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They who promote the idea of substituting a number of distinct confederacies in the room of the plan of the convention, seem clearly to foresee that the rejection of it would put the continuance of the union in the utmost jeopardy: that certainly would be the case; and I sincerely wish that it may be as clearly foreseen by every good citizen, that whenever the dissolution of the union arrives, America will have reason to exclaim in the words of the poet, “FareweLL! A LONG FAREWELL, TO
ALL MY GREATNESS.'
BY JOHN JAY.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
It is not a new observation that the people of any country (if, like the Americans, intelligent and well-informed,) seldom adopt, and steadily persevere for many years in any erroneous opinion respecting their interests. That consideration naturally tends to create. great respect for the high opinion which the people of America have so long and uniformly entertained of the importance of their continuing firmly united under one federal government, vested with sufficient powers for all general and national purposes.
The more attentively I consider and investigate the reasons which appear to have given birth to this opinion, the more I become convinced that they are cogent and conclusive.
Among the many objects to which a wise and free people find it necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their safety seems to be the first. The safety of the people doubtless has relation to a great variety of circumstances and considerations, and consequently affords great latitude to those who wish to define it precisely and comprehensively.
At present I mean only to consider it as it respects security for the preservation of peace and tranquillity, as well against dangers from foreign arms and influence, as against dangers arising from domestic causes.
As the former of these comes first in order, it is proper it should be the first discussed. Let us therefore proceed to examine whether the people are not right in their opinion, that a cordial union under an efficient national government, affords them the best security that can be devised against hostilities from abroad.
The number of wars which have happened or may happen in the world, will always be found to be in proportion to the number and weight of the causes, whether real or pretended, which provoke or invite them. If this remark be just it becomes useful to inquire, whether so many just causes of war are likely to be given by united America, as by disunited America ; for if it should turn out that united America will probably give the fewest, then it will follow, that in this respect, the union tends most to preserve the people in a state of peace with other nations.
The just causes of war for the most part arise either from violations of treaties, or from direct violence. America has already formed treaties with no less than six foreign nations, and all of them, except Prussia, are maritime, and therefore able to annoy and injire iis; she has also extensive commerce with Portugal, Spain, and Britain, and with respect to the two latter, has the additional circunstance of neighborhood to attend to.
It is of high importance to the peace of America, that she observe the law of nations towards all these powers; and to me it appears evident that this will be more perfectly and punctually done by one national government, than could be either by thirteen separate states, or by three or four distinct confederacies. For this opinion various reasons may be assigned.
When once an efficient national government is established, the best men in the country will not only consent to serve, but will also generally be appointed to manage it ; for although town, or county, or other contracted influence, may place men in state assemblies, or senates, or courts of justice, or executive departments; yet more general and extensive reputation for talents and other qualifications, will be necessary to recommend men to offices under the national government, especially, as it will have the widest field for choice, and never experience that want of proper persons which is not uncommon in some of the states. Hence it will result, that the administration, the political counsels, and the judicial decisions of the national government, will be more wise, systematical, and judicious, than those of individual states, and consequently more satisfactory with respect to the other nations, as well as more safe with respect to ourselves.
Under the national government, treaties and articles of treaties, as well as the laws of nations, will always be expounded in one sense, and executed in the same manner; whereas adjudications on the same points and questions, in thirteen states, or in three or four confederacies, will not always accord or be consistent; and that, as well from the variety of independent courts and judges appointed by different and independent governments, as from the different local laws and interests which may affect and influence them. The wisdom of the convention, in committing such questions to the jurisdiction and judgment of courts appointed by, and responsible only to one national government, cannot be too much commended.
The prospect of present loss or advantage, may often tempt the
governing party in one or two states to swerve from good faith and justice; but those temptations not reaching the other states and consequently having little or no influence on the nationa government, the temptations will be fruitless, and good faith and justice preserved. The case of the treaty of peace with Britain, adds great weight to this reasoning.
If even the governing party in a state should be disposed to resist such ternptations, yet as such temptations may, and commonly do, result from circumstances peculiar to the state, and may affect a great number of the inhabitants, the governing party may not always be able, if willing; to prevent the injustice meditated, or to punish the aggressors.
But the national government not being affected by those local circumstances, will neither be induced to commit the wrong themselves, nor want power or inclination to prevent, or punish its commission by others.
So far therefore as either designed or accidental violations of treaties and of the laws of nations afford just causes of war, they are less to be apprehended under one general government, than under several lesser ones, and in that respect the former most favors the safety of the people.
As to those just causes of war which proceed from direct and unlawful violence, it appears equally clear to me, that one good national government affords vastly more security against dangers of that sort, than can be derived from any other quarter.
