Written by James Madison, this Federalist 10 defended the form of republican government proposed by the Constitution . Critics of the Constitution argued that the proposed federal government was too large and would be unresponsive to the people.
PDF: Federalist Papers No 10
Writing Federalist Paper No 10
In response, Madison explored majority rule v. minority rights in this essay. He countered that it was exactly the great number of factions and diversity that would avoid tyranny. Groups would be forced to negotiate and compromise among themselves, arriving at solutions that would respect the rights of minorities. Further, he argued that the large size of the country would actually make it more difficult for factions to gain control over others. “The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States.”
Federalist 10 | BRI’s Primary Source Essentials
No other Founder had as much influence in crafting, ratifying, and interpreting the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights as he did. A skilled political tactician, Madison proved instrumental in determining the form of the early American republic.
Would you have been a Federalist or an Anti-Federalist?
Federalist or Anti-Federalist? Over the next few months we will explore through a series of eLessons the debate over ratification of the United States Constitution as discussed in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers. We look forward to exploring this important debate with you! One of the great debates in American history was over the ratification […]
The Federalist Papers
By alexander hamilton , james madison , john jay, the federalist papers summary and analysis of essay 10.
Madison begins perhaps the most famous essay of The Federalist Papers by stating that one of the strongest arguments in favor of the Constitution is the fact that it establishes a government capable of controlling the violence and damage caused by factions. Madison defines factions as groups of people who gather together to protect and promote their special economic interests and political opinions. Although these factions are at odds with each other, they frequently work against the public interest and infringe upon the rights of others.
Both supporters and opponents of the plan are concerned with the political instability produced by rival factions. The state governments have not succeeded in solving this problem; in fact, the situation is so problematic that people are disillusioned with all politicians and blame the government for their problems. Consequently, any form of popular government that can deal successfully with this problem has a great deal to recommend it.
Given the nature of man, factions are inevitable. As long as men hold different opinions, have different amounts of wealth, and own different amounts of property, they will continue to fraternize with those people who are most similar to them. Both serious and trivial reasons account for the formation of factions, but the most important source of faction is the unequal distribution of property. Men of greater ability and talent tend to possess more property than those of lesser ability, and since the first object of government is to protect and encourage ability, it follows that the rights of property owners must be protected. Property is divided unequally, and, in addition, there are many different kinds of property. Men have different interests depending upon the kind of property they own. For example, the interests of landowners differ from those of business owners. Governments must not only protect the conflicting interests of property owners but also must successfully regulate the conflicts between those with and without property.
To Madison, there are only two ways to control a faction: to remove its causes and to control its effects. There are only two ways to remove the causes of a faction: destroy liberty or give every citizen the same opinions, passions, and interests. Destroying liberty is a "cure worse then the disease itself," and the second is impracticable. The causes of factions are thus part of the nature of man, so we must accept their existence and deal with their effects. The government created by the Constitution controls the damage caused by such factions.
The framers established a representative form of government: a government in which the many elect the few who govern. Pure or direct democracies (countries in which all the citizens participate directly in making the laws) cannot possibly control factious conflicts. This is because the strongest and largest faction dominates and there is no way to protect weak factions against the actions of an obnoxious individual or a strong majority. Direct democracies cannot effectively protect personal and property rights and have always been characterized by conflict.
If the new plan of government is adopted, Madison hopes that the men elected to office will be wise and good men, the best of America. Theoretically, those who govern should be the least likely to sacrifice the public good for temporary conditions, but the opposite could happen. Men who are members of particular factions or who have prejudices or evil motives might manage, by intrigue or corruption, to win elections and then betray the interests of the people. However, the possibility of this happening in a large country, such as the United States, is greatly reduced. The likelihood that public offices will be held by qualified men is greater in large countries because there will be more representatives chosen by a greater number of citizens. This makes it more difficult for the candidates to deceive the people. Representative government is needed in large countries, not to protect the people from the tyranny of the few, but rather to guard against the rule of the mob.
In large republics, factions will be numerous, but they will be weaker than in small, direct democracies where it is easier for factions to consolidate their strength. In this country, leaders of factions may be able to influence state governments to support unsound economic and political policies as the states, far from being abolished, retain much of their sovereignty. If the framers had abolished the state governments, then opponents of the proposed government would have had a legitimate objection.
