Federalist No. 9

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Republics have long been denigrated because of the poor example that Greece and Italy set for them, with their near-constant internal strife.

Hamilton defends the proposed Constiution by way of explaining that where those republics set negative examples, America could set a positive one by rectifying the errors made by them. Politics, like most sciences, has significantly improved since the republics of old, and the American republic would have features the others didn't such as regular distribution of power into distinct departments, legislative "balances and checks," institution of courts composed of judges holding office during good behavior, and popular representation through direct election.

[Note that this is the only time in the Federalist Papers that the words "checks" and "balances" appear together, and it refers to bicameralism -- a legislature divided into House and Senate -- not the three branches. But we'll get more into that much later.]

Another important new feature is a strong federal government. A Union. Previous republics had been essentially confederations of sovereign states, and while in America those states would continue to be sovereign in large measure, they would also surrender portions of their sovereinty to the whole.

Hamilton quotes Montesquieu at length, including: "Should a popular insurrection happen in one of the confederate states the others are able to quell it. Should abuses creep into one part, they are reformed by those that remain sound." Inherent to the argument of union as a means to preserve internal peace and tranquility is the idea that it only works so long as when there are threats to it, it is from relatively small portions of that union. We saw in the Civil War, of course, what happens when those portions become greater.

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