Summary of arguments made in Federalist paper 10
Federalist paper number 10 is titled “The union is a safeguard against domestic faction and insurrection.” I believe that this title is very straightforward in what Madison intends to argue. The main point in writing this paper was to persuade states into ratifying the newly written Constitution. James Madison, Jay Cooke and Alexander Hamilton wrote the Federalist papers to show others the reason that they needed to adopt the government laid out by the Constitution.
Madison says that the Constitution establishes a government that can control the violence and damage caused by factions. Madison defines a faction as people who gather together to protect or promote their own interests and political opinions. He says that these people are typically working against the common good and they infringe on other’s rights. When these factions grow large enough, they can pursue their own interests with violence as they had recently seen with Shay’s Rebellion.
Madison’s main point of Federalist paper 10 is that if you have people who are free you are always going to have factions. He even goes as far to say, “Liberty is to factions as air is to fire.” It is funny he says this because he goes on to say that there are only two ways to deal with factions, you can control the source of factions or you can control the effect of factions. He then points out that the source of factions cannot be controlled. In order to control the source of factions' people would have to be stripped of their liberties and you cannot do that. People with their own freedom are going to naturally form factions to protect themselves and those with similar interest. Just as air will always be fuel to fire, freedom will always be fuel for factions. The only option to deal with factions is to control the effect of factions.
He believes that the most dangerous faction of all is the poor, or those without land. They have a massive majority and he fears tyranny of the majority. In this time there were a few people who had a lot of land and a lot of people who had little or no land. He fears that this tyranny of the majority would push their will on to the minority, or those who own land. He writes about the ways that the newly formed constitution can protect against this exact thing.
He makes three main arguments about how the Constitution will form a large republic and, in turn, protect against the tyranny of the majority. His first argument is that if you have a large republic and you are electing people to rule the nation, then the more people you have then the less likely it is for corruption because these elected officials are accountable leaders and will stay that way because they rely on votes to maintain their power. The next argument that he makes is that large republics will create large factions. He says that large factions will have a hard time unifying so many people because there will often be small disagreements between a large group and those disagreements may make them break apart into smaller factions. The third argument he makes is that when you have such large factions many voices among them become muted, it makes it hard for someone to rise and become leader of this faction.
He goes on to say that for the minority to be protected from tyranny by the majority that we need to have a very large republic. In essence the bigger the better. He believes that that if the republic grows large enough it will dilute the factions and cause them to be weaker and to be in smaller groups.