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The invention of the federal state

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The invention of the federal state
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Malick, Charles N
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 114-125).
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Department of Political Science
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by Charles N. Malick.

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Full Text
THE INVENTION OF THE FEDERAL STATE
by
Charles N. Malick
B. A., Pennsylvania State University, 1972
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
In partial fulfillment
Of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Political Science
2006


by Charles N. Malick
All rights reserved.


This thesis for Master of Arts
degree by
Charles N. Malick
has been approved
by
Anthony Robinson
!
i
i
i
Richard Smith


Malick, Charles N. (M.A., Political Science)
The Invention of Federalism
Thesis directed by Professor Michael Cummings
ABSTRACT
This thesis will investigate the invention and re-invention of the federal system of
government. Americas Founding Fathers were not the progenitors of the federal
design of government, as there was a clear historical precedent in the Hellenistic
world from 334 B.C.E. until 323 B.C.E. Although there is no demonstrable cause
and effect between ancient Hellenistic and the modem American systems of
federal governance, a comparison is useful. The needs for local autonomy and, at
the same time, a stable state structure, are complementary and competing
component features of the federal-national systems. The tension between these
components can positively or negatively affect other values and goals of the
systems, such as individual rights, expansion of the state, and economic viability
of the states financial structure. The inherent tensions between the component
features also leave these governmental constructs open to systems collapse unless
the component features of the federal-national state are adequately balanced.


This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Signed
Michael Cummings


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I wish to acknowledge the previous scholarship of archeologist John Romer and
the historians Jeremy Mclnemey of the University of Pennsylvania, and Mostafa
El-Abbadi of the University of Alexandria, Egypt, for resurrecting the Hellenistic
Age so that others may understand its wonders, I also wish to acknowledge the
invaluable advice and guidance of my advisor, Michael Cummings, of the
University of Colorado at Denver, for his unerring judgment and boundless
patience to keep me from wandering into fascinating, though irrelevant, byways
on my path to the completion of this thesis.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Figures........................................................ix
Tables.........................................................x
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION...............................................1
The Need for Research Revisiting Assumptions.......1
Overview.............................................5
II. LITERATURE REVIEW..........................................7
Literature and Epigraphic Evidence of Ancient Greek and
Hellenistic Political Systems........................7
Literature Pertaining to Federalism.................17
III. THE FEDERAL IMPERATIVE -THE ARGUMENT FOR
FEDERALISM................................................20
The Concept of Federalism...........................20
The Formation of Proto-Federal States...............25
IV. THE HELLENISTIC AND AMERICAN FEDERAL STATES...............38
The Invention of Federalism.........................39
Summary of Federal Criteria
63


The Lion and the Eagle The Hellenistic Federal State and the
United States of America.........................................64
V. CONCLUSION AND FINAL REMARKS................................88
The Disentigration of the Hellenistic Federal State..88
Speculations.........................................95
Distillation........................................106
APPENDIX
A. Alexanders Letter to the Chians.........Ill
WORKS CITED......................................................114


LIST OF TABLES
Table
3.1 Evaluation of Criteria for a Federal Government.................37
5.1 Comparison of Hellenistc and American Federal Criteria..........89


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
What would Aristotle or Plato have said, if anyone had talked to them, of
a federal republic of thirteen states, inhabiting a country of five hundred leagues
in extent? John Adams to Arthur Lee, July 18, 1788, Princeton University
(McCullough, 397).
The Need for Research Revisiting Assumptions
One senses in the musings of John Adams that he thought that the federal
concept encompassing a multitude of geographical and political interests would
have been quite a new idea for ancient scholars. However, Aristotle, in particular,
would have had quite a lot to say about federal systems of government. Indeed,
most sources agree (Plutarch, A17, Fox, 53, Savill, 6) that Aristotle tutored
Alexander III of Macedon. Alexander III became Alexander the Great and created
a mature federal system that spanned two continents and created a Greek
oikoumene, a shared world, that spanned the Aegean.
What we have received from the Founding Fathers is a basic concept that
America invented a new form of government. This claim, in many ways, is true.
However, as the debate has raged for two hundred years on the meaning of what
constitutes a democracy, a republic, and the rights of the individual, federal has
1


become a term that is rarely questioned as an innovative concept created in the
18th century political hothouse of American politicians. We speak of federal taxes,
New Federalism, or the Federal Bureau of Investigation as the Feds. The
genesis of federalism, so hotly contested by and among the Federalists and the
populist republicans, has been lost. That the Greeks and Romans experimented
with democracies, confederations, and republics was no secret. The Federalist
papers refer to Greek and Roman history over ninety times. However, the idea
that a federal state was not a political construct created by the American
Revolution has barely been raised. In his Introduction to The Federalist Professor
Benjamin Fletcher Wright states, The most remarkable single achievement of the
Federal Constitution was the invention of modem federalism (Hamilton, Jay, and
Madison, editor, 41). Wright continues, the term federal, has been applied, since
the time of the Greeks, yet neither the substance of federalism, as it has been
known in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, nor the theory, as it has come to
be understood, existed before 1787 (Wright, editor, 42).
In addition, the entire Hellenistic Period has been associated with a period
of decline and stagnation in the traditional evaluation of Greek culture. Johan
Droysen, in his Outline of the Principles of History, published in 1893, proposed
the three stages of cultural development. All cultures ascend, mature, and decay.
2


For the Greeks, the Archaic period was its rise, the Classical Period was the full
flowering of their political and cultural potential, and the Hellenistic period a
slow, fatal decline. A logical conclusion from Droysen would be that new,
innovative, and effective forms of governance would not be likely to emerge in a
period of decadence and decay. This assessment is a view of the ancient world
through the lens of our most prolific source of information pertaining to Classical
Greece, Athens. However, the traditional Athena-centric view is questioned by
some modem scholars. Historians James Mclnemey and Mostafa El-Abbadi, as
well as the archaeologist John Romer, have rediscovered the richness of the
social, artistic, and political fabric of the Hellenistic world. However, the
possibility that the Hellenistic world also created a new and vibrant political
system, a federal construct that united the Greek oikoumene and attempted to
assimilate non-Greeks into those governmental institutions, has not been
adequately explored.
There exist some other reasons why researchers nave shied away from
evaluating the political systems under Alexander the Great. Alexanders star
quality has worked against any serious investigation into the operation of
Hellenistic governmental systems. Alexander is well known through his military
accomplishments as catalogued by Dodge and by the classical historians, such as
Arrian and Curtius, who sprinkle their facts with myths. Demosthenes of Athens,
3


in his Philippics and Address on the Crown, created a cruel and irrational
vision of the Macedonians. Indeed, so much has been written about Alexander,
that few have bothered to look beneath the veneer of one of historys towering
figures to examine how a huge geographical expanse was governed during a
critical decade that fundamentally changed the balance of power between East
and West.
The Ant iky t her a Paradigm
In October of 1900 a fishing boat was pushed by the winds of chance into
the small natural harbor of the Greek island called Antikythera. The fishing was
poor, but the captain thought that sponges might be abundant in the deep blue
water. He found, instead of sponges, another boat; a boat that had gone to the
bottom in another storm two thousand years ago.
The art on the sea floor, including the famous Antikythera Youth, were
soon on display in Athens. Among the artistic treasures, however, was a discovery
that redefined the modem worlds understanding of the ancients. The wreck was
not from the Classical Age, but was Hellenistic, and the discovery was a bronze
mechanism that could compute the solar and lunar phases in accordance with any
month, day, or hour the owner would care to set. At first, the scientific world
refused to accept that the celestial clock was not a later invention or a fraud.
However, as pieces of the wooden box in which the mechanism was contained
4


were dated, it became clear this practical invention was a product of the first
century B.C.E. The same common misconceptions apply to artistic remnants of
the past as well. The Venus de Milo, the beautiful marble statue of the goddess of
passion found on the island of Milos, is pointed to as an example of Classical
Greek sculpture. It is not. The breath of life and the soft lines of Venus are from
Hellenistic experimentation and innovation.
It is this age of Hellenism, then, that we are to examine and rediscover.
The traditional view that the Hellenistic age was one of decline and decadence is
clearly inadequate. Scholars have shown that in art and science the Hellenistic
world was actually one of advance and new frontiers. This thesis contends that
political systems were quickly evolving as well, leaving behind the squabbling of
the Greek city-states as obsolete and politically irrelevant.
Overview
The obvious first step is a need to define the term federal, a daunting task
as the term has changed dramatically throughout the last two hundred plus years
of the American nation.
Once a working definition has been established, then a comparison
between the ancient world of the Mediterranean and the modernity of America
can be used to compare and contrast the elements of federalism that make a
5


government truly federal. Three major areas of inquiry will set the parameters of
this thesis:
- Proto-federalism. How and why do federal systems of government develop?
- Did the Hellenistic world have a fully developed system of federal governance,
and, if so, how did that system compare with the American post-revolutionary
experience?
- Does the comparison between the Hellenistic and American models of
government assist in predicting the future of federal government?
6


CHAPTER II.
LITERATURE REVIEW
Recent scholarship has spun new thread for a different type of Hellenistic
tapestry. Hellenistic scholarship is being lifted from obscurity by a few historians
and archaeologists who are providing evidence to recast the conventional view of
the ancient world.
The relevant literature can be divided into two areas: (1) Literature and
epigraphic evidence of ancient Greek and Hellenistic political systems, and; (2)
Literature pertaining to federalism.
Literature and Epigraphic Evidence of Ancient Greek and
Hellenistic Political Systems
The literature review of ancient Greek and Hellenistic systems includes
ancient histories, ancient epigraphic evidence, and post-ancient historical
perspectives. We begin with our inheritance from antiquity.
7


Ancient Writings
Alexander the Great and ancient Greece was a favorite topic of ancient
writers, historians, and geographers. However, there is much chaff with the wheat,
and distilling the truth from those writings is difficult. An example of the
contrasting styles is displayed by the writings of Arrian (a Greek), from about 130
C.E., and Quintus Curtius Rufus (a Roman), writing circa 50 C.E. Curtius reports
in The History of Alexander that Alexander the Great annihilated a peaceful
village because its ancestors were the Branchidase, the priests of Didyma, who
had betrayed nearby Miletus to the Persians (Quintus 160). Arrian, in The
Campaigns of Alexander, mentions no such massacre. This discrepancy leaves
modem scholars in a quandary. Was Quintus Curtius Rufus just a rumormonger,
or was Arrian an apologist? Unfortunately, although these writers are both from
the ancient world and both claimed to be reporting from texts from the time of
Alexander, the great general died in 323 B.C.E., long before Arrian or Curtius.
Other ancient sources are useful, including some surviving parts of histories
describing the ancient world. Diodorus was a Greek bom in Sicily in 90 B.C.E.
His broad-brush style also tended to editorialize to a high degree, but it does allow
us one more view into the classical world.
8


A more personal approach was taken by Plutarch in his Greek Lives.
Plutarch explores Alexander the man as well as his deeds. This gives us a unique
window into the life of Alexander, but problems abound with a literal reading of
Plutarch. Like Arrian and Curtius, he was bom long after Alexander died. His
birth in 45 C.E. places him in the midst of a powerful Roman empire. Even
though he was bom in Chaeronea in central Greece, it was through a Roman
perspective that he viewed Alexander. One other point regarding Plutarchs
telling of Alexander is that he is primarily responsible for the modem Hollywood
view of Alexander driven by an inner pathos and an Oedipus complex. The image
of the troubled hero he helped to create obscures a dispassionate analysis of the
accomplishments and failures of Alexander.
Much of what came down came down to Arrian, Curtius, Diodorus, and
Plutarch was from histories that were written by Alexanders contemporaries: his
official biographer Callisthenes and his trusted general Ptolemy. As Lionel
Pearson observes in The Lost Histories of Alexander the Great. For the story of
Alexander the evidence of Alexanders own contemporaries is not immediately
available to us, because their works have not been preserved as they were written
(Pearson, v). Pearson remarks that although they have not been lost altogether,
historians are unsure whether the later Greek and Roman authors actually read the
histories from Alexanders time or the information had passed to them orally.
Even if the histories of Callisthenes and Ptolemy did survive, in whole or in part,
until Roman Times, the information would still have to be viewed skeptically.
Callisthenes was writing the official court record and would, undoubtedly, gloss
9


over the negative aspects of Alexanders life. Ptolemy claimed to be the
legitimate ruler of Egypt through his ties to Alexander. We can hardly expect
candor from such sources.
The same can be said of the orations of Isocrates, Demosthenes, and
Aeschines. Isocrates understood that without unity, the Greek oikoumene would
continue to devolve into continual civil war. His appeals to Phillip II of Macedon
to unite Greece were the basis for the later League of Corinth. Demosthenes,
driven by a desire to reconstitute the Delian League with Athens at its head, was
diametrically opposed to Phillips and Alexanders leadership, and his orations
are models of the art of oratory to inspire patriotism and xenophobia. Indeed,
Demosthnes denunciations of Phillip II in Address on the Crown were so
powerful that Ciceros attacks on Mark Antony were titled the Philippics. As
Alcibiades had fomented war fever for the disastrous attack on Sicily during the
Peloponnesian War, so Demosthenes, by his unrelenting attack on a united
Hellenistic state, relegated Athens to a secondary status compared to the bright,
new centers of science and culture such as Pergamum and Alexandria. His
archrival, Aeschines, launched a personal attack against Demosthenes in 330
B.C.E. delivering a speech Against Ctesiphon that charged Demosthenes with
sabotaging negotiations with Phillip II, causing to Athens to become a political
backwater. It is interesting to note that these exchanges in 330 B.C.E. were eight
years after the Macedonian victory at Chaeronea. It is fortunate that we are in
10


possession of the orations of Isocrates, Aeschenes, and Demosthenes, for the
passion of their debate rises through time to be relevant still.
Some of the ancient Greek sources are more reliable, notably Thucydides,
who wrote The Peloponnesian War circa 420 B.C.E. Even Thucydides, however,
couldnt resist the temptation to editorialize and use the Peloponnesian Wars as an
object lesson on the perils of empire. Xenophons A History of My Times picks
up the Peloponnesian War in 411 B.C.E. and continues until 362 B.C.E. His
perspective set the stage for the rise of Macedonia as he observed the fall of
Athens to Sparta, the fall of Sparta to the Thebans, and the lack of any Greek
unity or agreement on a hegemon to lead the Greek nation. During the period of
the Hellenistic Federal State, 334-323 B.C.E., most of the first-hand political and
military information is not available and information must be gleaned from later
ancient and modem historians and sifted as gold from the streams of time.
Finally, Aristotles Politics and The Athenian Constitution provide,
respectively, a solid basis for how the Greeks viewed the political world and the
most detailed extant explanation of an ancient constitution. This constitutional
analysis is of critical importance when we examine the elements of federalism in
the Hellenistic world. Unfortunately, all of Aristotles dozens of other
constitutions are lost.
11


