The Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers Summary and Analysis of Essay 58


Madison responds to concerns that the number of members of the House will not be increased as population growth demands. Many opponents of the Constitution in larger states were concerned that the smaller states would seek to limit the increase in the number of members allotted to each state based on population. In particular, they feared that the Senate, which gives a disproportionate amount of power to smaller states, would become an instrument for limiting increases in the number of representatives in the House so as to restrict the power of larger States.

Madison presents several arguments for why this will not be in the case. Perhaps most importantly, the House, where larger states have the greatest influence, holds the power of the purse. Only the House can propose bills for funding the government. Thus, if the Senate or President tried to restrict the expansion of the House’s membership, it could use its power of the purse to persuade these other branches of government to relent.

Madison also returns to his previous argument, that the safety of the republic does not necessarily increase in direct proportion to the number of elected representatives. He argues that in a large assembly, it is easy for a few powerful orators or demagogues to persuade the multitude of representatives to support a particular policy that may not be beneficial to the public good.


This paper again illustrates the significant tension and mutual suspicion that existed between the large and small states during the debate over the Constitution. In this paper, Madison is primarily addressing the fears of the large states, of which New York was one of the most important. He tries to reassure them that the small states will not be able to unduly limit their representation.

The concern over tensions between large and small states may strike the 21st century American as somewhat odd. The issues that animate the public consciousness today rarely center around tensions between large and small states. However, in the 18th century, many Americans felt a greater attachment to their state than to the nation. As a result, they were deeply suspicious of any Constitutional provisions that might grant an undue source of power or influence over them to another state.

Additionally, think of modern problems with the electoral system, which gives a huge amount of influence in the election of the president to large states. States with many electoral votes, like Texas, Florida, and California, are able to single-handedly swing a presidential election. As a result, campaigning is focused in these states, and smaller states are ignored. The tension between large and small states continues to be very present today in these matters.