Federalist 2

Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence

by: John Jay

(Full text of Federalist 2)

President of the Continental Congress, Ambassador to France and Spain, and First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

The main subject of this Federalist Paper is to remind the people of the brief history of this new nation and of the character and work done by the members of the Constitutional Congress.

Jay begins by praising the people for their past resolve in contemplating the course the nation has taken in such a short time, and then calling upon the readers to “engage their attention” in this upcoming national debate regarding the proposed Constitution.

Jay starts at the beginning by reminding the citizens of this materializing nation that: “Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.” This statement is quickly followed by the task before the people now – approval of a Constitution that will unify the states into one federal government.”

Jay states the obvious reason for a Federal Union; “the prosperity of the people of America depended on their continuing firmly united.”

Providence and the Biblical Distinction of Tyranny and Oppression

Jay uses the word Providence to imply the transcendent authority and power of the Creator God in providing the citizens of this nation with the will and means necessary to rebel against a tyrannical and oppressive government. The colonial citizens recognized that  scripture teaches that God often tests our faith in ways that affects our individual ability to be productive and prosperous – this is the subject of the Book of Job –  however, when it is government authority that affects an individual’s ability to be productive and prosperous, that authority is deemed oppressive and tyrannical, and is in conflict with God. God is with those that rise up in opposition to such oppression and tyranny. The Book of Judges confirms this understanding.

Only By Voting According to Founding Principles Will We Have a Constitutional Effect Upon Our Government.

For today’s reader of the Federalist Papers, it is important to remind ourselves of the understanding our nation’s founders possessed in regards to the purpose of government and its responsibility to the public good, human nature as well as Creator endowed rights, and the necessity of liberty and private property rights that enabled all men to be productive and prosperous, thereby making the nation that governed accurately and appropriately a productive and prosperous nation. The more we read and learn from our founding documents, the clearer we see the wisdom that comprises our nation’s philosophical founding as well as the fact that our current problems are rooted in not following our nation’s founding principles. The more we appreciate that the solution to our current dire situation is to acknowledge our errors in straying from our own founding principles and return to embrace them once again.

Our present situation is the same as when Hamilton, Madison, and Jay addressed the people in these Federalist Papers with an history changing decision which was a decisive fork in the future of our nation that would either break into distinct confederacies of state secessions or dictatorship. The decisions we are making today in each elections have the same national altering effects as did the first elections and decision to ratify the Constitution. It is only by returning to the original principles that our votes will have the effect of returning our nation to constitutional government.

Once again, Jay’s admonition to the citizens of 1787, that “it certainly would not be wise in the people at large to adopt these new political tenets without being fully convinced that they are founded in truth and sound policy” as we make decisions upon candidates as well as consider whether the legislation and regulation proposed by our elected officials reflects a return to the philosophy of our nation’s founding or continued apostasy.

That our current situation is dire is evident in the anger and dissension that would ensue simply from John Jay’s list of facts that speak to national unity:

  • Physical geography promotes the ease of a unified nation.
  • The unity of speaking the same language.
  • Professing the same religion.
  • Attached to the same principles of government.
  • Similar manners and customs.
  • The camaraderie of having fought side by side in the Revolutionary War.
  • The establishment of general liberty and independence that is practiced in each of the states.
  • The appearance of designed Providence that is an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.
  • That they’ve already acted as a union in making war and peace, vanquished our common enemies, formed alliances, treaties, as well as various compacts and conventions with foreign states.

Unconstrained Human Nature and Miseducation Regarding our National Heritage Creates Immature Citizens Incapable of Living in Liberty

After generations of miseducating citizens in regards to our own national heritage, none of the above facts Jay presented as natural conclusions for national unity could first agreed upon as facts, much less second logical conclusions indicating the necessity for national unity. Today’s opposition has become so anti-America that we must understand that they speak of the necessity of reforming an America that in many ways not only does not exist, but has never existed.

In returning our nation to Constitutional government, we must understand that human nature is opposed to recognizing any authority or power greater than that of the particular individual. The combination of an large number of citizens possessing an unconstrained sense of self accompanied by miseducation such that every fact, certainty, reality or truth is in fact complete lies, untruths, fiction, and deception makes for great social unrest. The course we must follow in returning our nation to constitutional principles requires that we be well schooled in the principles of justice and the manners of righteousness.

