Over time one of the fascinating ideas that arises time and again is that of 'what is the foundation of the United States?' Normally it is put forward by an individual or group from a religious community or part thereof and an assertion that the government rests on the outlook of same at basis. Reading through some of the Revolution-Constitution era articles a theme starts to come across of just what the People looked to found the Nation upon. Thus some selected readings from them and my thanks to Teaching American History for collecting same together!
From Luther Martin's Objections to the Constitution, 27 JUN 1787:
"The first principle of government is founded on the natural right of individuals, and in perfect equality. Locke, Vattel, Lord Somers, and Dr. Priestly all confirm this principle. This principle of equality, when applied to individuals, is lost in some degree, when he becomes a member of a society, to which it is transferred; and this society, by the name of state or kingdom, is, with respect to others, again on a perfect footing of equality: a right to govern themselves as they please. Nor can any other state, of right, deprive them of this equality. If such a state confederates, it is intended for the good of the whole; and if it again confederates, those rights must be well guarded. Nor can any state demand a surrender of any of those rights; if it can, equality is already destroyed. We must treat as free states with each other upon the same terms of equality that men originally formed themselves into societies. Vattel, Rutherford, and Locke are united in support of the position, that states, as to each other, are in a state of nature."Here the principle of government of Locke and others with the basis of the natural rights of the individuals and those being equal. John Locke looked towards the natural rights of the individual and how things would work corresponding to those rights in economics and government, via the outlook on the theory of value and property, social contracts, price theory, accumulation of wealth and durable goods, and even consciousness of self and where that leads. Reading the Declaration of Independence and one sees the thoughts of Locke throughout the document and the attempt to state clearly how these theories apply to the actual world.
This view was used against the Constitution by Luther Martin, but the concept of Sovereign State to ensure individual rights is part of that outlook. No matter what the form of government it must ensure the free play of such rights and not infringe upon them to the deletirious effect of the individual.
Nicholas Collin writing A Foreign Spectator I on 6 AUG 1787 has this concluding paragraph:
"By various excellent improvements in the public education, the institution of political societies throughout the continent, much may be done. We must however not form a Utopian scheme of making every citizen an enlightened patriot. God has not granted such perfection to human nature in the present state; but ordered the wise and good to direct their weaker brethren, and to chastise refractory members of society. Far be it from me, to recommend passive obedience, or too mechanical habits of discipline: I would rather have the people turbulent than servile. But if men submit to the fidelity and better knowledge of others in their greatest concerns—if they trust their lives in the hands of a physician—if they commit themselves, their families, and properties to the care of an experiences mariner; it is unreasonable to deny their best fellow-citizens, whom they freely chose, those powers of Government absolutely necessary for the well-being of the community, and their own. The majority of a Legislature may indeed sometimes do wrong; but it is very improbable, that there should be less wisdom and integrity in the flower of a nation, chosen as such, than in tumultuary multitudes, or the discontented individuals scattered over the country, whose number and grievances often appear greatly only from the loudness and frequency of their complaints. The necessity of human affairs requires even obedience to laws evidently wrong; and nothing but measures atrociously and immediately pernicious can justify resistance, when the people have the right to remonstrate, and to change the Legislators in a short time. These principles are the plain dictates of sound common sense, and should be engraved on every American heart. Religion itself sanctifies them: it commands us to be subject for conscience sake, to regard the civil power as the minister of God for our good. Rom: 13, and not to use liberty as a cloak of maliciousness I Pet: 2. If the almighty has made civil Government an indispensable means for human felicity, and if the greatest miseries and most horrid crimes are the certain fruits of anarchy; loyalty to a legal Government is a sacred duty to him, and disobedience an atrocious sin. This doctrine should be held up in the pulpit, and taught in the catechism of every denomination. Grown children will understand it equally with the first principles of morality. I would even insert the words to honor and obey the Congress, &c. Sentiments of loyalty this imbibed with the first ideas of religion, among the best and happiest sensations of a young heart; and afterwards confirmed by reason and experience, will be dear and sacred through life."That is a very deep view of his religion and background and what needs to be done to ensure that a common society is kept together. His trust in God, however, is placed within 'the flower of the Nation': Congress. Support of civil government and adhering to it comes so that good work has the possibility of being done. It does not insure good work *is* done and when those deepest rights are violated, then is time to protest. Mr. Collin was obviously familiar with the rabble rousers of his day inciting against *anything* that might have any harmful effect. When ill is done, however, the right of the People to change Legislators is seen as the remedy.
