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The Federalist No. 3: Safeguarding National Security Through Unity

Updated: Jan 5


In Federalist Paper No. 3, John Jay passionately argues for the necessity of a strong and united federal government to ensure the safety and security of the American people. As we delve into the intricate reasoning laid out by one of the Founding Fathers, it becomes evident that the preservation of peace and protection against external threats were at the forefront of their concerns. This blog post will explore the key points raised by Jay and their enduring relevance in today's complex geopolitical landscape.

The Imperative of National Unity

Jay begins by acknowledging the intelligence and well-informed nature of the American people, emphasizing their long-standing belief in the importance of a united federal government. The primary concern, he asserts, is the safety of the nation, a concept that encompasses both the preservation of peace and defense against foreign aggression.

Just Causes of War

One of Jay's central arguments revolves around the idea that the number of wars a nation engages in is directly proportional to the causes—real or pretended—that provoke or invite them. By comparing a united America to a disunited one, he explores whether the former is more likely to give just causes for war. The conclusion is clear: a unified America is less likely to provoke hostilities from abroad, fostering a state of peace.

The Role of Treaties and International Relations

Jay emphasizes the importance of adhering to the laws of nations and treaties with foreign powers. He contends that a single national government is better equipped to fulfill these obligations consistently, ensuring a uniform interpretation and execution. This contrasts with the potential inconsistencies and conflicts that may arise from separate states or smaller confederacies.

Appointment of the Best Minds

A significant aspect of Jay's argument is the belief that the best minds and talents in the country will be more willing to serve and manage the government if it is unified. This expectation stems from the broader field of choice that a national government offers, leading to more systematic and judicious decision-making.

Preventing Local Biases

Jay anticipates the challenges posed by local biases and interests in individual states. He argues that a national government, unaffected by such local circumstances, is less susceptible to the temptations of injustice arising from present loss or advantage. This foresight, he contends, would prevent instances where one state may act against the collective interest of the nation.


John Jay's Federalist Paper No. 3 lays out a compelling case for the necessity of a strong and unified federal government to ensure the safety and security of the American people. His arguments, rooted in a deep understanding of human nature and international relations, continue to resonate today. As we reflect on his words, we are reminded of the enduring importance of national unity in safeguarding our collective interests and promoting peace on the global stage.

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