
purposes. The adversaries of the Constitution seem to have lost
sight of the people altogether in their reasonings on this
subject; and to have viewed these different establishments, not
only as mutual rivals and enemies, but as uncontrolled by any
common superior in their efforts to usurp the authorities of each
other. These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error. They
must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative
may be found, resides in the people alone, and that it will not
depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the
different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be
able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expense of the
other. Truth, no less than decency, requires that the event in
every case should be supposed to depend on the sentiments and
sanction of their common constituents. Many considerations,
besides those suggested on a former occasion, seem to place it
beyond doubt that the first and most natural attachment of the
people will be to the governments of their respective States.
Into the administration of these a greater number of individuals
will expect to rise. From the gift of these a greater number of
offices and emoluments will flow. By the superintending care of
these, all the more domestic and personal interests of the people
will be regulated and provided for. With the affairs of these,
the people will be more familiarly and minutely conversant. And
with the members of these, will a greater proportion of the
people have the ties of personal acquaintance and friendship, and
of family and party attachments; on the side of these,
therefore, the popular bias may well be expected most strongly to
incline. Experience speaks the same language in this case. The
federal administration, though hitherto very defective in
comparison with what may be hoped under a better system, had,
during the war, and particularly whilst the independent fund of
paper emissions was in credit, an activity and importance as
great as it can well have in any future circumstances whatever.
It was engaged, too, in a course of measures which had for their
object the protection of everything that was dear, and the
acquisition of everything that could be desirable to the people
at large. It was, nevertheless, invariably found, after the
transient enthusiasm for the early Congresses was over, that the
attention and attachment of the people were turned anew to their
own particular governments; that the federal council was at no
time the idol of popular favor; and that opposition to proposed
enlargements of its powers and importance was the side usually
taken by the men who wished to build their political consequence
on the prepossessions of their fellow-citizens. If, therefore, as
has been elsewhere remarked, the people should in future become
more partial to the federal than to the State governments, the
change can only result from such manifest and irresistible proofs
of a better administration, as will overcome all their antecedent
propensities. And in that case, the people ought not surely to be
precluded from giving most of their confidence where they may
discover it to be most due; but even in that case the State
governments could have little to apprehend, because it is only
within a certain sphere that the federal power can, in the nature
of things, be advantageously administered. The remaining points
on which I propose to compare the federal and State
governments, are the disposition and the faculty they may
respectively possess, to resist and frustrate the measures of
each other. It has been already proved that the members of the
federal will be more dependent on the members of the State
governments, than the latter will be on the former. It has
appeared also, that the prepossessions of the people, on whom
both will depend, will be more on the side of the State
governments, than of the federal government. So far as the
disposition of each towards the other may be influenced by these
causes, the State governments must clearly have the advantage.
But in a distinct and very important point of view, the advantage
will lie on the same side. The prepossessions, which the members
themselves will carry into the federal government, will generally
be favorable to the States; whilst it will rarely happen, that
the members of the State governments will carry into the public
councils a bias in favor of the general government. A local
spirit will infallibly prevail much more in the members of
Congress, than a national spirit will prevail in the legislatures
of the particular States. Every one knows that a great proportion
of the errors committed by the State legislatures proceeds from
the disposition of the members to sacrifice the comprehensive and
permanent interest of the State, to the particular and separate
views of the counties or districts in which they reside. And if
they do not sufficiently enlarge their policy to embrace the
collective welfare of their particular State, how can it be
imagined that they will make the aggregate prosperity of the
Union, and the dignity and respectability of its government, the
objects of their affections and consultations? For the same
reason that the members of the State legislatures will be
unlikely to attach themselves sufficiently to national objects,
the members of the federal legislature will be likely to attach
themselves too much to local objects. The States will be to the
latter what counties and towns are to the former. Measures will
too often be decided according to their probable effect, not on
the national prosperity and happiness, but on the prejudices,
interests, and pursuits of the governments and people of the
individual States. What is the spirit that has in general
characterized the proceedings of Congress? A perusal of their
journals, as well as the candid acknowledgments of such as have
had a seat in that assembly, will inform us, that the members
have but too frequently displayed the character, rather of
partisans of their respective States, than of impartial guardians
of a common interest; that where on one occasion improper
sacrifices have been made of local considerations, to the
aggrandizement of the federal government, the great interests of
the nation have suffered on a hundred, from an undue attention to
the local prejudices, interests, and views of the particular
States. I mean not by these reflections to insinuate, that the
new federal government will not embrace a more enlarged plan of
policy than the existing government may have pursued; much less,
that its views will be as confined as those of the State
legislatures; but only that it will partake sufficiently of the
spirit of both, to be disinclined to invade the rights of the
individual States, or the preorgatives of their governments. The
motives on the part of the State governments, to augment their
prerogatives by defalcations from the federal government, will be
overruled by no reciprocal predispositions in the members. Were
it admitted, however, that the Federal government may feel an
equal disposition with the State governments to extend its power
beyond the due limits, the latter would still have the advantage
in the means of defeating such encroachments. If an act of a
particular State, though unfriendly to the national government,
be generally popular in that State and should not too grossly
violate the oaths of the State officers, it is executed
immediately and, of course, by means on the spot and depending on
the State alone. The opposition of the federal government, or the
interposition of federal officers, would but inflame the zeal of
all parties on the side of the State, and the evil could not be
prevented or repaired, if at all, without the employment of means
which must always be resorted to with reluctance and difficulty.
On the other hand, should an unwarrantable measure of the federal
government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom
fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which
may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are
powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their
repugnance and, perhaps, refusal to co-operate with the officers
of the Union; the frowns of the executive magistracy of the
State; the embarrassments created by legislative devices, which
would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any
State, difficulties not to be despised; would form, in a large
State, very serious impediments; and where the sentiments of
several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present
obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing
to encounter. But ambitious encroachments of the federal
government, on the authority of the State governments, would not
excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only.
They would be signals of general alarm. Every government would
espouse the common cause. A correspondence would be
opened. Plans of resistance would be concerted. One spirit would
animate and conduct the whole. The same combinations, in short,
would result from an apprehension of the federal, as was produced
by the dread of a foreign, yoke; and unless the projected
innovations should be voluntarily renounced, the same appeal to a
trial of force would be made in the one case as was made in the
other. But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal
government to such an extremity. In the contest with Great
Britain, one part of the empire was employed against the other.
The more numerous part invaded the rights of the less numerous
part. The attempt was unjust and unwise; but it was not in
speculation absolutely chimerical. But what would be the contest
in the case we are supposing? Who would be the parties? A few
representatives of the people would be opposed to the people
themselves; or rather one set of representatives would be
contending against thirteen sets of representatives, with the
whole body of their common constituents on the side of the
latter. The only refuge left for those who prophesy the downfall
of the State governments is the visionary supposition that the
federal government may previously accumulate a military force for
the projects of ambition. The reasonings contained in these
papers must have been employed to little purpose indeed, if it
could be necessary now to disprove the reality of this danger.
That the people and the States should, for a sufficient period of
time, elect an uninterupted succession of men ready to betray
both; that the traitors should, throughout this period,
uniformly and systematically pursue some fixed plan for the
extension of the military establishment; that the governments and
the people of the States should silently and patiently behold the
gathering storm, and continue to supply the materials, until it
should be prepared to burst on their own heads, must appear to
every one more like the incoherent dreams of a delirious
jealousy, or the misjudged exaggerations of a counterfeit zeal,
than like the sober apprehensions of genuine patriotism.
Extravagant as the supposition is, let it however be made. Let a
regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be
formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal
government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the
State governments, with the people on their side, would be able
to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to
the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any
country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number
of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear
arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an
army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these
would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of
citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from
among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united
and conducted by governments possessing their affections and
confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus
circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of
regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last
successful resistance of this country against the British arms,
will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the
advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the
people of almost every other nation, the existence of
subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by
which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against
the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a
simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the
military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which
are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the
governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is
not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to
shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the
additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves,
who could collect the national will and direct the national
force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these
governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may
be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every
tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the
legions which surround it. Let us not insult the free and gallant
citizens of America with the suspicion, that they would be less
able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual
possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be
to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors. Let us
rather no longer insult them with the supposition that they can
ever reduce themselves to the necessity of making the experiment,
by a blind and tame submission to the long train of insidious
measures which must precede and produce it. The argument under
the present head may be put into a very concise form, which
appears altogether conclusive. Either the mode in which the
federal government is to be constructed will render it
sufficiently dependent on the people, or it will not. On the
first supposition, it will be restrained by that dependence from
forming schemes obnoxious to their constituents. On the other
supposition, it will not possess the confidence of the people,
and its schemes of usurpation will be easily defeated by the
State governments, who will be supported by the people. On
summing up the considerations stated in this and the last paper,
they seem to amount to the most convincing evidence, that the
powers proposed to be lodged in the federal government are as
little formidable to those reserved to the individual States, as
they are indispensably necessary to accomplish the purposes of
the Union; and that all those alarms which have been sounded, of
a meditated and consequential annihilation of the State
governments, must, on the most favorable interpretation, be
ascribed to the chimerical fears of the authors of them. PUBLIUS.


The Particular Structure of the New Government and the
Distribution of Power Among Its Different Parts
From the New York Packet. Friday, February 1, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
HAVING reviewed the general form of the proposed government and
the general mass of power allotted to it, I proceed to examine
the particular structure of this government, and the distribution
of this mass of power among its constituent parts. One of the
principal objections inculcated by the more respectable
adversaries to the Constitution, is its supposed violation of the
political maxim, that the legislative, executive, and judiciary
departments ought to be separate and distinct. In the structure
of the federal government, no regard, it is said, seems to have
been paid to this essential precaution in favor of liberty. The
several departments of power are distributed and blended in such
a manner as at once to destroy all symmetry and beauty of form,
and to expose some of the essential parts of the edifice to the
danger of being crushed by the disproportionate weight of other
parts. No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic
value, or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened
patrons of liberty, than that on which the objection is founded.
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and
judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and
whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be
pronounced the very definition of tyranny. Were the federal
Constitution, therefore, really chargeable with the accumulation
of power, or with a mixture of powers, having a dangerous
tendency to such an accumulation, no further arguments would be
necessary to inspire a universal reprobation of the system. I
persuade myself, however, that it will be made apparent to every
one, that the charge cannot be supported, and that the maxim on
which it relies has been totally misconceived and misapplied. In
order to form correct ideas on this important subject, it will be
proper to investigate the sense in which the preservation of
liberty requires that the three great departments of power should
be separate and distinct. The oracle who is always consulted and
cited on this subject is the celebrated Montesquieu. If he be not
the author of this invaluable precept in the science of politics,
he has the merit at least of displaying and recommending it most
effectually to the attention of mankind. Let us endeavor, in the
first place, to ascertain his meaning on this point. The British
Constitution was to Montesquieu what Homer has been to the
didactic writers on epic poetry. As the latter have considered
the work of the immortal bard as the perfect model from which the
principles and rules of the epic art were to be drawn, and by
which all similar works were to be judged, so this great
political critic appears to have viewed the Constitution of
England as the standard, or to use his own expression, as the
mirror of political liberty; and to have delivered, in the form
of elementary truths, the several characteristic principles of
that particular system. That we may be sure, then, not to mistake
his meaning in this case, let us recur to the source from which
the maxim was drawn.                                              
On the slightest view of the British
Constitution, we must perceive that the legislative, executive,
and judiciary departments are by no means totally separate and
distinct from each other. The executive magistrate forms an
integral part of the legislative authority. He alone has the
prerogative of making treaties with foreign sovereigns, which,
when made, have, under certain limitations, the force of
legislative acts. All the members of the judiciary department are
appointed by him, can be removed by him on the address of the two
Houses of Parliament, and form, when he pleases to consult them,
one of his constitutional councils. One branch of the legislative
department forms also a great constitutional council to the
executive chief, as, on another hand, it is the sole depositary
of judicial power in cases of impeachment, and is invested with
the supreme appellate jurisdiction in all other cases. The
judges, again, are so far connected with the legislative
department as often to attend and participate in its
deliberations, though not admitted to a legislative vote. From
these facts, by which Montesquieu was guided, it may clearly be
inferred that, in saying ``There can be no liberty where the
legislative and executive powers are united in the same person,
or body of magistrates,'' or, ``if the power of judging be not
separated from the legislative and executive powers,'' he did not
mean that these departments ought to have no PARTIAL AGENCY in,
or no CONTROL over, the acts of each other. His meaning, as his
own words import, and still more conclusively as illustrated by
the example in his eye, can amount to no more than this, that
where the WHOLE power of one department is exercised by the same
hands which possess the WHOLE power of another department, the
fundamental principles of a free constitution are subverted. This
would have been the case in the constitution examined by him, if
the king, who is the sole executive magistrate, had possessed
also the complete legislative power, or the supreme
administration of justice; or if the entire legislative body had
possessed the supreme judiciary, or the supreme executive
authority. This, however, is not among the vices of that
constitution. The magistrate in whom the whole executive power
resides cannot of himself make a law, though he can put a
negative on every law; nor administer justice in person, though
he has the appointment of those who do administer it. The judges
can exercise no executive prerogative, though they are shoots
from the executive stock; nor any legislative function, though
they may be advised with by the legislative councils. The entire
legislature can perform no judiciary act, though by the joint act
of two of its branches the judges may be removed from their
offices, and though one of its branches is possessed of the
judicial power in the last resort. The entire legislature, again,
can exercise no executive prerogative, though one of its branches
constitutes the supreme executive magistracy, and another, on the
impeachment of a third, can try and condemn all the subordinate
officers in the executive department. The reasons on which
Montesquieu grounds his maxim are a further demonstration of his
meaning. ``When the legislative and executive powers are united
in the same person or body,'' says he, ``there can be no liberty,
because apprehensions may arise lest THE SAME monarch or senate
should ENACT tyrannical laws to EXECUTE them in a tyrannical
manner. '' Again: ``Were the power of judging joined with the
legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed
to arbitrary control, for THE JUDGE would then be THE LEGISLATOR.
Were it joined to the executive power, THE JUDGE might behave
with all the violence of AN OPPRESSOR. '' Some of these reasons
are more fully explained in other passages; but briefly stated as
they are here, they sufficiently establish the meaning which we
have put on this celebrated maxim of this celebrated author.      

If we look into the constitutions of the several States, we find
that, notwithstanding the emphatical and, in some instances, the
unqualified terms in which this axiom has been laid down, there
is not a single instance in which the several departments of
power have been kept absolutely separate and distinct. New
Hampshire, whose constitution was the last formed, seems to have
been fully aware of the impossibility and inexpediency of
avoiding any mixture whatever of these departments, and has
qualified the doctrine by declaring ``that the legislative,
executive, and judiciary powers ought to be kept as separate
from, and independent of, each other AS THE NATURE OF A FREE
accordingly mixes these departments in several respects. The
Senate, which is a branch of the legislative department, is also
a judicial tribunal for the trial of impeachments. The
President, who is the head of the executive department, is the
presiding member also of the Senate; and, besides an equal vote
in all cases, has a casting vote in case of a tie. The executive
head is himself eventually elective every year by the
legislative department, and his council is every year chosen by
and from the members of the same department. Several of the
officers of state are also appointed by the legislature. And the
members of the judiciary department are appointed by the
executive department. The constitution of Massachusetts has
observed a sufficient though less pointed caution, in expressing
this fundamental article of liberty. It declares ``that the
legislative department shall never exercise the executive and
judicial powers, or either of them; the executive shall never
exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them;
the judicial shall never exercise the legislative and executive
powers, or either of them. '' This declaration corresponds
precisely with the doctrine of Montesquieu, as it has been
explained, and is not in a single point violated by the plan of
the convention. It goes no farther than to prohibit any one of
the entire departments from exercising the powers of another
department. In the very Constitution to which it is prefixed, a
partial mixture of powers has been admitted. The executive
magistrate has a qualified negative on the legislative body, and
the Senate, which is a part of the legislature, is a court of
impeachment for members both of the executive and judiciary
departments. The members of the judiciary department, again, are
appointable by the executive department, and removable by the
same authority on the address of the two legislative branches.
Lastly, a number of the officers of government are annually
appointed by the legislative department. As the appointment to
offices, particularly executive offices, is in its nature an
executive function, the compilers of the Constitution have, in
this last point at least, violated the rule established by
themselves. I pass over the constitutions of Rhode Island and
Connecticut, because they were formed prior to the Revolution,
and even before the principle under examination had become an
object of political attention. The constitution of New York
contains no declaration on this subject; but appears very
clearly to have been framed with an eye to the danger of
improperly blending the different departments. It gives,
nevertheless, to the executive magistrate, a partial control over
the legislative department; and, what is more, gives a like
control to the judiciary department; and even blends the
executive and judiciary departments in the exercise of this
control. In its council of appointment members of the
legislative are associated with the executive authority, in the
appointment of officers, both executive and judiciary. And its
court for the trial of impeachments and correction of errors is
to consist of one branch of the legislature and the principal
members of the judiciary department. The constitution of New
Jersey has blended the different powers of government more than
any of the preceding. The governor, who is the executive
magistrate, is appointed by the legislature; is chancellor and
ordinary, or surrogate of the State; is a member of the Supreme
Court of Appeals, and president, with a casting vote, of one of
the legislative branches. The same legislative branch acts again
as executive council of the governor, and with him constitutes
the Court of Appeals. The members of the judiciary department are
appointed by the legislative department and removable by one
branch of it, on the impeachment of the other. According to the
constitution of Pennsylvania, the president, who is the head of
the executive department, is annually elected by a vote in which
the legislative department predominates. In conjunction with an
executive council, he appoints the members of the judiciary
department, and forms a court of impeachment for trial of all
officers, judiciary as well as executive. The judges of the
Supreme Court and justices of the peace seem also to be removable
by the legislature; and the executive power of pardoning in
certain cases, to be referred to the same department. The members
of the executive counoil are made EX-OFFICIO justices of peace
throughout the State. In Delaware, the chief executive magistrate
is annually elected by the legislative department. The speakers
of the two legislative branches are vice-presidents in the
executive department. The executive chief, with six others,
appointed, three by each of the legislative branches constitutes
the Supreme Court of Appeals; he is joined with the legislative
department in the appointment of the other judges. Throughout the
States, it appears that the members of the legislature may at the
same time be justices of the peace; in this State, the members of
one branch of it are EX-OFFICIO justices of the peace; as are
also the members of the executive council. The principal officers
of the executive department are appointed by the legislative; and
one branch of the latter forms a court of impeachments. All
officers may be removed on address of the legislature. Maryland
has adopted the maxim in the most unqualified terms; declaring
that the legislative, executive, and judicial powers of
government ought to be forever separate and distinct from each
other. Her constitution, notwithstanding, makes the executive
magistrate appointable by the legislative department; and the
members of the judiciary by the executive department. The
language of Virginia is still more pointed on this subject. Her
constitution declares, ``that the legislative, executive, and
judiciary departments shall be separate and distinct; so that
neither exercise the powers properly belonging to the other; nor
shall any person exercise the powers of more than one of them at
the same time, except that the justices of county courts shall be
eligible to either House of Assembly. '' Yet we find not only
this express exception, with respect to the members of the
irferior courts, but that the chief magistrate, with his
executive council, are appointable by the legislature; that two
members of the latter are triennially displaced at the pleasure
of the legislature; and that all the principal offices, both
executive and judiciary, are filled by the same department. The
executive prerogative of pardon, also, is in one case vested in
the legislative department. The constitution of North Carolina,
which declares ``that the legislative, executive, and supreme
judicial powers of government ought to be forever separate and
distinct from each other,'' refers, at the same time, to the
legislative department, the appointment not only of the executive
chief, but all the principal officers within both that and the
judiciary department. In South Carolina, the constitution makes
the executive magistracy eligible by the legislative department.
It gives to the latter, also, the appointment of the members of
the judiciary department, including even justices of the peace
and sheriffs; and the appointment of officers in the executive
department, down to captains in the army and navy of the State.
In the constitution of Georgia, where it is declared ``that the
legislative, executive, and judiciary departments shall be
separate and distinct, so that neither exercise the powers
properly belonging to the other,'' we find that the executive
department is to be filled by appointments of the legislature;
and the executive prerogative of pardon to be finally exercised
by the same authority. Even justices of the peace are to be
appointed by the legislature. In citing these cases, in which the
legislative, executive, and judiciary departments have not been
kept totally separate and distinct, I wish not to be
regarded as an advocate for the particular organizations of the
several State governments. I am fully aware that among the many
excellent principles which they exemplify, they carry strong
marks of the haste, and still stronger of the inexperience, under
which they were framed. It is but too obvious that in some
instances the fundamental principle under consideration has been
violated by too great a mixture, and even an actual
consolidation, of the different powers; and that in no instance
has a competent provision been made for maintaining in practice
the separation delineated on paper. What I have wished to evince
is, that the charge brought against the proposed Constitution, of
violating the sacred maxim of free government, is warranted
neither by the real meaning annexed to that maxim by its author,
nor by the sense in which it has hitherto been understood in
America. This interesting subject will be resumed in the ensuing
paper. PUBLIUS. 


These Departments Should Not Be So Far Separated as to Have No
Constitutional Control Over Each Other
From the New York Packet. Friday, February 1, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
IT WAS shown in the last paper that the political apothegm there
examined does not require that the legislative, executive, and
judiciary departments should be wholly unconnected with each
other. I shall undertake, in the next place, to show that unless
these departments be so far connected and blended as to give to
each a constitutional control over the others, the degree of
separation which the maxim requires, as essential to a free
government, can never in practice be duly maintained. It is
agreed on all sides, that the powers properly belonging to one of
the departments ought not to be directly and completely
administered by either of the other departments. It is equally
evident, that none of them ought to possess, directly or
indirectly, an overruling influence over the others, in the
administration of their respective powers. It will not be denied,
that power is of an encroaching nature, and that it ought to be
effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it.
After discriminating, therefore, in theory, the several classes
of power, as they may in their nature be legislative, executive,
or judiciary, the next and most difficult task is to provide some
practical security for each, against the invasion of the others.
What this security ought to be, is the great problem to be
solved. Will it be sufficient to mark, with precision, the
boundaries of these departments, in the constitution of the
government, and to trust to these parchment barriers against the
encroaching spirit of power? This is the security which appears
to have been principally relied on by the compilers of most of
the American constitutions. But experience assures us, that the
efficacy of the provision has been greatly overrated; and that
some more adequate defense is indispensably necessary for the
more feeble, against the more powerful, members of the
government. The legislative department is everywhere extending
the sphere of its activity, and drawing all power into its
impetuous vortex. The founders of our republics have so much
merit for the wisdom which they have displayed, that no task can
be less pleasing than that of pointing out the errors into which
they have fallen. A respect for truth, however, obliges us to
remark, that they seem never for a moment to have turned their
eyes from the danger to liberty from the overgrown and
all-grasping prerogative of an hereditary magistrate, supported
and fortified by an hereditary branch of the legislative
authority. They seem never to have recollected the danger from
legislative usurpations, which, by assembling all power in the
same hands, must lead to the same tyranny as is threatened by
executive usurpations. In a government where numerous and
extensive prerogatives are placed in the hands of an hereditary
monarch, the executive department is very justly regarded as the
source of danger, and watched with all the jealousy which a zeal
for liberty ought to inspire. In a democracy, where a multitude
of people exercise in person the legislative functions, and are
continually exposed, by their incapacity for regular deliberation
and concerted measures, to the ambitious intrigues of their
executive magistrates, tyranny may well be apprehended, on some
favorable emergency, to start up in the same quarter. But in a
representative republic, where the executive magistracy is
carefully limited; both in the extent and the duration of its
power; and where the legislative power is exercised by an
assembly, which is inspired, by a supposed influence over the
people, with an intrepid confidence in its own strength; which is
sufficiently numerous to feel all the passions which actuate a
multitude, yet not so numerous as to be incapable of pursuing the
objects of its passions, by means which reason prescribes; it is
against the enterprising ambition of this department that the
people ought to indulge all their jealousy and exhaust all their
precautions. The legislative department derives a superiority in
our governments from other circumstances. Its constitutional
powers being at once more extensive, and less susceptible of
precise limits, it can, with the greater facility, mask, under
complicated and indirect measures, the encroachments which it
makes on the co-ordinate departments. It is not unfrequently a
question of real nicety in legislative bodies, whether the
operation of a particular measure will, or will not, extend
beyond the legislative sphere. On the other side, the executive
power being restrained within a narrower compass, and being more
simple in its nature, and the judiciary being described by
landmarks still less uncertain, projects of usurpation by either
of these departments would immediately betray and defeat
themselves. Nor is this all: as the legislative department alone
has access to the pockets of the people, and has in some
constitutions full discretion, and in all a prevailing influence,
over the pecuniary rewards of those who fill the other
departments, a dependence is thus created in the latter, which
gives still greater facility to encroachments of the former. I
have appealed to our own experience for the truth of what I
advance on this subject. Were it necessary to verify this
experience by particular proofs, they might be multiplied
without end. I might find a witness in every citizen who has
shared in, or been attentive to, the course of public
administrations. I might collect vouchers in abundance from the
records and archives of every State in the Union. But as a more
concise, and at the same time equally satisfactory, evidence, I
will refer to the example of two States, attested by two
unexceptionable authorities. The first example is that of
Virginia, a State which, as we have seen, has expressly declared
in its constitution, that the three great departments ought not
to be intermixed. The authority in support of it is Mr.
Jefferson, who, besides his other advantages for remarking the
operation of the government, was himself the chief magistrate of
it. In order to convey fully the ideas with which his experience
had impressed him on this subject, it will be necessary to quote
a passage of some length from his very interesting ``Notes on the
State of Virginia,'' p. 195. ``All the powers of government,
legislative, executive, and judiciary, result to the legislative
body. The concentrating these in the same hands, is precisely the
definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation,
that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and
not by a single one. One hundred and seventy-three despots would
surely be as oppressive as one. Let those who doubt it, turn
their eyes on the republic of Venice. As little will it avail us,
that they are chosen by ourselves. An ELECTIVE DESPOTISM was not
the government we fought for; but one which should not only be
founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government
should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of
magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits,
without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.
For this reason, that convention which passed the ordinance of
government, laid its foundation on this basis, that the
legislative, executive, and judiciary departments should be
separate and distinct, so that no person should exercise the
powers of more than one of them at the same time. BUT NO BARRIER
executive members were left dependent on the legislative for
their subsistence in office, and some of them for their
continuance in it. If, therefore, the legislature assumes
executive and judiciary powers, no opposition is likely to be
made; nor, if made, can be effectual; because in that case they
may put their proceedings into the form of acts of Assembly,
which will render them obligatory on the other branches. They
have accordingly, IN MANY instances, DECIDED RIGHTS which should
HABITUAL AND FAMILIAR. ''The other State which I shall take for
an example is Pennsylvania; and the other authority, the Council
of Censors, which assembled in the years 1783 and 1784. A part of
the duty of this body, as marked out by the constitution, was
``to inquire whether the constitution had been preserved
inviolate in every part; and whether the legislative and
executive branches of government had performed their duty as
guardians of the people, or assumed to themselves, or exercised,
other or greater powers than they are entitled to by the
constitution. '' In the execution of this trust, the council were
necessarily led to a comparison of both the legislative and
executive proceedings, with the constitutional powers of these
departments; and from the facts enumerated, and to the truth of
most of which both sides in the council subscribed, it appears
that the constitution had been flagrantly violated by the
legislature in a variety of important instances. A great number
of laws had been passed, violating, without any apparent
necessity, the rule requiring that all bills of a public nature
shall be previously printed for the consideration of the people;
although this is one of the precautions chiefly relied on by the
constitution against improper acts of legislature. The
constitutional trial by jury had been violated, and powers
assumed which had not been delegated by the constitution.
Executive powers had been usurped. The salaries of the judges,
which the constitution expressly requires to be fixed, had been
occasionally varied; and cases belonging to the judiciary
department frequently drawn within legislative cognizance and
determination. Those who wish to see the several particulars
falling under each of these heads, may consult the journals of
the council, which are in print. Some of them, it will be found,
may be imputable to peculiar circumstances connected with the
war; but the greater part of them may be considered as the
spontaneous shoots of an ill-constituted government. It appears,
also, that the executive department had not been innocent of
frequent breaches of the constitution. There are three
observations, however, which ought to be made on this head:
FIRST, a great proportion of the instances were either
immediately produced by the necessities of the war, or
recommended by Congress or the commander-in-chief; SECONDLY, in
most of the other instances, they conformed either to the
declared or the known sentiments of the legislative department;
THIRDLY, the executive department of Pennsylvania is
distinguished from that of the other States by the number of
members composing it. In this respect, it has as much affinity to
a legislative assembly as to an executive council. And being at
once exempt from the restraint of an individual responsibility
for the acts of the body, and deriving confidence from mutual
example and joint influence, unauthorized measures would, of
course, be more freely hazarded, than where the executive
department is administered by a single hand, or by a few hands.
The conclusion which I am warranted in drawing from these
observations is, that a mere demarcation on parchment of the
constitutional limits of the several departments, is not a
sufficient guard against those encroachments which lead to a
tyrannical concentration of all the powers of government in the
same hands. PUBLIUS. 


Method of Guarding Against the Encroachments of Any One
Department of Government by Appealing to the People Through a
From the New York Packet. Tuesday, February 5, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
THE author of the ``Notes on the State of Virginia,'' quoted in
the last paper, has subjoined to that valuable work the draught
of a constitution, which had been prepared in order to be laid
before a convention, expected to be called in 1783, by the
legislature, for the establishment of a constitution for that
commonwealth. The plan, like every thing from the same pen, marks
a turn of thinking, original, comprehensive, and accurate; and is
the more worthy of attention as it equally displays a fervent
attachment to republican government and an enlightened view of
the dangerous propensities against which it ought to be guarded.
One of the precautions which he proposes, and on which he appears
ultimately to rely as a palladium to the weaker departments of
power against the invasions of the stronger, is perhaps
altogether his own, and as it immediately relates to the subject
of our present inquiry, ought not to be overlooked. His
proposition is, ``that whenever any two of the three branches of
government shall concur in opinion, each by the voices of two
thirds of their whole number, that a convention is necessary for
altering the constitution, or CORRECTING BREACHES OF IT, a
convention shall be called for the purpose. ''As the people are
the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that
the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of
government hold their power, is derived, it seems strictly
consonant to the republican theory, to recur to the same original
authority, not only whenever it may be necessary to enlarge,
diminish, or new-model the powers of the government, but also
whenever any one of the departments may commit encroachments on
the chartered authorities of the others. The several departments
being perfectly co-ordinate by the terms of their common
commission, none of them, it is evident, can pretend to an
exclusive or superior right of settling the boundaries between
their respective powers; and how are the encroachments of the
stronger to be prevented, or the wrongs of the weaker to be
redressed, without an appeal to the people themselves, who, as
the grantors of the commissions, can alone declare its true
meaning, and enforce its observance? There is certainly great
force in this reasoning, and it must be allowed to prove that a
constitutional road to the decision of the people ought to be
marked out and kept open, for certain great and extraordinary
occasions. But there appear to be insuperable objections against
the proposed recurrence to the people, as a provision in all
cases for keeping the several departments of power within their
constitutional limits. In the first place, the provision does not
reach the case of a combination of two of the departments against
the third. If the legislative authority, which possesses so many
means of operating on the motives of the other departments,
should be able to gain to its interest either of the others, or
even one third of its members, the remaining department could
derive no advantage from its remedial provision. I do not dwell,
however, on this objection, because it may be thought to be
rather against the modification of the principle, than against
the principle itself. In the next place, it may be considered as
an objection inherent in the principle, that as every appeal to
the people would carry an implication of some defect in the
government, frequent appeals would, in a great measure, deprive
the government of that veneration which time bestows on every
thing, and without which perhaps the wisest and freest
governments would not possess the requisite stability. If it be
true that all governments rest on opinion, it is no less true
that the strength of opinion in each individual, and its
practical influence on his conduct, depend much on the number
which he supposes to have entertained the same opinion. The
reason of man, like man himself, is timid and cautious when left
alone, and acquires firmness and confidence in proportion to the
number with which it is associated. When the examples which
fortify opinion are ANCIENT as well as NUMEROUS, they are known
to have a double effect. In a nation of philosophers, this
consideration ought to be disregarded. A reverence for the laws
would be sufficiently inculcated by the voice of an enlightened
reason. But a nation of philosophers is as little to be expected
as the philosophical race of kings wished for by Plato. And in
every other nation, the most rational government will not find it
a superfluous advantage to have the prejudices of the community
on its side. The danger of disturbing the public tranquillity by
interesting too strongly the public passions, is a still more
serious objection against a frequent reference of constitutional
questions to the decision of the whole society. Notwithstanding
the success which has attended the revisions of our established
forms of government, and which does so much honor to the virtue
and intelligence of the people of America, it must be confessed
that the experiments are of too ticklish a nature to be
unnecessarily multiplied. We are to recollect that all the
existing constitutions were formed in the midst of a danger which
repressed the passions most unfriendly to order and concord; of
an enthusiastic confidence of the people in their patriotic
leaders, which stifled the ordinary diversity of opinions on
great national questions; of a universal ardor for new and
opposite forms, produced by a universal resentment and
indignation against the ancient government; and whilst no spirit
of party connected with the changes to be made, or the abuses to
be reformed, could mingle its leaven in the operation. The future
situations in which we must expect to be usually placed, do not
present any equivalent security against the danger which is
apprehended. But the greatest objection of all is, that the
decisions which would probably result from such appeals would not
answer the purpose of maintaining the constitutional equilibrium
of the government. We have seen that the tendency of republican
governments is to an aggrandizement of the legislative at the
expense of the other departments. The appeals to the people,
therefore, would usually be made by the executive and judiciary
departments. But whether made by one side or the other, would
each side enjoy equal advantages on the trial? Let us view their
different situations. The members of the executive and judiciary
departments are few in number, and can be personally known to a
small part only of the people. The latter, by the mode of their
appointment, as well as by the nature and permanency of it, are
too far removed from the people to share much in their
prepossessions. The former are generally the objects of jealousy,
and their administration is always liable to be discolored and
rendered unpopular. The members of the legislative department, on
the other hand, are numberous. They are distributed and dwell
among the people at large. Their connections of blood, of
friendship, and of acquaintance embrace a great proportion of the
most influential part of the society. The nature of their public
trust implies a personal influence among the people, and that
they are more immediately the confidential guardians of the
rights and liberties of the people. With these advantages, it can
hardly be supposed that the adverse party would have an equal
chance for a favorable issue. But the legislative party would not
only be able to plead their cause most successfully with the
people. They would probably be constituted themselves the judges.
The same influence which had gained them an election into the
legislature, would gain them a seat in the convention. If this
should not be the case with all, it would probably be the case
with many, and pretty certainly with those leading characters, on
whom every thing depends in such bodies. The convention, in
short, would be composed chiefly of men who had been, who
actually were, or who expected to be, members of the department
whose conduct was arraigned. They would consequently be parties
to the very question to be decided by them. It might, however,
sometimes happen, that appeals would be made under circumstances
less adverse to the executive and judiciary departments. The
usurpations of the legislature might be so flagrant and so
sudden, as to admit of no specious coloring. A strong party among
themselves might take side with the other branches. The executive
power might be in the hands of a peculiar favorite of the people.
In such a posture of things, the public decision might be less
swayed by prepossessions in favor of the
legislative party. But still it could never be expected to turn
on the true merits of the question. It would inevitably be
connected with the spirit of pre-existing parties, or of parties
springing out of the question itself. It would be connected with
persons of distinguished character and extensive influence in the
community. It would be pronounced by the very men who had been
agents in, or opponents of, the measures to which the decision
would relate. The PASSIONS, therefore, not the REASON, of the
public would sit in judgment. But it is the reason, alone, of the
public, that ought to control and regulate the government. The
passions ought to be controlled and regulated by the government.
We found in the last paper, that mere declarations in the written
constitution are not sufficient to restrain the several
departments within their legal rights. It appears in this, that
occasional appeals to the people would be neither a proper nor an
effectual provision for that purpose. How far the provisions of a
different nature contained in the plan above quoted might be
adequate, I do not examine. Some of them are unquestionably
founded on sound political principles, and all of them are framed
with singular ingenuity and precision. PUBLIUS. 


Periodical Appeals to the People Considered
From the New York Packet. Tuesday, February 5, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
IT MAY be contended, perhaps, that instead of OCCASIONAL appeals
to the people, which are liable to the objections urged against
them, PERIODICAL appeals are the proper and adequate means of
will be attended to, that in the examination of these expedients,
I confine myself to their aptitude for ENFORCING the
Constitution, by keeping the several departments of power within
their due bounds, without particularly considering them as
provisions for ALTERING the Constitution itself. In the first
view, appeals to the people at fixed periods appear to be nearly
as ineligible as appeals on particular occasions as they emerge.
If the periods be separated by short intervals, the measures to
be reviewed and rectified will have been of recent date, and will
be connected with all the circumstances which tend to vitiate and
pervert the result of occasional revisions. If the periods be
distant from each other, the same remark will be applicable to
all recent measures; and in proportion as the remoteness of the
others may favor a dispassionate review of them, this advantage
is inseparable from inconveniences which seem to counterbalance
it. In the first place, a distant prospect of public censure
would be a very feeble restraint on power from those excesses to
which it might be urged by the force of present motives. Is it to
be imagined that a legislative assembly, consisting of a hundred
or two hundred members, eagerly bent on some favorite object, and
breaking through the restraints of the Constitution in pursuit of
it, would be arrested in their career, by considerations drawn
from a censorial revision of their conduct at the future distance
of ten, fifteen, or twenty years? In the next place, the abuses
would often have completed their mischievous effects before the
remedial provision would be applied. And in the last place, where
this might not be the case, they would be of long standing, would
have taken deep root, and would not easily be extirpated. The
scheme of revising the constitution, in order to correct recent
breaches of it, as well as for other purposes, has been actually
tried in one of the States. One of the objects of the Council of
Censors which met in Pennsylvania in 1783 and 1784, was, as we
have seen, to inquire, ``whether the constitution had been
violated, and whether the legislative and executive departments
had encroached upon each other. '' This important and novel
experiment in politics merits, in several points of view, very
particular attention. In some of them it may, perhaps, as a
single experiment, made under circumstances somewhat peculiar, be
thought to be not absolutely conclusive. But as applied to the
case under consideration, it involves some facts, which I venture
to remark, as a complete and satisfactory illustration of the
reasoning which I have employed. First. It appears, from the
names of the gentlemen who composed the council, that some, at
least, of its most active members had also been active and
leading characters in the parties which pre-existed in the State.
Secondly. It appears that the same active and leading members of
the council had been active and influential members of the
legislative and executive branches, within the period to be
reviewed; and even patrons or opponents of the very measures to
be thus brought to the test of the constitution. Two of the
members had been vice-presidents of the State, and several other
members of the executive council, within the seven preceding
years. One of them had been speaker, and a number of others
distinguished members, of the legislative assembly within the
same period. Thirdly. Every page of their proceedings witnesses
the effect of all these circumstances on the temper of their
deliberations. Throughout the continuance of the council, it was
split into two fixed and violent parties. The fact is
acknowledged and lamented by themselves. Had this not been the
case, the face of their proceedings exhibits a proof equally
satisfactory. In all questions, however unimportant in
themselves, or unconnected with each other, the same names stand
invariably contrasted on the opposite columns. Every unbiased
observer may infer, without danger of mistake, and at the same
time without meaning to reflect on either party, or any
individuals of either party, that, unfortunately, PASSION, not
REASON, must have presided over their decisions. When men
exercise their reason coolly and freely on a variety of distinct
questions, they inevitably fall into different opinions on some
of them. When they are governed by a common passion, their
opinions, if they are so to be called, will be the same.
Fourthly. It is at least problematical, whether the decisions of
this body do not, in several instances, misconstrue the limits
prescribed for the legislative and executive departments, instead
of reducing and limiting them within their constitutional places.
Fifthly. I have never understood that the decisions of the
council on constitutional questions, whether rightly or
erroneously formed, have had any effect in varying the practice
founded on legislative constructions. It even appears, if I
mistake not, that in one instance the contemporary legislature
denied the constructions of the council, and actually prevailed
in the contest. This censorial body, therefore, proves at the
same time, by its researches, the existence of the disease, and
by its example, the inefficacy of the remedy. This conclusion
cannot be invalidated by alleging that the State in which the
experiment was made was at that crisis, and had been for a long
time before, violently heated and distracted by the rage of
party. Is it to be presumed, that at any future septennial epoch
the same State will be free from parties? Is it to be presumed
that any other State, at the same or any other given period, will
be exempt from them? Such an event ought to be neither presumed
nor desired; because an extinction of parties necessarily implies
either a universal alarm for the public safety, or an absolute
extinction of liberty. Were the precaution taken of excluding
from the assemblies elected by the people, to revise the
preceding administration of the government, all persons who
should have been concerned with the government within the given
period, the difficulties would not be obviated. The important
task would probably devolve on men, who, with inferior
capacities, would in other respects be little better qualified.
Although they might not have been personally concerned in the
administration, and therefore not immediately agents in the
measures to be examined, they would probably have been involved
in the parties connected with these measures, and have been
elected under their auspices. PUBLIUS. 


