Federalist 51-Madison



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Federalist 51-Madison

With appropriate commentary-Fedupidous


Ok, before trying to figure out what Madison is saying here-a little background:

  • Remember that the big bad thing Madison is against is the concentration of all government power in the same hands (he calls that “tyranny”).

  • In some of his essays we haven’t read (47-50) he has rejected lots of “exterior checks” on government (things like councils created to review the constitutionality of legislation-that sort of thing) as being inadequate. So now we have Federalist 51.

Before we go any further here, I am confused.

I thought we all agreed in Federalist 10 that a republican system of government was enough to stop factions from controlling government, blah, blah, blah. So if that was true, why would we need more controls on power? Just say’n. So, Jim-if THE PEOPLE ever actually get themselves together to express their interests you want to throw more roadblocks in their way? Why?


  1. Paragraph 1: According to Madison, since exterior checks on government are “inadequate,” what should be done to the structure of government?

  2. Paragraph 2: Madison starts with a basic structural idea for how we select the members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches-what is it?

Yea, right. Notice that right after the Jim-ster does this he promptly tries to explain away the one obvious CONTRADICTION to his whole point here-the way judges are appointed. “As little agency as possible”? Ha!




  1. Paragraph 3: Emoluments are payments (i.e. salary). So what does this paragraph mean?

What does Madison propose the relationship between the departments should be? Why?
Obviously, Jimbo isn’t convinced of his own so-called “logic” because the essay goes on…


  1. Paragraph 4: Madison says that “The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.” What does he mean by this?

  2. According to Madison, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” What does this imply about his view of human nature?

Whoa, whoa, whoa. He also says “A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” What “experience” exactly has taught the need to ignore the will of the people? I thought the wonder of representative government fixed all that?




  1. Paragraph 6-This single paragraph says the Constitution has a solution to the problems.

It is stated in the first three sentences (the 3rd sentence ends with the word “admit”). What is this “remedy”?
Jim-a-rific actually proposes two solutions in this paragraph. The second solution is NOT in the Constitution. It is just his “good” idea.” It starts with the fourth sentence (the one that starts “It may”). It requires some decoding. Here is your secret decoder key-for the word “negative” insert “veto”, for “weaker department” put “the President” and for “weaker branch of the stronger department” put “Senate”. Now read back the secret message. Does this proposal (which was NOT a part of the Constitution), show you what Madison was truly afraid of?


  1. So how will the remedy Madison suggests (that one that is in the Constitution) actually work (he doesn’t really say-how would you piece it together from this paragraph and paragraph 4) ?

Say WHAT? Jimmer says the legislative branch is the most feared and powerful. Check. He says it can kick the stuffing out of the other two branches. Check. He says, though, we can check it by making it into two parts. By trying to create two houses strong enough to check each other don’t you just succeed in creating a legislative branch that is even more likely to take over the other two? How could this “remedy” possibly make them weaker?




  1. Madison makes two final contentions about the Federal Government in paragraphs 9 and 10. Summarize these final 2 contentions. Be specific.

In paragraph 9 Jim-tastic says “the different governments will control each other”-how?


In paragraph 10 we get all that Federalist 10 blather again. Two things-first, if he really believed all of this stuff none of the divisions he advocates in government would be necessary.
Two-do I understand Jim-jim-a-ree to say that States are too small to protect rights(notice the gratuitous shot at our buddy Rhode Island)? So, have we magically determined that a place like let’s say, Virginia, is not big enough to be even capable of legislating with “justice” and for the general good”? If that’s true-does that mean federalism is a joke? Does it mean that the things you let states do in our federal system are incapable of being done “justly”. Will that be your pretext for a complete takeover of the states? Aaargh!


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