Federalist 24 vs. Anti-Federalist 10: Safety of a Standing Army?

Federalist No. 24

Federalist No. 24, “The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered For the Independent Journal,” and Anti-Federalist No. 10, argued the necessity and constitutional right for fostering a standing army in the United States during peacetime. The Federalists and Anti-Federalists disputed over the integrity of the government in commanding the forces, especially the legislative branch, the rights of the people and the states, and the realistic danger from neighboring nations. The Federalists’ desire for a powerful constitution and government with secure military institutions, and the Anti-Federalists’ fear of a corrupt system are represented through the key words in each word cloud. Since the documents contended the same issues, the word clouds share similar words, including “standing army,” “time of peace,” “government,” “state,” “legislature,” and “people.” Though the word clouds contain the same number of words, and the overall word count for each document is almost equivalent, none of the largest words are the same. This discrepancy shows the difference between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists’ main concerns about national defense. While the Anti-Federalists focused on the potential danger of a overzealous government having control of an army, shown by the repeating words “government,” “danger,” “power,” “legislature,” and “army,” the Federalists emphasized the need for protection against Britain and Spain, as well as on the western frontier with a respectful and considerate army with “constitutions,” “necessity,” “respect,” and “garrisons.”

Whether about standing armies or taxation, the Federalists stood for a strong central government, while the Anti-Federalists fought what they saw as an overbearing government, set on weakening state powers.  Though many of the key words illustrated are expected, the numbers “one” and “two” from the Federalist document come as a surprise. However, with further analysis, “one” and “two” represent the core sentiments of the Federalist argument. “One” stands for the unity of the United States under the ratification of the constitution, and “two” supports the Federalists’ objective. Hamilton, under the pseudonym Publius, wrote of the proposal for funding an army for no more than two years, that only two state constitutions explicitly prohibited standing armies, and the danger of the two powers, Britain, and Spain, which threatened American safety. “One” and “two” though not immediately conjuring constitutional thoughts, hold the key to the Federalists’ ideals. Obviously, these small but influential words, remain absent from the Anti-Federalist word cloud. The Federalist and Anti-Federalist word clouds demonstrate, that even though the Federalists and Anti-Federalists may have shared some similar words in discussing their opinions on the constitution, their ideals, fears, thoughts on constitutional power were radically different.

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2 Responses to Federalist 24 vs. Anti-Federalist 10: Safety of a Standing Army?

  1. artiephinney says:

    The debate over the executive powers in the US Constitution was an issue that was highly contested between the Anti-Federalists and the Federalists. In the Anti-Federalist Papers, James Wilson, Charles Pickney, and Roger Sherman argued for a more limited form of executive power, as opposed to Alexander Hamilton’s proposal in the Federalist Papers, No. 67.

    The debate of executive power at The Federal convention of 1787 lay out the Anti-Federalist sentiments towards the rationing of executive power: “the Executive magistracy (should be) nothing more than an institution for carrying the will of the legislature into effect.” Most Anti-Federalists saw the need for an executive branch but wanted to avoid it becoming “the fetus of monarchy.” The document’s most frequently used words are executive, legislature, monarchy, and British. This represents the framer’s concerns of the executive branch only carrying out the wishes of the legislative body, and the concern over the executive’s similarity to the British monarch.

    The Federalist Paper No. 67 was a rebuttal to the concerns that numerous Anti-Federalists expressed in their doubts of the US Constitution. Alexander Hamilton differentiates between the powers of the American President and the British Monarch. He cites specifics examples of “misrepresentation” of the powers of the executive, including the power of filling irregular vacancies in the Senate. The most commonly used words in Hamilton’s No. 67 are senate, appointments, power, president, vacancies, states, and clause. Hamilton does well in clearly distinguishing between the monarch and president, and argues more clearly for the Federalist side than the Anti-Federalists do in terms of executive power.

  2. Most Anti-Federalists saw the need for an executive branch but wanted to avoid it becoming the fetus of monarchy.

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