May 4, 2010 – Federalist No. 5 Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence (continued) Guest Blogger: Horace Cooper, Legal Commentator and Director of the Institute for Liberty’s Center for Law and Regulation
Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
John Jay continues explaining the need for a United States of America as opposed to either an association of 13 separate and individual states or a collection of three or four nation states. Jay explains his view that there were significant arguments in favor of a union, specifically by arguing that the recent experience with England and Scotland offer good examples of the benefits.
“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.”
Taking up an example that may have been familiar in the eyes of his readers was a useful means for Jay to use to help voters understand the issues that were at stake. The situation facing Scotland and England provided an excellent rationale for the states to reconsider the developing position among some that a confederation or a breakup into separate states would be useful in the long term.
Jay concludes: “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.”
Moreover, the problem was not simply that 13 separate nations were never going to cooperate. Jay argued that even if the States were to divide themselves into as many as three separate nations, they would still face problems that would ultimately jeopardize the well-being of the entire people. ”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.”
In fact, it was Jay’s considered view that by their very nature there would be differences between the various nations now comprising the original 13 states; and that this would lead to disputes. Perhaps you could imagine one nation having more commerce, another more population, still yet another possessing larger navy. Whatever the differences might be – they could not be avoided because the nature of things would be that different influences would occur in each of the separate states — they ultimately would lead to conflicts or fear of conflict. If you increased the number of nation states from three to 10, you likely would only increase the risks of conflict threefold or more because success or failure by one nation would cause her sister nation to take notice and feel some obligation to adjust in response.
“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.”
Jay recognizes that having one nation would eliminate all of those peculiar instances at least in terms of their perception to other countries and greatly attenuate the potential for envy or fear to develop internally. Because as Jay recognized, nation states naturally are attentive to the concerns and changes that occur in other countries and tend to evaluate them in terms of whether these changes either advance or retard their own perceived interests it is useful to minimize them wherever possible.
“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.” Jay concludes by pointing out that the very distance between the states and Western Europe made it more likely that any conflicts that would cause government leaders to take sides would occur here in the Americas and not with “distant nations.”
The very large swath of land and significant population of America potentially were the greatest strength of the nation in unity but could be its greatest weakness in disunity.
Horace Cooper is a Legal Commentator and Director of the Institute for Liberty’s Center for Law and Regulation
23 Responses to “May 4, 2010 – Federalist No. 5 Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence (continued) GuestBlogger: Horace Cooper, Legal Commentator and Director of the Institute for Liberty’s Center for Law and Regulation”
Brad Tepper says:
This experience has been fantastic! Thank you Janine and Cathy.
Now I am stumped. In 1786 John Jay argues for and attempts to secure specific and limited commerce for the Northeastern states with Spain. This was not his assignment either. I believe he was to negotiate rights for the entire confederation of 13 states with Spain. His actions, the Jay-Gardoqui Treaty, thankfully was never ratified.
One year later, he authors Federalist #5. He then argues AGAINST such a negotiation and specific treaty for a factional section of the states.
Can someone explain how this 180 seemed to occur? Who/What were the influences?
Susan H. says:
Good morning everyone,
I had a few thoughts as I read #5. Jay writes “The history of Great Britain is the one 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.” I guess this just drove home the point that history does indeed repeat itself. It behooves us all to be students of history. I recently read a historical novel, The Constant Princess, by Philipia Gregoria. In that novel one of the constant worries of the King was invasion from the Scots in the north.
The other thought I had was in regards to the AZ contoversy. It feels like that state is being forced into a us vs. them position. Instead of the federal government looking out for the Union, they are forcing states to protect their own interests. Now you have other states looking to boycott and withdraw invetments, etc. Sounds to me just like what John Jay was warning against.
I continue to be impressed by the founding fathers.
Chuck Plano, Tx says:
Susan you are exaactly right the Federal Government has failed in it’s first responsibility and that is to protect our borders. This situation has existed for years it is not new. The border states have had to contend with the failure of the Federal Government and the other states have sat by and said it is not my problem. If we are to mantain this union we had better start thinking about what is best for all the states and not just our own. Texas has been at the for front of the EPA because of some of our emmisions but it is because we refine the majority of the oil and gas in this country if we did not the Northeast and Midwest would freeze in the winter and not have transportation. Remember the righters of the Federalist Papers were arguing for this Union with the Enumerated Powers in mind not this Government we see today.
Carolyn Attaway says:
Horace Cooper’s last line in his entry summed up Paper #5 for me; “The very large swath of land and significant population of America potentially were the greatest strength of the nation in unity but could be its greatest weakness in disunity.”
I find it curious that I read this article on the day after I watched the 2nd part of the series “America – The Story of Us”. In the Series, the narrator explained how pioneers continued to expand the States through events such as the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Alamo, the Gold Rush and the Westward Movement in order to create a better life for themselves. The point that was constantly stressed that what made America so different from all other countries was the ability for their people to be free and that they could carve any life they wanted for themselves.
