Federalist No. 10

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Understanding Federalist 10: translating the text & the big ideas

See also:

The Federalist Papers

  • a series of 85 essays published in New York newspapers and distributed nationally in 1787-1788
  • the essays explained and defended the proposed federal constitution of 1787
    • which can be generally defined as creation of a new, centralized government under "republican" principles
      • those being representation, separation of powers, and limits on the power of the majority
  • see here for audio book version of the Federalist papers:

click EXPAND for more on the Federal Papers, their purpose and authorship

  • the essays were signed "Publius"
    • Publius Valerius was one of founders of the Roman Republic who overthrew the Etruscan kings


    • Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison

click EXPAND for more on the authors

  • Alexander Hamilton
      • important federalist thinker and politician
      • was Washington's first Secretary of the Treasury
      • Hamilton applied federalist principles towards application of the central government's powers
  • John Jay
    • an important Revolutionary era patriot, diplomat and political leader
    • Jay became the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
  • James Madison
    • provided the philosophical basis for the new Constitution
    • became fourth president
    • known as the "father of the Constitution" because:
      • Madison set the agenda for the Constitutional Convention
        • he created a "blueprint" (outline) for the new constitution
      • and framed his ideas through history and philosophy
  • Federalist Papers identified authorship:
    • Alexander Hamilton (51 articles: Nos. 1, 6–9, 11–13, 15–17, 21–36, 59–61, and 65–85)
    • John Jay (5 articles: Nos. 2–5 and 64).
    • James Madison (29 articles: Nos. 10, 14, 18–20,[14] 37–58 and 62–63)


  • the Papers were published in three New York newspapers
    • Daily Journal, New-York Packet and Daily Advertiser
    • they were reprinted elsewhere and subsequently printed as a collection

click EXPAND for more on publication of the Federalist Papers

"Addressed to the People of New York"

  • New York State was a battleground for the arguments over adopting the proposed Constitution because of strong anti-federalist sentiment, including the Governor at the time, George Clinton.
  • While the Federalist (so-called at the time) was reprinted elsewhere, it's largest circulation was in New York
    • it is unclear the extent to which it influenced other states, such as Pennsylvania which ratified the Constitution amidst the publication of the Federalist Papers.
    • Regardless of their direct impact upon the ratification of the Constitution, the Federalist Papers magnificently laid out the logic, reasons, and purposes of the proposed Constitution and have ever since been used by historians, the Courts, and the federal and state governments for guidance and clarification of the meaning of the Constitution.

Purpose of the Federalist Papers

  • to explain and defend the proposed Constitution
  • and to counter arguments made against it by the anti-federalists
  • to influence the states to adopt the new constitution

Ideas behind the Papers

  • to identify the need for a strong central government
  • to identify the protections for the states and the people from that central government
    • principally through separation of powers, checks & balances, and accountability to the people

Legacy of the Papers:

    • stand as evidence of the ideas and intentions behind the design of the Constitution
    • have been used in Courts in order to help define the legal meanings of the Constitution
    • remind Americans of the philosophy of government behind the Constitution

Federalist No. 10 background[edit | edit source]

  • Federalists 6-10 , in general, review the relationship between the states and with the proposed government
    • especially the problem of "dissensions" (disagreement) between them
  • In Federalist 10, Madison discusses the problem in a democracy of faction and how an extensive government with limited government can avoid it
    • Federalist no. 6: Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States (by Hamilton)
    • Federalist no. 7: The Same Subject Continued: Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States (by Hamilton)
    • Federalist no. 8: The Consequences of Hostilities Between the States (by Hamilton)
    • Federalist no 9: The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection (by Hamilton)
    • Federalist no. 10: The Same Subject Continued: The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection (by Madison)

Federalist No. 10 Summary[edit | edit source]

  • Madison discusses the inherent problem in self-government of "faction"
  • he defines "faction" as any group that is opposed to another
    • factions consist of people joining together for common purpose and common self-interest
  • he identifies the problem with faction in that, if one faction seizes control of the government, it can use its powers to abuse the other factions or people
  • Madison identifies the only means to avoid faction as removing liberty
    • in other words, since faction is the result of groups using their liberties to seize power, the only way to stop it is to remove their liberties
    • i.e., the cause of faction is liberty
  • however, taking away liberties in order to remove faction is unacceptable
  • therefore, Madison proposes, instead of removing the causes of faction, to mitigate (reduce or control) its effects
  • Madison discussed the "republican principle" as:
    • popular government through representative democracy
    • separate branches
    • checks & balances
  • he points out that an "extensive" republic with divided and limited government will make it difficult for any one faction to seize complete control of it
    • he contrasts that with the history of small republics and states that succumbing to faction and end up abusing the rights of citizens
  • Madison's argument can also be seen as defense of limited government in a pluralistic, diverse society that is capable of self-rule and civil settlement of disputes
  • key quotations:
    • liberty is "essential to political life"
    • "liberty is to faction what air is to fire"
    • the solution to the problem of faction is "worse than the disease"
    • "the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed... [so the ] relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS."