The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks
and Balances Between the Different Departments
From the New York Packet. Friday, February 8, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
TO WHAT expedient, then, shall we finally resort, for maintaining
in practice the necessary partition of power among the several
departments, as laid down in the Constitution? The only answer
that can be given is, that as all these exterior provisions are
found to be inadequate, the defect must be supplied, by so
contriving the interior structure of the government as that its
several constituent parts may, by their mutual relations, be the
means of keeping each other in their proper places. Without
presuming to undertake a full development of this important idea,
I will hazard a few general observations, which may perhaps place
it in a clearer light, and enable us to form a more correct
judgment of the principles and structure of the government
planned by the convention. In order to lay a due foundation for
that separate and distinct exercise of the different powers of
government, which to a certain extent is admitted on all hands to
be essential to the preservation of liberty, it is evident that
each department should have a will of its own; and consequently
should be so constituted that the members of each should have as
little agency as possible in the appointment of the members of
the others. Were this principle rigorously adhered to, it would
require that all the appointments for the supreme executive,
legislative, and judiciary magistracies should be drawn from the
same fountain of authority, the people, through channels having
no communication whatever with one another. Perhaps such a plan
of constructing the several departments would be less difficult
in practice than it may in contemplation appear. Some
difficulties, however, and some additional expense would attend
the execution of it. Some deviations, therefore, from the
principle must be admitted. In the constitution of the judiciary
department in particular, it might be inexpedient to insist
rigorously on the principle: first, because peculiar
qualifications being essential in the members, the primary
consideration ought to be to select that mode of choice which
best secures these qualifications; secondly, because the
permanent tenure by which the appointments are held in that
department, must soon destroy all sense of dependence on the
authority conferring them. It is equally evident, that the
members of each department should be as little dependent as
possible on those of the others, for the emoluments annexed to
their offices. Were the executive magistrate, or the judges, not
independent of the legislature in this particular, their
independence in every other would be merely nominal. But the
great security against a gradual concentration of the several
powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who
administer each department the necessary constitutional means and
personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The
provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be
made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made
to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be
connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be
a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be
necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is
government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human
nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If
angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal
controls on government would be necessary. In framing a
government which is to be administered by men over men, the great
difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to
control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control
itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary
control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the
necessity of auxiliary precautions. This policy of supplying, by
opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might
be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as
well as public. We see it particularly displayed in all the
subordinate distributions of power, where the constant aim is to
divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that
each may be a check on the other that the private interest of
every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights. These
inventions of prudence cannot be less requisite in the
distribution of the supreme powers of the State. But it is not
possible to give to each department an equal power of
self-defense. In republican government, the legislative
authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this
inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different
branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and
different principles of action, as little connected with each
other as the nature of their common functions and their common
dependence on the society will admit. It may even be necessary to
guard against dangerous encroachments by still further
precautions. As the weight of the legislative authority requires
that it should be thus divided, the weakness of the executive may
require, on the other hand, that it should be fortified. An
absolute negative on the legislature appears, at first view, to
be the natural defense with which the executive magistrate should
be armed. But perhaps it would be neither altogether safe nor
alone sufficient. On ordinary occasions it might not be exerted
with the requisite firmness, and on extraordinary occasions it
might be perfidiously abused. May not this defect of an absolute
negative be supplied by some qualified connection between this
weaker department and the weaker branch of the stronger
department, by which the latter may be led to support the
constitutional rights of the former, without being too much
detached from the rights of its own department? If the principles
on which these observations are founded be just, as I persuade
myself they are, and they be applied as a criterion to the
several State constitutions, and to the federal Constitution it
will be found that if the latter does not perfectly correspond
with them, the former are infinitely less able to bear such a
test. There are, moreover, two considerations particularly
applicable to the federal system of America, which place that
system in a very interesting point of view. First. In a single
republic, all the power surrendered by the people is submitted to
the administration of a single government; and the usurpations
are guarded against by a division of the government into distinct
and separate departments. In the compound republic of America,
the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two
distinct governments, and then the portion allotted to each
subdivided among distinct and separate departments. Hence a
double security arises to the rights of the people. The different
governments will control each other, at the same time that each
will be controlled by itself. Second. It is of great importance
in a republic not only to guard the society against the
oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society
against the injustice of the other part. Different interests
necessarily exist in different classes of citizens. If a
majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the
minority will be insecure. There are but two methods of
providing against this evil: the one by creating a will in the
community independent of the majority that is, of the society
itself; the other, by comprehending in the society so many
separate descriptions of citizens as will render an unjust
combination of a majority of the whole very improbable, if not
impracticable. The first method prevails in all governments
possessing an hereditary or self-appointed authority. This, at
best, is but a precarious security; because a power independent
of the society may as well espouse the unjust views of the major,
as the rightful interests of the minor party, and may possibly be
turned against both parties. The second method will be
exemplified in the federal republic of the United States. Whilst
all authority in it will be derived from and dependent on the
society, the society itself will be broken into so many parts,
interests, and classes of citizens, that the rights of
individuals, or of the minority, will be in little danger from
interested combinations of the majority. In a free government the
security for civil rights must be the same as that for
religious rights. It consists in the one case in the
multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity
of sects. The degree of security in both cases will depend on the
number of interests and sects; and this may be presumed to depend
on the extent of country and number of people comprehended under
the same government. This view of the subject must
particularly recommend a proper federal system to all the sincere
and considerate friends of republican government, since it shows
that in exact proportion as the territory of the Union may be
formed into more circumscribed Confederacies, or States
oppressive combinations of a majority will be facilitated: the
best security, under the republican forms, for the rights of
every class of citizens, will be diminished: and consequently the
stability and independence of some member of the government, the
only other security, must be proportionately increased. Justice
is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever
has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until
liberty be lost in the pursuit. In a society under the forms of
which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the
weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of
nature, where the weaker individual is not secured against the
violence of the stronger; and as, in the latter state, even the
stronger individuals are prompted, by the uncertainty of their
condition, to submit to a government which may protect the weak
as well as themselves; so, in the former state, will the more
powerful factions or parties be gradnally induced, by a like
motive, to wish for a government which will protect all parties,
the weaker as well as the more powerful. It can be little
doubted that if the State of Rhode Island was separated from the
Confederacy and left to itself, the insecurity of rights under
the popular form of government within such narrow limits would be
displayed by such reiterated oppressions of factious majorities
that some power altogether independent of the people would soon
be called for by the voice of the very factions whose misrule had
proved the necessity of it. In the extended republic of the
United States, and among the great variety of interests, parties,
and sects which it embraces, a coalition of a majority of the
whole society could seldom take place on any other principles
than those of justice and the general good; whilst there being
thus less danger to a minor from the will of a major party, there
must be less pretext, also, to provide for the security of the
former, by introducing into the government a will not dependent
on the latter, or, in other words, a will independent of the
society itself. It is no less certain than it is important,
notwithstanding the contrary opinions which have been
entertained, that the larger the society, provided it lie within
a practical sphere, the more duly capable it will be of
self-government. And happily for the REPUBLICAN CAUSE, the
practicable sphere may be carried to a very great extent, by a
judicious modification and mixture of the FEDERAL PRINCIPLE.


The House of Representatives
From the New York Packet. Friday, February 8, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
FROM the more general inquiries pursued in the four last papers,
I pass on to a more particular examination of the several parts
of the government. I shall begin with the House of
Representatives. The first view to be taken of this part of the
government relates to the qualifications of the electors and the
elected. Those of the former are to be the same with those of the
electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
The definition of the right of suffrage is very justly regarded
as a fundamental article of republican government. It was
incumbent on the convention, therefore, to define and establish
this right in the Constitution. To have left it open for the
occasional regulation of the Congress, would have been improper
for the reason just mentioned. To have submitted it to the
legislative discretion of the States, would have been improper
for the same reason; and for the additional reason that it would
have rendered too dependent on the State governments that branch
of the federal government which ought to be dependent on the
people alone. To have reduced the different qualifications in the
different States to one uniform rule, would probably have been as
dissatisfactory to some of the States as it would have been
difficult to the convention. The provision made by the convention
appears, therefore, to be the best that lay within their option.
It must be satisfactory to every State, because it is conformable
to the standard already established, or which may be established,
by the State itself. It will be safe to the United States,
because, being fixed by the State constitutions, it is not
alterable by the State governments, and it cannot be feared that
the people of the States will alter this part of their
constitutions in such a manner as to abridge the rights secured
to them by the federal Constitution. The qualifications of the
elected, being less carefully and properly defined by the State
constitutions, and being at the same time more susceptible of
uniformity, have been very properly considered and regulated by
the convention. A representative of the United States must be of
the age of twenty-five years; must have been seven years a
citizen of the United States; must, at the time of his election,
be an inhabitant of the State he is to represent; and, during the
time of his service, must be in no office under the United
States. Under these reasonable limitations, the door of this part
of the federal government is open to merit of every description,
whether native or adoptive, whether young or old, and without
regard to poverty or wealth, or to any particular profession of
religious faith. The term for which the representatives are to be
elected falls under a second view which may be taken of this
branch. In order to decide on the propriety of this article, two
questions must be considered: first, whether biennial elections
will, in this case, be safe; secondly, whether they be necessary
or useful. First. As it is essential to liberty that the
government in general should have a common interest with the
people, so it is particularly essential that the branch of it
under consideration should have an immediate dependence on, and
an intimate sympathy with, the people. Frequent elections are
unquestionably the only policy by which this dependence and
sympathy can be effectually secured. But what particular degree
of frequency may be absolutely necessary for the purpose, does
not appear to be susceptible of any precise calculation, and must
depend on a variety of circumstances with which it may be
connected. Let us consult experience, the guide that ought always
to be followed whenever it can be found. The scheme of
representation, as a substitute for a meeting of the citizens in
person, being at most but very imperfectly known to ancient
polity, it is in more modern times only that we are to expect
instructive examples. And even here, in order to avoid a research
too vague and diffusive, it will be proper to confine ourselves
to the few examples which are best known, and which bear the
greatest analogy to our particular case. The first to which this
character ought to be applied, is the House of Commons in Great
Britain. The history of this branch of the English Constitution,
anterior to the date of Magna Charta, is too obscure to yield
instruction. The very existence of it has been made a question
among political antiquaries. The earliest records of subsequent
date prove that parliaments were to SIT only every year; not that
they were to be ELECTED every year. And even these annual
sessions were left so much at the discretion of the monarch,
that, under various pretexts, very long and dangerous
intermissions were often contrived by royal ambition. To remedy
this grievance, it was provided by a statute in the reign of
Charles II. , that the intermissions should not be protracted
beyond a period of three years. On the accession of William III.
, when a revolution took place in the government, the subject was
still more seriously resumed, and it was declared to be among the
fundamental rights of the people that parliaments ought to be
held FREQUENTLY. By another statute, which passed a few years
later in the same reign, the term ``frequently,'' which had
alluded to the triennial period settled in the time of Charles
II. , is reduced to a precise meaning, it being expressly enacted
that a new parliament shall be called within three years after
the termination of the former. The last change, from three to
seven years, is well known to have been introduced pretty early
in the present century, under on alarm for the Hanoverian
succession. From these facts it appears that the greatest
frequency of elections which has been deemed necessary in that
kingdom, for binding the representatives to their constituents,
does not exceed a triennial return of them. And if we may argue
from the degree of liberty retained even under septennial
elections, and all the other vicious ingredients in the
parliamentary constitution, we cannot doubt that a reduction of
the period from seven to three years, with the other necessary
reforms, would so far extend the influence of the people over
their representatives as to satisfy us that biennial elections,
under the federal system, cannot possibly be dangerous to the
requisite dependence of the House of Representatives on their
constituents. Elections in Ireland, till of late, were regulated
entirely by the discretion of the crown, and were seldom
repeated, except on the accession of a new prince, or some other
contingent event. The parliament which commenced with George II.
was continued throughout his whole reign, a period of about
thirty-five years. The only dependence of the representatives on
the people consisted in the right of the latter to supply
occasional vacancies by the election of new members, and in the
chance of some event which might produce a general new election.
The ability also of the Irish parliament to maintain the rights
of their constituents, so far as the disposition might exist, was
extremely shackled by the control of the crown over the subjects
of their deliberation. Of late these shackles, if I mistake not,
have been broken; and octennial parliaments have besides been
established. What effect may be produced by this partial reform,
must be left to further experience. The example of Ireland, from
this view of it, can throw but little light on the subject. As
far as we can draw any conclusion from it, it must be that if the
people of that country have been able under all these
disadvantages to retain any liberty whatever, the advantage of
biennial elections would secure to them every degree of liberty,
which might depend on a due connection between their
representatives and themselves. Let us bring our inquiries nearer
home. The example of these States, when British colonies, claims
particular attention, at the same time that it is so well known
as to require little to be said on it. The principle of
representation, in one branch of the legislature at least, was
established in all of them. But the periods of election were
different. They varied from one to seven years. Have we any
reason to infer, from the spirit and conduct of the
representatives of the people, prior to the Revolution, that
biennial elections would have been dangerous to the public
liberties? The spirit which everywhere displayed itself at the
commencement of the struggle, and which vanquished the obstacles
to independence, is the best of proofs that a sufficient portion
of liberty had been everywhere enjoyed to inspire both a sense of
its worth and a zeal for its proper enlargement This remark holds
good, as well with regard to the then colonies whose elections
were least frequent, as to those whose elections were most
frequent Virginia was the colony which stood first in resisting
the parliamentary usurpations of Great Britain; it was the first
also in espousing, by public act, the resolution of independence.
In Virginia, nevertheless, if I have not been misinformed,
elections under the former government were septennial. This
particular example is brought into view, not as a proof of any
peculiar merit, for the priority in those instances was probably
accidental; and still less of any advantage in SEPTENNIAL
elections, for when compared with a greater frequency they are
inadmissible; but merely as a proof, and I conceive it to be a
very substantial proof, that the liberties of the people can be
in no danger from BIENNIAL elections. The conclusion resulting
from these examples will be not a little strengthened by
recollecting three circumstances. The first is, that the federal
legislature will possess a part only of that supreme legislative
authority which is vested completely in the British Parliament;
and which, with a few exceptions, was exercised by the colonial
assemblies and the Irish legislature. It is a received and
well-founded maxim, that where no other circumstances affect the
case, the greater the power is, the shorter ought to be its
duration; and, conversely, the smaller the power, the more safely
may its duration be protracted. In the second place, it has, on
another occasion, been shown that the federal legislature will
not only be restrained by its dependence on its people, as other
legislative bodies are, but that it will be, moreover, watched
and controlled by the several collateral legislatures, which
other legislative bodies are not. And in the third place, no
comparison can be made between the means that will be possessed
by the more permanent branches of the federal government for
seducing, if they should be disposed to seduce, the House of
Representatives from their duty to the people, and the means of
influence over the popular branch possessed by the other branches
of the government above cited. With less power, therefore, to
abuse, the federal representatives can be less tempted on one
side, and will be doubly watched on the other. PUBLIUS. 


The Same Subject Continued(The House of Representatives)
From the New York Packet. Tuesday, February 12, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
I SHALL here, perhaps, be reminded of a current observation,
``that where annual elections end, tyranny begins. '' If it be
true, as has often been remarked, that sayings which become
proverbial are generally founded in reason, it is not less true,
that when once established, they are often applied to cases to
which the reason of them does not extend. I need not look for a
proof beyond the case before us. What is the reason on which this
proverbial observation is founded? No man will subject himself to
the ridicule of pretending that any natural connection subsists
between the sun or the seasons, and the period within which human
virtue can bear the temptations of power. Happily for mankind,
liberty is not, in this respect, confined to any single point of
time; but lies within extremes, which afford sufficient latitude
for all the variations which may be required by the various
situations and circumstances of civil society. The election of
magistrates might be, if it were found expedient, as in some
instances it actually has been, daily, weekly, or monthly, as
well as annual; and if circumstances may require a deviation from
the rule on one side, why not also on the other side? Turning our
attention to the periods established among ourselves, for the
election of the most numerous branches of the State legislatures,
we find them by no means coinciding any more in this instance,
than in the elections of other civil magistrates. In Connecticut
and Rhode Island, the periods are half-yearly. In the other
States, South Carolina excepted, they are annual. In South
Carolina they are biennial as is proposed in the federal
government. Here is a difference, as four to one, between the
longest and shortest periods; and yet it would be not easy to
show, that Connecticut or Rhode Island is better governed, or
enjoys a greater share of rational liberty, than South Carolina;
or that either the one or the other of these States is
distinguished in these respects, and by these causes, from the
States whose elections are different from both. In searching for
the grounds of this doctrine, I can discover but one, and that is
wholly inapplicable to our case. The important distinction so
well understood in America, between a Constitution established by
the people and unalterable by the government, and a law
established by the government and alterable by the government,
seems to have been little understood and less observed in any
other country. Wherever the supreme power of legislation has
resided, has been supposed to reside also a full power to change
the form of the government. Even in Great Britain, where the
principles of political and civil liberty have been most
discussed, and where we hear most of the rights of the
Constitution, it is maintained that the authority of the
Parliament is transcendent and uncontrollable, as well with
regard to the Constitution, as the ordinary objects of
legislative provision. They have accordingly, in several
instances, actually changed, by legislative acts, some of the
most fundamental articles of the government. They have in
particular, on several occasions, changed the period of election;
and, on the last occasion, not only introduced septennial in
place of triennial elections, but by the same act, continued
themselves in place four years beyond the term for which they
were elected by the people. An attention to these dangerous
practices has produced a very natural alarm in the votaries of
free government, of which frequency of elections is the
corner-stone; and has led them to seek for some security to
liberty, against the danger to which it is exposed. Where no
Constitution, paramount to the government, either existed or
could be obtained, no constitutional security, similar to that
established in the United States, was to be attempted. Some other
security, therefore, was to be sought for; and what better
security would the case admit, than that of selecting and
appealing to some simple and familiar portion of time, as a
standard for measuring the danger of innovations, for fixing the
national sentiment, and for uniting the patriotic exertions? The
most simple and familiar portion of time, applicable to the
subject was that of a year; and hence the doctrine has been
inculcated by a laudable zeal, to erect some barrier against the
gradual innovations of an unlimited government, that the advance
towards tyranny was to be calculated by the distance of departure
from the fixed point of annual elections. But what necessity can
there be of applying this expedient to a government limited, as
the federal government will be, by the authority of a paramount
Constitution? Or who will pretend that the liberties of the
people of America will not be more secure under biennial
elections, unalterably fixed by such a Constitution, than those
of any other nation would be, where elections were annual, or
even more frequent, but subject to alterations by the ordinary
power of the government? The second question stated is, whether
biennial elections be necessary or useful. The propriety of
answering this question in the affirmative will appear from
several very obvious considerations.                              
No man can be a
competent legislator who does not add to an upright intention and
a sound judgment a certain degree of knowledge of the subjects on
which he is to legislate. A part of this knowledge may be
acquired by means of information which lie within the compass of
men in private as well as public stations. Another part can only
be attained, or at least thoroughly attained, by actual
experience in the station which requires the use of it. The
period of service, ought, therefore, in all such cases, to bear
some proportion to the extent of practical knowledge requisite to
the due performance of the service. The period of legislative
service established in most of the States for the more numerous
branch is, as we have seen, one year. The question then may be
put into this simple form: does the period of two years bear no
greater proportion to the knowledge requisite for federal
legislation than one year does to the knowledge requisite for
State legislation? The very statement of the question, in this
form, suggests the answer that ought to be given to it. In a
single State, the requisite knowledge relates to the existing
laws which are uniform throughout the State, and with which all
the citizens are more or less conversant; and to the general
affairs of the State, which lie within a small compass, are not
very diversified, and occupy much of the attention and
conversation of every class of people. The great theatre of the
United States presents a very different scene. The laws are so
far from being uniform, that they vary in every State; whilst the
public affairs of the Union are spread throughout a very
extensive region, and are extremely diversified by t e local
affairs connected with them, and can with difficulty be correctly
learnt in any other place than in the central councils to which a
knowledge of them will be brought by the representatives of every
part of the empire. Yet some knowledge of the affairs, and even
of the laws, of all the States, ought to be possessed by the
members from each of the States. How can foreign trade be
properly regulated by uniform laws, without some acquaintance
with the commerce, the ports, the usages, and the regulatious of
the different States? How can the trade between the different
States be duly regulated, without some knowledge of their
relative situations in these and other respects? How can taxes be
judiciously imposed and effectually collected, if they be not
accommodated to the different laws and local circumstances
relating to these objects in the different States? How can
uniform regulations for the militia be duly provided, without a
similar knowledge of many internal circumstances by which the
States are distinguished from each other? These are the
principal objects of federal legislation, and suggest most
forcibly the extensive information which the representatives
ought to acquire. The other interior objects will require a
proportional degree of information with regard to them. It is
true that all these difficulties will, by degrees, be very much
diminished. The most laborious task will be the proper
inauguration of the government and the primeval formation of a
federal code. Improvements on the first draughts will every year
become both easier and fewer. Past transactions of the
government will be a ready and accurate source of information to
new members. The affairs of the Union will become more and more
objects of curiosity and conversation among the citizens at
large. And the increased intercourse among those of different
States will contribute not a little to diffuse a mutual knowledge
of their affairs, as this again will contribute to a general
assimilation of their manners and laws. But with all these
abatements, the business of federal legislation must continue so
far to exceed, both in novelty and difficulty, the legislative
business of a single State, as to justify the longer period of
service assigned to those who are to transact it. A branch of
knowledge which belongs to the acquirements of a federal
representative, and which has not been mentioned is that of
foreign affairs. In regulating our own commerce he ought to be
not only acquainted with the treaties between the United States
and other nations, but also with the commercial policy and laws
of other nations. He ought not to be altogether ignorant of the
law of nations; for that, as far as it is a proper object of
municipal legislation, is submitted to the federal government.
And although the House of Representatives is not immediately to
participate in foreign negotiations and arrangements, yet from
the necessary connection between the several branches of public
affairs, those particular branches will frequently deserve
attention in the ordinary course of legislation, and will
sometimes demand particular legislative sanction and
co-operation. Some portion of this knowledge may, no doubt, be
acquired in a man's closet; but some of it also can only be
derived from the public sources of information; and all of it
will be acquired to best effect by a practical attention to the
subject during the period of actual service in the legislature.
There are other considerations, of less importance, perhaps, but
which are not unworthy of notice. The distance which many of the
representatives will be obliged to travel, and the arrangements
rendered necessary by that circumstance, might be much more
serious objections with fit men to this service, if limited to a
single year, than if extended to two years. No argument can be
drawn on this subject, from the case of the delegates to the
existing Congress. They are elected annually, it is true; but
their re-election is considered by the legislative assemblies
almost as a matter of course. The election of the representatives
by the people would not be governed by the same principle. A few
of the members, as happens in all such assemblies, will possess
superior talents; will, by frequent reelections, become members
of long standing; will be thoroughly masters of the public
business, and perhaps not unwilling to avail themselves of those
advantages. The greater the proportion of new members, and the
less the information of the bulk of the members the more apt will
they be to fall into the snares that may be laid for them. This
remark is no less applicable to the relation which will subsist
between the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is an
inconvenience mingled with the advantages of our frequent
elections even in single States, where they are large, and hold
but one legislative session in a year, that spurious elections
cannot be investigated and annulled in time for the decision to
have its due effect. If a return can be obtained, no matter by
what unlawful means, the irregular member, who takes his seat of
course, is sure of holding it a sufficient time to answer his
purposes. Hence, a very pernicious encouragement is given to the
use of unlawful means, for obtaining irregular returns. Were
elections for the federal legislature to be annual, this practice
might become a very serious abuse, particularly in the more
distant States. Each house is, as it necessarily must be, the
judge of the elections, qualifications, and returns of its
members; and whatever improvements may be suggested by
experience, for simplifying and accelerating the process in
disputed cases, so great a portion of a year would unavoidably
elapse, before an illegitimate member could be dispossessed of
his seat, that the prospect of such an event would be little
check to unfair and illicit means of obtaining a seat. All these
considerations taken together warrant us in affirming, that
biennial elections will be as useful to the affairs of the public
as we have seen that they will be safe to the liberty of the
people. PUBLIUS. 


The Apportionment of Members Among the States

From the New York Packet. Tuesday, February 12, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
THE next view which I shall take of the House of Representatives
relates to the appointment of its members to the several States
which is to be determined by the same rule with that of direct
It is not contended that the number of people in each
State ought not to be the standard for regulating the proportion
of those who are to represent the people of each State. The
establishment of the same rule for the appointment of taxes, will
probably be as little contested; though the rule itself in this
case, is by no means founded on the same principle. In the former
case, the rule is understood to refer to the personal rights of
the people, with which it has a natural and universal connection.
In the latter, it has reference to the proportion of wealth, of
which it is in no case a precise measure, and in ordinary cases a
very unfit one. But notwithstanding the imperfection of the rule
as applied to the relative wealth and contributions of the
States, it is evidently the least objectionable among the
practicable rules, and had too recently obtained the general
sanction of America, not to have found a ready preference with
the convention. All this is admitted, it will perhaps be said;
but does it follow, from an admission of numbers for the measure
of representation, or of slaves combined with free citizens as a
ratio of taxation, that slaves ought to be included in the
numerical rule of representation? Slaves are considered as
property, not as persons. They ought therefore to be comprehended
in estimates of taxation which are founded on property, and to be
excluded from representation which is regulated by a census of
persons. This is the objection, as I understand it, stated in its
full force. I shall be equally candid in stating the reasoning
which may be offered on the opposite side. ``We subscribe to the
doctrine,'' might one of our Southern brethren observe, ``that
representation relates more immediately to persons, and taxation
more immediately to property, and we join in the application of
this distinction to the case of our slaves. But we must deny the
fact, that slaves are considered merely as property, and in no
respect whatever as persons. The true state of the case is, that
they partake of both these qualities: being considered by our
laws, in some respects, as persons, and in other respects as
property. In being compelled to labor, not for himself, but for a
master; in being vendible by one master to another master; and in
being subject at all times to be restrained in his liberty and
chastised in his body, by the capricious will of another, the
slave may appear to be degraded from the human rank, and classed
with those irrational animals which fall under the legal
denomination of property. In being protected, on the other hand,
in his life and in his limbs, against the violence of all
others, even the master of his labor and his liberty; and in
being punishable himself for all violence committed against
others, the slave is no less evidently regarded by the law as a
member of the society, not as a part of the irrational creation;
as a moral person, not as a mere article of property. The
federal Constitution, therefore, decides with great propriety on
the case of our slaves, when it views them in the mixed character
of persons and of property. This is in fact their true
character. It is the character bestowed on them by the laws under
which they live; and it will not be denied, that these are the
proper criterion; because it is only under the pretext that the
laws have transformed the negroes into subjects of property, that
a place is disputed them in the computation of numbers; and it is
admitted, that if the laws were to restore the rights which have
been taken away, the negroes could no longer be refused an equal
share of representation with the other inhabitants. ``This
question may be placed in another light. It is agreed on all
sides, that numbers are the best scale of wealth and taxation, as
they are the only proper scale of representation. Would the
convention have been impartial or consistent, if they had
rejected the slaves from the list of inhabitants, when the shares
of representation were to be calculated, and inserted them on the
lists when the tariff of contributions was to be adjusted? Could
it be reasonably expected, that the Southern States would concur
in a system, which considered their slaves in some degree as men,
when burdens were to be imposed, but refused to consider them in
the same light, when advantages were to be conferred? Might not
some surprise also be expressed, that those who reproach the
Southern States with the barbarous policy of considering as
property a part of their human brethren, should themselves
contend, that the government to which all the States are to be
parties, ought to consider this unfortunate race more completely
in the unnatural light of property, than the very laws of which
they complain? ``It may be replied, perhaps, that slaves are not
included in the estimate of representatives in any of the States
possessing them. They neither vote themselves nor increase the
votes of their masters. Upon what principle, then, ought they to
be taken into the federal estimate of representation? In
rejecting them altogether, the Constitution would, in this
respect, have followed the very laws which have been appealed to
as the proper guide. ``This objection is repelled by a single
abservation. It is a fundamental principle of the proposed
Constitution, that as the aggregate number of representatives
allotted to the several States is to be determined by a federal
rule, founded on the aggregate number of inhabitants, so the
right of choosing this allotted number in each State is to be
exercised by such part of the inhabitants as the State itself may
designate. The qualifications on which the right of suffrage
depend are not, perhaps, the same in any two States. In some of
the States the difference is very material. In every State, a
certain proportion of inhabitants are deprived of this right by
the constitution of the State, who will be included in the census
by which the federal Constitution apportions the representatives.
In this point of view the Southern States might retort the
complaint, by insisting that the principle laid down by the
convention required that no regard should be had to the policy of
particular States towards their own inhabitants; and
consequently, that the slaves, as inhabitants, should have been
admitted into the census according to their full number, in like
manner with other inhabitants, who, by the policy of other
States, are not admitted to all the rights of citizens. A
rigorous adherence, however, to this principle, is waived by
those who would be gainers by it. All that they ask is that equal
moderation be shown on the other side. Let the case of the slaves
be considered, as it is in truth, a peculiar one. Let the
compromising expedient of the Constitution be mutually adopted,
which regards them as inhabitants, but as debased by servitude
below the equal level of free inhabitants, which regards the
SLAVE as divested of two fifths of the MAN. ``After all, may not
another ground be taken on which this article of the
Constitution will admit of a still more ready defense? We have
hitherto proceeded on the idea that representation related to
persons only, and not at all to property. But is it a just idea?
Government is instituted no less for protection of the property,
than of the persons, of individuals. The one as well as the
other, therefore, may be considered as represented by those who
are charged with the government. Upon this principle it is, that
in several of the States, and particularly in the State of New
York, one branch of the government is intended more especially to
be the guardian of property, and is accordingly elected by that
part of the society which is most interested in this object of
government. In the federal Constitution, this policy does not
prevail. The rights of property are committed into the same hands
with the personal rights. Some attention ought, therefore, to be
paid to property in the choice of those hands. ``For another
reason, the votes allowed in the federal legislature to the
people of each State, ought to bear some proportion to the
comparative wealth of the States. States have not, like
individuals, an influence over each other, arising from superior
advantages of fortune. If the law allows an opulent citizen but a
single vote in the choice of his representative, the respect and
consequence which he derives from his fortunate situation very
frequently guide the votes of others to the objects of his
choice; and through this imperceptible channel the rights of
property are conveyed into the public representation. A State
possesses no such influence over other States. It is not probable
that the richest State in the Confederacy will ever influence the
choice of a single representative in any other State. Nor will
the representatives of the larger and richer States possess any
other advantage in the federal legislature, over the
representatives of other States, than what may result from their
superior number alone. As far, therefore, as their superior
wealth and weight may justly entitle them to any advantage, it
ought to be secured to them by a superior share of
representation. The new Constitution is, in this respect,
materially different from the existing Confederation, as well as
from that of the United Netherlands, and other similar
confederacies. In each of the latter, the efficacy of the
federal resolutions depends on the subsequent and voluntary
resolutions of the states composing the union. Hence the states,
though possessing an equal vote in the public councils, have an
unequal influence, corresponding with the unequal importance of
these subsequent and voluntary resolutions. Under the proposed
Constitution, the federal acts will take effect without the
necessary intervention of the individual States. They will depend
merely on the majority of votes in the federal legislature, and
consequently each vote, whether proceeding from a larger or
smaller State, or a State more or less wealthy or powerful, will
have an equal weight and efficacy: in the same manner as the
votes individually given in a State legislature, by the
representatives of unequal counties or other districts, have each
a precise equality of value and effect; or if there be any
difference in the case, it proceeds from the difference in the
personal character of the individual representative, rather than
from any regard to the extent of the district from which he
comes. ''Such is the reasoning which an advocate for the
Southern interests might employ on this subject; and although it
may appear to be a little strained in some points, yet, on the
whole, I must confess that it fully reconciles me to the scale of
representation which the convention have established. In one
respect, the establishment of a common measure for representation
and taxation will have a very salutary effect. As the accuracy of
the census to be obtained by the Congress will necessarily
depend, in a considerable degree on the disposition, if not on
the co-operation, of the States, it is of great importance that
the States should feel as little bias as possible, to swell or to
reduce the amount of their numbers. Were their share of
representation alone to be governed by this rule, they would have
an interest in exaggerating their inhabitants. Were the rule to
decide their share of taxation alone, a contrary temptation would
prevail. By extending the rule to both objects, the States will
have opposite interests, which will control and balance each
other, and produce the requisite impartiality. PUBLIUS. 


The Total Number of the House of Representatives
From the New York Packet. Friday, February 15, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
THE number of which the House of Representatives is to consist,
forms another and a very interesting point of view, under which
this branch of the federal legislature may be contemplated.
Scarce any article, indeed, in the whole Constitution seems to be
rendered more worthy of attention, by the weight of character and
the apparent force of argument with which it has been assailed.
The charges exhibited against it are, first, that so small a
number of representatives will be an unsafe depositary of the
public interests; secondly, that they will not possess a proper
knowledge of the local circumstances of their numerous
constituents; thirdly, that they will be taken from that class of
citizens which will sympathize least with the feelings of the
mass of the people, and be most likely to aim at a permanent
elevation of the few on the depression of the many; fourthly,
that defective as the number will be in the first instance, it
will be more and more disproportionate, by the increase of the
people, and the obstacles which will prevent a correspondent
increase of the representatives. In general it may be remarked on
this subject, that no political problem is less susceptible of a
precise solution than that which relates to the number most
convenient for a representative legislature; nor is there any
point on which the policy of the several States is more at
variance, whether we compare their legislative assemblies
directly with each other, or consider the proportions which they
respectively bear to the number of their constituents. Passing
over the difference between the smallest and largest States, as
Delaware, whose most numerous branch consists of twenty-one
representatives, and Massachusetts, where it amounts to between
three and four hundred, a very considerable difference is
observable among States nearly equal in population. The number of
representatives in Pennsylvania is not more than one fifth of
that in the State last mentioned. New York, whose population is
to that of South Carolina as six to five, has little more than
one third of the number of representatives. As great a disparity
prevails between the States of Georgia and Delaware or Rhode
Island. In Pennsylvania, the representatives do not bear a
greater proportion to their constituents than of one for every
four or five thousand. In Rhode Island, they bear a proportion of
at least one for every thousand. And according to the
constitution of Georgia, the proportion may be carried to one to
every ten electors; and must unavoidably far exceed the
proportion in any of the other States. Another general remark to
be made is, that the ratio between the representatives and the
people ought not to be the same where the latter are very
numerous as where they are very few. Were the representatives in
Virginia to be regulated by the standard in Rhode Island, they
would, at this time, amount to between four and five hundred; and
twenty or thirty years hence, to a thousand. On the other hand,
the ratio of Pennsylvania, if applied to the State of Delaware,
would reduce the representative assembly of the latter to seven
or eight members. Nothing can be more fallacious than to found
our political calculations on arithmetical principles. Sixty or
seventy men may be more properly trusted with a given degree of
power than six or seven. But it does not follow that six or seven
hundred would be proportionably a better depositary. And if we
carry on the supposition to six or seven thousand, the whole
reasoning ought to be reversed. The truth is, that in all cases a
certain number at least seems to be necessary to secure the
benefits of free consultation and discussion, and to guard
against too easy a combination for improper purposes; as, on the
other hand, the number ought at most to be kept within a certain
limit, in order to avoid the confusion and intemperance of a
multitude. In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever character
composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason.
Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian
assembly would still have been a mob.                             
It is necessary also to
recollect here the observations which were applied to the case of
biennial elections. For the same reason that the limited powers
of the Congress, and the control of the State legislatures,
justify less frequent elections than the public safely might
otherwise require, the members of the Congress need be less
numerous than if they possessed the whole power of legislation,
and were under no other than the ordinary restraints of other
legislative bodies. With these general ideas in our mind, let us
weigh the objections which have been stated against the number of
members proposed for the House of Representatives. It is said, in
the first place, that so small a number cannot be safely trusted
with so much power. The number of which this branch of the
legislature is to consist, at the outset of the government, will
be sixtyfive. Within three years a census is to be taken, when
the number may be augmented to one for every thirty thousand
inhabitants; and within every successive period of ten years the
census is to be renewed, and augmentations may continue to be
made under the above limitation. It will not be thought an
extravagant conjecture that the first census will, at the rate of
one for every thirty thousand, raise the number of
representatives to at least one hundred. Estimating the negroes
in the proportion of three fifths, it can scarcely be doubted
that the population of the United States will by that time, if it
does not already, amount to three millions. At the expiration of
twenty-five years, according to the computed rate of increase,
the number of representatives will amount to two hundred, and of
fifty years, to four hundred. This is a number which, I presume,
will put an end to all fears arising from the smallness of the
body. I take for granted here what I shall, in answering the
fourth objection, hereafter show, that the number of
representatives will be augmented from time to time in the
manner provided by the Constitution. On a contrary supposition, I
should admit the objection to have very great weight indeed. The
true question to be decided then is, whether the smallness of the
number, as a temporary regulation, be dangerous to the public
liberty? Whether sixty-five members for a few years, and a
hundred or two hundred for a few more, be a safe depositary for a
limited and well-guarded power of legislating for the United
States? I must own that I could not give a negative answer to
this question, without first obliterating every impression which
I have received with regard to the present genius of the people
of America, the spirit which actuates the State legislatures, and
the principles which are incorporated with the political
character of every class of citizens I am unable to conceive that
the people of America, in their present temper, or under any
circumstances which can speedily happen, will choose, and every
second year repeat the choice of, sixty-five or a hundred men who
would be disposed to form and pursue a scheme of tyranny or
treachery. I am unable to conceive that the State legislatures,
which must feel so many motives to watch, and which possess so
many means of counteracting, the federal legislature, would fail
either to detect or to defeat a conspiracy of the latter against
the liberties of their common constituents. I am equally unable
to conceive that there are at this time, or can be in any short
time, in the United States, any sixty-five or a hundred men
capable of recommending themselves to the choice of the people at
large, who would either desire or dare, within the short space of
two years, to betray the solemn trust committed to them. What
change of circumstances, time, and a fuller population of our
country may produce, requires a prophetic spirit to declare,
which makes no part of my pretensions. But judging from the
circumstances now before us, and from the probable state of them
within a moderate period of time, I must pronounce that the
liberties of America cannot be unsafe in the number of hands
proposed by the federal Constitution. From what quarter can the
danger proceed? Are we afraid of foreign gold? If foreign gold
could so easily corrupt our federal rulers and enable them to
ensnare and betray their constituents, how has it happened that
we are at this time a free and independent nation? The Congress
which conducted us through the Revolution was a less numerous
body than their successors will be; they were not chosen by, nor
responsible to, their fellowcitizens at large; though appointed
from year to year, and recallable at pleasure, they were
generally continued for three years, and prior to the
ratification of the federal articles, for a still longer term.
They held their consultations always under the veil of secrecy;
they had the sole transaction of our affairs with foreign
nations; through the whole course of the war they had the fate of
their country more in their hands than it is to be hoped will
ever be the case with our future representatives; and from the
greatness of the prize at stake, and the eagerness of the party
which lost it, it may well be supposed that the use of other
means than force would not have been scrupled. Yet we know by
happy experience that the public trust was not betrayed; nor has
the purity of our public councils in this particular ever
suffered, even from the whispers of calumny. Is the danger
apprehended from the other branches of the federal government?
But where are the means to be found by the President, or the
Senate, or both? Their emoluments of office, it is to be
presumed, will not, and without a previous corruption of the
House of Representatives cannot, more than suffice for very
different purposes; their private fortunes, as they must allbe
American citizens, cannot possibly be sources of danger. The only
means, then, which they can possess, will be in the
dispensation of appointments. Is it here that suspicion rests her
charge? Sometimes we are told that this fund of corruption is to
be exhausted by the President in subduing the virtue of the
Senate. Now, the fidelity of the other House is to be the
victim. The improbability of such a mercenary and perfidious
combination of the several members of government, standing on as
different foundations as republican principles will well admit,
and at the same time accountable to the society over which they
are placed, ought alone to quiet this apprehension. But,
fortunately, the Constitution has provided a still further
safeguard. The members of the Congress are rendered ineligible to
any civil offices that may be created, or of which the
emoluments may be increased, during the term of their election.
No offices therefore can be dealt out to the existing members but
such as may become vacant by ordinary casualties: and to suppose
that these would be sufficient to purchase the guardians of the
people, selected by the people themselves, is to renounce every
rule by which events ought to be calculated, and to substitute an
indiscriminate and unbounded jealousy, with which all reasoning
must be vain. The sincere friends of liberty, who give
themselves up to the extravagancies of this passion, are not
aware of the injury they do their own cause. As there is a
degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of
circumspection and distrust, so there are other qualities in
human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and
confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of
these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the
pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some
among us faithful likenesses of the human character, the
inference would be, that there is not sufficient virtue among men
for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of
despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one
another. PUBLIUS. 


