The History Book Club discussion

01-24/11 - THE FEDERALIST PAPERS > FEDERALIST. NO 9 - 12/14/09 - 12/20/09

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 30582 comments This is the thread for the discussion of FEDERALIST. NO 9.


This paper was written by Alexander Hamilton.

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton Alexander HamiltonAlexander Hamilton

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 30582 comments This is the reading assignment for this week (starting tomorrow December 14th):


The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection
December 14 - December 20 (page 66)

(Alexander Hamilton)

Remember each week's assignment may take you 10 minutes tops. And each paper is about 2 pages in length; so it is easy to catch up at your leisure. Reading these papers really helps put our government in perspective (US).

Also, we are able to discuss the current assignment or any of the previous week's assignments so you can always catch up, ask questions and/or participate and comment at any time.

Federalist 9 will open tomorrow December 14th.

message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 30582 comments Federalist 9:

Hamilton begins this essay by extolling the virtues of a strong and secure union compared to the state that ancient Greece and Italy found themselves in. In fact, Hamilton is insinuating that without a strong centralized government the states may even face the same fate as these city states...tyranny and anarchy.

A firm Union will be of the utmost moment to the peace and liberty of the States, as a barrier against domestic faction and insurrection. It is impossible to read the history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy without feeling sensations of horror and disgust at the distractions with which they were continually agitated, and at the rapid succession of revolutions by which they were kept in a state of perpetual vibration between the extremes of tyranny and anarchy

Source: Federalist 9

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 30582 comments This next paragraph was a mouthful:

From the disorders that disfigure the annals of those republics the advocates of despotism have drawn arguments, not only against the forms of republican government, but against the very principles of civil liberty. They have decried all free government as inconsistent with the order of society, and have indulged themselves in malicious exultation over its friends and partisans. Happily for mankind, stupendous fabrics reared on the basis of liberty, which have flourished for ages, have, in a few glorious instances, refuted their gloomy sophisms. And, I trust, America will be the broad and solid foundation of other edifices, not less magnificent, which will be equally permanent monuments of their errors.

First, Alexander Hamilton claims that these governments have disorders.
so he is basically claiming that these states have no order or regular arrangements of governmental stability.

The basic argument that Hamilton is making and which is "a major aspect of Federalist No. 9 is Hamilton's response to the common Anti-Federalist argument based on the theories of Montesquieu, who wrote famously in his The Spirit of the Laws that "it is natural to a republic to have only a small territory, otherwise it cannot long subsist."

The Anti-Federalist took his arguments to mean that the federal Union was bound to fail.

Hamilton responded that if Montesquieu were taken literally, then since he was thinking of dimensions far smaller even than those of the states, the Americans would have to split themselves into "an infinity of little, jealous, clashing tumultuous commonwealths."

More seriously, Hamilton contends that the confederated federal system described in the proposed Constitution would not suffer as Montesquieu predicted because of its confederated, rather than centralized, design.

Do you buy Hamilton's arguments which I think are quite good?

Source: Wikipedia. Federalist Papers

Gradesaver gave this interpretation of Hamilton's arguments in terms of his interpretation of Montesquieu:

Hamilton concludes that the utility of a confederacy is to suppress faction, to guard the internal tranquility of States, and to increase their external force and security.

For Hamilton, a strong government would be able to suppress rebellions in other parts of the country (like Shay's Rebellion) because they would not have the same ties to the region, an advantage of a larger republic.

He believes that people who use Montesquieu's arguments against the size of a nation not being suitable for a republic are false and using the philosopher's words out of context.

To try and persuade people that they are wrong, Hamilton quotes the philosopher at length.

The majority of Montesquieu's comments that Hamilton uses concern the value of the size of a republic in avoiding internal corruption, domestic factions, and insurrections, not the impossibility of liberty or a republic existing in a large republic."

MontesquieuThe Spirit of Laws A Compendium of the First English Edition

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The Federalist Papers (other topics)
The Spirit of Laws: A Compendium of the First English Edition (other topics)

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Alexander Hamilton (other topics)
Montesquieu (other topics)