One thing to remember is that the Treaty of Westphalia moved the realm of the religious so that the State could not control the actions of individuals in that regards. To have a common government it must be understood that Westphalia is *also* an underpinning of understanding the US Constitution and that this division between the right of the People to have variety of religion without State mandate is to be sustained by government. That is why acting in conscience when things that are horrific are put forward is necessary, but things merely contrary to an interpretation or precept not held in common is also necessary.
And yet there must be a safeguard for freedom and in that Atticus No. 1 from 9 AUG 1787 puts forward the following:
"Republicanism, a few years ago, was all the vogue of politicians. "A government of laws and not of men." But now the aristocratics and monarchy-men on the one hand, and the insurgent party on the other, are with different views contending for a "government of men, and not of laws." The weakness of republics is become the everlasting theme of speculative politicians. While a man of less enthusiasm, on remarking the extravagancies of parties, is ready to say,Liberty is the securer of freedom by acting with reason and reasonably. With this view returns Locke and the concept of an individual making the best of their own labor for advancement and acting rightly in life. That is individual freedom to do good by doing right. And what is good for one People and State is not necessarily good for another, but any State that denies the ability of an individual to act to the right within their society and to ensure that they get reward for their labor is seen as a *bad* government. Again this is a voice for Federalism and the Constitution, and it looks to the individual to decide what is right for themselves so as to exercise liberty and have freedom in those things that allow a good life to be had.For forms of government let fools contest,But even this is not strictly true. A government may be deficient in its form: and afford no principles on which the executive power shall proceed. We may therefore define a good government thus. It is that which contains a good system of laws, with provision suitable and sufficient, for the putting them into execution. By whatever name such a government be called, it is a good one. The goodness of forms of government is, however, almost wholly relative. Some agree with one nations, with respect to their temper and circumstances, some with another. Habit and actual experience alone, can absolutely determine that which is fit for any individual State.
Whate’er is best administ’red is best.
Liberty, when considered as a power, is the unrestrained power of acting reasonably: As a privilege, it is the security which a man feels in acting rightly and enjoying the fruit of his own labor. When either of these are wanting, the people are not free, although their government may be called a democracy. When these exist, the people are free, although the government may be stiled an absolute monarchy. For an absolute, and arbitrary government, are very different things."
On the other side come Federal Farmer No. 6 on 25 DEC 1787 to look at what makes government:
"Good government is generally the result of experience and gradual improvements, and a punctual execution of the laws is essential to the preservation of life, liberty, and property. Taxes are always necessary, and the power to raise them can never be safely lodged without checks and limitation, but in a full and substantial representation of the body of the people; the quantity of power delegated ought to be compensated by the brevity of the time of holding it, in order to prevent the possessors increasing it. The supreme power is in the people, and rulers possess only that portion which is expressly given them; yet the wisest people have often declared this is the case on proper occasions, and have carefully formed stipulations to fix the extent, and limit the exercise of the power given.The securing of the right to trial by jury and here, again, liberty is seen as being able to secure one's own gain by one's hand. Restraing of government and mild government that acceeds to the wishes of the governed is seen as paramount. The People are the Sovereign and soul guide in a Federal Republic with representative democracy as its means of wielding power. That is where the power of the State comes from: the People.
The people by Magna Charta, &c. did not acquire powers, or receive privileges from the king, they only ascertained and fixed those they were entitled to as Englishmen; the title used by the king "we grant," was mere form. Representation, and the jury trial, are the best features of a free government ever as yet discovered, and the only means by which the body of the people can have their proper influence in the affairs of government.
In a federal system we must not only balance the parts of the same government, as that of the state, or that of the union; but we must find a balancing influence between the general and local governments — the latter is what men or writers have but very little or imperfectly considered.
A free and mild government is that in which no laws can be made without the formal and free consent of the people, or of their constitutional representatives; that is, of a substantial representative branch. Liberty, in its genuine sense, is security to enjoy the effects of our honest industry and labours, in a free and mild government, and personal security from all illegal restraints.
Of rights, some are natural and unalienable, of which even the people cannot deprive individuals: Some are constitutional or fundamental; these cannot be altered or abolished by the ordinary laws; but the people, by express acts, may alter or abolish them — These, such as the trial by jury, the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus, &c. individuals claim under the solemn compacts of the people, as constitutions, or at least under laws so strengthened by long usuage as not to be repealable by the ordinary legislature — and some are common or mere legal rights, that is, such as individuals claim under laws which the ordinary legislature may alter or abolish at pleasure."
