Bench Memos

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The Perennial Publius, part 26


Continuing his response, in Federalist No. 26, to the opponents of the Constitution who bleat about the danger of standing armies, Alexander Hamilton notes that in England, the restraint on military power in place since the “revolution in 1688” (the near-bloodless ascent of William and Mary to the throne) has been a restraint only on the “executive magistrate” maintaining a military force on his own authority, not on the parliament raising and maintaining an army that the executive commands.  Given the very real dangers a nation may face at any time, “confidence must be placed some where,” he says.  In phrases that make one think that the Anti-Federalists of 1787-88 have their counterparts in the thoughtless civil libertarians of our day, Publius writes:

“The citizens of America have too much discernment to be argued into anarchy.  And I am much mistaken if experience has not wrought a deep and solemn conviction in the public mind, that greater energy of government is essential to the welfare and prosperity of the community.”

(For explanation of this recurring feature, see here.)

Tags: Franck


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