Saving our Constitutional Republic – A Review of Federalist Paper #25

In Federalist Paper #25, The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered, is all about the military – the case for a standing army under the control of the Federal government.

Hamilton’s primary goal in this paper is to convince his New York audience of the necessity of granting the national legislature authority to raise and maintain armies during peacetime.

Alexander Hamilton vigorously argues against the thought that the states should raise and maintain their own militias or armies in their own defense. He argues that the dangers facing America are common to all states and therefore ought to be dealt with by “common councils” and “a common treasury.”

His main points are:

  • Without a nationally controlled standing army, some states would end up bearing a greater share of the defense burden then others;
  • Individual state armies would tempt state governments to use military force to resolve disputes with neighboring states and undermine the national authority.
  • A national standing army would pose less of a threat to liberty than state armies since the people will be naturally more suspicious of the distant national government than the state governments.
  • That “the people are commonly most in danger, when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those whom they entertain the least suspicion.”

Finally, Hamilton introduces the notion of the reverence for the Constitution in this paper. He fears that if the document does not provide for standing armies, necessity will nevertheless lead to their creation. Such a violation of the fundamental laws of the country could, Hamilton fears, lead to a diminishing of the esteem with which those laws are held. This would make it easier for politicians down the road to violate the constitution again, even when not circumstances do not necessitate such violations.

Go to the GrAdeSaver Summary of Federalist #25

Credit for the summary and analysis for Essay #25 is given to Brittany Nelson and Christopher Higgins (second revision 09/15/2011). Weinbloom, Elizabeth ed. “The Federalist Papers Essay 25 Summary and Analysis”. GradeSaver, 30 December 2011 Web. 24 January 2019.

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