A Defense of the Constitution.
Federalist #10 was part of the Federalist Papers, a collection of papers written in support of the Constitution. One of the most important of these papers is Federalist #10, written by James Madison, on the dangers of factions in a democratic form of government. Read the following excerpt and respond to the questions that follow.
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 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 . . . 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 . . . 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.Federalist #10, James Madison
Federalist #10 can be read in its entirety at the The Avalon Project at Yale University.
Analyze and Interpret
1. According to Madison, what is a faction? In what ways do we see factions in our politics today?
2. Can we remove factions from our politics, according to Madison? Why or why not?
3. What is the best way to safeguard against the dangers of factions according to the second paragraph? Why?
Photo/Image: James Madison by Gilbert Stuart, National Gallery of Art