The Federalist Papers – The Route Back to Reality

Now, just as in the time of The Federalist Papers series, the words of Hamilton, Jay, and Madison point the way for the citizens then, and for us now, to follow through perilous times in order to enjoy the benefits of a Union:

A strong sense of the value and blessings of union induced the people, at a very early period, to institute a federal government to preserve and perpetuate it. They formed it almost as soon as they had a political existence; nay, at a time when their habitations were in flames, when many of their citizens were bleeding, and when the progress of hostility and desolation left little room for those calm and mature inquires and reflections which must ever precede the formation of a wise and well-balanced government. It is not to be wondered at, that a government instituted in times so inauspicious, should on experiment be found greatly deficient and inadequate to the purpose it was intended to answer.” [Federalist 2 – Jay]

Jay praises the people for their intelligence to recognize the failure of the Articles of Confederation to meet their post-revolutionary requirements, by voting to send state representatives to participate in the Constitutional Committee. Jay then praises the character of the men elected by each state.

This intelligent people perceived and regretted these defects. Still continuing no less attached to union than enamored of liberty, they observed the danger which immediately threatened the former and more remotely the latter; and being pursuaded [sic] that ample security for both could only be found in a national government more wisely framed, they as with one voice, convened the late convention at Philadelphia, to take that important subject under consideration.

This convention, composed of men who possessed the confidence of the people, and many of whom had become highly distinguished by their patriotism, virtue and wisdom, in times which tried the minds and hearts of men, undertook the arduous task. In the mild season of peace, with minds unoccupied by other subjects, they passed many months in cool, uninterrupted, and daily consultation; and finally, without having been awed by power, or influenced by any passions except love for their country, they presented and recommended to the people the plan produced by their joint and very unanimous councils.” [Federalist 2 – Jay]

Jay’s plan is to build upon what the citizens themselves have accomplished by:

a)  recognizing the need for a post-revolution Constitution,

b)  electing men of great character to represent them in drafting this new Constitution,

c)  many of these same men were those elected to attend the pre-revoutionary war committee that had chosen a hard path, but one that had been successful in pursuit of separation from a nation in order to ensure and defend liberty and the right of private property.

d)  therefore, these same thoughtful citizens will now apply that same wise discretion to studying whether to accept or reject this proposed Constitution by reading each installment in this series of articles before making up their mind.

Admit, for so is the fact, that this plan is only recommended, not imposed, yet let it be remembered that it is neither recommended to blind approbation, nor to blind reprobation; but to that sedate and candid consideration which the magnitude and importance of the subject demand, and which it certainly ought to receive. But this (as was remarked in the foregoing number of this paper) is more to be wished than expected, that it may be so considered and examined. Experience on a former occasion teaches us not to be too sanguine in such hopes. It is not yet forgotten that well-grounded apprehensions of imminent danger induced the people of America to form the memorable Congress of 1774. That body recommended certain measures to their constituents, and the event proved their wisdom; yet it is fresh in our memories how soon the press began to teem with pamphlets and weekly papers against those very measures. Not only many of the officers of government, who obeyed the dictates of personal interest, but others, from a mistaken estimate of consequences, or the undue influence of former attachments, or whose ambition aimed at objects which did not correspond with the public good, were indefatigable in their efforts to pursuade the people to reject the advice of that patriotic Congress. Many, indeed, were deceived and deluded, but the great majority of the people reasoned and decided judiciously; and happy they are in reflecting that they did so.

They considered that the Congress was composed of many wise and experienced men. That, being convened from different parts of the country, they brought with them and communicated to each other a variety of useful information. That, in the course of the time they passed together in inquiring into and discussing the true interests of their country, they must have acquired very accurate knowledge on that head. That they were individually interested in the public liberty and prosperity, and therefore that it was not less their inclination than their duty to recommend only such measures as, after the most mature deliberation, they really thought prudent and advisable.

These and similar considerations then induced the people to rely greatly on the judgment and integrity of the Congress; and they took their advice, notwithstanding the various arts and endeavors used to deter them from it. But if the people at large had reason to confide in the men of that Congress, few of whom had been fully tried or generally known, still greater reason have they now to respect the judgment and advice of the convention, for it is well known that some of the most distinguished members of that Congress, who have been since tried and justly approved for patriotism and abilities, and who have grown old in acquiring political information, were also members of this convention, and carried into it their accumulated knowledge and experience.

It is worthy of remark that not only the first, but every succeeding Congress, as well as the late convention, have invariably joined with the people in thinking that the prosperity of America depended on its Union. To preserve and perpetuate it was the great object of the people in forming that convention, and it is also the great object of the plan which the convention has advised them to adopt. With what propriety, therefore, or for what good purposes, are attempts at this particular period made by some men to depreciate the importance of the Union? Or why is it suggested that three or four confederacies would be better than one? I am persuaded in my own mind that the people have always thought right on this subject, and that their universal and uniform attachment to the cause of the Union rests on great and weighty reasons, which I shall endeavor to develop and explain in some ensuing papers. 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. [Federalist 2 – Jay]

The Union ensures the greatness of our nation because the Constitution written by these patriotic men was specifically written to ensure and defend the liberty and private property of the individual public.

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