From both the pro and con side of the Constitution is coming together the ideas that government is made by consent of the governed. Neither the pro nor con side is appealing to 'higher power' although many hold that America is divinely inspired, but the direction of that inspiration is often one that is missed by those looking to her past and deep roots in this or that document from religious past. The individuals of the Revolution-Constitution period well knew those documents, their outlook and their basis for being. And they also remember the Protestant Reformation and its basis, along with Counter-Reformation and the bloody wars that deeply divided Christianity across Europe to the tune of 15%-20% of the population dead due to the 30 Years War alone. The Peace of Westphalia would end religious basis for enforcing State religion upon the people of a State and start the long, slow process of Civil Government via the Nation State system.
John Jay in Federalist No. 2 on 31 OCT 1787 would point to the providence that led these diverse people to a new land:
"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.A firmer view of the Providence leading people to America is hard to find! Yet even he recognizes that while religion may join those people they are only similar in manners and customs and must work jointly with each other so as to win independence for all. For all that Providence led people here, there is one thing that it could not do: guarantee success. John Jay goes on to write:
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."
"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 well-balanced 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.All of those same patriots with all their wisdom had *failed* at their first try to get a good government put together. Apparently Providence didn't see too fit to inform folks on what the nature of government should be. For hearing the grandness of past religious documents and their outlook, the plain and simple fact that 'government is instuted amongst men' and should rule with 'the consent of the governed' did not guarantee it would do this thing known as 'work out'.
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 persuaded 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."
Nicholas Collin in A Foreign Spectator XXVIII on 28 SEP 1787 looks into the role of religion amongst the States and in the proposed Union:
"The rational opinion, that sincere worshippers in whatever religion are pleasing to Almighty God, is now pretty generally established in all civilized nations. It is of the highest consequence, because the belief that eternal happiness depends on a particular creed or mode of worship, will prompt even good men to establish such at all adventures. We must not however imagine that this species of bigotry has alone produced the many religious wars and tumults; for there are antipathies arising merely from the peculiar genius of a religion, capable of doing much hurt. Any thing that appears to another sect very absurd, mean, unsocial, &c. has an ill effect. A bad influence on manners and government is a serious affair. If it cannot be helped, divide et impera is a good maxim with religious as other parties—where any sect has a decided superiority, or a rapid increase, others may be encouraged. Indifferency is not the proper remedy against superstition; for a very defective religion is better than none. Let then the several professions respect the advantages of each other, and with candid benevolence criticize mutual infirmities—Let the bright luminary of reason gradually rise, and shed its majestic radiance over this western world; it will manifest to all the same great God, and the same road to happiness here and hereafter."That era before 1648 was not forgotten and the Founders read about it and its horrors and did not want that repeated in this new land. By putting forth that the differences between religion should be respected and that benevolent criticism help in dialog to find problems, the ability to have discourse upon religion is achieved. Even and especially since there is no one, single view on what the Divine *is*. And as Europe was torn by wars over interpretational disputes on one particular religion and the diversity of that opinion caused many more outbreaks of violence, then it is perhaps best to recognize that there is no solitary view of it and that all should be respected so long as their practitioners keep a civil tongue. Yes, dialog seen as a cure for religious hatred... now if only all religions would take up that 'live and let live' attitude.
Noah Webster writes as A Citizen of America on 17 OCT 1787:
"Of all the memorable eras that have marked the progress of men from the savage state to the refinements of luxury, that which has combined them into society, under a wise system of government, and given form to a nation, has ever been recorded and celebrated as the most important. Legislators have ever been deemed the greatest benefactors of mankind—respected when living, and often deified after their death. Hence the fame of Fohi and Confucius—of Moses, Solon and Lycurgus—of Romulus and Numa—of Alfred, Peter the Great, and Mango Capac; whose names will be celebrated through all ages, for framing and improving constitutions of government, which introduced order into society and secured the benefits of law to millions of the human race.That is pretty forceful stuff, to say the least. And *still* radical in parts of the Middle East!
