The Anti-Federalist Papers | Cato 3
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The Anti-Federalist Papers | Cato 3


To the Citizens of the State of New York, In the close of my last introductory address,
I told you, that my object in future would be to take up this new form of national government,
to compare it with the experience and opinions of the most sensible and approved political
authors, and to show you that its principles, and the exercise of them will be dangerous
to your liberty and happiness. Although I am conscious that this is an arduous
undertaking, yet I will perform it to the best of my ability. The freedom, equality, and independence which
you enjoyed by nature, induced you to consent to a political power. The same principles led you to examine the
errors and vices of a British superintendence, to divest yourselves of it, and to reassume
a new political shape. It is acknowledged that there are defects
in this, and another is tendered to you for acceptance; the great question then, that
arises on this new political principle , is, whether it will answer the ends for which
it is said to be offered to you, and for which all men engage in political society, to wit,
the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties, and estates. The recital, or premises on which the new
form of government is erected, declares a consolidation or union of all the thirteen
parts, or states, into one great whole, under the form of the United States, for all the
various and important purposes therein set forth. But whoever seriously considers the immense
extent of territory comprehended within the limits of the United States, together with
the variety of its climates, productions, and commerce, the difference of extent, and
number of inhabitants in all; the dissimilitude of interest, morals, and politics, in almost
every one, will receive it as an intuitive truth, that a consolidated republican form
of government therein, can never form a perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic
tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to you
and your posterity, for to these objects it must be directed. This unkindred legislature therefore, composed
of interests opposite and dissimilar in their nature, will in its exercise, emphatically
be like a house divided against itself. The governments of Europe have taken their
limits and form from adventitious circumstances, and nothing can be argued on the motive of
agreement from them; but these adventitious political principles have nevertheless produced
effects that have attracted the attention of philosophy, which have established axioms
in the science of politics therefrom, as irrefragable as any in Euclid. It is natural, says Montesquieu, to a republic
to have only a small territory, otherwise it cannot long subsist: in a large one, there
are men of large fortunes, and consequently of less moderation; there are too great deposits
to trust in the hands of a single subject, an ambitious person soon becomes sensible
that he may be happy, great, and glorious by oppressing his fellow citizens, and that
he might raise himself to grandeur, on the ruins of his country. In large republics, the public good is sacrificed
to a thousand views, in a small one, the interest of the public is easily perceived, better
understood, and more within the reach of every citizen; abuses have a less extent, and of
course are less protected he also shows you, that the duration of the republic of Sparta
was owing to its having continued with the same extent of territory after all its wars;
and that the ambition of Athens and Lacedemon to command and direct the union, lost them
their liberties, and gave them a monarchy. From this picture, what can you promise yourselves,
on the score of consolidation of the United States into one government? Impracticability in the just exercise of it,
your freedom insecure, even this form of government limited in its continuance, the employments
of your country disposed of to the opulent, to whose contumely you will continually be
an object. You must risk much, by indispensably placing
trusts of the greatest magnitude, into the hands of individuals whose ambition for power,
and aggrandizement, will oppress and grind you. Where, from the vast extent of your territory,
and the complication of interests, the science of government will become intricate and perplexed,
and too mysterious for you to understand and observe; and by which you are to be conducted
into a monarchy, either limited or despotic; the latter, Mr. Locke remarks, is a government
derived from neither nature, nor compact. Political liberty, the great Montesquieu again
observes, consists in security, or at least in the opinion we have of security; and this
security, therefore, or the opinion, is best obtained in moderate governments, where the
mildness of the laws, and the equality of the manners, beget a confidence in the people,
which produces this security, or the opinion. This moderation in governments depends in
a great measure on their limits, connected with their political distribution. The extent of many of the states of the Union,
is at this time almost too great for the superintendence of a republican form of government, and must