The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection

New York Packet, Friday, November 23, 1787

To the People of the State of New York:

Authorship[edit | edit source]

  • Federalist no. 51 is attributed to James Madison

Title[edit | edit source]

  • "the Union"
    • the new nation to be created under the proposed Constitution
    • the Constitution's preamble states, "to form a more perfect union"
  • "Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection"
    • = that a purpose ("Utility") of the proposed Constitution will protect against ("safeguard")
      • "Domestic" (among the states and the people) "Faction", parties, interests, and other groups aligned against one another
      • "Insurrection" = rebellion against a government
  • Note on publication:
    • Federalist no. 10 first appeared in the Daily Advertiser in New York,
    • Federalist no.'s 10 & 36, also by Madison, were the only essays to appear first in the Daily Advertiser
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. 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 everywhere 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 ancient 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 everywhere 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 overbearing 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 labor 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 administrations.

Tendency of self-governments towards violence and faction[edit | edit source]

  • Madison argues that a crucial advantage of a "well-constructed Union" will be to "break and control the violence of faction"
    • "faction" = groups opposed to others
    • "the friend of popular governments" = students of history will note their tendency to succumb to faction
      • the "mortal diseases" of faction = instability, injustice, confusion in public discussion/decisions ("councils")
    • therefore, no plan for self-government that addresses the problem of faction can succeed
  • Madison contends that such problems then afflicted the states ("Complaints")
    • he considers past examples of self-governance, "both ancient and modern" as not different from the current situation of America under the Articles of Confederation
  • Madison asks that his readers consider how these conditions are current and are reflected in "our heaviest misfortunes," "increasing distrust of public engagements" and "alarm for private rights"
By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

Faction defined[edit | edit source]

  • Madison defines faction as a group of like-minded people who act in concert (together)
    • their motives, he identifies as self-interest, impulse or passion
    • regardless of motive, the impact of faction is abuse of the rights of other citizens
There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

Mitigating effects of faction[edit | edit source]

  • mitigating = reducing the impact of
  • Madison isolates to mitigations for the dangers of faction as:
    • 1. removing its causes
    • 2. 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.

Removing faction[edit | edit source]

  • faction can be removed by::
    • 1. taking away liberty, i.e., no freedom of thought or choice in action
    • 2 forcing all citizens to share the same opinions and passions
      • thus all citizens would agree
      • = no faction but no liberty
It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was 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 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.

"Liberty is to faction what air is to fire"[edit | edit source]

  • however, those cures to destroying faction are "worse than the disease"
  • liberty inflames faction, as "liberty is to faction what air is to fire"
  • liberty is "essential to political life"
    • just as air is "essential to animal life"
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 a 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.

Reason, passion & "diverse faculties of men"[edit | edit source]

  • so long as "reason" (ideas, thinking) is "fallible" (prone to error)
  • and so long as people are free to use their reason,
    • then "different opinions will be formed"
  • Madison then argues that "opinions" and "passions" (which comes from "self-love," by which he means pride and concern for oneself), then
    • opinions and passions will fuel one another ("reciprocal influence on each other")
  • people have different "faculties" (abilities), which is the source of property rights (i.e., people gain property through their facutlies)
    • thus the "first object" (primary purpose) of government is to protect property
  • thereby society will be divided into "different interests and parties"
    • i.e., society is not homogenous (all the same) and people have diverse abilities, ideas, and goals and will therefore find diverse outcomes and points of view, thus society will divide into "different interests and parties" (sub-groups of like-minded people)
The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere 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 moneyed 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 the government.

