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Federalist Paper Number 10 Essay

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Updated: Nov 2nd, 2019


Federalist Paper Number 10 was among the papers published in 1788 in New York. Three authors namely; Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison were involved in the publication of these papers. Their major aim was to sway opinion during the ratification of the new American constitution. James Madison authored this particular paper.

It is one of the most influential papers and it talks about faction and the role of government in regulating it as well as liberty. Madison studied at Princeton, Virginia. He participated in the local politics and thereafter Continental Congress. Madison represented Virginia in Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia. He therefore participated in drafting of United States constitution. He later became a leader in the congress during the ratification of the constitution (Wills, 1982).

Madison’s Discussion

Madison’s discussion is clear evidence of his devotion to the republic and its liberty. In his argument, Madison strongly says that faction and liberty go hand in hand. The government should not concentrate on causes of faction, instead, it should focus on controlling its effects. According to him, eliminating causes is as well as hindering people’s opinions and doing away with their liberty. Forcing the people to hold the same opinion is oppression or totalitarianism which goes against the nature of human beings.

As man exercises liberty, faction is bound to happen because it is enclosed in fallibility of man. In other words, freedom of expression should not be interfered with. This is because even though man’s reasoning is not always perfect, important opinion can be blocked out in case liberty is curtailed.

In addition, Madison argues that liberty and faction is important in political life and government system. However, he clarifies that faction involving violence is not liberty and is destructive in a country. He further advises the government to control the effects by employing republican model of government.

“Iron triangle”

Madison mentions the legislature, interest groups and bureaucracy to refer to the three angles of iron triangle. In his discussion, he says that the three would work independently but with one major goal of protecting the good of the public. According to him, legislation should be put in place to enhance the rights of the people. Interest groups can be allowed to exist but should not be a part of bureaucracy in order to avoid corruption.

Interest Groups and the Bureaucracy

Just like any other individual, Madison was concerned with government use of nation’s resources to bring about coercion. To him interests groups can be compared to such government. Individuals create groups with their own interest at the expense of minorities’ rights. Moreover, just like Aristotle, Madison agrees that virtue should be upheld by the authority.

He also believes that democracy cannot be achieved. Like Aristotle who argues that democracy cannot work because people are busy with other activities and thus have no time to do good for the better of the public. Madison believes that animal nature in man overdo the ability to do good for the public by an individual in a democratic state.

He adds that democracy allows people to protect their own interests. This in turn hinders them from doing well for the sake of the public. Madison would therefore advocate that interest groups be independent from bureaucracy so as to avoid a situation in which they use power to protect their own interests (Epstein, 1984).


Federalist Paper Number 10 outlines how the new constitution and the republican government would function for the good of the people than the continental congress that was in power before. Madison also wanted to see that the system does not allow factions that would go against the rights of people and especially the minority. He further argues that factions cannot be avoided if liberty has to be achieved. The government should therefore focus on controlling the effects and not eliminating causes of factions.


Epstein, D. (1984). The Political Theory of the Federalist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Wills, G. (1982). Explaining America. New York: Penguin Books.

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