Ancient Archaeological and Epigraphic Evidence
Epigraphic evidence from the Hellenistic world is often scarce, but is not,
luckily, nonexistent. The first work to be mentioned is A. J. Heisserers Alexander
the Great and the Greeks: The Epigraphic Evidence. Not only does Heisserer look
for inscriptions from temples and bouletarians, but he has located actual
correspondence of Alexander the Great. Alexanders communication to Greek
city-states is a major pillar in the construction of this thesis. Both Arrian and
Curtius report that Alexander set up the Greek city-states in both Greece and Asia
Minor as poleis, democracies within a federal framework. Heisserer has actually
found the documents that prove it. The most complete letter is to the island city of
Chios, which had resisted invaders for centuries, whether they were Persian or
Athenian. Alexander responds to inquiries from Chios by stating he wants the
local Chians to draft a constitution and form a democracy, while supplying ships
for the Greek war upon Persia. In short, Heisserer has located an Alexandrian
federal contract.
In 1996 M.B. Hatzopoulos Macedonian Institutions Under the Kings: A
Historical and Epigraphic Study broke new ground by using ancient historical
documents and inscriptions to illuminate how Macedon had operated before,
during, and after the rise of Philip II and Alexander III. Hatzopoulos has dispelled
the assumption of many historians that ancient Macedon was merely a backwater
of feuding barons. The Macedonian assembly was much more than a military
12


rubber-stamp. It was, in fact, a functioning representative body under Philip II
that united provinces and cities into a proto-federal state that became a formula
for Alexander to use throughout the Greek world.
Other epigraphic evidence comes from Joseph Carters The Sculpture of
the Sanctuary of Athena Polias at Priene and John Woods Discoveries at
Ephesus: both provide important information from the time of Alexander. Carters
evidence that Priene, a Greek city-state in Asia, dedicated its temple of Athena
Polias to Alexander is proof of Alexanders rebuilding program after the Persian
destruction. Alas, Alexanders masterpiece, Alexandria-by-Egypt, provides no
epigraphic evidence of the Greek conqueror. Although Plutarch (Greek Lives.
circa 120 C.E.), Arrian, and Curtius all write of Alexandrias founding, almost
nothing remains of the ancient city.
Post-ancient Literature regarding Greek and Hellenistic History
Modem writers have produced a flood of literature on ancient Greece and
the Hellenistic era. The challenge is not to find material about ancient Greece or
about Alexander; rather, it is to find those sources that focus on the relevant time
period of Alexanders role as hegemon and the operation of the Hellenistic
Federal State. Foremost among the sources must be Jeremy Mclnemey (The Folds
of Pamasos. Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age, 2000/ A classical
scholar at the University at Pennsylvania, Mclnemey has lifted the Hellenistic era
from a transition zone between Greek and Roman cultures to a position of
13


equality with the other classical cultures. Mclnemey argues for the unique
political, cultural, and religious innovations of Hellenism. His description of
Hellenism as Greece on Steroids (Mclnemey, Alexander, 2000,1) explains
how the Library of Alexandria could be created in a period that has been
described by others as one of cultural decay.
John Romer takes an archeological approach in the Seven Wonders of the
World: A History of the Modem Imagination by using the remnants of the past to
rebuild ancient Hellenistic civilization. He weaves a web of information using the
ancient texts and the discoveries of Victorian archaeologists to recreate
Hellenistic art, culture, and politics. Romer refers to the creation of the post-
classical Hellenistic world as quite simply the finest examples of the major
elements of a brand-new civic architecture, the ancestors of every modem city on
the planet (Romer, 1996,1) and portrays the complex international view of life
that we experience in modernity as a result of the bridge between East and West
built by Alexander. Romer has used the archeological record to illustrate how
Alexander not only changed the political map, but also changed forever how
humans look at themselves and the cultural forces that enmesh them.
Mostafa El-Abbadi (Life and Fate of the Ancient Library of Alexandria),
from his home in Alexandria, the cultural capital of the Hellenistic World,
examines how East and West collided and then fused into a unique vision first
conceived by Alexander.
14


The research of Mclnemey, Romer and El-Abbadi diametrically
contrasts with the traditional view of Will Durant (The Life of Greece). W. G.
DeBurgh (The Legacy of the Ancient World). Mari Levi (Political Power in the
Ancient World). J. D. Droysen (Alejandro Magno). and a host of others who
regard Athens as the high point of Greek history and the basis of Western
civilization. The later groups Athena-centric view is a remnant of sentimental
Victorian historians such as John Mahaffy, in his book A Survey of Greek
Civilization.
It is not often that we consider the downside of our inheritance from
Socrates, Plato, Pericles, Sophocles, and the splendors of the Greek Classical Art
and Architecture. However, starting in the Renaissance with the publishing of
Vitruviuss The Ten Books of Architecture, Athens has been viewed through
rose-tinted glasses. This perception was reinforced through Diderots
Encyclopedia during the Enlightenment, elevated through recurring references in
The Federalist, and idealized by romantic Victorian images by artists like
Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Even the new wave of scholars who take a critical look
at Classical Athens, such as the contributing authors to Athenian Political
Thought and the Reconstruction of American Democracy and Jennifer Roberts in
Athens on Trial, subtly reinforce an Athena-centric view of history by failing to
include Hellenistic political structures in their research. Therefore, authors such as
Mclnemey, Romer, Robin Lane Fox (The Search for Alexander), and Michael
15


Grant (From Alexander to Cleopatra) stand out in their inclusion of Hellenistic
society as an important component of the ancient world.
The literature on Greek and Hellenic religion and culture is rich indeed.
From Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle to Walter Burkerts modern overview, The
Greek Religion, there are over two thousand years of analysis of the Greek
pantheon. The literature regarding Greek and Hellenistic art is even vaster. The
challenge is to determine what is relevant when we compare ancient and modem
political trends. Robert Graves, in The Greek Myths, attempts to prove a cultural,
religious, and political connection through his analysis of the Greek myths.
Although Graves conclusions are speculative, his integration of the elements of
Greek life provides a useful model. Mclnemeys scholarship is extremely
valuable in this regard, as are the writings of John Romer. Although specialized
source materials on ancient religion and culture must be used, including divergent
views, such as F. M. Comfords Before and After Socrates and From Religion to
Philosophy, the most useful authors for our quest are those who integrate culture,
religion, and politics into a coherent format. Robin Lane Fox, in The Heritage of
Hellenism and The Search for Alexander, and Michael Wood, in In the Footsteps
of Alexander, join Mclnemey, Romer, and Graves in synthesizing data into a
view of the past with concrete links to the present.
The research into Hellenistic politics exposes a rich cultural and artistic
component that begs to be compared to modem America as the Classical era was
16


once compared to the Victorian. However, that investigation would lead us far
astray from a strict evaluation of the operation of a federal government.
Literature Pertaining to Federalism
In tracking federalism from the Hellenistic to the modem era, we must
start with the ancient writers, including Arrian, Quintus Curtius, Diodorus of
Sicily, Plutarch, and Pausanius, who wrote of Alexanders conquests and the
transformation of Greek cities in Asia from Persian provinces to democratic city-
states. We must add the ancient traveler Strabc. vvho wrote his Geography in
about 20 ACE. Strabo speaks of Lycia after the death of Alexander as having an
operating political system that appears to be a federal republic. After these literary
pioneers, the history of ancient federalism is best tracked by Victorian and
modem writers. Theodore Mommsen, writing The Provinces of the Roman
Empire in 1885, described the fall of ancient political systems and the rise of the
Roman provincial system. The real gem of the nineteenth century, however, was
The History of Federal Government in Greece and Italy, written by Edward
Freeman in 1863. Although it is too much to say that Freeman subscribed to an
Alexandrian democratic federal system, he observed that during Alexanders
unification of Greece there was no direct federal control of the local city-states.
Freemans real worth is how he wrestles with the concepts of confederal and
17


federal government in his analysis of ancient Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, and
Italian politics spanning fifteen hundred years.
Modem federalism is so well documented that the problem is selecting the
sources that can best assist us in comparing American and Hellenistic federalism.
The Federalist papers are, of course, a major source of information. The
Age of Federalism by Elkins and McKirtrick provides a view of developing
federalism in the early American republic from 1788 to 1800. Other roots of
American federalism can be found in the English commonwealth revolutionaries
as exemplified by Algernon Sydney (Discourses Concerning Government!.
American colonial constitutional development, and the American Indian
confederacies (Exemplar of Liberty. Grinde and Johansen). Jonathan Israels
rather heavy treatment of The Dutch Republic assists in reminding us that
federalism had many incomplete iterations. Our modem understanding of
federalism is, perhaps, best encapsulated by Federalism and Federation, by
Preston King, who lays out the boundaries among unitary/confederal/federal
systems as a means to evaluate the operation of governmental systems and lays
out the criteria for an analytical approach to federalism. Of course, modem
scholars such as Robert Dahl in A Preface to Democratic Theory and Theodore
Lowi in The End of Liberalism are required reading to grasp the essentials of
contemporary federalism. Both of these books, however, exemplify the assets and
liabilities of modem federalist scholarship. Contemporary writers tend to analyze
18


the development of modem federalism and its future. A thoughtful look at the
stresses on the political future of the United States is Robert Nagels The
Implosion of American Federalism. Although his major theme is how our
political institutions are collapsing into the center (Nagel, 3) Nagel gives due to
regard to the forces that drive fragmentation. Although this thesis requires an
understanding of modem federal research and theory, it is essential that the
central focus of this thesis avoid the vortex of the great American federal debate.
Proving the existence of ancient federalism and comparing Hellenistic federalism
to the American federal model and practice must remain the primary aim, and,
therefore, the broader current debate on federalism must take a less prominent
role in this thesis.
There has also been a recent avalanche of scholarship by respected authors
that has reinterpreted the Founding Fathers. The Founding Brothers by Joseph
Ellis, Adams and Jefferson by John Ferling, Forgotten Founders by Bruce
Johansen, the biographies of John Adams by David McCullough, Benjamin
Franklin by Walter Isaacson, Alexander Hamilton by John C. Miller, Willard
Sterne Randall, and Ronald Chemow, and Thomas Jefferson by Joseph Ellis all
throw light on Americas Founding Fathers. We also possess the revealing
writings of some of the founders, such as The Complete Anas of Thomas
Jefferson, and the autobiographies of Franklin, Jefferson, and other icons that
humanize the almost mythical political inventors of American government.
19


I
CHAPTER III.
THE FEDERAL IMPERATIVE -
THE ARGUMENT FOR RECURING FEDERALSIM
The Concept of Federalism
If federalism was invented and then reinvented, it is probable that the creation
of federal systems is due to underlying forces. A starting point is to define the term
federal before any meaningful comparative analysis can be done. The elusive
character of federal began with the deliberate debasement of the term by Americas
politicians in need of revising the Articles of Confederation. Before The Federalist,
earlier usage had defined federal and/or confederal government as a league of
formally equal and independent sovereign cities or states (Kurland and Lemer, 243).
The Constitution diluted the preponderance of state sovereignty of the
Articles of Confederation and became a document for a centralized state and the
elimination of the confederation of states. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and
John Jay penned the Federalist Papers to convince a skeptical public of the need for a
national government, to provide for coinage, taxation, defense, and other needs for
the new government. The Federalist #39, written by Madison, described the draft
20


i
!
j
i
I
| Madison and the Federalists had reduced the scope of the American federal-
j national government to rule out what had been commonly referred to as confederacies,
i leagues, and federations. The new definition eliminated many alliances that had occurred
i
! in history, including the Greek city-states and various leagues, the Dutch Republic, the
Italian city-states, and the American Indian confederacies. The definitions of federal and
national became blurred. Himself ambivalent about the new national power of
government, Thomas Jefferson remarked, Foreign relations are the province of the
Federal Government; domestic regulations and institutions belong to every state itself
I
(Harrison and Gilbert, 6). By the time of Abraham Lincolns Cooper Institute Address on
slavery in February of 1860, federal had come to be a term to describe the national
government, not its constituent parts. The will of the states may be implied, but the
federal government is used in unequivocal fashion. Lincoln contends that nothing in the
Constitution forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in federal
j territory, and the Federal Government purchased the Louisiana country (Lincoln,
i
i
i
I 255). Clearly, the progression of the independent states as a confederacy to federal
government with a small f, to a central, national Federal Government was complete.
t
That does not mean that all of the states accepted the fact of a central government, but the
terminology describing federal and confederal was clearly defined. This depiction is not
to suggest that the progenitors of the revolution conspired to corrupt the term
22


federal. Rather, as Joseph Ellis observes in Founding Brothers. In effect, the
leadership of the revolutionary generation lacked a vocabulary adequate to
describe the politics they were inventing (Ellis, 186).
The use of the term had changed, but the discussion had the constituent
parts of a federal state. The post-Constitutional elements of federal included:
1 - Semiautonomous governmental subdivisions that are responsible for local
concerns, within limitations;
2 - A central government that concerns itself with, and has authority over,
national and foreign affairs and is the arbiter of differences between its
component subdivisions;
3 - Shared sovereignty, an agreed upon division of authority between local and
central government. A formal constitution is the best evidence of the division of
power, but a treaty, alliance, or a working social contract can be used as a
recognition of central and local rights;
4 - Individual subdivisions may not act independently in foreign or military
affairs, nor may individual subdivisions impose their will on another subdivision;
5 - Individual subdivisions do not enjoy full sovereignty and, therefore, may not
secede;
6 - The subdivisions are, to some degree, democratic, and the central Government
not only tolerates those democratic institutions, but also encourages or demands
that local governments be democratic in form.
23