The Same Subject Continued(The Total Number of the House of
From the New York Packet. Tuesday, February 19, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
THE SECOND charge against the House of Representatives is, that
it will be too small to possess a due knowledge of the interests
of its constituents. As this objection evidently proceeds from a
comparison of the proposed number of representatives with the
great extent of the United States, the number of their
inhabitants, and the diversity of their interests, without taking
into view at the same time the circumstances which will
distinguish the Congress from other legislative bodies, the best
answer that can be given to it will be a brief explanation of
these peculiarities. It is a sound and important principle that
the representative ought to be acquainted with the interests and
circumstances of his constituents. But this principle can extend
no further than to those circumstances and interests to which the
authority and care of the representative relate. An ignorance of
a variety of minute and particular objects, which do not lie
within the compass of legislation, is consistent with every
attribute necessary to a due performance of the legislative
trust. In determining the extent of information required in the
exercise of a particular authority, recourse then must be had to
the objects within the purview of that authority. What are to be
the objects of federal legislation? Those which are of most
importance, and which seem most to require local knowledge, are
commerce, taxation, and the militia. A proper regulation of
commerce requires much information, as has been elsewhere
remarked; but as far as this information relates to the laws and
local situation of each individual State, a very few
representatives would be very sufficient vehicles of it to the
federal councils. Taxation will consist, in a great measure, of
duties which will be involved in the regulation of commerce. So
far the preceding remark is applicable to this object. As far as
it may consist of internal collections, a more diffusive
knowledge of the circumstances of the State may be necessary. But
will not this also be possessed in sufficient degree by a very
few intelligent men, diffusively elected within the State? Divide
the largest State into ten or twelve districts, and it will be
found that there will be no peculiar local interests in either,
which will not be within the knowledge of the representative of
the district. Besides this source of information, the laws of the
State, framed by representatives from every part of it, will be
almost of themselves a sufficient guide. In every State there
have been made, and must continue to be made, regulations on this
subject which will, in many cases, leave little more to be done
by the federal legislature, than to review the different laws,
and reduce them in one general act. A skillful individual in his
closet with all the local codes before him, might compile a law
on some subjects of taxation for the whole union, without any aid
from oral information, and it may be expected that whenever
internal taxes may be necessary, and particularly in cases
requiring uniformity throughout the States, the more simple
objects will be preferred. To be fully sensible of the facility
which will be given to this branch of federal legislation by the
assistance of the State codes, we need only suppose for a moment
that this or any other State were divided into a number of parts,
each having and exercising within itself a power of local
legislation. Is it not evident that a degree of local information
and preparatory labor would be found in the several volumes of
their proceedings, which would very much shorten the labors of
the general legislature, and render a much smaller number of
members sufficient for it? The federal councils will derive great
advantage from another circumstance. The representatives of each
State will not only bring with them a considerable knowledge of
its laws, and a local knowledge of their respective districts,
but will probably in all cases have been members, and may even at
the very time be members, of the State legislature, where all the
local information and interests of the State are assembled, and
from whence they may easily be conveyed by a very few hands into
the legislature of the United States. The observations made on
the subject of taxation apply with greater force to the case of
the militia. For however different the rules of discipline may be
in different States, they are the same throughout each particular
State; and depend on circumstances which can differ but little in
different parts of the same State. The attentive reader will
discern that the reasoning here used, to prove the sufficiency of
a moderate number of representatives, does not in any respect
contradict what was urged on another occasion with regard to the
extensive information which the representatives ought to possess,
and the time that might be necessary for acquiring it. This
information, so far as it may relate to local objects, is
rendered necessary and difficult, not by a difference of laws and
local circumstances within a single State, but of those among
different States. Taking each State by itself, its laws are the
same, and its interests but little diversified. A few men,
therefore, will possess all the knowledge requisite for a proper
representation of them. Were the interests and affairs of each
individual State perfectly simple and uniform, a knowledge of
them in one part would involve a knowledge of them in every
other, and the whole State might be competently represented by a
single member taken from any part of it. On a comparison of the
different States together, we find a great dissimilarity in their
laws, and in many other circumstances connected with the objects
of federal legislation, with all of which the federal
representatives ought to have some acquaintance. Whilst a few
representatives, therefore, from each State, may bring with them
a due knowledge of their own State, every representative will
have much information to acquire concerning all the other States.
The changes of time, as was formerly remarked, on the comparative
situation of the different States, will have an assimilating
effect. The effect of time on the internal affairs of the States,
taken singly, will be just the contrary. At present some of the
States are little more than a society of husbandmen. Few of them
have made much progress in those branches of industry which give
a variety and complexity to the affairs of a nation. These,
however, will in all of them be the fruits of a more advanced
population, and will require, on the part of each State, a fuller
representation. The foresight of the convention has accordingly
taken care that the progress of population may be accompanied
with a proper increase of the representative branch of the
government. The experience of Great Britain, which presents to
mankind so many political lessons, both of the monitory and
exemplary kind, and which has been frequently consulted in the
course of these inquiries, corroborates the result of the
reflections which we have just made. The number of inhabitants in
the two kingdoms of England and Scotland cannot be stated at less
than eight millions. The representatives of these eight millions
in the House of Commons amount to five hundred and fifty-eight.
Of this number, one ninth are elected by three hundred and
sixty-four persons, and one half, by five thousand seven hundred
and twenty-three persons. 1 It cannot be supposed that the half
thus elected, and who do not even reside among the people at
large, can add any thing either to the security of the people
against the government, or to the knowledge of their
circumstances and interests in the legislative councils. On the
contrary, it is notorious, that they are more frequently the
representatives and instruments of the executive magistrate, than
the guardians and advocates of the popular rights. They might
therefore, with great propriety, be considered as something more
than a mere deduction from the real representatives of the
nation. We will, however, consider them in this light alone, and
will not extend the deduction to a considerable number of
others, who do not reside among their constitutents, are very
faintly connected with them, and have very little particular
knowledge of their affairs. With all these concessions, two
hundred and seventy-nine persons only will be the depository of
the safety, interest, and happiness of eight millions that is to
say, there will be one representative only to maintain the rights
and explain the situation OF TWENTY-EIGHT THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED
AND SEVENTY constitutents, in an assembly exposed to the whole
force of executive influence, and extending its authority to
every object of legislation within a nation whose affairs are in
the highest degree diversified and complicated. Yet it is very
certain, not only that a valuable portion of freedom has been
preserved under all these circumstances, but that the defects in
the British code are chargeable, in a very small proportion, on
the ignorance of the legislature concerning the circumstances of
the people. Allowing to this case the weight which is due to it,
and comparing it with that of the House of Representatives as
above explained it seems to give the fullest assurance, that a
representative for every THIRTY THOUSAND INHABITANTS will render
the latter both a safe and competent guardian of the interests
which will be confided to it. PUBLIUS. Burgh's ``Political
Disquisitions. ''


The Alleged Tendency of the New Plan to Elevate the Few at the
Expense of the Many Considered in Connection with Representation
From the New York Packet. Tuesday, February 19, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
THE THIRD charge against the House of Representatives is, that it
will be taken from that class of citizens which will have least
sympathy with the mass of the people, and be most likely to aim
at an ambitious sacrifice of the many to the aggrandizement of
the few. Of all the objections which have been framed against the
federal Constitution, this is perhaps the most extraordinary.
Whilst the objection itself is levelled against a pretended
oligarchy, the principle of it strikes at the very root of
republican government. The aim of every political constitution
is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess
most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common
good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most
effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they
continue to hold their public trust. The elective mode of
obtaining rulers is the characteristic policy of republican
government. The means relied on in this form of government for
preventing their degeneracy are numerous and various. The most
effectual one, is such a limitation of the term of appointments
as will maintain a proper responsibility to the people. Let me
now ask what circumstance there is in the constitution of the
House of Representatives that violates the principles of
republican government, or favors the elevation of the few on the
ruins of the many? Let me ask whether every circumstance is not,
on the contrary, strictly conformable to these principles, and
scrupulously impartial to the rights and pretensions of every
class and description of citizens? Who are to be the electors of
the federal representatives? Not the rich, more than the poor;
not the learned, more than the ignorant; not the haughty heirs of
distinguished names, more than the humble sons of obscurity and
unpropitious fortune. The electors are to be the great body of
the people of the United States. They are to be the same who
exercise the right in every State of electing the corresponding
branch of the legislature of the State. Who are to be the objects
of popular choice? Every citizen whose merit may recommend him to
the esteem and confidence of his country. No qualification of
wealth, of birth, of religious faith, or of civil profession is
permitted to fetter the judgement or disappoint the inclination
of the people. If we consider the situation of the men on whom
the free suffrages of their fellow-citizens may confer the
representative trust, we shall find it involving every security
which can be devised or desired for their fidelity to their
constituents. In the first place, as they will have been
distinguished by the preference of their fellow-citizens, we are
to presume that in general they will be somewhat distinguished
also by those qualities which entitle them to it, and which
promise a sincere and scrupulous regard to the nature of their
engagements. In the second place, they will enter into the public
service under circumstances which cannot fail to produce a
temporary affection at least to their constituents. There is in
every breast a sensibility to marks of honor, of favor, of
esteem, and of confidence, which, apart from all considerations
of interest, is some pledge for grateful and benevolent returns.
Ingratitude is a common topic of declamation against human
nature; and it must be confessed that instances of it are but too
frequent and flagrant, both in public and in private life. But
the universal and extreme indignation which it inspires is itself
a proof of the energy and prevalence of the contrary sentiment.
In the third place, those ties which bind the representative to
his constituents are strengthened by motives of a more selfish
nature. His pride and vanity attach him to a form of government
which favors his pretensions and gives him a share in its honors
and distinctions. Whatever hopes or projects might be entertained
by a few aspiring characters, it must generally happen that a
great proportion of the men deriving their advancement from their
influence with the people, would have more to hope from a
preservation of the favor, than from innovations in the
government subversive of the authority of the people. All these
securities, however, would be found very insufficient without the
restraint of frequent elections. Hence, in the fourth place, the
House of Representatives is so constituted as to support in the
members an habitual recollection of their dependence on the
people. Before the sentiments impressed on their minds by the
mode of their elevation can be effaced by the exercise of power,
they will be compelled to anticipate the moment when their power
is to cease, when their exercise of it is to be reviewed, and
when they must descend to the level from which they were raised;
there forever to remain unless a faithful discharge of their
trust shall have established their title to a renewal of it. I
will add, as a fifth circumstance in the situation of the House
of Representatives, restraining them from oppressive measures,
that they can make no law which will not have its full operation
on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of
the society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest
bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people
together. It creates between them that communion of interests and
sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished
examples; but without which every government degenerates into
tyranny. If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of
Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of
themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the
genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional
laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates
the people of America, a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in
return is nourished by it. If this spirit shall ever be so far
debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature,
as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate
any thing but liberty. Such will be the relation between the
House of Representatives and their constituents. Duty, gratitude,
interest, ambition itself, are the chords by which they will be
bound to fidelity and sympathy with the great mass of the people.
It is possible that these may all be insufficient to control the
caprice and wickedness of man. But are they not all that
government will admit, and that human prudence can devise? Are
they not the genuine and the characteristic means by which
republican government provides for the liberty and happiness of
the people? Are they not the identical means on which every State
government in the Union relies for the attainment of these
important ends? What then are we to understand by the objection
which this paper has combated? What are we to say to the men who
profess the most flaming zeal for republican government, yet
boldly impeach the fundamental principle of it; who pretend to be
champions for the right and the capacity of the people to choose
their own rulers, yet maintain that they will prefer those only
who will immediately and infallibly betray the trust committed to
them? Were the objection to be read by one who had not seen the
mode prescribed by the Constitution for the choice of
representatives, he could suppose nothing less than that some
unreasonable qualification of property was annexed to the right
of suffrage; or that the right of eligibility was limited to
persons of particular families or fortunes; or at least that the
mode prescribed by the State constitutions was in some respect or
other, very grossly departed from. We have seen how far such a
supposition would err, as to the two first points. Nor would it,
in fact, be less erroneous as to the last. The only difference
discoverable between the two cases is, that each representative
of the United States will be elected by five or six thousand
citizens; whilst in the individual States, the election of a
representative is left to about as many hundreds. Will it be
pretended that this difference is sufficient to justify an
attachment to the State governments, and an abhorrence to the
federal government? If this be the point on which the objection
turns, it deserves to be examined. Is it supported by REASON?
This cannot be said, without maintaining that five or six
thousand citizens are less capable of choosing a fit
representative, or more liable to be corrupted by an unfit one,
than five or six hundred. Reason, on the contrary, assures us,
that as in so great a number a fit representative would be most
likely to be found, so the choice would be less likely to be
diverted from him by the intrigues of the ambitious or the
ambitious or the bribes of the rich. Is the CONSEQUENCE from this
doctrine admissible? If we say that five or six hundred citizens
are as many as can jointly exercise their right of suffrage, must
we not deprive the people of the immediate choice of their public
servants, in every instance where the
administration of the government does not require as many of them
as will amount to one for that number of citizens? Is the
doctrine warranted by FACTS? It was shown in the last paper, that
the real representation in the British House of Commons very
little exceeds the proportion of one for every thirty thousand
inhabitants. Besides a variety of powerful causes not existing
here, and which favor in that country the pretensions of rank and
wealth, no person is eligible as a representative of a county,
unless he possess real estate of the clear value of six hundred
pounds sterling per year; nor of a city or borough, unless he
possess a like estate of half that annual value. To this
qualification on the part of the county representatives is added
another on the part of the county electors, which restrains the
right of suffrage to persons having a freehold estate of the
annual value of more than twenty pounds sterling, according to
the present rate of money. Notwithstanding these unfavorable
circumstances, and notwithstanding some very unequal laws in the
British code, it cannot be said that the representatives of the
nation have elevated the few on the ruins of the many. But we
need not resort to foreign experience on this subject. Our own is
explicit and decisive. The districts in New Hampshire in which
the senators are chosen immediately by the people, are nearly as
large as will be necessary for her representatives in the
Congress. Those of Massachusetts are larger than will be
necessary for that purpose; and those of New York still more so.
In the last State the members of Assembly for the cities and
counties of New York and Albany are elected by very nearly as
many voters as will be entitled to a representative in the
Congress, calculating on the number of sixty-five representatives
only. It makes no difference that in these senatorial districts
and counties a number of representatives are voted for by each
elector at the same time. If the same electors at the same time
are capable of choosing four or five representatives, they cannot
be incapable of choosing one. Pennsylvania is an additional
example. Some of her counties, which elect her State
representatives, are almost as large as her districts will be by
which her federal representatives will be elected. The city of
Philadelphia is supposed to contain between fifty and sixty
thousand souls. It will therefore form nearly two districts for
the choice of federal representatives. It forms, however, but one
county, in which every elector votes for each of its
representatives in the State legislature. And what may appear to
be still more directly to our purpose, the whole city actually
elects a SINGLE MEMBER for the executive council. This is the
case in all the other counties of the State. Are not these facts
the most satisfactory proofs of the fallacy which has been
employed against the branch of the federal government under
consideration? Has it appeared on trial that the senators of New
Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York, or the executive council
of Pennsylvania, or the members of the Assembly in the two last
States, have betrayed any peculiar disposition to sacrifice the
many to the few, or are in any respect less worthy of their
places than the representatives and magistrates appointed in
other States by very small divisions of the people? But there are
cases of a stronger complexion than any which I have yet quoted.
One branch of the legislature of Connecticut is so constituted
that each member of it is elected by the whole State. So is the
governor of that State, of Massachusetts, and of this State, and
the president of New Hampshire. I leave every man to decide
whether the result of any one of these experiments can be said to
countenance a suspicion, that a diffusive mode of choosing
representatives of the people tends to elevate traitors and to
undermine the public liberty. PUBLIUS. 

Objection That The Number of Members Will Not Be Augmented as the
Progress of Population Demands Considered 


To the People of the State of New York:
THE remaining charge against the House of Representatives, which
I am to examine, is grounded on a supposition that the number of
members will not be augmented from time to time, as the progress
of population may demand. It has been admitted, that this
objection, if well supported, would have great weight. The
following observations will show that, like most other objections
against the Constitution, it can only proceed from a partial view
of the subject, or from a jealousy which discolors and disfigures
every object which is beheld. 1. Those who urge the objection
seem not to have recollected that the federal Constitution will
not suffer by a comparison with the State constitutions, in the
security provided for a gradual augmentation of the number of
representatives. The number which is to prevail in the first
instance is declared to be temporary. Its duration is limited to
the short term of three years. Within every successive term of
ten years a census of inhabitants is to be repeated. The
unequivocal objects of these regulations are, first, to readjust,
from time to time, the apportionment of representatives to the
number of inhabitants, under the single exception that each State
shall have one representative at least; secondly, to augment the
number of representatives at the same periods, under the sole
limitation that the whole number shall not exceed one for every
thirty thousand inhabitants. If we review the constitutions of
the several States, we shall find that some of them contain no
determinate regulations on this subject, that others correspond
pretty much on this point with the federal Constitution, and that
the most effectual security in any of them is resolvable into a
mere directory provision. 2. As far as experience has taken place
on this subject, a gradual increase of representatives under the
State constitutions has at least kept pace with that of the
constituents, and it appears that the former have been as ready
to concur in such measures as the latter have been to call for
them. 3. There is a peculiarity in the federal Constitution which
insures a watchful attention in a majority both of the people and
of their representatives to a constitutional augmentation of the
latter. The peculiarity lies in this, that one branch of the
legislature is a representation of citizens, the other of the
States: in the former, consequently, the larger States will have
most weight; in the latter, the advantage will be in favor of the
smaller States. From this circumstance it may with certainty be
inferred that the larger States will be strenuous advocates for
increasing the number and weight of that part of the legislature
in which their influence predominates. And it so happens that
four only of the largest will have a majority of the whole votes
in the House of Representatives. Should the representatives or
people, therefore, of the smaller States oppose at any time a
reasonable addition of members, a coalition of a very few States
will be sufficient to overrule the opposition; a coalition which,
notwithstanding the rivalship and local prejudices which might
prevent it on ordinary occasions, would not fail to take place,
when not merely prompted by common interest, but justified by
equity and the principles of the Constitution. It may be
alleged, perhaps, that the Senate would be prompted by like
motives to an adverse coalition; and as their concurrence would
be indispensable, the just and constitutional views of the other
branch might be defeated. This is the difficulty which has
probably created the most serious apprehensions in the jealous
friends of a numerous representation. Fortunately it is among the
difficulties which, existing only in appearance, vanish on a
close and accurate inspection. The following reflections will, if
I mistake not, be admitted to be conclusive and satisfactory on
this point. Notwithstanding the equal authority which will
subsist between the two houses on all legislative subjects,
except the originating of money bills, it cannot be doubted that
the House, composed of the greater number of members, when
supported by the more powerful States, and speaking the known and
determined sense of a majority of the people, will have no small
advantage in a question depending on the comparative firmness of
the two houses. This advantage must be increased by the
consciousness, felt by the same side of being supported in its
demands by right, by reason, and by the Constitution; and the
consciousness, on the opposite side, of contending against the
force of all these solemn considerations. It is farther to be
considered, that in the gradation between the smallest and
largest States, there are several, which, though most likely in
general to arrange themselves among the former are too little
removed in extent and population from the latter, to second an
opposition to their just and legitimate pretensions. Hence it is
by no means certain that a majority of votes, even in the
Senate, would be unfriendly to proper augmentations in the number
of representatives. It will not be looking too far to add, that
the senators from all the new States may be gained over to the
just views of the House of Representatives, by an expedient too
obvious to be overlooked. As these States will, for a great
length of time, advance in population with peculiar rapidity,
they will be interested in frequent reapportionments of the
representatives to the number of inhabitants. The large States,
therefore, who will prevail in the House of Representatives, will
have nothing to do but to make reapportionments and augmentations
mutually conditions of each other; and the senators from all the
most growing States will be bound to contend for the latter, by
the interest which their States will feel in the former. These
considerations seem to afford ample security on this subject, and
ought alone to satisfy all the doubts and fears which have been
indulged with regard to it. Admitting, however, that they should
all be insufficient to subdue the unjust policy of the smaller
States, or their predominant influence in the councils of the
Senate, a constitutional and infallible resource still remains
with the larger States, by which they will be able at all times
to accomplish their just purposes. The House of Representatives
cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies
requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold
the purse that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the
history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble
representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of
its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it
seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other
branches of the government. This power over the purse may, in
fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with
which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of
the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for
carrying into effect every just and salutary measure. But will
not the House of Representatives be as much interested as the
Senate in maintaining the government in its proper functions, and
will they not therefore be unwilling to stake its existence or
its reputation on the pliancy of the Senate? Or, if such a trial
of firmness between the two branches were hazarded, would not the
one be as likely first to yield as the other? These questions
will create no difficulty with those who reflect that in all
cases the smaller the number, and the more permanent and
conspicuous the station, of men in power, the stronger must be
the interest which they will individually feel in whatever
concerns the government. Those who represent the dignity of their
country in the eyes of other nations, will be particularly
sensible to every prospect of public danger, or of dishonorable
stagnation in public affairs. To those causes we are to ascribe
the continual triumph of the British House of Commons over the
other branches of the government, whenever the engine of a money
bill has been employed. An absolute inflexibility on the side of
the latter, although it could not have failed to involve every
department of the state in the general confusion, has neither
been apprehended nor experienced. The utmost degree of firmness
that can be displayed by the federal Senate or President, will
not be more than equal to a resistance in which they will be
supported by constitutional and patriotic principles. In this
review of the Constitution of the House of Representatives, I
have passed over the circumstances of economy, which, in the
present state of affairs, might have had some effect in lessening
the temporary number of representatives, and a disregard of which
would probably have been as rich a theme of declamation against
the Constitution as has been shown by the smallness of the number
proposed. I omit also any remarks on the difficulty which might
be found, under present circumstances, in engaging in the federal
service a large number of such characters as the people will
probably elect. One observation, however, I must be permitted to
add on this subject as claiming, in my judgment, a very serious
attention. It is, that in all legislative assemblies the greater
the number composing them may be, the fewer will be the men who
will in fact direct their proceedings. In the first place, the
more numerous an assembly may be, of whatever characters
composed, the greater is known to be the ascendency of passion
over reason. In the next place, the larger the number, the
greater will be the proportion of members of limited information
and of weak capacities. Now, it is precisely on characters of
this description that the eloquence and address of the few are
known to act with all their force. In the ancient republics,
where the whole body of the people assembled in person, a single
orator, or an artful statesman, was generally seen to rule with
as complete a sway as if a sceptre had been placed in his single
hand. On the same principle, the more multitudinous a
representative assembly may be rendered, the more it will partake
of the infirmities incident to collective meetings of the people.
Ignorance will be the dupe of cunning, and passion the slave of
sophistry and declamation. The people can never err more than in
supposing that by multiplying their representatives beyond a
certain limit, they strengthen the barrier against the government
of a few. Experience will forever admonish them that, on the
WHOLE SOCIETY, they will counteract their own views by every
addition to their representatives. The countenance of the
government may become more democratic, but the soul that animates
it will be more oligarchic. The machine will be enlarged, but the
fewer, and often the more secret, will be the springs by which
its motions are directed. As connected with the objection against
the number of representatives, may properly be here noticed, that
which has been suggested against the number made competent for
legislative business. It has been said that more than a majority
ought to have been required for a quorum; and in particular
cases, if not in all, more than a majority of a quorum for a
decision. That some advantages might have resulted from such a
precaution, cannot be denied. It might have been an additional
shield to some particular interests, and another obstacle
generally to hasty and partial measures. But these considerations
are outweighed by the inconveniences in the opposite scale. In
all cases where justice or the general good might require new
laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the
fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It
would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would
be transferred to the minority. Were the defensive privilege
limited to particular cases, an interested minority might take
advantage of it to screen themselves from equitable sacrifices to
the general weal, or, in particular emergencies, to extort
unreasonable indulgences. Lastly, it would facilitate and foster
the baneful practice of secessions; a practice which has shown
itself even in States where a majority only is required; a
practice subversive of all the principles of order and regular
government; a practice which leads more directly to public
convulsions, and the ruin of popular governments, than any other
which has yet been displayed among us. PUBLIUS. 


Concerning the Power of Congress to Regulate the Election of
From the New York Packet. Friday, February 22, 1788. 


To the People of the State of New York:
THE natural order of the subject leads us to consider, in this
place, that provision of the Constitution which authorizes the
national legislature to regulate, in the last resort, the
election of its own members. It is in these words: ``The TIMES,
PLACES, and MANNER of holding elections for senators and
representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the
legislature thereof; but the Congress may, at any time, by law,
make or alter SUCH REGULATIONS, except as to the PLACES of
choosing senators. ''1 This provision has not only been declaimed
against by those who condemn the Constitution in the gross, but
it has been censured by those who have objected with less
latitude and greater moderation; and, in one instance it has been
thought exceptionable by a gentleman who has declared himself the
advocate of every other part of the system. I am greatly
mistaken, notwithstanding, if there be any article in the whole
plan more completely defensible than this. Its propriety rests
upon the evidence of this plain proposition, that EVERY
PRESERVATION. Every just reasoner will, at first sight, approve
an adherence to this rule, in the work of the convention; and
will disapprove every deviation from it which may not appear to
have been dictated by the necessity of incorporating into the
work some particular ingredient, with which a rigid conformity to
the rule was incompatible. Even in this case, though he may
acquiesce in the necessity, yet he will not cease to regard and
to regret a departure from so fundamental a principle, as a
portion of imperfection in the system which may prove the seed of
future weakness, and perhaps anarchy. It will not be alleged,
that an election law could have been framed and inserted in the
Constitution, which would have been always applicable to every
probable change in the situation of the country; and it will
therefore not be denied, that a discretionary power over
elections ought to exist somewhere. It will, I presume, be as
readily conceded, that there were only three ways in which this
power could have been reasonably modified and disposed: that it
must either have been lodged wholly in the national legislature,
or wholly in the State legislatures, or primarily in the latter
and ultimately in the former. The last mode has, with reason,
been preferred by the convention. They have submitted the
regulation of elections for the federal government, in the first
instance, to the local administrations; which, in ordinary
cases, and when no improper views prevail, may be both more
convenient and more satisfactory; but they have reserved to the
national authority a right to interpose, whenever extraordinary
circumstances might render that interposition necessary to its
safety. Nothing can be more evident, than that an exclusive power
of regulating elections for the national government, in the hands
of the State legislatures, would leave the existence of the Union
entirely at their mercy. They could at any moment
annihilate it, by neglecting to provide for the choice of persons
to administer its affairs. It is to little purpose to say, that a
neglect or omission of this kind would not be likely to take
place. The constitutional possibility of the thing, without an
equivalent for the risk, is an unanswerable objection. Nor has
any satisfactory reason been yet assigned for incurring that
risk. The extravagant surmises of a distempered jealousy can
never be dignified with that character. If we are in a humor to
presume abuses of power, it is as fair to presume them on the
part of the State governments as on the part of the general
government. And as it is more consonant to the rules of a just
theory, to trust the Union with the care of its own existence,
than to transfer that care to any other hands, if abuses of power
are to be hazarded on the one side or on the other, it is more
rational to hazard them where the power would naturally be
placed, than where it would unnaturally be placed. Suppose an
article had been introduced into the Constitution, empowering the
United States to regulate the elections for the particular
States, would any man have hesitated to condemn it, both as an
unwarrantable transposition of power, and as a premeditated
engine for the destruction of the State governments? The
violation of principle, in this case, would have required no
comment; and, to an unbiased observer, it will not be less
apparent in the project of subjecting the existence of the
national government, in a similar respect, to the pleasure of the
State governments. An impartial view of the matter cannot fail to
result in a conviction, that each, as far as possible, ought to
depend on itself for its own preservation. As an objection to
this position, it may be remarked that the constitution of the
national Senate would involve, in its full extent, the danger
which it is suggested might flow from an exclusive power in the
State legislatures to regulate the federal elections. It may be
alleged, that by declining the appointment of Senators, they
might at any time give a fatal blow to the Union; and from this
it may be inferred, that as its existence would be thus rendered
dependent upon them in so essential a point, there can be no
objection to intrusting them with it in the particular case under
consideration. The interest of each State, it may be added, to
maintain its representation in the national councils, would be a
complete security against an abuse of the trust. This argument,
though specious, will not, upon examination, be found solid. It
is certainly true that the State legislatures, by forbearing the
appointment of senators, may destroy the national government. But
it will not follow that, because they have a power to do this in
one instance, they ought to have it in every other. There are
cases in which the pernicious tendency of such a power may be far
more decisive, without any motive equally cogent with that which
must have regulated the conduct of the convention in respect to
the formation of the Senate, to recommend their admission into
the system. So far as that construction may expose the Union to
the possibility of injury from the State legislatures, it is an
evil; but it is an evil which could not have been avoided without
excluding the States, in their political capacities, wholly from
a place in the organization of the national government. If this
had been done, it would doubtless have been interpreted into an
entire dereliction of the federal principle; and would certainly
have deprived the State governments of that absolute safeguard
which they will enjoy under this provision. But however wise it
may have been to have submitted in this instance to an
inconvenience, for the attainment of a necessary advantage or a
greater good, no inference can be drawn from thence to favor an
accumulation of the evil, where no necessity urges, nor any
greater good invites. It may be easily discerned also that the
national government would run a much greater risk from a power in
the State legislatures over the elections of its House of
Representatives, than from their power of appointing the members
of its Senate. The senators are to be chosen for the period of
six years; there is to be a rotation, by which the seats of a
third part of them are to be vacated and replenished every two
years; and no State is to be entitled to more than two senators;
a quorum of the body is to consist of sixteen members. The joint
result of these circumstances would be, that a temporary
combination of a few States to intermit the appointment of
senators, could neither annul the existence nor impair the
activity of the body; and it is not from a general and permanent
combination of the States that we can have any thing to fear. The
first might proceed from sinister designs in the leading members
of a few of the State legislatures; the last would suppose a
fixed and rooted disaffection in the great body of the people,
which will either never exist at all, or will, in all
probability, proceed from an experience of the inaptitude of the
general government to the advancement of their happiness in which
event no good citizen could desire its continuance. But with
regard to the federal House of Representatives, there is intended
to be a general election of members once in two years. If the
State legislatures were to be invested with an exclusive power of
regulating these elections, every period of making them would be
a delicate crisis in the national situation, which might issue in
a dissolution of the Union, if the leaders of a few of the most
important States should have entered into a previous conspiracy
to prevent an election. I shall not deny, that there is a degree
of weight in the observation, that the interests of each State,
to be represented in the federal councils, will be a security
against the abuse of a power over its elections in the hands of
the State legislatures. But the security will not be considered
as complete, by those who attend to the force of an obvious
distinction between the interest of the people in the public
felicity, and the interest of their local rulers in the power and
consequence of their offices. The people of America may be
warmly attached to the government of the Union, at times when the
particular rulers of particular States, stimulated by the natural
rivalship of power, and by the hopes of personal aggrandizement,
and supported by a strong faction in each of those States, may be
in a very opposite temper. This diversity of sentiment between a
majority of the people, and the individuals who have the
greatest credit in their councils, is exemplified in some of the
States at the present moment, on the present question. The
scheme of separate confederacies, which will always nultiply the
chances of ambition, will be a never failing bait to all such
influential characters in the State administrations as are
capable of preferring their own emolument and advancement to the
public weal. With so effectual a weapon in their hands as the
exclusive power of regulating elections for the national
government, a combination of a few such men, in a few of the most
considerable States, where the temptation will always be the
strongest, might accomplish the destruction of the Union, by
seizing the opportunity of some casual dissatisfaction among the
people (and which perhaps they may themselves have excited), to
discontinue the choice of members for the federal House of
Representatives. It ought never to be forgotten, that a firm
union of this country, under an efficient government, will
probably be an increasing object of jealousy to more than one
nation of Europe; and that enterprises to subvert it will
sometimes originate in the intrigues of foreign powers, and will
seldom fail to be patronized and abetted by some of them. Its
preservation, therefore ought in no case that can be avoided, to
be committed to the guardianship of any but those whose situation
will uniformly beget an immediate interest in the faithful and
vigilant performance of the trust. PUBLIUS. Ist clause, 4th
section, of the Ist article. 


The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning the Power of Congress to Regulate the Election of 
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, February 26, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
WE HAVE seen, that an uncontrollable power over the elections to 
the federal government could not, without hazard, be committed to 
the State legislatures. Let us now see, what would be the danger
on  the other side; that is, from confiding the ultimate right of 
regulating its own elections to the Union itself. It is not 
pretended, that this right would ever be used for the exclusion
of  any State from its share in the representation. The interest
of all  would, in this respect at least, be the security of all.
But it is  alleged, that it might be employed in such a manner as
to promote  the election of some favorite class of men in
exclusion of others,  by confining the places of election to
particular districts, and  rendering it impracticable to the
citizens at large to partake in  the choice. Of all chimerical
suppositions, this seems to be the  most chimerical. On the one
hand, no rational calculation of  probabilities would lead us to
imagine that the disposition which a  conduct so violent and
extraordinary would imply, could ever find  its way into the
national councils; and on the other, it may be  concluded with
certainty, that if so improper a spirit should ever  gain
admittance into them, it would display itself in a form 
altogether different and far more decisive.
The improbability of the attempt may be satisfactorily inferred 
from this single reflection, that it could never be made without 
causing an immediate revolt of the great body of the people,
headed  and directed by the State governments. It is not
difficult to  conceive that this characteristic right of freedom
may, in certain  turbulent and factious seasons, be violated, in
respect to a  particular class of citizens, by a victorious and
overbearing  majority; but that so fundamental a privilege, in a
country so  situated and enlightened, should be invaded to the
prejudice of the  great mass of the people, by the deliberate
policy of the
government, without occasioning a popular revolution, is
altogether  inconceivable and incredible.
In addition to this general reflection, there are considerations 
of a more precise nature, which forbid all apprehension on the 
subject. The dissimilarity in the ingredients which will compose 
the national government, and  still more in the manner in which
they  will be brought into action in its various branches, must
form a  powerful obstacle to a concert of views in any partial
scheme of  elections. There is sufficient diversity in the state
of property,  in the genius, manners, and habits of the people of
the different  parts of the Union, to occasion a material
diversity of disposition  in their representatives towards the
different ranks and conditions  in society. And though an
intimate intercourse under the same  government will promote a
gradual assimilation in some of these  respects, yet there are
causes, as well physical as moral, which  may, in a greater or
less degree, permanently nourish different  propensities and
inclinations in this respect. But the circumstance  which will be
likely to have the greatest influence in the matter,  will be the
dissimilar modes of constituting the several component  parts of
the government. The House of Representatives being to be  elected
immediately by the people, the Senate by the State  legislatures,
the President by electors chosen for that purpose by  the people,
there would be little probability of a common interest  to cement
these different branches in a predilection for any  particular
class of electors.
As to the Senate, it is impossible that any regulation of ``time 
and manner,'' which is all that is proposed to be submitted to
the  national government in respect to that body, can affect the
spirit  which will direct the choice of its members. The
collective sense  of the State legislatures can never be
influenced by extraneous  circumstances of that sort; a
consideration which alone ought to  satisfy us that the
discrimination apprehended would never be  attempted. For what
inducement could the Senate have to concur in a  preference in
which itself would not be included? Or to what  purpose would it
be established, in reference to one branch of the  legislature,
if it could not be extended to the other? The  composition of the
one would in this case counteract that of the  other. And we can
never suppose that it would embrace the
appointments to the Senate, unless we can at the same time
suppose  the voluntary co-operation of the State legislatures. If
we make  the latter supposition, it then becomes immaterial where
the power  in question is placed whether in their hands or in
those of the  Union.
But what is to be the object of this capricious partiality in 
the national councils? Is it to be exercised in a discrimination 
between the different departments of industry, or between the 
different kinds of property, or between the different degrees of 
property? Will it lean in favor of the landed interest, or the 
moneyed interest, or the mercantile interest, or the
manufacturing  interest? Or, to speak in the fashionable language
of the
adversaries to the Constitution, will it court the elevation of 
``the wealthy and the well-born,'' to the exclusion and
debasement  of all the rest of the society?
If this partiality is to be exerted in favor of those who are 
concerned in any particular description of industry or property,
I  presume it will readily be admitted, that the competition for
it  will lie between landed men and merchants. And I scruple not
to  affirm, that it is infinitely less likely that either of them
should  gain an ascendant in the national councils, than that the
one or the  other of them should predominate in all the local
councils. The  inference will be, that a conduct tending to give
an undue  preference to either is much less to be dreaded from
the former than  from the latter.
The several States are in various degrees addicted to
agriculture and commerce. In most, if not all of them,
agriculture  is predominant. In a few of them, however, commerce
nearly divides  its empire, and in most of them has a
considerable share of  influence. In proportion as either
prevails, it will be conveyed  into the national representation;
and for the very reason, that  this will be an emanation from a
greater variety of interests, and  in much more various
proportions, than are to be found in any single  State, it will
be much less apt to espouse either of them with a  decided
partiality, than the representation of any single State. In a
country consisting chiefly of the cultivators of land,  where the
rules of an equal representation obtain, the landed  interest
must, upon the whole, preponderate in the government. As  long as
this interest prevails in most of the State legislatures, so 
long it must maintain a correspondent superiority in the national 
Senate, which will generally be a faithful copy of the majorities
of  those assemblies. It cannot therefore be presumed, that a
sacrifice  of the landed to the mercantile class will ever be a
favorite object  of this branch of the federal legislature. In
applying thus  particularly to the Senate a general observation
suggested by the  situation of the country, I am governed by the
consideration, that  the credulous votaries of State power
cannot, upon their own  principles, suspect, that the State
legislatures would be warped  from their duty by any external
influence. But in reality the same  situation must have the same
effect, in the primative composition at  least of the federal
House of Representatives: an improper bias  towards the
mercantile class is as little to be expected from this  quarter
as from the other.
In order, perhaps, to give countenance to the objection at any 
rate, it may be asked, is there not danger of an opposite bias in 
the national government, which may dispose it to endeavor to
secure  a monopoly of the federal administration to the landed
class? As  there is little likelihood that the supposition of
such a bias will  have any terrors for those who would be
immediately injured by it, a  labored answer to this question
will be dispensed with. It will be  sufficient to remark, first,
that for the reasons elsewhere  assigned, it is less likely that
any decided partiality should  prevail in the councils of the
Union than in those of any of its  members. Secondly, that there
would be no temptation to violate the  Constitution in favor of
the landed class, because that class would,  in the natural
course of things, enjoy as great a preponderancy as  itself could
desire. And thirdly, that men accustomed to
investigate the sources of public prosperity upon a large scale, 
must be too well convinced of the utility of commerce, to be 
inclined to inflict upon it so deep a wound as would result from
the  entire exclusion of those who would best understand its
interest  from a share in the management of them. The importance
of commerce,  in the view of revenue alone, must effectually
guard it against the  enmity of a body which would be continually
importuned in its favor,  by the urgent calls of public
I the rather consult brevity in discussing the probability of a 
preference founded upon a discrimination between the different
kinds  of industry and property, because, as far as I understand
the  meaning of the objectors, they contemplate a discrimination
of  another kind. They appear to have in view, as the objects of
the  preference with which they endeavor to alarm us, those whom
they  designate by the description of ``the wealthy and the well-
born.''  These, it seems, are to be exalted to an odious pre-
eminence over  the rest of their fellow-citizens. At one time,
however, their  elevation is to be a necessary consequence of the
smallness of the  representative body; at another time it is to
be effected by  depriving the people at large of the opportunity
of exercising their  right of suffrage in the choice of that
But upon what principle is the discrimination of the places of 
election to be made, in order to answer the purpose of the
meditated  preference? Are ``the wealthy and the well-born,'' as
they are  called, confined to particular spots in the several
States? Have  they, by some miraculous instinct or foresight, set
apart in each of  them a common place of residence? Are they only
to be met with in  the towns or cities? Or are they, on the
contrary, scattered over  the face of the country as avarice or
chance may have happened to  cast their own lot or that of their
predecessors? If the latter is  the case, (as every intelligent
man knows it to be,1) is it not  evident that the policy of
confining the places of election to  particular districts would
be as subversive of its own aim as it  would be exceptionable on
every other account? The truth is, that  there is no method of
securing to the rich the preference
apprehended, but by prescribing qualifications of property
either  for those who may elect or be elected. But this forms no
part of  the power to be conferred upon the national government.
Its  authority would be expressly restricted to the regulation of
the  TIMES, the PLACES, the MANNER of elections. The
qualifications of  the persons who may choose or be chosen, as
has been remarked upon  other occasions, are defined and fixed in
the Constitution, and are  unalterable by the legislature.
Let it, however, be admitted, for argument sake, that the
expedient suggested might be successful; and let it at the same 
time be equally taken for granted that all the scruples which a 
sense of duty or an apprehension of the danger of the experiment 
might inspire, were overcome in the breasts of the national
rulers,  still I imagine it will hardly be pretended that they
could ever  hope to carry such an enterprise into execution
without the aid of a  military force sufficient to subdue the
resistance of the great body  of the people. The improbability of
the existence of a force equal  to that object has been discussed
and demonstrated in different  parts of these papers; but that
the futility of the objection under  consideration may appear in
the strongest light, it shall be  conceded for a moment that such
a force might exist, and the  national government shall be
supposed to be in the actual possession  of it. What will be the
conclusion? With a disposition to invade  the essential rights of
the community, and with the means of  gratifying that
disposition, is it presumable that the persons who  were actuated
by it would amuse themselves in the ridiculous task of 
fabricating election laws for securing a preference to a favorite 
class of men? Would they not be likely to prefer a conduct better 
adapted to their own immediate aggrandizement? Would they not 
rather boldly resolve to perpetuate themselves in office by one 
decisive act of usurpation, than to trust to precarious
expedients  which, in spite of all the precautions that might
accompany them,  might terminate in the dismission, disgrace, and
ruin of their  authors? Would they not fear that citizens, not
less tenacious than  conscious of their rights, would flock from
the remote extremes of  their respective States to the places of
election, to voerthrow  their tyrants, and to substitute men who
would be disposed to avenge  the violated majesty of the people?
1 Particularly in the Southern States and in this State.


The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning the Power of Congress to Regulate the Election of 
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, February 26, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE more candid opposers of the provision respecting elections, 
contained in the plan of the convention, when pressed in
argument,  will sometimes concede the propriety of that
provision; with this  qualification, however, that it ought to
have been accompanied with  a declaration, that all elections
should be had in the counties  where the electors resided. This,
say they, was a necessary  precaution against an abuse of the
power. A declaration of this  nature would certainly have been
harmless; so far as it would have  had the effect of quieting
apprehensions, it might not have been  undesirable. But it would,
in fact, have afforded little or no  additional security against
the danger apprehended; and the want of  it will never be
considered, by an impartial and judicious examiner,  as a
serious, still less as an insuperable, objection to the plan. 
The different views taken of the subject in the two preceding 
papers must be sufficient to satisfy all dispassionate and 
discerning men, that if the public liberty should ever be the
victim  of the ambition of the national rulers, the power under
examination,  at least, will be guiltless of the sacrifice.
If those who are inclined to consult their jealousy only, would 
exercise it in a careful inspection of the several State
constitutions, they would find little less room for disquietude
and  alarm, from the latitude which most of them allow in respect
to  elections, than from the latitude which is proposed to be
allowed to  the national government in the same respect. A review
of their  situation, in this particular, would tend greatly to
remove any ill  impressions which may remain in regard to this
matter. But as that  view would lead into long and tedious
details, I shall content  myself with the single example of the
State in which I write. The  constitution of New York makes no
other provision for LOCALITY of  elections, than that the members
of the Assembly shall be elected in  the COUNTIES; those of the
Senate, in the great districts into  which the State is or may be
divided: these at present are four in  number, and comprehend
each from two to six counties. It may  readily be perceived that
it would not be more difficult to the  legislature of New York to
defeat the suffrages of the citizens of  New York, by confining
elections to particular places, than for the  legislature of the
United States to defeat the suffrages of the  citizens of the
Union, by the like expedient. Suppose, for  instance, the city of
Albany was to be appointed the sole place of  election for the
county and district of which it is a part, would  not the
inhabitants of that city speedily become the only electors  of
the members both of the Senate and Assembly for that county and 
district? Can we imagine that the electors who reside in the
remote  subdivisions of the counties of Albany, Saratoga,
Cambridge, etc.,  or in any part of the county of Montgomery,
would take the trouble  to come to the city of Albany, to give
their votes for members of  the Assembly or Senate, sooner than
they would repair to the city of  New York, to participate in the
choice of the members of the federal  House of Representatives?
The alarming indifference discoverable in  the exercise of so
invaluable a privilege under the existing laws,  which afford
every facility to it, furnishes a ready answer to this  question.
And, abstracted from any experience on the subject, we  can be at
no loss to determine, that when the place of election is  at an
INCONVENIENT DISTANCE from the elector, the effect upon his 
conduct will be the same whether that distance be twenty miles or 
twenty thousand miles. Hence it must appear, that objections to
the  particular modification of the federal power of regulating
elections  will, in substance, apply with equal force to the
modification of  the like power in the constitution of this
State; and for this  reason it will be impossible to acquit the
one, and to condemn the  other. A similar comparison would lead
to the same conclusion in  respect to the constitutions of most
of the other States.
If it should be said that defects in the State constitutions 
furnish no apology for those which are to be found in the plan 
proposed, I answer, that as the former have never been thought 
chargeable with inattention to the security of liberty, where the 
imputations thrown on the latter can be shown to be applicable to 
them also, the presumption is that they are rather the cavilling 
refinements of a predetermined opposition, than the well-founded 
inferences of a candid research after truth. To those who are 
disposed to consider, as innocent omissions in the State
constitutions, what they regard as unpardonable blemishes in the 
plan of the convention, nothing can be said; or at most, they can 
only be asked to assign some substantial reason why the
representatives of the people in a single State should be more 
impregnable to the lust of power, or other sinister motives, than 
the representatives of the people of the United States? If they 
cannot do this, they ought at least to prove to us that it is
easier  to subvert the liberties of three millions of people,
with the  advantage of local governments to head their
opposition, than of two  hundred thousand people who are
destitute of that advantage. And in  relation to the point
immediately under consideration, they ought to  convince us that
it is less probable that a predominant faction in a  single State
should, in order to maintain its superiority, incline  to a
preference of a particular class of electors, than that a 
similar spirit should take possession of the representatives of 
thirteen States, spread over a vast region, and in several
respects  distinguishable from each other by a diversity of local
circumstances, prejudices, and interests.
Hitherto my observations have only aimed at a vindication of the 
provision in question, on the ground of theoretic propriety, on
that  of the danger of placing the power elsewhere, and on that
of the  safety of placing it in the manner proposed. But there
remains to  be mentioned a positive advantage which will result
from this  disposition, and which could not as well have been
obtained from any  other: I allude to the circumstance of
uniformity in the time of  elections for the federal House of
Representatives. It is more than  possible that this uniformity
may be found by experience to be of  great importance to the
public welfare, both as a security against  the perpetuation of
the same spirit in the body, and as a cure for  the diseases of
faction. If each State may choose its own time of  election, it
is possible there may be at least as many different  periods as
there are months in the year. The times of election in  the
several States, as they are now established for local purposes, 
vary between extremes as wide as March and November. The
consequence of this diversity would be that there could never
happen  a total dissolution or renovation of the body at one
time. If an  improper spirit of any kind should happen to prevail
in it, that  spirit would be apt to infuse itself into the new
members, as they  come forward in succession. The mass would be
likely to remain  nearly the same, assimilating constantly to
itself its gradual  accretions. There is a contagion in example
which few men have  sufficient force of mind to resist. I am
inclined to think that  treble the duration in office, with the
condition of a total  dissolution of the body at the same time,
might be less formidable  to liberty than one third of that
duration subject to gradual and  successive alterations.
Uniformity in the time of elections seems not less requisite for 
executing the idea of a regular rotation in the Senate, and for 
conveniently assembling the legislature at a stated period in
each  year.
It may be asked, Why, then, could not a time have been fixed in 
the Constitution? As the most zealous adversaries of the plan of 
the convention in this State are, in general, not less zealous 
admirers of the constitution of the State, the question may be 
retorted, and it may be asked, Why was not a time for the like 
purpose fixed in the constitution of this State? No better answer 
can be given than that it was a matter which might safely be 
entrusted to legislative discretion; and that if a time had been 
appointed, it might, upon experiment, have been found less 
convenient than some other time. The same answer may be given to 
the question put on the other side. And it may be added that the 
supposed danger of a gradual change being merely speculative, it 
would have been hardly advisable upon that speculation to
establish,  as a fundamental point, what would deprive several
States of the  convenience of having the elections for their own
governments and  for the national government at the same epochs.


The Senate
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
HAVING examined the constitution of the House of
Representatives, and answered such of the objections against it
as  seemed to merit notice, I enter next on the examination of
the  Senate.
The heads into which this member of the government may be
considered are: I. The qualification of senators; II. The
appointment of them by the State legislatures; III. The equality
of  representation in the Senate; IV. The number of senators, and
the  term for which they are to be elected; V. The powers vested
in the  Senate.
I. The qualifications proposed for senators, as distinguished 
from those of representatives, consist in a more advanced age and
a  longer period of citizenship. A senator must be thirty years
of age  at least; as a representative must be twenty-five. And
the former  must have been a citizen nine years; as seven years
are required  for the latter. The propriety of these distinctions
is explained by  the nature of the senatorial trust, which,
requiring greater extent  of information and tability of
character, requires at the same time  that the senator should
have reached a period of life most likely to  supply these
advantages; and which, participating immediately in  transactions
with foreign nations, ought to be exercised by none who  are not
thoroughly weaned from the prepossessions and habits  incident to
foreign birth and education. The term of nine years  appears to
be a prudent mediocrity between a total exclusion of  adopted
citizens, whose merits and talents may claim a share in the 
public confidence, and an indiscriminate and hasty admission of 
them, which might create a channel for foreign influence on the 
national councils.
II. It is equally unnecessary to dilate on the appointment of 
senators by the State legislatures. Among the various modes which 
might have been devised for constituting this branch of the 
government, that which has been proposed by the convention is 
probably the most congenial with the public opinion. It is 
recommended by the double advantage of favoring a select
appointment, and of giving to the State governments such an
agency  in the formation of the federal government as must secure
the  authority of the former, and may form a convenient link
between the  two systems.
III. The equality of representation in the Senate is another 
point, which, being evidently the result of compromise between
the  opposite pretensions of the large and the small States, does
not  call for much discussion. If indeed it be right, that among
a  people thoroughly incorporated into one nation, every district
ought  to have a PROPORTIONAL share in the government, and that
among  independent and sovereign States, bound together by a
simple league,  the parties, however unequal in size, ought to
have an EQUAL share  in the common councils, it does not appear
to be without some reason  that in a compound republic, partaking
both of the national and  federal character, the government ought
to be founded on a mixture  of the principles of proportional and
equal representation. But it  is superfluous to try, by the
standard of theory, a part of the  Constitution which is allowed
on all hands to be the result, not of  theory, but ``of a spirit
of amity, and that mutual deference and  concession which the
peculiarity of our political situation rendered  indispensable.''
A common government, with powers equal to its  objects, is called
for by the voice, and still more loudly by the  political
situation, of America. A government founded on principles  more
consonant to the wishes of the larger States, is not likely to 
be obtained from the smaller States. The only option, then, for
the  former, lies between the proposed government and a
government still  more objectionable. Under this alternative, the
advice of prudence  must be to embrace the lesser evil; and,
instead of indulging a  fruitless anticipation of the possible
mischiefs which may ensue, to  contemplate rather the
advantageous consequences which may qualify  the sacrifice.
In this spirit it may be remarked, that the equal vote allowed 
to each State is at once a constitutional recognition of the
portion  of sovereignty remaining in the individual States, and
an instrument  for preserving that residuary sovereignty. So far
the equality  ought to be no less acceptable to the large than to
the small  States; since they are not less solicitous to guard,
by every  possible expedient, against an improper consolidation
of the States  into one simple republic.
Another advantage accruing from this ingredient in the
constitution of the Senate is, the additional impediment it must 
prove against improper acts of legislation. No law or resolution 
can now be passed without the concurrence, first, of a majority
of  the people, and then, of a majority of the States. It must be 
acknowledged that this complicated check on legislation may in
some  instances be injurious as well as beneficial; and that the
peculiar  defense which it involves in favor of the smaller
States, would be  more rational, if any interests common to them,
and distinct from  those of the other States, would otherwise be
exposed to peculiar  danger. But as the larger States will always
be able, by their  power over the supplies, to defeat
unreasonable exertions of this  prerogative of the lesser States,
and as the faculty and excess of  law-making seem to be the
diseases to which our governments are most  liable, it is not
impossible that this part of the Constitution may  be more
convenient in practice than it appears to many in
IV. The number of senators, and the duration of their
appointment, come next to be considered. In order to form an 
accurate judgment on both of these points, it will be proper to 
inquire into the purposes which are to be answered by a senate;
and  in order to ascertain these, it will be necessary to review
the  inconveniences which a republic must suffer from the want of
such an  institution.
First. It is a misfortune incident to republican
government, though in a less degree than to other governments,
that  those who administer it may forget their obligations to
their  constituents, and prove unfaithful to their important
trust. In  this point of view, a senate, as a second branch of
the legislative  assembly, distinct from, and dividing the power
with, a first, must  be in all cases a salutary check on the
government. It doubles the  security to the people, by requiring
the concurrence of two distinct  bodies in schemes of usurpation
or perfidy, where the ambition or  corruption of one would
otherwise be sufficient. This is a  precaution founded on such
clear principles, and now so well  understood in the United
States, that it would be more than  superfluous to enlarge on it.
I will barely remark, that as the  improbability of sinister
combinations will be in proportion to the  dissimilarity in the
genius of the two bodies, it must be politic to  distinguish them
from each other by every circumstance which will  consist with a
due harmony in all proper measures, and with the  genuine
principles of republican government.
Secondly. The necessity of a senate is not less indicated
by the propensity of all single and numerous assemblies to yield
to  the impulse of sudden and violent passions, and to be seduced
by  factious leaders into intemperate and pernicious resolutions. 
Examples on this subject might be cited without number; and from 
proceedings within the United States, as well as from the history
of  other nations. But a position that will not be contradicted,
need  not be proved. All that need be remarked is, that a body
which is  to correct this infirmity ought itself to be free from
it, and  consequently ought to be less numerous. It ought,
moreover, to  possess great firmness, and consequently ought to
hold its authority  by a tenure of considerable duration.
Thirdly. Another defect to be supplied by a senate lies in
a want of due acquaintance with the objects and principles of 
legislation. It is not possible that an assembly of men called
for  the most part from pursuits of a private nature, continued
in  appointment for a short time, and led by no permanent motive
to  devote the intervals of public occupation to a study of the
laws,  the affairs, and the comprehensive interests of their
country,  should, if left wholly to themselves, escape a variety
of important  errors in the exercise of their legislative trust.
It may be  affirmed, on the best grounds, that no small share of
the present  embarrassments of America is to be charged on the
blunders of our  governments; and that these have proceeded from
the heads rather  than the hearts of most of the authors of them.
What indeed are all  the repealing, explaining, and amending
laws, which fill and  disgrace our voluminous codes, but so many
monuments of deficient  wisdom; so many impeachments exhibited by
each succeeding against  each preceding session; so many
admonitions to the people, of the  value of those aids which may
be expected from a well-constituted  senate?
A good government implies two things: first, fidelity to the 
object of government, which is the happiness of the people; 
secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be
best  attained. Some governments are deficient in both these
qualities;  most governments are deficient in the first. I
scruple not to  assert, that in American governments too little
attention has been  paid to the last. The federal Constitution
avoids this error; and  what merits particular notice, it
provides for the last in a mode  which increases the security for
the first.
Fourthly. The mutability in the public councils arising
from a rapid succession of new members, however qualified they
may  be, points out, in the strongest manner, the necessity of
some  stable institution in the government. Every new election in
the  States is found to change one half of the representatives.
From  this change of men must proceed a change of opinions; and
from a  change of opinions, a change of measures. But a continual
change  even of good measures is inconsistent with every rule of
prudence  and every prospect of success. The remark is verified
in private  life, and becomes more just, as well as more
important, in national  transactions.
To trace the mischievous effects of a mutable government would 
fill a volume. I will hint a few only, each of which will be 
perceived to be a source of innumerable others.
In the first place, it forfeits the respect and confidence of 
other nations, and all the advantages connected with national 
character. An individual who is observed to be inconstant to his 
plans, or perhaps to carry on his affairs without any plan at
all,  is marked at once, by all prudent people, as a speedy
victim to his  own unsteadiness and folly. His more friendly
neighbors may pity  him, but all will decline to connect their
fortunes with his; and  not a few will seize the opportunity of
making their fortunes out of  his. One nation is to another what
one individual is to another;  with this melancholy distinction
perhaps, that the former, with  fewer of the benevolent emotions
than the latter, are under fewer  restraints also from taking
undue advantage from the indiscretions  of each other. Every
nation, consequently, whose affairs betray a  want of wisdom and
stability, may calculate on every loss which can  be sustained
from the more systematic policy of their wiser  neighbors. But
the best instruction on this subject is unhappily  conveyed to
America by the example of her own situation. She finds  that she
is held in no respect by her friends; that she is the  derision
of her enemies; and that she is a prey to every nation  which has
an interest in speculating on her fluctuating councils and 
embarrassed affairs.
The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more
calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will
be  of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men
of  their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they
cannot be  read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood;
if they be  repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or
undergo such  incessant changes that no man, who knows what the
law is to-day, can  guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is
defined to be a rule of  action; but how can that be a rule,
which is little known, and less  fixed?
Another effect of public instability is the unreasonable
advantage it gives to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the 
moneyed few over the industrious and uniformed mass of the
people.  Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or
in any way  affecting the value of the different species of
property, presents a  new harvest to those who watch the change,
and can trace its  consequences; a harvest, reared not by
themselves, but by the toils  and cares of the great body of
their fellow-citizens. This is a  state of things in which it may
be said with some truth that laws  are made for the FEW, not for
the MANY.
In another point of view, great injury results from an unstable 
government. The want of confidence in the public councils damps 
every useful undertaking, the success and profit of which may
depend  on a continuance of existing arrangements. What prudent
merchant  will hazard his fortunes in any new branch of commerce
when he knows  not but that his plans may be rendered unlawful
before they can be  executed? What farmer or manufacturer will
lay himself out for the  encouragement given to any particular
cultivation or establishment,  when he can have no assurance that
his preparatory labors and  advances will not render him a victim
to an inconstant government?  In a word, no great improvement or
laudable enterprise can go  forward which requires the auspices
of a steady system of national  policy.
But the most deplorable effect of all is that diminution of 
attachment and reverence which steals into the hearts of the
people,  towards a political system which betrays so many marks
of infirmity,  and disappoints so many of their flattering hopes.
No government,  any more than an individual, will long be
respected without being  truly respectable; nor be truly
respectable, without possessing a  certain portion of order and


The Senate Continued
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
A FIFTH desideratum, illustrating the utility of a senate, is 
the want of a due sense of national character. Without a select
and  stable member of the government, the esteem of foreign
powers will  not only be forfeited by an unenlightened and
variable policy,  proceeding from the causes already mentioned,
but the national  councils will not possess that sensibility to
the opinion of the  world, which is perhaps not less necessary in
order to merit, than  it is to obtain, its respect and
An attention to the judgment of other nations is important to 
every government for two reasons: the one is, that, independently 
of the merits of any particular plan or measure, it is desirable,
on  various accounts, that it should appear to other nations as
the  offspring of a wise and honorable policy; the second is,
that in  doubtful cases, particularly where the national councils
may be  warped by some strong passion or momentary interest, the
presumed or  known opinion of the impartial world may be the best
guide that can  be followed. What has not America lost by her
want of character  with foreign nations; and how many errors and
follies would she not  have avoided, if the justice and propriety
of her measures had, in  every instance, been previously tried by
the light in which they  would probably appear to the unbiased
part of mankind?
Yet however requisite a sense of national character may be, it 
is evident that it can never be sufficiently possessed by a
numerous  and changeable body. It can only be found in a number
so small that  a sensible degree of the praise and blame of
public measures may be  the portion of each individual; or in an
assembly so durably  invested with public trust, that the pride
and consequence of its  members may be sensibly incorporated with
the reputation and  prosperity of the community. The half-yearly
representatives of  Rhode Island would probably have been little
affected in their  deliberations on the iniquitous measures of
that State, by arguments  drawn from the light in which such
measures would be viewed by  foreign nations, or even by the
sister States; whilst it can  scarcely be doubted that if the
concurrence of a select and stable  body had been necessary, a
regard to national character alone would  have prevented the
calamities under which that misguided people is  now laboring.
I add, as a SIXTH defect the want, in some important cases, of a 
due responsibility in the government to the people, arising from 
that frequency of elections which in other cases produces this 
responsibility. This remark will, perhaps, appear not only new,
but  paradoxical. It must nevertheless be acknowledged, when
explained,  to be as undeniable as it is important.
Responsibility, in order to be reasonable, must be limited to 
objects within the power of the responsible party, and in order
to  be effectual, must relate to operations of that power, of
which a  ready and proper judgment can be formed by the
constituents. The  objects of government may be divided into two
general classes: the  one depending on measures which have singly
an immediate and  sensible operation; the other depending on a
succession of  well-chosen and well-connected measures, which
have a gradual and  perhaps unobserved operation. The importance
of the latter  description to the collective and permanent
welfare of every  country, needs no explanation. And yet it is
evident that an  assembly elected for so short a term as to be
unable to provide more  than one or two links in a chain of
measures, on which the general  welfare may essentially depend,
ought not to be answerable for the  final result, any more than a
steward or tenant, engaged for one  year, could be justly made to
answer for places or improvements  which could not be
accomplished in less than half a dozen years.  Nor is it possible
for the people to estimate the SHARE of  influence which their
annual assemblies may respectively have on  events resulting from
the mixed transactions of several years. It  is sufficiently
difficult to preserve a personal responsibility in  the members
of a NUMEROUS body, for such acts of the body as have an 
immediate, detached, and palpable operation on its constituents.
The proper remedy for this defect must be an additional body in 
the legislative department, which, having sufficient permanency
to  provide for such objects as require a continued attention,
and a  train of measures, may be justly and effectually
answerable for the  attainment of those objects.
Thus far I have considered the circumstances which point out the 
necessity of a well-constructed Senate only as they relate to the 
representatives of the people. To a people as little blinded by 
prejudice or corrupted by flattery as those whom I address, I
shall  not scruple to add, that such an institution may be
sometimes  necessary as a defense to the people against their own
temporary  errors and delusions. As the cool and deliberate sense
of the  community ought, in all governments, and actually will,
in all free  governments, ultimately prevail over the views of
its rulers; so  there are particular moments in public affairs
when the people,  stimulated by some irregular passion, or some
illicit advantage, or  misled by the artful misrepresentations of
interested men, may call  for measures which they themselves will
afterwards be the most ready  to lament and condemn. In these
critical moments, how salutary will  be the interference of some
temperate and respectable body of  citizens, in order to check
the misguided career, and to suspend the  blow meditated by the
people against themselves, until reason,  justice, and truth can
regain their authority over the public mind?  What bitter anguish
would not the people of Athens have often  escaped if their
government had contained so provident a safeguard  against the
tyranny of their own passions? Popular liberty might  then have
escaped the indelible reproach of decreeing to the same  citizens
the hemlock on one day and statues on the next.
It may be suggested, that a people spread over an extensive 
region cannot, like the crowded inhabitants of a small district,
be  subject to the infection of violent passions, or to the
danger of  combining in pursuit of unjust measures. I am far from
denying that  this is a distinction of peculiar importance. I
have, on the  contrary, endeavored in a former paper to show,
that it is one of  the principal recommendations of a
confederated republic. At the  same time, this advantage ought
not to be considered as superseding  the use of auxiliary
precautions. It may even be remarked, that the  same extended
situation, which will exempt the people of America  from some of
the dangers incident to lesser republics, will expose  them to
the inconveniency of remaining for a longer time under the 
influence of those misrepresentations which the combined industry
of  interested men may succeed in distributing among them.
It adds no small weight to all these considerations, to
recollect that history informs us of no long-lived republic
which  had not a senate. Sparta, Rome, and Carthage are, in fact,
the only  states to whom that character can be applied. In each
of the two  first there was a senate for life. The constitution
of the senate  in the last is less known. Circumstantial evidence
makes it  probable that it was not different in this particular
from the two  others. It is at least certain, that it had some
quality or other  which rendered it an anchor against popular
fluctuations; and that  a smaller council, drawn out of the
senate, was appointed not only  for life, but filled up vacancies
itself. These examples, though as  unfit for the imitation, as
they are repugnant to the genius, of  America, are,
notwithstanding, when compared with the fugitive and  turbulent
existence of other ancient republics, very instructive  proofs of
the necessity of some institution that will blend  stability with
liberty. I am not unaware of the circumstances which  distinguish
the American from other popular governments, as well  ancient as
modern; and which render extreme circumspection  necessary, in
reasoning from the one case to the other. But after  allowing due
weight to this consideration, it may still be  maintained, that
there are many points of similitude which render  these examples
not unworthy of our attention. Many of the defects,  as we have
seen, which can only be supplied by a senatorial  institution,
are common to a numerous assembly frequently elected by  the
people, and to the people themselves. There are others peculiar 
to the former, which require the control of such an institution. 
The people can never wilfully betray their own interests; but
they  may possibly be betrayed by the representatives of the
people; and  the danger will be evidently greater where the whole
legislative  trust is lodged in the hands of one body of men,
than where the  concurrence of separate and dissimilar bodies is
required in every  public act.
The difference most relied on, between the American and other 
republics, consists in the principle of representation; which is 
the pivot on which the former move, and which is supposed to have 
been unknown to the latter, or at least to the ancient part of
them.  The use which has been made of this difference, in
reasonings  contained in former papers, will have shown that I am
disposed  neither to deny its existence nor to undervalue its
importance. I  feel the less restraint, therefore, in observing,
that the position  concerning the ignorance of the ancient
governments on the subject  of representation, is by no means
precisely true in the latitude  commonly given to it. Without
entering into a disquisition which  here would be misplaced, I
will refer to a few known facts, in  support of what I advance.
In the most pure democracies of Greece, many of the executive 
functions were performed, not by the people themselves, but by 
officers elected by the people, and REPRESENTING the people in
their  EXECUTIVE capacity.
Prior to the reform of Solon, Athens was governed by nine
Archons, annually ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE AT LARGE. The degree of 
power delegated to them seems to be left in great obscurity. 
Subsequent to that period, we find an assembly, first of four,
and  afterwards of six hundred members, annually ELECTED BY THE
PEOPLE;  and PARTIALLY representing them in their LEGISLATIVE
capacity,  since they were not only associated with the people in
the function  of making laws, but had the exclusive right of
originating  legislative propositions to the people. The senate
of Carthage,  also, whatever might be its power, or the duration
of its
appointment, appears to have been ELECTIVE by the suffrages of
the  people. Similar instances might be traced in most, if not
all the  popular governments of antiquity.
Lastly, in Sparta we meet with the Ephori, and in Rome with the 
Tribunes; two bodies, small indeed in numbers, but annually
REPRESENTATIVES of the people, almost in their PLENIPOTENTIARY 
capacity. The Cosmi of Crete were also annually ELECTED BY THE 
PEOPLE, and have been considered by some authors as an
institution  analogous to those of Sparta and Rome, with this
difference only,  that in the election of that representative
body the right of  suffrage was communicated to a part only of
the people.
From these facts, to which many others might be added, it is 
clear that the principle of representation was neither unknown to 
the ancients nor wholly overlooked in their political
constitutions.  The true distinction between these and the
American governments,  lies IN THE TOTAL EXCLUSION OF THE PEOPLE,
IN THEIR COLLECTIVE  CAPACITY, from any share in the LATTER, and
from the
administration of the FORMER. The distinction, however, thus 
qualified, must be admitted to leave a most advantageous
superiority  in favor of the United States. But to insure to this
advantage its  full effect, we must be careful not to separate it
from the other  advantage, of an extensive territory. For it
cannot be believed,  that any form of representative government
could have succeeded  within the narrow limits occupied by the
democracies of Greece. In answer to all these arguments,
suggested by reason,
illustrated by examples, and enforced by our own experience, the 
jealous adversary of the Constitution will probably content
himself  with repeating, that a senate appointed not immediately
by the  people, and for the term of six years, must gradually
acquire a  dangerous pre-eminence in the government, and finally
transform it  into a tyrannical aristocracy.
To this general answer, the general reply ought to be
sufficient, that liberty may be endangered by the abuses of
liberty  as well as by the abuses of power; that there are
numerous  instances of the former as well as of the latter; and
that the  former, rather than the latter, are apparently most to
apprehended by the United States. But a more particular reply
may  be given.
Before such a revolution can be effected, the Senate, it is to 
be observed, must in the first place corrupt itself; must next 
corrupt the State legislatures; must then corrupt the House of 
Representatives; and must finally corrupt the people at large. It 
is evident that the Senate must be first corrupted before it can 
attempt an establishment of tyranny. Without corrupting the State 
legislatures, it cannot prosecute the attempt, because the 
periodical change of members would otherwise regenerate the whole 
body. Without exerting the means of corruption with equal success 
on the House of Representatives, the opposition of that coequal 
branch of the government would inevitably defeat the attempt; and 
without corrupting the people themselves, a succession of new 
representatives would speedily restore all things to their
pristine  order. Is there any man who can seriously persuade
himself that the  proposed Senate can, by any possible means
within the compass of  human address, arrive at the object of a
lawless ambition, through  all these obstructions?
If reason condemns the suspicion, the same sentence is
pronounced by experience. The constitution of Maryland furnishes 
the most apposite example. The Senate of that State is elected,
as  the federal Senate will be, indirectly by the people, and for
a term  less by one year only than the federal Senate. It is
distinguished,  also, by the remarkable prerogative of filling up
its own vacancies  within the term of its appointment, and, at
the same time, is not  under the control of any such rotation as
is provided for the  federal Senate. There are some other lesser
distinctions, which  would expose the former to colorable
objections, that do not lie  against the latter. If the federal
Senate, therefore, really  contained the danger which has been so
loudly proclaimed, some  symptoms at least of a like danger ought
by this time to have been  betrayed by the Senate of Maryland,
but no such symptoms have  appeared. On the contrary, the
jealousies at first entertained by  men of the same description
with those who view with terror the  correspondent part of the
federal Constitution, have been gradually  extinguished by the
progress of the experiment; and the Maryland  constitution is
daily deriving, from the salutary operation of this  part of it,
a reputation in which it will probably not be rivalled  by that
of any State in the Union.
But if any thing could silence the jealousies on this subject, 
it ought to be the British example. The Senate there instead of 
being elected for a term of six years, and of being unconfined to 
particular families or fortunes, is an hereditary assembly of 
opulent nobles. The House of Representatives, instead of being 
elected for two years, and by the whole body of the people, is 
elected for seven years, and, in very great proportion, by a very 
small proportion of the people. Here, unquestionably, ought to be 
seen in full display the aristocratic usurpations and tyranny
which  are at some future period to be exemplified in the United
States.  Unfortunately, however, for the anti-federal argument,
the British  history informs us that this hereditary assembly has
not been able  to defend itself against the continual
encroachments of the House of  Representatives; and that it no
sooner lost the support of the  monarch, than it was actually
crushed by the weight of the popular  branch.
As far as antiquity can instruct us on this subject, its
examples support the reasoning which we have employed. In
Sparta,  the Ephori, the annual representatives of the people,
were found an  overmatch for the senate for life, continually
gained on its  authority and finally drew all power into their
own hands. The  Tribunes of Rome, who were the representatives of
the people,  prevailed, it is well known, in almost every contest
with the senate  for life, and in the end gained the most
complete triumph over it.  The fact is the more remarkable, as
unanimity was required in every  act of the Tribunes, even after
their number was augmented to ten.  It proves the irresistible
force possessed by that branch of a free  government, which has
the people on its side. To these examples  might be added that of
Carthage, whose senate, according to the  testimony of Polybius,
instead of drawing all power into its vortex,  had, at the
commencement of the second Punic War, lost almost the  whole of
its original portion.
Besides the conclusive evidence resulting from this assemblage 
of facts, that the federal Senate will never be able to transform 
itself, by gradual usurpations, into an independent and
aristocratic  body, we are warranted in believing, that if such a
revolution  should ever happen from causes which the foresight of
man cannot  guard against, the House of Representatives, with the
people on  their side, will at all times be able to bring back
the Constitution  to its primitive form and principles. Against
the force of the  immediate representatives of the people,
nothing will be able to  maintain even the constitutional
authority of the Senate, but such a  display of enlightened
policy, and attachment to the public good, as  will divide with
that branch of the legislature the affections and  support of the
entire body of the people themselves.


The Powers of the Senate
From the New York Packet.
Friday, March 7, 1788.