The immediate object of the constitution is to bring the present thirteen states into a secure union. Almost every state, old and new, will have one boundary next to territory owned by a foreign nation. The states farthest from the center of the country will be most endangered by these foreign countries; they may find it inconvenient to send representatives long distances to the capital, but in terms of safety and protection, they stand to gain the most from a strong national government.
Madison concludes that he presents these previous arguments because he is confident that many will not listen to those "prophets of gloom" who say that the proposed government is unworkable. For this founding father, it seems incredible that these gloomy voices suggest abandoning the idea of coming together in strength—after all, the states still have common interests. Madison concludes that "according to the degree of pleasure and pride we feel in being Republicans, ought to be our zeal in cherishing the spirit and supporting the character of Federalists."
James Madison carried to the Convention a plan that was the exact opposite of Hamilton's. In fact, the theory he advocated at Philadelphia and in his essays was developed as a republican substitute for the New Yorker's "high toned" scheme of state. Madison was convinced that the class struggle would be ameliorated in America by establishing a limited federal government that would make functional use of the vast size of the country and the existence of the states as active political organisms. He argued in his "Notes on Confederacy," in his Convention speeches, and again in Federalist 10 that if an extended republic were set up including a multiplicity of economic, geographic, social, religious, and sectional interests, then these interests, by checking each other, would prevent American society from being divided into the clashing armies of the rich and the poor. Thus, if no interstate proletariat could become organized on purely economic lines, the property of the rich would be safe even though the mass of the people held political power. Madison's solution for the class struggle was not to set up an absolute state to regiment society from above; he was never willing to sacrifice liberty to gain security. Rather, he wished to multiply the deposits of political power in the state itself to break down the dichotomy of rich and poor, thereby guaranteeing both liberty and security. This, as he stated in Federalist 10, would provide a "republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government."
It is also interesting to note that James Madison was the most creative and philosophical disciple of the Scottish school of science and politics in attendance at the Philadelphia Convention. His effectiveness as an advocate of a new constitution, and of the particular Constitution that was drawn up in Philadelphia in 1787, was based in a large part on his personal experience in public life and his personal knowledge of the conditions of American in 1787. But Madison's greatness as a statesman also rests in part on his ability to set his limited personal experience within the context of the experience of men in other ages and times, thus giving extra insight to his political formulations.
His most amazing political prophecy, contained within the pages of Federalist 10, was that the size of the United States and its variety of interests constituted a guarantee of stability and justice under the new Constitution. When Madison made this prophecy, the accepted opinion among all sophisticated politicians was exactly the opposite. It was David Hume's speculations on the "Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth," first published in 1752, that most stimulated James Madison's' thought on factions. In this essay, Hume decried any attempt to substitute a political utopia for "the common botched and inaccurate governments" which seemed to serve imperfect men so well. Nevertheless, he argued, the idea of a perfect commonwealth "is surely the most worthy curiosity of any the wit of man can possibly devise. And who knows, if this controversy were fixed by the universal consent of the wise and learned, but, in some future age, an opportunity might be afforded of reducing the theory to practice, either by a dissolution of some old government, or by the combination of men to form a new one, in some distant part of the world. " At the end of Hume's essay was a discussion that was of interest to Madison. The Scot casually demolished the Montesquieu small-republic theory; and it was this part of the essay, contained in a single page, that was to serve Madison in new-modeling a "botched" Confederation "in a distant part of the world." Hume said that "in a large government, which is modeled with masterly skill, there is compass and room enough to refine the democracy, from the lower people, who may be admitted into the first elections or first concoction of the commonwealth, to the higher magistrate, who direct all the movements. At the same time, the parts are so distant and remote, that it is very difficult, either by intrigue, prejudice, or passion, to hurry them into any measure against the public interest." Hume's analysis here had turned the small-territory republic theory upside down: if a free state could once be established in a large area, it would be stable and safe from the effects of faction. Madison had found the answer to Montesquieu. He had also found in embryonic form his own theory of the extended federal republic.