Federal does not include some components of the American federal
experience that we take for granted such as checks and balances, guaranteed
individual rights, or ways leadership may be transferred. Federal applies only to
the layering of government authority and functions whereby both central and local
governments are guaranteed their respective level of authority. However, for a
government to be federal in the modem sense does presuppose a degree of self-
determination. Indeed, as Stephane Dion, former Minister of Intergovernmental
Affairs for Canada states, Without democracy, genuine federalism is impossible
(Dion, 1). The parameters for federalism in the modem context include the
autonomy of its components and the solidarity that unites them. This dialectic
strengthens democratic values (Dion, 1). A democracy, then, is not an exact
replica of any current or past government. However, all of the ancient and modem
governments that this thesis describes as democratic possess a sufficient degree
of self-determination to qualify as the rule of the people. In terms of internal
governance, this democratic criterion implies either procedural democracy, as in
Athens, or at a minimum widespread legitimation of the leaders by the people, as
in Corinth. To be concise, this thesis will evaluate systems that are federal in a
modem, democratic form.
Preston King defines what has survived into the modernity as a basis for
all federal governments. He begins by reemphasizing that confederacies such as
the Achaean League of Ancient Greece, The New England Confederacy, the
24


North German Confederation, and the Swiss confederacy all lacked enough
central structure to move beyond confederacies to true federal governments. The
unitary/confederal/federal (u/c/f), according to King, was indeed a creation of the
American experience. It might be said that the Federalist gave birth to the u/c/f.
(King, 134). His definition is useful in evaluating both the Hellenistic and
American models of federalism. (1) Where the central government is called
sovereign, the system is said to be unitary. (2) Where the local governments are
called sovereign, the system is said to be confederal. Thus (3) where neither
central nor iocal government is sovereign, the system is said to be federal
(King, 135). Although this definitional matrix doesnt address some of the more
complex interactions between the varying levels of government, it is a good
thumbnail sketch of how both Hellenistic and American governments differed
from other centrally or confederally based systems.
The Formation of Proto-Federal States
The federal design in America was, like everything else concerning the
fledgling union, a bit of a compromise. Virginians and New Yorkers were
Americans after the split from mother England, but they retained their local
identity as well. In that recognition was the fuel that was needed to light a federal
nation. Local governments that demanded a level of autonomy, but who wanted to
unite for purposes of defense and economics, achieved a balance of a strong
25


central government with local governments operating much as they always had.
Before a strong American union was formed, a confederacy had existed under the
Articles of Confederation. But were the historical guideposts in existence to
light the way for America to move from a confederal to a federal system of
government?
The short answer is yes, and the Founding Fathers were very aware of
many of the preexisting governments. There were many dead ends along the way.
Although both the Italian city-states and the Dutch Republic are interesting to
review in the historical development of those individual countries, they do not
meet the basic litmus test for inclusion as federal or as proto-federal. Edward
Freeman dismisses the Lombard League in federal history as purely negative
(Freeman, Edward, 614). He adds that Venice, Florence, Genoa, and Pisa were
far greater, far more glorious, as independent Commonwealths, than they ever
could have been as cities of an Italian Kingdom or even an Italian League
(Freeman, 615). Jonathan Israels The Dutch Republic painstakingly investigates
republics rise, greatness, and fall. His observation in a 1995 review of the Dutch
Golden Age states that it cannot be said that the United Provinces fully
constituted a federal republic. In theory, and matters of form and ceremonial, the
seven voting provinces retained the trappings of sovereignty (Israel, 277).
Embryonic federal systems had existed since the time of the Greek leagues
and had clear historical antecedents that were the basis of the transformation
26


between confederal and federal government. Historical missing links operated
in both ancient and more modem times. These experiments in government will be
termed proto-federal and claim our attention as the next piece of evidence to be
examined. Four examples of proto-federalism are available to create a basis on
how to judge the necessary components of federalism: The Greek Achaean (or
Achian) League, Macedon under the rule of Phillip II, the British colonies of
America, and the American Indian confederacies.
The Achaean League The Missed Opportunity
The aim of the Achian Federation was to unite the greatest number of
Greek cities in the bonds of a free and equal League (Freeman, Edward, 179).
Edward Freemans classic, the History of Federal Government in Greece and
Italy, correctly pegs the Achaean League as a group of city-states that attempted
to unite Greece into a federal nation. It is in The Federalist #18 that Madison
notes this alliance, which supplies us with a valuable instruction. However,
Madison had some of his facts wrong regarding the Achaean League, due mostly
to his reliance on Gabriel Mably, the French scholar. Edward Freeman
diplomatically points out that Hamilton and Madison knew hardly anything of
Grecian history, but that they were incomparably better qualified than their
French guide to understand and apply what they did know (Freeman, 249).
Nonetheless, Polybius listed twelve Greek cities that attempted to create a
federal state. The city-states were Helike, Olenos, Patrai, Dyme, Pharai, Tritaia,
27


Leontion, Aigeira, Pellene, Aigion, Boura, and Keryneia (Polybius, 452). The
Achaean League came into being before the Hellenistic Federal State created by
Alexander the Great and formed yet again after Alexanders death. Freeman
comments, while the Achian Constitution strictly respected the local rights of the
several cities, it in no wise allowed their local sovereignty to trench upon the
higher sovereignty of the league (Freeman, Edward, 202). No individual city
could make war or alliances without the approval of the league. Even though the
documentation for the Achaean League does not survive, Polybius was quite clear
that the Achaeans had a constitution delineating the powers of the cities and
leagues.
With all the accomplishments of the Achaean League, why is it classified
in this work as a proto-federal government? The shortcomings of the League,
unfortunately, compromised the ideal the members set for themselves and lacked
an enforcement mechanism. When the Peloponnesian War broke out, Pellene
separated from the rest of the league and joined the Spartan alliance. This act is
the equivalent of Arizona splitting off from the rest of the United States to wage a
war in which the union has no role. Patrai, another member of the Achaean
League, sided with Athens. This fatal flaw may have been a result of the voting
system in the Achaean Assembly, a unicameral body in which each state had an
equal voice regardless of population. This feature reinforced the individual
28


sovereignty of the cities and may have contributed to the cities choosing their
own path during times of stress.
Certainly the League fell far short of a true federal-nation state. None of
the major centers of Greece, such as Athens, Thebes, Sparta, or Corinth, belonged
to the league. The inability for the league ever to expand into a full-fledged
federal state, even after the dissolution of the Hellenistic Federal State, shows the
limits of the recognized authority of the league. However, the Achaeans should be
given their due. The Macedonians were no doubt paying attention to the desire for
independence of Greek cities, their autonomia, within a larger political
framework.
Macedon From Civil War to the League of Corinth
358 B.C.E. to 338B.C.E.
While the Classical Greek city-states were locked in a devastating cyclical
dance of civil wars, the Macedonian state prospered and politically coalesced. As
Egypts most accomplished Greco-Roman historian, Mostafa El-Abbadi, remarks,
[Macedon] progressed rapidly during the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E., a fact
that was not fully appreciated by the more advanced southern Greeks (El -
Abbadi, 1990,23).
As an idea, a Greek campaign against Persia was nothing new. For more
than sixty years it had been featured as a theme for professional orators and
pamphleteers and it had been repeatedly urged on Phillip and other outsiders by
the eloquent letters of the aging Athenian Isocrates (Fox, 91). Phillip II planned
to spearhead the Greek campaign against Persia, but how could he lead Greece
29


when his home state of Macedon was a collection of competing barons and
princes locked in the same civil strife that infected the rest of Greece? The answer
lay in uniting the lowland and mountain regions through an accommodation
between local city authority and a central administration. M. B. Hatzopoulos, who
conducted a historical and epigraphic study of Macedonian documents and
epigraphic evidence, states, Phillip II had the genius to understand that it was
neither possible nor desirable to curb the aspiration to civic autonomy, but that a
strong and sufficiently secure central government could integrate, domesticate,
the civic movement, which had then developed in opposition to central
authorities (Hatzopoulos, 481). This portrayal might be a description of the goals
of Hamilton or Madison describing the fusion of a strong central government and
states rights. In addition, Phillip understood the impact of taxation and the
importance of avoiding a financial rivalry between the local cities and the central
government. Phillip, in particular, knowing how loathsome direct taxation was to
free citizens, had the wisdom to respect the financial autonomy of the cities of
Macedonia (Hatzopoulos, 483).
In Phillip IIs dealings with other Greeks, the subtleties of how he united
Macedon were lost. Traditional scholars relegated his government to an
aristocratic monarchy (Durant, 476). The other incorrect assumption concerning
Macedon was that the military constituted the governing assembly, a concept, as
Hatzopoulus points out, that was outmoded by the time of Phillip II: the
30


Macedonian Assembly was not normally a military assembly but like all other
Greek assemblies was a popular one, which could meet under arms and without
arms, according to circumstances (Hatzopoulos, 264). The recounting of the
common assemblies rose sharply with the ascendancy of Phillip II. We hear
practically nothing about it [popular assemblies] until the accession of Phillip II
(Hatzopoulus, 265).
The cities and less urbanized ethnoi (where citizens were self identified by
region, rather than a specific polis) were united by Phillip through a combination
of tactics and strategies, including marriage, intimidation, bribery, and force of
arms. That approach was not, how'ever, new for Macedon. The alliances remained
stable because Phillip had truly united the Macedonian poleis and ethnoi within a
larger central construct that benefited all involved. It is too much to say that
Macedon was a truly federal government, but the aspects of a strong central
government with limited powers of taxation and strong local control over local
issues sowed a seed that Alexander the Great was able to nurture.
The debate no longer rages on whether Macedon was actually Greek, and
the modem Greek government and people pridefully claim Alexander and
Macedon as their own. In Archaic Greece, Athens, Thebes, and others considered
Macedonians as country cousins. Alexander I, an ancestor of Alexander the
Great, was initially denied admittance to competition in the Olympic Games for
not being of Greek blood. However, the judges later relented when he proved that
31


his Greek heritage could be traced to the Age of Heroes (Mclnemey 1998,VII).
Because of the fact that Macedon was Greek, we can give Phillip II the credit for
uniting a fraction of the Greek oikoumene. The later unification through the
League of Corinth will be examined subsequently, when the Greeks were on the
road to becoming a nation.
The American Colonies Unintentional Federalism
In some ways, American Federalism can be traced to January 30, 1649,
when Charles I was beheaded outside the Whitehall Banqueting Hall. As America
was settled by the British, the internal policies of Britain were seldom stable.
James II was forced to flee during the Glorious Rebellion a little over forty years
after Charles Is demise. During this chaotic period, the colonies put in place the
individual governing policies to guide their young, prosperous settlements. As
early as 1618 the Virginia Company, which had received the royal charter for the
Virginia colony, provided that free inhabitants should have the right to vote for
representatives to assist the appointive council and the governor in setting
colonial policy. Except for Georgia and New York, no Kings Charter restricted
limited self-rule. From the Mayflower Compact to the Carolinas, the consent of
freemen was the accepted rule of colonial government. Thomas Hooker led a
group of colonists from Massachusetts to form the settlement of Hartford in
Connecticut in 1636. This group of one hundred settlers drafted the first formal
constitution of the newborn colonies. The Fundamental Orders, as they were
32


called, included a representative government, with no religious test required for
government service, and included term limits for governor. No mention was made
of the British government or of allegiance to a king. In Pennsylvania, the elected
Assembly had, by the early eighteenth century, the power to initiate all legislation
and to devise its own rules of operation.
I give to my son, when he shall arrive at the age of fifteen years,
Algernon Sidneys works John Lockes works, Lord Bacons works, Gordons
Tacitus, and Catos Letters. May the spirit of liberty rest upon him! Last Will
and Testament of Josiah Quincy. Jr., 1774
Drawing on the wellspring of Classical, English Commonwealth, and
Enlightenment sources, Josiah Quincy, Jr. epitomized the feelings of separation
felt between many colonists and the mother country. Samuel Adams placed the
pointed end on the argument by declaring that natural essential, inherent, and
inseparable rights of the colonists. All persons bom on the British American
Colonies are by the laws of God and nature and by the Common law of England,
exclusive of all charters from the crown (Dolbeare and Cummings, 35).
This determined attitude that led to the American Revolution had created a
federal government in spirit, if not in the letter of the law. Certainly, King George
III saw the colonies as entirely subject to the demands of the British Empire.
Many colonists viewed their role as Englishmen as important, but believed that
the British government should respect their natural rights. After two internal
33


