Federalist Papers Summary 4
The Federalist Essays Summary No 4: John Jay November 7, 1787
Jay continues the safety of the people argument relative to foreign force but this time the consideration is would we be safer as a united Union or a divided thirteen states if there was a war whereas the previous paper argued there would be less likelihood of war if united rather than divided. Many reasons are given why war involving American interests at that time may happen with at least two prescience, Spain shutting the Mississippi against us on one side and Britain excluding us from the St. Laurence on the other. Other possible inducements to war included conflicts involving fisheries, our growth in navigation and carrying trade, and our cheapness and excellence in production. Wars also happen when nations have a reason to get something by it or when absolute monarchs have personal reasons of military glory, revenge, ambition, or to aggrandize their families or partisans.
Jay makes the following arguments why if war occurs a united Union would provide greater safety than a divided America. He returns to a theme used over and over in one form or another through the papers that “one Government can collect and avail itself of the talents and experience of the ablest men, in whatever part of the Union they may be found”. As a single unit a Union will have uniform policy, can protect the several parts, form treaties considering the interest of the whole, apply the power of the whole to the defense of a particular part, and place the military under one discipline rendering them more efficient. Imagine if Britain did not combine the militias of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, how soon “they would each dwindle into comparative insignificance”.
Finally, foreign nations will observe if “our national Government is efficient and administered, our trade regulated, our military properly organized and disciplined, our resources and finances discreetly managed, our credit re-established, and our people free, contented and united then they will be much more disposed to cultivate our friendship than provoke our resentment”. (Let us hope this no longer applies or our resentment may soon be provoked.)
Part of the last sentence of this paper is of some interest today given the divisions in our country, “how soon would dear bought experience proclaim, that when a people or family so divide, it never fails to be against themselves”. This message is universal and was spoken by Abraham Lincoln in his “house divided” speech during the Lincoln Douglas debates 71 years later with regard to slavery and by Jesus in Mark 3:25.
Federalist Papers Summary 4 Written by Donald Mellon