Federalist Papers Summary 5
The Federalist Essays Summary No 5: John Jay November 10, 1787
In this paper Jay continues his house divided comments by discussing how dividing the nation into several confederacies would lead “to discord, jealousy and mutual injuries” among them. As an example, England and Scotland formed a Union in 1706 “to secure present and future happiness and disappoint designs of their enemies”. Prior to this Union they were antagonists with mutual jealousies which were perpetually enflamed even though they shared the same island. Would not America share this same fate if it were divided into three or four confederacies? Even if at first each was equal, by what contrivance could they be made to remain equal? The Government of one would rise above the rest and equality would be destroyed invoking envy and fear from the others. This discord among the confederacies “would place us exactly in the situations which some nations doubtless wish to see us, viz. formidable only to each other”.
Based on the history of Britain and Spain it is wrong to believe that confederacies would form a defensive alliance. In fact the “proposed confederacies will be distinct nations”. Each will have its commerce with foreigners regulated by distinct treaties with different products and markets which would lead to political attachments to different foreign nations. Hence it probably would happen that a nation at war with the Southern confederacy would be the one most desirous of preserving peace and friendship with the Northern Confederacy.
“Considering our distance from Europe, it would be more natural for these confederacies to apprehend danger from one another, than from distant nations”, and therefore each of them will guard against the others by foreign alliances rather than alliances between themselves. Unfortunately we know from history that it is easier to receive foreign fleets in ports and foreign armies into our country then to persuade or compel them to leave. Candid men will judge therefore that the division of America into any number of independent sovereignties will not secure us against hostilities of foreign nations.
The last sentence shortened but with the original meaning seems out of place because little of the paper deals with hostilities against us of foreign nations but rather between the several confederacies. Perhaps it was edited in to make agreement with the first sentence of the next paper which claims Jay’s three papers deal with dangers “from the arms and arts of foreign nations”.
Federalist Papers Summary 5 Written by Donald Mellon