In Hume's essay lay the germ for Madison's theory of the extended republic. It is interesting to see how he took these scattered and incomplete fragments and built them into an intellectual and theoretical structure of his own. Madison's first full statement of this hypothesis appeared in his "Notes on the Confederacy" written in April 1787, eight months before the final version of it was published as the tenth Federalist. Starting with the proposition that "in republican Government, the majority, however, composed, ultimately give the law," Madison then asks what is to restrain an interested majority from unjust violations of the minority's rights? Three motives might be claimed to meliorate the selfishness of the majority: first, "prudent regard for their own good, as involved in the general . . . good" second, "respect for character" and finally, religious scruples. After examining each in its turn Madison concludes that they are but a frail bulwark against a ruthless party.
When one examines these two papers in which Hume and Madison summed up the eighteenth century's most profound thought on political parties, it becomes increasingly clear that the young American used the earlier work in preparing a survey on factions through the ages to introduce his own discussion of faction in America. Hume's work was admirably adapted to this purpose. It was philosophical and scientific in the best tradition of the Enlightenment. The facile domination of faction had been a commonplace in English politics for a hundred years, as Whig and Tory vociferously sought to fasten the label on each other. But the Scot, very little interested as a partisan and very much so as a social scientist, treated the subject therefore in psychological, intellectual, and socioeconomic terms. Throughout all history, he discovered, mankind has been divided into factions based either on personal loyalty to some leader or upon some "sentiment or interest" common to the group as a unit. This latter type he called a "Real" as distinguished from the "personal" faction. Finally, he subdivided the "real factions" into parties based on "interest, upon principle," or upon affection."
Hume spent well over five pages dissecting these three types; but Madison, while determined to be inclusive, had not the space to go into such minute analysis. Besides, he was more intent now on developing the cure than on describing the malady. He therefore consolidated Hume's two-page treatment of "personal" factions and his long discussion of parties based on "principle and affection" into a single sentence. The tenth Federalist reads" "A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex ad oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good." It is hard to conceive of a more perfect example of the concentration of idea and meaning than Madison achieved in this famous sentence.
The Federalist Papers Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Federalist Papers is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
According to Madison, there are only two ways to remove the causes of a faction: destroy liberty or give every citizen the same opinions, passions, and interests. As a result, he notes that destroying liberty is a "cure worse then the disease...
Can the judicial branch overturn an executive act?
Yes, it is the duty of the judges to declare void legislative acts contrary to the Constitution.
According to Hamilton, the judicial branch of government is by far the weakest branch. The judicial branch posses only the power to judge, not to act, and even its judgments or decisions depend upon the executive branch to carry them out....
Study Guide for The Federalist Papers
The Federalist Papers study guide contains a biography of Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
- About The Federalist Papers
- The Federalist Papers Summary
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Essays for The Federalist Papers
The Federalist Papers essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison.
- A Close Reading of James Madison's The Federalist No. 51 and its Relevancy Within the Sphere of Modern Political Thought
- Lock, Hobbes, and the Federalist Papers
- Comparison of Federalist Paper 78 and Brutus XI
- The Paradox of the Republic: A Close Reading of Federalist 10
- Manipulation of Individual Citizen Motivations in the Federalist Papers
Lesson Plan for The Federalist Papers
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E-Text of The Federalist Papers
The Federalist Papers e-text contains the full text of The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison.
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Lesson Plan: Federalist 10
James Madison and Factions
George Will discussed James Madison's view of factions and their importance in a democracy.
As a part of the Federalist Papers, James Madison wrote Federalist No. 10 in 1787. In this essay, Madison defended the republican form of government created by the Constitution. He discussed the concepts of majority rule and minority rights and the factions in preventing tyranny. Clips from Journalist George Will and Senators James Lankford and Ted Cruz are included.
What do you think the word "faction" means?
What does "majority" mean?
- How does our system of government prevent tyranny?
Explain or review the general background of the Constitutional Convention and the Federalist Papers.
Show each of the videos below and have the students answer the questions on the following handout:
Handout: Federalist 10 (Google Doc)
Video Clip 1: James Madison and Factions (2:43)
Video Clip 2: Senator James Lankford and Federalist No. 10 (1:01)
- Video Clip 3: Ted Cruz and Separation of Powers (2:07)
After showing the videos, have the students write a prediction of what they think Federalist No. 10 will include.
Have the students read Federalist No. 10 (Bill of Rights Institute web page).
After reading, have the students discuss the impact that Federalist No. 10 had on the current system of government.
Alternative assignment- Break up each of the sections of Federalist No. 10 and assign each section to different students. Have the students create a summary of the section and share it with the class.
ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION QUESTIONS/WRITING PROMPTS:
Explain how Madison addresses the principle of majority rule with minority rights in Federalist No. 10?
Using examples, how does Federalist No. 10 differentiate between a democracy and a republic?
- To what extent do you agree with the following assertion from Federalist No. 10?"The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States."
Federalist No. 10 Captions - Find images relating to current events and create captions for these images using quotes from Federalist 10.
Federalist 51 Comparison - Read both Federalist No. 10 and Federalist No. 51. Compare both documents. How are they similar in structure and message? How are they different?
- Federalist Papers No. 10 - Bill of Rights Institute
- Handout: Federalist No. 10 - Google Docs
- Lesson Plan: Federalist 51
- Lesson Plan: The Federalist Papers
- Lesson Plan: The Constitutional Convention
- Branches Of Government
- Federalist No. 10
- Federalist Papers
- James Madison
- Majority Rule With Minority Rights
- Representative Democracy
- Separation Of Powers
More on The Federalist Papers 10 and 51
Introduction see all, the text see all, main idea see all, historical context see all, timeline see all, key figures see all.
- James Madison
- Alexander Hamilton
- George Washington
- Patrick Henry
Themes See All
Quotes see all, compare and contrast see all, analysis see all.
- For Teachers
How to Create a Goldilocks Republic
Both Federalist Papers 10 and 51 deal with how to make a government that's strong, but not too strong—basically, like the perfect Buffalo wing.
Federalist Paper 10 starts by pointing out that majority rule is kind of inherently chaotic. As nice as it sounds, using a simple majority to make difficult political decisions can lead to disaster when the people voting might not necessarily know the issues completely. Or, sometimes, not at all.
This can crash democracies straight into the wall—and it has in the past. By having a representative democracy, not only can ideas be looked over by qualified office holders, but the chance that one majority group will get a stranglehold on politics is also kicked down.
Along those lines, Federalist 51 states that the US Government will be composed of three branches, as each branch will keep the other from having too much power. Not only will the branches be entirely self-sufficient, but each will have some kind of power over the other. Since people aren't perfect, governments need to put all that explosive dictatorial power on the top shelf…where the people running the government can't reach.
Questions About Main Idea
- Why would the legislative branch naturally be strongest branch of the government—what necessarily makes it stronger than either the executive or legislative branch?
- Why does Madison think a Supreme Court Justice shouldn't be elected by popular vote?
- Do you agree with him, or do you think they should be elected another way?
- Why doesn't Madison think a true democracy can be trusted?
- What does that imply about what he thought about popular movements in the United States?
Chew on This
In writing the Federalist Papers, James Madison was not only trying to win over the state legislatures in general, but specifically to address the concerns of the incredibly vocal Anti-Federalists who distrusted Federal power just as much as we distrust products from infomercials.
James Madison's intense distrust of the power of political factions as mentioned in Federalist Paper 10 might have a lot to do with Daniel Shay's rebellion , where impoverished farmers clashed against wealthy Boston merchants in the largest-scale rebellion in the United States since the Revolutionary War. When he wrote about faction conflict, it was likely that the readers of this Federalist Paper had that particular throwdown in the back of their minds.
The Constitution's on its way, and people need to be on board with the drafters' ideas of what the Government should look like.
Hamilton, Jay, and Madison are tasked with publishing essays in the newspaper to get people on board with the new Federal Government. They need to get nine out of the thirteen states to support the Constitution, so a lot is riding on them being convincing as humanly possible.
While each Federalist paper was published anonymously, Federalist papers 10 and 51 were most likely written by James Madison, because they mostly deal with things about the government that he introduced. (Not so sly, JM.)
Federalist Paper 10 is all about warning the power of factions and competing interests over the United States Government.
Since everyone has their own self-interests, and people's self-interests clash with others', governments have to be able to pass laws for the common good instead of any one specific group.
To do that, the United States needs a Democratic Republic instead of a true Democracy, to cut down the power of the majority and filter it through (hopefully) qualified statesmen. This system is also made better by having a larger republic, which the United States hoped to be shortly.
Federalist Paper 51 proposes a government broken into three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.
Each branch should be self-sufficient, but each should have some kind of power over the other in order for them to keep each other from taking over the government. The Legislative branch needs to be split further into the House of Representatives and the Senate because it's the most powerful branch, and members of the Judicial branch need to be chosen by the President with the Senate's approval because they want qualified candidates for a position that lasts for life.
