Advantage of the Union in Respect to Economy in Government
For the Independent Journal.
Wednesday, November 28, 1787


To the People of the State of New York:

As CONNECTED with the subject of revenue, we may with propriety consider
that of economy. The money saved from one object may be usefully applied
to another, and there will be so much the less to be drawn from the
pockets of the people. If the States are united under one government,
there will be but one national civil list to support; if they are
divided into several confederacies, there will be as many different
national civil lists to be provided for -- and each of them, as to the
principal departments, coextensive with that which would be necessary
for a government of the whole. The entire separation of the States into
thirteen unconnected sovereignties is a project too extravagant and too
replete with danger to have many advocates. The ideas of men who
speculate upon the dismemberment of the empire seem generally turned
toward three confederacies -- one consisting of the four Northern,
another of the four Middle, and a third of the five Southern States.
There is little probability that there would be a greater number.
According to this distribution, each confederacy would comprise an
extent of territory larger than that of the kingdom of Great Britain. No
well-informed man will suppose that the affairs of such a confederacy
can be properly regulated by a government less comprehensive in its
organs or institutions than that which has been proposed by the
convention. When the dimensions of a State attain to a certain
magnitude, it requires the same energy of government and the same forms
of administration which are requisite in one of much greater extent.
This idea admits not of precise demonstration, because there is no rule
by which we can measure the momentum of civil power necessary to the
government of any given number of individuals; but when we consider that
the island of Britain, nearly commensurate with each of the supposed
confederacies, contains about eight millions of people, and when we
reflect upon the degree of authority required to direct the passions of
so large a society to the public good, we shall see no reason to doubt
that the like portion of power would be sufficient to perform the same
task in a society far more numerous. Civil power, properly organized and
exerted, is capable of diffusing its force to a very great extent; and
can, in a manner, reproduce itself in every part of a great empire by a
judicious arrangement of subordinate institutions.

The supposition that each confederacy into which the States would be
likely to be divided would require a government not less comprehensive
than the one proposed, will be strengthened by another supposition, more
probable than that which presents us with three confederacies as the
alternative to a general Union. If we attend carefully to geographical
and commercial considerations, in conjunction with the habits and
prejudices of the different States, we shall be led to conclude that in
case of disunion they will most naturally league themselves under two
governments. The four Eastern States, from all the causes that form the
links of national sympathy and connection, may with certainty be
expected to unite. New York, situated as she is, would never be unwise
enough to oppose a feeble and unsupported flank to the weight of that
confederacy. There are other obvious reasons that would facilitate her
accession to it. New Jersey is too small a State to think of being a
frontier, in opposition to this still more powerful combination; nor do
there appear to be any obstacles to her admission into it. Even
Pennsylvania would have strong inducements to join the Northern league.
An active foreign commerce, on the basis of her own navigation, is her
true policy, and coincides with the opinions and dispositions of her
citizens. The more Southern States, from various circumstances, may not
think themselves much interested in the encouragement of navigation.
They may prefer a system which would give unlimited scope to all nations
to be the carriers as well as the purchasers of their commodities.
Pennsylvania may not choose to confound her interests in a connection so
adverse to her policy. As she must at all events be a frontier, she may
deem it most consistent with her safety to have her exposed side turned
towards the weaker power of the Southern, rather than towards the
stronger power of the Northern, Confederacy. This would give her the
fairest chance to avoid being the Flanders of America. Whatever may be
the determination of Pennsylvania, if the Northern Confederacy includes
New Jersey, there is no likelihood of more than one confederacy to the
south of that State.

Nothing can be more evident than that the thirteen States will be able
to support a national government better than one half, or one third, or
any number less than the whole. This reflection must have great weight
in obviating that objection to the proposed plan, which is founded on
the principle of expense; an objection, however, which, when we come to
take a nearer view of it, will appear in every light to stand on
mistaken ground.

If, in addition to the consideration of a plurality of civil lists, we
take into view the number of persons who must necessarily be employed to
guard the inland communication between the different confederacies
against illicit trade, and who in time will infallibly spring up out of
the necessities of revenue; and if we also take into view the military
establishments which it has been shown would unavoidably result from the
jealousies and conflicts of the several nations into which the States
would be divided, we shall clearly discover that a separation would be
not less injurious to the economy, than to the tranquillity, commerce,
revenue, and liberty of every part.