In Federalist No. 22, Hamilton continues to discuss other defects of the present Confederation.
He starts with a discussion of the regulation of commerce. He concludes that it is indeed evident, on the most superficial view, that there is no object, either as it respects the interests of trade or finance, that more strongly demands a federal superintendence. This is because the want of it has already operated as a bar to the formation of beneficial treaties with foreign powers, and has given occasions of dissatisfaction between the States.
He then goes on to note that in commerce, and other matters, the interfering and unneighbourly regulations of some States, contrary to the true spirit of the Union, have, in different instances, given just cause of umbrage and complaint to others, and it is to be feared that examples of this nature, if not restrained by a national control, would be multiplied and extended till they became not less serious sources of animosity and discord than injurious impediments to the intercourse between the different parts of the Confederacy. This not only prevents the creation, and adoption, of trade treaties but also lays the foundation for civil unrest, as discussed in previous essays.
Then we have the harsh reality that the power of raising armies, by the most obvious construction of the articles of the Confederation, is merely a power of making requisitions upon the States for quotas of men. This has resulted in a competition between the States which created a kind of auction for men where they outbid each other till bounties grew to an enormous and insupportable size. It should be clear that this method of raising troops is not more unfriendly to economy and vigour than it is to an equal distribution of the burden as it was a regular occurrence that States were delinquent in the supplies of men, the supplies of money, or both.
This in turn illustrates the absurdity of the right of equal suffrage among the states in the Confederation. Every idea of proportion and every rule of fair representation conspire to condemn a principle, which gives to Rhode Island an equal weight in the scale of
power with Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or New York. Its operation contradicts the fundamental maxim of republican government, which requires that the sense of the majority should prevail.
To give a minority a negative upon the
majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the
sense of the greater number to that of the lesser.
And to require unanimity is even worse. The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a
supposition that it would contribute to security. But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy
of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the
regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority. This is because, in those emergencies of a nation, in which the goodness or badness, the weakness or strength of its government, is of the greatest importance, there is commonly a necessity for action.
The public business must, in some way or other, go forward.
And then there is the want of a judiciary power. Laws are a dead letter without courts to expound and define their true meaning and operation. Thus, the treaties of the United
States, to have any force at all, must be considered as part of the law of the land. This can only happen if they can be submitted, in the lat result, to one SUPREME TRIBUNAL that is instituted under the same authority which forms the treaties themselves.
When all is considered, we conclude the necessity of laying the foundations of our national government deeper than in the mere sanction of delegated authority. The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the sold basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE.