Reading guide for federalist #51 What is essential to the "preservation of liberty?"



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READING GUIDE FOR FEDERALIST #51


  1. What is essential to the “preservation of liberty?” How should this “be so constituted?”



  1. Explain the following: “A dependence upon the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”



  1. In a republican government, which branch is the strongest? Identify three ways of “remedying this inconveniency.”



  1. List two ways in which the federal system of the US “places that system in a very interesting point of view,” i.e. protects against tyranny.

*** Make sure that you know the role of the following “auxiliary precautions” in guarding against tyranny:





READING GUIDE FOR FEDERALIST #51


  1. What is essential to the “preservation of liberty?” How should this “be so constituted?”


Each department should have a will of its own. Each department should be politically independent of the others, i.e. each should have as little agency as possible in the appointment of the others.


  1. Explain the following: “A dependence upon the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”


Elections are important to resist tyranny, but they are not enough. Other measures are needed. Madison goes on to describe the roles of separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism in this regard throughout the balance of this essay.


  1. In a republican government, which branch is the strongest? Identify three ways of “remedying this inconveniency.”


The legislature.


    1. Dividing Congress.

    2. Giving the two houses of Congress two different means of election,

    3. Fortifying the executive, e.g. with a veto




  1. List two ways in which the federal system of the US “places that system in a very interesting point of view,” i.e. protects against tyranny.




      1. In the “compound republic” of the US, power is divided between two distinct levels of government, i.e. state governments and the national government, and then each level in turn subdivides itself; hence a “double security.”

      2. The multiplicity of interests within the US will make it unlikely that tyranny will develop. In a small republic, there is a greater chance that a majority faction will develop and oppress the people. In a large republic, there is less chance that this will occur simply because the nation is so vast and because there are so many interests present.

*** Make sure that you know the role of the following “auxiliary precautions” in guarding against tyranny:




  • Separation of powers

  • Checks and balances

  • Federalism



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