revolutions and rebellions elsewhere, the British were puzzled to find that when
they refocused their attentions on the American Colonies, the colonists had
defined their own ideas of government.
The practical application of these divergent views was a system whereby
the colonists operated semi-autonomous local governments while acknowledging,
on some level, the authority of a central government in Britain. Numerous
shortcomings can be pointed out to prove that pre-Revolutionary America was not
a true federal government, but the basic construct was in place for later revision.
One notable federal flaw was the lack of agreement between local and central
governments on the division of authority. Although the constitutions of the
colonists defined how the colonies would operate individually, there was no
constitution of formal agreement between the central and the homegrown
governmental structures in the colonies. However, the essential structure needed
for the future system of states rights within a central government was already in
place by the time the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord.
Iroquois and Huron Confederate Neighbors
A uniquely American example comes from the work of Donald Grinde
and Bruce Johansen, authors of Exemplar of Liberty. Their work strives to
connect the fully functioning confederacies organized by American Indian tribes,
such as the Iroquois and the Huron, with a basis for the British colonists in their
quest to create a new form of government. Their basic thesis is: Native American
34


political concepts must join the pantheon of ideas (Greek, Roman, English, etc.)
in American history that influenced the minds of Americans as they grappled with
the problem of creating a distinct, unique, and original form of union (Grinde and
Johansen, 250).
Grinde/Johansen quote DeWitt Clinton: The Iroquois are the Romans of
this western world, who composed a federal republic (Grinde& Johansen, 218).
In addition, they show how the Albany Plan suggested a confederation of the
colonies and how Benjamin Franklin worked with and respected the judgment of
American Indian statesmen. Perhaps their most persuasive arguments regarding
the American Indian influence on early American political development is the
documentation of the Iroquois and Huron confederacies that were formed to settle
blood feuds and other disagreements among the tribes. Both the Huron and
Iroquois created an accepted method of operation that can be viewed as a
foundational constitution. Cadwallader Colden, a correspondent of Franklin and
author of History of the Five Nations, characterized native American polities as
confederate republics (Grinde and Johansen, 102). It is inconceivable that these
vibrant, highly functioning confederacies could operate side-by-side with the
British colonials without shaping the development of the Articles of
Confederation and the Constitution of the United States.
Did the Indian confederacies ever make the quantum leap from confederal
to federal? From the data in Exemplar of Liberty and the research of other
35


scholars the answer is a definitive no. The Indian model was confederal, not
federal. Elizabeth Tooker of Temple University and Robert Berner of the
University of Wisconsin question whether the American Indian governmental
forms were widely appreciated at the time of the American colonists creation of a
national government. Tooker notes, The Iroquois Confederacy lacked the central
authority that characterizes a system of federal government. If the five tribes of
the league separately could not agree, as they could not during the American
Revolution, the league as a league was powerless to act'(Tooker, 292). In
addition, individual tribes could engage in warfare against non-confederation
members without the consent of the other members, an anathema to a true federal
system.
Further research is warranted on the systems of government employed by
the American Indian tribes and confederacies. Since one of the premises of this
thesis is that political conditions recur to create federalism, the discovery of an
Indian federal government that existed separate from European influence would
be of great interest.
Tracking Federalisms Growth
The basic source of proto-federalism in Greece, Macedon, British
America, and Indian America was a need to balance the tension between local
autonomy and the efficiencies of a united and strong central government. The
chart below reveals that although all four of the societies were moving towards a
36


federal system of government, none fulfilled all the requirements of a mature
federal state.
TABLE #3.1 -. Evaluation of Criteria for a Federal Government.
COMPONENT ACH1AN MACEDONIAN COLONIAL INDIAN
1 Semiautonomous Yes No Yes Yes
2 Central Government Limited Yes Yes Limited
3- Agreed division of power Yes Yes No Yes
4 Limited local autonomy No Yes Yes No
5 Secession prohibited No Yes Contested Unknown
6 Local democracies Variable No In most cases Formative
37


CHAPTER IV.
THE HELLENISTIC AND AMERICAN FEDERAL STATES
In the section above, the concept of shared sovereignty and the challenge
of balancing local autonomy and central authority were identified as the driving
forces behind the creation of federalism. As John Adams humorously remarked,
The little fishes will eat up the great one, unless the great one should devour all
the little ones (Ellis, 168). Of course, societies can answer the challenge of
balancing local and central authority in other ways, including confederacies,
anarchy, tyranny, oligarchy, or any number of ways to tip the scales to favor one
faction or another. However, if federalism is indeed one of the logical options that
can be chosen to achieve a harmonious balance of interests, did it really take until
the 1787 to discover the formula? It did not. Federalism was invented during the
Hellenistic Age in 337 B.C.E. by the fusion of Macedon with the other Greek
city-states and ethnoi and was fully implemented by Alexander III, later called the
Great, and henceforth referred to as Alexander. This claim is the essential core of
this thesis: to demonstrate that the federal system of government has occurred in
the past and will likely recur in the future to equalize the stresses of parochial and
overarching political interests.
This section will be bifurcated. The first part will establish the creation of
a Hellenistic Federal State. The second part will compare and contrast the ancient
38


Hellenistic form with the American version of federalism. We must start where
the proto-federal states left off at a time when the needs for a unified government
that included some level of local authority were bearing fruit so that a unified
nation could be built. We begin with Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War.
The Invention of Federalism
In a way, the Peloponnesian War began not in 431 B.C. but in 454 B.C. E.
when Athens took the fatal step to dominate rather than lead the Delian League.
The Persians had been defeated by the Greeks in the straits of Salamis in 480
B.C.E., and the Delian League was formalized as a confederacy in 478 B.C.E.,
with Athens as the Captain-General of the League. The member city-states,
whether part of mainland Greece or Aegean islands, contributed to the Delian
League for mutual defense against the Persians. Their contribution to the League
could be in ships or in precious metals that the Athenians turned into war
triremes, the most powerful warships of the fifth century B.C.E.
The potential of this confederacy turning into a federation was lost when
the Athenians decided to militarily subjugate, rather than cooperate with, the other
members of the league. In 454 B.C.E. Athens sailed into the harbor of the sacred
39


island of Delos, where the treasury for the Delian League was under the divine
protection of the priests of Apollo and Artemis, and transferred it to Athens. As
we gaze upon the beauty of the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, we are also
looking at the seeds of war and dis-union. The government of Athens after all
had raised the funds for building both the Parthenon and Phedias Athena
Parthenos by similar acts of embezzlement; by appropriating the property of the
smaller states which had originally joined in coalition with their powerful
neighbor to fight the Persian armies (Romer, 1995, 17). With the Delian League
no longer a confederacy of city-states with equal standing and automenea, Naxos
left the confederacy, and a war ensued, and she had to return after a siege; this
was the first instance of the confederation being forced to subjugate to an allied
city (Thucydides, 1.98). More was to come, as in 446 B.C. Athens, now an
Empire, crushed the revolt of Euboea from Athens (Thucydides, 1.114). While
Pericles was rushing troops to Euboea, Megara also revolted, followed by the
secession of Thasos. As Jeremy Mclnemey observed, the confederate states had
become subjects to the mistress of the Mediterranean (Mclnemey, Alexander,
2000,1). This continual expansion by Athens was a perceived and real threat to
the free city-states of Greece and led many independent local governments to side
with the Spartans in the most devastating civil war Greece had ever experienced.
Pericles recognized the problems that Athenian aggression had caused, but felt a
reversal of policy would be counterproductive. For what you hold is, to speak
40


somewhat plainly, a tyranny; to take it perhaps was wrong, but to let it go is
unsafe (Thucydides, 2.64).
City-state squabbling was a constant feature of the Hellenes, but the
Peloponnesian War was much worse and engulfed most of the Greek city-states.
This civil strife led, ultimately, to Spartan occupation of Athens. It was plain that
the situation of cities is a cause of revolution when the country is not naturally
adapted to preserve the unity of the state (Aristotle, Politics, V.3.15). An
important aspect of that new Spartan power was the financial aid it had received
from Persia. The Persians fully understood that keeping Greece fragmented into
city-states and loosely knit leagues was to their advantage. As long as Greece was
immersed in civil turmoil, no Greek federal nation would ever threaten the
Persian Empire. When the Spartans misused their newfound power, Thebes and
other city-states invaded Spartan home territory, Lackonia, and crushed Spartan
military dominance forever. The civil wars exhausted Greece; the Golden Age
had turned to rust. The Parthenon stood unfinished due to the interruption of the
civic and artistic life of Greece. The failure of the city-state system was all too
obvious. Some Athenians, such as Demosthenes, wanted to restore Athenian
dominance, but there were other voices that spoke for a united Greek oikoumene
that would spread Greek culture throughout the known world. Such a voice was
Isocrates.
41


Bom in 436 B.C.E., Isocrates of Athens died in 338 B.C.E. His life
spanned the Peloponnesian Wars and the unification of mainland Greece. As
opposed to many in Athens, such as Demosthenes, Isocrates understood the lesson
of the Peloponnesian Wars. He described Demosthenes as one of the men who
look at a state of peace which is for the good of all as a state of war upon their
own selfish interests (Conner, 79). Isocrates understood that unless Greece
united, the Hellenes would constantly be prey to outside forces greater than their
fragmented political system could resist. And so far is Greece from enjoying any
degree of freedom and independence stipulated in that elusive peace [Kings
Peace], that some cities are subject to tyrants, others are governed by viceroys,
while the rest are either tom by faction and sedition, or enslaved by the Persians
( Conner, 33). This involvement of Persia through brokering the Kings Peace,
which granted Persian sovereignty over the Greek city-states of Asia Minor, was a
humiliating reminder to Isocrates of the cost of civil war. The best leader among
the Greeks was Phillip II of Macedon, and Isocrates appealed to him in the Letter
to Phillip of 346 B.C.E.: I assert that it is incumbent upon you to work for the
good of the Hellenes, to reign as king over the Macedonians, and to extend your
power over the greatest number of barbarians (Conner, 90). Isocrates delineated
three separate roles for Phillip II: an ally to other Greeks, the sovereign of
Macedon, and a conqueror of the barbarian Persians. The assumption that Greeks
were intrinsically superior to other cultures was a consistent theme in
42


Greek thought and literature. As Aristotle remarks in the Politics. Hellenes
regard themselves as noble everywhere, and not only in their own country, but
they deem barbarians noble only when at home (Aristotle, 1.6.7).
Following the unification of Macedon, Phillip IIs goal was the unification
of Greece. In 338 B.C.E., at the Battle of Chaeronea, Athens and Thebes stopped
their quarrelling to confront Phillip. However, the civil war among the Greek city-
states had taken its toll and the result was a foregone conclusion. Many of the
other city-states refused to participate with their untrustworthy allies from former
confederations. The effect was not, as Demosthenes had feared, the occupation of
Athens, but a proposal to form an alliance of a united Greece to invade Persia. At
this critical juncture, in 336 B.C.E., Phillip II was assassinated and his teenaged
son, Alexander III, assumed the leadership of Macedon.
Alexander was faced with a range of choices: consolidate and isolate a
free Macedon, attempt a military dictatorship of mainland Greece, or live out his
fathers dream of a unified Greek nation, which included the Greeks of the Ionian
Coast under Persian rule. Alexander accepted the challenge to be Captain-
General, to unite the Greek oikoumene and subdue the Persians. In 334 B.C., the
League of Corinth, including all of Greece except Sparta, invaded Persia. By the
end of the year the Greek oikoumene had become a federal-nation state. But was
the state that was formed by the League of Corinth a true federal government in
the modem sense? What made the Hellenistic government from 334 B.C.E. to 323
43


B.C.E. any different from the other leagues, confederacies, and alliances that have
developed through time?
The criteria for a federal state that we applied to the proto-federal
governments will now be applied to the Hellenistic federal state. Each criterion, in
and of itself, encompasses many styles of government. To be defined as federal in
the modem sense requires that a governmental system satisfy all the criteria.
Semiautonomous Governmental Subdivisions that Are Responsible for Local
Concerns, Within Limitations.
Two issues need illumination to satisfy the requirement of
semiautonomous governmental subdivisions as part of a shared sovereignty with
the national government. The first is whether the League of Corinth did in fact, as
well as in theory, maintain semiautonomous governmental subdivisions within the
central structure. The second is whether the Executive, as represented through the
Captain-General of the League, impeded or encouraged the authority of the local
governments.
There is disagreement even among mainstream classical historians on the
functioning of the League of Corinth. Durant notes that Alexander declared
dictatorships abolished in Greece, and decreed that each city should live in
freedom according to its own laws, (Durant, 542). However, Durants
observation is contrary to the traditional Athena-centric view of a subjugated
Greece under the Macedonian heel. Indeed, some historians (Mclnemey, Edward
44


