Federalist No. 5

From New World Encyclopedia
Federalist No. 5 John Jay (Gilbert Stuart portrait).jpg
John Jay, author of Federalist No. 5
AuthorJohn Jay
Original titleThe Same Subject Continued: Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Federalist
PublisherThe Independent Journal
Publication date
November 10, 1787
Media typeNewspaper
Preceded byFederalist No. 4 
Followed byFederalist No. 6 

Federalist No. 5, titled "The Same Subject Continued: Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence", is a political essay by John Jay, the fifth of The Federalist Papers. It was first published in The Independent Journal on November 10, 1787, under the pseudonym Publius, the name under which all The Federalist Papers were published. It is the last of four essays by Jay advocating political union as a means of protection from foreign nations.

Federalist No. 5 addresses the idea of states forming regional confederacies and how it would affect foreign relations. Jay argued that these confederacies would be cautious or envious regarding one another while maintaining stronger relations with foreign nations. He theorized that the Northern United States would grow stronger than the Southern United States, causing conflict between the regions. He contrasted this scenario with political union, arguing that union would prevent conflict by combining the states' strength and aligning their national interests.


Jay opens his argument by quoting Queen Anne's letter to the Parliament of Scotland in favor of British unification.

An entire and perfect union will be the solid foundation of lasting peace: It will secure your religion, liberty, and property; remove the animosities amongst yourselves, and the jealousies and differences betwixt our two kingdoms. It must increase your strength, riches, and trade; and by this union the whole island, being joined in affection and free from all apprehensions of different interest, will be enabled to resist all its enemies.

We most earnestly recommend to you calmness and unanimity in this great and weighty affair, that the union may be brought to a happy conclusion, being the only effectual way to secure our present and future happiness, and disappoint the designs of our and your enemies, who will doubtless, on this occasion, use their utmost endeavors to prevent or delay this union.

From the experience of Great Britain, which he knew best, he suggests that while it would be common sense that those on the same island should be a union with common interests, especially in their relations to the continent, their jealousies and rivalries kept them apart to their detriment. From the British experience Jay expresses the concern that should the Americans not create a union, similar rivalries possibly leading to conflict would arise. He suggests that one region would become stronger than the others. He considered it likely that the Northern United States would become the strongest, and that other regions would respond with envy and rather than neighbors, they would become "borderers," that is, competitors. They would become formidable to one another rather than other great powers.

Jay contends that conflict between American confederacies would prevent them from rivaling other nations, and he argues that defense pacts between the confederacies would be unlikely. He compares this scenario to the kingdoms of Great Britain and the kingdoms of Spain prior to unification, in which they operated as independent nations with separate national interests. He then argues that these separate interests would lead to different foreign policies and to alliances with different European nations. Finally, he warns that such alliances would allow foreign nations to gain influence, likening it to conquests of the Roman Empire carried out through alliances which only served their interests.

Background and publication

Federalist No. 5 was written by John Jay. Like all of the Federalist Papers, Federalist No. 5 was published under the pseudonym Publius in New York newspapers with the intention of explaining the provisions of the Constitution of the United States and persuading New York to ratify it.[1] It was first published in The Independent Journal on November 10, 1787, followed by The Daily Advertiser on November 12 and The New-York Packet on November 13.[2] Federalist No. 5 was the last of four essays Jay penned in support of political union as a means of protecting the United States from the interference of other nations.[3] It continued directly from the ideas of Federalist No. 4, arguing that the states would be unable maintain their own security without political union.[3][4]


Jay quotes Queen Anne, adapting her argument for British unification to the cause of American unification

In Federalist No. 5, Jay warned against the formation of regional confederacies instead of a national union. He argued that under such a system, the states would work against one another and fall under the influence of foreign countries.[5][6] Jay insisted that union was necessary because a national government would be stronger than any individual confederacy, as all states would cooperate toward the same interests, and the national government would have access to greater resources and military strength than any confederacy would individually.[5]

American politics of the time were defined by sectionalism, particularly between the Northern and Southern regions of the United States. The two regions held different interests, as the North maintained a mercantilist economy while the South was an agrarian society. Jay considered this distinction a likely cause for conflict between the states, supposing that their economic interests would put them in opposition to one another.[3] He also believed that these separate interests would incentivize the confederacies to seek different European allies, further putting them in conflict with one another.[6][7] Jay contended that once this foreign influence was established, it would be difficult to reverse.[7] Jay's arguments in Federalist No. 5 contrast with those he made in Federalist No. 2, in which he proposed that the American people are naturally unified under common interests and ideals.[6][7] Federalist No. 5 maintained that these factors alone were not sufficient, and that the preservation of an American nationality was contingent on a central government to maintain union between the states.[6]