To the People of the State of New York:
IT IS a just and not a new observation, that enemies to
particular persons, and opponents to particular measures, seldom 
confine their censures to such things only in either as are
worthy  of blame. Unless on this principle, it is difficult to
explain the  motives of their conduct, who condemn the proposed
Constitution in  the aggregate, and treat with severity some of
the most
unexceptionable articles in it.
The second section gives power to the President, ``BY AND WITH 
The power of making treaties is an important one, especially as 
it relates to war, peace, and commerce; and it should not be 
delegated but in such a mode, and with such precautions, as will 
afford the highest security that it will be exercised by men the 
best qualified for the purpose, and in the manner most conducive
to  the public good. The convention appears to have been
attentive to  both these points: they have directed the President
to be chosen by  select bodies of electors, to be deputed by the
people for that  express purpose; and they have committed the
appointment of  senators to the State legislatures. This mode
has, in such cases,  vastly the advantage of elections by the
people in their collective  capacity, where the activity of party
zeal, taking the advantage of  the supineness, the ignorance, and
the hopes and fears of the unwary  and interested, often places
men in office by the votes of a small  proportion of the
As the select assemblies for choosing the President, as well as 
the State legislatures who appoint the senators, will in general
be  composed of the most enlightened and respectable citizens,
there is  reason to presume that their attention and their votes
will be  directed to those men only who have become the most
distinguished by  their abilities and virtue, and in whom the
people perceive just  grounds for confidence. The Constitution
manifests very particular  attention to this object. By excluding
men under thirty-five from  the first office, and those under
thirty from the second, it  confines the electors to men of whom
the people have had time to  form a judgment, and with respect to
whom they will not be liable to  be deceived by those brilliant
appearances of genius and patriotism,  which, like transient
meteors, sometimes mislead as well as dazzle.  If the observation
be well founded, that wise kings will always be  served by able
ministers, it is fair to argue, that as an assembly  of select
electors possess, in a greater degree than kings, the  means of
extensive and accurate information relative to men and 
characters, so will their appointments bear at least equal marks
of  discretion and discernment. The inference which naturally
results  from these considerations is this, that the President
and senators  so chosen will always be of the number of those who
best understand  our national interests, whether considered in
relation to the  several States or to foreign nations, who are
best able to promote  those interests, and whose reputation for
integrity inspires and  merits confidence. With such men the
power of making treaties may  be safely lodged.
Although the absolute necessity of system, in the conduct of any 
business, is universally known and acknowledged, yet the high 
importance of it in national affairs has not yet become
sufficiently  impressed on the public mind. They who wish to
commit the power  under consideration to a popular assembly,
composed of members  constantly coming and going in quick
succession, seem not to  recollect that such a body must
necessarily be inadequate to the  attainment of those great
objects, which require to be steadily  contemplated in all their
relations and circumstances, and which can  only be approached
and achieved by measures which not only talents,  but also exact
information, and often much time, are necessary to  concert and
to execute. It was wise, therefore, in the convention  to
provide, not only that the power of making treaties should be 
committed to able and honest men, but also that they should
continue  in place a sufficient time to become perfectly
acquainted with our  national concerns, and to form and introduce
a a system for the  management of them. The duration prescribed
is such as will give  them an opportunity of greatly extending
their political
information, and of rendering their accumulating experience more
and  more beneficial to their country. Nor has the convention
discovered  less prudence in providing for the frequent elections
of senators in  such a way as to obviate the inconvenience of
periodically  transferring those great affairs entirely to new
men; for by  leaving a considerable residue of the old ones in
place, uniformity  and order, as well as a constant succession of
official information  will be preserved.
There are a few who will not admit that the affairs of trade and 
navigation should be regulated by a system cautiously formed and 
steadily pursued; and that both our treaties and our laws should 
correspond with and be made to promote it. It is of much
consequence that this correspondence and conformity be carefully 
maintained; and they who assent to the truth of this position
will  see and confess that it is well provided for by making
concurrence  of the Senate necessary both to treaties and to
It seldom happens in the negotiation of treaties, of whatever 
nature, but that perfect SECRECY and immediate DESPATCH are 
sometimes requisite. These are cases where the most useful 
intelligence may be obtained, if the persons possessing it can be 
relieved from apprehensions of discovery. Those apprehensions
will  operate on those persons whether they are actuated by
mercenary or  friendly motives; and there doubtless are many of
descriptions, who would rely on the secrecy of the President,
but  who would not confide in that of the Senate, and still less
in that  of a large popular Assembly. The convention have done
well,  therefore, in so disposing of the power of making
treaties, that  although the President must, in forming them, act
by the advice and  consent of the Senate, yet he will be able to
manage the business of  intelligence in such a manner as prudence
may suggest.
They who have turned their attention to the affairs of men, must 
have perceived that there are tides in them; tides very irregular 
in their duration, strength, and direction, and seldom found to
run  twice exactly in the same manner or measure. To discern and
to  profit by these tides in national affairs is the business of
those  who preside over them; and they who have had much
experience on  this head inform us, that there frequently are
occasions when days,  nay, even when hours, are precious. The
loss of a battle, the death  of a prince, the removal of a
minister, or other circumstances  intervening to change the
present posture and aspect of affairs, may  turn the most
favorable tide into a course opposite to our wishes.  As in the
field, so in the cabinet, there are moments to be seized  as they
pass, and they who preside in either should be left in  capacity
to improve them. So often and so essentially have we  heretofore
suffered from the want of secrecy and despatch, that the 
Constitution would have been inexcusably defective, if no
attention  had been paid to those objects. Those matters which in
negotiations  usually require the most secrecy and the most
despatch, are those  preparatory and auxiliary measures which are
not otherwise important  in a national view, than as they tend to
facilitate the attainment  of the objects of the negotiation. For
these, the President will  find no difficulty to provide; and
should any circumstance occur  which requires the advice and
consent of the Senate, he may at any  time convene them. Thus we
see that the Constitution provides that  our negotiations for
treaties shall have every advantage which can  be derived from
talents, information, integrity, and deliberate  investigations,
on the one hand, and from secrecy and despatch on  the other.
But to this plan, as to most others that have ever appeared, 
objections are contrived and urged.
Some are displeased with it, not on account of any errors or 
defects in it, but because, as the treaties, when made, are to
have  the force of laws, they should be made only by men invested
with  legislative authority. These gentlemen seem not to consider
that  the judgments of our courts, and the commissions
constitutionally  given by our governor, are as valid and as
binding on all persons  whom they concern, as the laws passed by
our legislature. All  constitutional acts of power, whether in
the executive or in the  judicial department, have as much legal
validity and obligation as  if they proceeded from the
legislature; and therefore, whatever  name be given to the power
of making treaties, or however obligatory  they may be when made,
certain it is, that the people may, with much  propriety, commit
the power to a distinct body from the legislature,  the
executive, or the judicial. It surely does not follow, that 
because they have given the power of making laws to the
legislature,  that therefore they should likewise give them the
power to do every  other act of sovereignty by which the citizens
are to be bound and  affected.
Others, though content that treaties should be made in the mode 
proposed, are averse to their being the SUPREME laws of the land. 
They insist, and profess to believe, that treaties like acts of 
assembly, should be repealable at pleasure. This idea seems to be 
new and peculiar to this country, but new errors, as well as new 
truths, often appear. These gentlemen would do well to reflect
that  a treaty is only another name for a bargain, and that it
would be  impossible to find a nation who would make any bargain
with us,  which should be binding on them ABSOLUTELY, but on us
only so long  and so far as we may think proper to be bound by
it. They who make  laws may, without doubt, amend or repeal them;
and it will not be  disputed that they who make treaties may
alter or cancel them; but  still let us not forget that treaties
are made, not by only one of  the contracting parties, but by
both; and consequently, that as the  consent of both was
essential to their formation at first, so must  it ever
afterwards be to alter or cancel them. The proposed 
Constitution, therefore, has not in the least extended the 
obligation of treaties. They are just as binding, and just as far 
beyond the lawful reach of legislative acts now, as they will be
at  any future period, or under any form of government.
However useful jealousy may be in republics, yet when like bile 
in the natural, it abounds too much in the body politic, the eyes
of  both become very liable to be deceived by the delusive
appearances  which that malady casts on surrounding objects. From
this cause,  probably, proceed the fears and apprehensions of
some, that the  President and Senate may make treaties without an
equal eye to the  interests of all the States. Others suspect
that two thirds will  oppress the remaining third, and ask
whether those gentlemen are  made sufficiently responsible for
their conduct; whether, if they  act corruptly, they can be
punished; and if they make
disadvantageous treaties, how are we to get rid of those
treaties? As all the States are equally represented in the
Senate, and by  men the most able and the most willing to promote
the interests of  their constituents, they will all have an equal
degree of influence  in that body, especially while they continue
to be careful in  appointing proper persons, and to insist on
their punctual  attendance. In proportion as the United States
assume a national  form and a national character, so will the
good of the whole be more  and more an object of attention, and
the government must be a weak  one indeed, if it should forget
that the good of the whole can only  be promoted by advancing the
good of each of the parts or members  which compose the whole. It
will not be in the power of the  President and Senate to make any
treaties by which they and their  families and estates will not
be equally bound and affected with the  rest of the community;
and, having no private interests distinct  from that of the
nation, they will be under no temptations to  neglect the latter.
As to corruption, the case is not supposable. He must either 
have been very unfortunate in his intercourse with the world, or 
possess a heart very susceptible of such impressions, who can
think  it probable that the President and two thirds of the
Senate will  ever be capable of such unworthy conduct. The idea
is too gross and  too invidious to be entertained. But in such a
case, if it should  ever happen, the treaty so obtained from us
would, like all other  fraudulent contracts, be null and void by
the law of nations. With respect to their responsibility, it is
difficult to
conceive how it could be increased. Every consideration that can 
influence the human mind, such as honor, oaths, reputations, 
conscience, the love of country, and family affections and 
attachments, afford security for their fidelity. In short, as the 
Constitution has taken the utmost care that they shall be men of 
talents and integrity, we have reason to be persuaded that the 
treaties they make will be as advantageous as, all circumstances 
considered, could be made; and so far as the fear of punishment
and  disgrace can operate, that motive to good behavior is amply
afforded  by the article on the subject of impeachments.


The Powers of the Senate Continued
From the New York Packet.
Friday, March 7, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE remaining powers which the plan of the convention allots to 
the Senate, in a distinct capacity, are comprised in their 
participation with the executive in the appointment to offices,
and  in their judicial character as a court for the trial of
impeachments.  As in the business of appointments the executive
will be the  principal agent, the provisions relating to it will
most properly be  discussed in the examination of that
department. We will,
therefore, conclude this head with a view of the judicial
character  of the Senate.
A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an 
object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a 
government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are 
those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men,
or,  in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public
trust.  They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be
denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done 
immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for 
this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the
whole  community, and to divide it into parties more or less
friendly or  inimical to the accused. In many cases it will
connect itself with  the pre-existing factions, and will enlist
all their animosities,  partialities, influence, and interest on
one side or on the other;  and in such cases there will always be
the greatest danger that the  decision will be regulated more by
the comparative strength of  parties, than by the real
demonstrations of innocence or guilt. The delicacy and magnitude
of a trust which so deeply concerns  the political reputation and
existence of every man engaged in the  administration of public
affairs, speak for themselves. The  difficulty of placing it
rightly, in a government resting entirely  on the basis of
periodical elections, will as readily be perceived,  when it is
considered that the most conspicuous characters in it  will, from
that circumstance, be too often the leaders or the tools  of the
most cunning or the most numerous faction, and on this  account,
can hardly be expected to possess the requisite neutrality 
towards those whose conduct may be the subject of scrutiny. The
convention, it appears, thought the Senate the most fit 
depositary of this important trust. Those who can best discern
the  intrinsic difficulty of the thing, will be least hasty in
condemning  that opinion, and will be most inclined to allow due
weight to the  arguments which may be supposed to have produced
What, it may be asked, is the true spirit of the institution 
itself? Is it not designed as a method of NATIONAL INQUEST into
the  conduct of public men? If this be the design of it, who can
so  properly be the inquisitors for the nation as the
representatives of  the nation themselves? It is not disputed
that the power of  originating the inquiry, or, in other words,
of preferring the  impeachment, ought to be lodged in the hands
of one branch of the  legislative body. Will not the reasons
which indicate the propriety  of this arrangement strongly plead
for an admission of the other  branch of that body to a share of
the inquiry? The model from which  the idea of this institution
has been borrowed, pointed out that  course to the convention. In
Great Britain it is the province of  the House of Commons to
prefer the impeachment, and of the House of  Lords to decide upon
it. Several of the State constitutions have  followed the
example. As well the latter, as the former, seem to  have
regarded the practice of impeachments as a bridle in the hands 
of the legislative body upon the executive servants of the 
government. Is not this the true light in which it ought to be 
Where else than in the Senate could have been found a tribunal 
sufficiently dignified, or sufficiently independent? What other 
body would be likely to feel CONFIDENCE ENOUGH IN ITS OWN
SITUATION,  to preserve, unawed and uninfluenced, the necessary
impartiality  between an INDIVIDUAL accused, and the
Could the Supreme Court have been relied upon as answering this 
description? It is much to be doubted, whether the members of
that  tribunal would at all times be endowed with so eminent a
portion of  fortitude, as would be called for in the execution of
so difficult a  task; and it is still more to be doubted, whether
they would  possess the degree of credit and authority, which
might, on certain  occasions, be indispensable towards
reconciling the people to a  decision that should happen to clash
with an accusation brought by  their immediate representatives. A
deficiency in the first, would  be fatal to the accused; in the
last, dangerous to the public  tranquillity. The hazard in both
these respects, could only be  avoided, if at all, by rendering
that tribunal more numerous than  would consist with a reasonable
attention to economy. The necessity  of a numerous court for the
trial of impeachments, is equally  dictated by the nature of the
proceeding. This can never be tied  down by such strict rules,
either in the delineation of the offense  by the prosecutors, or
in the construction of it by the judges, as  in common cases
serve to limit the discretion of courts in favor of  personal
security. There will be no jury to stand between the  judges who
are to pronounce the sentence of the law, and the party  who is
to receive or suffer it. The awful discretion which a court  of
impeachments must necessarily have, to doom to honor or to infamy 
the most confidential and the most distinguished characters of
the  community, forbids the commitment of the trust to a small
number of  persons.
These considerations seem alone sufficient to authorize a
conclusion, that the Supreme Court would have been an improper 
substitute for the Senate, as a court of impeachments. There 
remains a further consideration, which will not a little
strengthen  this conclusion. It is this: The punishment which may
be the  consequence of conviction upon impeachment, is not to
terminate the  chastisement of the offender. After having been
sentenced to a  prepetual ostracism from the esteem and
confidence, and honors and  emoluments of his country, he will
still be liable to prosecution  and punishment in the ordinary
course of law. Would it be proper  that the persons who had
disposed of his fame, and his most valuable  rights as a citizen
in one trial, should, in another trial, for the  same offense, be
also the disposers of his life and his fortune?  Would there not
be the greatest reason to apprehend, that error, in  the first
sentence, would be the parent of error in the second  sentence?
That the strong bias of one decision would be apt to  overrule
the influence of any new lights which might be brought to  vary
the complexion of another decision? Those who know anything of 
human nature, will not hesitate to answer these questions in the 
affirmative; and will be at no loss to perceive, that by making
the  same persons judges in both cases, those who might happen to
be the  objects of prosecution would, in a great measure, be
deprived of the  double security intended them by a double trial.
The loss of life  and estate would often be virtually included in
a sentence which, in  its terms, imported nothing more than
dismission from a present, and  disqualification for a future,
office. It may be said, that the  intervention of a jury, in the
second instance, would obviate the  danger. But juries are
frequently influenced by the opinions of  judges. They are
sometimes induced to find special verdicts, which  refer the main
question to the decision of the court. Who would be  willing to
stake his life and his estate upon the verdict of a jury  acting
under the auspices of judges who had predetermined his guilt?
Would it have been an improvement of the plan, to have united 
the Supreme Court with the Senate, in the formation of the court
of  impeachments? This union would certainly have been attended
with  several advantages; but would they not have been
overbalanced by  the signal disadvantage, already stated, arising
from the agency of  the same judges in the double prosecution to
which the offender  would be liable? To a certain extent, the
benefits of that union  will be obtained from making the chief
justice of the Supreme Court  the president of the court of
impeachments, as is proposed to be  done in the plan of the
convention; while the inconveniences of an  entire incorporation
of the former into the latter will be  substantially avoided.
This was perhaps the prudent mean. I  forbear to remark upon the
additional pretext for clamor against the  judiciary, which so
considerable an augmentation of its authority  would have
Would it have been desirable to have composed the court for the 
trial of impeachments, of persons wholly distinct from the other 
departments of the government? There are weighty arguments, as
well  against, as in favor of, such a plan. To some minds it will
not  appear a trivial objection, that it could tend to increase
the  complexity of the political machine, and to add a new spring
to the  government, the utility of which would at best be
questionable. But  an objection which will not be thought by any
unworthy of attention,  is this: a court formed upon such a plan,
would either be attended  with a heavy expense, or might in
practice be subject to a variety  of casualties and
inconveniences. It must either consist of  permanent officers,
stationary at the seat of government, and of  course entitled to
fixed and regular stipends, or of certain  officers of the State
governments to be called upon whenever an  impeachment was
actually depending. It will not be easy to imagine  any third
mode materially different, which could rationally be  proposed.
As the court, for reasons already given, ought to be  numerous,
the first scheme will be reprobated by every man who can  compare
the extent of the public wants with the means of supplying  them.
The second will be espoused with caution by those who will 
seriously consider the difficulty of collecting men dispersed
over  the whole Union; the injury to the innocent, from the
procrastinated determination of the charges which might be
brought  against them; the advantage to the guilty, from the
opportunities  which delay would afford to intrigue and
corruption; and in some  cases the detriment to the State, from
the prolonged inaction of men  whose firm and faithful execution
of their duty might have exposed  them to the persecution of an
intemperate or designing majority in  the House of
Representatives. Though this latter supposition may  seem harsh,
and might not be likely often to be verified, yet it  ought not
to be forgotten that the demon of faction will, at certain 
seasons, extend his sceptre over all numerous bodies of men. But
though one or the other of the substitutes which have been 
examined, or some other that might be devised, should be thought 
preferable to the plan in this respect, reported by the
convention,  it will not follow that the Constitution ought for
this reason to be  rejected. If mankind were to resolve to agree
in no institution of  government, until every part of it had been
adjusted to the most  exact standard of perfection, society would
soon become a general  scene of anarchy, and the world a desert.
Where is the standard of  perfection to be found? Who will
undertake to unite the discordant  opinions of a whole commuity,
in the same judgment of it; and to  prevail upon one conceited
projector to renounce his INFALLIBLE  criterion for the FALLIBLE
criterion of his more CONCEITED NEIGHBOR?  To answer the purpose
of the adversaries of the Constitution, they  ought to prove, not
merely that particular provisions in it are not  the best which
might have been imagined, but that the plan upon the  whole is
bad and pernicious.


Objections to the Power of the Senate To Set as a Court for 
Impeachments Further Considered
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, March 11, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
A REVIEW of the principal objections that have appeared against 
the proposed court for the trial of impeachments, will not 
improbably eradicate the remains of any unfavorable impressions 
which may still exist in regard to this matter.
The FIRST of these objections is, that the provision in question 
confounds legislative and judiciary authorities in the same body,
in  violation of that important and wellestablished maxim which
requires  a separation between the different departments of
power. The true  meaning of this maxim has been discussed and
ascertained in another  place, and has been shown to be entirely
compatible with a partial  intermixture of those departments for
special purposes, preserving  them, in the main, distinct and
unconnected. This partial
intermixture is even, in some cases, not only proper but
necessary  to the mutual defense of the several members of the
government  against each other. An absolute or qualified negative
in the  executive upon the acts of the legislative body, is
admitted, by the  ablest adepts in political science, to be an
indispensable barrier  against the encroachments of the latter
upon the former. And it  may, perhaps, with no less reason be
contended, that the powers  relating to impeachments are, as
before intimated, an essential  check in the hands of that body
upon the encroachments of the  executive. The division of them
between the two branches of the  legislature, assigning to one
the right of accusing, to the other  the right of judging, avoids
the inconvenience of making the same  persons both accusers and
judges; and guards against the danger of  persecution, from the
prevalency of a factious spirit in either of  those branches. As
the concurrence of two thirds of the Senate will  be requisite to
a condemnation, the security to innocence, from this  additional
circumstance, will be as complete as itself can desire. It is
curious to observe, with what vehemence this part of the  plan is
assailed, on the principle here taken notice of, by men who 
profess to admire, without exception, the constitution of this 
State; while that constitution makes the Senate, together with
the  chancellor and judges of the Supreme Court, not only a court
of  impeachments, but the highest judicatory in the State, in all 
causes, civil and criminal. The proportion, in point of numbers,
of  the chancellor and judges to the senators, is so
inconsiderable,  that the judiciary authority of New York, in the
last resort, may,  with truth, be said to reside in its Senate.
If the plan of the  convention be, in this respect, chargeable
with a departure from the  celebrated maxim which has been so
often mentioned, and seems to be  so little understood, how much
more culpable must be the
constitution of New York?1
A SECOND objection to the Senate, as a court of impeachments, 
is, that it contributes to an undue accumulation of power in that 
body, tending to give to the government a countenance too
aristocratic. The Senate, it is observed, is to have concurrent 
authority with the Executive in the formation of treaties and in
the  appointment to offices: if, say the objectors, to these
prerogatives is added that of deciding in all cases of
impeachment,  it will give a decided predominancy to senatorial
influence. To an  objection so little precise in itself, it is
not easy to find a very  precise answer. Where is the measure or
criterion to which we can  appeal, for determining what will give
the Senate too much, too  little, or barely the proper degree of
influence? Will it not be  more safe, as well as more simple, to
dismiss such vague and  uncertain calculations, to examine each
power by itself, and to  decide, on general principles, where it
may be deposited with most  advantage and least inconvenience?
If we take this course, it will lead to a more intelligible, if 
not to a more certain result. The disposition of the power of 
making treaties, which has obtained in the plan of the
convention,  will, then, if I mistake not, appear to be fully
justified by the  considerations stated in a former number, and
by others which will  occur under the next head of our inquiries.
The expediency of the  junction of the Senate with the Executive,
in the power of  appointing to offices, will, I trust, be placed
in a light not less  satisfactory, in the disquisitions under the
same head. And I  flatter myself the observations in my last
paper must have gone no  inconsiderable way towards proving that
it was not easy, if  practicable, to find a more fit receptacle
for the power of  determining impeachments, than that which has
been chosen. If this  be truly the case, the hypothetical dread
of the too great weight of  the Senate ought to be discarded from
our reasonings.
But this hypothesis, such as it is, has already been refuted in 
the remarks applied to the duration in office prescribed for the 
senators. It was by them shown, as well on the credit of
historical  examples, as from the reason of the thing, that the
most POPULAR  branch of every government, partaking of the
republican genius, by  being generally the favorite of the
people, will be as generally a  full match, if not an overmatch,
for every other member of the  Government.
But independent of this most active and operative principle, to 
secure the equilibrium of the national House of Representatives,
the  plan of the convention has provided in its favor several
important  counterpoises to the additional authorities to be
conferred upon the  Senate. The exclusive privilege of
originating money bills will  belong to the House of
Representatives. The same house will possess  the sole right of
instituting impeachments: is not this a complete  counterbalance
to that of determining them? The same house will be  the umpire
in all elections of the President, which do not unite the 
suffrages of a majority of the whole number of electors; a case 
which it cannot be doubted will sometimes, if not frequently,
happen.   The constant possibility of the thing must be a
fruitful source of  influence to that body. The more it is
contemplated, the more  important will appear this ultimate
though contingent power, of  deciding the competitions of the
most illustrious citizens of the  Union, for the first office in
it. It would not perhaps be rash to  predict, that as a mean of
influence it will be found to outweigh  all the peculiar
attributes of the Senate.
A THIRD objection to the Senate as a court of impeachments, is 
drawn from the agency they are to have in the appointments to
office.   It is imagined that they would be too indulgent judges
of the  conduct of men, in whose official creation they had
participated.  The principle of this objection would condemn a
practice, which is  to be seen in all the State governments, if
not in all the  governments with which we are acquainted: I mean
that of rendering  those who hold offices during pleasure,
dependent on the pleasure of  those who appoint them. With equal
plausibility might it be alleged  in this case, that the
favoritism of the latter would always be an  asylum for the
misbehavior of the former. But that practice, in  contradiction
to this principle, proceeds upon the presumption, that  the
responsibility of those who appoint, for the fitness and 
competency of the persons on whom they bestow their choice, and
the  interest they will have in the respectable and prosperous
administration of affairs, will inspire a sufficient disposition
to  dismiss from a share in it all such who, by their conduct,
shall  have proved themselves unworthy of the confidence reposed
in them.  Though facts may not always correspond with this
presumption, yet  if it be, in the main, just, it must destroy
the supposition that  the Senate, who will merely sanction the
choice of the Executive,  should feel a bias, towards the objects
of that choice, strong  enough to blind them to the evidences of
guilt so extraordinary, as  to have induced the representatives
of the nation to become its  accusers.
If any further arguments were necessary to evince the
improbability of such a bias, it might be found in the nature of
the  agency of the Senate in the business of appointments.
It will be the office of the President to NOMINATE, and, with 
the advice and consent of the Senate, to APPOINT. There will, of 
course, be no exertion of CHOICE on the part of the Senate. They 
may defeat one choice of the Executive, and oblige him to make 
another; but they cannot themselves CHOOSE, they can only ratify
or  reject the choice of the President. They might even entertain
a  preference to some other person, at the very moment they were 
assenting to the one proposed, because there might be no positive 
ground of opposition to him; and they could not be sure, if they 
withheld their assent, that the subsequent nomination would fall 
upon their own favorite, or upon any other person in their 
estimation more meritorious than the one rejected. Thus it could 
hardly happen, that the majority of the Senate would feel any
other  complacency towards the object of an appointment than such
as the  appearances of merit might inspire, and the proofs of the
want of it  destroy.
A FOURTH objection to the Senate in the capacity of a court of 
impeachments, is derived from its union with the Executive in the 
power of making treaties. This, it has been said, would
constitute  the senators their own judges, in every case of a
corrupt or  perfidious execution of that trust. After having
combined with the  Executive in betraying the interests of the
nation in a ruinous  treaty, what prospect, it is asked, would
there be of their being  made to suffer the punishment they would
deserve, when they were  themselves to decide upon the accusation
brought against them for  the treachery of which they have been
This objection has been circulated with more earnestness and 
with greater show of reason than any other which has appeared 
against this part of the plan; and yet I am deceived if it does
not  rest upon an erroneous foundation.
The security essentially intended by the Constitution against 
corruption and treachery in the formation of treaties, is to be 
sought for in the numbers and characters of those who are to make 
them. The JOINT AGENCY of the Chief Magistrate of the Union, and
of  two thirds of the members of a body selected by the
collective  wisdom of the legislatures of the several States, is
designed to be  the pledge for the fidelity of the national
councils in this  particular. The convention might with propriety
have meditated the  punishment of the Executive, for a deviation
from the instructions  of the Senate, or a want of integrity in
the conduct of the  negotiations committed to him; they might
also have had in view the  punishment of a few leading
individuals in the Senate, who should  have prostituted their
influence in that body as the mercenary  instruments of foreign
corruption: but they could not, with more or  with equal
propriety, have contemplated the impeachment and  punishment of
two thirds of the Senate, consenting to an improper  treaty, than
of a majority of that or of the other branch of the  national
legislature, consenting to a pernicious or unconstitutional  law,
a principle which, I believe, has never been admitted into any 
government. How, in fact, could a majority in the House of 
Representatives impeach themselves? Not better, it is evident,
than  two thirds of the Senate might try themselves. And yet what
reason  is there, that a majority of the House of
Representatives,  sacrificing the interests of the society by an
unjust and tyrannical  act of legislation, should escape with
impunity, more than two  thirds of the Senate, sacrificing the
same interests in an injurious  treaty with a foreign power? The
truth is, that in all such cases  it is essential to the freedom
and to the necessary independence of  the deliberations of the
body, that the members of it should be  exempt from punishment
for acts done in a collective capacity; and  the security to the
society must depend on the care which is taken  to confide the
trust to proper hands, to make it their interest to  execute it
with fidelity, and to make it as difficult as possible  for them
to combine in any interest opposite to that of the public  good.
So far as might concern the misbehavior of the Executive in 
perverting the instructions or contravening the views of the
Senate,  we need not be apprehensive of the want of a disposition
in that  body to punish the abuse of their confidence or to
vindicate their  own authority. We may thus far count upon their
pride, if not upon  their virtue. And so far even as might
concern the corruption of  leading members, by whose arts and
influence the majority may have  been inveigled into measures
odious to the community, if the proofs  of that corruption should
be satisfactory, the usual propensity of  human nature will
warrant us in concluding that there would be  commonly no defect
of inclination in the body to divert the public  resentment from
themselves by a ready sacrifice of the authors of  their
mismanagement and disgrace.
In that of New Jersey, also, the final judiciary authority is in 
a branch of the legislature. In New Hampshire, Massachusetts, 
Pennsylvanis, and South Carolina, one branch of the legislature
is  the court for the trial of impeachments.


The Executive Department
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, March 11, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE constitution of the executive department of the proposed 
government, claims next our attention.
There is hardly any part of the system which could have been 
atten ed with greater difficulty in the arrangement of it than
this;  and there is, perhaps, none which has been inveighed
against with  less candor or criticised with less judgment.
Here the writers against the Constitution seem to have taken 
pains to signalize their talent of misrepresentation. Calculating 
upon the aversion of the people to monarchy, they have endeavored
to  enlist all their jealousies and apprehensions in opposition
to the  intended President of the United States; not merely as
the embryo,  but as the full-grown progeny, of that detested
parent. To  establish the pretended affinity, they have not
scrupled to draw  resources even from the regions of fiction. The
authorities of a  magistrate, in few instances greater, in some
instances less, than  those of a governor of New York, have been
magnified into more than  royal prerogatives. He has been
decorated with attributes superior  in dignity and splendor to
those of a king of Great Britain. He has  been shown to us with
the diadem sparkling on his brow and the  imperial purple flowing
in his train. He has been seated on a  throne surrounded with
minions and mistresses, giving audience to  the envoys of foreign
potentates, in all the supercilious pomp of  majesty. The images
of Asiatic despotism and voluptuousness have  scarcely been
wanting to crown the exaggerated scene. We have been  taught to
tremble at the terrific visages of murdering janizaries,  and to
blush at the unveiled mysteries of a future seraglio. Attempts so
extravagant as these to disfigure or, it might
rather be said, to metamorphose the object, render it necessary
to  take an accurate view of its real nature and form: in order
as well  to ascertain its true aspect and genuine appearance, as
to unmask  the disingenuity and expose the fallacy of the
counterfeit  resemblances which have been so insidiously, as well
industriously, propagated.
In the execution of this task, there is no man who would not 
find it an arduous effort either to behold with moderation, or to 
treat with seriousness, the devices, not less weak than wicked, 
which have been contrived to pervert the public opinion in
relation  to the subject. They so far exceed the usual though
unjustifiable  licenses of party artifice, that even in a
disposition the most  candid and tolerant, they must force the
sentiments which favor an  indulgent construction of the conduct
of political adversaries to  give place to a voluntary and
unreserved indignation. It is  impossible not to bestow the
imputation of deliberate imposture and  deception upon the gross
pretense of a similitude between a king of  Great Britain and a
magistrate of the character marked out for that  of the President
of the United States. It is still more impossible  to withhold
that imputation from the rash and barefaced expedients  which
have been employed to give success to the attempted imposition.
In one instance, which I cite as a sample of the general spirit, 
the temerity has proceeded so far as to ascribe to the President
of  the United States a power which by the instrument reported is 
EXPRESSLY allotted to the Executives of the individual States. I 
mean the power of filling casual vacancies in the Senate.
This bold experiment upon the discernment of his countrymen has 
been hazarded by a writer who (whatever may be his real merit)
has  had no inconsiderable share in the applauses of his party1;
and  who, upon this false and unfounded suggestion, has built a
series of  observations equally false and unfounded. Let him now
be confronted  with the evidence of the fact, and let him, if he
be able, justify  or extenuate the shameful outrage he has
offered to the dictates of  truth and to the rules of fair
The second clause of the second section of the second article 
empowers the President of the United States ``to nominate, and by 
and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint
ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the 
Supreme Court, and all other OFFICERS of United States whose 
appointments are NOT in the Constitution OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR,
and  WHICH SHALL BE ESTABLISHED BY LAW.'' Immediately after this
clause  follows another in these words: ``The President shall
have power to  fill up ?? VACANCIES that may happen DURING THE
RECESS OF THE  SENATE, by granting commissions which shall EXPIRE
AT THE END OF  THEIR NEXT SESSION.'' It is from this last
provision that the  pretended power of the President to fill
vacancies in the Senate has  been deduced. A slight attention to
the connection of the clauses,  and to the obvious meaning of the
terms, will satisfy us that the  deduction is not even colorable.
The first of these two clauses, it is clear, only provides a 
mode for appointing such officers, ``whose appointments are NOT 
OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR in the Constitution, and which SHALL BE 
ESTABLISHED BY LAW''; of course it cannot extend to the
appointments of senators, whose appointments are OTHERWISE
PROVIDED  FOR in the Constitution2, and who are ESTABLISHED BY
CONSTITUTION, and will not require a future establishment by
law.  This position will hardly be contested.
The last of these two clauses, it is equally clear, cannot be 
understood to comprehend the power of filling vacancies in the 
Senate, for the following reasons:  First. The relation in  which
that clause stands to the other, which declares the general  mode
of appointing officers of the United States, denotes it to be 
nothing more than a supplement to the other, for the purpose of 
establishing an auxiliary method of appointment, in cases to
which  the general method was inadequate. The ordinary power of
appointment is confined to the President and Senate JOINTLY, and
can  therefore only be exercised during the session of the
Senate; but  as it would have been improper to oblige this body
to be continually  in session for the appointment of officers and
as vacancies might  happen IN THEIR RECESS, which it might be
necessary for the public  service to fill without delay, the
succeeding clause is evidently  intended to authorize the
President, SINGLY, to make temporary  appointments ``during the
recess of the Senate, by granting  commissions which shall expire
at the end of their next session.''  Secondly. If this clause is
to be considered as supplementary  to the one which precedes, the
VACANCIES of which it speaks must be  construed to relate to the
``officers'' described in the preceding  one; and this, we have
seen, excludes from its description the  members of the Senate.
Thirdly. The time within which the
power is to operate, ``during the recess of the Senate,'' and
the  duration of the appointments, ``to the end of the next
session'' of  that body, conspire to elucidate the sense of the
provision, which,  if it had been intended to comprehend
senators, would naturally have  referred the temporary power of
filling vacancies to the recess of  the State legislatures, who
are to make the permanent appointments,  and not to the recess of
the national Senate, who are to have no  concern in those
appointments; and would have extended the duration  in office of
the temporary senators to the next session of the  legislature of
the State, in whose representation the vacancies had  happened,
instead of making it to expire at the end of the ensuing  session
of the national Senate. The circumstances of the body  authorized
to make the permanent appointments would, of course, have 
governed the modification of a power which related to the
temporary  appointments; and as the national Senate is the body,
whose  situation is alone contemplated in the clause upon which
the  suggestion under examination has been founded, the vacancies
to  which it alludes can only be deemed to respect those officers
in  whose appointment that body has a concurrent agency with the 
President. But lastly, the first and second clauses of the  third
section of the first article, not only obviate all possibility 
of doubt, but destroy the pretext of misconception. The former 
provides, that ``the Senate of the United States shall be
composed  of two Senators from each State, chosen BY THE
LEGISLATURE THEREOF  for six years''; and the latter directs,
that, ``if vacancies in  that body should happen by resignation
the Executive THEREOF may  make temporary appointments until the
LEGISLATURE, which shall then fill such vacancies.'' Here is an 
express power given, in clear and unambiguous terms, to the State 
Executives, to fill casual vacancies in the Senate, by temporary 
appointments; which not only invalidates the supposition, that
the  clause before considered could have been intended to confer
that  power upon the President of the United States, but proves
that this  supposition, destitute as it is even of the merit of
plausibility,  must have originated in an intention to deceive
the people, too  palpable to be obscured by sophistry, too
atrocious to be palliated  by hypocrisy.
I have taken the pains to select this instance of
misrepresentation, and to place it in a clear and strong light,
as  an unequivocal proof of the unwarrantable arts which are
practiced  to prevent a fair and impartial judgment of the real
merits of the  Constitution submitted to the consideration of the
people. Nor have  I scrupled, in so flagrant a case, to allow
myself a severity of  animadversion little congenial with the
general spirit of these  papers. I hesitate not to submit it to
the decision of any candid  and honest adversary of the proposed
government, whether language  can furnish epithets of too much
asperity, for so shameless and so  prostitute an attempt to
impose on the citizens of America. PUBLIUS.
1 See CATO, No. V.
2 Article I, section 3, clause I.


The Mode of Electing the President
From the New York Packet.
Friday, March 14, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE mode of appointment of the Chief Magistrate of the United 
States is almost the only part of the system, of any consequence, 
which has escaped without severe censure, or which has received
the  slightest mark of approbation from its opponents. The most 
plausible of these, who has appeared in print, has even deigned
to  admit that the election of the President is pretty well
guarded.1 I venture somewhat further, and hesitate not to
affirm, that if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least 
excellent. It unites in an eminent degree all the advantages, the 
union of which was to be wished for.
It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in 
the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be 
confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of 
making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by
the  people for the special purpose, and at the particular
conjuncture. It was equally desirable, that the immediate
election should be  made by men most capable of analyzing the
qualities adapted to the  station, and acting under circumstances
favorable to deliberation,  and to a judicious combination of all
the reasons and inducements  which were proper to govern their
choice. A small number of  persons, selected by their fellow-
citizens from the general mass,  will be most likely to possess
the information and discernment  requisite to such complicated
It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity 
as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be 
dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so 
important an agency in the administration of the government as
the  President of the United States. But the precautions which
have been  so happily concerted in the system under
consideration, promise an  effectual security against this
mischief. The choice of SEVERAL, to  form an intermediate body of
electors, will be much less apt to  convulse the community with
any extraordinary or violent movements,  than the choice of ONE
who was himself to be the final object of the  public wishes. And
as the electors, chosen in each State, are to  assemble and vote
in the State in which they are chosen, this  detached and divided
situation will expose them much less to heats  and ferments,
which might be communicated from them to the people,  than if
they were all to be convened at one time, in one place. Nothing
was more to be desired than that every practicable
obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. 
These most deadly adversaries of republican government might 
naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more
than  one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers
to gain  an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they
better  gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to
the chief  magistracy of the Union? But the convention have
guarded against  all danger of this sort, with the most provident
and judicious  attention. They have not made the appointment of
the President to  depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who
might be tampered with  beforehand to prostitute their votes; but
they have referred it in  the first instance to an immediate act
of the people of America, to  be exerted in the choice of persons
for the temporary and sole  purpose of making the appointment.
And they have excluded from  eligibility to this trust, all those
who from situation might be  suspected of too great devotion to
the President in office. No  senator, representative, or other
person holding a place of trust or  profit under the United
States, can be of the numbers of the  electors. Thus without
corrupting the body of the people, the  immediate agents in the
election will at least enter upon the task  free from any
sinister bias. Their transient existence, and their  detached
situation, already taken notice of, afford a satisfactory 
prospect of their continuing so, to the conclusion of it. The 
business of corruption, when it is to embrace so considerable a 
number of men, requires time as well as means. Nor would it be 
found easy suddenly to embark them, dispersed as they would be
over  thirteen States, in any combinations founded upon motives,
which  though they could not properly be denominated corrupt,
might yet be  of a nature to mislead them from their duty.
Another and no less important desideratum was, that the
Executive should be independent for his continuance in office on
all  but the people themselves. He might otherwise be tempted to 
sacrifice his duty to his complaisance for those whose favor was 
necessary to the duration of his official consequence. This 
advantage will also be secured, by making his re-election to
depend  on a special body of representatives, deputed by the
society for the  single purpose of making the important choice.
All these advantages will happily combine in the plan devised by 
the convention; which is, that the people of each State shall 
choose a number of persons as electors, equal to the number of 
senators and representatives of such State in the national 
government, who shall assemble within the State, and vote for
some  fit person as President. Their votes, thus given, are to be 
transmitted to the seat of the national government, and the
person  who may happen to have a majority of the whole number of
votes will  be the President. But as a majority of the votes
might not always  happen to centre in one man, and as it might be
unsafe to permit  less than a majority to be conclusive, it is
provided that, in such  a contingency, the House of
Representatives shall select out of the  candidates who shall
have the five highest number of votes, the man  who in their
opinion may be best qualified for the office. The process of
election affords a moral certainty, that the  office of President
will never fall to the lot of any man who is not  in an eminent
degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.  Talents for
low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may  alone
suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single  State;
but it will require other talents, and a different kind of 
merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole 
Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be
necessary  to make him a successful candidate for the
distinguished office of  President of the United States. It will
not be too strong to say,  that there will be a constant
probability of seeing the station  filled by characters pre-
eminent for ability and virtue. And this  will be thought no
inconsiderable recommendation of the
Constitution, by those who are able to estimate the share which
the  executive in every government must necessarily have in its
good or  ill administration. Though we cannot acquiesce in the
political  heresy of the poet who says:  ``For forms of
government let fools  contest That which is best  administered is
yet we may safely pronounce, that the true test of a good
government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good
The Vice-President is to be chosen in the same manner with the 
President; with this difference, that the Senate is to do, in 
respect to the former, what is to be done by the House of
Representatives, in respect to the latter.
The appointment of an extraordinary person, as Vice-President, 
has been objected to as superfluous, if not mischievous. It has 
been alleged, that it would have been preferable to have
authorized  the Senate to elect out of their own body an officer
answering that  description. But two considerations seem to
justify the ideas of  the convention in this respect. One is,
that to secure at all times  the possibility of a definite
resolution of the body, it is  necessary that the President
should have only a casting vote. And  to take the senator of any
State from his seat as senator, to place  him in that of
President of the Senate, would be to exchange, in  regard to the
State from which he came, a constant for a contingent  vote. The
other consideration is, that as the Vice-President may 
occasionally become a substitute for the President, in the
supreme  executive magistracy, all the reasons which recommend
the mode of  election prescribed for the one, apply with great if
not with equal  force to the manner of appointing the other. It
is remarkable that  in this, as in most other instances, the
objection which is made  would lie against the constitution of
this State. We have a  Lieutenant-Governor, chosen by the people
at large, who presides in  the Senate, and is the constitutional
substitute for the Governor,  in casualties similar to those
which would authorize the
Vice-President to exercise the authorities and discharge the
duties  of the President.


The Real Character of the Executive
From the New York Packet.
Friday, March 14, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
I PROCEED now to trace the real characters of the proposed
Executive, as they are marked out in the plan of the convention. 
This will serve to place in a strong light the unfairness of the 
representations which have been made in regard to it.
The first thing which strikes our attention is, that the
executive authority, with few exceptions, is to be vested in a 
single magistrate. This will scarcely, however, be considered as
a  point upon which any comparison can be grounded; for if, in
this  particular, there be a resemblance to the king of Great
Britain,  there is not less a resemblance to the Grand Seignior,
to the khan  of Tartary, to the Man of the Seven Mountains, or to
the governor of  New York.
That magistrate is to be elected for FOUR years; and is to be 
re-eligible as often as the people of the United States shall
think  him worthy of their confidence. In these circumstances
there is a  total dissimilitude between HIM and a king of Great
Britain, who is  an HEREDITARY monarch, possessing the crown as a
patrimony  descendible to his heirs forever; but there is a close
analogy  between HIM and a governor of New York, who is elected
for THREE  years, and is re-eligible without limitation or
intermission. If we  consider how much less time would be
requisite for establishing a  dangerous influence in a single
State, than for establishing a like  influence throughout the
United States, we must conclude that a  duration of FOUR years
for the Chief Magistrate of the Union is a  degree of permanency
far less to be dreaded in that office, than a  duration of THREE
years for a corresponding office in a single State. The President
of the United States would be liable to be
impeached, tried, and, upon conviction of treason, bribery, or
other  high crimes or misdemeanors, removed from office; and
would  afterwards be liable to prosecution and punishment in the
ordinary  course of law. The person of the king of Great Britain
is sacred  and inviolable; there is no constitutional tribunal to
which he is  amenable; no punishment to which he can be subjected
without  involving the crisis of a national revolution. In this
delicate and  important circumstance of personal responsibility,
the President of  Confederated America would stand upon no better
ground than a  governor of New York, and upon worse ground than
the governors of  Maryland and Delaware.
The President of the United States is to have power to return a 
bill, which shall have passed the two branches of the
legislature,  for reconsideration; and the bill so returned is to
become a law,  if, upon that reconsideration, it be approved by
two thirds of both  houses. The king of Great Britain, on his
part, has an absolute  negative upon the acts of the two houses
of Parliament. The disuse  of that power for a considerable time
past does not affect the  reality of its existence; and is to be
ascribed wholly to the  crown's having found the means of
substituting influence to  authority, or the art of gaining a
majority in one or the other of  the two houses, to the necessity
of exerting a prerogative which  could seldom be exerted without
hazarding some degree of national  agitation. The qualified
negative of the President differs widely  from this absolute
negative of the British sovereign; and tallies  exactly with the
revisionary authority of the council of revision of  this State,
of which the governor is a constituent part. In this  respect the
power of the President would exceed that of the governor  of New
York, because the former would possess, singly, what the  latter
shares with the chancellor and judges; but it would be  precisely
the same with that of the governor of Massachusetts, whose 
constitution, as to this article, seems to have been the original 
from which the convention have copied.
The President is to be the ``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 is to  have power to grant reprieves and pardons for
offenses against the  United States, EXCEPT IN CASES OF
IMPEACHMENT; to recommend to the  consideration of Congress such
measures as he shall judge necessary  and expedient; to convene,
on extraordinary occasions, both houses  of the legislature, or
either of them, and, in case of disagreement  between them WITH
RESPECT TO THE TIME OF ADJOURNMENT, to adjourn  them to such time
as he shall think proper; to take care that the  laws be
faithfully executed; and to commission all officers of the 
United States.'' In most of these particulars, the power of the 
President will resemble equally that of the king of Great Britain 
and of the governor of New York. The most material points of 
difference are these:  First. The President will have only the 
occasional command of such part of the militia of the nation as
by  legislative provision may be called into the actual service
of the  Union. The king of Great Britain and the governor of New
York have  at all times the entire command of all the militia
within their  several jurisdictions. In this article, therefore,
the power of the  President would be inferior to that of either
the monarch or the  governor. Secondly. The President is to be
commander-in-chief  of the army and navy of the United States. In
this respect his  authority would be nominally the same with that
of the king of Great  Britain, but in substance much inferior to
it. It would amount to  nothing more than the supreme command and
direction of the military  and naval forces, as first General and
admiral of the Confederacy;  while that of the British king
extends to the DECLARING of war and  to the RAISING and
REGULATING of fleets and armies, all which, by  the Constitution
under consideration, would appertain to the  legislature.1 The
governor of New York, on the other hand, is  by the constitution
of the State vested only with the command of its  militia and
navy. But the constitutions of several of the States  expressly
declare their governors to be commanders-in-chief, as well  of
the army as navy; and it may well be a question, whether those 
of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, in particular, do not, in
this  instance, confer larger powers upon their respective
governors, than  could be claimed by a President of the United
States. Thirdly.  The power of the President, in respect to
pardons, would extend to  all cases, EXCEPT THOSE OF IMPEACHMENT.
The governor of New York  may pardon in all cases, even in those
of impeachment, except for  treason and murder. Is not the power
of the governor, in this  article, on a calculation of political
consequences, greater than  that of the President? All
conspiracies and plots against the  government, which have not
been matured into actual treason, may be  screened from
punishment of every kind, by the interposition of the 
prerogative of pardoning. If a governor of New York, therefore, 
should be at the head of any such conspiracy, until the design
had  been ripened into actual hostility he could insure his
accomplices  and adherents an entire impunity. A President of the
Union, on the  other hand, though he may even pardon treason,
when prosecuted in  the ordinary course of law, could shelter no
offender, in any  degree, from the effects of impeachment and
conviction. Would not  the prospect of a total indemnity for all
the preliminary steps be a  greater temptation to undertake and
persevere in an enterprise  against the public liberty, than the
mere prospect of an exemption  from death and confiscation, if
the final execution of the design,  upon an actual appeal to
arms, should miscarry? Would this last  expectation have any
influence at all, when the probability was  computed, that the
person who was to afford that exemption might  himself be
involved in the consequences of the measure, and might be 
incapacitated by his agency in it from affording the desired 
impunity? The better to judge of this matter, it will be
necessary  to recollect, that, by the proposed Constitution, the
offense of  treason is limited ``to levying war upon the United
States, and  adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and
comfort''; and that  by the laws of New York it is confined
within similar bounds.  Fourthly. The President can only adjourn
the national legislature  in the single case of disagreement
about the time of adjournment.  The British monarch may prorogue
or even dissolve the Parliament.  The governor of New York may
also prorogue the legislature of this  State for a limited time;
a power which, in certain situations, may  be employed to very
important purposes.
The President is to have power, with the advice and consent of 
the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the senators 
present concur. The king of Great Britain is the sole and
absolute  representative of the nation in all foreign
transactions. He can of  his own accord make treaties of peace,
commerce, alliance, and of  every other description. It has been
insinuated, that his authority  in this respect is not
conclusive, and that his conventions with  foreign powers are
subject to the revision, and stand in need of the  ratification,
of Parliament. But I believe this doctrine was never  heard of,
until it was broached upon the present occasion. Every  jurist2
of that kingdom, and every other man acquainted with its 
Constitution, knows, as an established fact, that the prerogative
of  making treaties exists in the crown in its utomst plentitude;
and  that the compacts entered into by the royal authority have
the most  complete legal validity and perfection, independent of
any other  sanction. The Parliament, it is true, is sometimes
seen employing  itself in altering the existing laws to conform
them to the  stipulations in a new treaty; and this may have
possibly given  birth to the imagination, that its co-operation
was necessary to the  obligatory efficacy of the treaty. But this
interposition proceeds from a different cause: from the
necessity  of adjusting a most artificial and intricate system of
revenue and  commercial laws, to the changes made in them by the
operation of the  treaty; and of adapting new provisions and
precautions to the new  state of things, to keep the machine from
running into disorder. In  this respect, therefore, there is no
comparison between the intended  power of the President and the
actual power of the British sovereign.   The one can perform
alone what the other can do only with the  concurrence of a
branch of the legislature. It must be admitted,  that, in this
instance, the power of the federal Executive would  exceed that
of any State Executive. But this arises naturally from  the
sovereign power which relates to treaties. If the Confederacy 
were to be dissolved, it would become a question, whether the 
Executives of the several States were not solely invested with
that  delicate and important prerogative.
The President is also to be authorized to receive ambassadors 
and other public ministers. This, though it has been a rich theme 
of declamation, is more a matter of dignity than of authority. It 
is a circumstance which will be without consequence in the 
administration of the government; and it was far more convenient 
that it should be arranged in this manner, than that there should
be  a necessity of convening the legislature, or one of its
branches,  upon every arrival of a foreign minister, though it
were merely to  take the place of a departed predecessor.
The President is to nominate, and, WITH THE ADVICE AND CONSENT 
OF THE SENATE, to appoint ambassadors and other public ministers, 
judges of the Supreme Court, and in general all officers of the 
United States established by law, and whose appointments are not 
otherwise provided for by the Constitution. The king of Great 
Britain is emphatically and truly styled the fountain of honor.
He  not only appoints to all offices, but can create offices. He
can  confer titles of nobility at pleasure; and has the disposal
of an  immense number of church preferments. There is evidently a
great  inferiority in the power of the President, in this
particular, to  that of the British king; nor is it equal to that
of the governor  of New York, if we are to interpret the meaning
of the constitution  of the State by the practice which has
obtained under it. The power  of appointment is with us lodged in
a council, composed of the  governor and four members of the
Senate, chosen by the Assembly.  The governor CLAIMS, and has
frequently EXERCISED, the right of  nomination, and is ENTITLED
to a casting vote in the appointment.  If he really has the right
of nominating, his authority is in this  respect equal to that of
the President, and exceeds it in the  article of the casting
vote. In the national government, if the  Senate should be
divided, no appointment could be made; in the  government of New
York, if the council should be divided, the  governor can turn
the scale, and confirm his own nomination.3  If we compare the
publicity which must necessarily attend the mode  of appointment
by the President and an entire branch of the national 
legislature, with the privacy in the mode of appointment by the 
governor of New York, closeted in a secret apartment with at most 
four, and frequently with only two persons; and if we at the same 
time consider how much more easy it must be to influence the
small  number of which a council of appointment consists, than
the  considerable number of which the national Senate would
consist, we  cannot hesitate to pronounce that the power of the
chief magistrate  of this State, in the disposition of offices,
must, in practice, be  greatly superior to that of the Chief
Magistrate of the Union. Hence it appears that, except as to the
concurrent authority of  the President in the article of
treaties, it would be difficult to  determine whether that
magistrate would, in the aggregate, possess  more or less power
than the Governor of New York. And it appears  yet more
unequivocally, that there is no pretense for the parallel  which
has been attempted between him and the king of Great Britain. 
But to render the contrast in this respect still more striking,
it  may be of use to throw the principal circumstances of
dissimilitude  into a closer group.
The President of the United States would be an officer elected 
by the people for FOUR years; the king of Great Britain is a 
perpetual and HEREDITARY prince. The one would be amenable to 
personal punishment and disgrace; the person of the other is
sacred  and inviolable. The one would have a QUALIFIED negative
upon the  acts of the legislative body; the other has an ABSOLUTE
negative.  The one would have a right to command the military and
naval forces  of the nation; the other, in addition to this
right, possesses that  of DECLARING war, and of RAISING and
REGULATING fleets and armies by  his own authority. The one would
have a concurrent power with a  branch of the legislature in the
formation of treaties; the other  is the SOLE POSSESSOR of the
power of making treaties. The one  would have a like concurrent
authority in appointing to offices;  the other is the sole author
of all appointments. The one can  confer no privileges whatever;
the other can make denizens of  aliens, noblemen of commoners;
can erect corporations with all the  rights incident to corporate
bodies. The one can prescribe no rules  concerning the commerce
or currency of the nation; the other is in  several respects the
arbiter of commerce, and in this capacity can  establish markets
and fairs, can regulate weights and measures, can  lay embargoes
for a limited time, can coin money, can authorize or  prohibit
the circulation of foreign coin. The one has no particle  of
spiritual jurisdiction; the other is the supreme head and 
governor of the national church! What answer shall we give to
those  who would persuade us that things so unlike resemble each
other?  The same that ought to be given to those who tell us that
a  government, the whole power of which would be in the hands of
the  elective and periodical servants of the people, is an
aristocracy, a  monarchy, and a despotism.
1 A writer in a &ennsylvania paper, under the signature of
TAMONY, has asserted that the king of Great Britain oweshis 
prerogative as commander-in-chief to an annual mutiny bill. The 
truth is, on the contrary, that his prerogative, in this respect,
is  immenmorial, and was only disputed, ``contrary to all reason
and  precedent,'' as Blackstone vol. i., page 262, expresses it,
by the  Long Parliament of Charles I. but by the statute the 13th
of Charles  II., chap. 6, it was declared to be in the king
alone, for that the  sole supreme government and command of the
militia within his  Majesty's realms and dominions, and of all
forces by sea and land,  and of all forts and places of strength,
EVER WAS AND IS the  undoubted right of his Majesty and his royal
predecessors, kings and  queens of England, and that both or
either house of Parliament  cannot nor ought to pretend to the
2 Vide Blackstone's ``Commentaries,'' vol i., p. 257.
3 Candor, however, demands an acknowledgment that I do not think 
the claim of the governor to a right of nomination well founded. 
Yet it is always justifiable to reason from the practice of a 
government, till its propriety has been constitutionally
questioned.  And independent of this claim, when we take into
view the other  considerations, and pursue them through all their
consequences, we  shall be inclined to draw much the same

*There are two slightly different versions of No. 70 included


The Executive Department Further Considered
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, March 18, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
THERE is an idea, which is not without its advocates, that a 
vigorous Executive is inconsistent with the genius of republican 
government. The enlightened well-wishers to this species of 
government must at least hope that the supposition is destitute
of  foundation; since they can never admit its truth, without at
the  same time admitting the condemnation of their own
principles.  Energy in the Executive is a leading character in
the definition of  good government. It is essential to the
protection of the community  against foreign attacks; it is not
less essential to the steady  administration of the laws; to the
protection of property against  those irregular and high-handed
combinations which sometimes  interrupt the ordinary course of
justice; to the security of  liberty against the enterprises and
assaults of ambition, of  faction, and of anarchy. Every man the
least conversant in Roman  story, knows how often that republic
was obliged to take refuge in  the absolute power of a single
man, under the formidable title of  Dictator, as well against the
intrigues of ambitious individuals who  aspired to the tyranny,
and the seditions of whole classes of the  community whose
conduct threatened the existence of all government,  as against
the invasions of external enemies who menaced the  conquest and
destruction of Rome.
There can be no need, however, to multiply arguments or examples 
on this head. A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of
the  government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a
bad  execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be
in  theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.
Taking it for granted, therefore, that all men of sense will 
agree in the necessity of an energetic Executive, it will only 
remain to inquire, what are the ingredients which constitute this 
energy? How far can they be combined with those other ingredients 
which constitute safety in the republican sense? And how far does 
this combination characterize the plan which has been reported by 
the convention?
The ingredients which constitute energy in the Executive are, 
first, unity; secondly, duration; thirdly, an adequate provision 
for its support; fourthly, competent powers.
The ingredients which constitute safety in the repub lican sense 
are, first, a due dependence on the people, secondly, a due 
Those politicians and statesmen who have been the most
celebrated for the soundness of their principles and for the
justice  of their views, have declared in favor of a single
Executive and a  numerous legislature. They have with great
propriety, considered  energy as the most necessary qualification
of the former, and have  regarded this as most applicable to
power in a single hand, while  they have, with equal propriety,
considered the latter as best  adapted to deliberation and
wisdom, and best calculated to  conciliate the confidence of the
people and to secure their  privileges and interests.
That unity is conducive to energy will not be disputed.
Decision, activity, secrecy, and despatch will generally
characterize the proceedings of one man in a much more eminent 
degree than the proceedings of any greater number; and in
proportion as the number is increased, these qualities will be 
This unity may be destroyed in two ways: either by vesting the 
power in two or more magistrates of equal dignity and authority;
or  by vesting it ostensibly in one man, subject, in whole or in
part,  to the control and co-operation of others, in the capacity
of  counsellors to him. Of the first, the two Consuls of Rome may
serve  as an example; of the last, we shall find examples in the
constitutions of several of the States. New York and New Jersey,
if  I recollect right, are the only States which have intrusted
the  executive authority wholly to single men.1 Both these
methods  of destroying the unity of the Executive have their
partisans; but  the votaries of an executive council are the most
numerous. They  are both liable, if not to equal, to similar
objections, and may in  most lights be examined in conjunction.
The experience of other nations will afford little instruction 
on this head. As far, however, as it teaches any thing, it
teaches  us not to be enamoured of plurality in the Executive. We
have seen  that the Achaeans, on an experiment of two Praetors,
were induced to  abolish one. The Roman history records many
instances of mischiefs  to the republic from the dissensions
between the Consuls, and  between the military Tribunes, who were
at times substituted for the  Consuls. But it gives us no
specimens of any peculiar advantages  derived to the state from
the circumstance of the plurality of those  magistrates. That the
dissensions between them were not more  frequent or more fatal,
is a matter of astonishment, until we advert  to the singular
position in which the republic was almost
continually placed, and to the prudent policy pointed out by the 
circumstances of the state, and pursued by the Consuls, of making
a  division of the government between them. The patricians
engaged in  a perpetual struggle with the plebeians for the
preservation of  their ancient authorities and dignities; the
Consuls, who were  generally chosen out of the former body, were
commonly united by the  personal interest they had in the defense
of the privileges of their  order. In addition to this motive of
union, after the arms of the  republic had considerably expanded
the bounds of its empire, it  became an established custom with
the Consuls to divide the  administration between themselves by
lot one of them remaining at  Rome to govern the city and its
environs, the other taking the  command in the more distant
provinces. This expedient must, no  doubt, have had great
influence in preventing those collisions and  rivalships which
might otherwise have embroiled the peace of the  republic.
But quitting the dim light of historical research, attaching 
ourselves purely to the dictates of reason and good se se, we
shall  discover much greater cause to reject than to approve the
idea of  plurality in the Executive, under any modification
whatever. Wherever two or more persons are engaged in any common
enterprise or pursuit, there is always danger of difference of 
opinion. If it be a public trust or office, in which they are 
clothed with equal dignity and authority, there is peculiar
danger  of personal emulation and even animosity. From either,
and  especially from all these causes, the most bitter
dissensions are  apt to spring. Whenever these happen, they
lessen the
respectability, weaken the authority, and distract the plans and 
operation of those whom they divide. If they should unfortunately 
assail the supreme executive magistracy of a country, consisting
of  a plurality of persons, they might impede or frustrate the
most  important measures of the government, in the most critical 
emergencies of the state. And what is still worse, they might
split  the community into the most violent and irreconcilable
factions,  adhering differently to the different individuals who
composed the  magistracy.
Men often oppose a thing, merely because they have had no agency 
in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom 
they dislike. But if they have been consulted, and have happened
to  disapprove, opposition then becomes, in their estimation, an 
indispensable duty of self-love. They seem to think themselves 
bound in honor, and by all the motives of personal infallibility,
to  defeat the success of what has been resolved upon contrary to
their  sentiments. Men of upright, benevolent tempers have too
many  opportunities of remarking, with horror, to what desperate
lengths  this disposition is sometimes carried, and how often the
great  interests of society are sacrificed to the vanity, to the
conceit,  and to the obstinacy of individuals, who have credit
enough to make  their passions and their caprices interesting to
mankind. Perhaps  the question now before the public may, in its
consequences, afford  melancholy proofs of the effects of this
despicable frailty, or  rather detestable vice, in the human
Upon the principles of a free government, inconveniences from 
the source just mentioned must necessarily be submitted to in the 
formation of the legislature; but it is unnecessary, and
therefore  unwise, to introduce them into the constitution of the
Executive.  It is here too that they may be most pernicious. In
legislature, promptitude of decision is oftener an evil than a 
benefit. The differences of opinion, and the jarrings of parties
in  that department of the government, though they may sometimes 
obstruct salutary plans, yet often promote deliberation and 
circumspection, and serve to check excesses in the majority. When
a  resolution too is once taken, the opposition must be at an
end.  That resolution is a law, and resistance to it punishable.
But no  favorable circumstances palliate or atone for the
disadvantages of  dissension in the executive department. Here,
they are pure and  unmixed. There is no point at which they cease
to operate. They  serve to embarrass and weaken the execution of
the plan or measure  to which they relate, from the first step to
the final conclusion of  it. They constantly counteract those
qualities in the Executive  which are the most necessary
ingredients in its composition, vigor  and expedition, and this
without anycounterbalancing good. In the  conduct of war, in
which the energy of the Executive is the bulwark  of the national
security, every thing would be to be apprehended  from its
It must be confessed that these observations apply with
principal weight to the first case supposed that is, to a
plurality  of magistrates of equal dignity and authority a
scheme, the  advocates for which are not likely to form a
numerous sect; but  they apply, though not with equal, yet with
considerable weight to  the project of a council, whose
concurrence is made constitutionally  necessary to the operations
of the ostensible Executive. An artful  cabal in that council
would be able to distract and to enervate the  whole system of
administration. If no such cabal should exist, the  mere
diversity of views and opinions would alone be sufficient to 
tincture the exercise of the executive authority with a spirit of 
habitual feebleness and dilatoriness.
But one of the weightiest objections to a plurality in the
Executive, and which lies as much against the last as the first 
plan, is, that it tends to conceal faults and destroy
responsibility.   Responsibility is of two kinds to censure and
to punishment. The  first is the more important of the two,
especially in an elective  office. Man, in public trust, will
much oftener act in such a  manner as to render him unworthy of
being any longer trusted, than  in such a manner as to make him
obnoxious to legal punishment. But  the multiplication of the
Executive adds to the difficulty of  detection in either case. It
often becomes impossible, amidst  mutual accusations, to
determine on whom the blame or the punishment  of a pernicious
measure, or series of pernicious measures, ought  really to fall.
It is shifted from one to another with so much  dexterity, and
under such plausible appearances, that the public  opinion is
left in suspense about the real author. The
circumstances which may have led to any national miscarriage or 
misfortune are sometimes so complicated that, where there are a 
number of actors who may have had different degrees and kinds of 
agency, though we may clearly see upon the whole that there has
been  mismanagement, yet it may be impracticable to pronounce to
whose  account the evil which may have been incurred is truly
chargeable. ``I was overruled by my council. The council were so
divided in  their opinions that it was impossible to obtain any
better  resolution on the point.'' These and similar pretexts are
constantly at hand, whether true or false. And who is there that 
will either take the trouble or incur the odium, of a strict 
scrunity into the secret springs of the transaction? Should there 
be found a citizen zealous enough to undertake the unpromising
task,  if there happen to be collusion between the parties
concerned, how  easy it is to clothe the circumstances with so
much ambiguity, as to  render it uncertain what was the precise
conduct of any of those  parties?
In the single instance in which the governor of this State is 
coupled with a council that is, in the appointment to offices, we 
have seen the mischiefs of it in the view now under
consideration.  Scandalous appointments to important offices have
been made. Some  cases, indeed, have been so flagrant that ALL
PARTIES have agreed in  the impropriety of the thing. When
inquiry has been made, the blame  has been laid by the governor
on the members of the council, who, on  their part, have charged
it upon his nomination; while the people  remain altogether at a
loss to determine, by whose influence their  interests have been
committed to hands so unqualified and so  manifestly improper. In
tenderness to individuals, I forbear to  descend to particulars.
It is evident from these considerations, that the plurality of 
the Executive tends to deprive the people of the two greatest 
securities they can have for the faithful exercise of any
delegated  power, first, the restraints of public opinion, which
lose their  efficacy, as well on account of the division of the
censure  attendant on bad measures among a number, as on account
of the  uncertainty on whom it ought to fall; and, secondly, the
opportunity of discovering with facility and clearness the 
misconduct of the persons they trust, in order either to their 
removal from office or to their actual punishment in cases which 
admit of it.
In England, the king is a perpetual magistrate; and it is a 
maxim which has obtained for the sake of the pub lic peace, that
he  is unaccountable for his administration, and his person
sacred.  Nothing, therefore, can be wiser in that kingdom, than
to annex to  the king a constitutional council, who may be
responsible to the  nation for the advice they give. Without
this, there would be no  responsibility whatever in the executive
department an idea  inadmissible in a free government. But even
there the king is not  bound by the resolutions of his council,
though they are answerable  for the advice they give. He is the
absolute master of his own  conduct in the exercise of his
office, and may observe or disregard  the counsel given to him at
his sole discretion.
But in a republic, where every magistrate ought to be personally 
responsible for his behavior in office the reason which in the 
British Constitution dictates the propriety of a council, not
only  ceases to apply, but turns against the institution. In the
monarchy  of Great Britain, it furnishes a substitute for the
prohibited  responsibility of the chief magistrate, which serves
in some degree  as a hostage to the national justice for his good
behavior. In the  American republic, it would serve to destroy,
or would greatly  diminish, the intended and necessary
responsibility of the Chief  Magistrate himself.
The idea of a council to the Executive, which has so generally 
obtained in the State constitutions, has been derived from that 
maxim of republican jealousy which considers power as safer in
the  hands of a number of men than of a single man. If the maxim
should  be admitted to be applicable to the case, I should
contend that the  advantage on that side would not counterbalance
the numerous  disadvantages on the opposite side. But I do not
think the rule at  all applicable to the executive power. I
clearly concur in opinion,  in this particular, with a writer
whom the celebrated Junius  pronounces to be ``deep, solid, and
ingenious,'' that ``the  executive power is more easily confined
when it is ONE'';2 that  it is far more safe there should be a
single object for the jealousy  and watchfulness of the people;
and, in a word, that all
multiplication of the Executive is rather dangerous than
friendly to  liberty.
A little consideration will satisfy us, that the species of 
security sought for in the multiplication of the Executive, is 
nattainable. Numbers must be so great as to render combination 
difficult, or they are rather a source of danger than of
security.  The united credit and influence of several individuals
must be more  formidable to liberty, than the credit and
influence of either of  them separately. When power, therefore,
is placed in the hands of  so small a number of men, as to admit
of their interests and views  being easily combined in a common
enterprise, by an artful leader,  it becomes more liable to
abuse, and more dangerous when abused,  than if it be lodged in
the hands of one man; who, from the very  circumstance of his
being alone, will be more narrowly watched and  more readily
suspected, and who cannot unite so great a mass of  influence as
when he is associated with others. The Decemvirs of  Rome, whose
name denotes their number,3 were more to be dreaded  in their
usurpation than any ONE of them would have been. No person  would
think of proposing an Executive much more numerous than that 
body; from six to a dozen have been suggested for the number of
the  council. The extreme of these numbers, is not too great for
an easy  combination; and from such a combination America would
have more to  fear, than from the ambition of any single
individual. A council to  a magistrate, who is himself
responsible for what he does, are  generally nothing better than
a clog upon his good intentions, are  often the instruments and
accomplices of his bad and are almost  always a cloak to his
I forbear to dwell upon the subject of expense; though it be 
evident that if the council should be numerous enough to answer
the  principal end aimed at by the institution, the salaries of
the  members, who must be drawn from their homes to reside at the
seat of  government, would form an item in the catalogue of
expenditures too serious to be incurred for an object of
equivocal  utility. I will only add that, prior to the appearance
of the  Constitution, I rarely met with an intelligent man from
any of the  States, who did not admit, as the result of
experience, that the  UNITY of the executive of this State was
one of the best of the  distinguishing features of our
1 New York has no council except for the single purpose of
appointing to offices; New Jersey has a council whom the
governor  may consult. But I think, from the terms of the
constitution, their  resolutions do not bind him.
2 De Lolme.
3 Ten.

*There are two slightly different versions of No. 70 included


The Executive Department Further Considered
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, March 18, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
THERE is an idea, which is not without its advocates, that a 
vigorous Executive is inconsistent with the genius of republican 
government. The enlightened well-wishers to this species of 
government must at least hope that the supposition is destitute
of  foundation; since they can never admit its truth, without at
the  same time admitting the condemnation of their own
principles.  Energy in the Executive is a leading character in
the definition of  good government. It is essential to the
protection of the community  against foreign attacks; it is not
less essential to the steady  administration of the laws; to the
protection of property against  those irregular and high-handed
combinations which sometimes  interrupt the ordinary course of
justice; to the security of  liberty against the enterprises and
assaults of ambition, of  faction, and of anarchy. Every man the
least conversant in Roman  story, knows how often that republic
was obliged to take refuge in  the absolute power of a single
man, under the formidable title of  Dictator, as well against the
intrigues of ambitious individuals who  aspired to the tyranny,
and the seditions of whole classes of the  community whose
conduct threatened the existence of all government,  as against
the invasions of external enemies who menaced the  conquest and
destruction of Rome.
There can be no need, however, to multiply arguments or examples 
on this head. A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of
the  government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a
bad  execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be
in  theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.
Taking it for granted, therefore, that all men of sense will 
agree in the necessity of an energetic Executive, it will only 
remain to inquire, what are the ingredients which constitute this 
energy? How far can they be combined with those other ingredients 
which constitute safety in the republican sense? And how far does 
this combination characterize the plan which has been reported by 
the convention?
The ingredients which constitute energy in the Executive are, 
first, unity; secondly, duration; thirdly, an adequate provision 
for its support; fourthly, competent powers.
The ingredients which constitute safety in the repub lican sense 
are, first, a due dependence on the people, secondly, a due 
Those politicians and statesmen who have been the most
celebrated for the soundness of their principles and for the
justice  of their views, have declared in favor of a single
Executive and a  numerous legislature. They have with great
propriety, considered  energy as the most necessary qualification
of the former, and have  regarded this as most applicable to
power in a single hand, while  they have, with equal propriety,
considered the latter as best  adapted to deliberation and
wisdom, and best calculated to  conciliate the confidence of the
people and to secure their  privileges and interests.
That unity is conducive to energy will not be disputed.
Decision, activity, secrecy, and despatch will generally
characterize the proceedings of one man in a much more eminent 
degree than the proceedings of any greater number; and in
proportion as the number is increased, these qualities will be 
This unity may be destroyed in two ways: either by vesting the 
power in two or more magistrates of equal dignity and authority;
or  by vesting it ostensibly in one man, subject, in whole or in
part,  to the control and co-operation of others, in the capacity
of  counsellors to him. Of the first, the two Consuls of Rome may
serve  as an example; of the last, we shall find examples in the
constitutions of several of the States. New York and New Jersey,
if  I recollect right, are the only States which have intrusted
the  executive authority wholly to single men.1 Both these
methods  of destroying the unity of the Executive have their
partisans; but  the votaries of an executive council are the most
numerous. They  are both liable, if not to equal, to similar
objections, and may in  most lights be examined in conjunction.
The experience of other nations will afford little instruction 
on this head. As far, however, as it teaches any thing, it
teaches  us not to be enamoured of plurality in the Executive. We
have seen  that the Achaeans, on an experiment of two Praetors,
were induced to  abolish one. The Roman history records many
instances of mischiefs  to the republic from the dissensions
between the Consuls, and  between the military Tribunes, who were
at times substituted for the  Consuls. But it gives us no
specimens of any peculiar advantages  derived to the state from
the circumstance of the plurality of those  magistrates. That the
dissensions between them were not more  frequent or more fatal,
is a matter of astonishment, until we advert  to the singular
position in which the republic was almost
continually placed, and to the prudent policy pointed out by the 
circumstances of the state, and pursued by the Consuls, of making
a  division of the government between them. The patricians
engaged in  a perpetual struggle with the plebeians for the
preservation of  their ancient authorities and dignities; the
Consuls, who were  generally chosen out of the former body, were
commonly united by the  personal interest they had in the defense
of the privileges of their  order. In addition to this motive of
union, after the arms of the  republic had considerably expanded
the bounds of its empire, it  became an established custom with
the Consuls to divide the  administration between themselves by
lot one of them remaining at  Rome to govern the city and its
environs, the other taking the  command in the more distant
provinces. This expedient must, no  doubt, have had great
influence in preventing those collisions and  rivalships which
might otherwise have embroiled the peace of the  republic.
But quitting the dim light of historical research, attaching 
ourselves purely to the dictates of reason and good se se, we
shall  discover much greater cause to reject than to approve the
idea of  plurality in the Executive, under any modification
whatever. Wherever two or more persons are engaged in any common
enterprise or pursuit, there is always danger of difference of 
opinion. If it be a public trust or office, in which they are 
clothed with equal dignity and authority, there is peculiar
danger  of personal emulation and even animosity. From either,
and  especially from all these causes, the most bitter
dissensions are  apt to spring. Whenever these happen, they
lessen the
respectability, weaken the authority, and distract the plans and 
operation of those whom they divide. If they should unfortunately 
assail the supreme executive magistracy of a country, consisting
of  a plurality of persons, they might impede or frustrate the
most  important measures of the government, in the most critical 
emergencies of the state. And what is still worse, they might
split  the community into the most violent and irreconcilable
factions,  adhering differently to the different individuals who
composed the  magistracy.
Men often oppose a thing, merely because they have had no agency 
in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom 
they dislike. But if they have been consulted, and have happened
to  disapprove, opposition then becomes, in their estimation, an 
indispensable duty of self-love. They seem to think themselves 
bound in honor, and by all the motives of personal infallibility,
to  defeat the success of what has been resolved upon contrary to
their  sentiments. Men of upright, benevolent tempers have too
many  opportunities of remarking, with horror, to what desperate
lengths  this disposition is sometimes carried, and how often the
great  interests of society are sacrificed to the vanity, to the
conceit,  and to the obstinacy of individuals, who have credit
enough to make  their passions and their caprices interesting to
mankind. Perhaps  the question now before the public may, in its
consequences, afford  melancholy proofs of the effects of this
despicable frailty, or  rather detestable vice, in the human
Upon the principles of a free government, inconveniences from 
the source just mentioned must necessarily be submitted to in the 
formation of the legislature; but it is unnecessary, and
therefore  unwise, to introduce them into the constitution of the
Executive.  It is here too that they may be most pernicious. In
legislature, promptitude of decision is oftener an evil than a 
benefit. The differences of opinion, and the jarrings of parties
in  that department of the government, though they may sometimes 
obstruct salutary plans, yet often promote deliberation and 
circumspection, and serve to check excesses in the majority. When
a  resolution too is once taken, the opposition must be at an
end.  That resolution is a law, and resistance to it punishable.
But no  favorable circumstances palliate or atone for the
disadvantages of  dissension in the executive department. Here,
they are pure and  unmixed. There is no point at which they cease
to operate. They  serve to embarrass and weaken the execution of
the plan or measure  to which they relate, from the first step to
the final conclusion of  it. They constantly counteract those
qualities in the Executive  which are the most necessary
ingredients in its composition, vigor  and expedition, and this
without anycounterbalancing good. In the  conduct of war, in
which the energy of the Executive is the bulwark  of the national
security, every thing would be to be apprehended  from its
It must be confessed that these observations apply with
principal weight to the first case supposed that is, to a
plurality  of magistrates of equal dignity and authority a
scheme, the  advocates for which are not likely to form a
numerous sect; but  they apply, though not with equal, yet with
considerable weight to  the project of a council, whose
concurrence is made constitutionally  necessary to the operations
of the ostensible Executive. An artful  cabal in that council
would be able to distract and to enervate the  whole system of
administration. If no such cabal should exist, the  mere
diversity of views and opinions would alone be sufficient to 
tincture the exercise of the executive authority with a spirit of 
habitual feebleness and dilatoriness.
But one of the weightiest objections to a plurality in the
Executive, and which lies as much against the last as the first 
plan, is, that it tends to conceal faults and destroy
responsibility.  Responsibility is of two kinds to censure and to
punishment. The  first is the more important of the two,
especially in an elective  office. Man, in public trust, will
much oftener act in such a  manner as to render him unworthy of
being any longer trusted, than  in such a manner as to make him
obnoxious to legal punishment. But  the multiplication of the
Executive adds to the difficulty of  detection in either case. It
often becomes impossible, amidst  mutual accusations, to
determine on whom the blame or the punishment  of a pernicious
measure, or series of pernicious measures, ought  really to fall.
It is shifted from one to another with so much  dexterity, and
under such plausible appearances, that the public  opinion is
left in suspense about the real author. The
circumstances which may have led to any national miscarriage or 
misfortune are sometimes so complicated that, where there are a 
number of actors who may have had different degrees and kinds of 
agency, though we may clearly see upon the whole that there has
been  mismanagement, yet it may be impracticable to pronounce to
whose  account the evil which may have been incurred is truly
chargeable. ``I was overruled by my council. The council were so
divided in  their opinions that it was impossible to obtain any
better  resolution on the point.'' These and similar pretexts are
constantly at hand, whether true or false. And who is there that 
will either take the trouble or incur the odium, of a strict 
scrunity into the secret springs of the transaction? Should there 
be found a citizen zealous enough to undertake the unpromising
task,  if there happen to be collusion between the parties
concerned, how  easy it is to clothe the circumstances with so
much ambiguity, as to  render it uncertain what was the precise
conduct of any of those  parties?
In the single instance in which the governor of this State is 
coupled with a council that is, in the appointment to offices, we 
have seen the mischiefs of it in the view now under
consideration.  Scandalous appointments to important offices have
been made. Some  cases, indeed, have been so flagrant that ALL
PARTIES have agreed in  the impropriety of the thing. When
inquiry has been made, the blame  has been laid by the governor
on the members of the council, who, on  their part, have charged
it upon his nomination; while the people  remain altogether at a
loss to determine, by whose influence their  interests have been
committed to hands so unqualified and so  manifestly improper. In
tenderness to individuals, I forbear to  descend to particulars.
It is evident from these considerations, that the plurality of 
the Executive tends to deprive the people of the two greatest 
securities they can have for the faithful exercise of any
delegated  power, first, the restraints of public opinion, which
lose their  efficacy, as well on account of the division of the
censure  attendant on bad measures among a number, as on account
of the  uncertainty on whom it ought to fall; and, secondly, the
opportunity of discovering with facility and clearness the 
misconduct of the persons they trust, in order either to their 
removal from office or to their actual punishment in cases which 
admit of it.
In England, the king is a perpetual magistrate; and it is a 
maxim which has obtained for the sake of the pub lic peace, that
he  is unaccountable for his administration, and his person
sacred.  Nothing, therefore, can be wiser in that kingdom, than
to annex to  the king a constitutional council, who may be
responsible to the  nation for the advice they give. Without
this, there would be no  responsibility whatever in the executive
department an idea  inadmissible in a free government. But even
there the king is not  bound by the resolutions of his council,
though they are answerable  for the advice they give. He is the
absolute master of his own  conduct in the exercise of his
office, and may observe or disregard  the counsel given to him at
his sole discretion.
But in a republic, where every magistrate ought to be personally 
responsible for his behavior in office the reason which in the 
British Constitution dictates the propriety of a council, not
only  ceases to apply, but turns against the institution. In the
monarchy  of Great Britain, it furnishes a substitute for the
prohibited  responsibility of the chief magistrate, which serves
in some degree  as a hostage to the national justice for his good
behavior. In the  American republic, it would serve to destroy,
or would greatly  diminish, the intended and necessary
responsibility of the Chief  Magistrate himself.
The idea of a council to the Executive, which has so generally 
obtained in the State constitutions, has been derived from that 
maxim of republican jealousy which considers power as safer in
the  hands of a number of men than of a single man. If the maxim
should  be admitted to be applicable to the case, I should
contend that the  advantage on that side would not counterbalance
the numerous  disadvantages on the opposite side. But I do not
think the rule at  all applicable to the executive power. I
clearly concur in opinion,  in this particular, with a writer
whom the celebrated Junius  pronounces to be ``deep, solid, and
ingenious,'' that ``the  executive power is more easily confined
when it is ONE'';2 that  it is far more safe there should be a
single object for the jealousy  and watchfulness of the people;
and, in a word, that all
multiplication of the Executive is rather dangerous than
friendly to  liberty.
A little consideration will satisfy us, that the species of 
security sought for in the multiplication of the Executive, is 
nattainable. Numbers must be so great as to render combination 
difficult, or they are rather a source of danger than of
security.  The united credit and influence of several individuals
must be more  formidable to liberty, than the credit and
influence of either of  them separately. When power, therefore,
is placed in the hands of  so small a number of men, as to admit
of their interests and views  being easily combined in a common
enterprise, by an artful leader,  it becomes more liable to
abuse, and more dangerous when abused,  than if it be lodged in
the hands of one man; who, from the very  circumstance of his
being alone, will be more narrowly watched and  more readily
suspected, and who cannot unite so great a mass of  influence as
when he is associated with others. The Decemvirs of  Rome, whose
name denotes their number,3 were more to be dreaded  in their
usurpation than any ONE of them would have been. No person  would
think of proposing an Executive much more numerous than that 
body; from six to a dozen have been suggested for the number of
the  council. The extreme of these numbers, is not too great for
an easy  combination; and from such a combination America would
have more to  fear, than from the ambition of any single
individual. A council to  a magistrate, who is himself
responsible for what he does, are  generally nothing better than
a clog upon his good intentions, are  often the instruments and
accomplices of his bad and are almost  always a cloak to his
I forbear to dwell upon the subject of expense; though it be 
evident that if the council should be numerous enough to answer
the  principal end aimed at by the institution, the salaries of
the  members, who must be drawn from their homes to reside at the
seat of  government, would form an item in the catalogue of
expenditures too serious to be incurred for an object of
equivocal  utility. I will only add that, prior to the appearance
of the  Constitution, I rarely met with an intelligent man from
any of the  States, who did not admit, as the result of
experience, that the  UNITY of the executive of this State was
one of the best of the  distinguishing features of our
1 New York has no council except for the single purpose of
appointing to offices; New Jersey has a council whom the
governor  may consult. But I think, from the terms of the
constitution, their  resolutions do not bind him.
2 De Lolme.
3 Ten.


