Summary and Analysis Section I: General Introduction: Federalist No. 3 (Jay)



All wise and free people directed their attention to "providing for their safety." Was cause of war as "likely to be given by United America, as by disunited America?"

Noting that some American states bordered on British and Spanish territories, Jay remarked that the borderers, "under the impulse of sudden irritation, and a quick sense of apparent interest or injury," were the most likely to excite war with those nations. In such conflicts, a national government, with its "wisdom and prudence," could effectually diminish the passions of the parties concerned and bring about a peaceful accommodation.


Jay here took up the question of war, which seems to have been a preoccupation with the Federalists. At least, they talked a great deal about it, although admitting that the chances of war were remote.

Still, if war came, it could be more successfully waged by a closely-knit union under the proposed constitution. There would be one supreme military command. All states would be united in purpose and making their fair contributions of men and money. The new order would control the "improper conduct of individual States" which had provoked many Indian wars along the frontier. This last control would do much in promoting "domestic" tranquility.

Jay did not have the foresight to see that, no matter what the constitution was, attacks would continue unabated against the Indians until they were almost exterminated.