Foreign Affairs – They Told US So
Foreign affairs were a major concern of the Anti-Federalist at the time of the Constitution ratification. They clearly predicted what we are engaged in and how the lobbyists of the last 150 years have corrupted the elected.
This week is a comparative review of the arguments in the founding era to the present destructions of Citizen sovereignty by the political class corrupted through foreign affairs and entanglements.
Abating Foreign Influences – NOT
Foreign affairs is always a matter of influence. This has been seen throughout history as one nations leaders look to find advantages over another. Let’s face it, with humanity not living according to the original design of God, the influences sought are more often designed to leverage power for the advantages of the small groups of elites instead of the general good of the citizens.
I want to start with a well stated definition of terms and what is most common in our media messaging madness, the improper use of terms with the example from the opening statement By A Farmer:
‘There are but two modes by which men are connected in society, the one which operates on individuals, this always has been, and ought still to be called, national government; the other which binds States and governments together (not corporations, for there is no considerable nation on earth, despotic, monarchical, or republican, that does not contain many subordinate corporations with various constitutions) this last has heretofore been denominated a league or confederacy. The term federalists is therefore improperly applied to themselves, by the friends and supporters of the proposed constitution. This abuse of language does not help the cause; every degree of imposition serves only to irritate, but can never convince. They are national men, and their opponents, or at least a great majority of them, are federal, in the only true and strict sense of the word.’
First comments on Foreign Affairs by A Farmer, March 7, 1788
From these quotes, I will let the analysis of ‘A Farmer’ walk you through my first position on the appearances of keeping influences at bay.
‘That a national government will add to the dignity and increase the splendor of the United States abroad, can admit of no doubt: it is essentially requisite for both… That it is requisite in order to keep us at peace among ourselves, is doubtful. That it is necessary, to prevent foreigners from dividing us, or interfering in our government, I deny positively; and, after all, I have strong doubts whether all its advantages are not more specious than solid. We are vain, like other nations. We wish to make a noise in the world; and feel hurt that Europeans are not so attentive to America in peace, as they were to America in war. We are also, no doubt, desirous of cutting a figure in history. Should we not reflect, that quiet is happiness? That content and pomp are incompatible? I have either read or heard this truth, which the Americans should never forget: That the silence of historians is the surest record of the happiness of a people…’
‘…That a national government will prevent the influence or danger of foreign intrigue, or secure us from invasion, is in my judgment directly the reverse of the truth. The only foreign, or at least evil foreign influence, must be obtained through corruption. Where the government is lodged in the body of the people, as in Switzerland, they can never be corrupted; for no prince, or people, can have resources enough to corrupt the majority of a nation; and if they could, the play is not worth the candle. The facility of corruption is increased in proportion as power tends by representation or delegation, to a concentration in the hands of a few. . . .’
On To Economics and Merchants of Foreign Affairs
John Francis Mercer, A [Maryland] Farmer discusses the eventuality of three classes of citizenry whereby they are then Mercer predicts that only two political parties will remain. Here is his assessment including foreign mercantile interference.
‘The first class comprehends all those men of fortune and reputation who stepped forward in the late revolution, from opposition to the administration, rather than the government of Great Britain. All those aristocrats whose pride disdains equal law. Many men of very large fortune, who entertain real or imaginary fears for the security of property.
Chasing the European way is nothing new as Mercer dissects it here:
‘Those young men, who have sacrificed their time and their talents to public service, without any prospect of an adequate pecuniary or honorary reward. All your people of fashion and pleasure who are corrupted by the dissipation of the French, English and American armies; and a love of European manners and luxury. The public creditors of the continent, whose interest has been heretofore sacrificed by their friends, in order to retain their services on this occasion.
I find his next comments on the young merchants rather a comparison on our last forty years. I discuss this in more detail on the program. Mercer continues:
‘A large majority of the mercantile people, which is at present a very unformed and consequently dangerous interest. Our old native merchants have been almost universally ruined by the receipt of their debts in paper during the war, and the payment in hard money of what they owed their British correspondents since peace. Those who are not bankrupts, have generally retired and given place to a set of young men, who conducting themselves as rashly as ignorantly, have embarrassed their affairs and lay the blame on the government, and who are really unacquainted with the true mercantile interest of the country-which is perplexed from circumstances rather temporary than permanent.
Now onto the foreign merchants:
‘The foreign merchants are generally not to be trusted with influence in our government– they are most of them birds of passage. Some, perhaps British emissaries increasing and rejoicing in our political mistakes, and even those who have settled among us with an intention to fix themselves and their posterity in our soil, have brought with them more foreign prejudices than wealth. Time must elapse before the mercantile interest will be so organized as to govern themselves, much less others, with propriety.
