Primary Source Assignment # 2
In Response to: The Federalist No. 39
Did James Madison believe that the Constitution created a republican government (a government run by the people rather than privately by leaders)? In my opinion, given the historical context of The Federalist No. 39, James Madison did believe that the Constitution created a republican government, a government run by the people, for the people.
My affirmative interpretation of James Madison’s position is supported in evidence by Madison’s own definitive statements regarding what he believed a truly republican government was. Believing that if a government was to be run for the people, by the people, it must include all people, not just those who come from money or those who owned property; Madison stated that “it is essential to such a government that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it.” The constitution, in support of Madison and his republican ideologies, declares “absolute prohibition of titles of nobility, both under the federal and the State governments; and in its express guaranty of the republican form to each of the latter.”
The argument that Madison believed that the Constitution created a republican form of government in America is further supported by Madison’s declaration that to be effective the Constitution, in truth, could be neither wholly federal nor wholly national; It must, rather, encompass and consider both, which in fact it does. The complexity of the time, accompanied by the often differing opinions and values expressed by the different states was not lost on Madison, who stated that “assent and ratification is to be given by the people, not as individuals composing one entire nation, but as composing the distinct and independent States to which they respectively belong.” These statements, when looked at in their historical contexts, lend credence to Madison’s acknowledgement and understanding of America’s diversity from state to state and his belief that the Constitution created a republican form of government.
I agree with the ideologies and the intended constitutionality sought by Madison in the creation of a republican form of government. Whether or not this constitutionality exists today is debatable. Although the ‘no nobility or nobility title rule’ is still on the books, government officials, in my opinion, are not representative of “we, the people”. Representation of the people in a pure and unfettered form does not exist in an age of special interest groups and super-PACS. Perhaps it never did.
Madison’s assumption about how voters and the federal government’s organization of the American republic would protect against the tyranny of the majority, in my opinion is not credible.
Madison spoke of a checks and balances system for the government. He posited that, in forming different departments or factions (or branches) for the government, all people would somehow be…