one day or other revolve into more vigorous ones, or by separation be reduced into smaller
and more useful, as well as moderate ones. You have already observed the feeble efforts
of Massachusetts against their insurgents; with what difficulty did they quell that insurrection;
and is not the province of Maine at this moment on the eve of separation from her? The reason of these things is, that for the
security of the property of the community, in which expressive term Mr. Locke makes life,
liberty, and estate, to consist the wheels of a republic are necessarily slow in their
operation. Hence, in large free republics, the evil sometimes
is not only begun, but almost completed, before they are in a situation to turn the current
into a contrary progression. The extremes are also too remote from the
usual seat of government, and the laws, therefore, too feeble to afford protection to all its
parts, and insure domestic tranquility without the aid of another principle. If, therefore, this state [New York], and
that of North Carolina, had an army under their control, they never would have lost
Vermont, and Frankland, nor the state of Massachusetts suffered an insurrection, or the dismemberment
of her fairest district; but the exercise of a principle which would have prevented
these things, if we may believe the experience of ages, would have ended in the destruction
of their liberties. Will this consolidated republic, if established,
in its exercise beget such confidence and compliance, among the citizens of these states,
as to do without the aid of a standing army I deny that it will. The malcontents in each state, who will not
be a few, nor the least important, will be exciting factions against it the fear of a
dismemberment of some of its parts, and the necessity to enforce the execution Of revenue
laws (a fruitful source of oppression) on the extremes and in the other districts of
the government, will incidentally and necessarily require a permanent force, to be kept on foot
will not political security, and even the opinion of it, be extinguished? can mildness
and moderation exist in a government where the primary incident in its exercise must
be force? will not violence destroy confidence, and can equality subsist where the extent,
policy, and practice of it will naturally lead to make odious distinctions among citizens? The people who may compose this national legislature
from the southern states, in which, from the mildness of the climate, the fertility of
the soil, and the value of its productions, wealth is rapidly acquired, and where the
same causes naturally lead to luxury, dissipation, and a passion for aristocratic distinction;
where slavery is encouraged, and liberty of course less respected and protected; who know
not what it is to acquire property by their own toil, nor to economize with the savings
of industry will these men, therefore, be as tenacious of the liberties and interests
of the more northern states, where freedom, independence, industry, equality and frugality
are natural to the climate and soil, as men who are your own citizens, legislating in
your own state, under your inspection, and whose manners and fortunes bear a more equal
resemblance to your own? It may be suggested, in answer to this, that
whoever is a citizen of one state is a citizen of each, and that therefore he will be as
interested in the happiness and interest of all, as the one he is delegated from. But the argument is fallacious, and, whoever
has attended to the history of mankind, and the principles which bind them together as
parents, citizens, or men, will readily perceive it. These principles are, in their exercise, like
a pebble cast on the calm surface of a river the circles begin in the center, and are small,
active and forcible, but as they depart from that point, they lose their force, and vanish
into calmness. The strongest principle of union resides within
our domestic walls. The ties of the parent exceed that of any
other. As we depart from home, the next general principle
of union is amongst citizens of the same state, where acquaintance, habits, and fortunes,
nourish affection, and attachment; enlarge the circle still further, and, as citizens
of different states, though we acknowledge the same national denomination, we lose in
the ties of acquaintance, habits, and fortunes, and thus by degrees we lessen in our attachments,
till, at length, we no more than acknowledge a sameness of species. Is it, therefore, from certainty like this,
reasonable to believe, that inhabitants of Georgia, or New Hampshire, will have the same
obligations towards you as your own, and preside over your lives, liberties, and property,
with the same care and attachment? Intuitive reason answers in the negative. In the course of my examination of the principals
of consolidation of the states into one general government, many other reasons against it
have occurred, but I flatter myself, from those herein offered to your consideration,
I have convinced you that it is both presumptious and impracticable consistent with your safety. To detain you with further remarks, would
be useless I shall however, continue in my following numbers, to analise this new government,
pursuant to my promise. CATO

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