Federalist No. 5 was one of several instances in which envy and jealousy are described as threats to the American people. Political theorist Jon Elster described Federalist No. 5 as having the "most striking" example of this phenomenon.[8] Jay speculated that one of the confederacies would likely become more powerful over time, further increasing diplomatic tension between them and provoking action to hinder one another.[5] In Jay's view, this likelihood preempted any hope that regional confederacies would work as allies for an extended time.[7] He feared that confederacies bordering one another would grow distrustful and exist in constant fear of war.[5]

Like many of The Federalist Papers, Federalist No. 5 described historical events that relate to its arguments. Jay likened confederacies between the states to the division of England, Scotland, and Wales in Great Britain and to the Iberian kingdoms that combined to form Spain. To make this comparison, he quoted a letter written by Queen Anne in support of British unification that closely resembled the style and argumentation of The Federalist Papers.[7] Jay believed that the unification of Britain was closely analogous to a potential union of the United States. In both cases, he believed it was logical that countries with similar interests and geographic qualities should be combined under a single nation.[6] On the other hand, he believed that a system of confederacies would be reminiscent of the conflict-ridden nature of the British kingdoms prior to unification.[9]


Jay did not write another essay for The Federalist Papers until Federalist No. 64, which was his final entry in the series.[7] The argument that American unity requires a national government was revisited in Federalist No. 11 and No. 22.[3] Jay's concerns in Federalist No. 5 were reflected at several points in American history. His fear of border disputes was realized when the United States came into conflict with Upper Canada during the War of 1812 and with Mexico during the Mexican–American War.[4] The sectionalism described by Jay between the Northern and Southern United States was a predominant factor in American politics over the following generations.[3] It nearly caused military conflict during the nullification crisis, when South Carolina threatened to nullify the 1828 Tariff of Abominations, which it saw as serving Northern interests. Hostility between the North and South eventually culminated in the American Civil War in 1861 over the issue of slavery, with the southern states arguing for "States' rights."[4] His arguments in Federalist No. 5 seem remarkably prescient. By the twenty-first century, economic globalization and modern warfare have altered the circumstances under which Jay and Queen Anne advocated unification for economic and military protection.[4]


  1. "Federalist Papers: Primary Documents in American History," Library of Congress. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  2. "Federalist Essays in Historic Newspapers," Library of Congress. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Kyle Scott, "The Federalist Papers: A Reader's Guide," (London, U.K.: A&C Black, 2013, ISBN 978-1441108142), 61-65, 83. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Sanford Levinson, An Argument Open to All: Reading "The Federalist" in the 21st Century (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015, ISBN 978-0300216455), 23–26. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Morton White, Philosophy, The Federalist, and the Constitution (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1989, ISBN 978-0195363074), 154. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Edward Millican, One United People: The Federalist Papers and the National Idea (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2014, ISBN 978-0813161372), 74–75. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Quentin P. Taylor, "John Jay, The Federalist, and the Constitution ," in The Cambridge Companion to the Federalist Papers eds., Jack N. Rakove and Colleen A. Sheehan (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2020, ISBN 978-1107136397), 64, 68-70. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  8. Jon Elster, "The Political Psychology of Publius," in The Cambridge Companion to the Federalist Papers eds., Jack N. Rakove and Colleen A. Sheehan (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2020, ISBN 978-1107136397), 216. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  9. Harry A. Blackmun, "John Jay and the Federalist Papers," Pace Law Review 8(2) (1988): 244. Retrieved October 30, 2023.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Blackmun, Harry A. "John Jay and the Federalist Papers," Pace Law Review 8(2) (1988): 244. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  • Levinson, Sanford. An Argument Open to All: Reading "The Federalist" in the 21st Century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015. ISBN 978-0300216455
  • Millican, Edward. One United People: The Federalist Papers and the National Idea. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2014. ISBN 978-0813161372
  • Rakove, Jack N., and Colleen A. Sheehan (eds.). The Cambridge Companion to the Federalist Papers Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2020. ISBN 978-1107136397
  • Scott, Kyle. The Federalist Papers: A Reader's Guide. London, U.K.: A&C Black, 2013. ISBN 978-1441108142
  • White, Morton. Philosophy, The Federalist, and the Constitution. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0195363074

External links

All links retrieved March 25, 2024.

Federalist Papers | List of Federalist Papers
Authors: Alexander Hamilton | James Madison | John Jay
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21
22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42
43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63
  64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85  
Related topics: Anti-Federalist Papers | United States Constitution


New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:

The history of this article since it was imported to New World Encyclopedia:

Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed.