Federalist Papers Summary No. 25

 

Federalist Papers Summary No. 25

 
 

Federalist Papers Author Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton

Federalist Papers Summary Number 25

The Federalist Papers Summary No 25:  Hamilton
December 21, 1787

This paper continues discussing issues concerning the defense of the nation and the need for armies in peace time.  The first question is whether the individual States should maintain the armies rather than having a national army.  If true then the burden would fall unevenly to the States on our borders which are exposed to the territories of Britain, Spain and of the Indian nations.  A further danger occurs to the Union when these burdened States raise sufficient militaries to protect against external invasion but now create jalousies and concerns among States without strong forces.  The liberty of the people will be better protected if the military is in the hands of the national government rather than the States because these concerns will lead to an arms race among the States, to use a modern term, likely supported by the citizens of the individual States and one’s liberty is at risk when citizens are not sufficiently suspicious of military power.  This suspicion of the military would exist if in the hands of the national government.

Returning to the issue of raising armies in peace time, a question asked is, if one cannot raise an army in peace time could one already raised be kept up during a season of tranquility.  But this would create an unworkable situation since who would have the authority to judge when dangers no longer existed,  and could not pretences be fabricated of approaching dangers, or might armies be maintained or dismissed to threaten or appease foreign powers.

Consider the consequences of prohibiting raising an army in a time of peace.  This would mean that by our constitution there would be no defenses in place if attacked and only after foreign invaders were within our borders could the government raise and army.  Perhaps the militia could defend the country?  Recent history gives the answer.  “The American Militia, in the course of the late war, have by their valour 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.”

The final argument essentially says don’t legislate against reality.  Two examples are given where PA and MA had constitution prohibitions against standing armies but when internal conflicts erupted in a portion of the State armies were raised anyway.  When public necessity dictates, action will be taken regardless of laws against the required action, or as Hamilton put it “how unequal parchment provisions are to a struggle with public necessity”.

 

Summary Written by Donald Mellon

 

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