Federalist Papers Summary 6
The Federalist Essays Summary No 6: Alexander Hamilton November 14, 1787
In this rather lengthy paper, Hamilton continues the house divided theme by recounting the history of nations that went to war with situations similar to that of our republic divided into sovereign states. The genius of republics, the politicians advocating this division say, “is pacific; the spirit of commerce has a tendency to soften the manners of men and to extinguish those inflammable humours which have so often kindled into wars”. Commercial republics like ours, they say, will never be disposed to war with each other and they will be governed by mutual interest in a spirit of concord. The paper sites many historical examples where commercial interests between neighboring states led to war rather than preventing it.
One example is that of “Sparta, Athens, Rome, and Carthage which were all Republics with two of them, Athens and Carthage of the commercial kind. Yet they were often engaged in wars, offensive and defensive, as neighbouring Monarchies of the same times. Sparta was little better than a well regulated camp; and Rome was never sated of carnage and conquest. Carthage, though a commercial Republic, was the aggressor in the very war that ended in her destruction.”
Many other historical examples are given where human fallacy led to wars between neighbors. “Venice in latter times figured more than once in wars of ambition…” and “The ambitious Cardinal, who was Prime Minister to Henry VIIIth, permitted his vanity to aspire to the Tripple-Crown…” (Worn by the Pope) and the causes of the Pelopponesian war, to mention a few.
The summary of history shows that we would not have an expectation of peace and cordiality between members of the present confederacy in a state of separation. The Shays rebellion which might have thrown Massachusetts into civil war “had not Shays been a desperate debtor” is mentioned twice as an example “of extreme depression to which our national dignity and credit have sunk” because we are now divided. Historians have also mentioned this rebellion as a leading motivation for calling the convention to amend the Articles of Confederacy that resulted in our constitution uniting the Union.
Federalist Papers Summary 6 Written by Donald Mellon