Faction is in the nature of man & its regulation is a role of government[edit | edit source]

  • mankind is divided into
    • different opinions, religions, politics, and points of view exist
    • people will also follow different leaders
    • which divides society into parties
    • which creates "mutual animosities" (disagreement, hatred)
    • which leads to less cooperation between those groups
    • = "So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities" that even little differences ("frivolous and fanciful distinctions")
  • "unequal distribution of property" = "most common and durable source of factions"
    • property ownership or lack of ownership leads to "distinct interests"
    • similarly, creditors and debtors have distinct interests
    • different economic bases lead to distinct interests
  • Madison observes that societies divide into "different classes" with opposing interests and points of view
    • and that governments must necessarily engage in "the regulation of these various and interfering interests"
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 overburden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets.

Power of the dominant faction in legislatures[edit | edit source]

  • individuals are biased by their interests
    • which is why "No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause"
  • yet groups of people are also biased by their own interests
  • Madison observes that legislatures are inherently made up of people of distinct interests, and
    • their "different classes" advocate for themselves
  • in legislatures, "the most numerous party," which is thereby the "most powerful faction" usually wins ("prevails")
    • thereby policy issues, such as economic policy, taxation, etc. will be shaped by that most powerful faction
    • and thereby punish their enemies and reward themselves
  • Madison here suggests that legislatures are subject to faction and empower the majority faction
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.

Faction v. the public good[edit | edit source]

  • an "enlightened statesman" will seek the public good
    • but those in control of government may not always be "enlightened"
  • thereby it is to be expected that the faction in power will not necessarily respect the rights of the others 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.

Faction cannot be stopped but its effects may be controlled[edit | edit source]

  • Madison capitalizes "CAUSES" and 'EFFECTS" to emphasize that, following his argument above:
    • "the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed"
    • the only "relief" or remedy, therefore is in "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 inquiries are directed. Let me add that it is the great desideratum by which 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.

Republicanism & faction[edit | edit source]

  • Madison here outlines the purpose of the "republican" form of government in the proposed Constitution
    • for "relief" to the effects of faction is provided by the "republican principle""
      • the "republican principle" = popular government (elected by the people) with competing powers within that government, i.e.:
        • separate branches
        • checks & balances
    • to protect a minority from abuse by the majority
      • his logic here is that a "when a majority faction" is elected, it is more likely to
        • succumb to its "ruling passion" (i.e. serve it's own interests)
        • and thereby "sacrifice... both the public good and the rights of other citizens"
  • Madison calls the protection of the minority from the "ruling passion" of a majority the "great object" of his "inquiry"
  • vocabulary:
    • "desideratum" = something needed
    • "opprobrium" = harsh criticism or censure
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 coexistent 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.

Two methods to control faction[edit | edit source]

  • faction may be controlled by either
    • 1. the majority must not have the "same passion or interest"
      • i.e., the ruling majority is not made up of a single faction
    • 2. a majority that is a uniform faction must be prevented from acting on it
      • i.e., "unable to concert [join together] and carry into effect schemes of oppression"
      • because of a lack of "numbers" and "local situation" (i.e., location or due to some cause that keeps them from acting "in concert")
  • Madison notes that if "the impulse and the opportunity ... [do] coincide"
  • then we cannot expect that morality or religion ("motives") to control faction
    • worse, morality and religion "lose their efficacy" (their ability to stop or moderate abusive behavior) when a faction increases in their numbers who are acting "in concert"
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 result 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.

"Pure democracy" susceptible to faction[edit | edit source]

  • Madison defines a "pure democracy" as a small, homogenous (alike) society that runs its own government
  • even a small, homogenous society will be subjected to "the mischiefs of faction"
  • even a small society will have a majority that will have "inducements" (incentives or passions) to benefit itself and "sacrifice the weaker party"
    • or will be susceptible to "an obnoxious individual"
  • history shows that small democracies have succumbed to faction and have been "spectacles of turbulence and contention"
    • and are thus "incompatible with personal security or the rights of property"
  • "Theoretic politicians" who argue for this type of society "have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time..." all agree with one another and not divide into faction
    • by "theoretic politicians", Madison means utopian writers or philosophers
    • Madison recognizes that perfect political equality is impossible and that even if it were to exist it would succumb to faction
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.

Republic defined[edit | edit source]

  • Madison defines a "republic" as a government run through a "scheme of representation"
    • i.e., citizens vote for representatives to run the government
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.