This western world now beholds an era important beyond conception, and which posterity will number with the age of Czar of Muscovy, and with the promulgation of the Jewish laws at Mount Sinai. The names of those men who have digested a system of constitutions for the American empire, will be enrolled with those of Zamolxis and Odin, and celebrated by posterity with the honors which less enlightened nations have paid to the fabled demi-gods of antiquity.
But the origin of the AMERICAN REPUBLIC is distinguished by peculiar circumstances. Other nations have been driven together by fear and necessity—the governments have generally been the result of a single man’s observations; or the offspring of particular interests. IN the formation of our constitution, the wisdom of all ages is collected—the legislators of antiquity are consulted—as well as the opinions and interests of the millions who are concerned. In short, in it an empire of reason."
Yes, this was on the PRO side of the Constitution, putting forth that past empires under religious doctrine will be lumped together in the view of this new American Republic which shall be highly different from all of them as it distills that which is best and reasonable from all of them. Thus there is no one source for creating good government, but it comes from a diversity that stretches far and wide across cultures and history.
In Federalist No. 3 on 03 NOV 1787, John Jay actually looks to what is expected of a Nation in the way of Treaties and mentions 1685:
"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 circumspection 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.Here the reciprocity between Nations is upheld as Primary amongst Nations. And there you also have one of the limits of men: pride. I do suppose that some may have noted it strange to point out that a National Government will not have pride of itself and then turn around to point out that this will be a strong Nation able to command respect. Still, even with that dichotomy there is the view of the reciprocity amongst Nations being paramount and that is put forth by Jay as necessary in the realm of Nations.
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 basis of the Nation State known as the United States, then, so far:
- Government is founded on Natural Rights of Man.
- Respect for religion in the commonality of it held by the People.
- Government of Laws amongst men, not of Men dictating Laws to the People.
- Accountability of government to the People is paramount.
- Liberty is the protection of men by Law so that men can partake of their industry and work.
- Government by the People must have limitations upon it and have the greatest voice possible in a democracy.
- Understanding the imperfection of Man even when brought together by Providence.
- Reciprocity between Nations is from the smallest and weakest to the most powerful is paramount in how a free People act with the world.
"Americans are not a perfect people, but we are called to a perfect mission."Bear with me on this, if you can. We have made the slide from religion to civil government to control of the forces of a Nation State. That damned foundation thing is slippery, but always there. Given how history has shifted, it is a natural change in course and one, apparently, that we have forgotten in the modern era.
Now comes the hard part on warfare and when a Nation must resort to it. For this we look to John Jay in Federalist No. 3:
"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.He is restating the Jus ad bellum concept here with respect to the United States and what it should do in its foreign affairs. And the just causes of war are: breaking of Treaties and violence directed at the Nation. This was not the only view of when war should be waged or even of how to protect the Citizenry in a diverse Nation. Another theme struck up is done by Brutus in Brutus No. 7 on 03 JAN 1788:
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. For this opinion various reasons may be assigned."
"The pretended demonstration of this writer will instantly vanish, when it is considered, that the protection and defence of the community is not intended to be entrusted solely into the hands of the general government, and by his own confession it ought not to be. It is true this system commits to the general government the protection and defence of the community against foreign force and invasion, against piracies and felonies on the high seas, and against insurrections among ourselves. They are also authorised to provide for the administration of justice in certain matters of a general concern, and in some that I think are not so. But it ought to be left to the state governments to provide for the protection and defence of the citizen against the hand of private violence, and the wrongs done or attempted by individuals to each other — Protection and defence against the murderer, the robber, the thief, the cheat, and the unjust person, is to be derived from the respective state governments. — The just way of reasoning therefore on this subject is this, the general government is to provide for the protection and defence of the community against foreign attacks, &c., they therefore ought to have authority sufficient to effect this, so far as is consistent with the providing for our internal protection and defence. The state governments are entrusted with the care of administring justice among its citizens, and the management of other internal concerns, they ought therefore to retain power adequate to the end. The preservation of internal peace and good order, and the due administration of law and justice, ought to be the first care of every government. — The happiness of a people depends infinitely more on this than it does upon all that glory and respect which nations acquire by the most brilliant martial achievements — and I believe history will furnish but few examples of nations who have duly attended to these, who have been subdued by foreign invaders. If a proper respect and submission to the laws prevailed over all orders of men in our country; and if a spirit of public and private justice, oeconomy and industry influenced the people, we need not be under any apprehensions but what they would be ready to repel any invasion that might be made on the country. And more than this, I would not wish from them — A defensive war is the only one I think justifiable — I do not make these observations to prove, that a government ought not to be authorised to provide for the protection and defence of a country against external enemies, but to shew that this is not the most important, much less the only object of their care."You thought this argument was relatively new and limited to the modern era? No, for a democracy looking at defensive war as the only justifiable sort has been present since the Founding era. It is, in general, an Isolationist view that unless one has been attacked there is no compunction for offensive force. But no government, in this view, is to stand between the individual to defend oneself as that is considered to be a matter for the States (plural) to decide each to their own liking. Thusly, from that view, is that the Citizen should *also* be ready to jump to the defense of their Nation if it is invaded.
