Federalist No. 10 is an essay written by James Madison as the tenth of The Federalist Papers: a series of essays initiated by Alexander Hamilton arguing for the ratification of the United States Constitution. Published on November 29, 1787 under the pseudonym "Publius", Federalist No. 10 is among the most highly regarded of all American political writings.
No. 10 addresses the question of how to reconcile citizens with interests contrary to the rights of others or inimical to the interests of the community as a whole. Madison saw factions as inevitable due to the nature of man – that is, as long as men hold differing opinions, have differing amounts of wealth and own differing amount of property, they will continue to form alliances with people who are most similar to them and they will sometimes work against the public interest and infringe upon the rights of others. He thus questions how to guard against those dangers.
Federalist No. 10 continues a theme begun in Federalist No. 9; It is titled, "The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection". The whole series is cited by scholars and jurists[who?] as an authoritative interpretation and explication of the meaning of the Constitution. Historians such as Charles A. Beard argue that No. 10 shows an explicit rejection of the Founding Fathers for the principles of direct democracy and factionalism, and argue that Madison suggests that a representative republic is more effective against partisanship and factionalism.
Madison saw the Constitution as forming a "happy combination" of a republic and a democracy and with "the great and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local and particular to the State legislatures" the power would not be centralized, thus making it "more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried".
Prior to the Constitution, the thirteen states were bound together by the Articles of Confederation. These were in essence a military alliance between sovereign nations adopted to better fight the Revolutionary War. Congress had no power to tax, and as a result was not able to pay debts resulting from the Revolution. Madison, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and others feared a break-up of the union and national bankruptcy. Like Washington, Madison felt the revolution had not resolved the social problems that had triggered it, and the excesses ascribed to the King were now being repeated by the state legislatures. In this view, Shays' Rebellion, an armed uprising in Massachusetts in 1786, was simply one, albeit extreme, example of "democratic excess" in the aftermath of the War.
A national convention was called for May 1787, to revise the Articles of Confederation. Madison believed that the problem was not with the Articles, but rather the state legislatures, and so the solution was not to fix the articles but to restrain the excesses of the states. The principal questions before the convention became whether the states should remain sovereign, whether sovereignty should be transferred to the national government, or whether a settlement should rest somewhere in between. By mid-June it was clear that the convention was drafting a new plan of government around these issues—a constitution. Madison's nationalist position shifted the debate increasingly away from a position of pure state sovereignty, and toward the compromise. In debate on June 26, he said that government ought to "protect the minority of the opulent against the majority" and that unchecked, democratic communities were subject to "the turbulency and weakness of unruly passions".
September 17, 1787 marked the signing of the final document. By its own Article Seven, the constitution drafted by the convention needed ratification by at least nine of the thirteen states, through special conventions held in each state. Anti-Federalist writers began to publish essays and letters arguing against ratification, and Alexander Hamilton recruited James Madison and John Jay to write a series of pro-ratification letters in response.
Like most of the Federalist essays and the vast majority of The Federalist Papers, No. 10 first appeared in popular newspapers. It was first printed in the Daily Advertiser under the name adopted by the Federalist writers, "Publius"; in this it was remarkable among the essays of Publius, as almost all of them first appeared in one of two other papers: the Independent Journal and the New-York Packet. Federalist No. 37, also by Madison, was the only other essay to appear first in the Advertiser.
Considering the importance later ascribed to the essay, it was reprinted only on a limited scale. On November 23, it appeared in the Packet and the next day in the Independent Journal. Outside New York City, it made four appearances in early 1788: January 2 in the Pennsylvania Gazette, January 10 in the Hudson Valley Weekly, January 15 in the Lansingburgh Northern Centinel, and January 17 in the Albany Gazette. Though this number of reprintings was typical for The Federalist essays, many other essays, both Federalist and Anti-Federalist, saw much wider distribution.
On January 1, 1788, the publishing company J. & A. McLean announced that they would publish the first 36 of the essays in a single volume. This volume, titled The Federalist, was released on March 2, 1788. George Hopkins' 1802 edition revealed that Madison, Hamilton, and Jay were the authors of the series, with two later printings dividing the work by author. In 1818, James Gideon published a third edition containing corrections by Madison, who by that time had completed his two terms as President of the United States.
Henry B. Dawson's edition of 1863 sought to collect the original newspaper articles, though he did not always find the first instance. It was much reprinted, albeit without his introduction. Paul Leicester Ford's 1898 edition included a table of contents which summarized the essays, with the summaries again used to preface their respective essays. The first date of publication and the newspaper name were recorded for each essay. Of modern editions, Jacob E. Cooke's 1961 edition is seen as authoritative, and is most used today.