Such violences are more frequently occasioned by the passions and interests of a part than of the whole ; of one or two states than of the union. Not a single Indian war has yet been produced by aggressions of the present federal government, feeble as it is; but there are several instances of Indian hostilities having been provoked by the improper conduct of individual states, who, either unable or unwilling to restrain or punish offences, have given occasion to the slaughter of many innocent inhabitants.
The neighborhood of Spanish and British territories, bordering on some states, and not on others, naturally confines the causes of quarrel more immediately to the borderers. The bordering states, if any, will be those who, under the impulse of sudden irritations, and a quick sense of apparent interest or injury, will be most likely, by direct violence, to excite war with those nations; and nothing can so effectually obviate that danger as a national government, whose wisdom and prudence will not be diminished by the passions which actuate the parties immediately interested.
But not only fewer just causes of war will be given by the national government, but it will also be more in their power to accommodate and settle them amicably. They will be more temperate and cool, and in that respect, as well as in others, will be more in capacity to act with circumspection than the offending
The pride of states, as well as of men, naturally disposes them to justify all their actions, and opposes their acknowledging, correcting, or repairing their errors and offences. The national government in such cases will not be affected by this pride, but will proceed with moderation and candor to consider and decide on the means most proper to extricate them from the difficulties which threaten them.
Besides it is well known that acknowledgments, explanations, and compensations are often accepted as satisfactory from a strong united nation, which would be rejected as unsatisfactory if offered by a state or confederation of little consideration or power.
In the year 1685, the state of Genoa having offended Louis XIVth, endeavored to appease him. He demanded that they should send their doge, or chief magistrate, accompanied by four of their senators, to France, to ask his pardon and receive his terms. They were obliged to submit to it for the sake of peace. Would he on any occasion either have demanded or have received the like humiliation from Spain, or Britain or any other powerful nation?
BY JOHN JAY.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
My last paper assigned several reasons, why the safety of the people would be best secured by union against the danger it may be exposed to by just causes of war given to other nations; and those reasons show, that such causes would not only be more rarely given, but would also be more easily accommodated by a national government, than either by the state governments, or the proposed confederacies.
But the safety of the people of America against dangers from foreign force, depends not only on their forbearing to give just causes of war to other nations, but also on their placing and continuing themselves in such a situation as not to invite hostility or insult; for it need not be observed, that there are pretended as well as just causes of war.
It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting any thing by it; nay, that absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for purposes and objects merely personal, such as a thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families, or partisans. These, and a variety of motives, which affect only the mind of the
sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctioned by justice, or the voice and interests of his people. But independent of these inducements to war, which are most prevalent in absolute monarchies, but which well deserve our attention, there are others which affect nations as often as kings; and some of them will on examination be found to grow out of our relative situation and circumstances.
With France and with Britain, we are rivals in the fisheries, and can supply their markets cheaper than they can themselves, notwithstanding any efforts to prevent it by bounties on their own, or duties on foreign fish.
With them and with most other European nations we are rivals in navigation and the carrying trade; and we shall deceive ourselves, if we suppose that any of them will rejoice to see these flourish in our hands: for as our carrying trade cannot increase, without in some degree diminishing theirs, it is more their interest, and will be more their policy, to restrain, than to promote it.
In the trade to China and India, we interfere with more than one nation, inasmuch as it enables us to partake in advantages which they had in a manner monopolized, and as we thereby supply ourselves with commodities which we used to purchase from them.
The extension of our own commerce in our own vessels, cannot give pleasure to any nations who possess territories on or near this continent, because the cheapness and excellence of our productions, added to the circumstances of vicinity, and the enterprise and address of our merchants and navigators, will give us a greater share in the advantages which those territories afford, than consists with the wishes or policy of their respective sovereigns.
Spain thinks it convenient to shut the Mississippi against uis on the one side, and Britain excludes us from the Saint Lawrence on the other“; nor will either of them permit the other waters, which are between them and us, to become the means of mutual intercourse and traffic.
From these and like considerations, which might, if consistent with prudence, be more amplified and detailed, it is easy to see that jealousies and uneasinesses may gradually slide into the minds and cabinets of other nations; and that we are not to expect they should regard our advancement in union, in power and consequence by land and by sea, with an eye of indifference and composure.
The people of America are aware, that inducements to war may arise out of these circumstances, as well as from others not so obvious at present; and that whenever such inducements may find fit time and opportunity for operation, pretences to color and justify them will not be wanting. Wisely therefore do they consider union and a good national government as necessary to put and keep them in such a situation, as, instead of inviting war,