The Duration in Office of the Executive
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, March 18, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
DURATION in office has been mentioned as the second requisite to 
the energy of the Executive authority. This has relation to two 
objects: to the personal firmness of the executive magistrate, in 
the employment of his constitutional powers; and to the stability 
of the system of administration which may have been adopted under 
his auspices. With regard to the first, it must be evident, that 
the longer the duration in office, the greater will be the 
probability of obtaining so important an advantage. It is a
general  principle of human nature, that a man will be interested
in whatever  he possesses, in proportion to the firmness or
precariousness of the  tenure by which he holds it; will be less
attached to what he holds  by a momentary or uncertain title,
than to what he enjoys by a  durable or certain title; and, of
course, will be willing to risk  more for the sake of the one,
than for the sake of the other. This  remark is not less
applicable to a political privilege, or honor, or  trust, than to
any article of ordinary property. The inference from  it is, that
a man acting in the capacity of chief magistrate, under  a
consciousness that in a very short time he MUST lay down his 
office, will be apt to feel himself too little interested in it
to  hazard any material censure or perplexity, from the
independent  exertion of his powers, or from encountering the
ill-humors, however  transient, which may happen to prevail,
either in a considerable  part of the society itself, or even in
a predominant faction in the  legislative body. If the case
should only be, that he MIGHT lay it  down, unless continued by a
new choice, and if he should be desirous  of being continued, his
wishes, conspiring with his fears, would  tend still more
powerfully to corrupt his integrity, or debase his  fortitude. In
either case, feebleness and irresolution must be the 
characteristics of the station.
There are some who would be inclined to regard the servile
pliancy of the Executive to a prevailing current, either in the 
community or in the legislature, as its best recommendation. But 
such men entertain very crude notions, as well of the purposes
for  which government was instituted, as of the true means by
which the  public happiness may be promoted. The republican
principle demands  that the deliberate sense of the community
should govern the conduct  of those to whom they intrust the
management of their affairs; but  it does not require an
unqualified complaisance to every sudden  breeze of passion, or
to every transient impulse which the people  may receive from the
arts of men, who flatter their prejudices to  betray their
interests. It is a just observation, that the people  commonly
INTEND the PUBLIC GOOD. This often applies to their very  errors.
But their good sense would despise the adulator who should 
pretend that they always REASON RIGHT about the MEANS of
promoting  it. They know from experience that they sometimes err;
and the  wonder is that they so seldom err as they do, beset, as
they  continually are, by the wiles of parasites and sycophants,
by the  snares of the ambitious, the avaricious, the desperate,
by the  artifices of men who possess their confidence more than
they deserve  it, and of those who seek to possess rather than to
deserve it.  When occasions present themselves, in which the
interests of the  people are at variance with their inclinations,
it is the duty of  the persons whom they have appointed to be the
guardians of those  interests, to withstand the temporary
delusion, in order to give  them time and opportunity for more
cool and sedate reflection.  Instances might be cited in which a
conduct of this kind has saved  the people from very fatal
consequences of their own mistakes, and  has procured lasting
monuments of their gratitude to the men who had  courage and
magnanimity enough to serve them at the peril of their 
But however inclined we might be to insist upon an unbounded 
complaisance in the Executive to the inclinations of the people,
we  can with no propriety contend for a like complaisance to the
humors  of the legislature. The latter may sometimes stand in
opposition to  the former, and at other times the people may be
entirely neutral.  In either supposition, it is certainly
desirable that the Executive  should be in a situation to dare to
act his own opinion with vigor  and decision.
The same rule which teaches the propriety of a partition between 
the various branches of power, teaches us likewise that this 
partition ought to be so contrived as to render the one
independent  of the other. To what purpose separate the executive
or the  judiciary from the legislative, if both the executive and
the  judiciary are so constituted as to be at the absolute
devotion of  the legislative? Such a separation must be merely
nominal, and  incapable of producing the ends for which it was
established. It is  one thing to be subordinate to the laws, and
another to be dependent  on the legislative body. The first
comports with, the last  violates, the fundamental principles of
good government; and,  whatever may be the forms of the
Constitution, unites all power in  the same hands. The tendency
of the legislative authority to absorb  every other, has been
fully displayed and illustrated by examples in  some preceding
numbers. In governments purely republican, this  tendency is
almost irresistible. The representatives of the people,  in a
popular assembly, seem sometimes to fancy that they are the 
people themselves, and betray strong symptoms of impatience and 
disgust at the least sign of opposition from any other quarter;
as  if the exercise of its rights, by either the executive or
judiciary,  were a breach of their privilege and an outrage to
their dignity.  They often appear disposed to exert an imperious
control over the  other departments; and as they commonly have
the people on their  side, they always act with such momentum as
to make it very  difficult for the other members of the
government to maintain the  balance of the Constitution.
It may perhaps be asked, how the shortness of the duration in 
office can affect the independence of the Executive on the 
legislature, unless the one were possessed of the power of 
appointing or displacing the other. One answer to this inquiry
may  be drawn from the principle already remarked that is, from
the  slender interest a man is apt to take in a short-lived
advantage,  and the little inducement it affords him to expose
himself, on  account of it, to any considerable inconvenience or
hazard. Another  answer, perhaps more obvious, though not more
conclusive, will  result from the consideration of the influence
of the legislative  body over the people; which might be employed
to prevent the  re-election of a man who, by an upright
resistance to any sinister  project of that body, should have
made himself obnoxious to its  resentment.
It may be asked also, whether a duration of four years would 
answer the end proposed; and if it would not, whether a less 
period, which would at least be recommended by greater security 
against ambitious designs, would not, for that reason, be
preferable  to a longer period, which was, at the same time, too
short for the  purpose of inspiring the desired firmness and
independence of the  magistrate.
It cannot be affirmed, that a duration of four years, or any 
other limited duration, would completely answer the end proposed; 
but it would contribute towards it in a degree which would have a 
material influence upon the spirit and character of the
government.  Between the commencement and termination of such a
period, there  would always be a considerable interval, in which
the prospect of  annihilation would be sufficiently remote, not
to have an improper  effect upon the conduct of a man indued with
a tolerable portion of  fortitude; and in which he might
reasonably promise himself, that  there would be time enough
before it arrived, to make the community  sensible of the
propriety of the measures he might incline to pursue.   Though it
be probable that, as he approached the moment when the  public
were, by a new election, to signify their sense of his  conduct,
his confidence, and with it his firmness, would decline;  yet
both the one and the other would derive support from the 
opportunities which his previous continuance in the station had 
afforded him, of establishing himself in the esteem and good-will
of  his constituents. He might, then, hazard with safety, in
proportion  to the proofs he had given of his wisdom and
integrity, and to the  title he had acquired to the respect and
attachment of his  fellow-citizens. As, on the one hand, a
duration of four years will  contribute to the firmness of the
Executive in a sufficient degree  to render it a very valuable
ingredient in the composition; so, on  the other, it is not
enough to justify any alarm for the public  liberty. If a British
House of Commons, from the most feeble  beginnings, FROM THE MERE
TAX, have, by rapid strides, reduced the  prerogatives of the
crown and the privileges of the nobility within  the limits they
conceived to be compatible with the principles of a  free
government, while they raised themselves to the rank and 
consequence of a coequal branch of the legislature; if they have 
been able, in one instance, to abolish both the royalty and the 
aristocracy, and to overturn all the ancient establishments, as
well  in the Church as State; if they have been able, on a recent 
occasion, to make the monarch tremble at the prospect of an 
innovation1 attempted by them, what would be to be feared from 
an elective magistrate of four years' duration, with the confined 
authorities of a President of the United States? What, but that
he  might be unequal to the task which the Constitution assigns
him? I  shall only add, that if his duration be such as to leave
a doubt of  his firmness, that doubt is inconsistent with a
jealousy of his  encroachments.
1 This was the case with respect to Mr. Fox's India bill, which 
was carried in the House of Commons, and rejected in the House of 
Lords, to the entire satisfaction, as it is said, of the people.


The Same Subject Continued, and Re-Eligibility of the Executive 
From the New York Packet.
Friday, March 21, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE administration of government, in its largest sense,
comprehends all the operations of the body politic, whether 
legislative, executive, or judiciary; but in its most usual, and 
perhaps its most precise signification. it is limited to
executive  details, and falls peculiarly within the province of
the executive  department. The actual conduct of foreign
negotiations, the  preparatory plans of finance, the application
and disbursement of  the public moneys in conformity to the
general appropriations of the  legislature, the arrangement of
the army and navy, the directions of  the operations of war,
these, and other matters of a like nature,  constitute what seems
to be most properly understood by the  administration of
government. The persons, therefore, to whose  immediate
management these different matters are committed, ought to  be
considered as the assistants or deputies of the chief magistrate, 
and on this account, they ought to derive their offices from his 
appointment, at least from his nomination, and ought to be
subject  to his superintendence. This view of the subject will at
once  suggest to us the intimate connection between the duration
of the  executive magistrate in office and the stability of the
system of  administration. To reverse and undo what has been done
by a  predecessor, is very often considered by a successor as the
best  proof he can give of his own capacity and desert; and in
addition  to this propensity, where the alteration has been the
result of  public choice, the person substituted is warranted in
supposing that  the dismission of his predecessor has proceeded
from a dislike to  his measures; and that the less he resembles
him, the more he will  recommend himself to the favor of his
constituents. These
considerations, and the influence of personal confidences and 
attachments, would be likely to induce every new President to 
promote a change of men to fill the subordinate stations; and
these  causes together could not fail to occasion a disgraceful
and ruinous  mutability in the administration of the government.
With a positive duration of considerable extent, I connect the 
circumstance of re-eligibility. The first is necessary to give to 
the officer himself the inclination and the resolution to act his 
part well, and to the community time and leisure to observe the 
tendency of his measures, and thence to form an experimental 
estimate of their merits. The last is necessary to enable the 
people, when they see reason to approve of his conduct, to
continue  him in his station, in order to prolong the utility of
his talents  and virtues, and to secure to the government the
advantage of  permanency in a wise system of administration.
Nothing appears more plausible at first sight, nor more
ill-founded upon close inspection, than a scheme which in
relation  to the present point has had some respectable
advocates, I mean that  of continuing the chief magistrate in
office for a certain time, and  then excluding him from it,
either for a limited period or forever  after. This exclusion,
whether temporary or perpetual, would have  nearly the same
effects, and these effects would be for the most  part rather
pernicious than salutary.
One ill effect of the exclusion would be a diminution of the 
inducements to good behavior. There are few men who would not
feel  much less zeal in the discharge of a duty when they were
conscious  that the advantages of the station with which it was
connected must  be relinquished at a determinate period, than
when they were  permitted to entertain a hope of OBTAINING, by
MERITING, a  continuance of them. This position will not be
disputed so long as  it is admitted that the desire of reward is
one of the strongest  incentives of human conduct; or that the
best security for the  fidelity of mankind is to make their
interests coincide with their  duty. Even the love of fame, the
ruling passion of the noblest  minds, which would prompt a man to
plan and undertake extensive and  arduous enterprises for the
public benefit, requiring considerable  time to mature and
perfect them, if he could flatter himself with  the prospect of
being allowed to finish what he had begun, would, on  the
contrary, deter him from the undertaking, when he foresaw that 
he must quit the scene before he could accomplish the work, and
must  commit that, together with his own reputation, to hands
which might  be unequal or unfriendly to the task. The most to be
expected from  the generality of men, in such a situation, is the
negative merit of  not doing harm, instead of the positive merit
of doing good. Another ill effect of the exclusion would be the
temptation to  sordid views, to peculation, and, in some
instances, to usurpation.  An avaricious man, who might happen to
fill the office, looking  forward to a time when he must at all
events yield up the emoluments  he enjoyed, would feel a
propensity, not easy to be resisted by such  a man, to make the
best use of the opportunity he enjoyed while it  lasted, and
might not scruple to have recourse to the most corrupt 
expedients to make the harvest as abundant as it was transitory; 
though the same man, probably, with a different prospect before 
him, might content himself with the regular perquisites of his 
situation, and might even be unwilling to risk the consequences
of  an abuse of his opportunities. His avarice might be a guard
upon  his avarice. Add to this that the same man might be vain or 
ambitious, as well as avaricious. And if he could expect to
prolong  his honors by his good conduct, he might hesitate to
sacrifice his  appetite for them to his appetite for gain. But
with the prospect  before him of approaching an inevitable
annihilation, his avarice  would be likely to get the victory
over his caution, his vanity, or  his ambition.
An ambitious man, too, when he found himself seated on the
summit of his country's honors, when he looked forward to the
time  at which he must descend from the exalted eminence for
ever, and  reflected that no exertion of merit on his part could
save him from  the unwelcome reverse; such a man, in such a
situation, would be  much more violently tempted to embrace a
favorable conjuncture for  attempting the prolongation of his
power, at every personal hazard,  than if he had the probability
of answering the same end by doing  his duty.
Would it promote the peace of the community, or the stability of 
the government to have half a dozen men who had had credit enough
to  be raised to the seat of the supreme magistracy, wandering
among the  people like discontented ghosts, and sighing for a
place which they  were destined never more to possess?
A third ill effect of the exclusion would be, the depriving the 
community of the advantage of the experience gained by the chief 
magistrate in the exercise of his office. That experience is the 
parent of wisdom, is an adage the truth of which is recognized by 
the wisest as well as the simplest of mankind. What more
desirable  or more essential than this quality in the governors
of nations?  Where more desirable or more essential than in the
first magistrate  of a nation? Can it be wise to put this
desirable and essential  quality under the ban of the
Constitution, and to declare that the  moment it is acquired, its
possessor shall be compelled to abandon  the station in which it
was acquired, and to which it is adapted?  This, nevertheless, is
the precise import of all those regulations  which exclude men
from serving their country, by the choice of their 
fellowcitizens, after they have by a course of service fitted 
themselves for doing it with a greater degree of utility.
A fourth ill effect of the exclusion would be the banishing men 
from stations in which, in certain emergencies of the state,
their  presence might be of the greatest moment to the public
interest or  safety. There is no nation which has not, at one
period or another,  experienced an absolute necessity of the
services of particular men  in particular situations; perhaps it
would not be too strong to  say, to the preservation of its
political existence. How unwise,  therefore, must be every such
self-denying ordinance as serves to  prohibit a nation from
making use of its own citizens in the manner  best suited to its
exigencies and circumstances! Without supposing  the personal
essentiality of the man, it is evident that a change of  the
chief magistrate, at the breaking out of a war, or at any 
similar crisis, for another, even of equal merit, would at all
times  be detrimental to the community, inasmuch as it would
substitute  inexperience to experience, and would tend to unhinge
and set afloat  the already settled train of the administration.
A fifth ill effect of the exclusion would be, that it would 
operate as a constitutional interdiction of stability in the 
administration. By NECESSITATING a change of men, in the first 
office of the nation, it would necessitate a mutability of
measures.  It is not generally to be expected, that men will vary
and measures  remain uniform. The contrary is the usual course of
things. And we  need not be apprehensive that there will be too
much stability,  while there is even the option of changing; nor
need we desire to  prohibit the people from continuing their
confidence where they  think it may be safely placed, and where,
by constancy on their  part, they may obviate the fatal
inconveniences of fluctuating  councils and a variable policy.
These are some of the disadvantages which would flow from the 
principle of exclusion. They apply most forcibly to the scheme of
a  perpetual exclusion; but when we consider that even a partial 
exclusion would always render the readmission of the person a
remote  and precarious object, the observations which have been
made will  apply nearly as fully to one case as to the other.
What are the advantages promised to counterbalance these
disadvantages? They are represented to be: 1st, greater
independence in the magistrate; 2d, greater security to the
people.  Unless the exclusion be perpetual, there will be no
pretense to  infer the first advantage. But even in that case,
may he have no  object beyond his present station, to which he
may sacrifice his  independence? May he have no connections, no
friends, for whom he  may sacrifice it? May he not be less
willing by a firm conduct, to  make personal enemies, when he
acts under the impression that a time  is fast approaching, on
the arrival of which he not only MAY, but  MUST, be exposed to
their resentments, upon an equal, perhaps upon  an inferior,
footing? It is not an easy point to determine whether  his
independence would be most promoted or impaired by such an 
As to the second supposed advantage, there is still greater 
reason to entertain doubts concerning it. If the exclusion were
to  be perpetual, a man of irregular ambition, of whom alone
there could  be reason in any case to entertain apprehension,
would, with  infinite reluctance, yield to the necessity of
taking his leave  forever of a post in which his passion for
power and pre-eminence  had acquired the force of habit. And if
he had been fortunate or  adroit enough to conciliate the good-
will of the people, he might  induce them to consider as a very
odious and unjustifiable restraint  upon themselves, a provision
which was calculated to debar them of  the right of giving a
fresh proof of their attachment to a favorite.  There may be
conceived circumstances in which this disgust of the  people,
seconding the thwarted ambition of such a favorite, might 
occasion greater danger to liberty, than could ever reasonably be 
dreaded from the possibility of a perpetuation in office, by the 
voluntary suffrages of the community, exercising a constitutional 
There is an excess of refinement in the idea of disabling the 
people to continue in office men who had entitled themselves, in 
their opinion, to approbation and confidence; the advantages of 
which are at best speculative and equivocal, and are overbalanced
by  disadvantages far more certain and decisive.

The Provision For The Support of the Executive, and the Veto
Power From the New York Packet.
Friday, March 21, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE third ingredient towards constituting the vigor of the
executive authority, is an adequate provision for its support.
It  is evident that, without proper attention to this article,
the  separation of the executive from the legislative department
would be  merely nominal and nugatory. The legislature, with a
discretionary  power over the salary and emoluments of the Chief
Magistrate, could  render him as obsequious to their will as they
might think proper to  make him. They might, in most cases,
either reduce him by famine,  or tempt him by largesses, to
surrender at discretion his judgment  to their inclinations.
These expressions, taken in all the latitude  of the terms, would
no doubt convey more than is intended. There  are men who could
neither be distressed nor won into a sacrifice of  their duty;
but this stern virtue is the growth of few soils; and  in the
main it will be found that a power over a man's support is a 
power over his will. If it were necessary to confirm so plain a 
truth by facts, examples would not be wanting, even in this
country,  of the intimidation or seduction of the Executive by
the terrors or  allurements of the pecuniary arrangements of the
legislative body. It is not easy, therefore, to commend too
highly the judicious  attention which has been paid to this
subject in the proposed  Constitution. It is there provided that
``The President of the  United States shall, at stated times,
receive for his services a  compensation WHICH SHALL NEITHER BE
ANY OTHER EMOLUMENT from the United  States, or any of them.'' It
is impossible to imagine any provision  which would have been
more eligible than this. The legislature, on  the appointment of
a President, is once for all to declare what  shall be the
compensation for his services during the time for which  he shall
have been elected. This done, they will have no power to  alter
it, either by increase or diminution, till a new period of 
service by a new election commences. They can neither weaken his 
fortitude by operating on his necessities, nor corrupt his
integrity  by appealing to his avarice. Neither the Union, nor
any of its  members, will be at liberty to give, nor will he be
at liberty to  receive, any other emolument than that which may
have been  determined by the first act. He can, of course, have
no pecuniary  inducement to renounce or desert the independence
intended for him  by the Constitution.
The last of the requisites to energy, which have been
enumerated, are competent powers. Let us proceed to consider
those  which are proposed to be vested in the President of the
United  States.
The first thing that offers itself to our observation, is the 
qualified negative of the President upon the acts or resolutions
of  the two houses of the legislature; or, in other words, his
power of  returning all bills with objections, to have the effect
of  preventing their becoming laws, unless they should afterwards
be  ratified by two thirds of each of the component members of
the  legislative body.
The propensity of the legislative department to intrude upon the 
rights, and to absorb the powers, of the other departments, has
been  already suggested and repeated; the insufficiency of a mere 
parchment delineation of the boundaries of each, has also been 
remarked upon; and the necessity of furnishing each with
constitutional arms for its own defense, has been inferred and 
proved. From these clear and indubitable principles results the 
propriety of a negative, either absolute or qualified, in the 
Executive, upon the acts of the legislative branches. Without the 
one or the other, the former would be absolutely unable to defend 
himself against the depredations of the latter. He might
gradually  be stripped of his authorities by successive
resolutions, or  annihilated by a single vote. And in the one
mode or the other, the  legislative and executive powers might
speedily come to be blended  in the same hands. If even no
propensity had ever discovered itself  in the legislative body to
invade the rights of the Executive, the  rules of just reasoning
and theoretic propriety would of themselves  teach us, that the
one ought not to be left to the mercy of the  other, but ought to
possess a constitutional and effectual power of  selfdefense.
But the power in question has a further use. It not only serves 
as a shield to the Executive, but it furnishes an additional 
security against the enaction of improper laws. It establishes a 
salutary check upon the legislative body, calculated to guard the 
community against the effects of faction, precipitancy, or of any 
impulse unfriendly to the public good, which may happen to
influence  a majority of that body.
The propriety of a negative has, upon some occasions, been
combated by an observation, that it was not to be presumed a
single  man would possess more virtue and wisdom than a number of
men; and  that unless this presumption should be entertained, it
would be  improper to give the executive magistrate any species
of control  over the legislative body.
But this observation, when examined, will appear rather specious 
than solid. The propriety of the thing does not turn upon the 
supposition of superior wisdom or virtue in the Executive, but
upon  the supposition that the legislature will not be
infallible; that  the love of power may sometimes betray it into
a disposition to  encroach upon the rights of other members of
the government; that a  spirit of faction may sometimes pervert
its deliberations; that  impressions of the moment may sometimes
hurry it into measures which  itself, on maturer reflexion, would
condemn. The primary inducement  to conferring the power in
question upon the Executive is, to enable  him to defend himself;
the secondary one is to increase the chances  in favor of the
community against the passing of bad laws, through  haste,
inadvertence, or design. The oftener the measure is brought 
under examination, the greater the diversity in the situations of 
those who are to examine it, the less must be the danger of those 
errors which flow from want of due deliberation, or of those 
missteps which proceed from the contagion of some common passion
or  interest. It is far less probable, that culpable views of any
kind  should infect all the parts of the government at the same
moment and  in relation to the same object, than that they should
by turns  govern and mislead every one of them.
It may perhaps be said that the power of preventing bad laws 
includes that of preventing good ones; and may be used to the one 
purpose as well as to the other. But this objection will have 
little weight with those who can properly estimate the mischiefs
of  that inconstancy and mutability in the laws, which form the
greatest  blemish in the character and genius of our governments.
They will  consider every institution calculated to restrain the
excess of  law-making, and to keep things in the same state in
which they  happen to be at any given period, as much more likely
to do good  than harm; because it is favorable to greater
stability in the  system of legislation. The injury which may
possibly be done by  defeating a few good laws, will be amply
compensated by the  advantage of preventing a number of bad ones.
Nor is this all. The superior weight and influence of the
legislative body in a free government, and the hazard to the 
Executive in a trial of strength with that body, afford a
satisfactory security that the negative would generally be
employed  with great caution; and there would oftener be room for
a charge of  timidity than of rashness in the exercise of it. A
king of Great  Britain, with all his train of sovereign
attributes, and with all  the influence he draws from a thousand
sources, would, at this day,  hesitate to put a negative upon the
joint resolutions of the two  houses of Parliament. He would not
fail to exert the utmost  resources of that influence to strangle
a measure disagreeable to  him, in its progress to the throne, to
avoid being reduced to the  dilemma of permitting it to take
effect, or of risking the  displeasure of the nation by an
opposition to the sense of the  legislative body. Nor is it
probable, that he would ultimately  venture to exert his
prerogatives, but in a case of manifest  propriety, or extreme
necessity. All well-informed men in that  kingdom will accede to
the justness of this remark. A very  considerable period has
elapsed since the negative of the crown has  been exercised.
If a magistrate so powerful and so well fortified as a British 
monarch, would have scruples about the exercise of the power
under  consideration, how much greater caution may be reasonably
expected  in a President of the United States, clothed for the
short period of  four years with the executive authority of a
government wholly and  purely republican?
It is evident that there would be greater danger of his not 
using his power when necessary, than of his using it too often,
or  too much. An argument, indeed, against its expediency, has
been  drawn from this very source. It has been represented, on
this  account, as a power odious in appearance, useless in
practice. But  it will not follow, that because it might be
rarely exercised, it  would never be exercised. In the case for
which it is chiefly  designed, that of an immediate attack upon
the constitutional rights  of the Executive, or in a case in
which the public good was  evidently and palpably sacrificed, a
man of tolerable firmness would  avail himself of his
constitutional means of defense, and would  listen to the
admonitions of duty and responsibility. In the former 
supposition, his fortitude would be stimulated by his immediate 
interest in the power of his office; in the latter, by the 
probability of the sanction of his constituents, who, though they 
would naturally incline to the legislative body in a doubtful
case,  would hardly suffer their partiality to delude them in a
very plain  case. I speak now with an eye to a magistrate
possessing only a  common share of firmness. There are men who,
under any
circumstances, will have the courage to do their duty at every 
But the convention have pursued a mean in this business, which 
will both facilitate the exercise of the power vested in this 
respect in the executive magistrate, and make its efficacy to
depend  on the sense of a considerable part of the legislative
body.  Instead of an absolute negative, it is proposed to give
the  Executive the qualified negative already described. This is
a power  which would be much more readily exercised than the
other. A man  who might be afraid to defeat a law by his single
VETO, might not  scruple to return it for reconsideration;
subject to being finally  rejected only in the event of more than
one third of each house  concurring in the sufficiency of his
objections. He would be  encouraged by the reflection, that if
his opposition should prevail,  it would embark in it a very
respectable proportion of the  legislative body, whose influence
would be united with his in  supporting the propriety of his
conduct in the public opinion. A  direct and categorical negative
has something in the appearance of  it more harsh, and more apt
to irritate, than the mere suggestion of  argumentative
objections to be approved or disapproved by those to  whom they
are addressed. In proportion as it would be less apt to  offend,
it would be more apt to be exercised; and for this very  reason,
it may in practice be found more effectual. It is to be  hoped
that it will not often happen that improper views will govern  so
large a proportion as two thirds of both branches of the 
legislature at the same time; and this, too, in spite of the 
counterposing weight of the Executive. It is at any rate far less 
probable that this should be the case, than that such views
should  taint the resolutions and conduct of a bare majority. A
power of  this nature in the Executive, will often have a silent
and  unperceived, though forcible, operation. When men, engaged
in  unjustifiable pursuits, are aware that obstructions may come
from a  quarter which they cannot control, they will often be
restrained by  the bare apprehension of opposition, from doing
what they would with  eagerness rush into, if no such external
impediments were to be  feared.
This qualified negative, as has been elsewhere remarked, is in 
this State vested in a council, consisting of the governor, with
the  chancellor and judges of the Supreme Court, or any two of
them. It  has been freely employed upon a variety of occasions,
and frequently  with success. And its utility has become so
apparent, that persons  who, in compiling the Constitution, were
violent opposers of it,  have from experience become its declared
I have in another place remarked, that the convention, in the 
formation of this part of their plan, had departed from the model
of  the constitution of this State, in favor of that of
Massachusetts.  Two strong reasons may be imagined for this
preference. One is  that the judges, who are to be the
interpreters of the law, might  receive an improper bias, from
having given a previous opinion in  their revisionary capacities;
the other is that by being often  associated with the Executive,
they might be induced to embark too  far in the political views
of that magistrate, and thus a dangerous  combination might by
degrees be cemented between the executive and  judiciary
departments. It is impossible to keep the judges too  distinct
from every other avocation than that of expounding the laws.   It
is peculiarly dangerous to place them in a situation to be 
either corrupted or influenced by the Executive.
1 Mr. Abraham Yates, a warm opponent of the plan of the
convention is of this number.


The Command of the Military and Naval Forces, and the Pardoning 
Power of the Executive
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, March 25, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE President of the United States is to 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.'' The propriety of this provision is so evident
in itself,  and it is, at the same time, so consonant to the
precedents of the  State constitutions in general, that little
need be said to explain  or enforce it. Even those of them which
have, in other respects,  coupled the chief magistrate with a
council, have for the most part  concentrated the military
authority in him alone. Of all the cares  or concerns of
government, the direction of war most peculiarly  demands those
qualities which distinguish the exercise of power by a  single
hand. The direction of war implies the direction of the  common
strength; and the power of directing and employing the  common
strength, forms a usual and essential part in the definition  of
the executive authority.
``The President 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 officers.''
This  I consider as a mere redundancy in the plan, as the right
for which  it provides would result of itself from the office.
He is also to be authorized to grant ``reprieves and pardons for 
offenses against the United States, EXCEPT IN CASES OF
IMPEACHMENT.'' Humanity and good policy conspire to dictate,
that  the benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as
possible  fettered or embarrassed. The criminal code of every
country  partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an
easy access  to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice
would wear a  countenance too sanguinary and cruel. As the sense
responsibility is always strongest, in proportion as it is 
undivided, it may be inferred that a single man would be most
ready  to attend to the force of those motives which might plead
for a  mitigation of the rigor of the law, and least apt to yield
to  considerations which were calculated to shelter a fit object
of its  vengeance. The reflection that the fate of a fellow-
creature  depended on his sole fiat, would naturally inspire
scrupulousness and caution; the dread of being accused of
weakness  or connivance, would beget equal circumspection, though
of a  different kind. On the other hand, as men generally derive 
confidence from their numbers, they might often encourage each
other  in an act of obduracy, and might be less sensible to the
apprehension of suspicion or censure for an injudicious or
affected  clemency. On these accounts, one man appears to be a
more eligible  dispenser of the mercy of government, than a body
of men.
The expediency of vesting the power of pardoning in the
President has, if I mistake not, been only contested in relation
to  the crime of treason. This, it has been urged, ought to have 
depended upon the assent of one, or both, of the branches of the 
legislative body. I shall not deny that there are strong reasons
to  be assigned for requiring in this particular the concurrence
of that  body, or of a part of it. As treason is a crime levelled
at the  immediate being of the society, when the laws have once
ascertained  the guilt of the offender, there seems a fitness in
referring the  expediency of an act of mercy towards him to the
judgment of the  legislature. And this ought the rather to be the
case, as the  supposition of the connivance of the Chief
Magistrate ought not to  be entirely excluded. But there are also
strong objections to such  a plan. It is not to be doubted, that
a single man of prudence and  good sense is better fitted, in
delicate conjunctures, to balance  the motives which may plead
for and against the remission of the  punishment, than any
numerous body whatever. It deserves particular  attention, that
treason will often be connected with seditions which  embrace a
large proportion of the community; as lately happened in 
Massachusetts. In every such case, we might expect to see the 
representation of the people tainted with the same spirit which
had  given birth to the offense. And when parties were pretty
equally  matched, the secret sympathy of the friends and favorers
of the  condemned person, availing itself of the good-nature and
weakness of  others, might frequently bestow impunity where the
terror of an  example was necessary. On the other hand, when the
sedition had  proceeded from causes which had inflamed the
resentments of the  major party, they might often be found
obstinate and inexorable,  when policy demanded a conduct of
forbearance and clemency. But the  principal argument for
reposing the power of pardoning in this case  to the Chief
Magistrate is this: in seasons of insurrection or  rebellion,
there are often critical moments, when a welltimed offer  of
pardon to the insurgents or rebels may restore the tranquillity 
of the commonwealth; and which, if suffered to pass unimproved,
it  may never be possible afterwards to recall. The dilatory
process of  convening the legislature, or one of its branches,
for the purpose  of obtaining its sanction to the measure, would
frequently be the  occasion of letting slip the golden
opportunity. The loss of a  week, a day, an hour, may sometimes
be fatal. If it should be  observed, that a discretionary power,
with a view to such
contingencies, might be occasionally conferred upon the
President,  it may be answered in the first place, that it is
questionable,  whether, in a limited Constitution, that power
could be delegated by  law; and in the second place, that it
would generally be impolitic  beforehand to take any step which
might hold out the prospect of  impunity. A proceeding of this
kind, out of the usual course, would  be likely to be construed
into an argument of timidity or of  weakness, and would have a
tendency to embolden guilt.

