FEDERALIST No. 1

General Introduction
For the Independent Journal.
Saturday, October 27, 1787

Alexander Hamilton

To the People of the State of New York:

AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficacy of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate
on a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its
consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the
fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have
been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether
societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are
forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the
crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong
election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.

This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and
good men must feel for the event. Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true
interests, unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good. But this is a thing more ardently
to be wished than seriously to be expected. The plan offered to our deliberations affects too many particular interests,
innovates upon too many local institutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits, and of
views, passions and prejudices little favorable to the discovery of truth.

Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished
the obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of the
power, emolument, and consequence of the offices they hold under the State establishments; and the perverted ambition of
another class of men, who will either hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusions of their country, or will flatter
themselves with fairer prospects of elevation from the subdivision of the empire into several partial confederacies than from
its union under one government.

It is not, however, my design to dwell upon observations of this nature. I am well aware that it would be disingenuous to
resolve indiscriminately the opposition of any set of men (merely because their situations might subject them to suspicion)
into interested or ambitious views. Candor will oblige us to admit that even such men may be actuated by upright intentions;
and it cannot be doubted that much of the opposition which has made its appearance, or may hereafter make its appearance,
will spring from sources, blameless at least, if not respectable -- the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived
jealousies and fears. So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment,
that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first
magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so
much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might be
drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles
than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable
than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question. Were there
not even these inducements to moderation, nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times,
characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword.
Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.

And yet, however just these sentiments will be allowed to be, we have already sufficient indications that it will happen in this
as in all former cases of great national discussion. A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from
the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their
opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their
invectives. An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper
fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty. An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the
people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the
stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual
concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust.
On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that,
in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous
ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance
of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more
certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of
republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing
demagogues, and ending tyrants.

In the course of the preceding observations, I have had an eye, my fellow-citizens, to putting you upon your guard against all
attempts, from whatever quarter, to influence your decision in a matter of the utmost moment to your welfare, by any
impressions other than those which may result from the evidence of truth. You will, no doubt, at the same time, have
collected from the general scope of them, that they proceed from a source not unfriendly to the new Constitution. Yes, my
countrymen, I own to you that, after having given it an attentive consideration, I am clearly of opinion it is your interest to
adopt it. I am convinced that this is the safest course for your liberty, your dignity, and your happiness. I affect not reserves
which I do not feel. I will not amuse you with an appearance of deliberation when I have decided. I frankly acknowledge to
you my convictions, and I will freely lay before you the reasons on which they are founded. The consciousness of good
intentions disdains ambiguity. I shall not, however, multiply professions on this head. My motives must remain in the
depository of my own breast. My arguments will be open to all, and may be judged of by all. They shall at least be offered in
a spirit which will not disgrace the cause of truth.

I propose, in a series of papers, to discuss the following interesting particulars:

THE UTILITY OF THE UNION TO YOUR POLITICAL PROSPERITY THE INSUFFICIENCY OF THE PRESENT
CONFEDERATION TO PRESERVE THAT UNION THE NECESSITY OF A GOVERNMENT AT LEAST EQUALLY
ENERGETIC WITH THE ONE PROPOSED, TO THE ATTAINMENT OF THIS OBJECT THE CONFORMITY OF THE
PROPOSED CONSTITUTION TO THE TRUE PRINCIPLES OF REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT ITS ANALOGY TO
YOUR OWN STATE CONSTITUTION and lastly, THE ADDITIONAL SECURITY WHICH ITS ADOPTION WILL
AFFORD TO THE PRESERVATION OF THAT SPECIES OF GOVERNMENT, TO LIBERTY, AND TO PROPERTY.

In the progress of this discussion I shall endeavor to give a satisfactory answer to all the objections which shall have made
their appearance, that may seem to have any claim to your attention.

It may perhaps be thought superfluous to offer arguments to prove the utility of the UNION, a point, no doubt, deeply
engraved on the hearts of the great body of the people in every State, and one, which it may be imagined, has no adversaries.
But the fact is, that we already hear it whispered in the private circles of those who oppose the new Constitution, that the
thirteen States are of too great extent for any general system, and that we must of necessity resort to separate confederacies
of distinct portions of the whole.[1] This doctrine will, in all probability, be gradually propagated, till it has votaries enough to
countenance an open avowal of it. For nothing can be more evident, to those who are able to take an enlarged view of the
subject, than the alternative of an adoption of the new Constitution or a dismemberment of the Union. It will therefore be of
use to begin by examining the advantages of that Union, the certain evils, and the probable dangers, to which every State will
be exposed from its dissolution. This shall accordingly constitute the subject of my next address.

PUBLIUS
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