Freeman) remark that the battle of Chaeronea was the end of Greek independence
until Greece revolted against the rule of the Ottoman Empire in 1832.
Under scrutiny, the argument that the city-states were without freedom
quickly evaporates. What liberties did the Athenians and other Greeks actually
lose by becoming a member of the League of Corinth? The core civic functions of
the Athenian and other Greek city-state governments stayed in place. For each of
the city-states the local assembly or boule decided important matters from trade
agreements to building programs to local taxation. The local courts retained their
authority. We do not have reports of arbitrary search and seizures of property. But
Demosthenes high-profile criticism of Macedons Captain-Generalship of the
League never resulted in his arrest or trial by Alexander or the League. Even
when Demosthenes was involved in a conspiracy with Persia and Thebes to
undermine the league of Corinth, his treachery went unpunished (Green, 1991,
138). In reality, Demosthenes proved, by his constant opposition to the League
and to Alexander, that freedom of speech survived in Athens throughout the
apogee of the Hellenistic Federal State. As W. Robert Conner comments in Greek
Orations, [Demosthenes] predictions about the conduct of Macedon were
clearly wrong (Connor, 150). Freedom of religion was untouched, and no
Macedonian troops were stationed in Athens.
So what freedoms were forfeited? The freedom to engage in civil wars,
the ability to make treaties with foreign nations to aid in those civil wars, the
45


power to enslave fellow Greeks, the use of secession from the Greek nation for
the city-states own gain, or the liberty to create alliances with some Greek city-
states to attack other Greek or foreign governments? That claim is equivalent to
stating that Virginia lost its liberty forever by becoming part of the American
nation after the American Civil War. No federal state can afford to allow
individual states or cities to engage in civil or foreign wars on their own initiative.
The epigraphic evidence produced by A. J. Heisserer offers convincing
proof of a federal contract. In an inscription set up in Athens, discovered in 1897,
the member city-states reaffirm their relationship with the federal League. This
was originally thought to have been erected during the time of Alexander, but
Heisserer states that it is now agreed that the fragments are sections from the
foundation document that established the league in 338 ( Heisserer, 8). In that
inscription is a commitment to preserve the constitutions that existed in the
member states when they swore the oaths concerning the peace; nor will I [a
member of the League] myself do anything opposed to this treaty, nor permit
others (to do so) as far as I can (Heisserer, 9).
The epigraphic evidence concurs with the writings of Arrian, Curtius, and
Diodorus on the general outline of the League of Corinth. All city-states and
ethnoi that became part of the Hellenistic Federal State had the right to pass their
own local constitutions, institute laws, use local courts of law, and rely on the
Hellenistic military to protect their borders. There would be no rifts in the national
46


fabric such as the Spartan occupation in 404 BC.E., which extinguished the
Athenian democracy. A case may be made that autonomia, total local
independence, was lost. However, it was that irresponsible use of autonomia that
had caused the civil wars, debilitating the Greek oikoumene, destroying their
shared world.
As the Hellenistic Federal State spread, so did local democracies. No
longer answerable to Persian satraps, the flourishing Aegean and Ionian city-
states assumed their positions within the League. Chios is an example where
epigraphic evidence still exists. In Alexanders Letter to the Chians, the
following formal agreement governed the relationship between the central and
local government (Figure 4.1). The Chians were a tough island people who
resisted occupation by any power, be it Persian or Athenian. Instead of rebelling
against the League and Alexander, they became part of a federal system that
included both the freedoms and obligations of a local government within a federal
framework. A. J. Heisserers translation of Alexanders Letter to the Chians
includes the following points (Heisserer, 80):
(See Appendix A for a complete copy and translation of Alexanders Letter to the
Chians).
a. The government of Chios is to be a democracy;
47


b. To create fairness for all Chians, Law drafters are to be chosen who shall
draft and correct the laws, in order that nothing may be contrary to the
democracy;
c. - The Chians are to provide twenty fully manned triremes and shall continue
with the Hellenistic military as long as the other fleet of the Greeks sail with us;
d. - Exiles are to be returned;
e. - The laws were to be referred to Alexander after they were drafted for his
review;
f Until the Chians are reconciled with one another, there is to be a garrison on
Chios.
Point a is a clear signal that the classical Greek democratic polis was the
preferred means of government within the Hellenistic Federal State. Some Greek
city-states, such as Corinth and Sparta, did not fully qualify as direct democracies.
However, the new Hellenistic paradigm was to be not only that the Greek cities
should be free to determine their laws, but that they should operate consistent with
the will of the citizens.
Point 6 is equally important. The Chians are to create a set of laws, a
working constitution that would reflect democratic values and, as point 5
mentions, be reviewed by a central authority so that they fit in with the concept of
democratic values.
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Point c is the flip side of a federal state: obligations to the federal
government. The Chians were to contribute taxes to supply resources for the
federal effort, according to the decision of the league of Corinth, in return for the
central governments guaranteeing the Chians a safe and democratic society.
Points cT and f' fit together in that local civil wars had displaced many
whose presence was sometimes unwelcome. Alexander recognized that displaced
citizens were a problem in the federal state and that they should return home with
a guarantee of safety from the central government. This last point of establishing a
garrison might be construed as showing that Alexander was merely putting a
democratic gloss on a military state. However, when the local civil disturbances
quieted, the troops were withdrawn. One of the most trusted historians that wrote
concerning the Hellenistic era notes that the Rhodians and Chians lodged
complaints about the garrisons imposed on them. Their requests seemed
reasonable and were all granted (Curtius, 70). Nor was Chios the exception. Troy
was the first city that Alexander freed from Persian rule, with the result that Troy
was declared free and granted a democracy (Fox, 127). Arrian writes that as the
League of Corinth marched down the Ionian Coast, the Hellenes deposed the
ruling cliques and established popular governments in their place, allowing every
community to enjoy its own laws and customs (Arrian, 79). In Ephesus,
Alexander stripped the small governing clique of its power, and restored
democratic institutions. All dues previously paid to Persia he transferred to the
49


temple of Artemis (Arrian, 78). This last was a classic public-relations move,
sure to please the locals. Continuing down the Ionian Coast, after evicting the
Persian fleet, Miletus was given a democracy, freedom, and exemption from
tribute (Fox, 134, 1973).
The Greek oikoumene was beginning to coalesce. By the time the League
of Corinths army reached Miletus, most all of the Greek city-states that had been
under the rule of Persia were now part of what had become a Greek nation-state.
Mainland Greece, the Aegean Islands, such as Chios, and the coastal Ionian city-
states were now part of a united government, a federal state that enjoyed local
democratic governance, without local dictatorships or the oppression of Persian
satraps.
But why would Alexander and the League of Corinth use a federal system
of shared authority instead of repeating the authoritarian style of Athens when it
led the Delian League? Two streams of knowledge were available for Alexander
to craft his governmental designs. The first was Phillip IIs decision to use a
formative federal system in Macedon to stop the endless civil conflicts. After the
Battle of Chaeronea Phillip could have marched into Athens with his military
might, but decided instead to work on the terms of a treaty among the Greek city-
states and ethnoi so that a united Greece could form a serious challenge to the
Persian Empire.
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Without taking credit from Alexander, we must note that Phillip had
drawn an outline that Alexander was able to use to form a coherent and workable
system of federal rule. The obvious political and military advantage of this
concept was that as Alexander invaded the heart of Persia to the south and the
east, there would be allies, not enemies at his back in the west. Indeed, there were
no serious revolts against the League of Corinth during Alexanders lifetime, even
when he was far removed in the Hindu Kush.
There was a second flow of knowledge available to Alexander that should
not be dismissed. There is general agreement among the sources (Plutarch,
Durant, Dodge, and Fox) that Aristotle spent four years in Pella, at Phillip IIs
invitation, to educate Alexander. This meeting of two of historys most influential
men is not as improbable as it seems. Aristotle was bom in Stageirus, a Greek
settlement in Thrace that was under the influence of Macedon. The Roman
physician Galen reports that Platos father was a Macedonian court physician for
Phillips father, Amyntas II (Durant, 524). Aristotle had migrated to Athens to
hone his keen mind, but when Phillip II, the most dynamic political figure of the
time, requested that Aristotle return to the north to instruct the young Alexander,
Aristotle accepted the challenge.
Types of government were a favorite area of study for Aristotle: Tyranny
is weak against both external and domestic foes; Kingship is strong against
invasion, weak against sedition (Aristotle, 18). Aristotle taught Alexander that
51


the nature of the Greeks was not to be ruled as barbarians are ruled. Even if both
Aristotle and Alexander agreed that the best government was, ideally, by the best
men, Alexander heeded Aristotles instruction that in practice, kings have no
marked superiority over their subjects (Aristotle, Politics, VII, 14,1332 b 24-25).
In addition, Aristotle wrote that in the ideal state, that is the best practical
government under most conditions, it is obviously necessary on many grounds
that all citizens alike shall take their turn of governing and being governed VII,
14, 1332 b 25). Clearly, the Greeks would not accept the type of authoritarian
kingship that was tolerated in the Persian east. Whether through observation of his
fathers politics or the learning imparted by Aristotle, Alexander chose to support
local democracies within a federal framework. It is unnecessary to choose sides
between those who praise or curse the character of Alexander to understand his
support of local semiautonomous political subdivisions. It was simply good
politics.
A Central Government that Concerns Itself With, and Has Authority Over,
National and Foreign Affairs and is the Arbiter of Differences Between Its
Component Subdivisions.
The central authority, in this case the League of Corinth, was
unquestionably in charge of national affairs. The League derived its authority
from a congress held in mid-337 B.C. in the centrally located city-state of
Corinth. All Greek states were invited to send delegates. Those delegates were to
52


possess the authority to make political commitments for their states. Only Sparta,
now impotent, refused to attend. Only a few pieces of epigraphic evidence remain
of this historic congress of Hellenes. The main evidence for the constitution
comes from a damaged stone, which records a general Greek peace with Phillip
(489, Terry Buckley). Demosthenes also mentions the agreement in his speech
On the Treaty with Alexander. The terms of the formalized central state
included: the guarantee of each states rights to freedom and autonomy, and a
military clause, i.e. the right to take military action against those who broke the
terms of the peace (Buckley, 489). A synhedrion, or congress, was composed of
representatives from the member states, and possessed the authority to enforce the
laws that they passed. Also, a hegemon, a chief executive, was elected by the
member states to prosecute foreign policy. Neither the hegemon himself, nor his
province of origin, was a member of the synhedrion, creating a layer of separation
between the executive and legislative branches. The structure for a federal state
was now well in place. When Alexander became the new hegemon, he had a legal
construct and a working legislative body to mediate disagreements that occurred
among the individual semiautonomous city-states and ethnoi.
That the League would almost immediately authorize an invasion of Persia
was never in doubt. Indeed, the Persian menace as an external enemy was the glue
that held the League together. The aggressive campaign against Persia was going
well with democratic poleis being planted among the Persian satrapies. These
53


cities were populated with Greeks colonists and with Greek veterans and their
native wives. Some of the conquered satrapies, such as Egypt, viewed Alexander
as a liberator. Other traditional Persian nobles resisted to the end.
The foreign policy decisions seemed straightforward, almost simple,
compared to the role of the government in minimizing the disputes among the
differing Greek cities. Ever since the aborted revolution against Persia by the
Ionian cities in 499 B.C.E., exiles were a problem. The Persians displaced many
of the Greeks who were regarded as rebellious. The Delian league showed Greek
unity, but when Athens used the league for self-interested ends and invaded the
members that wanted to secede, another wave of exiles was created. Athens then
economically undermined the other league members by appropriating the
property of the smaller states which had originally joined in coalition with their
powerful neighbor to fight the Persian armies (Romer, 1995,17). The
Peloponnesian Wars first favored Athens, then Sparta, and finally, in the
aftermath, Thebes. The displacement of Greek citizens was severe. The
resettlement of the exiles in their home area was urgently needed, for great
numbers of refugees meant political instability.
Alexander advocated local solutions as reflected in an inscription
concerning Mytiline: The demos is to elect twenty men, ten from the returned
exiles and ten from those living previously in the city (Heisserer, 125). Those
twenty would come up with a plan for returning exiles with the effect of
54


reconciliation so that the former exiles and current citizens "shall inhabit the city
and the land, living in harmony with one another (Heisserer, 125). In another
case, the Greek city-state of Priene was freed by Alexander, but what of Prienians
who lived in nearby Naulochon? Scholars cannot adequately identify this city,
but it may have been a Persian stronghold destroyed in the military conflict. The
epigraphic evidence, found on a stone tablet in Priene, clarified the issue: Of
those residing in Naulochon, as many as are Prienians are to be independent and
free, possessing the land and all the houses in the city and in the countryside, just
like the Prienians themselves (Heisserer, 146).
Detractors of Alexander use the resettlement of exiles by the central
government as an example of the imperial Alexander, but it is just these types of
disagreements that are often no win situations for federal governments to assure
fair and equal treatment for all their citizens. The League of Corinth and
Alexander chose a solution that created a low level of local unrest to prevent a
more dangerous outcome. The exiles could have become, potentially, mercenaries
for the Persians or pirates. The solution was to return the exiles to their home city-
state or province, create a fair and local democratic process for their assimilation,
and guarantee civil peace through the authority of the League. This interaction
between local governments, the League of Corinth, and the Captain-General is an
example of how the Hellenistic Federal State could settle sensitive political issues
without the use of force or other counterproductive measures.
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An Agreed Upon Division of Authority between Local and Central Government. A
Formal Constitution Is the Best Evidence of the Division of Power, but a Treaty,
Alliance, or a Working Social Contract Can Be Used As Recognition of Central
and Local Rights.
Edward Freeman contends that under Phillip II and Alexander there was
no systematic interference with the internal independence of the Grecian cites
(Freeman, Edward, 179). If a member state had a constitution, it was not
invalidated by membership in the League. If, as in Chios, no constitution existed,
Alexander set out a process whereby citizens could draft their own constitution
specific to their needs. The League of Corinth itself was a federation that used a
foundational document as a constitutional framework. Raphael Sealey, in A
History of the Greek City States, provides a good synopsis: In form it was
probably a treaty of common peace with safeguards and additional provisions
(Sealey, 490). The operation of the league provided for a Synhedrion or
congress of representatives, which was to meet in Corinth. The constitutions in
force in the member states when they joined the League were guaranteed; federal
action was to check any acts of subversion or aggression against member states.
There was to be a federal army levied by drawing from the members contingents
approximately proportionate to their size (Sealey, 491).
A synhedrion functioned as the supreme governing council, composed of
delegates sent by the allied city-states and national groups (enthnoi) (Heisserer,
56