The Series went on to explain how Americans in the West wanted to be connected with the East, so with the existance of steamboats and the building of the Erie Canal, the expansion of commerce crossed the continent and had a major impact of the American way of life.
The great need for commerce and the economic differences between the Northern and Southern States led to a great discord within the Union. This difference eventually led to the Civil War.
I think of the Civil War in this Paper, because I wonder if the Founders had not pushed so hard to create a Union, if the Civil War would have ended differently. Would the Southern States have remained intact, or consumed into the Northern States after their defeat? Would the Northern States have had the right to demand the abolishment and expansion of slavery?
I find that the Founders relentless drive to form a Union may not have prevented disunity between the States, but the formation of the Union gave us an ending which could have otherwise been disastrous to America as a whole.
Like Great Britain, the individual States could have spent years upon years of internal fighting; disrupting any chance of expanding their trade and increasing their strength to be a profitable nation. Instead the Civil War could have turned into multiple civil wars, weakening the states resources to the point of becoming a target for foreign countries to attack. Would we even be a Superpower today?
Even today with the problems we are facing, there are faint whispers of state secession in the wind. I believe the Union should always remain intact. However; the powers the federal government currentlly holds should be scaled back and limited, and the state’s powers should be restored to their full capacity. Also, if the federal government fails to do its job in protecting the states from invasion (i.e. Arizona), then the states should have the right to protect themselves without federal naysaying.
Neal C White says:
Excellent comments by all on Federalist No 5. I cannot help but think that we are today experiencing a continuation of the argument that prompted Jay to write this piece. It seems to me that there is an effort to divide our country. It is amazing the number of so called pundits have written articles criticizing Arizona for the realistic passage of legislation suggesting that they wished to see the law upheld in their state. None of those who are protesting had any suggesting how to deal with the very real problems of murder, drugs, destroying of personal and public property to say nothing of the heavy burden of economic support demanded by the Illegal Immigrants.
If this attitude continues we will see division of our great country in different groups just as Jay is warning us about – and for many of the same reasons he mentioned. Why do we, the citizens, allow this to happen. The vast majority of us are in agreement with Arizona and believe the rest of the Union should support similar action. We are headed for a very bad ending if something is not done to change this attitude and direction that America is now following.
Chuck Plano, Tx says:
The whole problem we have today is the Federal Government with the aid of the Courts exceding the Enumerated Power it was granted under the constitution. If the government operated today as was intended under the original intent of the Constitution the Federal Government would not be involved in 90% of the issues they are involved in today. Just look @ the move today to revise the Clean Water Act to read “all” water instead of just the navigatable waters. With this change the Federal Government will have control of any water in the United States including Playa Lakes. Is this what the Founders intended.
Susan H. says:
No Chuck, I don’t believe this is what the Founders intended. We the People have the power to make a change at the ballot box. The critical question is will the “vast silent majority” get of “our collective duffs” and do something about it. I think websites such as this one and other venues promoting basic civics education may be the key.
David Hathaway says:
Today’s Federalist Paper references the earlier letter from Queen Anne. An editorial I read today referenced even earlier the Magna Carta. Clearly, our Founders were men of letters who understood the precedents of their age. I surely wish our leaders today were as well versed. I would be pleasurably shocked to learn that any of our Congress were reading along with us.
I live in Texas. We are proud of our state, and our superior policy and good management. We are fiercely jealous of our state’s power and push back on the Federal Government’s imposition of policies and costs. In the context of today’s reading, if we were still a Confederacy, it is not hard to imagine that the current AZ brouhaha would lead us to side with her, against the neglectful central government. Heck, we do already!
Likewise, can’t you imagine Michigan or other economically challenged states looking enviously at Texas? It would be a war waiting to happen.
I found it interesting that Jay touted the strength of the Northern Hive against that of the southern states. Remember, he was writing to encourage New Yorkers to ratify the Constitution. Isn’t saying “we are more powerful than those lazy southerners” more of an argument against the Constitution? If this were today, and the writer was a Texan, I bet there would be many voices that said, “what do we need New York for?”
Andy Sparks says:
Excellent comments and observations, especially Brad and Carolyn. I sometimes hear people say the nation would be better under the Articles of Confederation because the states were independently sovereign. However, they don’t seem to realize the internecine conflicts between borders and commerce that would arise if this were the case. Jay and the other Federalists saw first hand what path a loose confederation of nation states were headed. Eventually, even the United States under the Constitution could not hold the union together without a bloody war.
