Year XXIX, 1987, Number 1, Page 72

 

  

CLARENCE K. STREIT
 
 
We are publishing a few previously unpublished pages written by Clarence K. Streit relating to the foundation of the American federation. The pages in question are from Chapter 14 of the third version of Union now,[1] which together with other sections were not published in the 1939 edition, owing to publishing economies.
The reason for this choice is twofold. In the first place, this year is the two-hundredth anniversary of the Constitution of Philadelphia, which gave rise to the United States of America. Many myths still abound on the way the foundation of the first federation in history came about. In general, historians have imposed their own national ideological self-deceits, even to the reconstruction of facts that had nothing to do with national life because the age of nationalism had not yet begun. It is not very surprising that wholesale historiographic falsification occurred during the course of 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century, in Europe, where national cultures grew up and flowered. Nor is it surprising that this happened in the United States, too, since culture there grew up on the basis of a European model with its centralization of powers that has unbalanced the federal system in the United States. What is surprising, on the other hand, is the fact that Philadelphia is virtually ignored in Europe today, where the problem of founding a federation is very much alive (a federation beginning with a first group of countries, but with the prospect of extending it to all Europe and achieving, anyhow, a model which could replace the national state and which is valid for the entire world).
It is a fact that Europeans insist on considering the American historical precedent not so relevant because its basic ingredients are allegedly too different. We need, therefore, to begin by recalling that even the Americans were not at all or, at least, not completely, linked by language, religion, or customs, nor even by their way of thinking and acting which was determined by the everyday course of events at that time in America much more fragmented than nowadays in Europe. Indeed, despite the differences, there are so many analogies between the 18th century American situation and the current European situation that we can even try to describe the foundation of the American federation in terms similar to those used when attempting to understand the struggle for the European federation. In those days, American society had features which are entirely analogous to those currently taken as the social basis (in the broad sense of the term) needed for the foundation of the European federation: the reference both to one’s own nation, and also to Europe as an entity which should exist; in other words, at least embryonically a territorial division of loyalty between Europe and the individual nations.
Then as now, the confederation proved incapable of solving the problems that arose and the federation was, objectively, the only means of resolving them. Likewise, the objective forces which led to the replacement of a confederation with a federation would not have had any chance of succeeding had it not been for Hamilton’s initiative which fell outside the confines of the normal political process, and had it not been for the fact that this initiative, which would otherwise have been doomed to failure, chanced to cross the path of Washington’s “occasional” leadership which had developed in the confederal political process and which was applied only on that occasion to the problem of the federal transformation of the confederation. Nor should we overlook the fact that, once the constituent assembly had been established in Philadelphia (which also fell outside normal political procedures), the battle was fought and won in the first place on a procedural issue (the text was submitted for states’ ratification without any diplomatic conference being called upon to settle the matter) and, in the second place, within the individual states where, among other things, once again the role played by the federalist avant-garde, i.e. Hamilton, was crucial. Hamilton managed to obtain ratification in a decisive state, the state of New York. This is what Streit, more or less explicitly, recalls in these pages. It is, in our opinion, sufficient to justify the choice as the best way of commemorating the two-hundredth anniversary of the first federation in history. Those currently fighting for federalism in Europe and in other parts of the world in an effort to bring countries together through federal ties and build the pillars of the world government of the future will find much food for thought here.
But there is a second reason which is no less convincing: Streit died only recently, unjustly forgotten by the media and, despite his pioneering action in contemporary federalism, only vaguely known even by many federalists who, in the context of the tragedy of the Second World War and the incumbent nuclear and ecological catastrophe, have decided to fight for the replacement of national sovereignty and the foundation of a world federation, by developing organized struggle in different parts of the world. Yet although Streit wrote in the early years of this contradictory age unceasingly balanced precariously on the divide separating catastrophe from safety, he understood these issues lucidly and indicated the road towards world government as the only rational alternative.
