Federalist No. 3

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Jay wrote that people of any country seldom go for very long with an incorrect view of their own interests; Americans nearly uniformly believe it is in their interests to remain united, and it is therefore probably so.

Most important in the way a union serves our interests is safety: preserving peace and tranquility, and protection from foreign arms and influence, or from similar domestic causes.

Jay remarks that the number of wars will always be in proportion to the number and weight of the causes -- whether real or pretended -- which provoke and invite them. That is:

num_wars * x = num_causes + weight_causes

The greater the size of the nation, the more able it is to reduce the number of causes for war, because a single national government is more able to recognize and respond adequately to problems arising with other nations.

Jay then notes that a national government will be more likely to attract the most capable people to manage it, because people nominated for such office will be the best the state has to offer.

I wish this were true today, but I think most of us can agree it is not. It was at one time, but as the federal government became more of a way to gain power, money, and influence, and as the media scrutiny drove away many good people, this is, I fear, no longer the case.

He also goes a bit far when he writes that because it will have these people with greater qualifications, their decisions will be "more wise, systematical, and judicious than those of individual States." In some cases, such as those regarding foreign affairs, I'd tend to agree, but he doesn't appear to constrict this observation to such a context.

He notes too that because their decisions will be such, that they will be "consequently more satisfactory with respect to other nations," which, of course, keeps us more safe. I am not sure if he means that the other nations will respect the decisions because of who makes them, or that because of who makes them, they will therefore be better and therefore well-received. Either way, we know that today's Europe would prefer decisions made by California or New York to those made by the federal government.

Jay is right on when he says that in a treaty entered into by a confederacy, each state may execute it differently, and that this is therefore another benefit to Union. No doubt there. The federal government will have jurisdiction here, and be far more likely to consistently and uniformly execute treaty terms, as well as to punish offenders, largely immune to local influences that might make such acts difficult for the local government.

Similarly, passions that may incite a single state to war will be far less likely to incite the entire nation: the relative weight of the cause (see the equation, it's right there!) is diluted by the size of the nation.

When just causes for war do arise, it's a given that the federal government would be more able to handle it, either by a united fighting force, or by settling it amicably, carrying more influence with the parties and less passion within themselves.

Jay closes with an example of Louis XIV demanding humiliation of the state of Genoa for an offense it had committed, something France never would have demanded of Britain, Spain, or any other powerful nation.

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