Democracy v. republic: delegation & size[edit | edit source]

  • "points of difference" between them are:
  1. how government is delegated (chosen)
    1. in a republic = citizens select representatives ("to a small number of citizens elected by the rest")
  2. the size of the country
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 more favorable to the election of proper guardians of the public weal; and it is clearly decided in favor of the latter by two obvious considerations:

Democracy v. republic analysis[edit | edit source]

  • regarding delegation in a republic:
    • the will of the people ("the public views") will be filtered ("refined") through representatives
      • Madison supposes that those representatives will exercise "patriotism" and "love of justice"
        • and will be "least likely" to abuse them due to momentary ("temporary") of self-interested (partial") motives ("considerations")
    • Madison asserts that the representatives will "pronounce" the "public voice" (will of the people") more consistent with the that will than the people themselves
      • i.e., the will of the people if expressed directly via a democracy will be less consistent with the people's own "public good" than if expressed through elected representatives
    • however, Madison notes that even the republican form (representative) of government can be abused by intrigue and ambition
      • "Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages [votes of the people] and then betray the interests, of the people."
  • here Madison makes his core argument, that a larger ("extensive") republic will more likely elect leaders who will be "proper guardians of the public weal"
    • (i.e., leaders who will not abuse the rights of citizens and who will look out for the good of all the people)
    • he will then outline two reasons
  • NOTE: here Madison is countering the commonly understood idea that only a small, homogenous republic will not succumb to tyranny, and this argument is at the heart of Federalist no. 10
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 two constituents, and being proportionally greater 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.

Extensive republics: reason no. 1[edit | edit source]

  • even small republics must elect enough representatives in order to guard against a small group ("cabals of a few") of leaders who will conspire together
  • but, there must still be a limit on the number of representative so that it doesn't become like a pure democracy ("to guard against the confusion of a multitude")
  • since the number of representatives would be in an equal proportion in either a small or large republic, the large republic would yield a greater number of "fit characters" (people of high moral character) from which the people may choose.
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 practice 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 in men who possess the most attractive merit and the most diffusive and established characters.

Extensive republics: reason no. 2[edit | edit source]

  • with a larger base of representatives to choose from and with a larger voter population:
    • corrupt candidates will have less opportunity to corrupt elections
      • "it will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with success the vicious acts by which elections are too often carried"
    • with more voters freed of corrupt elections, the voters will be more likely to elect representatives of high character ("men who possess the most attractive merit and the most diffusive and established characters")
  • Madison here argues that a larger republic with more competition will be less easily exploited by corrupt or self-interested politicians
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.

"The mean" -- how to balance representation[edit | edit source]

  • Madison considers that
    • too many representatives ("electors") will alienate them from their constituents
    • too few representatives will attach them too closely to them and thus remove them from "national" (general) interests
  • Madison claims that the proposed Constitution will form a "happy combination" of national and local "interests" that will together yield a greater common interest
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 dishonorable purposes, communication is always checked by distrust in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary.

The large republic[edit | edit source]

  • the larger the republic, the more factions
  • the smaller the republic, the fewer factions
    • thus factions in the smaller republic will be more powerful
  • larger republics "Extend the sphere" and thus create multiple and competing interests and make it more difficult for them to act in "concert"
  • NOTE: here is the core argument in Federalist no. 10 that a large republic under the republican principle will prevent any single interest or faction from dominating
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 the advantage consist in the substitution of representatives whose enlightened views and virtuous sentiments render them superior to local prejudices and 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 increased variety of parties comprised within the Union, increase 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 extent of the Union gives it the most palpable advantage"[edit | edit source]

  • Madison argues that the advantages of a republic over a democracy are similar to those of a large over a small republic, those advantages being:
    • republics yield enlightened representatives who better attend the common good than the pure will of the people
    • large republics yield a larger pool of talent to draw from than small republics
    • democracies are subject to a majority faction
    • large republics have more and detached interests across their larger population and size (that will compete with each other)
  • Madison accepts the dangers of faction but states that the larger republic will offer "greater security" of the people's liberties (i.e., abuse by a dominant faction):
    • the larger Republic will produce "greater obstacles" to "concert" (joining and acting as one) of an "unjust and interested majority"
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.

Effects of faction will be isolated in a large republic[edit | edit source]

  • faction may and will control local areas and states
    • but due to the competing interests across the larger republic, those local factions will be isolated and have less influence over the rest of the country
  • Madison gives examples of the kinds of factions that may arise
    • religious sects
    • economic interests ("rage for paper money", "abolition of debts" and "equal division of property")
  • these factions/ interests will be isolated to their localities and unable to "taint" (influence) other areas
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

The extent and structure of the Union[edit | edit source]

  • Madison concludes that the "republican remedy" for the problems that other republics suffered across history will be avoided in "the extent and proper structure of the Union"


All the Federalist papers were signed "Publius," a reference to a founder of the Roman republic