Federalist No. 6

Having finished our discussion of the dangers of foreign force and influence that was taken up by John Jay in the last four essays (and the only four of his that we will cover in this thirty-six part series), we now begin our discussion of the dangers from dissensions between the states that is covered by Hamilton in Federalist No. 6 and Federalist No. 7.

Again addressing the people of the State of New York in the Independent Journal, Hamilton notes that republics, like monarchies, are administered by MEN and that men are subject to aversions, predilections, rivalships, and desires of unjust acquisitions. In addition, Hamilton notes that popular assemblies [are] frequently subject to the impulses of
rage, resentment, jealousy, avarice, and of other irregular and violent propensities
and that it is well known that their
determinations are often governed by a few individuals in whom they place confidence and are, of course, liable to be tinctured by the passions and views of those individuals

After all, have there not been as many wars founded upon commercial motives since that has become the prevailing system of nations, as were before occasioned by the cupidity of territory or dominion? Has Has not the spirit of commerce, in many instances, administered new incentives to the appetite, both for the one and for the other?

A student of history knows that Sparta, Athens, Rome, and Carthage were all republics and were as often engaged in wars, both offensive and defensive, as the neighbouring monarchies. More recently, in European history, Venice and the provinces of Holland were often engaged in wars.

So what reason can we have to confide in those reveries which would seduce us into an expectation of peace and cordiality between the members of the present confederacy, in a state of separation? In a nutshell, none.

But if the states form a union that is a Confederate Republic and their constitution prevents the differences that neighbourhood occasions, in the words of Gabriel Bonnot do Mably, in Principes des Negociations, it will extinguish that secret jealousy which disposes all states to aggrandize themselves at the expense of their neighbours, and minimize the dangers of dissension between the states.

In other words, as a whole, our strengths will multiply and our weaknesses will divide and be conquered.

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