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FReeper Book Club: The Debate over the Constitution, Federalist #3
A Publius/Billthedrill Essay | 4 March 2010 | Publius & Billthedrill

Posted on 03/04/2010 7:56:50 AM PST by Publius

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1 posted on 03/04/2010 7:56:51 AM PST by Publius
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To: 14themunny; 21stCenturion; 300magnum; A Strict Constructionist; abigail2; AdvisorB; Aggie Mama; ...
Ping! The thread has been posted.

Earlier threads:

FReeper Book Club: The Debate over the Constitution
5 Oct 1787, Centinel #1
6 Oct 1787, James Wilson’s Speech at the State House
8 Oct 1787, Federal Farmer #1
9 Oct 1787, Federal Farmer #2
18 Oct 1787, Brutus #1
22 Oct 1787, John DeWitt #1
27 Oct 1787, John DeWitt #2
27 Oct 1787, Federalist #1
31 Oct 1787, Federalist #2

2 posted on 03/04/2010 7:58:29 AM PST by Publius (Come study the Constitution with the FReeper Book Club.)
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To: Publius

Jay made a clear argument just based on statistics. Most people struggle with the concept that an airplane with two engines is twice as likely to have an engine failure as a plane with one engine. But it is the truth. Each engine has a one percent chance of failure. Two engines have two times one percent, or two percent chance for failure.

A nation with thirteen powers acting on their own behalf is 13 times more likely to engage in mischief than a nation with one power. Jay’s ideals, though, are obvious from his poor prediction of the state of Indian affairs. Jay believed that the central government would attract the best and brightest because of increased opportunity to do good. He ommitted the fact that it would also attract the most unscrupulous characters because of the increased opportunity to do harm.

His time spent in European courts should have made this clear. Often the king’s men do not care about the best interests of the king. They have repeatedly acted intentionally to harm the monarchy and promote their own interests. Sometimes this was good, sometimes it was not. Jay’s opinion here is a glossover, and for that reason, I’ve ignored it for many years.


3 posted on 03/04/2010 8:23:47 AM PST by sig226 (Bring back Jimmy Carter!)
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To: Publius
Jay once again is arguing with phantoms. He's making the case for something which was not in question, apparantly continuing his theme from the last essay of conflating opposition to the Constitution with disunionism, and on the flipside, conflating the benefits of union with the benefits of the Constitution.

In reality, the question was not union or disunion. The question was whether to keep their federal system or replace it with the consolidated national system of the new Constitution.

4 posted on 03/04/2010 8:34:53 AM PST by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the majority? A: They're complaining about the fillibuster.)
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To: Huck
Have you read Hamlton's Curse, by Thomas DiLorenzo?
5 posted on 03/04/2010 8:46:30 AM PST by Publius (Come study the Constitution with the FReeper Book Club.)
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To: sig226

“Most people struggle with the concept that an airplane with two engines is twice as likely to have an engine failure as a plane with one engine. But it is the truth. Each engine has a one percent chance of failure. Two engines have two times one percent, or two percent chance for failure.”

True, but the probability of a one engine plane running on zero engines is 1%.

The chance of a two engine plane running on zero engines is 1% of 1%.


6 posted on 03/04/2010 8:53:21 AM PST by ModelBreaker
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To: Huck
Jay once again is arguing with phantoms. He's making the case for something which was not in question, apparantly continuing his theme from the last essay of conflating opposition to the Constitution with disunionism, and on the flipside, conflating the benefits of union with the benefits of the Constitution.

Jay was aware of the temper of the times, the frustrations with the ineffectiveness of the Articles of Confederation, and believed that the United States were in very real danger of breaking up into 13 or more separate countries.

We of course know this was very possible - we have the examples of the United States of Central America, the Grand Columbian Republic, and the Peru-Bolivian Confederation, all of which broke up into component parts shortly after they achieved independence. Mexico underwent a similar breakup during the 19th Century, with some of the components eventually reuniting with Mexico (Republic of Yucatan, Republic of the Rio Grande), and others winding up part of Mexico's neighbor to the north (Texas, California).