 
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Clarence K. Streit (21 January 1896 - 6 July 1986) was born in Missouri, in California. From his youth he was an American sui generis. A volunteer in the First World War, a member of the American delegation at the conference of Versailles, a Rhodes student at Oxford in 1920, he married Jeanne Defrance in Paris in 1921 and began a long career as a reporter in every corner of the world: from the Middle East to Latin America. In 1929 he became the New York Times correspondent at the League of Nations, whose slow and unremitting crisis he followed. Streit was not a ritual journalist who believed his task to be exhausted with relating — perhaps with a sort of hidden satisfaction — the perverse course of events. The crisis in the League of Nations did not leave him at all indifferent. He was concerned with identifying the reasons for the crisis and trying to find the remedy. In the words of Ira Straus, the Secretary-General of the AUD (Association to Unite the Democracies) which is continuing Streit’s political action: “Following closely the disintegration of the League, he concluded that successful institutions for world order would have to penetrate national sovereignty and reach to the core of citizen loyalty. To do this, he deduced, they would have to be based on democratic federal principles like those of the US Constitution. Thus he called for a union of peoples, not a mere league of states”. This is in fact the central theme of his most well-known volume, Union now, which appeared in 1939. There is no point here in recalling the extraordinary editorial success that led to 300,000 copies being printed. Nor need we dwell on the influence his work had on both the young founders of Federal Union in the United Kingdom and Lord Lothian (who corresponded with Streit frequently, recognizing his extraordinary intellectual and moral fibre). It is worthwhile, on the other hand, highlighting the two basic theses of this book (which should in every case figure in the library of every active federalist). As far as possible, we will do this in Streit’s own words.
The first thesis is that the primary objective is world government. The second chapter of Union now in actual fact has the following title: “Public Problem no 1: World government”. This is how it begins: “The proposition we begin with is this: The most urgent problem of civilized mankind is to constitute effective means of governing itself where its civilization has already made its world practically one” (p. 31). Who says this is true? Common sense. “Common sense tells us that it is in our individual interest to make the world safe for our individual selves, and that we cannot do this while we lack effective means of governing our world… Common sense tells us that some of the causes of depression, dictatorship, war, lie inside the nation and that others lie outside it. It tells us that our existing political machinery has let us govern strongly the conditions of life within the nation but not outside it; and all each people has done to overcome the dangers inside it has been blighted by its failure to reach the dangers outside it, or remains at the mercy of these ungoverned forces. Common sense advises us to turn our attention to finding means of governing the forces still beyond our control, to constituting effective world government. It warns us that no matter how strong and perfect we each make our national government, it can never end those outside dangers, and that we individuals cannot know how long we can wait to end those dangers before they end us” (p. 24).
The second thesis is that, since the federation — as a form of democratic government of international relationships — presupposes democracy, the historical responsibility for promoting the foundation of the world government belongs to democratic states. “These few democracies suffice to provide the nucleus of world government with the financial, monetary, economic and political power necessary both to assure peace to its members peacefully from the outset by sheer overwhelming preponderance and invulnerability, and practically to end monetary insecurity and economic warfare now ravaging the whole world. These few divide among them such wealth and power that the so-called world political, economic and monetary anarchy is at bottom nothing but their own anarchy — since they can end it by uniting to establish law and order among them” (p. 10). Indeed, “dictators are right when they blame the democracies for the world’s condition, but they are wrong when they blame it on democracy. The anarchy comes from the refusal of the democracies to renounce enough of their national sovereignty to let effective world law and order be set up” (p. 11).
 
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Despite the great publishing success, mentioned above, Streit’s plan to respond to the arrogance of autocracies with the federal unity of democracies did not exert any appreciable influence on the political world. Even in his country — where his theses were well known and even in circles close to the Department of State — the concern to gain Soviet help in the Second World War prevented Streit’s plan, which was quite more ambitious, from taking shape. But, as always happens, good seeds once sown leave some trace. It was not by chance that William Clayton, who never hid his debt to Streit’s ideas, played a fundamental role in the construction of the Atlantic order and, particularly, on the occasion of the Marshall and European Recovery Plans in promoting European federal unity.