xxiii). The synhedrion was not merely cosmetic; rather [t]he decisions or decrees
of the synhedrion were binding on all members and [a] long with the council
there was instituted the office of hegemon or leader, the executive head of the
League. Heisserer contends, based on all the epigraphic and literary evidence,
that all decisions required the consent of the hegemon and a majority vote of the
synhedrion (Heisserer, xxiv). The evidence points towards sovereignty being a
shared concept, not subject to either a legislative or executive override, but rather
subject to a check and balance. Although Heisserer believes that Alexander could
prevail by coercion, his epigraphic research fails to provide the evidence to back
his claim. An alternative view is that Alexander needed a functioning
representative government to hold the fractious Greeks together and had every
motivation to assure that the clear lines adopted in the working constitution of the
League of Corinth were respected by all. Clearly, defined spheres of authority
existed between local and central government functions.
Bosworth summarizes the working foundational agreement that acted as
the Leagues constitution. Freedom and autonomy were guaranteed;
constitutions were to be left as they were at the signing of the peace, and there
was to be no internal subversion. There was a total prohibition on executions and
exiles contrary to existing laws. To quell the divisiveness found in many of the
city-states, [n]o city was to support exiles in attack upon their home government.
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If there were violations the joint sanctions of the League could be invoked
(Bosworth, 190).
Individual Subdivisions May Not Act Independently in Foreign or Military
Affairs, nor May Individual Subdivisions Impose Their Will on Another
Subdivision.
The Greek leagues and Italian city-states fail this vital criterion and are,
therefore, eliminated from consideration as fully federal states. Greek city-states
often sought assistance from Persia or other city-states when members of a league
would turn against one another. Thebes assisted Sparta in conquering Athens
during the Peloponnesian War and recommended that Athens be burned to the
ground. However, when Sparta sought to create a hegemony throughout Greece,
Thebes enlisted Athens to resist Sparta. This continual dissolution and
reconstitution of alliances among the city-states precluded the possibility of the
Greek city-states uniting without new leadership committed to a united
oikoumene.
In the next section of this paper we will compare the Hellenistic Federal
State with the American brand created in 1787, but a tangible example of how
important the limits of individual city-state really are can be shown by using a
hypothetical example relevant to American federal government. The state of
Arizona borders both a foreign country and other states of the United States.
Arizona may not enter into a treaty of alliance with Mexico on its own, nor may it
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enter into hostile military confrontation with Mexico or with any of the other
states of the American union. The freedom of Arizona is circumscribed by the
limits placed on its government as a member of a federal government. Unbridled
autonomia for the Greek city-states was, similarly, divorced from the concept of
shared sovereignty that is so essential as a cornerstone for a federal state.
The League of Corinth was novel in its conception of a truly united and
federal state. A. B. Bosworth states that the Corinthian League was an alliance. It
was comprised of states that were bound to Macedon by bilateral treaties; and it
was perfectly natural that they should create a general alliance under the
leadership of a Macedonian king (Bosworth, 189). The Corinthian synhedrion
issued decrees prohibiting collaboration with Persia (Bosworth, 189), and the
common peace among the city-states was held in place by the League.
Heisserer has located epigraphic evidence to back up the written histories
of ancient scholars. As part of the original epigraphic foundational document of
the League, the inscription includes key elements to provide for a stable
Hellenistic Federal system. The members will abide by the peace, nor will
members seize by any means or device a city of fortress or harbor of those
participating in the peace. The oath continues, if anyone makes a violation
concerning this treaty, I [the member state] will offer assistance whenever those
who have been wronged summon it and I will make war on the one violating the
59


common peace whenever it is so resolved by the common synhedrion and
hegemon orders it ( Heisserer, 9).
As the elements of the League of Corinth become clear, many of the
confederations and leagues of mutual benefit fall out of the equation The difficult
balancing act between a central and a confederal system, illustrates why a true
federal system is rarer than other forms of government. The next section deals
with the ultimate decision than can be made by an individual member of any
government, secession.
Individual Subdivisions Do Not Enjoy Full Sovereignty and,
Therefore, May Not Secede.
This criterion is another key element that creates a bright line between a
confederacy and a federal state. In a letter to his friend Oliver Dyer, John C.
Calhoun spoke for the secessionist South when he wrote in 1849, We are not a
nation, but a Union, a confederacy of equal and sovereign states (Conlin, 60).
This conception is utterly contradictory to Lincolns view: A house divided
against itself cannot stand (Conlin, 186). No federal government, whether it be
Lincolns facing the South or Alexanders confronting Thebes, can allow states
that have pledged themselves to a federal state, to secede.
The League of Corinth was remarkably stable. Only upon the death of
Phillip and the election of Alexander as hegemon did a city-state secede from the
League. The decision of those who lived in the secessionist city-state of Thebes
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was far from universal. As Arrian reports, all of those who had the citys interest
most at heart were anxious to approach Alexander and gain a general pardon
(Arrian, 57). However, some ambitious officers of the former Boeotian
Confederacy pushed for Thebes to move forward with secession. Curtius,
Diodorus, and Arrian report that Alexander delayed an attack, hoping, much like
Lincoln in latter days, that an armed conflict could be avoided.
The Thebans leadership proceeded with plans to challenge the Leagues
covenant militarily, and the result was predictable. In a confrontation that can best
be compared to the American Union forces occupation of the Confederate South,
the rebellion was crushed. The decisive point, both politically and militarily, was
that the Federal League of Corinth held. None of the other city-states came to the
aid of Thebes, and no others moved to secede. Except for a minor confrontation
with the Spartans in 331 B.C.E., who then became members of the league, Greece
remained a united oikoumene. The League of Corinth had withstood the ultimate
test.
The Subdivisions Are, To Some Degree, Democratic, and the Central Government
Not Only Tolerates Those Democratic Institutions but Even Encourages or
Demands that Local Governments Be Democratic in Form.
Federal states without democratic subdivisions are more kingdoms than
federations in that the federal form of government presupposes a degree of
positive choice by the individuals who live within the state and by the voluntary
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association of the political subdivisions. Although some may stipulate that
democratic self determination is not essential to a federal system, I would argue
that this thesis is comparing operating, highly developed governmental systems
and not abstract theory. I challenge Benjamin Wrights contention, as noted on
page 2, that our concept of modem federalism is a recent innovation. A layered
government of autocracies, oligargies, tyrannies, or other undemocratic methods
of rule would not, I believe, stand the test of modem federalism with the
Founding Fathers. Although it would be unreasonable to force all governmental
subdivisions into an American style straightjacket when comparing Omaha,
Nebraska with ancient Athens or Corinth, some level of democratic self
determination is essential for a workable shared sovereignty.
One of the key dividing points between the Hellenistic league and others is
the encouragement of democracies. Alexander declared all dictatorships
abolished in Greece (Durant, 542), liberated the Ionian Greek cities from the
Persian satraps, and, as in the case of Chios, gave direction that constitutions
reflect democratic values. This quantum leap forward was bom of necessity. This
thesis makes no claim that Alexander was noble or kind hearted, only that he
understood the political realities and acted upon them.
The Greek city-states, including those on the the Ionian Coast, made up a
Greek nation upon which Alexander could expand his Hellenistic vision. To risk
civil war, disunion, and military conflicts in his rear guard was political suicide.
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Aristotle had taught him well the importance of the Greek concept of autonomea,
and even without his famous tutor, Alexanders political instincts would likely
have led him to the same conclusion. The strength of the Greeks could be
harnessed only if they believed in their ability to govern themselves, and so it
was. The League was quite specific on democratic values and city-states running
their own legislative, judicial, and executive affairs. Throughout the country
[Ionia] he dispossessed the ruling cliques and established popular governments in
their place; allowing every community to enjoy its own laws and customs
(Arrian, 79). The obligation to the League was a unified national agenda and a
promise to refrain from civil war. Nowhere in history has this pattern been
repeated until the Enlightenment values coalesced in the infant United States.
I do not claim that the Persian territories annexed into the Hellenistic
world were given the same rights as the members of the League of Corinth.
However, as will be shown later, it was Alexanders hope that by planting Geek
poleis throughout Persia and integrating the Greeks through marriage and military
unity with the Persians, a Hellenistic world would evolve to mirror the League of
Corinth.
Summary of Federal Criteria
From the definition drawn from parts A through F, the Hellenistic Federal
State, organized through the League of Corinth, fits all the requirements of a true
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federal government. The essential character of shared sovereignty was firmly in
place. There are both a central and a local character within the parameters of
government that requires local dominion over local matters and a strong central
government to coordinate national and foreign policy and arbitrate among
member states. Thebes is often looked upon as an example of Macedonian
aggression, but a state that rebels against the other members of a federal
government must be resisted, with military force if necessary. Shermans march
from Atlanta to the sea made it clear that the American federal government would
not tolerate rebel states any more than the League of Corinth did. Shared
sovereignty was a creation of the Hellenes: our American forefathers reinvented a
modernized concept of governance two thousand years later. The next section will
compare the Hellenistic Federal State to the American. That comparison will
show the federal state in its ancient and modem forms.
The Lion and the Eagle
The Hellenistic Federal State and the United States of America
If the Hellenistic world invented federalism, is there a link between the
ancient and the modem versions? Is this link cause and effect, the result of a
common set of circumstances, or are the commonalties simply coincidence?
There are several areas that bear comparison: The key components of interaction
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between the local and central governments; the vertical layering of government,
and; the horizontal layering of government.
Although section IV will examine both the vertical layering of local and
central governments and the horizontal layering of checks and balances, there is a
critical difference between the two comparisons. The vertical layering is a basic
tenet of federalism. Indeed, without multiple layers of government, federal
government does not exist. The horizontal layering that examines the interaction
of branches of government, however, is a reinforcement of federal government,
but not a requirement.
Both the Hellenistic and American experiences with federalism were
guided by exceptional individuals. The Founding Fathers are familiar, if
somewhat distorted, mentors to our modem America. What of Alexander the
Great? No self-writings exist, nor, as noted in the review-of-the-literature section,
do the original biographies of Callisthenes or Ptolemy. Historians are utterly
divided on Alexanders character; even the very titles of books such as Alexander
the Great. Killer of Men, by David Lonsdale, and Alexander the Great: A Study
of the Greatest and Most Compelling Figure in History, by F. A. Wright, can tell
us much about the fractured mirror that reflects our understanding of Alexander.
Before an accurate comparison of the political systems can be made, a key point
is that this thesis is not inquiring into the psyche of either the Founding Fathers of
America or the progenitor of the Hellenistic Federal State. However, it is
65


impossible not to weave in the men with their creations. The tapestry of
federalism was a creation of human ingenuity, but in the end, the governments
they created must speak for themselves.
As we begin to examine the elements of how local and central government
coexisted in the Hellenistic world, the story must begin with the Lion of
Macedon.
The Interaction of Governmental Units: A Comparison between the American and
Hellenistic Federal States
On the silver tetradrachm that circulated throughout the Hellenistic world
between 336 and 323 B.C.E., Alexander is idealized as Hercules wearing a lions
skin (Sayles, 33). A lion indeed; but what of his true character? The importance
of the virtues and foibles of those involved in creating federal governments must
be acknowledged, but due to the colored lens through which we view history,
much must be discounted. It becomes evident in the review of biographies of
Alexander that there are few absolutes known about the man. Hollywood, whether
through Colin Farrell or Richard Burton, seems obsessed with Alexanders
allegedly tortured personality. A level of admiration continues to the present with
Agnes Savill, in her 1993 volume Alexander the Great and His Time when she
notes, All accounts agree that he possessed rare personal charm and
magnetism(Savill, 18). How different in emphasis this view is from the reports
of historians such as Peter Green, who in describing Alexanders approach to a
66