The Treaty-Making Power of the Executive
For the Independent Journal.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE President is to have power, ``by and with the advice and 
consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of
the  senators present concur.''
Though this provision has been assailed, on different grounds, 
with no small degree of vehemence, I scruple not to declare my
firm  persuasion, that it is one of the best digested and most
unexceptionable parts of the plan. One ground of objection is
the  trite topic of the intermixture of powers; some contending
that the  President ought alone to possess the power of making
treaties;  others, that it ought to have been exclusively
deposited in the  Senate. Another source of objection is derived
from the small  number of persons by whom a treaty may be made.
Of those who  espouse this objection, a part are of opinion that
the House of  Representatives ought to have been associated in
the business, while  another part seem to think that nothing more
was necessary than to  have substituted two thirds of ALL the
members of the Senate, to two  thirds of the members PRESENT. As
I flatter myself the observations  made in a preceding number
upon this part of the plan must have  sufficed to place it, to a
discerning eye, in a very favorable  light, I shall here content
myself with offering only some  supplementary remarks,
principally with a view to the objections  which have been just
With regard to the intermixture of powers, I shall rely upon the 
explanations already given in other places, of the true sense of
the  rule upon which that objection is founded; and shall take it
for  granted, as an inference from them, that the union of the
Executive  with the Senate, in the article of treaties, is no
infringement of  that rule. I venture to add, that the particular
nature of the  power of making treaties indicates a peculiar
propriety in that  union. Though several writers on the subject
of government place  that power in the class of executive
authorities, yet this is  evidently an arbitrary disposition; for
if we attend carefully to  its operation, it will be found to
partake more of the legislative  than of the executive character,
though it does not seem strictly to  fall within the definition
of either of them. The essence of the  legislative authority is
to enact laws, or, in other words, to  prescribe rules for the
regulation of the society; while the  execution of the laws, and
the employment of the common strength,  either for this purpose
or for the common defense, seem to comprise  all the functions of
the executive magistrate. The power of making  treaties is,
plainly, neither the one nor the other. It relates  neither to
the execution of the subsisting laws, nor to the enaction  of new
ones; and still less to an exertion of the common strength.  Its
objects are CONTRACTS with foreign nations, which have the  force
of law, but derive it from the obligations of good faith.  They
are not rules prescribed by the sovereign to the subject, but 
agreements between sovereign and sovereign. The power in question 
seems therefore to form a distinct department, and to belong, 
properly, neither to the legislative nor to the executive. The 
qualities elsewhere detailed as indispensable in the management
of  foreign negotiations, point out the Executive as the most fit
agent  in those transactions; while the vast importance of the
trust, and  the operation of treaties as laws, plead strongly for
participation of the whole or a portion of the legislative body
in  the office of making them.
However proper or safe it may be in governments where the
executive magistrate is an hereditary monarch, to commit to him
the  entire power of making treaties, it would be utterly unsafe
and  improper to intrust that power to an elective magistrate of
four  years' duration. It has been remarked, upon another
occasion, and  the remark is unquestionably just, that an
hereditary monarch,  though often the oppressor of his people,
has personally too much  stake in the government to be in any
material danger of being  corrupted by foreign powers. But a man
raised from the station of a  private citizen to the rank of
chief magistrate, possessed of a  moderate or slender fortune,
and looking forward to a period not  very remote when he may
probably be obliged to return to the station  from which he was
taken, might sometimes be under temptations to  sacrifice his
duty to his interest, which it would require  superlative virtue
to withstand. An avaricious man might be tempted  to betray the
interests of the state to the acquisition of wealth.  An
ambitious man might make his own aggrandizement, by the aid of a 
foreign power, the price of his treachery to his constituents.
The  history of human conduct does not warrant that exalted
opinion of  human virtue which would make it wise in a nation to
commit  interests of so delicate and momentous a kind, as those
which  concern its intercourse with the rest of the world, to the
sole  disposal of a magistrate created and circumstanced as would
be a  President of the United States.
To have intrusted the power of making treaties to the Senate 
alone, would have been to relinquish the benefits of the
constitutional agency of the President in the conduct of foreign 
negotiations. It is true that the Senate would, in that case,
have  the option of employing him in this capacity, but they
would also  have the option of letting it alone, and pique or
cabal might induce  the latter rather than the former. Besides
this, the ministerial  servant of the Senate could not be
expected to enjoy the confidence  and respect of foreign powers
in the same degree with the
constitutional representatives of the nation, and, of course,
would  not be able to act with an equal degree of weight or
efficacy.  While the Union would, from this cause, lose a
considerable  advantage in the management of its external
concerns, the people  would lose the additional security which
would result from the  co-operation of the Executive. Though it
would be imprudent to  confide in him solely so important a
trust, yet it cannot be doubted  that his participation would
materially add to the safety of the  society. It must indeed be
clear to a demonstration that the joint  possession of the power
in question, by the President and Senate,  would afford a greater
prospect of security, than the separate  possession of it by
either of them. And whoever has maturely  weighed the
circumstances which must concur in the appointment of a 
President, will be satisfied that the office will always bid fair
to  be filled by men of such characters as to render their
concurrence  in the formation of treaties peculiarly desirable,
as well on the  score of wisdom, as on that of integrity.
The remarks made in a former number, which have been alluded to 
in another part of this paper, will apply with conclusive force 
against the admission of the House of Representatives to a share
in  the formation of treaties. The fluctuating and, taking its
future  increase into the account, the multitudinous composition
of that  body, forbid us to expect in it those qualities which
are essential  to the proper execution of such a trust. Accurate
and comprehensive  knowledge of foreign politics; a steady and
systematic adherence to  the same views; a nice and uniform
sensibility to national  character; decision, SECRECY, and
despatch, are incompatible with  the genius of a body so variable
and so numerous. The very  complication of the business, by
introducing a necessity of the  concurrence of so many different
bodies, would of itself afford a  solid objection. The greater
frequency of the calls upon the House  of Representatives, and
the greater length of time which it would  often be necessary to
keep them together when convened, to obtain  their sanction in
the progressive stages of a treaty, would be a  source of so
great inconvenience and expense as alone ought to  condemn the
The only objection which remains to be canvassed, is that which 
would substitute the proportion of two thirds of all the members 
composing the senatorial body, to that of two thirds of the
members  PRESENT. It has been shown, under the second head of our
inquiries,  that all provisions which require more than the
majority of any body  to its resolutions, have a direct tendency
to embarrass the  operations of the government, and an indirect
one to subject the  sense of the majority to that of the
minority. This consideration  seems sufficient to determine our
opinion, that the convention have  gone as far in the endeavor to
secure the advantage of numbers in  the formation of treaties as
could have been reconciled either with  the activity of the
public councils or with a reasonable regard to  the major sense
of the community. If two thirds of the whole number  of members
had been required, it would, in many cases, from the  non-
attendance of a part, amount in practice to a necessity of 
unanimity. And the history of every political establishment in 
which this principle has prevailed, is a history of impotence, 
perplexity, and disorder. Proofs of this position might be
adduced  from the examples of the Roman Tribuneship, the Polish
Diet, and the  States-General of the Netherlands, did not an
example at home render  foreign precedents unnecessary.
To require a fixed proportion of the whole body would not, in 
all probability, contribute to the advantages of a numerous
agency,  better then merely to require a proportion of the
attending members.  The former, by making a determinate number at
all times requisite  to a resolution, diminishes the motives to
punctual attendance. The  latter, by making the capacity of the
body to depend on a PROPORTION  which may be varied by the
absence or presence of a single member,  has the contrary effect.
And as, by promoting punctuality, it tends  to keep the body
complete, there is great likelihood that its  resolutions would
generally be dictated by as great a number in this  case as in
the other; while there would be much fewer occasions of  delay.
It ought not to be forgotten that, under the existing 
Confederation, two members MAY, and usually DO, represent a
State;  whence it happens that Congress, who now are solely
invested with  ALL THE POWERS of the Union, rarely consist of a
greater number of  persons than would compose the intended
Senate. If we add to this,  that as the members vote by States,
and that where there is only a  single member present from a
State, his vote is lost, it will  justify a supposition that the
active voices in the Senate, where  the members are to vote
individually, would rarely fall short in  number of the active
voices in the existing Congress. When, in  addition to these
considerations, we take into view the co-operation  of the
President, we shall not hesitate to infer that the people of 
America would have greater security against an improper use of
the  power of making treaties, under the new Constitution, than
they now  enjoy under the Confederation. And when we proceed
still one step  further, and look forward to the probable
augmentation of the  Senate, by the erection of new States, we
shall not only perceive  ample ground of confidence in the
sufficiency of the members to  whose agency that power will be
intrusted, but we shall probably be  led to conclude that a body
more numerous than the Senate would be  likely to become, would
be very little fit for the proper discharge  of the trust.

The Appointing Power of the Executive
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, April 1, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
THE President is ``to NOMINATE, and, by and with the advice and 
consent of the Senate, to appoint ambassadors, other public 
ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other 
officers of the United States whose appointments are not
otherwise  provided for in the Constitution. But the Congress may
by law vest  the appointment of such inferior officers as they
think proper, in  the President alone, or in the courts of law,
or in the heads of  departments. The President shall have power
to fill up ALL  VACANCIES which may happen DURING THE RECESS OF
THE SENATE, by  granting commissions which shall EXPIRE at the
end of their next  session.''
It has been observed in a former paper, that ``the true test of 
a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good 
administration.'' If the justness of this observation be
admitted,  the mode of appointing the officers of the United
States contained  in the foregoing clauses, must, when examined,
be allowed to be  entitled to particular commendation. It is not
easy to conceive a  plan better calculated than this to promote a
judicious choice of  men for filling the offices of the Union;
and it will not need  proof, that on this point must essentially
depend the character of  its administration.
It will be agreed on all hands, that the power of appointment, 
in ordinary cases, ought to be modified in one of three ways. It 
ought either to be vested in a single man, or in a SELECT
assembly  of a moderate number; or in a single man, with the
concurrence of  such an assembly. The exercise of it by the
people at large will be  readily admitted to be impracticable; as
waiving every other  consideration, it would leave them little
time to do anything else.  When, therefore, mention is made in
the subsequent reasonings of an  assembly or body of men, what is
said must be understood to relate  to a select body or assembly,
of the description already given. The  people collectively, from
their number and from their dispersed  situation, cannot be
regulated in their movements by that systematic  spirit of cabal
and intrigue, which will be urged as the chief  objections to
reposing the power in question in a body of men. Those who have
themselves reflected upon the subject, or who  have attended to
the observations made in other parts of these  papers, in
relation to the appointment of the President, will, I  presume,
agree to the position, that there would always be great 
probability of having the place supplied by a man of abilities,
at  least respectable. Premising this, I proceed to lay it down
as a  rule, that one man of discernment is better fitted to
analyze and  estimate the peculiar qualities adapted to
particular offices, than  a body of men of equal or perhaps even
of superior discernment. The sole and undivided responsibility of
one man will naturally  beget a livelier sense of duty and a more
exact regard to reputation.   He will, on this account, feel
himself under stronger obligations,  and more interested to
investigate with care the qualities requisite  to the stations to
be filled, and to prefer with impartiality the  persons who may
have the fairest pretensions to them. He will have  FEWER
personal attachments to gratify, than a body of men who may  each
be supposed to have an equal number; and will be so much the 
less liable to be misled by the sentiments of friendship and of 
affection. A single well-directed man, by a single understanding, 
cannot be distracted and warped by that diversity of views, 
feelings, and interests, which frequently distract and warp the 
resolutions of a collective body. There is nothing so apt to 
agitate the passions of mankind as personal considerations
whether  they relate to ourselves or to others, who are to be the
objects of  our choice or preference. Hence, in every exercise of
the power of  appointing to offices, by an assembly of men, we
must expect to see  a full display of all the private and party
likings and dislikes,  partialities and antipathies, attachments
and animosities, which are  felt by those who compose the
assembly. The choice which may at any  time happen to be made
under such circumstances, will of course be  the result either of
a victory gained by one party over the other,  or of a compromise
between the parties. In either case, the  intrinsic merit of the
candidate will be too often out of sight. In  the first, the
qualifications best adapted to uniting the suffrages  of the
party, will be more considered than those which fit the  person
for the station. In the last, the coalition will commonly  turn
upon some interested equivalent: ``Give us the man we wish for 
this office, and you shall have the one you wish for that.'' This 
will be the usual condition of the bargain. And it will rarely 
happen that the advancement of the public service will be the 
primary object either of party victories or of party
negotiations. The truth of the principles here advanced seems to
have been  felt by the most intelligent of those who have found
fault with the  provision made, in this respect, by the
convention. They contend  that the President ought solely to have
been authorized to make the  appointments under the federal
government. But it is easy to show,  that every advantage to be
expected from such an arrangement would,  in substance, be
derived from the power of NOMINATION, which is  proposed to be
conferred upon him; while several disadvantages  which might
attend the absolute power of appointment in the hands of  that
officer would be avoided. In the act of nomination, his  judgment
alone would be exercised; and as it would be his sole duty  to
point out the man who, with the approbation of the Senate, should 
fill an office, his responsibility would be as complete as if he 
were to make the final appointment. There can, in this view, be
no  difference others, who are to be the objects of our choice or 
preference. Hence, in every exercise of the power of appointing
to  offices, by an assembly of men, we must expect to see a full
display  of all the private and party likings and dislikes,
partialities and  antipathies, attachments and animosities, which
are felt by those  who compose the assembly. The choice which may
at any time happen  to be made under such circumstances, will of
course be the result  either of a victory gained by one party
over the other, or of a  compromise between the parties. In
either case, the intrinsic merit  of the candidate will be too
often out of sight. In the first, the  qualifications best
adapted to uniting the suffrages of the party,  will be more
considered than those which fit the person for the  station. In
the last, the coalition will commonly turn upon some  interested
equivalent: ``Give us the man we wish for this office,  and you
shall have the one you wish for that.'' This will be the  usual
condition of the bargain. And it will rarely happen that the 
advancement of the public service will be the primary object
either  of party victories or of party negotiations.
The truth of the principles here advanced seems to have been 
felt by the most intelligent of those who have found fault with
the  provision made, in this respect, by the convention. They
contend  that the President ought solely to have been authorized
to make the  appointments under the federal government. But it is
easy to show,  that every advantage to be expected from such an
arrangement would,  in substance, be derived from the power of
NOMINATION, which is  proposed to be conferred upon him; while
several disadvantages  which might attend the absolute power of
appointment in the hands of  that officer would be avoided. In
the act of nomination, his  judgment alone would be exercised;
and as it would be his sole duty  to point out the man who, with
the approbation of the Senate, should  fill an office, his
responsibility would be as complete as if he  were to make the
final appointment. There can, in this view, be no  difference
between nominating and appointing. The same motives  which would
influence a proper discharge of his duty in one case,  would
exist in the other. And as no man could be appointed but on  his
previous nomination, every man who might be appointed would be, 
in fact, his choice.
But might not his nomination be overruled? I grant it might,  yet
this could only be to make place for another nomination by 
himself. The person ultimately appointed must be the object of
his  preference, though perhaps not in the first degree. It is
also not  very probable that his nomination would often be
overruled. The  Senate could not be tempted, by the preference
they might feel to  another, to reject the one proposed; because
they could not assure  themselves, that the person they might
wish would be brought forward  by a second or by any subsequent
nomination. They could not even be  certain, that a future
nomination would present a candidate in any  degree more
acceptable to them; and as their dissent might cast a  kind of
stigma upon the individual rejected, and might have the 
appearance of a reflection upon the judgment of the chief
magistrate, it is not likely that their sanction would often be 
refused, where there were not special and strong reasons for the 
To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I 
answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a 
powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an 
excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and 
would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters 
from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal 
attachment, or from a view to popularity. In addition to this, it 
would be an efficacious source of stability in the
administration. It will readily be comprehended, that a man who
had himself the  sole disposition of offices, would be governed
much more by his  private inclinations and interests, than when
he was bound to submit  the propriety of his choice to the
discussion and determination of a  different and independent
body, and that body an entier branch of  the legislature. The
possibility of rejection would be a strong  motive to care in
proposing. The danger to his own reputation, and,  in the case of
an elective magistrate, to his political existence,  from
betraying a spirit of favoritism, or an unbecoming pursuit of 
popularity, to the observation of a body whose opinion would have 
great weight in forming that of the public, could not fail to 
operate as a barrier to the one and to the other. He would be
both  ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most
distinguished or  lucrative stations, candidates who had no other
merit than that of  coming from the same State to which he
particularly belonged, or of  being in some way or other
personally allied to him, or of  possessing the necessary
insignificance and pliancy to render them  the obsequious
instruments of his pleasure.
To this reasoning it has been objected that the President, by 
the influence of the power of nomination, may secure the
complaisance of the Senate to his views. This supposition of 
universal venalty in human nature is little less an error in 
political reasoning, than the supposition of universal rectitude. 
The institution of delegated power implies, that there is a
portion  of virtue and honor among mankind, which may be a
reasonable  foundation of confidence; and experience justifies
the theory. It  has been found to exist in the most corrupt
periods of the most  corrupt governments. The venalty of the
British House of Commons  has been long a topic of accusation
against that body, in the  country to which they belong as well
as in this; and it cannot be  doubted that the charge is, to a
considerable extent, well founded.  But it is as little to be
doubted, that there is always a large  proportion of the body,
which consists of independent and
public-spirited men, who have an influential weight in the
councils  of the nation. Hence it is (the present reign not
excepted) that  the sense of that body is often seen to control
the inclinations of  the monarch, both with regard to men and to
measures. Though it  might therefore be allowable to suppose that
the Executive might  occasionally influence some individuals in
the Senate, yet the  supposition, that he could in general
purchase the integrity of the  whole body, would be forced and
improbable. A man disposed to view  human nature as it is,
without either flattering its virtues or  exaggerating its vices,
will see sufficient ground of confidence in  the probity of the
Senate, to rest satisfied, not only that it will  be
impracticable to the Executive to corrupt or seduce a majority of 
its members, but that the necessity of its co-operation, in the 
business of appointments, will be a considerable and salutary 
restraint upon the conduct of that magistrate. Nor is the
integrity  of the Senate the only reliance. The Constitution has
provided some  important guards against the danger of executive
influence upon the  legislative body: it declares that ``No
senator or representative  shall during the time FOR WHICH HE WAS
ELECTED, be appointed to any  civil office under the United
States, which shall have been created,  or the emoluments whereof
shall have been increased, during such  time; and no person,
holding any office under the United States,  shall be a member of
either house during his continuance in  office.''


The Appointing Power Continued and Other Powers of the Executive 
From the New York Packet.
Friday, April 4, 1788.


To the People of the State of New York:
IT HAS been mentioned as one of the advantages to be expected 
from the co-operation of the Senate, in the business of
appointments, that it would contribute to the stability of the 
administration. The consent of that body would be necessary to 
displace as well as to appoint. A change of the Chief Magistrate, 
therefore, would not occasion so violent or so general a
revolution  in the officers of the government as might be
expected, if he were  the sole disposer of offices. Where a man
in any station had given  satisfactory evidence of his fitness
for it, a new President would  be restrained from attempting a
change in favor of a person more  agreeable to him, by the
apprehension that a discountenance of the  Senate might frustrate
the attempt, and bring some degree of  discredit upon himself.
Those who can best estimate the value of a  steady
administration, will be most disposed to prize a provision  which
connects the official existence of public men with the 
approbation or disapprobation of that body which, from the
greater  permanency of its own composition, will in all
probability be less  subject to inconstancy than any other member
of the government. To this union of the Senate with the
President, in the article  of appointments, it has in some cases
been suggested that it would  serve to give the President an
undue influence over the Senate, and  in others that it would
have an opposite tendency, a strong proof  that neither
suggestion is true.
To state the first in its proper form, is to refute it. It
amounts to this: the President would have an improper INFLUENCE 
OVER the Senate, because the Senate would have the power of 
RESTRAINING him. This is an absurdity in terms. It cannot admit
of  a doubt that the entire power of appointment would enable him
much  more effectually to establish a dangerous empire over that
body,  than a mere power of nomination subject to their control.
Let us take a view of the converse of the proposition: ``the 
Senate would influence the Executive.'' As I have had occasion to 
remark in several other instances, the indistinctness of the 
objection forbids a precise answer. In what manner is this 
influence to be exerted? In relation to what objects? The power
of  influencing a person, in the sense in which it is here used,
must  imply a power of conferring a benefit upon him. How could
the  Senate confer a benefit upon the President by the manner of 
employing their right of negative upon his nominations? If it be 
said they might sometimes gratify him by an acquiescence in a 
favorite choice, when public motives might dictate a different 
conduct, I answer, that the instances in which the President
could  be personally interested in the result, would be too few
to admit of  his being materially affected by the compliances of
the Senate. The  POWER which can ORIGINATE the disposition of
honors and emoluments,  is more likely to attract than to be
attracted by the POWER which  can merely obstruct their course.
If by influencing the President  be meant RESTRAINING him, this
is precisely what must have been  intended. And it has been shown
that the restraint would be  salutary, at the same time that it
would not be such as to destroy a  single advantage to be looked
for from the uncontrolled agency of  that Magistrate. The right
of nomination would produce all the good  of that of appointment,
and would in a great measure avoid its evils.  Upon a comparison
of the plan for the appointment of the
officers of the proposed government with that which is
established  by the constitution of this State, a decided
preference must be  given to the former. In that plan the power
of nomination is  unequivocally vested in the Executive. And as
there would be a  necessity for submitting each nomination to the
judgment of an  entire branch of the legislature, the
circumstances attending an  appointment, from the mode of
conducting it, would naturally become  matters of notoriety; and
the public would be at no loss to  determine what part had been
performed by the different actors. The  blame of a bad nomination
would fall upon the President singly and  absolutely. The censure
of rejecting a good one would lie entirely  at the door of the
Senate; aggravated by the consideration of their  having
counteracted the good intentions of the Executive. If an ill 
appointment should be made, the Executive for nominating, and the 
Senate for approving, would participate, though in different 
degrees, in the opprobrium and disgrace.
The reverse of all this characterizes the manner of appointment 
in this State. The council of appointment consists of from three
to  five persons, of whom the governor is always one. This small
body,  shut up in a private apartment, impenetrable to the public
eye,  proceed to the execution of the trust committed to them. It
is  known that the governor claims the right of nomination, upon
the  strength of some ambiguous expressions in the constitution;
but it  is not known to what extent, or in what manner he
exercises it; nor  upon what occasions he is contradicted or
opposed. The censure of a  bad appointment, on account of the
uncertainty of its author, and  for want of a determinate object,
has neither poignancy nor duration.   And while an unbounded
field for cabal and intrigue lies open, all  idea of
responsibility is lost. The most that the public can know,  is
that the governor claims the right of nomination; that TWO out 
of the inconsiderable number of FOUR men can too often be managed 
without much difficulty; that if some of the members of a
particular council should happen to be of an uncomplying
character,  it is frequently not impossible to get rid of their
opposition by  regulating the times of meeting in such a manner
as to render their  attendance inconvenient; and that from
whatever cause it may  proceed, a great number of very improper
appointments are from time  to time made. Whether a governor of
this State avails himself of  the ascendant he must necessarily
have, in this delicate and  important part of the administration,
to prefer to offices men who  are best qualified for them, or
whether he prostitutes that  advantage to the advancement of
persons whose chief merit is their  implicit devotion to his
will, and to the support of a despicable  and dangerous system of
personal influence, are questions which,  unfortunately for the
community, can only be the subjects of  speculation and
Every mere council of appointment, however constituted, will be 
a conclave, in which cabal and intrigue will have their full
scope.  Their number, without an unwarrantable increase of
expense, cannot  be large enough to preclude a facility of
combination. And as each  member will have his friends and
connections to provide for, the  desire of mutual gratification
will beget a scandalous bartering of  votes and bargaining for
places. The private attachments of one man  might easily be
satisfied; but to satisfy the private attachments  of a dozen, or
of twenty men, would occasion a monopoly of all the  principal
employments of the government in a few families, and would  lead
more directly to an aristocracy or an oligarchy than any  measure
that could be contrived. If, to avoid an accumulation of 
offices, there was to be a frequent change in the persons who
were  to compose the council, this would involve the mischiefs of
a  mutable administration in their full extent. Such a council
would  also be more liable to executive influence than the
Senate, because  they would be fewer in number, and would act
less immediately under  the public inspection. Such a council, in
fine, as a substitute for  the plan of the convention, would be
productive of an increase of  expense, a multiplication of the
evils which spring from favoritism  and intrigue in the
distribution of public honors, a decrease of  stability in the
administration of the government, and a diminution  of the
security against an undue influence of the Executive. And  yet
such a council has been warmly contended for as an essential 
amendment in the proposed Constitution.
I could not with propriety conclude my observations on the
subject of appointments without taking notice of a scheme for
which  there have appeared some, though but few advocates; I mean
that of  uniting the House of Representatives in the power of
making them. I  shall, however, do little more than mention it,
as I cannot imagine  that it is likely to gain the countenance of
any considerable part  of the community. A body so fluctuating
and at the same time so  numerous, can never be deemed proper for
the exercise of that power.  Its unfitness will appear manifest
to all, when it is recollected  that in half a century it may
consist of three or four hundred  persons. All the advantages of
the stability, both of the Executive  and of the Senate, would be
defeated by this union, and infinite  delays and embarrassments
would be occasioned. The example of most  of the States in their
local constitutions encourages us to  reprobate the idea.
The only remaining powers of the Executive are comprehended in 
giving information to Congress of the state of the Union; in 
recommending to their consideration such measures as he shall
judge  expedient; in convening them, or either branch, upon
extraordinary  occasions; in adjourning them when they cannot
themselves agree  upon the time of adjournment; in receiving
ambassadors and other  public ministers; in faithfully executing
the laws; and in  commissioning all the officers of the United
Except some cavils about the power of convening EITHER house of 
the legislature, and that of receiving ambassadors, no objection
has  been made to this class of authorities; nor could they
possibly  admit of any. It required, indeed, an insatiable
avidity for  censure to invent exceptions to the parts which have
been excepted  to. In regard to the power of convening either
house of the  legislature, I shall barely remark, that in respect
to the Senate at  least, we can readily discover a good reason
for it. AS this body  has a concurrent power with the Executive
in the article of  treaties, it might often be necessary to call
it together with a  view to this object, when it would be
unnecessary and improper to  convene the House of
Representatives. As to the reception of  ambassadors, what I have
said in a former paper will furnish a  sufficient answer.
We have now completed a survey of the structure and powers of 
the executive department, which, I have endeavored to show, 
combines, as far as republican principles will admit, all the 
requisites to energy. The remaining inquiry is: Does it also 
combine the requisites to safety, in a republican sense, a due 
dependence on the people, a due responsibility? The answer to
this  question has been anticipated in the investigation of its
other  characteristics, and is satisfactorily deducible from
these  circumstances; from the election of the President once in
four  years by persons immediately chosen by the people for that
purpose;  and from his being at all times liable to impeachment,
trial,  dismission from office, incapacity to serve in any other,
and to  forfeiture of life and estate by subsequent prosecution
in the  common course of law. But these precautions, great as
they are, are  not the only ones which the plan of the convention
has provided in  favor of the public security. In the only
instances in which the  abuse of the executive authority was
materially to be feared, the  Chief Magistrate of the United
States would, by that plan, be  subjected to the control of a
branch of the legislative body. What  more could be desired by an
enlightened and reasonable people? PUBLIUS.


The Judiciary Department
From McLEAN'S Edition, New York.


To the People of the State of New York:
WE PROCEED now to an examination of the judiciary department of 
the proposed government.
In unfolding the defects of the existing Confederation, the 
utility and necessity of a federal judicature have been clearly 
pointed out. It is the less necessary to recapitulate the
considerations there urged, as the propriety of the institution
in  the abstract is not disputed; the only questions which have
been  raised being relative to the manner of constituting it, and
to its  extent. To these points, therefore, our observations
shall be  confined.
The manner of constituting it seems to embrace these several 
objects: 1st. The mode of appointing the judges. 2d. The tenure
by  which they are to hold their places. 3d. The partition of the 
judiciary authority between different courts, and their relations
to  each other.
First. As to the mode of appointing the judges; this is
the same with that of appointing the officers of the Union in 
general, and has been so fully discussed in the two last numbers, 
that nothing can be said here which would not be useless
repetition. Second. As to the tenure by which the judges are to
their places; this chiefly concerns their duration in office;
the  provisions for their support; the precautions for their
According to the plan of the convention, all judges who may be 
appointed by the United States are to hold their offices DURING
GOOD  BEHAVIOR; which is conformable to the most approved of the
State  constitutions and among the rest, to that of this State.
Its  propriety having been drawn into question by the adversaries
of that  plan, is no light symptom of the rage for objection,
which disorders  their imaginations and judgments. The standard
of good behavior for  the continuance in office of the judicial
magistracy, is certainly  one of the most valuable of the modern
improvements in the practice  of government. In a monarchy it is
an excellent barrier to the  despotism of the prince; in a
republic it is a no less excellent  barrier to the encroachments
and oppressions of the representative  body. And it is the best
expedient which can be devised in any  government, to secure a
steady, upright, and impartial
administration of the laws.
Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power 
must perceive, that, in a government in which they are separated 
from each other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, 
will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the 
Constitution; because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or 
injure them. The Executive not only dispenses the honors, but
holds  the sword of the community. The legislature not only
commands the  purse, but prescribes the rules by which the duties
and rights of  every citizen are to be regulated. The judiciary,
on the contrary,  has no influence over either the sword or the
purse; no direction  either of the strength or of the wealth of
the society; and can  take no active resolution whatever. It may
truly be said to have  neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely
judgment; and must ultimately  depend upon the aid of the
executive arm even for the efficacy of  its judgments.
This simple view of the matter suggests several important
consequences. It proves incontestably, that the judiciary is
beyond  comparison the weakest of the three departments of
power1; that  it can never attack with success either of the
other two; and that  all possible care is requisite to enable it
to defend itself against  their attacks. It equally proves, that
though individual oppression  may now and then proceed from the
courts of justice, the general  liberty of the people can never
be endangered from that quarter; I  mean so long as the judiciary
remains truly distinct from both the  legislature and the
Executive. For I agree, that ``there is no  liberty, if the power
of judging be not separated from the  legislative and executive
powers.''2 And it proves, in the last  place, that as liberty can
have nothing to fear from the judiciary  alone, but would have
every thing to fear from its union with either  of the other
departments; that as all the effects of such a union  must ensue
from a dependence of the former on the latter,
notwithstanding a nominal and apparent separation; that as, from 
the natural feebleness of the judiciary, it is in continual
jeopardy  of being overpowered, awed, or influenced by its co-
ordinate  branches; and that as nothing can contribute so much to
its  firmness and independence as permanency in office, this
quality may  therefore be justly regarded as an indispensable
ingredient in its  constitution, and, in a great measure, as the
citadel of the public  justice and the public security.
The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly 
essential in a limited Constitution. By a limited Constitution, I 
understand one which contains certain specified exceptions to the 
legislative authority; such, for instance, as that it shall pass
no  bills of attainder, no ex-post-facto laws, and the like.
Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other
way  than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it
must be  to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of
Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of
particular  rights or privileges would amount to nothing.
Some perplexity respecting the rights of the courts to pronounce 
legislative acts void, because contrary to the Constitution, has 
arisen from an imagination that the doctrine would imply a 
superiority of the judiciary to the legislative power. It is
urged  that the authority which can declare the acts of another
void, must  necessarily be superior to the one whose acts may be
declared void.  As this doctrine is of great importance in all
the American  constitutions, a brief discussion of the ground on
which it rests  cannot be unacceptable.
There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than 
that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of 
the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No
legislative  act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be
valid. To deny  this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is
greater than his  principal; that the servant is above his
master; that the
representatives of the people are superior to the people
themselves;  that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only
what their  powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.
If it be said that the legislative body are themselves the
constitutional judges of their own powers, and that the
construction  they put upon them is conclusive upon the other
departments, it may  be answered, that this cannot be the natural
presumption, where it  is not to be collected from any particular
provisions in the  Constitution. It is not otherwise to be
supposed, that the  Constitution could intend to enable the
representatives of the  people to substitute their WILL to that
of their constituents. It  is far more rational to suppose, that
the courts were designed to be  an intermediate body between the
people and the legislature, in  order, among other things, to
keep the latter within the limits  assigned to their authority.
The interpretation of the laws is the  proper and peculiar
province of the courts. A constitution is, in  fact, and must be
regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It  therefore
belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the  meaning
of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body.  If
there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the 
two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought,
of  course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution
ought  to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the
people to the  intention of their agents.
Nor does this conclusion by any means suppose a superiority of 
the judicial to the legislative power. It only supposes that the 
power of the people is superior to both; and that where the will
of  the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in
opposition to  that of the people, declared in the Constitution,
the judges ought  to be governed by the latter rather than the
former. They ought to  regulate their decisions by the
fundamental laws, rather than by  those which are not
This exercise of judicial discretion, in determining between two 
contradictory laws, is exemplified in a familiar instance. It not 
uncommonly happens, that there are two statutes existing at one 
time, clashing in whole or in part with each other, and neither
of  them containing any repealing clause or expression. In such a
case,  it is the province of the courts to liquidate and fix
their meaning  and operation. So far as they can, by any fair
construction, be  reconciled to each other, reason and law
conspire to dictate that  this should be done; where this is
impracticable, it becomes a  matter of necessity to give effect
to one, in exclusion of the other.   The rule which has obtained
in the courts for determining their  relative validity is, that
the last in order of time shall be  preferred to the first. But
this is a mere rule of construction,  not derived from any
positive law, but from the nature and reason of  the thing. It is
a rule not enjoined upon the courts by legislative  provision,
but adopted by themselves, as consonant to truth and  propriety,
for the direction of their conduct as interpreters of the  law.
They thought it reasonable, that between the interfering acts  of
an EQUAL authority, that which was the last indication of its 
will should have the preference.
But in regard to the interfering acts of a superior and
subordinate authority, of an original and derivative power, the 
nature and reason of the thing indicate the converse of that rule
as  proper to be followed. They teach us that the prior act of a 
superior ought to be preferred to the subsequent act of an
inferior  and subordinate authority; and that accordingly,
whenever a  particular statute contravenes the Constitution, it
will be the duty  of the judicial tribunals to adhere to the
latter and disregard the  former.
It can be of no weight to say that the courts, on the pretense 
of a repugnancy, may substitute their own pleasure to the
constitutional intentions of the legislature. This might as well 
happen in the case of two contradictory statutes; or it might as 
well happen in every adjudication upon any single statute. The 
courts must declare the sense of the law; and if they should be 
disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGMENT, the consequence
would  equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of
the  legislative body. The observation, if it prove any thing,
would  prove that there ought to be no judges distinct from that
body. If, then, the courts of justice are to be considered as the 
bulwarks of a limited Constitution against legislative
encroachments, this consideration will afford a strong argument
for  the permanent tenure of judicial offices, since nothing will 
contribute so much as this to that independent spirit in the
judges  which must be essential to the faithful performance of so
arduous a  duty.
This independence of the judges is equally requisite to guard 
the Constitution and the rights of individuals from the effects
of  those ill humors, which the arts of designing men, or the
influence  of particular conjunctures, sometimes disseminate
among the people  themselves, and which, though they speedily
give place to better  information, and more deliberate
reflection, have a tendency, in the  meantime, to occasion
dangerous innovations in the government, and  serious oppressions
of the minor party in the community. Though I  trust the friends
of the proposed Constitution will never concur  with its
enemies,3 in questioning that fundamental principle of 
republican government, which admits the right of the people to
alter  or abolish the established Constitution, whenever they
find it  inconsistent with their happiness, yet it is not to be
inferred from  this principle, that the representatives of the
people, whenever a  momentary inclination happens to lay hold of
a majority of their  constituents, incompatible with the
provisions in the existing  Constitution, would, on that account,
be justifiable in a violation  of those provisions; or that the
courts would be under a greater  obligation to connive at
infractions in this shape, than when they  had proceeded wholly
from the cabals of the representative body.  Until the people
have, by some solemn and authoritative act,  annulled or changed
the established form, it is binding upon  themselves
collectively, as well as individually; and no
presumption, or even knowledge, of their sentiments, can warrant 
their representatives in a departure from it, prior to such an
act.  But it is easy to see, that it would require an uncommon
portion of  fortitude in the judges to do their duty as faithful
guardians of  the Constitution, where legislative invasions of it
had been  instigated by the major voice of the community.
But it is not with a view to infractions of the Constitution 
only, that the independence of the judges may be an essential 
safeguard against the effects of occasional ill humors in the 
society. These sometimes extend no farther than to the injury of 
the private rights of particular classes of citizens, by unjust
and  partial laws. Here also the firmness of the judicial
magistracy is  of vast importance in mitigating the severity and
confining the  operation of such laws. It not only serves to
moderate the  immediate mischiefs of those which may have been
passed, but it  operates as a check upon the legislative body in
passing them; who,  perceiving that obstacles to the success of
iniquitous intention are  to be expected from the scruples of the
courts, are in a manner  compelled, by the very motives of the
injustice they meditate, to  qualify their attempts. This is a
circumstance calculated to have  more influence upon the
character of our governments, than but few  may be aware of. The
benefits of the integrity and moderation of  the judiciary have
already been felt in more States than one; and  though they may
have displeased those whose sinister expectations  they may have
disappointed, they must have commanded the esteem and  applause
of all the virtuous and disinterested. Considerate men, of  every
description, ought to prize whatever will tend to beget or 
fortify that temper in the courts: as no man can be sure that he 
may not be to-morrow the victim of a spirit of injustice, by
which  he may be a gainer to-day. And every man must now feel,
that the  inevitable tendency of such a spirit is to sap the
foundations of  public and private confidence, and to introduce
in its stead  universal distrust and distress.
That inflexible and uniform adherence to the rights of the
Constitution, and of individuals, which we perceive to be
indispensable in the courts of justice, can certainly not be 
expected from judges who hold their offices by a temporary 
commission. Periodical appointments, however regulated, or by 
whomsoever made, would, in some way or other, be fatal to their 
necessary independence. If the power of making them was committed 
either to the Executive or legislature, there would be danger of
an  improper complaisance to the branch which possessed it; if to
both,  there would be an unwillingness to hazard the displeasure
of either;  if to the people, or to persons chosen by them for
the special  purpose, there would be too great a disposition to
consult  popularity, to justify a reliance that nothing would be
consulted  but the Constitution and the laws.
There is yet a further and a weightier reason for the permanency 
of the judicial offices, which is deducible from the nature of
the  qualifications they require. It has been frequently
remarked, with  great propriety, that a voluminous code of laws
is one of the  inconveniences necessarily connected with the
advantages of a free  government. To avoid an arbitrary
discretion in the courts, it is  indispensable that they should
be bound down by strict rules and  precedents, which serve to
define and point out their duty in every  particular case that
comes before them; and it will readily be  conceived from the
variety of controversies which grow out of the  folly and
wickedness of mankind, that the records of those  precedents must
unavoidably swell to a very considerable bulk, and  must demand
long and laborious study to acquire a competent  knowledge of
them. Hence it is, that there can be but few men in  the society
who will have sufficient skill in the laws to qualify  them for
the stations of judges. And making the proper deductions  for the
ordinary depravity of human nature, the number must be still 
smaller of those who unite the requisite integrity with the 
requisite knowledge. These considerations apprise us, that the 
government can have no great option between fit character; and
that  a temporary duration in office, which would naturally
discourage  such characters from quitting a lucrative line of
practice to accept  a seat on the bench, would have a tendency to
throw the
administration of justice into hands less able, and less well 
qualified, to conduct it with utility and dignity. In the present 
circumstances of this country, and in those in which it is likely
to  be for a long time to come, the disadvantages on this score
would be  greater than they may at first sight appear; but it
must be  confessed, that they are far inferior to those which
present  themselves under the other aspects of the subject.
Upon the whole, there can be no room to doubt that the
convention acted wisely in copying from the models of those 
constitutions which have established GOOD BEHAVIOR as the tenure
of  their judicial offices, in point of duration; and that so far
from  being blamable on this account, their plan would have been 
inexcusably defective, if it had wanted this important feature of 
good government. The experience of Great Britain affords an 
illustrious comment on the excellence of the institution.
1 The celebrated Montesquieu, speaking of them, says: ``Of the 
three powers above mentioned, the judiciary is next to
nothing.'' ``Spirit of Laws.'' vol. i., page 186.
2 Idem, page 181.
3 Vide ``Protest of the Minority of the Convention of
Pennsylvania,'' Martin's Speech, etc.


The Judiciary Continued
From MCLEAN's Edition, New York.


To the People of the State of New York:
NEXT to permanency in office, nothing can contribute more to the 
independence of the judges than a fixed provision for their
support.  The remark made in relation to the President is equally
applicable  here. In the general course of human nature, A POWER
we can never hope  to see realized in practice, the complete
separation of the judicial  from the legislative power, in any
system which leaves the former  dependent for pecuniary resources
on the occasional grants of the  latter. The enlightened friends
to good government in every State,  have seen cause to lament the
want of precise and explicit  precautions in the State
constitutions on this head. Some of these  indeed have declared
that PERMANENT1 salaries should be
established for the judges; but the experiment has in some 
instances shown that such expressions are not sufficiently
definite  to preclude legislative evasions. Something still more
positive and  unequivocal has been evinced to be requisite. The
plan of the  convention accordingly has provided that the judges
of the United  States ``shall at STATED TIMES receive for their
services a  compensation which shall not be DIMINISHED during
their continuance  in office.''
This, all circumstances considered, is the most eligible
provision that could have been devised. It will readily be 
understood that the fluctuations in the value of money and in the 
state of society rendered a fixed rate of compensation in the 
Constitution inadmissible. What might be extravagant to-day,
might  in half a century become penurious and inadequate. It was
therefore  necessary to leave it to the discretion of the
legislature to vary  its provisions in conformity to the
variations in circumstances, yet  under such restrictions as to
put it out of the power of that body  to change the condition of
the individual for the worse. A man may  then be sure of the
ground upon which he stands, and can never be  deterred from his
duty by the apprehension of being placed in a less  eligible
situation. The clause which has been quoted combines both 
advantages. The salaries of judicial officers may from time to
time  be altered, as occasion shall require, yet so as never to
lessen the  allowance with which any particular judge comes into
office, in  respect to him. It will be observed that a difference
has been made  by the convention between the compensation of the
President and of  the judges, That of the former can neither be
increased nor  diminished; that of the latter can only not be
diminished. This  probably arose from the difference in the
duration of the respective  offices. As the President is to be
elected for no more than four  years, it can rarely happen that
an adequate salary, fixed at the  commencement of that period,
will not continue to be such to its end.   But with regard to the
judges, who, if they behave properly, will  be secured in their
places for life, it may well happen, especially  in the early
stages of the government, that a stipend, which would  be very
sufficient at their first appointment, would become too  small in
the progress of their service.
This provision for the support of the judges bears every mark of 
prudence and efficacy; and it may be safely affirmed that,
together  with the permanent tenure of their offices, it affords
a better  prospect of their independence than is discoverable in
the  constitutions of any of the States in regard to their own
judges. The precautions for their responsibility are comprised in
the  article respecting impeachments. They are liable to be
impeached  for malconduct by the House of Representatives, and
tried by the  Senate; and, if convicted, may be dismissed from
office, and  disqualified for holding any other. This is the only
provision on  the point which is consistent with the necessary
independence of the  judicial character, and is the only one
which we find in our own  Constitution in respect to our own
The want of a provision for removing the judges on account of 
inability has been a subject of complaint. But all considerate
men  will be sensible that such a provision would either not be
practiced  upon or would be more liable to abuse than calculated
to answer any  good purpose.