The question of faction
Federalist No. 10 continues the discussion of the question broached in Hamilton's Federalist No. 9. Hamilton there addressed the destructive role of a faction in breaking apart the republic. The question Madison answers, then, is how to eliminate the negative effects of faction. Madison defines a faction as "a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united 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". He identifies the most serious source of faction to be the diversity of opinion in political life which leads to dispute over fundamental issues such as what regime or religion should be preferred.
At the heart of Madison's fears about factions was the unequal distribution of property in society. Ultimately, "the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property," Madison argues (Dawson 1863, p. 58). Since some people owned property and others owned none, Madison felt that people would form different factions that pursued different interests. "Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society," he notes (Dawson 1863, p. 58). Providing some examples of the distinct interests, Madison identified a landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, and "many lesser interests" (Dawson 1863, p. 58). They all belonged to "different classes" that were "actuated by different sentiments and views," Madison insists (Dawson 1863, p. 58). In other words, Madison argued that the unequal distribution of property led to the creation of different classes that formed different factions and pursued different class interests.
Moreover, Madison feared the formation of a certain kind of faction. Recognizing that the country's wealthiest property owners formed a minority and that the country's unpropertied classes formed a majority, Madison feared that the unpropertied classes would come together to form a majority faction that gained control of the government. Against "the minor party," there could emerge "an interested and overbearing majority," Madison warns (Dawson 1863, p. 55-56). Specifically, Madison feared that the unpropertied classes would use their majority power to implement a variety of measures that redistributed wealth. There could be "a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project," Madison warns (Dawson 1863, p. 64). In short, Madison feared that a majority faction of the unpropertied classes might emerge to redistribute wealth and property in a way that benefited the majority of the population at the expense of the country's richest and wealthiest people.
Like the anti-Federalists who opposed him, Madison was substantially influenced by the work of Montesquieu, though Madison and Montesquieu disagreed on the question addressed in this essay. He also relied heavily on the philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment, especially David Hume, whose influence is most clear in Madison's discussion of the types of faction and in his argument for an extended republic.
Madison first assessed that there are two ways to limit the damage caused by faction: either remove the causes of faction or control its effects. He then describes the two methods to removing the causes of faction: first, destroying liberty, which would work because "liberty is to faction what air is to fire", but it is impossible to perform because liberty is essential to political life. After all, Americans fought for it during the American Revolution. The second option, creating a society homogeneous in opinions and interests, is impracticable. The diversity of the people's ability is what makes them succeed more or less, and inequality of property is a right that the government should protect. Madison particularly emphasizes that economic stratification prevents everyone from sharing the same opinion. Madison concludes that the damage caused by faction can be limited only by controlling its effects.
He then argues that the only problem comes from majority factions because the principle of popular sovereignty should prevent minority factions from gaining power. Madison 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. Madison concludes that a small democracy cannot avoid the dangers of majority faction because small size means that undesirable passions can very easily spread to a majority of the people, which can then enact its will through the democratic government without difficulty.
Madison states, "The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man", so the cure is to control their effects. He makes an argument on how this is not possible in a pure democracy but possible in a republic. With pure democracy, he means a system in which every citizen votes directly for laws, and, with republic, he intends a society in which citizens elect a small body of representatives who then vote for laws. He indicates that the voice of the people pronounced by a body of representatives is more conformable to the interest of the community, since, again, common people's decisions are affected by their self-interest.
He then makes an argument in favor of a large republic against a small republic for the choice of "fit characters" to represent the public's voice. In a large republic, where the number of voters and candidates is greater, the probability to elect competent representatives is broader. The voters have a wider option. In a small republic, it would also be easier for the candidates to fool the voters but more difficult in a large one. The last argument Madison makes in favor of a large republic is that as, in a small republic, there will be a lower variety of interests and parties, a majority will more frequently be found. The number of participants of that majority will be lower, and, since they live in a more limited territory, it would be easier for them to agree and work together for the accomplishment of their ideas. While in a large republic the variety of interests will be greater so to make it harder to find a majority. Even if there is a majority, it would be harder for them to work together because of the large number of people and the fact they are spread out in a wider territory.
A republic, Madison writes, is different from a democracy because its government is placed in the hands of delegates, and, as a result of this, it can be extended over a larger area. The idea is that, in a large republic, there will be more "fit characters" to choose from for each delegate. Also, the fact that each representative is chosen from a larger constituency should make the "vicious arts" of electioneering  (a reference to rhetoric) less effective. For instance, 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. Also, in a republic, the delegates both filter and refine the many demands of the people so as to prevent the type of frivolous claims that impede purely democratic governments.