rebellious Thebes writes that he decided to destroy the city utterly and by this act
of terror take the heart out of anyone else who might rise against him (Green,
145). Or the more modern Will Durant, who references Alexanders outbreaks
of blind ferocity, a man whose [o]ne quality... dominated all the rest -
ambition (Durant, 541). The volumes listed in the Works Cited concerning
Alexander are extensive, but the proven facts about him are few.
It is possible, however, to evaluate the workings of the Hellenistic Federal
State without relying on one or another interpretation of Alexanders nature. The
problems of day-to-day life for citizens, bureaucrats, and elected officials remain
the same from the time of the League of Corinth to today. Who controls the
resources? What power bases are in place to influence the division of those
resources? How does government operate as an arbiter of disputes over resources?
In the American framework, former British colonies had elected
legislatures to represent their interests. They all had, from their very beginning, a
constitution or charter that outlined the grants of power to the state government.
The Articles of Confederation, were, to use Alexander Hamiltons terms, [a]
mere treaty, dependent on the good faith of the parties (Miller, 112). Despite the
threats of both northern and southern states threatening to secede over a stronger
political document, the Constitution of the United States set forth the
boundaries between state and the national governments. Indeed, Section 10 of the
United States Constitution is crystal clear: (1) No state shall enter into ant
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Treaty, Alliance or Confederation or (3).. .keep Troops, or Ships of War in
time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a
foreign Power, or engage in War. But what of the League of Corinth?
The agreement among the Greek states was extraordinary and quite close
to the American system. Local city-states had always had constitutions, or were
directed to create them when they joined the League. The League did not
invalidate these treaties, but set up systems through the synhedrion that were
reflected in the constitution of Chios and other Greek city-states: local autonomy,
constitutional democracy, loyalty to the League, a tax for military affairs in return
for protection from Persians or pirates. These constitutions controlled events of an
internal nature, while the treaty of the League of Corinth, which acted as the
central governments constitution, controlled external affairs and set the limits of
a federal state.
The connection between a well-run business and a well-run government is
at the center of the contemporary debate on government efficiency. Partha Bose, a
marketing director for the law firm of Allen and Overy, has investigated how
Alexander the Great actually ran such a vast governmental system. The star
quality of the general and the pathos of Alexander the man have left most
historians numb on how the Hellenistic Federal State actually operated. In his
chapter on Decentralization Wins in Alexander the Greats Art of Strategy.
Bose notes that the advantages of decentralization did not arrive in the corporate
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world until the 1920s and werent effectively used until the 1950s. In contrast,
decentralization thrived under Alexander the Great. Bose contends,
Decentralized decision-making was the only way Alexander could control and
manage his vast empire (Bose, 187).
So few traditional historians have investigated the actual operation of
Hellenistic governmental bureaucracy that many assume Alexander to have
ignored the operational functions of the government. However, those who study
the operation of the union of city-states are forced to concede that, as Will Durant
states, Without question he was a good administrator (Durant, 542).One of the
reasons the American federal government works is that many local decisions do
not have to be confirmed by the national government. The League of Corinth took
the same approach. Athens or Ephesus or Priene could hold its own elections,
judge its own criminal and civil matters, practice the religion it chose, and send
whatever representative it wanted to the League of Corinth's Synhedrion.
Even the terminology was carefully forged in the Hellenistic system.
When John Adams proposed that Washington be addressed as His Highness or
His Majesty, the republican sentiment in the country, led by Jefferson, turned
apoplectic (Ellis, Founding Brothers, 2000, 168). Alexander knew his role and
was careful not to overstep his position as the top executive. Alexander, like
Phillip, was king of Macedon, and hegemon or captain-general of all Greece
(Bose, 7). His messages from the front to the League of Corinth are careful not to
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claim titles that the Greek city-states would perceive as a threat to their local
decision making or autonomia. After the conquest of Troy at the Battle of
Granicus, Alexander sent to Athens 300 full suits of Persian armor with the
following inscription: Alexander, son of Phillip, and the Greeks (except the
Lacedaemonians) dedicate these spoils, taken from the Persians who dwell in
Asia (Arian, 76). This is a message from the Captain- General, not from a king.
The clear compartmentalization between local and central, between an executive
and a monarch, are central to both the American and Hellenistic Federal
Governments.
It is instructive that although the Hellenistic and American systems
evolved from very different bases, the accepted parameters of the executive were
not dissimilar. The Hellenistic Federal State evolved due to civil wars and the
need for unity to address the threat of foreign powers and internal collapse. As F.
E. Peters remarks in the Harvest of Hellenism. The tightly knit fabric of the polls
was loosening in the years after the Peloponnesian War (Peters,33). The birth
rate climbed, unemployment rose rapidly, and the interference of Persia in the
persistent polls vs. polls wars became ever more intrusive. The American vision
came from the unity of colonists against a distant mother country. The threat was
imminent and drove the colonies together even when deep issues separated the
colonies and divided their citizens. It was not until 1861 that those underlying
internal inconsistencies created violent civil strife. No matter, in both ancient
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Greece and 18th century America, when the smaller governmental units decided to
unite, they created a limited executive and a distrust of an interfering unitary
executive. The United States Declaration of Independence clearly shows the
initial strains to unify and, at the same time, keep distinct local identities.
Jeffersons stirring wrap-up includes, [t]hat these United Colonies, are, and of
right to be Free and Independent States (Dolbeare,Cummings,51).
Both Hellenistic and American systems showed the downside of a federal
government. If Greeks were to unite, would they cede too much power to the
military authority busy conquering new territory in the East, or could they
maintain local independence through their constitutions and the League of
Corinth? Similarly, could American States be both united colonies and free and
independent states? Independent of what? Of the crown? Of each other? Of the
federal system they had just created? The end of this thesis will include some
speculative remarks about the future of federalism, but it is clear from the start
that all federal systems suffer from tensions and potential internal contradictions
that could lead to systems collapse or, at the very least, to an abandonment of
federal government.
Vertical Layering
Vertical Layering could go under a host of names. It is used here because
it can be specific without contradicting any existing definitions in common use.
The concept involves how a federal government operates when dealing with
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levels of government from local government to component state to the federal
state government. This shared sovereignty compels us to analyze how the melding
of the separate elements of a federal system actually works. It is a useful exercise
to explore what the average man in Athens would encounter as he pushed an
important issue up through the layers of government in comparison with someone
from Olathe, Colorado. Was it very different, or were the points of impact and
the bureaucratic obstacles analogous?
As an example, let us take an important issue, how a local city is taxed.
Assume that Athens and Olathe, Colorado have increased taxes because of an
increase in taxes due the federal government. What if a citizen objects to this
plundering of his financial welfare and wants to do something about it? First stop,
local government.
An immediate difference between ancient and modem systems becomes
apparent. Athens is really better understood as the city-state Attica. Although the
center of power is Athens, the surrounding area had merged into a city-state. As
H. B. Cotterill describes in Ancient Greece, Athens became the capital of the
whole of Attica an event which was of the greatest moment, giving her in time a
political position of an united state (Cotterill, 87). This type of arrangement was
common, as Sparta was the political center for the Lacedaemonian to the south.
Citizens could bring the taxing issue to the attention of their boule or their
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assembly, which could then vote on an appropriate action. If the assembly decided
to move on an issue, there were two avenues of action.
The first would be an appeal to the League of Corinth. A. B. Bosworth
writes that Macedon had an inordinate amount of power in the League, but
concedes that; [i]t could perform a useful function as an international court of
arbitration, defusing disputes between neighbors before they led to war. He notes
an epigraphic record in which the city-states of Melos and Cimolous came before
the League of Corinth to settle a dispute. The synhedrion passed a decree
delegating the arbitration to the city of Argos, which eventually ruled in favour of
Cimolous (Bosworth, 191). The results, note Bosworth, appear to have been
beneficial.
A second, and more traditional, route would be to the Amphictyonic
Council. The Council was a remnant of the Amphictyonic League, which was
originally the religious alliance of peoples dwelling around the sanctuary of
Demeter near Thermopylae (Durant, 198). As a political league, it went the way
of all Greek leagues. However, due to its religious context, the ruling Council was
still consulted as an arbiter in Alexanders times. The Amphictyonic League was
a seldom used avenue of appeal, but the historical records confirm that it still
played a role in settling disputes at the time of Phillip II and Alexander.
The glaring, obvious dissimilarity to any American is that there was no
We the People, no Bill of Rights, no true concept of individuals having rights
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separate from their city-state. Americans, or at least the Founding Fathers,
expected government to reflect William Blackstone's comments of 1765: For the
principal aim of society is to protect individuals in the enjoyment of their absolute
rights, which were vested in them by the immutable laws of nature (Kurland and
Lemer, Vol.V, 388).The Greek and Hellenistic democracies flourished through
the concept of autonomia, an ideal that meant the autonomy of a city-state and the
rights of the individuals within that city-state. Socrates, in Platos Crito. describes
what Athenian law would say regarding Socrates civic responsibility: But he
who has experience of the manner in which we order justice and administer the
State, and still remains, has entered into an implied contract that he will do as we
command him. As Plato continues this line of argumentation he represents
Socrates as stating, then will they not say: You, Socrates are breaking the
covenants and agreements which you made with us. (Plato, The Dialogues. 124V
Although within the plethora of city-states citizens had varying degrees of liberty,
most of what the Greeks called freedom was the freedom of the city-state to act in
a unified fashion. The concept of an individual having a separate political identity
irrespective of the polis was a philosophical possibility as reflected in late 4 -
century B.C.E. Epicureanism and Stoicism but not a political reality.
The other obvious difference is that the political units in the Hellenistic
federal oikoumene combine city and state functions. Those city-states had real
power as members of the Federal League. In modem America, cities and towns
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are mere creatures of the states and, although there can be a complaint from a city
against a larger entity, the issue of standing becomes vital. As I write, a
decision posted May 5, 2006 from the Denver District Court dismissed an appeal
by Adams County regarding the issuance of a state license because the county is
a subordinate agency and therefore cannot sue the state (Commerce City Beacon.
June 7, 2006). Individuals are left to appeal to their federal Congressional
Representative or Senator or, of course, the President all of whom supposedly
represent them.
As a practical matter, it is not clear whether the differences in process
would be better or worse for the Athenian from Attica or the Olathian from
Colorado. Differences between city-state constitutions and American state
constitutions exist because, as Aristotle notes, The reason for the plurality of
constitutions lies in the plurality of parts in every state (The Politics. 241).
Therefore, it is logical to expect differences between how the Hellenistic Federal
State and the United States of America handle the structure of government. Both
Hellenistic and American systems are federal when evaluated by the criteria listed
on page 89. The practical day-to-day matters of legislative and judicial affairs
work in ways to balance the particulars of each nation and local government
subdivision.
Another way to approach vertical layering concerns the practical effect of
shared sovereignty. Most local issues would come under the purview of local
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ordinances, and statutes and would seldom make their way into the higher layers
of government. Likewise, issues such as foreign policy would be decided upon at
a federal level, where the authority clearly rests. In the United States, issues
involving individual rights can sometimes jump into the federal arena, as our
constitution is an agreement among the people, and not exclusively of the states.
On most issues, however, the Hellenistic and American federal states have a clear
distinction between spheres of local and national authority. Producing a local
monetary system or a fundamental redistribution of wealth would be taboo in both
systems; the intrusion of the federal government into local elections would also
exceed the agreed upon shared sovereignty. The Constitution of the United States
and the foundational document of the League of Corinth laid the solid bases for
state constitutions in the individual states whether that state was called Colorado
or Chios.
Horizontal Layering
The other way to evaluate a federal system is through checks and
balances. This side-by-side view of executive, legislative, and judicial powers
gives a snapshot of how policy is decided upon and implemented. The interaction
among the branches of Hellenistic and American government, however, are
simply examples of two federal states working within a overarching federal
framework to achieve political success. There are many iterations of how
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governments that are similarly situated in a vertically layered federal government
may choose to position the various branches of government. This section,
therefore, is a search for correlations between Hellenistic and American
government and not an evaluation of federal criteria.
Executive Power
The historical charge against the League of Corinth is reflected in an
attack on the executive function of Captain-General. Bos worth writes, Although
it is often denied, the Corinthian League was an alliance (Bosworth, 189).
However, he does not believe that the League would have voted for a decision
that would damage Macedon (Bosworth, 192). Heisserer contends that Phillip
assumed or was elected [in effect by coercion] to the position of hegemon
(Heisserer, xxiv). There are two aspects to be explored. The first is whether
Alexander ruled purely as king or was truly responsible to the Greek Federal
State for his actions. The second is how, in theory and practice, Alexanders
executive powers equate with the United States Chief Executive.
Most, if not all, of the dramatic portents of doom from Macedons
assuming the Captain-Generalship of the League came from Athens, the former
hegemon of the Greeks that had abused the trust of its sister city-states. In
particular, they came from Demosthenes, who made a career out of fear
mongering. When Alexander rode south to meet with the other Greeks in the
League after the assassination of Phillip, Athens sent an embassy to meet him.
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Misled by Demosthenes rhetoric, Athenian citizens were told to evacuate and
prepare for the worst. These worries proved unfounded. After Demosthenes
discreetly deserted the official embassy on the slopes of Cithaeron his fellow
delegates were graciously received. As a result, Peace and alliance were
accordingly negotiated (Bosworth, 189).
The League operated as a federal government throughout Alexanders
reign, and the terms of the League were kept by all, including the Macedonians.
The one area that Alexander had complete control over was the operations against
Persia in a foreign war agreed on by the League. The war was, after all, one of the
main functions of the League, and Phillip II was appointed chief of the Greek
states against Persia (Cotterill,433). Some of the more recent scholarship, such
as Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past, by Paul Cartledge, is
disappointing in that it offers nothing new to the debate. Cartledge acknowledges
the controversy over Alexanders role, but essentially ends up with assumptions
and impugned motives that do not enlighten the reader on how the League of
Corinth actually operated. Agnes Savill, in Alexander the Great and his Time,
appears as an apologist for Alexander in refuting other modem critics without
new documentation to support her reverence for Alexander. However, the very