In 1949, together with William Clayton and Owen Roberts, Streit founded the Atlantic Union Committee with the objective of reforming the Atlantic Alliance so as to reflect the principles of democracy and federalism. This then became the chief objective of his political commitment which in 1962 led him to propose a True Atlantic Community, a first step towards a true Atlantic federation between democracies and, eventually, a world federation. The project found favour in Europe, too. Streit constantly fought for it and in the United States he set up the Association to Unite the Democracies, which is still active today and has a sizeable number of active members, thus constituting a basic reference point in the United States for all those fighting for world government.
As mentioned above this unpublished passage belongs to the 1936 manuscript. The title of the chapter from which it is drawn is “the Washington-Hamilton-Lincoln Plan”. The text published here is exclusively the first part of the chapter. These passages were not subsequently reviewed by the author. This explains the rather numerous mistakes to be found in the text. The second part — omitted here — was published in the January-February 1972 issue of Freedom and Union.[2]
 
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“It is too probable that no plan we propose will be adopted. Perhaps another dreadful conflict is to be sustained. If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterward defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.” This is Washington’s appeal that turned the tide in the Constitutional Convention against mere revision of the Articles of Confederation and led to the Constitution of the American Union. “Tell them that the Convention shall never rise until the Constitution is adopted” said Hamilton, before converting a two-thirds rejection of it by New York into a favorable majority of three.

 
 
We have checked the isolation of the germ of our ills by the American experience with the League of Friendship. We have found the germ, nationalism, produced then precisely the same disease among the thirteen American peoples that the fifteen peoples[3] suffer now. We have seen how elimination of this germ through union of the free brings recovery. This proof, too, we need not base on logic and commonsense alone. We can check it against experiment, successfully made in that same American laboratory. We can study profitably how that experiment came to be made in 1787 and the results achieved. The great profit such study brings us now lies in the fact that the American Union was not the product of free or royal marriage or accident. To see what the fifteen free peoples can do today and gain tomorrow by boldly taking thought and courageously applying their own principles, we need to see how voluntary and deliberate a rational experiment American Union was. We need to see how human reason brought that Union out of economic depression after war failed to unite and how by still clearer human reason that Union met the acid test with almost unbelievable success. We need to see what men have done by reason to know whether men can do it again.
The political, economic, financial, monetary and social ills the thirteen suffered in 1787 were not cured by the many costly attempts to treat them separately. Nor were they cured by leaving Nature to take her course. They were cured by men discovering by reason that these ills formed one single, common political disease and then discovering by reason the unionist cure for them. There were many of these men. We are not concerned here with considering the part each played. We shall group them all under the names of two men whose forethought led in bringing the American Union out of the chaos of the League of Friendship. These two men were George Washington and Alexander Hamilton.
Attempts have been made to judge which of these two was most responsible for the Union. All we need to say on that is this: if Hamilton had the clearness of mind, and if it was his mind that was behind the Farewell Address and other statements of Washington, yet was Washington who had — if only by virtue of his unique popularity and position — the responsibility of power, and Washington had both the vision of Union, and the wisdom to put the great power of his personality behind the ideas of the young man whom he had named at 20 his aide-de-camp.
