In this paper, Hamilton addresses concerns that the Constitution will lead ultimately to reliance on military force to implement its laws and decrees. Hamilton argues instead that the federal government will be well-administered by highly competent individuals and that, as a result, it will enjoy the support and willing compliance of the people: “I believe it may be laid down as a general rule, that [the people’s] confidence in, and their obedience to, a government, will commonly be proportioned to the goodness or badness of its administration.” Furthermore, having a strong federal government will discourage sedition since factions will be less willing to take on the entire force of the union than the power of a single state. If the federal government is given authority to create laws applicable directly to the people, instead of only to the states as collective entities, a strong connection will be built between the citizens and their national government. This will increase the authority of the union and strengthen “the affections of the citizens towards it,” so that force will not be necessary for implementing federal laws.
The Articles of Confederation have created a situation in which violent force is the only way for the national government to enforce its laws on the states. Since the states are essentially independent sovereignties, they cannot be compelled to follow national government decrees by means of the judiciary the way an individual citizen could. In contrast, the proposed constitution will provide stability and peace by incorporating all the various state governments within a single national system in which the “laws of the confederacy” are the supreme law of the land.
This paper draws on the idea, introduced in previous papers, that a national government with the authority to impose laws on the citizens themselves will ultimately provide for greater stability and peace than a system of independent states loosely connected within a confederation.
Hamilton tries to dismiss the widespread fear of tyrannical government imposing its laws violently by arguing that the people will willingly obey the laws of the federal government. Even if some break the law, such instances can be dealt with through the courts. In contrast, under a system of loosely connected states, the national government would only be able to enforce its laws violently. Thus, in defending the constitution, Hamilton is not denying the validity of its opponents’ fears but asserting that the constitution is the country’s best bet to prevent these fears from being realized.