My opinion is that the Constitution was the last chance before permanent disunion. There's nothing inevitable about one large republic between Canada and Mexico, to my knowledge no republic had ever existed on that scale (The Roman Republic was not - it was a city-state with an empire grafted onto it - and eventually the empire corrupted the Republic.) Breaking up into a bunch of perpetually squabbling independent states was probably the most likely outcome, and it is part of American Exceptionalism that it did not happen.

The Antifederalists may not have wanted disunion and perpetual turmoil and war, but if they had succeeded in blocking the ratification of the Constitution that is probably what they would have gotten.

7 posted on 03/04/2010 9:23:26 AM PST by Cheburashka (Stephen Decatur: you want barrels of gunpowder as tribute, you must expect cannonballs with it.)
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To: Publius
Have you read Hamlton's Curse, by Thomas DiLorenzo?

No but if in it he concludes that Hamilton was trying to undermine the republic from the outset he is right on!

I have put it on my list.

8 posted on 03/04/2010 10:02:17 AM PST by Bigun ("It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere." Voltaire)
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To: Publius

No. In fact, I haven’t read any DiLorenzo. I know, it’s a travesty. I’ll get around to it at some point. Why do you ask?


9 posted on 03/04/2010 10:16:54 AM PST by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the majority? A: They're complaining about the fillibuster.)
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To: Cheburashka
Jay was aware of the temper of the times, the frustrations with the ineffectiveness of the Articles of Confederation, and believed that the United States were in very real danger of breaking up into 13 or more separate countries.

That's one spin on it. A different spin is that we were 13 separate countries from the start, united by purpose, habits, morals, commerce, etc. That's why we were a confederation of states, and not a unified, consolidated republic. I personally think the pro-constitution crowd was whooping up fear as policians always do when trying to push through bigger government.

We of course know this was very possible - we have the examples of the United States of Central America, the Grand Columbian Republic, and the Peru-Bolivian Confederation, all of which broke up into component parts shortly after they achieved independence. Mexico underwent a similar breakup during the 19th Century, with some of the components eventually reuniting with Mexico (Republic of Yucatan, Republic of the Rio Grande), and others winding up part of Mexico's neighbor to the north (Texas, California).

All of which argues AGAINST forming one giant consolidated republic, as opposed to maintain the confederation of states. Of course, how long did it take AFTER the Constitution until we DID break up? 60 some odd years. Not very long. Which renders your entire point moot. We DID consolidate and we DID break up. I'd argue that consolidation made the breakup MORE likely.

10 posted on 03/04/2010 10:21:30 AM PST by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the majority? A: They're complaining about the fillibuster.)
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To: Cheburashka

For your consideration...

Antifederalist No. 3 NEW CONSTITUTION CREATES A NATIONAL GOVERNMENT; WILL NOT ABATE FOREIGN INFLUENCE; DANGERS OF CIVIL WAR AND DESPOTISM


Like the nome de plume “Publius” used by pro Constitution writers in the Federalist Papers, several Antifederalists signed their writings “A FARMER.” While the occupation of the writers may not have coincided with the name given, the arguments against consolodating power in the hands of a central government were widely read. The following was published in the Maryland Gazette and Baltimore Advertiser, March 7, 1788. The true identity of the author is unknown.

There are but two modes by which men are connected in society, the one which operates on individuals, this always has been, and ought still to be called, national government; the other which binds States and governments together (not corporations, for there is no considerable nation on earth, despotic, monarchical, or republican, that does not contain many subordinate corporations with various constitutions) this last has heretofore been denominated a league or confederacy. The term federalists is therefore improperly applied to themselves, by the friends and supporters of the proposed constitution. This abuse of language does not help the cause; every degree of imposition serves only to irritate, but can never convince. They are national men, and their opponents, or at least a great majority of them, are federal, in the only true and strict sense of the word.

Whether any form of national government is preferable for the Americans, to a league or confederacy, is a previous question we must first make up our minds upon....