We can agree with Oliver who, in his Life of Alexander Hamilton, says: “It is not beyond the truth to say that Hamilton alone fully understood the hears of Washington upon this issue; that he alone fully realized the grandeur of the policy of union. For between the aims of these two men and the aims of the rest of the national party there was something more than a difference of degree. The majority supported the constitutional movement out of fear, these two from hope… In a sense, the leadership passes into the hands of Hamilton. It is his thought which ever presses forward, blinding and constructing and preparing the way. He is the interpreter of the federal idea, and his main support is Washington’s instinct which approves, Washington’s character which upholds him at every crisis of the struggle. Without diminishing his dignity or self-respect, without any abdication or surrender of his personal convictions, Washington places the whole force of his great influence at the disposal of Hamilton, recognizing in him a genius for statecraft, and without a grudge of afterthought for his own glory. Such alliances are rare, but out of their conjunction great events are apt to be begotten”.[4]
Before Washington disbanded the army in 1783 there was much correspondence between him and Hamilton on the need for union. Already, as Oliver notes, “their minds were clear both as to the malady and the means to a cure”.
“Unless Congress have powers competent to all general purposes”, Washington wrote, “the distresses we have encountered, the expense we have incurred, and the blood we have spilt, will avail us nothing”. Hamilton replied: “It now only remains to make solid establishments within, to perpetuate our Union… This, it is to be lamented, will be an arduous work; for, to borrow a figure from mechanics, the centrifugal is much stronger than the centripetal force in these states — the seed of disunion much more numerous than those of union. I will add that your Excellency’s exertions are as essential to accomplish this end as they have been to establish independence”.
What Washington did to establish American independence is still far better known than the no less decisive role he then played in establishing the American Union. As commander-in-chief of a ragged army he had more occasions than anyone to see how much states’ rights cost in the lives of their own citizens. He early and boldly took the lead of those who urged union. Before resigning his command he sent a circular letter to the heads of the thirteen states as his legacy to the American people. In it he insisted on four essentials, and he made union the first and the last essential. His first essential was “an indissoluble union of the states under one federal head”. His fourth essential was “the prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposition among the people of the united states that will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies; to make those material concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity; and in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community”.
From then on we find Washington leading at every step in the road, six years long, that led painfully from League to Union. We find him next in 1785 accepting the Presidency of a company formed for extending West the navigation of the Potomac. His interest in it was primarily political. He had dreamed in youth of grandeur that would be America’s, and as young man he had recognized both the importance to it of the West, and the importance to politics of transport that was why he had played so influential a part in driving the French from the West. By thus making the colonies less dependent on England for protection, Washington laid the foundation for American independence while at the same time gaining the fame that made him commander of the American army — and making possible, too, its decisive French alliance.
The Father of his Country who had used the English army to drive out the French, and the French army then to drive out the English, never forgot the West over which the struggle had begun. In a very real sense it was the West that through him brought about the Union. In Washington’s first expeditions into the wilderness he had studied the possibilities of connecting the West with the Atlantic by water transport. This question was never far from his mind. In 1770 he was urging means of transit with the West as essential. Before retiring from the army he had explored the Mohawk Valley and predicted the importance of this route, which the Erie Canal and the New York Central Railroad later followed. He had hardly retired to Mount Vernon before his thoughts turned Westward up the Potomac that flowed before his door. Mental habits as well as merchandise flow downstream, he mused, thinking of the settlers beyond the Alleghenies whose rivers all flowed the other way — West and South to New Orleans held by a foreign power. “Let us bind these people to us by a chain that can never be broken”, Washington said, and he began work developing the line of communications that grew eventually into the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. It was in this work that he was most engaged while chaos was spreading through the League of Friendship, it was thus that he became president of the Potomac Company in 1785, and it was this that led directly to Union. The company offered him a gift of 150 shares of stock. He refused this, and all pay, explaining that his aim was to arouse the people to the political importance of the enterprise. Personal financial interest might detract from his only purpose, which, he said repeatedly, was to promote the spirit of union.
