Federalist Papers Summary 24
The Federalist Essays Summary No 24: Alexander Hamilton December 19, 1787
This paper deals with a single subject, the objection against standing armies in peace time. A stranger to our current politics if reading the objections but not the proposed constitution would believe that the proposal required a standing army or vested in the executive the whole power to levy troops without legislative approval. If he then read the proposal he would discover neither was true but that the legislature, a popular body, not the executive had the power to raise armies.
Perhaps the objections had some basis that was reflected in the State constitutions, but he would find that only two such constitutions had cautions rather than prohibitions against standing armies in peace time. Looking further he would discover that four had clauses saying the consent of the legislature was needed and the remainder had no wording concerning standing armies in time of peace. This stranger finally trying to find the basis for the objection would look to the Articles of Confederation which placed significant restriction on the Federal Government only to find no restraint on the United States on this subject. The stranger at this point “could now no longer refrain from regarding these clamours as the dishonest artifices of a sinister and unprincipled opposition to a plan which ought at least to receive a fair and candid examination from all sincere lovers of their country!”.
Standing armies during times of peace are needed for several reasons. On one side of us are growing settlements subject to British dominion, and on the other are settlements subject to the dominion of Spain. The savage tribes on our western frontier regarded as our natural enemies are thus their natural allies. Improvements in the art of navigation are making distant nations in a great measure neighbors suggesting that we are not entirely out of reach of danger from these maritime powers. “Previous to the revolution and ever since the peace there has been a need for keeping small garrisons on our western frontier.” And finally if we are to be a commercial people with a navy and ports on the Atlantic, we will need garrisons and fortifications to protect the dock-yards.
Federalist Papers Summary 24 Written by Donald Mellon