Though Madison argued for a large and diverse republic, the writers of the Federalist Papers recognized the need for a balance. They wanted a republic diverse enough to prevent faction but with enough commonality to maintain cohesion among the states. In Federalist No. 2, John Jay counted as a blessing that America possessed "one united people—a people descended from the same ancestors, the same language, professing the same religion". Madison himself addresses a limitation of his conclusion that large constituencies will provide better representatives. He notes that if constituencies are too large, the representatives will be "too little acquainted with all their local circumstances and lesser interests". He says that this problem is partly solved by federalism. No matter how large the constituencies of federal representatives, local matters will be looked after by state and local officials with naturally smaller constituencies.
The Anti-Federalists vigorously contested the notion that a republic of diverse interests could survive. The author Cato (another pseudonym, most likely that of George Clinton) summarized the Anti-Federalist position in the article Cato no. 3:
Whoever seriously considers the immense extent of territory comprehended within the limits of the United States, with the variety of its climates, productions, and commerce, the difference of extent, and number of inhabitants in all; the dissimilitude of interest, morals, and policies, in almost every one, will receive it as an intuitive truth, that a consolidated republican form of government therein, can never form a perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to you and your posterity, for to these objects it must be directed: this unkindred legislature therefore, composed of interests opposite and dissimilar in their nature, will in its exercise, emphatically be, like a house divided against itself.
Generally, it was their position that republics about the size of the individual states could survive, but that a republic on the size of the Union would fail. A particular point in support of this was that most of the states were focused on one industry—to generalize, commerce and shipping in the northern states and plantation farming in the southern. The Anti-Federalist belief that the wide disparity in the economic interests of the various states would lead to controversy was perhaps realized in the American Civil War, which some scholars attribute to this disparity. Madison himself, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, noted that differing economic interests had created dispute, even when the Constitution was being written. At the convention, he particularly identified the distinction between the northern and southern states as a "line of discrimination" that formed "the real difference of interests".
The discussion of the ideal size for the republic was not limited to the options of individual states or encompassing union. In a letter to Richard Price, Benjamin Rush noted that "Some of our enlightened men who begin to despair of a more complete union of the States in Congress have secretly proposed an Eastern, Middle, and Southern Confederacy, to be united by an alliance offensive and defensive".
In making their arguments, the Anti-Federalists appealed to both historical and theoretic evidence. On the theoretical side, they leaned heavily on the work of Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu. The Anti-Federalists Brutus and Cato both quoted Montesquieu on the issue of the ideal size of a republic, citing his statement in The Spirit of the Laws that:
It is natural to a republic to have only a small territory, otherwise it cannot long subsist. In a large republic there are men of large fortunes, and consequently of less moderation; there are trusts too great to be placed in any single subject; he has interest of his own; he soon begins to think that he may be happy, great and glorious, by oppressing his fellow citizens; and that he may raise himself to grandeur on the ruins of his country. In a large republic, the public good is sacrificed to a thousand views; it is subordinate to exceptions, and depends on accidents. In a small one, the interest of the public is easier perceived, better understood, and more within the reach of every citizen; abuses are of less extent, and of course are less protected.
Greece and Rome were looked to as model republics throughout this debate, and authors on both sides took Roman pseudonyms. Brutus points out that the Greek and Roman states were small, whereas the U.S. is vast. He also points out that the expansion of these republics resulted in a transition from free government to tyranny.
Modern analysis and reaction
In the first century of the American republic, No. 10 was not regarded as among the more important numbers of The Federalist. For instance, in Democracy in AmericaAlexis de Tocqueville refers specifically to more than fifty of the essays, but No. 10 is not among them. Today, however, No. 10 is regarded as a seminal work of American democracy. In "The People's Vote", a popular survey conducted by the National Archives and Records Administration, National History Day, and U.S. News and World Report, No. 10 (along with Federalist No. 51, also by Madison) was chosen as the 20th most influential document in United States history. David Epstein, writing in 1984, described it as among the most highly regarded of all American political writing.
The historian Charles A. Beard identified Federalist No. 10 as one of the most important documents for understanding the Constitution. In his book An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913), Beard argued that Madison produced a detailed explanation of the economic factors that lay behind the creation of the Constitution. At the outset of his study, Beard makes his point when he writes that Madison provided "a masterly statement of the theory of economic determinism in politics" (Beard 1913, p. 15). Later in his study, Beard repeated his point, only providing more emphasis. "The most philosophical examination of the foundations of political science is made by Madison in the tenth number," Beard writes. "Here he lays down, in no uncertain language, the principle that the first and elemental concern of every government is economic" (Beard 1913, p. 156).