Others had used the Potomac to divide the states of Virginia and Maryland. Washington used it to bring them, and all the thirteen states, together. Both Virginia and Maryland needed to extend the navigation of the Potomac, neither could do it without the other. The president of the company invited commissioners from both to meet his house at Mount Vernon to talk it over, and the two states there agreed to cooperate. But Washington’s eye was on the West; his plan was to connect the Potomac with the upper Ohio, and to do this, as he pointed out, Pennsylvania’s adherence to the agreement was indispensable. He used the meeting to point out, too, that navigation was only a means to trade and to suggest that Maryland and Virginia consider agreeing also on uniform tariffs, commercial regulations and money. These suggestions were submitted with the agreement to the two legislatures. Both ratified the agreement. Maryland then proposed that her neighbor, Delaware, should be brought into the scheme as well as Pennsylvania, and that all four states should meet to consider Washington’s suggestions for uniform duties. As a postscript, Maryland asked why not, after all, invite all thirteen to confer on this question of trade. This was done, and the two states invited all the others to send delegates to Annapolis, Maryland, in September, 1786.
The state of disunion at that time is clearly reflected by the fact that only five of the thirteen states bothered to send delegates to this meeting — and these did not include even Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York. But New York sent Hamilton, and Hamilton, who never was so good as when the odds were overwhelmingly against him, saved the day. Four of the delegations had been empowered to discuss only a uniform commercial system, but New Jersey had instructed her delegation to discuss “how far a uniform system in their commercial regulations and other important matters might be necessary to the common interest and permanent harmony of the several states”.
Hamilton seized upon this added phrase. Analyzing the economic ills the members of the League of Friendship were then suffering (this was on the eve of Shays’s rebellion when monetary madness was at its worst) Hamilton held there was no possible monetary or commercial or economic remedy for them. He declared that the only real remedy was a political one, and that they could do nothing about that for only New Jersey had authorized her delegates to consider the “other important matters” — the radical constitutional changes in the relationships of the states that they needed to consider.
With a stroke of genius he changed lack of delegates and lack of instructions into a dramatic and eloquent plea for all the thirteen to follow New Jersey’s example — as improved by him. He persuaded the delegates unanimously to adopt and send to all the states an address he had written. In it the delegates, after telling the states that “the idea of extending the powers of their deputies to other subjects than those of commerce… was an improvement on the original plan”, said: “The power of regulating trade is of such comprehensive extent, and will enter so far into the general system of the Federal Government, that to give it efficacy, and to obviate questions and doubts concerning its precise nature and limits, may require a correspondent adjustment of other parts of the federal system”. Hamilton’s address then boldly concluded by asking the states to send delegates to a convention in Philadelphia May 14, 1787, “to take into consideration the situation of the United States, to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union”.
That convention was the convention that drafted the Constitution that still governs the United States. Thus did the small seed Washington had planted at Mount Vernon in 1785 grow with the help of Hamilton.
But such was the disunion that Congress balked at this “usurpation” to its rights, while at the same time the chaos in the country worsened to the point where Congress was powerless to raise any revenue. The fear of anarchy, however, made men everywhere less afraid of union and, under Madison’s lead, Virginia, without waiting longer for Congress to approve, announced she would send George Washington as one of her delegates to the Convention. That move proved decisive. All at once the people began everywhere to feel an interest in the proposed Convention. One after another all the states, except Rhode Island, then named delegates, and Congress approved the Convention. But it was not until May 25 — eleven days after the meeting had been called — that even a quorum of seven state delegations had assembled in Philadelphia and the meeting could begin. Such patriots as Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams and Richard Henry Lee so opposed union that they stayed home and would have nothing to do with the Convention.
At its outset informal discussion showed a tendency to attempt nothing more than revision of the Articles of Confederation. Delegates argued that there was no hope of getting all the states to ratify anything more than half-measures. The question they raised was the one every international conference faces: whether to seek success in reducing agreement to the lowest common denominator or in placing it on a level high and sound enough to attract and support a majority in the end. On this basic question Washington, whom the Convention elected as its President, once more intervened decisively.
