Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Case For The Constitution: Federalist Seven

     Today we will be looking at Federalist Seven. In this paper, Hamilton continues his analysis of the dangers of potential war between the States if they become independent countries. In Federalist Six he gave us the historical basis for this fear and in Federalist Seven he gives us three practical reasons why armed conflict between the states could actually happen.

      First, the territorial disputes that would naturally arise from separate, rather than a unified, group of States. After the War for Independence, lands which had formerly been administered by the British, and after the revolution, been claimed by many States - such as Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, and Georgia - were voluntarily ceded by these States to the Continental Congress. If the individual States became independent and the Continental Congress was dissolved, Hamilton rightly points out that the status of these lands would be ambiguous, with many states asserting that because they willingly gave them up to the Continental Congress, they should get the land they ceded back. This thinking could potentially lead to war between the States, for a significant reason that States have gone to war historically has been the acquisition of territory.

     Second, Commerce would be another reason for the states to go to war, for larger states such as New York, could demand that their smaller neighbors pay them economic tribute to do business with the State. This would lead to outrage in the populous of the tribute-paying states, and the people would demand that their government respond to this injustice, a response that could potentially lead to war.

      Third, arguments over the public debt would be a significant source of discord among a group of independent nations. The issue of the public debt was significant in the early years of the U.S. because after the War for Independence, the former colonies owed nations, such as France, large sums of money for the financing of the war. If the States split into separate nations, who would guarantee payment of these debts and how would the debt be divided? Would some States pay more than others? To Hamilton, this was a question that had the potential to morph itself into a serious issue of contention between States, for as he stated, "There is nothing men differ so readily about as the payment of money".

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