fact that modem authors have failed to identify a tyranny in the League and that
Greek politics operated in an atmosphere devoid of civil war during Alexanders
leadership undercuts the long held Athena-centric view.
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Americas own struggle over two thousand years later shows how deeply
the idea of a strong executive has been implanted throughout history. There is no
doubt that if in Hamiltons plan the presidency was tailor-made for George
Washington, the cut of the garments was deliberately borrowed from George III,
states historian John Miller. If the presidency was to be the stabilizing and
nationalizing force in the Constitution, Hamilton saw no alternative but to give
him tenure during good behavior, which, in most instances, meant for life
(Miller 165). Even Hamiltons chief modem apologist, Ron Chemow, notes, It
scarcely helped Hamiltons historical reputation that in his personal notes he
observed of this theoretical monarch, He ought to be hereditary and to have so
much power that it will not be in his interest to risk much to acquire
more(Chemow, 232). Jefferson never flinched and writes in his Anas of those
who were involved in forcing through anarchy their way to monarchy. But the
mass of that convention was too honest, and too wise and too steady to be baffled
and misled by their manoeuvres. Jefferson targeted Hamilton specifically: One
of these was a form of government proposed by Colonel Hamilton, which would
have been in fact a compromise between the two parties of royalism and
republicanism. According to this the executive and one branch of the legislature
were to be during good behavior, i.e. for life, and the governors of the States were
to be named by these two permanent organs (Jefferson, 1903, 29).
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John Adams also led towards a hybrid government with an exceptionally
strong executive. In a series of thirty-one essays printed in the Gazette of the
United States and subsequently published as Discourses on Divila, he argued that
all stable governments required what he called a monarchical principle, meaning
a singular figure empowered to embody the will of the nation (Ellis, 168).
Indeed, although the chief executive of the United States was elected, John
Adams thought the presidency was an extremely powerful position. In a letter to
Roger Sherman, he writes, The duration of our president is neither perpetual nor
for life; it is only for four years; but his power during those four years is much
greater than that of an avoyer, a consul, a podesta, a doge, a stadtholder, nay, than
the king of Poland; nay, than the king of Sparta (Kurland and Lemer, Vol., 1,
137).
Republicans such as Jefferson continued to worry. In a letter to Alexander
Donald in 1788, he laments, There is another strong feature in the new
constitution which I strongly dislike. That is the perpetual re-eligibility of the
President (Kurland and Lemer, Vol. 3, 505).
The concept of the unitary executive is on the front burner of American
politics today. After three major wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq without a
Congressional Declaration of War, the concentration of power under the name of
national security is inescapable. From foreign policy to civil rights to the use of
technology to gather information about private citizens, the executive branch has
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assumed an increasingly powerful role in America. Noam Chomsky takes an even
darker view of American leadership in his book Hegemony or Survival:
Americas Quest for Global Dominance. Chomsky accuses the current
administration of a [dismissal of elementary human rights and needs for which
no parallel comes easily to mind, accompanied by professions of a sincere
dedication to human rights and democracy (Chomsky, 4). An accurate view of
Alexander the Great and his role in the Hellenistic Federal State should be
balanced by a recognition of the tendency of power to centralize within the
federal system of the United States.
From the very beginning of the history of the United States a strong
executive was seen by Founding Fathers, such as Hamilton and John Adams, as a
component of Americas federal form of government. The key is that there is an
agreement between levels of government and among the branches of government
to secure the orderly workings of government. A strong executive does not
disqualify Alexander the Great or Alexander Hamilton from being federalists in
the true sense.
Legislative Power
Peter Green outlines the workings of the league of Corinth: The Greek
states were to make a common peace and alliance with one another, and
constititute themselves into a federal Hellenic league. This League would make
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joint decisions by means of a federal council (Synhedrion), on which each state
would be represented according to its size and military importance (Green, 86).
On a practical level, most of the Greek city-states continued with their local forms
of direct or representative decision making through their assemblies or boules.
The exception was the tyrannies, which were outlawed by Alexander. From what
we know, the League of Corinth did not interfere in the particular laws passed by
any state unless it threatened the common peace or there was a conflict that was
appealed to the League by its members. In fact, without the burden of civil wars,
the Greek City-States on both the Greek mainland and in Ionia regained their
strength and vitality. Charles Freeman encapsulates the new reality in his 1999
The Greek Achievement: It meant, of course, that the era of the independent
city-state was over. Traditionally historians have decried the fact but more
recently it has been emphasized how much city life gained from the new stability.
Athens, for instance, free to trade without interference, entered one of the most
prosperous periods in her history (Freeman, Charles, 322).
The model is precisely what Jefferson would state two millennia later, that
states should have the right to conduct their internal policies, with the federal
government confining itself to foreign policy. If some of the Founding Fathers
crossed that line or if the United States, due to population growth and a shrinking
planet, has moved away from that vision, Alexander the Great did not. The
Hellenistic Federal State could be strong only if the pre-existing political
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subdivisions could be prosperous and free in their internal policies. And, as
Charles Freeman points out, without civil wars prosperity and local autonomia
flourished rather than faded during the Hellenistic period. The complaints of an
ambitious and frustrated Demosthenes are not consistent with historical fact.
[Athenian] finances were reorganized by the statesman Lycurgus [an Athenian
statesman and not an Alexander partisan or appointee], her main theater was
rebuilt, navy revived, and docks and harbors renewed (Freeman, Charles, 322).
It is valid to ask what might have happened if the League of Corinth, the
legislative branch, and Alexander, the Executive, had ever split. Despite
historians insinuations of Alexanders real aims to be a monarch and assume
the legislative powers, there is no historic incident to justify the charge against
Alexander. Therefore, the Hellenistic Federal States legislative authority was, as
it is in the United States, partly sovereign and partly subject to the checks and
balances of the other branches of government.
Judicial Power
Of all the functions of government, this is the area in which a truly federal
system is lacking in the ancient world. This lack was not unique to the Hellenistic
Federal State. In pre-Alexandrian days, the Greek concept of justice was tied to
the concept of autonomia. The judicial process varied from city-state to city-state,
as did the powers of the assembly. Athens was a model of fairness and equity,
with an impartial jury selected by lot. But this was a strictly local process;
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Socrates couldnt argue his case in front of a higher court outside of Attica. The
shortcoming of the experimental federal system, however, was that the Greek
cities were not interested in giving up their absolute judicial powers.
This is not to say there was no higher appeal in theory. The Greeks tied
religion and justice very closely together. Murder was a religious as well as a civil
crime. The Amphictyonic Council still held its power of persuasion through its
claim of guardianship of Demeters sanctuary. It was the Amphictyonic Council
that first confirmed [Alexander] in all the rights and honors given to Phillip
(Durant, 542). The original Amphictyonic league had political power, but after it
became politically impotent, it still kept a moral authority listed by Madison in
The Federalist #18 to decide, in the last resort, all controversies between
members and to fine aggressing parties. However, Madison does not
extrapolate on this power of the Amphictyonic League. After noting the failings
of the League, Madison made his case and moved on to examine other
confederacies. Edward Freeman argues that the eighteenth number of The
Federalist should by all means be read. Freeman then goes on to say, It is clear
that the authors, Madison and Hamilton, had not the least notion of the true nature
of the [Amphictyonic Council] institution (Freeman, Edward, 110). The Council
was not a political, but religious body (Freeman, Edward, 97). In any case, the
Amphictyonic Council was still resolving cases during the time of Phillip II and
was looked at with reverence, if not as the ultimate authority.
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Another option for appeal was the Delphic Oracle, which could be
consulted on matters of state. However, the revelations of the oracle were far from
the form and functions of an orderly and predictable appeals process.
In practice, there was no higher judicial authority than the city-state
model. Certain appeals could go directly to the League of Corinth or to
Alexander, but there were no clear criteria for a case to be accepted for appeal.
Both the League and Alexander looked at cases or disagreements that threatened
the stability of the Hellenistic State. When the recurring issue of returning exiles
surfaced at Mytilene, Alexander wrote, The demos is to elect twenty men, ten
from the returned exiles and ten from those previously living in the city to work
out a solution. He continued: If there is anything lacking in the decree, the
judgment shall be with the boule (council) and then ratified by the demos
(Heisserer, 125). This is more epigraphic evidence, coming from a stone stele
found in modem day Mitiline, that Alexander wanted an end to civil strife and
delegated these matters back to the local city-state. However, even though
Alexander acted in a way that respected the boundaries between local and federal
government, the fact that the issue was referred to him personally shows the
weakness of the federal judicial system compared to the American model.
In other situations, the role of the judiciary was even more restricted in the
Hellenistic Federal State. In the case of Chios, the local laws that have been
corrected or drafted are to be referred to Alexander (Heisserer, 81) and reviewed
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in his role as hegemon of the Greeks. This power of review is the province of the
judicial branch in the United States, not the executive. This key difference,
whereby the Hellenistic judicial branch was somewhat subject to the legislative
and executive branches, was well studied by the Founding Fathers. In The
Federalist #48 Madison succinctly states that the proposed constitution does not
require that the legislative, executive, and judicial departments should be wholly
disconnected with each other (Hamilton, Madison, Jay, 343). To that extent
Madison understands what he terms the advantage of having the branches
connected and blended, but that blending is to give each a constitutional
control over the others (Hamilton, Madison, Jay, 343). Clearly the League of
Corinth would fail the test for adequate separation, as the legislative branch, the
Synhedrion, and the hegemon were clearly the main actors in the Hellenistic
scheme.
The Hellenistic mixture of governmental branches does not negate the
federalist principle of layered authority in government. The Hellenistic blending
among the parts of government relegated the judiciary, by modem standards, to a
position of the poor relative of the other two. However, this delegation of judicial
matters to the city-states was not fatal. For the time when Alexander was
hegemon, from 334 B.C. to 323 B.C., there was no conflict between the
legislative synhedrion and his executive functions. In time, even Sparta joined the
League.
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Before and after Alexanders role as chief executive, the clashes between
exiles and residents regularly erupted into civil war. Alexander was not anxious to
get involved in local politics at the city-state level, unless it was to preserve the
common peace. A mechanism to dispense justice if the actions of a city-state
needed to be appealed would have been of great value to the Hellenistic Federal
State and would have lessened the burden on the other two branches of
government.
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CHAPTER V.
CONCLUSION AND FINAL REMARKS
The conclusion will consist of three parts. The first will be on the
disintegration of the Hellenistic Federal State. The second part will include some
observations on the future of the American Federal State, whether it still exists in
any manner close to the original theory of federalism, and some remarks and
suppositions on the future of federal states. In particular, the question should be
addressed of whether (a) there are internal inconsistencies that will cripple federal
states over time or (b) federal states are dynamic enough to change with altered
circumstances. Finally, I will distill this research and evaluate whether the
original thesis questions were adequately answered.
The Disintegration of the Hellenistic Federal State
There are three possible explanations of why the Hellenistic Federal State
disintegrated upon Alexanders death. The first option is that it did not meet the
characteristics of a federal state to the extent that the United States does. The
second option, and the easy answer, is that there was there was no institutional
plan for succession of power. The final option involves a quandary that states face
constantly setting of priorities.
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Federal Criteria Comparison
A starting point is to chart how the Hellenistic Federal State and the United
States compare on the qualities of a federal state from Chapter IV.
Table # 5.1. Comparison of Hellenistic and American Federal Criteria
COMPONENT HELLENISTIC USA
1 Semiautonomous Yes Yes
2 Central government Yes Yes
3- Agreed division of power Yes Yes
4 Limited local autonomy Yes Yes
5 Secession prohibited Yes Yes
6 Local democracies Yes Yes
This chart and the evaluation of the federal criteria in Chapter IV show
clearly that the Hellenistic Federal State operated as a federal system of
government. The collapse of the Hellenistic Federal State, then, stemmed not
from a lack of federalism.
Succession
We must assume that the Founding Fathers, despite some sentiments to the
contrary from such as Alexander Hamilton, anticipated an open election after the
death of the chief executive. The fact that John Adams argued for the continued
hereditary monarchies to remain in place in Europe during their transition to
republics should not be misunderstood, as it was by many in his lifetime, as
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meaning that he desired a hereditary monarchy in the United States. In the final
analysis, the concept of a general election of all eligible voters every four years
was adopted by the Founding Fathers, although, in theory, the president could be
reelected ad infinitum. For many Republicans, as FDR started his fourth term in
1945, it must have seemed ad infinitum. The elections for the Chief Executive of
the United States are not direct and do not guarantee that the candidate with the
most votes is the winner. Indeed, there have been four exceptions to the general
rule of the majority. Only the Electoral College, and to some extent term limits,
stand between Americans and a direct election of the President. The United States
dealt with this issue as lately as the 2000 election cycle, and no political
instability resulted from the second-highest vote getters assuming the most
powerful office in the country.
As compared to this system, the Hellenistic flaw is all too apparent.
Without a system of transference of political power, the death of the Captain-
General led to a division of the realm between competing interests. If our
assumption is that this defect of the system was irresolvable within the Hellenistic
system, then our search for the disintegration of the League of Corinth is at an
end.
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A Matter of Priorities
There is one other option: Due to the other priorities of Alexanders
administration, the issues surrounding transference of power in the Hellenistic
Federal State had simply not matured when Alexander died. As Mclnemey states,
Alexanders failure was not that he didnt have a vision for the future or that he
wasnt equipped to make that vision a reality. He simply ran out of time
(Mclnemey, 2000, Alexander, IV). Since America lacks direct election of the
chief executive and, until recently, did not have term limits for the head of state,
there is no reason to believe the lack of these elements in the Hellenistic state
were a fatal flaw. Rather, Alexanders accomplishment of uniting the Greek
Oikoumene after hundreds of years of internal strife and his decision to
incorporate Persia into that Hellenistic vision took priority over establishing a
smooth transfer of power.
Alexander was not satisfied with a Hellenistic world that stopped at the
city-states of mainland Greece and Ionia. His goal was to integrate Greek and
Persia into a society that shared his dream. He initiated a three-pronged plan to
implement power sharing between Greek and Persians.
Integration of the Military
Alexander trained 30,000 young Persian men to be part of his military. They were
not simply used as a provincial force, but were to be integrated into the elite units
of the military. According to Arrian, they wore Macedonian battle dress and
91