He changed the debate at the start from whether or not there should be union to what kind of union there should be. There was no more talk of avoiding the basic political issue of sovereignty, no more time-wasting attempts to cure a political disease by economic and monetary palliatives, after his solemn appeal: “If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterward defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair; the event is in the hands of God”.
Then Edmund Randolph laid the Virginia Plan before the Convention. It was drafted mainly by Madison, but substitution of a union of men for a league of states was the essential Washington and Hamilton sought. Randolph seemed to be describing the present situation among the fifteen free peoples under the League of Nations when in his opening words he thus described the situation then of the thirteen states under the League of Friendship: “The confederation was made in the infancy of the science of constitutions, when the inefficiency of requisitions was unknown; when no commercial discord had arisen among states; when treaties had not been conceded by states jealous of the sovereignty. But it offered no security against foreign invasion, for Congress could neither prevent nor conduct a war, nor punish infractions of treaties or of the law of nations, nor control particular states from provoking war. The confederal government has no constitutional power to check a quarrel between separate states; nor to suppress a rebellion in anyone of them; nor to establish a productive impost; nor to counteract the commercial regulations of other nations; nor to defend itself against the encroachments of the states. From the manner in which it has been ratified in many of the states, it cannot be claimed to be paramount to the state constitutions; so that there is a prospect of anarchy from the inherent laxity of the government. As the remedy, the government to be established must have for its basis the republican principle”.
We have seen how the Convention made this great change from league to union. There is no need of recounting here how the details of the Virginia Plan were modified by the New Jersey Plan and the Hamilton Plan. Nor need we more than note how as soon as this New Jersey proposal for conservation of state sovereignty was offered as an alternative to the Right of the Virginia Plan the astute Hamilton (who believed in asking more than he hoped to get in order to get that little) promptly proposed in a powerful speech a unionist plan still more radical than Virginia’s, and thus by offering an alternative to the Left kept the essential of the Virginia Plan the centre and basis of discussion.
It is immaterial here that the Convention wisely rejected some of the favorite ideas with which Washington, Hamilton and Madison entered it. It needs only be noted that despite this no one worked harder than they for ratification of the Constitution by the states, and no one did so much as Hamilton to win this difficult victory for union. It was Hamilton — of whom Lord Acton said “his merits can hardly be overstated”, and Talleyrand declared he had never known his equal — who then gave the American people and the world The Federalist. He wrote most of its papers championing the Constitution against the formidable attacks made on it in the name of liberty by the man who had proposed the Declaration of Independence, Richard Henry Lee, and by Patrick Henry, and other patriots — to whom Hamilton and Madison were “visionary young men”.
How much the Constitution needed The Federalist one may measure by the fact that Massachusetts ratified by only 187 to 168 — after Washington’s decisive intervention leading to the device of meeting through the first ten amendments the widespread objection to the Constitution’s lack of a Bill of Rights. After Virginia had ratified 89 to 79 (again thanks to Washington’s influence), it was Hamilton who single-handed won New York state to the Union. In no other state (except Rhode Island) was the opposition more bitter against this “triple-headed monster”, the Constitution, which was also called “as deep and wicked a conspiracy as ever was invented in the darkest ages against the liberties of a free people”. And New York’s strategic importance to the Union was from every viewpoint such that people said that if New York rejected union, it would have to be conquered and forced in. The New York Convention began by rejecting the Constitution 46 to 19, but Hamilton refused to accept no and no and no. He managed to keep the Convention in session despite several adverse votes while he argued week after week, until finally his eloquence persuaded the chief opposing debater, and New York ratified 30 to 27.
