Federalist No. 3

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John Jay, author of Federalist No. 3

Federalist No. 3, titled The Same Subject Continued: Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence, is an essay by John Jay, the third of The Federalist Papers. It was published on November 3, 1787 under the pseudonym Publius, the name under which all The Federalist Papers were published. This is the second of four essays by Jay on the utility of the Union in protecting Americans against foreign aggression and meddling.

Jay had earlier acted as ambassador to Spain and Secretary for Foreign Affairs, leading to his focus on international relations.

Summary of the argument[edit]

As a whole, the earliest Federalist Papers argued for the utility of the Union, stating that a strong national government was more desirable than a diverse group of weaker local governments without national leadership. In No. 3, Jay argues that a strong national government could better preserve peace. He states that a "united America" would be less likely to provoke other nations to attack. For instance, it would be better able to uphold the terms of an international treaty. Additionally, the United States would be less likely to engage in "direct and unlawful violence": whereas states immediately bordering foreign territories may act "under the impulse of sudden irritation," the national government will be safer, since its "wisdom and prudence will not be diminished by the passions which actuate the parties immediately interested."

Jay also argues that, in the event of an international conflict, a foreign power would be more likely to come to terms with a united America. He observes that, in 1685, Genoa was forced to send its national leadership to France to ask pardon from Louis XIV; Jay questions whether France would have demanded such tribute from any "powerful nation." Thus a "strong united nation" could better preserve the peace, since it would find it easier to settle causes of war.

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