Evidence that John Jay was no prophet

The JUST causes of war, for the most part, arise either from violation 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 injure us. She has also extensive commerce with Portugal, Spain, and Britain, and, with respect to the two latter, has, in addition, the circumstance of neighborhood to attend to.

It is of high importance to the peace of America that she observe the laws 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 it could be either by thirteen separate States or by three or four distinct confederacies.

Because when once an efficient national government is established, the best men in the country will not only consent to serve, but also will generally be appointed to manage it; for, although town or country, 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 other nations, as well as more SAFE with respect to us.

via Federalist Papers: FEDERALIST No. 3.


Perhaps Jay would defend himself by saying the thirteen states would be worse than what we have experienced.

But I would reply that the thirteen states worrying about each other, would be less likely to play hegemon on other continents.

Of course, reading the predictions made in the Federalist Papers is a forceful reminder of the foolishness of trying to shepherd the wind, as Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes. While it matters not on the question of whether the thirteen states needed a new, stronger, government at the time, the fact is that no generation can guarantee anything for the next.

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