Federalist 10 is part of a remarkable public discussion, spawned by the ratification debates, between Federalists and Antifederalists on the nature of republican government. Many Antifederalists believed that the Constitution would lead to a large, consolidated nation and abolish the republican governments in the states, which in turn would lead to violations of the rights of citizens. Madison turned that argument on its head by pointing out that in republican governments, in which the majority must rule, an all-powerful majority often sacrifices the natural rights of the minority to their own selfish interests. Tyranny was just as possible in republican governments as under monarchies; and smaller republics — that is, republics the size of the American states — were especially prone to the danger of majority faction. Some remedy for this “mortal disease” must be found, Madison argued, if we are to have a republic in which the natural rights of all, including the minority, are protected. Likely the most often-read of the the Federalist Papers, Madison’s work here addresses some of the core challenges faced by popular government.
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