Madison's Federalist 10: A Milestone Achievement In American Political Theory

Submitted By amy3597
Words: 1439
Pages: 6

POLS 320
Writing Assignment
Essay 2

Madison’s Federalist 10 is considered a milestone achievement in American political theory because it discusses the control the government should have over its country’s citizens. Madison also explains that the government itself should be regulated because if it isn’t, the government may fall victim to its own power and become too restrictive. Madison stated that the government should be made up of a group of individuals who were appointed to represent their varying factions. And he also argued that a strong, big republic would be a better guard against those dangers than smaller republics—for instance, the individual states.

Madison first introduced the concept of a big republic in a memorandum form called “The Vices of the Political System of the United States.” This shift in reasoning regarding the ends of federalism from an emphasis on the good life to an emphasis in republicanism was a decisive step in the development of what is now called American Federalism and is the cornerstone of American political theory today.

Montesquieu; a French social commentator and political thinker, known for his teachings on the small republics federalist would have to be convinced that the republican form of government could somehow be made secure in a large country. Montesquieu’s reason why republics had to be small and united federally not nationally had two strands- a positive and a negative argument. On the positive side, republics had to be small because only in a small country could patriotic virtue, the “spring” or “principle” of republicanism, be engendered in the citizenry. The negative argument was based on the conviction that “a large empire suppose despotic authority in the person who governs,” that is a degree of authority incompatible with the preservation of republican liberty.

With the Writings of the Federalist Papers, James Madison championed a centralized government of distinct departments and checks and balances as a way to combat the violence of faction turning the classical, small-state republicanism of Montesquieu on its head.

In Federalist No. 10, Madison said that the risk of factional control of the government is less likely at the federal level than at the state level because the federal government is larger. He wrote:

“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 dishonorable purposes, communication is always checked by distrust in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary.”

In Federalist No.10 it states “It must be confessed that in this, as in most other cases, there is a mean, on both sides of which inconveniences will be found to lie. By enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the representatives 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”.

James Madison provides some solutions to controlling “mischief of faction” in his Federalist Papers. Two solutions that Madison presented were either to take away the freedoms of all people or to allow everyone the same equal rights and freedoms. Madison obviously favored the latter solution.

In Federalist No. 10, there are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by