This style of government also helps keep down the power of factions, a recurring theme from Federalist 10.
A three-branch Democratic Republic will be able to preserve American liberties, while also stopping the Anti-Federalists from throwing rocks at our windows.
- Imagine you hated the idea of a strong central government. How would you reconfigure the Government to keep the Fed's power comparable to its power under the Articles of Confederation?
- It seems like James Madison and the rest of the Federalist camp really distrusts ideas or opinions held by the majority of citizens. How does that match up with their distrust of authority?
- How would you consider Madison's warnings against faction-formation in light of the fact that he became one of the first significant political party members in America's emerging two-party system?
- Was it Madison's distrust of the majority's power over the minority that shifted him from the Federalist party to the Democratic-Republican party, when Hamilton's financial plan (which he personally did not support) became the law of the land?
- How were these papers structured, in order to be persuasive to people who might disagree with the Federalists generally?
- If each state continued to work as sovereign nations, what state do you think would try and conquer the others first?
- How might the Federalist Papers have been different if Alexander Hamilton hadn't been able to convince James Madison to write Federalist essays? Who do you think would have been a good replacement for him?
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Federalist Paper Number 10: Summary and Analysis
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1.3 Federalist No. 10 & Brutus 1 Summary
5 min read • february 7, 2023
Federalist No. 10 Summary
Federalist No. 10 is an essay written by James Madison and published in 1787 as part of The Federalist Papers . It addresses the problem of faction , which Madison defines as a group of citizens who have a common interest contrary to the rights of other citizens or the good of the whole community. The essay argues that a large and diverse republic is the best form of government to guard against the danger of factions, as it makes it more difficult for any one faction to gain control. Madison also outlines the necessity of a strong central government to control the destructive effects of factions. In conclusion, Federalist No. 10 asserts that a federal system , which divides power between a central government and constituent states, is the best solution to the problem of factions and will ensure the preservation of liberty and the protection of the rights of citizens .
Here is an example of an application of Federalist No. 10 in a contemporary context:
Today in the United States, factions are still cause for concern. Our country has such a diverse population with varying interests, and many groups seeking to advance their interests at the expense of others. For instance, the debate over gun control is a classic example of a faction problem, with the interests of gun owners and gun control advocates often being in conflict.
Federalist No. 10 provides insight into how to manage this problem. The essay's argument is that a large and diverse republic is the best form of government to guard against the danger of factions is still relevant today. The federal system of the United States has proven to be an effective way of balancing the interests of different groups and ensuring that no one group gains too much power.
In this example, the principles outlined in Federalist No. 10 can be applied to the current debate over gun control . The federal system provides a mechanism for balancing the interests of different groups and ensuring that the rights of all citizens are protected. By understanding and applying the principles of Federalist No. 10, policymakers can work to compose solutions that protect individual rights and promote the common good.
Brutus No. 1 Summary
Brutus No. 1 is an essay written by an anonymous author, believed to be Robert Yates , and published in 1787 as a response to The Federalist Papers . It argues against the ratification of the proposed U.S. Constitution , claiming that it would lead to the concentration of power in the hands of a few and the erosion of individual liberty . The essay asserts that the Constitution fails to provide sufficient checks and balances to prevent the abuse of power by the national government and that it gives too much power to the central government at the expense of the states. The author also argues that the Constitution lacks a bill of rights to protect individual liberties, such as freedom of speech , religion , and the press . In conclusion, Brutus No. 1 argues that the Constitution represents a threat to the rights and freedoms of citizens and should not be ratified.
Here is an example of an application of Brutus No. 1 in the present day context:
In the United States today, there is ongoing debate about the role of the government in protecting individual rights and promoting the common good. For example, the debate over privacy rights versus national security is a classic example of this conflict. On one hand, privacy advocates argue that the government should not have access to individuals' personal information without a warrant. On the other hand, proponents of national security argue that the government needs access to this information in order to prevent terrorism and protect the country.
Brutus No. 1 provides insight into how to manage this problem. The essay's argument that the Constitution fails to provide sufficient checks and balances to prevent the abuse of power by the national government is still relevant today. In the debate over privacy rights versus national security , the author of Brutus No. 1 might argue that the government's access to individuals' personal information should be limited in order to protect individual rights and prevent the abuse of power.