That a national government will add to the dignity and increase the splendor of the United States abroad, can admit of no doubt: it is essentially requisite for both. That it will render government, and officers of government, more dignified at home is equally certain. That these objects are more suited to the manners, if not [the] genius and disposition of our people is, I fear, also true. That it is requisite in order to keep us at peace among ourselves, is doubtful. That it is necessary, to prevent foreigners from dividing us, or interfering in our government, I deny positively; and, after all, I have strong doubts whether all its advantages are not more specious than solid. We are vain, like other nations. We wish to make a noise in the world; and feel hurt that Europeans are not so attentive to America in peace, as they were to America in war. We are also, no doubt, desirous of cutting a figure in history. Should we not reflect, that quiet is happiness? That content and pomp are incompatible? I have either read or heard this truth, which the Americans should never forget: That the silence of historians is the surest record of the happiness of a people. The Swiss have been four hundred years the envy of mankind, and there is yet scarcely an history of their nation. What is history, but a disgusting and painful detail of the butcheries of conquerors, and the woeful calamities of the conquered? Many of us are proud, and are frequently disappointed that office confers neither respect or difference. No man of merit can ever be disgraced by office. A rogue in office may be feared in some governments-he will be respected in none. After all, what we call respect and difference only arise from contrast of situation, as most of our ideas come by comparison and relation. Where the people are free there can be no great contrast or distinction among honest citizens in or out of office. In proportion as the people lose their freedom, every gradation of distinction, between the Governors and governed obtains, until the former become masters, and the latter become slaves. In all governments virtue will command reverence. The divine Cato knew every Roman citizen by name, and never assumed any preeminence; yet Cato found, and his memory will find, respect and reverence in the bosoms of mankind, until this world returns into that nothing, from whence Omnipotence called it. That the people are not at present disposed for, and are actually incapable of, governments of simplicity and equal rights, I can no longer doubt. But whose fault is it? We make them bad, by bad governments, and then abuse and despise them for being so. Our people are capable of being made anything that human nature was or is capable of, if we would only have a little patience and give them good and wholesome institutions; but I see none such and very little prospect of such. Alas! I see nothing in my fellow-citizens, that will permit my still fostering the delusion, that they are now capable of sustaining the weight of SELF-GOVERNMENT: a burden to which Greek and Roman shoulders proved unequal. The honor of supporting the dignity of the human character, seems reserved to the hardy Helvetians alone. If the body of the people will not govern themselves, and govern themselves well too, the consequence is unavoidable-a FEW will, and must govern them. Then it is that government becomes truly a government by force only, where men relinquish part of their natural rights to secure the rest, instead of an union of will and force, to protect all their natural rights, which ought to be the foundation of every rightful social compact.

Whether national government will be productive of internal peace, is too uncertain to admit of decided opinion. I only hazard a conjecture when I say, that our state disputes, in a confederacy, would be disputes of levity and passion, which would subside before injury. The people being free, government having no right to them, but they to government, they would separate and divide as interest or inclination prompted-as they do at this day, and always have done, in Switzerland. In a national government, unless cautiously and fortunately administered, the disputes will be the deep-rooted differences of interest, where part of the empire must be injured by the operation of general law; and then should the sword of government be once drawn (which Heaven avert) I fear it will not be sheathed, until we have waded through that series of desolation, which France, Spain, and the other great kingdoms of the world have suffered, in order to bring so many separate States into uniformity, of government and law; in which event the legislative power can only be entrusted to one man (as it is with them) who can have no local attachments, partial interests, or private views to gratify.

That a national government will prevent the influence or danger of foreign intrigue, or secure us from invasion, is in my judgment directly the reverse of the truth. The only foreign, or at least evil foreign influence, must be obtained through corruption. Where the government is lodged in the body of the people, as in Switzerland, they can never be corrupted; for no prince, or people, can have resources enough to corrupt the majority of a nation; and if they could, the play is not worth the candle. The facility of corruption is increased in proportion as power tends by representation or delegation, to a concentration in the hands of a few. . . .

