The 10th Federalist

In James Madison’s, The 10th Federalist, Madison believes that in a nation a larger republic is safer and more efficient than that of a smaller republic. James Madison answers the question of how to eliminate the negative effects of faction. He defines a faction as, “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are untied 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. Madison believes the most serious source of faction is the diversity of opinion in political life, which leads to dispute over fundamental issues such as what system of government or religion should be preferred. Madison states that, “A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischief’s of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security of the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent. He saw that direct democracy can and will be a danger to individual rights so he advocated a representative democracy (also known as a republic) in order to protect what he viewed as individual liberty from majority rule. He believes there are two ways to limit the damage caused by factions, one, remove the causes of faction and, two, control its effects. There are also two ways to remove the causes of faction: eliminate liberty, which he rejects as unacceptable, or create a society homogeneous in opinions and interests, which he believes is impracticable.

Madison concludes that damage caused by faction cam be limited only by controlling its effects, but then he argues saying that the only problem comes form majority factions because the principle of popular sovereignty should prevent minority factions from gaining power. He offers two ways to check majority factions: prevent the “existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time,” or render a majority faction unable to act.

Now Madison concludes that a small democracy cannot avoid the dangers of majority faction because small size means that undesirable passions can easily spread to the majority of the people, which can then enact its will through the democratic government without difficulty. A large republic will elect better delegates and candidates than a smaller one for two reasons, according to Madison: the idea is that in a large republic there will be more fit candidates to choose from for each delegate, and each representative is chosen for a larger amount of voters should make the “vicious acts” of campaign of a candidate less effective.

For example in a large republic a corrupt delegate would need to bribe many more people in order to win an election than in a small republic where it would be easier for a delegate to bribe citizens in order to win. Larger societies will have a greater variety of diverse parties and interest groups and the competition between them will make it less likely for a majority faction to form because of an undesirable passion (interest) takes control of a single state it would probably not be able to do any harm to the entire country because it would first need to spread to many more states before it had any effect whatsoever.

Madison emphasizes that the greater size of the Union will allow for more effective government than individual states could provide individually. Madison declares that if constituencies are too large, the representatives will be, “too little acquainted with all their local circumstances and lesser interests. ” But no matter how large the constituencies of federal representatives, the state and local officials with naturally smaller constituencies will always look after local matters. Madison concludes that in a republic as large as the United States, corrupt factions would not be able to effectively collaborate and exercise power.

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