In this example, the principles outlined in Brutus No. 1 can be applied to the current debate over privacy rights versus national security . By understanding and applying the principles of Brutus No. 1 , policymakers can work to find a solution that protects individual rights and promotes the common good, while also ensuring that the country remains safe.
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🎥 Watch: AP GOPO - Federalist 10 and 51, and Brutus 1
Here are some key questions about Federalist No. 10 and Brutus No. 1 :
Federalist No. 10:
- What is the main argument of Federalist No. 10?
- How does James Madison define the problem of faction ?
- What does Madison argue is the best form of government to guard against the danger of factions?
- Why does Madison believe a federal system is the best solution to the problem of factions?
Brutus No. 1 :
- What is the main argument of Brutus No. 1 ?
- Why does the author believe that the U.S. Constitution should not be ratified?
- What are the main criticisms of the Constitution made by the author in Brutus No. 1 ?
- What is the author's position on the concentration of power and individual liberty in the proposed Constitution?
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The federalist number 10, [22 november] 1787, the federalist number 10.
[22 November 1787]
Among the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. 1 The friend of popular governments, never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice. He will not fail therefore to set a due value on any plan which, without violating the principles to which he is attached, provides a proper cure for it. The instability, injustice and confusion introduced into the public councils, have in truth been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have every where perished; as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations. The valuable improvements made by the American constitutions on the popular models, both antient and modern, cannot certainly be too much admired; but it would be an unwarrantable partiality, to contend that they have as effectually obviated the danger on this side as was wished and expected. Complaints are every where heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty; that our governments are too unstable; that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties; and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice, and the rights of the minor party; but by the superior force of an interested and over-bearing majority. However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no foundation, the evidence of known facts will not permit us to deny that they are in some degree true. It will be found indeed, on a candid review of our situation, that some of the distresses under which we labour, have been erroneously charged on the operation of our governments; but it will be found at the same time, that other causes will not alone account for many of our heaviest misfortunes; and particularly, for that prevailing and increasing distrust of public engagements, and alarm for private rights, which are echoed from one end of the continent to the other. These must be chiefly, if not wholly, effects of the unsteadiness and injustice, with which a factious spirit has tainted our public administration.
By a faction I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: The one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.
There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: The one by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.
It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it is worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction, what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.
The second expedient is as impracticable, as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to an uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results: And from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.
The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them every where brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have in turn divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other, than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions, and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions, has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold, and those who are without property, have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a monied interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of government.
No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause; because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men, are unfit to be both judges and parties, at the same time; yet, what are many of the most important acts of legislation, but so many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concerning the rights of large bodies of citizens; and what are the different classes of legislators, but advocates and parties to the causes which they determine? Is a law proposed concerning private debts? It is a question to which the creditors are parties on one side, and the debtors on the other. Justice ought to hold the balance between them. Yet the parties are and must be themselves the judges; and the most numerous party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction must be expected to prevail. Shall domestic manufactures be encouraged, and in what degree, by restrictions on foreign manufactures? are questions which would be differently decided by the landed and the manufacturing classes; and probably by neither, with a sole regard to justice and the public good. The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property, is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality, yet there is perhaps no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party, to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they over-burden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets.
It is in vain to say, that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm: Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all, without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another, or the good of the whole.
The inference to which we are brought, is, that the causes of faction cannot be removed; and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects .
If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote: It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the constitution. When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government on the other hand enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest, both the public good and the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good, and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our enquiries are directed. Let me add that it is the great desideratum, by which alone this form of government can be rescued from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.
By what means is this object attainable? Evidently by one of two only. Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time, must be prevented; or the majority, having such co-existent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression. If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered to coincide, we well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control. They are not found to be such on the injustice and violence of individuals, and lose their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together; that is, in proportion as their efficacy becomes needful. 2
From this view of the subject, it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society, consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert results from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party, or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is, that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed, that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized, and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.
A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure, and the efficacy which it must derive from the union.
The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic, are first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.
The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice, will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good, than if pronounced by the people themselves convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests of the people. The question resulting is, whether small or extensive republics are most favourable to the election of proper guardians of the public weal; and it is clearly decided in favour of the latter by two obvious considerations.