Now to the Tories. Who are the present day Tories? Who are those who secretly and now openly oppose the foundations of government in America?
‘And lastly, to this class I suppose we may ultimately add the tory interest, with the exception of very many respectable characters, who reflect with a gratification mixed with disdain, that those principles are now become fashionable for which they have been persecuted and hunted down-which, although by no means so formidable as is generally imagined, is still considerable. They are at present wavering. They are generally, though with very many exceptions, openly for the proposed, but secretly against any American government. A burnt child dreads the fire. But should they see any fair prospect of confusion arise, these gentry will be off at any moment for these five and twenty years to come. Ultimately, should the administration promise stability to the new government, they may be counted on as the Janizaries of power, ready to efface all suspicion by the violence of their zeal.
In general, all these various people would prefer a government, as nearly copied after that of Great Britain, as our circumstances will permit. Some would strain these circumstances. Others still retain a deep rooted jealousy of the executive branch and strong republican prejudices as they are called. Finally, this class contains more aggregate wisdom and moral virtue than both the other two together. It commands nearly two thirds of the property and almost one half the numbers of America, and has at present, become almost irresistible from the name of the truly great and amiable man who it has been said, is disposed to patronize it, and from the influence which it has over the second class…’
Just defining a couple of words so that the context is common not only for 1788 but for now:
- Tory – ‘”Tory” was a political term originally applied to members of the political party in England that favored the policies of the monarchy and the established church over the king’s opponents in Parliament. During the American Revolution, adherents of the royal government who opposed the Revolution were called “Tories” or “Loyalists.” The province of North Carolina was believed to have had one of the highest percentages of Loyalists of all the rebellious colonies. It is not surprising that many wealthy merchants and planters with financial ties to England were Tories, as were many Crown officials and Anglican clergymen. However, Tories were members of every level of society and lived in every part of the colony. Some Tories were German immigrants to the piedmont. In addition, many former Regulators, Piedmont frontiersmen who had rebelled against the colonial government, were Tories during the war.’ From ‘Tory’ by David A. Norris, 2006; Revised November 2022
- Janizary – A member of a group of elite, highly loyal supporters.
Foreign Affairs In Regards to Trade / Commerce
Again we have to consider the necessities of trade and what were some perspective of the Anti-Federalists in this regard.
Just a quick reference to “ALFRED” defending the Articles of Confederation, taken from The New-York Journal, December 25, 1787 as reprinted from the [Philadelphia] Independent Gazetteer. I find this again very much words for our present.
15 December 1787 – ‘Let us not, ye lovers of freedom, be rash and hasty. Perhaps the real evils we labor under do not arise from these systems. There may be other causes to which our misfortunes may be properly attributed. Read the American constitutions, and you will find our essential rights and privileges well guarded and secured. May not our manners be the source of our national evils? May not our attachment to foreign trade increase them? Have we not acted imprudently in exporting almost all our gold and silver for foreign luxuries? It is now acknowledged that we have not a sufficient quantity of the precious metals to answer the various purposes of government and commerce; and without a breach of charity, it may be said, that this deficiency arises from the want of public virtue, in preferring private interest to every other consideration.’
And again we hear from Centinel, 30 November 1787 by Samuel Bryan, Centinel:
‘What gave birth to the late Continental Convention? Was it not the situation of our commerce, which lay at the mercy of every foreign power who, from motives of interest or enmity, could restrict and control it without risking a retaliation on the part of America, as Congress was impotent on this subject? Such indeed was the case with respect to Britain, whose hostile regulations gave such a stab to our navigation as to threaten its annihilation. It became the interest of even the American merchant to give a preference to foreign bottoms; hence the distress of our seamen, shipwrights, and every mechanic art dependent on navigation.’
Lastly on Foreign Affairs:
John Mercer opened his comments about the proposed Senate with:
‘We have not that permanent and fixed distinction of ranks or orders of men among us, which unalterably separating the interests and views, produces that division in pursuits which is the great security of the mixed Government we separated from and which we now seem so anxiously to copy. If the new Senate of the United States will be really opposite in their pursuits and views from the Representatives, have they not a most dangerous power of interesting foreign nations by Treaty [to] support Their views?—for instance, the relinquishment of the navigation of [the] Mississippi—and yet where Treaties are expressly declared paramount to the Constitutions of the several States, and being the supreme law, [the Senate] must of course control the national legislature, if not supersede the Constitution of the United States itself. The check of the President over a Body, with which he must act in concert—or his influence and power be almost annihilated—can prove no great constitutional security. And even the Representative body itself … are not sufficiently numerous to secure them from corruption. For all governments tend to corruption, in proportion as power concentrating in the hands of the few, tenders them objects of corruption to Foreign Nations and among themselves.’
