The Federalist Papers (1787-1789)

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Summary

Federalist Essays No.6 - No.9

Summary Federalist Essays No.6 - No.9

In contrast, a military that exists in a country that does not fear invasion can sustain the civil state in full vigor. Citizens neither love nor fear the military because they don't need to rely upon it for protection. An example is the well-fortified Britain, in which a long history of liberty has been sustained.

If people really think about the natural consequences to a weak or nonexistent union, they will not hesitate to part with their small objections to the proposed Constitution. Rejecting the U.S. Constitution will inevitably lead to the final destruction of the union.

A firm union is essential, as is a republican form of government to support that union. Although critics point to the ancient Greek and Roman republics of examples of government in constant change between anarchy and tyranny, they do not recognize that much has improved in politics and the understanding of government since ancient times. Having learned about the importance of separation of powers, and the people's representation in a legislature, the farmers of the Constitution have empowered the good things about republican government, while lessening or avoiding its imperfections.

Critics also disapprove of a confederacy, and use Montesquieu's argument of compactness as justification that the current nation is too large and spread out for an effective republican government. This argument may apply to justify breaking up large states like Virginia, New York and Massachusetts, but not to preventing the formation of what Montesquieu calls a confederate republic. A republic that is formed by smaller states agreeing to become members of a larger one is ideal for extending the sphere of popular government without reducing its compactness.

A confederate republic is an association of 2 or more states into one state without abolishing the separate organization of each state, but by compelling them to be in perfect subordination to the authority of the union. The state governments exist on constitutional necessity for local purposes, are directly represented in the Senate, and still retain very important sovereign powers. The proposed plan of government is still a confederacy, but one that corresponds fully with the idea of a federal government.

Commentary

In highlighting the inherent weaknesses of confederacies in general, the Federalist essays expose the overly optimistic views of the framers of the Articles of Confederation that the states would willingly work together without a strong outside force. Additionally, Publius argues that such a confederacy ultimately threatens the civil liberties of the citizens and that the union can only be effectively protected by a republican form of government, that happens to be fully justified by the writings of Montesquieu.

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