As to any nation attacking a number of confederated independent republics ... it is not to be expected, more especially as the wealth of the empire is there universally diffused, and will not be collected into any one overgrown, luxurious and effeminate capital to become a lure to the enterprizing ambitious. That extensive empire is a misfortune to be deprecated, will not now be disputed. The balance of power has long engaged the attention of all the European world, in order to avoid the horrid evils of a general government. The same government pervading a vast extent of territory, terrifies the minds of individuals into meanness and submission. All human authority, however organized, must have confined limits, or insolence and oppression will prove the offspring of its grandeur, and the difficulty or rather impossibility of escape prevents resistance. Gibbon relates that some Roman Knights who had offended government in Rome were taken up in Asia, in a very few days after. It was the extensive territory of the Roman republic that produced a Sylla, a Marius, a Caligula, a Nero, and an Elagabalus. In small independent States contiguous to each other, the people run away and leave despotism to reek its vengeance on itself; and thus it is that moderation becomes with them, the law of self-preservation. These and such reasons founded on the eternal and immutable nature of things have long caused and will continue to cause much difference of sentiment throughout our wide extensive territories. From our divided and dispersed situation, and from the natural moderation of the American character, it has hitherto proved a warfare of argument and reason.

A FARMER


11 posted on 03/04/2010 10:25:21 AM PST by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the majority? A: They're complaining about the fillibuster.)
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To: Huck

DiLorenzo makes some of your points.


12 posted on 03/04/2010 11:42:28 AM PST by Publius (Come study the Constitution with the FReeper Book Club.)
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To: ModelBreaker

Doesn’t matter. When one engine fails, it often leads to a crash.


13 posted on 03/04/2010 11:52:52 AM PST by sig226 (Bring back Jimmy Carter!)
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To: Cheburashka
John Jay was president of Congress during the Revolutionary War. He was thus familiar with the problems of the Articles of Confederation from within the system and as a diplomat, from without.

At the Virginia Constitutional Ratifying Convention, Governor Edmund Randolph remarked:

“We want a government, sir — a government that will have stability, and give us security; for our present government is destitute of the one and incapable of producing the other. It cannot, perhaps, with propriety, be denominated a government, being void of that energy requisite to enforce sanctions. I wish my country not to be contemptible in the eyes of foreign nations. A well-regulated community is always respected. It is the internal situation, the defects of government, that attract foreign contempt: that contempt, sir, is too often followed by subjugation.”

“Consider the commercial regulations between us and Maryland. Is it not known to gentlemen that the states have been making reprisals on each other — to obviate a repetition of which, in some degree, these regulations have been made? Can we not see, from this circumstance, the jealousy, rivalship, and hatred that would subsist between them, in case this state was out of the Union? They are importing states, and importing states will ever be competitors and rivals. Rhode Island and Connecticut have been on the point of war, on the subject of their paper money; Congress did not attempt to interpose.”

14 posted on 03/04/2010 11:53:18 AM PST by Jacquerie (Support and Defend our Beloved Constitution)
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To: Jacquerie
I wish my country not to be contemptible in the eyes of foreign nations.

Sounds like a modern Democrat. John Kerry or Joe Biden.

15 posted on 03/04/2010 12:22:58 PM PST by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the majority? A: They're complaining about the fillibuster.)
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To: Huck
I've considered it and found it wanting.

Your Farmer doesn't understand the difference between a federal and a national (a better term would be unitary, like modern France, where all power is concentrated in the national government and the departments are just creatures of that national government. That is not the government the Framers of our Constitution put together, although Mr. Farmer doesn't seem to be aware of that.


That it is necessary, to prevent foreigners from dividing us, or interfering in our government, I deny positively; ...

Total and utter cluelessness. Of course with a multitude of autonomous states an outside power or many outside powers can set one against the others. The British did that in India and turned themselves into the arbiters amongst the native states. The Romans conquered the Mediterranean world by doing so among the other Mediterranean states. I am supposed to take seriously the ideas of someone who does not understand the axiom “divide et impera”?


Alas! I see nothing in my fellow-citizens, that will permit my still fostering the delusion, that they are now capable of sustaining the weight of SELF-GOVERNMENT: a burden to which Greek and Roman shoulders proved unequal.

Well, Mr. Farmer, time to send a nice letter to His Britannic Majesty King George and humbly request that he resume his benevolent rule over his former North American colonies.