Douglass Adair attributes the increased interest in the tenth number to Charles A. Beard's book An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution, published in 1913. Adair also contends that Beard's selective focus on the issue of class struggle, and his political progressivism, has colored modern scholarship on the essay. According to Adair, Beard reads No. 10 as evidence for his belief in "the Constitution as an instrument of class exploitation". Adair's own view is that Federalist No. 10 should be read as "eighteenth-century political theory directed to an eighteenth-century problem; and ... one of the great creative achievements of that intellectual movement that later ages have christened 'Jeffersonian democracy'".
Garry Wills is a noted critic of Madison's argument in Federalist No. 10. In his book Explaining America, he adopts the position of Robert Dahl in arguing that Madison's framework does not necessarily enhance the protections of minorities or ensure the common good. Instead, Wills claims: "Minorities can make use of dispersed and staggered governmental machinery to clog, delay, slow down, hamper, and obstruct the majority. But these weapons for delay are given to the minority irrespective of its factious or nonfactious character; and they can be used against the majority irrespective of its factious or nonfactious character. What Madison prevents is not faction, but action. What he protects is not the common good but delay as such".
Federalist No. 10 is the classic citation for the belief that the Founding Fathers and the constitutional framers did not intend American politics to be partisan. For instance, United States Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens cites the paper for the statement, "Parties ranked high on the list of evils that the Constitution was designed to check". Discussing a California provision that forbids candidates from running as independents within one year of holding a partisan affiliation, Justice Byron White made apparent the Court's belief that Madison spoke for the framers of the Constitution: "California apparently believes with the Founding Fathers that splintered parties and unrestrained factionalism may do significant damage to the fabric of government. See The Federalist, No. 10 (Madison)".
Madison's argument that restraining liberty to limit faction is an unacceptable solution has been used by opponents of campaign finance limits. Justice Clarence Thomas, for example, invoked Federalist No. 10 in a dissent against a ruling supporting limits on campaign contributions, writing: "The Framers preferred a political system that harnessed such faction for good, preserving liberty while also ensuring good government. Rather than adopting the repressive 'cure' for faction that the majority today endorses, the Framers armed individual citizens with a remedy".
- ^ Epstein, p. 59.
- ^ Bernstein, pp. 11–12, 81–109.
- ^ Wood, Idea, p. 104.
- ^ Wood, Idea, p. 103.
- ^ Stewart, p. 182.
- ^ Yates. 
- ^ Ball, p. xvii.
- ^ For instance, the important Anti-Federalist authors "Cato" and "Brutus" debuted in New York papers on September 27 and October 18, 1787 respectively. See Furtwangler, pp. 48–49.
- ^ Dates and publication information at "The Federalist", Constitution Society. Accessed January 22, 2011.
- ^ Kaminski and Saladino, Vol XIV, p. 175.
- ^ Adair, pp. 44–46. See also "The Federalist Papers: Timeline", SparkNotes. Accessed January 22, 2011.
- ^ Ford, p. xl.
- ^ Throughout Storing, for instance, and relied upon by De Pauw, pp. 202–204. For Ball, p. xlvii, it is the "authoritative edition" and "still stands as the most complete scholarly edition".
- ^ Federalist No. 10. p. 56 of the Dawson edition at Wikisource.
- ^ Federalist No. 10. p. 58 of the Dawson edition at Wikisource.
- ^ Federalist No. 10. p. 60 of the Dawson edition at Wikisource.
- ^ Cohler, pp. 148–161.
- ^ Adair, pp. 93–106.
- ^ Federalist No. 10. p. 56 of the Dawson edition at Wikisource.
- ^ Federalist No. 10. p. 60 of the Dawson edition at Wikisource.
- ^ Federalist No. 10. p. 57 of the Dawson edition at Wikisource.
- ^ Federalist No. 10. p. 62 of the Dawson edition at Wikisource.
- ^ Federalist No. 10. p. 62 of the Dawson edition at Wikisource.
- ^ Federalist No. 2. pp. 7–8 of the Dawson edition at Wikisource.
- ^ Federalist No. 10. p. 62 of the Dawson edition at Wikisource.
- ^ See the accounts by, and conclusions of, Storing, Vol 1, pp. 102–104, Kaminski, p. 131, pp. 309–310, and Wood, Creation, p. 489. De Pauw, pp. 290–292, prefers Abraham Yates.
