On May 25, 1787, delegates representing every state except Rhode Island gathered together at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania State House for the Constitutional Convention. The assembly immediately discarded the idea of amending the Articles of Confederation and set about drawing up a brand new plan for the government. During an intense debate, the delegates forged a federal system characterized by a complicated system of checks and balances. The convention was divided over numerous issues, the biggest one being state representation in Congress. The delegates who started to doubt the documents ratification due to the division in the convention noted that history had shown that large republics tended to decay into various forms of tyranny. The delegates who were strongly for the ratification of the document took matters into their own hands. They wanted to rally citizens and delegates to support the Constitution. This is how the Federalist papers came to be written.
The Federalist Papers consist of eighty-five letters written to newspapers in the late 1780s to urge the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. One of the Federalist papers is Number 10 by James Madison, and was written for this division issue. Due to the fact that James Madison not only acknowledged the concerns of some delegates, but also gave a counter argument to explain why the Constitution will fix problems rather than impose them, is one of the reasons why Federalist Paper Number 10 adequately defends the need for the Constitution. Madison begins by stating that private rights and public good would be best protected in a single large republic rather than a mixture of small republics. He countered the concern about the republic leading to tyranny by stating that it was exactly the great number of factions and diversity that would avoid tyranny. He explained that groups would be forced to negotiate and compromise among themselves, arriving at solutions that would respect the rights of minorities.
However that isn’t to say that no one gave anything up for the Constitution. Explicitly stated in the document Madison says “It must be confessed, that in this, as in most other cases, there is a mean, on both sides of which inconveniences will be found to lie. By enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the representative too little acquainted with all their local circumstances and lesser interests; as by reducing it too much, you render him unduly attached to these and too little fit to comprehend and pursue great and national objects”.
Madison insisted that in order to have a Constitution they must form a “happy combination” of certain arguments, as stated in the document. The meaning and purpose of Madison’s Federalist Paper Number 10 becomes clearer as one continues to read. He argues for the Constitution in a way that explains why we need it, and also what things we will lack if we don’t ratify it. It is by using a combination of those arguments that Madison was able to get his view across.
In today’s time Madison’s Federalist Paper Number 10 is considered one of the most influential papers. It rebuts the Anti-federalists’ argument that a republic would soon crumble under the pressure of factional divisions. Madison outlined how a republican government could balance the needs of the minority and majority while preserving liberty and diversity. This document is one of the main reasons we have the Constitution that we abide by today.