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“Federalist 10” by James Madison: Summary and Analysis


Federalist 10 is an essay written by James Madison and published in 1787 as a tenth part of The Federalist Papers, emphasizing the need for ratifying the United States Constitution. In this paper, Madison discussed factions, a group of citizens with similar interests and issues emerging in democracy, arguing that they often oppress minorities. As Madison sees factions as a significant problem for the state and interests of minority groups, he suggests a form of the representative republic as the most efficient against major oppressing groups.

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Summary of Federalist 10

In Madison’s essay, he claims that factions are created because of human nature and his tendency to join and organize communities. Moreover, as a crucial cause of factions, the author sees the unequal distribution of property in society, where there are creditors and debtors. Thus, he claims that debtors, for instance, may unite in a faction to try to protect their interests and solve their problems with the help of democracy, willing to redistribute creditors’ money, which will oppress the minority. Therefore, Madison suggests two ways of solving the problem of majoritarianism: either by removing its causes or controlling the effects.

As for removing causes producing factions, Madison also suggests two ways: either by denying the liberty of all the citizens or providing the same interests and values for all the people. However, Madison claims that both suggestions are impossible to be implemented because freedom and the guarantee of rights are crucial to political life. Moreover, no one can provide the same interests to a diverse society. Therefore, only controlling the effects of majoritarianism caused by human nature can be counted as a way to solve the problem of factions, which Madison sees possible only in a representative republic.

To make it clear, James Madison denies democracy as a form of government in which minorities are not oppressed. He sees democracy as a form of rule in which citizens are voting for or against proposed laws. At the same time, a republic for him is a government in which citizens, diverse in terms of their interests, choose a few representatives who will accept or deny laws for them. Therefore, in his essay Federalist 10, Madison argues that with the help of a representative republic, governments will be divided into small districts, avoiding factions.

Analysis of Madison’s Arguments in Federalist 10

It is crucial to start the analysis of Federalist 10 by defining its origins, meaning the essay Federalist 9 written by Alexander Hamilton, which addresses critics based on Montesquieu’s arguments of the failure nature of a federal Union. Hamilton writes that there is a “tendency of the Union to repress domestic faction and insurrection” (para. 14). Thus, as Hamilton in Federalist 9 answers the critique, claiming that Montesquieu’s words were taken out of the context, Madison in Federalist 10 continues the topic of fractions. In other words, Madison suggests a representative republic as a form of government in a Union as a means to avoid majoritarianism and insurrection.

James Madison’s essay number 10 is considered one of the most explanatory to the Constitution. The author provides a clear argument in favor of the republican form of government. McManus states: “Indeed, sheer geographic expanse can itself become an advantage since any leader who wishes to pursue a “wicked” project such as the abolition of debts or equality of property will be unable to gain sufficient traction to enact their “improper” egalitarian project” (29). Therefore, James Manus has successfully continued the discussion started by Hamilton, adding his own crucial arguments to support the federalist view.

Federalist 10 discusses the ways to avoid fractions because of oppressing wealthy citizens, which provides a ground for evaluating arguments’ weaknesses in the essay. According to McManus, “Madison was often far more concerned with the minority rights of the propertied than conventionally marginalized groups” (28). Thus, Madison tried to suggest solutions to protect the rights of people having property, not those marginalized and who need governmental protection. Therefore, the idea lying in the essay can be criticized for its vision of the poor majority as a threat and leading cause of fractions.

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Moreover, another weak side of Madison’s arguments can be defined concerning its connection with official documents. Weiner claims: “when he announces at the end of the essay that he has “remedied” the “disease” of faction, Madison has not mentioned a single facet of the proposed Constitution—neither the judiciary nor bicameralism nor the president’s veto” (130-131). This may stand for Madison’s lack of proof to support his philosophical discussion on politics and the insufficiency of actual plans to avoid fractions and insurrections in the federal state.


It is necessary to state that the essay Federalist 10 is considered one of the most important in The Federalist Papers because it explains the US Constitution. In his paper, Madison argues that a representative republic is the best form of government to avoid harming the impact of fractions caused by majoritarianism. The essay continues the discussion started in Federalist 9 by Hamilton and provides clear arguments to support the republic and the federation. However, it does not concern marginalized groups, emphasizing the interests of wealthy minorities.

Works Cited

Hamilton, Alexander. Federalist Paper #9 – The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection. The Federalist Papers, 1787. Web.

McManus, Matthew. Liberal Rights and Their Critics. A Critical Legal Examination of Liberalism and Liberal Rights. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2020. 3-65.

Weiner, Greg. After Federalist No. 10. National Affairs 33, 2017. 130-144.

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