Summary and Analysis Section II: Advantages of Union: Federalist No. 11 (Hamilton)



Repeating himself somewhat, Hamilton declared that a closer union would greatly benefit American commerce. The growth of the nation's trade and shipping had already led European maritime powers to think of clipping "the wings by which we might soar to a dangerous greatness." Essential to the growth of American economy was the creation of a federal navy of sufficient strength to make its weight felt in the world. Such an armed naval force would enable the country to bargain with great advantage for commercial rights and privileges.

Unrestrained trade among the states, as proposed in the new constitution, would also be a boon. Working closely together, the states could supply one another's differing needs and produce a surplus for export on American ships.

America should "aim at the ascendant." Too long had Europe lorded it over the world, as if the "rest of mankind [were] created for her benefit." Europeans, including some so-called "profound philosophers," had gone to the length of asserting that all animals, including the human species were so "degenerate in America — that even dogs cease to bark after having breathed a while in our atmosphere." It was time that such "arrogant pretensions" be disproved.

"It belongs to us to vindicate the honor of the human race. . . . Let Americans disdain to be the instruments of European greatness!" If the states were closely joined under a federal constitution, they would be able "to dictate the terms of the connection between the old and the new world!"


Hamilton elaborated on his point that a close union would greatly benefit American commerce, particularly if protected by a strong Navy. Europeans with their "arrogant pretensions" that the world belonged to them should be put in their place. Americans would thus "vindicate the honor of the human race" and be able "to dictate the terms" between the Old World and the New.