‘Moreover those very powers, which are to be expressly vested in the new Congress, are of a nature most liable to abuse. They are those which tempt the avarice and ambition of men to a violation of the rights of their fellow citizens, and they will be screened under the sanction of an undefined and unlimited authority…’
Now think of the last presidential election:
‘…We know that there scarcely ever was an election of such an officer without the interposition of foreign powers. Two causes prevail to make them intermeddle in such cases:—one is, to preserve the balance of power; the other, to preserve their trade. These causes have produced interferences of foreign powers in the election of the king of Poland. All the great powers of Europe have interfered in an election which took place not very long ago, and would not let the people choose for themselves. We know how much the powers of Europe have interfered with Sweden. Since the death of Charles XII, that country has been a republican government. Some powers were willing it should be so; some were willing her imbecility should continue; others wished the contrary; and at length the court of France brought about a revolution, which converted it into an absolute government. Can America be free from these interferences? France, after losing Holland, will wish to make America entirely her own. Great Britain will wish to increase her influence by a still closer connection. It is the interest of Spain, from the contiguity of her possessions in the western hemisphere to the United States, to be in an intimate connection with them, and influence their deliberations, if possible. I think we have every thing, to apprehend from such interferences. It is highly probable the President will be continued in office for life. To gain his favor, they will support him. Consider the means of importance he will have by creating officers. If he has a good understanding with the Senate, they will join to prevent a discovery of his misdeeds.…’ June 18, 1788 – a speech by William Grayson ‘On the Mode of Electing the President.’
Sam Adams on Foreign Influence:
TO JAMES WARREN. PHILADE Feb 1st 1781 – ‘You & I have been long struggling for the Liberty of our Country. I believe its Independence will be finally acknowledgd by the World. But are not many Nations England in particular called Independent? And do you think the People of England are free. No People, in my opinion can be long free who are not virtuous; and it is no Sign of Virtue, when the Councils of an enlightned Country are directed by a foreign Influence. If I were a Minister at a foreign Court, my Vanity might be flatterd, in imagining that by having Address enough to rule its Measures, I might fix myself in the Esteem and Confidence of my Country, but I should entertain a contemptible Opinion of the Wisdom & Virtue of that Court if it would suffer me to do it. The Councils of a Nation must be weak in the extreme, or it must be reducd to the greatest Degree of Dependence to submit to so servile a Condition. You will not think I have the remotest Reference in what I now say, jealous as I allow my self to be, to the Amphictyon of the United States of America. It is presumd they will always have too high a Sense of their Dignity to suffer themselves & their Nation to be degraded. But when Peace is happily settled & a Number of foreign Ministers are about our Court, it will require Men of great Knowledge of the World & Experience in Affairs to penetrate their various Intrigues. I have been assured that the Court of France would be highly disgusted with any of its Ministers if they should improperly interfere in our Councils; and indeed when I consider the Jealousy of a rising Republick, I think nothing would equal the Impolicy of their attempting it, but the Imprudence of Congress in submitting to it.’
TO JOHN ADAMS. BOSTON Novr 4 1783. – ‘…We live in an Age of Jealousy, and it is well enough. I was led to believe in early Life, that Jealousy is a political Virtue. It has long been an Aphorism with me, that it is one of the greatest Securities of publick Liberty. Let the People keep a watchful Eye over the Conduct of their Rulers; for we are told that Great Men are not at all times wise. It would be indeed a Wonder if in any Age or Country they were always honest. There are however some Men among us, who under the Guise of watchful Patriots, are finding Fault with every publick Measure, with a Design to destroy that just Confidence in Government, which is necessary for the Support of those Liberties which we have so dearly purchas’d. Many of your Countrymen besides myself, feel very grateful to you and those of our Negociators who joyned you, in preventing the Tory Refugees from being obtruded upon us. These would certainly have increasd the Number of such Kind of Patriots as I have mentiond, and besides, their Return would have been attended with other mischievous Effects. Mutual Hatred and Revenge would have occasiond perpetual Quarrels between them & the people & perhaps frequent Bloodshed. Some of them, by Art and Address might gradually recover a Character & in time an Influence, and so become the fittest Instruments in forming Factions either for one foreign Nation or another. We may be in Danger of such Factions, and should prudently expect them. One might venture to predict that they will sooner or later happen. We should therefore guard against the evil Effects of them…’
1. Anti-Federalist Special Edition
2. Samuel Adams Writings Volume IV
7. CIA courting Silicon Valley,August 18, 2000: 3:17 p.m. ET, U.S. spy agency’s venture capital fund now bankrolling 8 high tech startups