The Federalist Papers

The Paradox of the Republic: A Close Reading of Federalist 10 College

In Federalist 10, James Madison posits that the greatest threat to government and to the public good lies in the oppression committed by majority 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 of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens or to the permanent aggregate interests of the community.” [1] Factions will necessarily emerge due to the liberty afforded to citizens under the American Constitution and because the zeal for different opinions is “sown into the nature of man” (No. 10, 58). Thus, ‘Publius,’ the collective pen name of John Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, claims that the proposed constitution must guard against the effects of faction, rather than its causes. Madison argues that the republic will successfully guard against the tyrannical effects of faction due to two principles of the proposed system: representative government and the size and population of the union. Because representative government by itself is insufficiently equipped to prevent majority oppression, Madison includes the latter principle of large union size to increase its likelihood of...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1430 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 10361 literature essays, 2629 sample college application essays, 518 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in