In the first place it is to be remarked, that however small the republic may be, the representatives must be raised to a certain number, in order to guard against the cabals of a few; and that however large it may be, they must be limited to a certain number, in order to guard against the confusion of a multitude. Hence the number of representatives in the two cases not being in proportion to that of the constituents, and being proportionally greatest in the small republic, it follows, that if the proportion of fit characters be not less in the large than in the small republic, the former will present a greater option, and consequently a greater probability of a fit choice.
In the next place, as each representative will be chosen by a greater number of citizens in the large than in the small republic, it will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practise with success the vicious arts, by which elections are too often carried; and the suffrages of the people being more free, will be more likely to centre on men who possess the most attractive merit, and the most diffusive and established characters.
It must be confessed, that in this, as in most other cases, there is a mean, on both sides of which inconveniencies will be found to lie. By enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the representative too little acquainted with all their local circumstances and lesser interests; as by reducing it too much, you render him unduly attached to these, and too little fit to comprehend and pursue great and national objects. The federal constitution forms a happy combination in this respect; the great and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local and particular to the state legislatures.
The other point of difference is, the greater number of citizens and extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of republican, than of democratic government; and it is this circumstance principally which renders factious combinations less to be dreaded in the former, than in the latter. The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other. Besides other impediments, it may be remarked, that where there is a consciousness of unjust or dishonourable purposes, communication is always checked by distrust, in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary.
Hence it clearly appears, that the same advantage, which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic—is enjoyed by the union over the states composing it. Does this advantage consist in the substitution of representatives, whose enlightened views and virtuous sentiments render them superior to local prejudices, and to schemes of injustice? It will not be denied, that the representation of the union will be most likely to possess these requisite endowments. Does it consist in the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest? In an equal degree does the encreased variety of parties, comprised within the union, encrease this security. Does it, in fine, consist in the greater obstacles opposed to the concert and accomplishment of the secret wishes of an unjust and interested majority? Here, again, the extent of the union gives it the most palpable advantage.
The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular states, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other states: A religious sect, may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it, must secure the national councils against any danger from that source: A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the union, than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire state. 3
In the extent and proper structure of the union, therefore, we behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government. And according to the degree of pleasure and pride, we feel in being republicans, ought to be our zeal in cherishing the spirit, and supporting the character of federalists.
McLean description begins The Federalist, A Collection of Essays, written in favour of the New Constitution, By a Citizen of New-York. Printed by J. and A. McLean (New York, 1788). description ends , I, 52–61.
1 . Douglass Adair showed chat in preparing this essay, especially that part containing the analysis of factions and the theory of the extended republic, JM creatively adapted the ideas of David Hume (“‘That Politics May Be Reduced to a Science’: David Hume, James Madison, and the Tenth Federalist,” Huntington Library Quarterly , XX [1956–57], 343–60). The forerunner of The Federalist No. 10 may be found in JM’s Vices of the Political System ( PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (10 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IX, 348–57 ). See also JM’s first speech of 6 June and his first speech of 26 June 1787 at the Federal Convention, and his letter to Jefferson of 24 Oct. 1787 .
2 . In Vices of the Political System JM listed three motives, each of which he believed was insufficient to prevent individuals or factions from oppressing each other: (1) “a prudent regard to their own good as involved in the general and permanent good of the Community”; (2) “respect for character”; and (3) religion. As to “respect for character,” JM remarked that “in a multitude its efficacy is diminished in proportion to the number which is to share the praise or the blame” ( PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (10 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IX, 355–56 ). For this observation JM again drew upon David Hume. Adair suggests that JM deliberately omitted his list of motives from The Federalist . “There was a certain disadvantage in making derogatory remarks to a majority that must be persuaded to adopt your arguments” (“‘That Politics May Be Reduced to a Science,’” Huntington Library Quarterly , XX [1956–57], 354). JM repeated these motives in his first speech of 6 June 1787, in his letter to Jefferson of 24 Oct. 1787 , and alluded to them in The Federalist No. 51 .
3 . The negative on state laws, which JM had unsuccessfully advocated at the Federal Convention, was designed to prevent the enactment of “improper or wicked” measures by the states. The Constitution did include specific prohibitions on the state legislatures, but JM dismissed these as “short of the mark.” He also doubted that the judicial system would effectively “keep the States within their proper limits” ( JM to Jefferson, 24 Oct. 1787 ).
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