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Number Federalist (10) - Federalist, Number 10

madison factions government constitution

James Madison, 1787

The Federalist Papers were published by ALEXANDER HAMILTON, JAMES MADISON, and JOHN JAY to help convince the citizens of New York that ratification of the U.S. Constitution was justified. The essays not only discuss many of the Constitution's provisions but also elaborate on the authors' own vision of the proper role of a national government.

Madison's first essay, Federalist, no. 10, is the most frequently quoted of the group. In it, Madison discussed the idea of political factions. At the time it was commonly agreed that democratic society needed to prevent factions because they would ultimately undermine the government and lead to violence. Madison agreed that factions can divide government but came to the opposite conclusion: the more factions, the better. In Madison's view more factions would make it less likely that any one party or coalition of parties would be able to gain control of government and invade the rights of other citizens. The system of checks and balances contained in the Constitution was part of Madison's plan for frustrating factions.

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