Brad, I believe Jay thought that a 25 year moratorium on use of the Mississippi was reasonable at the time. The territories to the west of the Appalachians were still fairly sparse and perhaps he felt getting Spanish agreement in writing that the river would eventually revert to the U.S. was more important than instant gratification. Also, I don’t think he realized the deep resentment the southern states and western territories had for his negotitations until after the treaty was vilified and eventually not ratified. I think it speaks well to him that he realized the mistake that was almost made and changed his line of thinking regarding it.
To Brad Tepper, I am equally confused about John Jay’s apparent 180 on the virtue of states’ sovereignty verses a strong federal government. I look forward to others’ comments on this.
Ron Meier says:
@ Carolyn. Re the Civil War. Would there even have been a Civil War if a Confederation had continued, with the slave states being soverign? Possibly not, but there might have been other wars between the various Confederacies. We just don’t know, because that’s not the path we chose.
We can look at current day Europe for an example of what might have been. Effectively, the EU is a confederation. Look at the problems that are occuring right now with the Greece situation. We can see the very things the writers of the Federalist were warning us against coming to pass in the EU. The other members of the EU confederation are becoming self centered now that they may have to rescue member Greece. They are asking why should they have to pony up money to rescue their member which has not been fiscally responsible. It will be instructive to see how that one plays out over the next months and years.
Today in The American Thinker is an article entitled “Declaration of Independence As Law”,
written by Ronald R. Cherry. It begins “Our American Declaration of Independence is the supreme, unamendable lawof the United States. Declarational law preceded and trumps our supreme, amendable secular law, the Constitution. As stated in our Declaration, the purpose of secular law (Constitution) is to secure our sacred, unalienable, equal, individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–i.e., private property honestly earned through creative labor : ‘That to secure these rights, Governments [constitutions] are instituted among Men…’ While our Constitution and Bill or Rights are the greatest secular laws ever written, it must be acknowledged that our secular Constitution has a sacred mandate–the Declaration of Independence.
It’s well worth reading the entire article, the premise is sound.
Carolyn Attaway says:
@Ron, I think a civil war would have ensued eventually; just like today we do not like to see other people in other countries being mistreated or enslaved, the people of the North would have began to challenge the morality of slavery. It would still have been an issue.
Greece is a scary situation because the unions in that country have cuddled the Greek citizens for so long. The citizens are rioting in the streets for cut backs such as getting paid for 12 months out of the year instead of 14. Can you imagine?
Joshua Foote says:
john jay was a brilliant man who along with the other authors of the federalist papers helped to address issues that the american people felt needed to be addressed. the federalist papers however seem to address issues that hadnt even happened yet. . some of the federalist paers seem to forshadow the civil war that devistated this country. at this time the federal government was trying to force the country to become a union, and this along with issues such as slaverymay have caused the civil war in 1862
Susan H. says:
To Ron – that is an excellent point you bring up about the EU!
Carolyn Merritt says:
In my opinion Jay was prescient in using the example of the north being generally “the region of strength” and at some time in the future exert the power over the southern portions of the confederacies. They would not act as neighbors but as borderers, would be prey to discords, jealousies, etc. In short, we would be in exactly the situations which some nations want to see us – formidable only to each other. Was Jay talking about the future civil war?
@Ron, not only are we seeing what Jay wrote about happening in Europe, we are seeing it happening here on our own shores today. As he states in Federalist 4 . Now we were a nation that could defend ourselves, and provide ourselves with goods and not only that could now export these same goods to other countries cheaper than they could produce them. What has happened to our commerce? It has gone overseas. We no longer manufacture and export goods that are cheaper than other countries can produce. We no longer provide ourself with goods that we produce.
@ David. I agree. States wax and wane in power and if they were all independent of each other as under the Articles of Confederation, every state would have some resentment against the others for some past fight or jealousy.
Under the Constitution, the states can get along (to an extent). By being united as one entity, the separate states can still have their differences, but also work together during times of hardship, such as the Great Depression.
One of the extracts from the union in England states that a strong union will be able to resist any enemy. It also suggests that our union would be divided by the North and South from the very start. Hmm, it seems that the founding fathers hint about a civil war a lot…So, for the civil war, since part of the union became it’s own enemy, does that detract from our strength as a whole? I know it did at the time, but overall, was it for the best?
This paper seems to focus on the fact that it would be a burden NOT to separate ourselves from Britain. Wonder how parliment reacted to these papers.
What is important to conisder is the context – remember the Federalist Papers were printed/published in New York and were, largely, about persuading New Yorkers to accept the idea of a new nation with a new system of government. Virginia was the largest colony while Pennsylvania was probably the strongest in economic terms. Without New York the country could of – and probably would have – split into a northern country and a southern country. What Jay is doing here in one of the last papers he wrote is to build the case for unity from Massachusetts to Georgia. And he does a brilliant job, in my opinion.