Radical stuff, huh?
For those arguing, today, that defensive war is the only justifiable sort, then they must *also* put up that the Citizenry must be armed under their own cognizance to do the work of defending the Nation on their own within their States. That is a wholly and self-consistant line of reasoning clearly stated by Brutus: men do not give up arms to the State and must defend themselves and their Nation. Can we get some of that heady stuff today from those who argue only FOR defensive war? Will they all sign pledges to learn arms, take them up, protect themselves and their Nations in that doing so as to secure the Nation's Laws for the greatest possible freedom and liberty for all?
It was put INTO the Constitution in Article I, Section 10 along with Amendment II!
It is along this line that Brutus No. 1 looks at other Nations and the power they wield with their militaries:
"The magistrates in every government must be supported in the execution of the laws, either by an armed force, maintained at the public expence for that purpose; or by the people turning out to aid the magistrate upon his command, in case of resistance.Beyond the general disbelief of the last part of distance being a problem for the Republic in the way of knowing one's representatives, the previous point on the use of force by magistrates is pointed. When government becomes non-representative and one does not have a chance to actually *know* their representative, democracy starts to fail. A standing army must only be used in the extremest of circumstances to uphold the law in a free republic, because the foundation of that republic is not upon force but upon the People. Once there is a disjoint in democracy, those in power will seek to abuse their power to enforce their rules and edict and will pay for force to be used.
In despotic governments, as well as in all the monarchies of Europe, standing armies are kept up to execute the commands of the prince or the magistrate, and are employed for this purpose when occasion requires: But they have always proved the destruction of liberty, and [are] abhorrent to the spirit of a free republic. In England, where they depend upon the parliament for their annual support, they have always been complained of as oppressive and unconstitutional, and are seldom employed in executing of the laws; never except on extraordinary occasions, and then under the direction of a civil magistrate.
A free republic will never keep a standing army to execute its laws. It must depend upon the support of its citizens. But when a government is to receive its support from the aid of the citizens, it must be so constructed as to have the confidence, respect, and affection of the people." Men who, upon the call of the magistrate, offer themselves to execute the laws, are influenced to do it either by affection to the government, or from fear; where a standing army is at hand to punish offenders, every man is actuated by the latter principle, and therefore, when the magistrate calls, will obey: but, where this is not the case, the government must rest for its support upon the confidence and respect which the people have for their government and laws. The body of the people being attached, the government will always be sufficient to support and execute its laws, and to operate upon the fears of any faction which may be opposed to it, not only to prevent an opposition to the execution of the laws themselves, but also to compel the most of them to aid the magistrate; but the people will not be likely to have such confidence in their rulers, in a republic so extensive as the United States, as necessary for these purposes. The confidence which the people have in their rulers, in a free republic, arises from their knowing them, from their being responsible to them for their conduct, and from the power they have of displacing them when they misbehave: but in a republic of the extent of this continent, the people in general would be acquainted with very few of their rulers: the people at large would know little of their proceedings, and it would be extremely difficult to change them. The people in Georgia and New-Hampshire would not know one another’s mind, and therefore could not act in concert to enable them to effect a general change of representatives. The different parts of so extensive a country could not possibly be made acquainted with the conduct of their representatives, nor be informed of the reasons upon which measures were founded. The consequence will be, they will have no confidence in their legislature, suspect them of ambitious views, be jealous of every measure they adopt, and will not support the laws they pass. Hence the government will be nerveless and inefficient, and no way will be left to render it otherwise, but by establishing an armed force to execute the laws at the point of the bayonet — a government of all others the most to be dreaded."
That is a very, very worrying part of democracy and it has, indeed, fallen apart that way in many Nations and led to World Wars after that failure in Germany and Italy, in the 1930's, and the inability of the Russian February Revolution to prove capable in 1917. The easy and ready resort to force in Lebanon caused problems after its Civil War and continues to be a major problem to this day.
