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Federalist Paper Number 10: Summary and Analysis

Samarpita Choudhury Mar 17, 2020
Madison's Paper No. 10 of the Federalist Papers was made to defend the proposition of the constitution, supporting the formation of a Republican government. The Anti-Republican group argued, this government will be big to address the problems and issues of all the countrymen.

The Call for Ratification

The Federalist Paper Number 10 is one of the 85 articles of the Federal Papers, which was written in order to lead the ratification of the Constitution.
Co-author of the Federalist Papers of the US Constitution, James Madison penned down the Federalist Paper No. 10, intending to create a buffer in the form of a new government, against the unjust activities of the factions of the society.
Madison denoted factions to be those groups of people, who are solely motivated by their personal goals alone, and in the process, they undermine the interest of the remaining populace.
This act of 'self attainment' of goals even amounted to curbing of rights of the rest. The paper was officially published in the year 1787, under the backdrop of the Shays' Rebellion, which triggered noteworthy alterations in the history of the US.


✦ Madison opined that the only way to do away with the menace of factions is to know its causes, eradicate them, and control the detrimental effects that were already caused. He further said that the reason of faction-development is the basic nature that man is endowed with, willingly or unwillingly.
✦ Each individual is in the habit of finding commonness with others, thereby forming a circle or a group of a certain number of people, who share commonness in one form or the other, as they rightly say, "Birds of a feather flock together."
One of the contributing factors for the differences in the society was clearly the distribution of wealth, which was totally uneven. This helped factions to reign.
✦ Madison's Paper No. 10 was preceded by Hamilton's Paper No. 9, which also spoke at length about the propagation of a rigid Union that could fight factions and rebellion of these factions against the union.
Madison discussed a number of issues in his essay. He said that removing the cause of factions is quite an impossibility. He also said that since no man can think totally alike in all situations, diversity will always prevail which, in turn, would fuel factions.
✦ Enforcement of an authoritative government or a dictatorship would totally diminish the right to liberty. Therefore, an alternative path can be created. This will lay down a framework of ethics, which every citizen would adhere to, where the degrees of variation would be applied in the forms of freedom.
The first instance he suggested was in the distribution of wealth. It was to be done in such a way so as to introduce a new stratum in the society, apart from the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. This would be the 'middle class'.
✦ He further said that the formation of a larger republic is absolutely necessary, in the place of smaller leading groups because, when the leader groups are smaller in size, their own interests are superimposed on the interests of the masses. Therefore, they are very vulnerable to become factions.
The purpose of this new, bigger republic would be to transform into a representative government, which will be elected by the people themselves. They, in turn, will have the right to take up policies by voting for the same.
Such policies would be formulated, keeping the interest of the large sections of the citizens who voted them to power. Hence, the problem of factions would be significantly reduced.
✦ Also, since the election process would follow indirect representation, the person who is the best in all squares would come to power. This would again ensure the election of the best man.


Madison stated that if a republic of a large size was formulated, wherein there would prevail the diversity of interests in several factors, such as wealth, religion, geography, and the like, the chances of divisions in the society could be controlled, which would arrest the formation of factions.
He was also of the opinion that to reduce the differences between the rich and the poor, curtailment of liberty was not an option at all. He carefully doctrine three quotients that would prevent the selfish majority to infiltrate into the rights of the minority.
These were:

✦ To think of one's own well-being, and at the same time, not disregarding the well-being of others.
✦ To maintain the virtue of character, rather than imbibing immoral means to achieve the goals.
✦ To remain God-fearing, and to be constantly affected by a sense of guilt in case of committing any wrong.
Therefore, in the concluding lines, it can be inferred that owing to the basic trait of human psychology, factions will shape up at all times. To avoid the aftermath of this faction-formation, a Republican government is the ideal choice.
As it would be a representative form of government where 'worth over might' would be elected, and the size would be large enough to prohibit the vested interests of only the factions to overpower. It would represent multiple groups highlighting everyone's interests, thereby, addressing some issues of all, rather than all the issues of only some.