Oh, Mr. Farmer, you were being sarcastic? My mistake. But then why are you opposing the vehicle by which you and your fellow Americans will rule themselves in peace and prosperity?


The honor of supporting the dignity of the human character, seems reserved to the hardy Helvetians alone....

Blaat! Wrong, Mr. Farmer. The Swiss Confederation of the time you wrote was a amalgamation of petty monarchies and oligarchies with a few democratic (relatively) city-states thrown in, who quarrelled amongst themselves. It only looks good from somewhere beyond the ocean. The Swiss had the benefit of the poor real estate that they occupied - no one really wanted it that badly but the Swiss themselves. And while it's still in your future (although not ours) this house of cards was to be kicked over by the French revolutionaries in just a short few years from when you were writing. The Swiss Confederation of the post-Napoleonic world will be much different from that of your day, Mr. Farmer. Most people are ignorant of history, and they are even more ignorant of the history of foreign countries. Especially small ones.


Whether national government will be productive of internal peace, is too uncertain to admit of decided opinion....

In a few short years you will have to admit the decided opinion that the FEDERAL (stop this national b.s. Mr. Farmer) government is productive of internal peace. I hope you lived to see that day.

I could go on, but I see no need. This guy's wrong, I don't see any reason to continue beating his poor dead horse. And this drivel makes my brain hurt.

The Anti-federalists were wrong, as they learned when the Constitution was ratified and put into operation. It's too bad that the writers of the various Anti-federalist screeds that have survived were not forced to sit down and publicly admit, “Well, I was wrong...” and describe exactly how they misunderstood how the Constitution would work. But that is life, people who make mistakes prefer to let them slide into oblivion.

Please don't ever throw some monstrosity like this at me and force me to read through it ever again. Ever. Because I won't. Life is too short to spend much time pointing out how the clueless were clueless when said clueless are some 200 years(plus or minus) dead.

16 posted on 03/04/2010 12:50:55 PM PST by Cheburashka (Stephen Decatur: you want barrels of gunpowder as tribute, you must expect cannonballs with it.)
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To: Huck
Governor Randolph continues:

"Notwithstanding their intelligence, and earnest solicitude for the good of their country, this system {The Articles of Confederation} proved totally inadequate to the purpose for which it was devised. But, sir, this was no disgrace to them. The subject of confederations was then new, and the necessity of speedily forming some government for the states, to defend them against the pressing dangers, prevented, perhaps, those able statesmen from making that system as perfect as more leisure and deliberation might have enabled them to do. I cannot otherwise conceive how they could have formed a system that provided no means of enforcing the powers which were nominally given it. Was it not a political farce to pretend to vest powers, without accompanying them with the means of putting them in execution? This want of energy was not a greater solecism than the blending together, and vesting in one body, all the branches of government."

"The utter inefficacy of this system was discovered, the moment the danger was over, by the introduction of peace"

Kinda sums it up.

17 posted on 03/04/2010 1:00:48 PM PST by Jacquerie (Support and Defend our Beloved Constitution)
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To: Cheburashka
the difference between a federal and a national

Wish I had time to respond other than to say the above quote is funny.

18 posted on 03/04/2010 1:13:29 PM PST by Huck (Q: How can you tell a party is in the majority? A: They're complaining about the fillibuster.)
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To: Cheburashka
It's too bad that the writers of the various Anti-federalist screeds that have survived were not forced to sit down and publicly admit, “Well, I was wrong...” and describe exactly how they misunderstood how the Constitution would work.

Patrick Henry actually did that, and then he sided with Hamilton in the disagreement over the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, which Henry saw as fostering disunion and as possibly treasonous.

19 posted on 03/04/2010 1:20:59 PM PST by Publius (Come study the Constitution with the FReeper Book Club.)
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To: Publius
I didn't know that Henry eventually admitted he was wrong. Do you know where and when he did so?
20 posted on 03/04/2010 1:28:14 PM PST by Jacquerie (It is only in the context of Natural Law that our Declaration & Constitution form a coherent whole)
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