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The Federalist Papers (1787-1789)

The Founding Fathers

Federalist Essays No.6 - No.9

Federalist Essays No.1 - No.5

Federalist Essays No.6 - No.9, page 2

page 1 of 3


A great danger exists in the competition between states themselves if they are left entirely to their own sovereignty, with no unifying government. Men are by their nature ambitious, and independent states will naturally compete with one another for love of power, control of commerce and domination of territory.

Nations that have been commercial, such as Athens, Carthage, Holland and Great Britain have historically been embroiled in wars with competitors over commerce. What would lead us to believe that our individual states, if separate in commerce, would not be reduced to such wars?

Nations also make war over territorial disputes and conquests. This would be especially threatening to this country, if out states were independent nations, because of the vast amount of unsettled territories to the west. This dispute has already come to fruition in debates over which state is entitled to the rightful ownership of the former "crown lands," and in disputes over lands that are claimed by one or more state.

Further competition between states would be aggravated by the existence of many different state commercial policies and plans to pay off public debt. States would have no reason to obey each other's policy, and costly and complicated system of inter-state imposts would result. States would approach the payment of public debt differently leading to conflict over should pay the burden of the debt. This could cause external threat also, as European creditors demand repayment of their loans, and the delinquencies of some states would complicate this.

We cannot assume that a confederacy can be constructed in any way different from the one under the Articles of Confederation, and many of the problems noted above have already occurred. It can be concluded, then, that if America is not connected or connected only loosely, it will become devoured by its parts, open to invasion by enemies equally threatening to them all.

Additionally, independent states that became threatened by their neighbors would be forced to amend their constitutions in ways that are repressive of civil rights. Under a constant threat of invasion, state governments would resort to standing armies, a strengthened executive, and the destruction of civil rights. The smallest states would have to resort to this first out of fear of larger neighbors, but the largest would soon follow.

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