Federalist No.5

The Same Subject Continued

(Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence)

Saturday, November 10, 1787

John Jay


John Jay concludes this section of the Federalist Papers by restating much of what he says in the previous three instalments. He reiterates the importance of a Federal government for national power and security by using the example of Queen Anne who wrote to the Scottish Parliament in 1704 to emphasise the importance of union. Her points were similar to Jay’s: union will bring peace, ensure a harmonious culture, protect personal property, effect more trade and protect the union from enemies. Britain’s success in the world is naturally attributed to its union.


Jay argues a disunited America will always be mired in internal conflict. One reason for this is that separate States will not remain equally prosperous, since geographical location, the quality of individual governments and the opportunities afforded each State will lead to the pre-eminence of some States which will inspire envy and fear.


Jay’s paper is, to some extent, prophetic. He understands that there is a natural division between Northern and Southern States and he predicts that it would be the Northern States that would become more powerful, forming a block against the South. In essence, the proposed confederacies will be distinct nations.


Not only might conflict be likely due to the human reactions, such as jealousy and fear, but different States would have different commercial concerns [which] must create different interests, and of course different degrees of political attachment to and connection with different foreign nations.


This is Jay’s main argument in this paper. If States have cause to trust foreign powers more than each other, not only are they effectively foreign powers, each to each, but also potentially leave America open to invasion by:


His point is that it is easier to receive foreign fleets into our ports, and foreign armies into our country, than it is to persuade or compel them to depart. In effect, Jay is saying that a series of states rather than a union threatens the very sovereignty of America.

10 February 2018