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Federalist No. 51

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❶The principle of creating divisions and subdivisions to keep each other in check is present in all endeavors, both public and private.

Brief Summary

by James Madison
Federalist Essays No.47 - No. 51
From the SparkNotes Blog

These articles were aimed at modifying public opinion in favor of ratifying the new US Constitution. These papers had several authors besides Madison, like Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, who were all federalists, giving the essays their name. Despite the contributions of these authors, James Madison alone was given the most credit for publishing these papers.

His fame increased after he became President, and was later given the title of 'Father of the American Constitution. Finally, the federalists won, and the new constitution was ratified on June 21, It believes in the system of 'checks and balances', in which the government is divided into different departments which have conflicting powers that balance out each other.

What is really interesting in this essay is the detailed analysis of various institutions, which is known today as 'the theory of institutional design. Here are the main points of this essay. Summary of Federalist No. In the essay, James Madison says that there is a need to partition power amongst the various departments of the government as the US Constitution mandates. This has to be done by creating a government that establishes such mutual relations between its departments, which prevents one from interfering in the affairs of the other.

Madison further adds that without going into intricate details, he will try to point out what is the ideal division of power that the constitution envisioned. He says that the independence of the departments is only possible if members of each department have as little control as possible over the appointment and tenure of the members of other departments.

However, there has to be some deviation to this rule in case of the judiciary, since the judges need to have certain educational and moral standards that the common public may not understand.

Besides, the judges hold tenure for life, which makes it difficult for other departments to control them. The remuneration offered to the members of one department must also not be controlled by any other department. To prevent encroachment of one department on another, certain constitutional powers should be provided. The ambitions of members should be in sync with the independence of their departments, as is required by the constitution. Madison also points out that the need to make departments independent from each other is because of man's nature to usurp others' powers.

The principle of creating divisions and subdivisions to keep each other in check is present in all endeavors, both public and private. Madison further adds that a perfectly equal division of power is against the Republican nature of the US Government, since the legislature has to be the most powerful arm of the government, according to this system.

However, any misuse can be checked by dividing the legislature into various branches; the members of which are elected by different channels, thus making them independent.

The executive wing of the government has to be strengthened to counteract the effects of the strong legislature, but giving it absolute power to completely annul the decisions of the legislative may be counterproductive. This power may either not be imposed firmly or it may be abused to cripple the legislative. After giving these observations, Madison points out a few interesting things about the Federal nature of the American Government.

This system divides the government into two parts; each is then divided and subdivided further into various departments that keep a check on each others' excesses. This provides a 'double security' to the citizens.

Further, society has to be handled in such a way that its major faction does not stifle the rights of the minority. This can be done either by creating a powerful, authoritarian government which cannot be dissuaded by the majority, or by dividing the society itself into so many different classes that any single group cannot impose its own views.

The later method is granted to the US Government by its constitution. Madison says that the security of citizens will depend on the diversity of sects and interests throughout the country. A federal republic is in the interests of the citizens, since a country which consists of many states and confederacies will lead to oppression by the majority in each, and the laws of the republic grant enhanced powers and independence to a certain department or member to counteract against this oppression.

He further adds that the main aim of any government is to establish justice, where both the weaker and stronger sects of society are protected and there is no oppression. In a state where members of the majority rule and oppress the minority sects, there is a tendency to tilt the balance in favor of a power independent of either the majority or the minority.

The federal nature of the American Government guarantees that it possesses the will to deliver justice, irrespective of the power of the strong or weak sections of society.

A country of many large groups will benefit by self-governance, and despite being too large to follow a federal plan, this plan can be modified to make it both possible and practical for the United States. Solutions Given by Federalist No. This suggests that the idea of political separation of powers and of checks and balances in government that was implemented in the Unites States is a universal concept that is concrete in political theory.

The inclusion of this theory in Federalist 51 is merely reiteration of a sentiment that was already present on an international scale. The Federalist Papers , as a foundation text of constitutional interpretation, are commonly cited by American jurists and court systems in general. Of all The Federalist papers, No. The purpose of No. The biggest threats to the government of the United States would be the ability of one governing branch to obtain too much power over another, and of factions to cause a tyranny of the majority.

Madison's key point is that the members of each department should have as little dependence as possible on 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.

Each branch should have as little influence as possible in the appointment of members of other branches, and should also retain financial independence from one another to prevent corruption.

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 true voice of the people. Before the Seventeenth Amendment , only the House of Representatives was chosen directly by the people.

The Senate was chosen by state legislatures. He stresses the need for the checks and balances. The government is guarded against usurpations because it is divided into distinct and separate departments. In , power over people was divided both through federalism between the federal government and the state governments and through branches legislative , executive , and judicial within the national or federal government.

Because of the division of power, a "double security arises to the rights of the people. The governments will control each other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself". Madison discusses at great length the issue of political factions and their ability to allow the oppression of the minority opinion by the majority.

He recognizes that factions will always be present and that the only way to counteract the effects of factions is to either have a "community will" or to have a greater diversity of interest groups so that no singular faction can become the majority. He recognizes that this first option can also lead to injustices, so the best solution is for society to have a multitude of different groups and classes to prevent tyranny. In other words, even if individuals mingle with other members of the same social groups, ideals, and goals, no particular group should be able to become so strong as to thwart the interest of all other groups.

No faction can become large enough to overthrow all other factions in a well-run republic, which is why Madison believes the greatest self-governance can occur in a large society. Factions had been further discussed in Federalist No. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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The Federalist Papers study guide contains a biography of Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

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Home / Founding Documents and Resources / Primary Source Documents / The Federalist Papers / Federalist Papers No. 51 Federalist No. 51 () In this Federalist Paper, James Madison explains and defends the checks and balances system in the Constitution.

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The Federalist Papers Summary No Madison February 6, The conclusion from the last few papers is that the only means of maintaining in practice the partitioning of powers among the branches is through means built-in to the structure of government. Federalist No. 51, titled: "The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments", is an essay by James Madison, the fifty-first of First published: 08 Feb,

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While each Federalist paper was published anonymously, Federalist papers 10 and 51 were most likely written by James Madison, because they mostly deal with things about the government that he introduced. (Not so sly, JM.) Federalist Paper 10 is all about warning the power of factions and competing interests over the United States Government. Federalist Essays No - No. 51 Summary One of the biggest criticisms of the newly proposed plan of government is that it violates the political belief that the legislative, executive and judicial and judicial branches should be separate and distinct.