- ^Cato, no. 3. The Founders' Constitution. Volume 1, Chapter 4, Document 16. University of Chicago Press. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
- ^ Ransom, Roger L. "Economics of the Civil War". Economic History Association. August 24, 2001. Referenced November 20, 2005. Citing Beard; Hacker; Egnal; Ransom and Sutch; Bensel; and McPherson, Ransom notes that "regional economic specialization ... generated very strong regional divisions on economic issues ... economic changes in the Northern states were a major factor leading to the political collapse of the 1850s ... the sectional splits on these economic issues ... led to a growing crisis in economic policy".
- ^ Letter by Madison to Jefferson, October 24, 1787. "James Madison to Thomas Jefferson". The Founders' Constitution. Volume 1, Chapter 17, Document 22. University of Chicago Press. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
- ^ Cohler, p. 151.
- ^ Yates is replete with examples.
- ^ Letter by Benjamin Rush to Richard Price, October 27, 1786. "Benjamin Rush to Richard Price". The Founders' Constitution. Volume 1, Chapter 7, Document 7. University of Chicago Press. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
- ^ Montesquieu, Spirit Of Laws, ch. xvi. vol. I, book VIII, cited in Brutus, No. 1. The Founders' Constitution. Volume 1, Chapter 4, Document 14. University of Chicago Press. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
- ^Brutus, No. 1. The Founders' Constitution. Volume 1, Chapter 4, Document 14. University of Chicago Press. Retrieved January 22, 2011. "History furnishes no example of a free republic, any thing like the extent of the United States. The Grecian republics were of small extent; so also was that of the Romans. Both of these, it is true, in process of time, extended their conquests over large territories of country; and the consequence was, that their governments were changed from that of free governments to those of the most tyrannical that ever existed in the world".
- ^ Adair, p. 110.
- ^"The People's Vote", ourdocuments.gov, National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
- ^ Epstein, p. 59.
- ^ Adair, pp. 120–124. Quotation at p. 123.
- ^ Adair, p. 131.
- ^ Wills, p. 195.
- ^California Democratic Party v. Jones, 530 U.S. 567, 592 (2000) 
- ^Storer v. Brown, 415 U.S. 724, 736 (1974) 
- ^Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC, 528 U.S. 377, 424 (2000) 
- Adair, Douglass. "The Tenth Federalist Revisited" and "'That Politics May Be Reduced to a Science': David Hume, James Madison and the Tenth Federalist". Fame and the Founding Fathers. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998. ISBN 978-0-86597-193-6 New York: WW Norton & Co, 1974 ISBN 978-0-393-05499-6
- Ball, Terence. The Federalist with Letters of "Brutus". Cambridge University Press: 2003. ISBN 978-0-521-00121-2
- Beard, Charles A. An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1913.
- Bernstein, Richard B. Are We to Be a Nation? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987. ISBN 978-0-674-04476-0
- Cohler, Anne. Montesquieu's Comparative Politics and the Spirit of American Constitutionalism. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988. ISBN 978-0-521-36974-9
- Dawson, Henry B., ed. The Fœderalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favor of the New Constitution, As Agreed Upon by the Fœderal Convention, September 17, 1787. New York: Charles Scribner, 1863.
- De Pauw, Linda Grant. The Eleventh Pillar: New York State and the Federal Constitution. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1966. ISBN 978-0-8014-0104-6
- Epstein, David F. The Political Theory of The Federalist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984. ISBN 978-0-226-21300-2
- Furtwangler, Albert. The Authority of Publius: A Reading of the Federalist Papers. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1984. ISBN 978-0-8014-1643-9
- Gustafson, Thomas (1992). Representative Words: Politics, Literature, and the American Language, 1776-1865. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-39512-0.
- Kaminski, John P. George Clinton: Yeoman Politician of the New Republic. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1993. ISBN 978-0-945612-17-9
- Manweller, Mathew (2005). The People Vs. the Courts: Judicial Review and Direct Democracy in the American Legal System. Academica Press, LLC. ISBN 978-1-930901-97-1.
- Morgan, Edmund S. * "Safety in Numbers: Madison, Hume, and the Tenth 'Federalist,'" Huntington Library Quarterly (1986) 49#2 pp. 95–112 in JSTOR
- Stewart, David O. The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7432-8692-3
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- "Storer v. Brown, 415 U.S. 724 (1974)". Findlaw. Retrieved October 1, 2005.
- "Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC, 528 U.S. 377 (2000)". Findlaw. Retrieved August 23, 2005.
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The Federalist Papers : No. 10
The Same Subject Continued
To the People of the State of New York:
AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a wellconstructed 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.
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.
There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.