Federalist No. 51 is an essay by James Madison, the fifty-first of the Federalist Papers. It was published on Wednesday, February 6, 1788 under the pseudonym Publius, the name under which all the Federalist Papers were published. One of the most famous of the Federalist Papers, No. 51 addresses means by which appropriate checks and balances can be created in government and also advocates a separation of powers within the national government. One of its most important ideas is the pithy and often quoted phrase, "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition." The Federalist Papers, as a foundation text of constitutional interpretation, are frequently cited by American jurists. Of all the essays, No. 51 is the fourth most-cited. Purpose
The purpose of No. 51 is, according to Madison, to "form a more correct judgment of the principles and structure of the government planned by the Constitutional Convention." In the paper, this is done by informing the reader of the safeguards created by the convention to maintain the separate branches of government, and to protect the rights of the people. Dependency and encroachment
Madison's key point is that the members of each department should be as little dependent as possible from the members of the other departments, and to stay independent, their own department must not encroach on the others. To secure these ends, Madison suggests that "the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department" is to enable each department (or the leader of the department) to fend off attempts to encroach upon the government of each other's departments'. Legislature
In a republican form of government, Madison asserts, the legislative branch is the strongest, and therefore must be divided into different branches, be as little connected with each other as possible, and render them by different modes of election. He deems the legislative branch to be the strongest since it is essentially the...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document