Constituting America says:
A big thank you to Horace Cooper for serving as our Guest Blogger for Federalist No. 5. Excellent analysis fromHorace, and great discussion! Thank you to everyone for participating! I would like to share a few of the lines and thoughts from today’s post and blog comments that particulary resonated with me.
As many pointed out today, the Founding Fathers were visionary in their ability to look down the road and see what the future had in store for the United States. They had this ability because they were keen students of history, political philosophy, and human nature. David said it well, “Clearly, our Founders were men of letters who understood the precedents of their age.”
As Susan H. pointed out, history does repeat itself. Our founders understood that fact much better than we do today. These days we tend to believe we are immune to the cycles that every civilization has experienced throughout the ages. If our forefathers were with us today, they would certainly be able to predict our future better than we can ourselves!
Carolyn pointed out Horace’s last line, which I loved: “The very large swath of land and significant population of America potentially were the greatest strength of the nation in unity but could be its greatest weakness in disunity.” I felt that summed up Federalist #5 perfectly!
I am continuing to learn much from you all! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Please invite others to join us!
Looking forward to Federalist No. 6!
PS – We are working to consolidate all blog comments onto the Daily Guest Bloggers page, and Janine and I will be posting our daily essasy on the Guest Blogger’s Post as “Comments” as well as the usual standalone posts. Please post all your blog comments on the Guest Bloggers Page so its easy to see all the great comments in one place! Thank you!
Seij De Leon says:
The reasoning in Jay’s writing is solid, there wouldn’t of been any other way to make this nation powerful without unity. But it wasn’t a problem free solution, even as the states came together there was still constant internal bickering mainly between the North and South concerning slavery. Had the United States not been formed, their would have been no single power to regulate decisions concerning slavery in newly formed states and separated states could have made chaos in fighting for what they want, earlier in time than just the civil war.
Constituting America says:
Howdy from Texas. What a great conversation today. I have to tell you guys, or y’all, I am really learning from not only our guest scholars, but from you who blog. Today was a most thought provoking dialogue. I thank you for joining us and for spreading the word about our “90 in 90.” A great civic discussion, based on the founding principles of our country, is just what our country needs.
I thank Horace Cooper for his wonderful essay today. Thanks Horace!
I related to what Tricia said in her blog today regarding the fact that a union gives us the ability to disagree yet to unite in times of trouble. An analogy would be a family. Families may bicker but – watch out – because they will defend each other when one is confronted or in danger.
In relation to the founding era and Federalist No. 5, there was still so much to be imagined, discovered and resolved. There was an abundance of mystery in America. This is one of the brilliant aspects of Publius – they had such foresight, almost prophetic. They knew there were differences amongst the peoples of America, with a vast portion of America yet to be discovered and claimed, but they also new that it was better to be with each other rather than against one another; to be governed by a unified vision.
As our two hundred thirty -four years have evolved, it has become apparent that our differences did drive stakes into our passions but they did not dismember us. If we had not found stability as a burgeoning union then we would never have been able to survive the challenges that were to be wrought by the civil war and the great depression.. to name a few.
So what is the relevancy of Federalist No. 5 today? It is in defining the boundaries between the federal government and the states in the twenty first century. It is in the understanding of how much power our founding fathers really intended the federal government to have. It is in the reckoning and reconciling of the autonomy the states were intended to have and should have today. The answers to these questions are complex, especially because it is inordinately hard to rein back leniencies that have already been dispersed. Once one foot is in the door, it is very hard to close it again. Has the federal government planted its boots upon our thresholds too boldly?
I dare say many of us would answer yes. I dare say many of us agree with Arizona in regard to the fact that she has the right to make her own laws, yet look at how her autonomy is disrupting the union. Is this not exactly what Publius was predicting? However, today, is the fault with the state or with the Federal government who failed to protect her and her people? Or is it the state’s right to defend herself? Is this not addressed in the Constitution in Article I Section 8.16? I, personally, would like to hear some thoughts from our scholars as to what exactly Article 1 Section 8.16 means in relation to Arizona.
It is only in the educating of America about the United States Constitution that these questions may be answered. Knowledge is power. We cannot appreciate what has been taken away if we have never known what was rightfully ours in the first place.
The monarchies of Europe didn’t want their “people” educated. An educated people meant that they would be able to see the truths. These truths are self-evident: If we don’t utilize our educated voice someone else will speak for us. And all of our rights will be lost.
The conflict in AZ today really brings home this issue of unity and states’ rights which is so important to understand if we are to protect our country. The federal government needs to get back to playing the role of protecting the states by enforcing the federal laws already put in place. By turning their back on AZ, they are essentially advocating the disunity. I never really understood how important it was to give the states rights to govern their citizens, yet have the federal government to protect and govern the states. I think the only hope is that people of America and especially AZ understand these concepts and educate each other on the consequences of disunity, and they not let our federal government forget the original principles as discussed in these papers.