Madison’s argument about the federal government is best described by the principle of checks and balances, which states that the power of each branch of government should be limited by the other branches in order to prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful.

Federalist No. 45

Federalist article by James Madison

Federalist #45
Gilbert Stuart, James Madison, c.  1821, NGA 56914.jpg

James Madison, author of Federalist No. 45
Author James Madison
Language English
Series The Federalist
Editor New York Package
Publication date
January 26, 1788
media type Newspaper
preceded by Federalist #44
Followed by Federalist #46

Federalist #45entitled “The Supposed Danger of the Powers of the Union to State Governments Considered“, is the 45th of the 85 newsrooms of the Federalist Documents Series. #45 was written by James Madisonbut it was published under the pseudonym Publius, January 26, 1788. The main focus of the essay is how the state and federal governments will function within the Unitykeeping people’s happiness in mind.

arguments made

In Federalist 45, Madison argues that the Union as outlined in Constitution it is necessary for the happiness of the people and that the balance of power between the states and the national government sustains the greatest happiness for the people. He argues that the government’s main objectiveand therefore of the Constitution, is the happiness of the people, and therefore only a government that promotes the happiness of the people is lawfulwriting: “If the plan of the Convention adverse to public happiness, my voice would be, reject the plan. If the Union itself were inconsistent with public happiness, it would be, to abolish the Union”.

federal vs state governments

Madison observes the feared dangers and instabilities in a Federal system, especially the concern that the national government may take too much power away from the states or that the states may to tear down the national government. But he argues that the decentralized nature of the federal system precludes this by being naturally harmonious and symbiotic; that the national government cannot operate without state governments, while state governments derive great benefits from the national government. He wrote: “States will retain, under the terms of the proposed Constitution, a very extensive portion of active sovereignty.”

The state governmentsargues Madison, are closer to the people and can focus on the welfare of the people by regulating common affairs such as the lives, liberties and property of the people, as well as the internal order of each state, for which it must have numerous indefinite powers, while the national government, being larger and possessing national resources, can bring victory in warprotect people freedom, and maintain peace between states, having clear, few and defined powers to do so, focusing mainly on external objects such as war, peace, negotiation and foreign trade and national taxation. He suggests that in times of peace, state governments will tend to be larger and more powerful, while in times of crisis and war, the national government will expand as needed. Such a federal system will bring the government as a whole closer to the people than a purely national form of government.

Historical Implications

Although Madison’s arguments and suggestions were considered, “any dispute over who is more powerful – the federal government or the states – was resolved in 1789, when the Constitution gave the federal government the right to levy taxesregular interstate commerceform an army and to judge legal disputes between states” The states have consistently tried to override the power of the federal government, however, the federal government has always been victorious in avoiding it and still remains the more powerful of the two. The 10th Amendment“Powers not delegated to the U.S by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”, has preserved the powers of the federal and state governments to the present day since 1791.

References

External Links

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Source: Federalist No. 45
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