Thus the American Union was brought. Thus depression did what war had failed to do: by no economic or monetary tinkering, by no opportunism, by no dodging of the real issue, no lip service in public to what one denounced in private, no refusal to face facts, no taking the defensive toward evil because it was strong, no attempting to overcome with childish snares. Thus, by no accident, by no laissez-faire, but by the Washington-Hamilton Plan for union. Thus, by rational cool endeavour, by undaunted persistence against hopeless odds over a period of six years, by frontal attack on the root of evil, by thinking through clearly and by expressing them clearly, by raising a standard to which the wise and the honest could repair, by going through the gates, by preparing the way of the people, by lifting up a standard for the people, by remembering that “where there is no vision the people perish”, and that where there is clear vision nothing can withstand man long. Thus was the American Union wrought.
The remedy had been found. The remedy had been prescribed. The remedy had been taken. In 1789 the new Union government began to function. And the recovery? The recovery was far beyond the wildest hopes of Washington, Hamilton, of all the founders of the Union. It was such that none of them could believe it real even when it came about; they all despaired of its continuing. The recovery that Union brought the Thirteen peoples would be still beyond belief, were it at all possible longer to doubt or deny. Never was there so swift and great a recovery, or so enduring a success in applied political science. The American Union of today speaks for itself. But one may note some of the immediate results in prosperity, peace and freedom that came from adoption of the Constitution.
The mere convocation of the Constitutional Convention sufficed, by the hope it gave, to turn the tide. Anarchy reached its highest point in Shays’s rebellion, three months before the Convention met, though it was two years before the new government came into being. That fact shows how the healing power of constructive effort begins the moment serious attempt at remedy begins.
The danger of war over Vermont was ended at once and forever: Vermont was admitted into the Union in 1790 as the fourteenth state. All the other territorial quarrels among the states were now settled peacefully. The danger of war with Spain over the Mississippi also vanished.
Freedom spread through the world, as we have seen, and brought new rights to man. One of them we may pause to note. America was the freest place on earth when the Constitution was adopted — but everywhere even in it the vote was then sharply restricted by property and other qualifications. It was not through the sovereignty of Virginia, whose maintenance Patrick Henry demanded in the name of the rights of man, that even the white men of Virginia all gained the right to vote. It was through the Union he condemned, and from that West to which Washington had looked. The very first state West of the Alleghenies to enter the Union, Kentucky, which entered in 1792 as the fifteenth state, brought in with it manhood suffrage in its constitution looked.
In 1790 there were only 109,000 white people living West of the Alleghenies. In 1815 there were ten times as many, in 1830 these ten times had more than doubled and ten states had been carved from the wilderness and admitted to the Union. To the frontier “all men are created equal” meant all free men had an equal right to vote. Manhood suffrage was not peculiar to Kentucky, it was native to all these new western states. From them it spread east to the original states, especially after the West in 1828 gained its first control of the Union with the election of Andrew Jackson. Virginia, which had given Kentucky to the Union, did not grant manhood suffrage until 1850.
Of all the results of the Washington-Hamilton Plan, the most easily measured is the economic recovery it brought. It is hard to estimate how low conditions had sunk in the chaos of the League of Friendship, but one can get an idea from the solid ground that begins to appear with Union. One year after Union, in 1790, the foreign trade of the Union totalled: Imports $23,000,000 - Exports $20,295,000. Only five years later, the figures were: Imports $69,756,000 - Exports $47,990,000. Fifty years after the Americans changed from League to Union (1840), the figures were: Imports $98,259,000 - Exports $123,669,000.
In those same fifty years the Thirteen had become Twenty-six states. The Union’s territory had more than doubled by the peaceful cession to it of Louisiana and Florida respectively by France and Spain with whom the League had exhausted even its credit in 1787. When the Union took its first census in 1790 the population was 3,929,214 including 697,674 slaves. In only fifty years the number of men to whom the Union assured freedom had quadrupled, the population totalled 17,069,453 and immigrants who were too few to note in 1790 were pouring in at rate of 84,000 a year. Was free land the reason? The League had had plenty of land, too, but it exerted no such magnetism on mankind everywhere.
