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This is the Project Gutenberg 1.5 release of

The Federalist Papers

FEDERALIST. No. 1
General Introduction

For the Independent Journal.


HAMILTON
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 government.

It is not, however, my design to dwell upon observations of this

nature. I am well aware that it would be disingenuous to resolve

indiscriminately the opposition of any set of men (merely because

their situations might subject them to suspicion) into interested or

ambitious views. Candor will oblige us to admit that even such men

may be actuated by upright intentions; and it cannot be doubted

that much of the opposition which has made its appearance, or may

hereafter make its appearance, will spring from sources, blameless

at least, if not respectable--the honest errors of minds led astray

by preconceived jealousies and fears. So numerous indeed and so

powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the

judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the

wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first

magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would

furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much

persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a

further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the

reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the

truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists.

Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many

other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as

well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a

question. Were there not even these inducements to moderation,

nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which

has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in

politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making

proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be

cured by persecution.

And yet, however just these sentiments will be allowed to be, we

have already sufficient indications that it will happen in this as

in all former cases of great national discussion. A torrent of

angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the

conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that

they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions,

and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of

their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An

enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be

stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and

hostile to the principles of liberty. An over-scrupulous jealousy

of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the

fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere

pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense

of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that

jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble

enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow

and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally

forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security

of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed

judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a

dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal

for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of

zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will

teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to

the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men

who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number

have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people;

commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.

In the course of the preceding observations, I have had an eye,

my fellow-citizens, to putting you upon your guard against all

attempts, from whatever quarter, to influence your decision in a

matter of the utmost moment to your welfare, by any impressions

other than those which may result from the evidence of truth. You

will, no doubt, at the same time, have collected from the general

scope of them, that they proceed from a source not unfriendly to the

new Constitution. Yes, my countrymen, I own to you that, after

having given it an attentive consideration, I am clearly of opinion

it is your interest to adopt it. I am convinced that this is the

safest course for your liberty, your dignity, and your happiness. I

affect not reserves which I do not feel. I will not amuse you with

an appearance of deliberation when I have decided. I frankly

acknowledge to you my convictions, and I will freely lay before you

the reasons on which they are founded. The consciousness of good

intentions disdains ambiguity. I shall not, however, multiply

professions on this head. My motives must remain in the depository

of my own breast. My arguments will be open to all, and may be

judged of by all. They shall at least be offered in a spirit which

will not disgrace the cause of truth.

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

interesting particulars:

THE UTILITY OF THE UNION TO YOUR POLITICAL PROSPERITY

THE INSUFFICIENCY OF THE PRESENT CONFEDERATION

TO PRESERVE THAT UNION THE NECESSITY OF A GOVERNMENT AT LEAST

EQUALLY ENERGETIC WITH THE ONE PROPOSED, TO THE ATTAINMENT OF THIS

OBJECT THE CONFORMITY OF THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTION TO THE TRUE

PRINCIPLES OF REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT

ITS ANALOGY TO YOUR OWN STATE CONSTITUTION

and lastly, THE ADDITIONAL SECURITY WHICH ITS

ADOPTION WILL AFFORD TO THE PRESERVATION OF THAT SPECIES OF

GOVERNMENT, TO LIBERTY, AND TO PROPERTY.

In the progress of this discussion I shall endeavor to give a

satisfactory answer to all the objections which shall have made

their appearance, that may seem to have any claim to your attention.

It may perhaps be thought superfluous to offer arguments to

prove the utility of the UNION, a point, no doubt, deeply engraved

on the hearts of the great body of the people in every State, and

one, which it may be imagined, has no adversaries. But the fact is,

that we already hear it whispered in the private circles of those

who oppose the new Constitution, that the thirteen States are of too

great extent for any general system, and that we must of necessity

resort to separate confederacies of distinct portions of the

whole.1 This doctrine will, in all probability, be gradually

propagated, till it has votaries enough to countenance an open

avowal of it. For nothing can be more evident, to those who are

able to take an enlarged view of the subject, than the alternative

of an adoption of the new Constitution or a dismemberment of the

Union. It will therefore be of use to begin by examining the

advantages of that Union, the certain evils, and the probable

dangers, to which every State will be exposed from its dissolution.

This shall accordingly constitute the subject of my next address.

PUBLIUS.

1 The same idea, tracing the arguments to their consequences, is

held out in several of the late publications against the new

Constitution.


FEDERALIST No. 2


Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence

For the Independent Journal.


JAY
To the People of the State of New York:

WHEN the people of America reflect that they are now called upon

to decide a question, which, in its consequences, must prove one of

the most important that ever engaged their attention, the propriety

of their taking a very comprehensive, as well as a very serious,

view of it, will be evident.

Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of

government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however

it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural

rights in order to vest it with requisite powers. 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



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