Federalist Number 10

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James Madison’s famous paper, Federalist Number 10, defends the ratification of the Constitution by sustaining the ideas of Locke, Rousseau, and Montesquieu, and contrasting with the initiatives of Voltaire. The European Enlightenment influenced the movement for individualism and political independence in the United States. Enlightenment thinkers developed theories of democracy that guided the United States Founders as they shaped the new national government. The influence of the Enlightenment is evident in Madison’s document, which contains philosophical underpinnings of American government. Federalist Number 10 begins by addressing the question of how to guard against factions. Madison defines a faction as “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse.” Madison considers factions to be detrimental to the goals of government because they are adverse to the rights of other citizens. The author establishes two ways to limit the damage of factions. The first solution is to remove the causes of faction, which can be accomplished by destroying liberty or creating a society with unified opinions. Madison mocks the impracticality of such methods, saying “liberty is to faction what air is to fire,” and later on, “as long as the reason of man continues fallible… different opinions will be formed.” The author affirms that liberty cannot be destroyed because it is essential to political life. Furthermore, he believes that it is in man’s nature to formulate bias, and so cohesion of opinions is unlikely. Madison emphasizes the inequality of property and economic stratification that exist. These injustices prevent everyone from sharing the same opinion. Thus, Madison concludes that the causes of factions cannot be eradicated, so the better solution is to regulate the effects of factions. Madison asserts that problems arise when a majority dominates a faction. He believes that...
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