Federalist No. 10

In our last post, we discussed how in Federalist No. 9 Hamilton addressed the subject of the Union as a safeguard against domestic faction and insurrection to the people of the State of New York. In Federalist No. 10, James Madison gives us his first contribution to the series while continuing to address the same subject in the New York Packet.

Madison starts off by noting that 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. This is because a government, without violating the principles on which it is based, will not fail to set a due value on any plan which provides a proper cure for the violence of faction.

Given that the instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal
diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished
, it is vital that the subject be properly addressed and that the American constitutions do so and improve on the popular models for government, both ancient and modern.

There are essentially 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. But where the first remedy is concerned, it is worse than the disease. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life. And the second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. Because, as long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As a result, 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
. But when a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government … enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens. This could allow the faction to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression, which must be avoided.

Fortunately, a true republic varies from a democracy in two respects. 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.

In the first case, we can assume that the elected representatives have the wisdom to best discern the true interest of their country and the patriotism and love and justice to see it through. And if that isn’t enough, when you extend the sphere of influence, 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
. As a result, a rage … 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

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