An attention to the judgment of other nations is important to every government for two reasons: the one is, that, independently of the merits of any particular plan or measure, it is desirable, on various accounts, that it should appear to other nations as the offspring of a wise and honorable policy; the second is, that in doubtful cases, particularly where the national councils may be warped by some strong passion or momentary interest, the presumed or known opinion of the impartial world may be the best guide that can be followed. What has not America lost by her want of character with foreign nations; and how many errors and follies would she not have avoided, if the justice and propriety of her measures had, in every instance, been previously tried by the light in which they would probably appear to the unbiased part of mankind?
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Federalist No 63, March 1, 1788. According to Jacob Cooke, the editor of the standard scholarly edition of The Federalist, Madison is the probable author of No. 63; but it should be noted that his coadjutor, Alexander Hamilton, also wrote to similar effect elsewhere. There was no difference between them on this elementary but nonetheless vital point. Does not the question raised by Publius speak as much to our generation as to theirs?