The public debts under the League were past calculation. Two years after Union Hamilton consolidated and funded all the debts of the League and of its member states and had the Union shoulder the whole load. The national debt then in 1791 totalled $75,463,000. In less than fifty years, in 1835, the whole debt had been paid off, together with all the cost of the war of 1812, the $15,000,000 that Louisiana cost in 1803, and the $5,000,000 for Florida, and a $28,000,000 surplus, gained largely from the sale of public land, had been distributed to the various state banks. Cheap land? In the great Northwest territory the League had owned land that had cost it nothing, yet it could no longer borrow a penny anywhere. Under Union that same North-west territory not only helped payoff the debt but became the five rich states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.
All this is, of course, only a hint of the early results of the Washington-Hamilton Plan. We need not mention here the even more phenomenal development since 1840, for the later results are evident in the American Union of today.
 
(Prefaced and edited by Luigi V. Majocchi)


[1] Clarence K. Streit, Union now, Postwar edition, Washington, Federal Union, 1976.
[2] On that occasion Streit explained the story behind this part of the manuscript and why it remained unpublished: “I wrote the first MS of the book in the winter of 1933-34, and sent it that Spring to my previous publisher, the Viking Press. My good friends there begged off but offered to recommend it to Harpers. I sent it there and got another no. Disturbed, I decided to re-examine the project.
If the basic idea, I reasoned, was sound (as I still felt it was), then I needed to clarify my exposition, make it as clear to others as it was to me. But there could be a catch in it that wishful thinking had hidden from me. I knew many plausible proposals had proved to be phonies; why identify myself with another? Newspaper work had already led me to Acton’s truth: ‘Experience is of first importance in politics, because political calculations are so complex that we cannot trust theory if we cannot support it by experience’.
The toughest test that experience offered of the proposed Atlantic Federal Union was obviously that of the USA. It dawned on me then that I had only a teenagers knowledge of it — a fault I’ve since found is appallingly widespread here. My formal education, from the grades through college, included only one year (in high school) in US history. My outside reading was fairly wide, but I wrote that first MS of the book without having read The Federalist, or even dipped into Madison’s journal of the Federal Convention. I was then New York Times correspondent assigned to the League of Nations; its library was well supplied with US history documents. I began with the first colonial charters and went on up through 300 years. This greatly clarified my thinking and strengthened my belief in the book’s proposal.
I rewrote the book, twice; it grew to two volumes, mainly because of the fresh analysis I added of the alternating clarity and confusion in American political thought from 1620 to 1936 — notably in the periods of 1750-1789, the Civil War and the Wilsonian League. The “Washington-Hamilton-Lincoln Plan” was Chapter 14 in this third MS edition, which I finished in 1936. No one would publish so long a work. I decided to omit all the proof the US experiment gave (hoping to publish it later as another book), and rewrote the rest.
This 1938 or fourth MS was also rejected by all publishers who saw it — until the Czech crisis that September led Harper in New York and Cape in London to agree to publish it — or rather, the MS I had then rewritten a fifth time and given a new title: Union now. It was published in early 1939. Since then nearly 300,000 copies have been sold. Its readers began the organization that publishes this magazine.
I have not tried to publish those US history chapters as a separate book; this would have required more time in re-writing much of it than I wanted to divert from tasks I thought more urgent.”
(The italics are ours. We wish to draw the readers’ attention to the fact that, even in the USA, federalism developed in an adequate way only theoretically and juridically. It still has not reached the stage where it has become a line of thinking capable of interpreting the sense of our age and the meaning of federal institutions for the destiny of the human race. This cultural limitation has repercussions on all issues — from peace to European unity and all other regional unity — that cannot be tackled in an effective way without a federalist-type struggle.)
[3] Streit is referring to the fifteen democracies which were facing the threat of the autocracies in 1936 and were urged to unite by this book.
[4] Oliver, Life of Alexander Hamilton, Nelson, pp. 110.0, (incomplete quotation in the MS).

 

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