In Federalist No. 6 on 14 NOV 1787, Alexander Hamilton uses the entire tract to point out that disunited groupings of States tend to go into internecine warfare and that even republics have done so in the past. That continues on in Federalist No. 7 on 15 NOV 1787, Federalist No. 8 on 20 NOV 1787, and so on until James Madison in Federalist No. 14 on 30 NOV 1787 finally puts the size argument to the test and demonstrates the smallness of the proposed Union. Both then go on to look at other Confederacies and their failures and look to a Federal Union that would unite the States together. In Federalist No. 23 on 18 DEC 1787:
"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.By not having 13 separate responses to National problems, there is a stronger and single unified response that is under care of one government. Thus the gamesmanship against other Confederacies, to subvert or vex one or two members cannot be done. Threats over time must be addressed and countered and only one, single government can do the necessary work to meet such future threats. Hamilton did not have to *invent* such dangers and put forward that danger was already close at hand from foreign Nations in Federalist No. 24 on 19 DEC 1787:
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 limitation, because it is impossible to foresee or define the extent and variety of national exigencies, and the correspondent extent and variety of the means which may be necessary to 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."
"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."We usually think of the Atlantic Ocean as being an isolationist barrier, but at the time of the Founding it had many stepping stones from other Nations that were right near the US coastline. One did not have to imagine such as Piracy had played a large part in harassing the US coastline in the century preceding the Revolution. The ocean was not a moat to cross, but already had bases from foreign powers with interest in America. Hamilton goes on to argue in Federalist No. 25 on 21 DEC 1787, that purely State militias are not enough:
"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."Dupes? Well, there was certainly a need for a continuing Army, that is to be sure, and the personal strength of character in the person of Washington ensured that there would be men staying on past initial one-year enlistment. That said even with three major Armies to cover North, Central and Southern Colonies, Washington was to depend upon militias and broken regulars to back up his forces. And smaller bands would play decisive roles, like the Battle of Cowpens. The long term, National outlook is correct, however, although the reliance on heavy forces is no guarantee of victory, as the British can also attest to.
Yes, this does have a point to it! Really!
One of the most vital arguments that Hamilton puts forth for the restriction of the militia is that it will not last beyond two years and needs to be re-affirmed, by Congress, on that basis so that the Union can have ANY armed forces. Yes, strange as it may seem, that is what the two year language is all about in the Constitution and here is the rationale behind it from Federalist No. 26 on 22 DEC 1787:
"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 discontent.Armed forces in perpetuity would just not happen as the entire shebang would be argued over every two years. He is serious. Deadly serious.
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."
Heard any of that recently?
Just isolate that last bit now and read it very, very, very carefully:
"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."Wow!
There we have it: one of the foremost proponents for the Federal arrangement and Federalism describing a conspiracy to continue on armed forces without much if any debate being the GROUNDS to recall all authority from the States to the Union. As in 'forthwith' and 'immediately' and then to break up the entire establishment of the Union all the way down to Counties so as to establish democracy *again*.
And there you have the foremost thinker on Federalism for the founding of the United States now describing a military in perpetuity with little or no debate on having one *and* acting together to do so. To put it into modern parlance - the sovereign right of the People to recall their authority is paramount to *having* a republic of free people. When abuse of that National Government gets so high the people should recall their representatives and declare themselves FREE from such compact as allows that to continue onwards.
Here the argument of: 'different era, different needs' always arises. If you enjoy freedom and one of the foremost thinkers on how to build a free republic puts in that one very, very particular part of the accountability is vital for all future times, then do you just *ignore it* and try to explain it away?
And if you don't adhere to keeping to the outlook given, then how will you ever discern between limited and unlimited authority in Federal Government?
Hamilton, with that, is not looking to safeguard Federalism. It is democracy and having government accountable to the people that he is safeguarding. Federal government is one form of democracy, accomplished with the Constitution via representation. When the representatives no longer are *known* to the people as individuals, when they become so distant as to accrue power to themselves and treat free people as *subjects*, and when they do not even debate one of the principles of accountability in the entire federalist system it is time to recall the representatives and revoke their power.
And get back to purely local democracy and *start over* for that is the foundation of democracy.
Hasn't it ever been mentioned that the founders were Revolutionaries?