Federalist No. 57

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James Madison

Federalist No. 57, authored by James Madison under the pen name Publius, is the fifty seventh of 85 essays. Titled "The Alleged Tendency of the New Plan to Elevate the Few at the Expense of the Many", Madison refutes charges that elected representatives will only represent the views of a selected few, instead of the whole.

It was published on February 19, 1788.


The Founding Fathers believed, in general, that a republic was the most superior form of government and usually had negative things to say about democracies. Madison argues in this paper that the limits imposed against government which are contained within the Constitution and its republican form are the best ways to prevent the tyranny so commonly found in other forms.

Additionally, he reasoned that there were five reasons why representatives would remain true to all constituents across the country:

  1. They will have been distinguished by the preference of their fellow-citizens, we are to presume that in general they will be somewhat distinguished also by those qualities which entitle them to it, and which promise a sincere and scrupulous regard to the nature of their engagements.
  2. They will enter into the public service under circumstances which cannot fail to produce a temporary affection at least to their constituents.
  3. Those ties which bind the representative to his constituents are strengthened by motives of a more selfish nature, such as pride and vanity which favors his pretensions and gives him a share in the honors and distinctions of public service.
  4. The House of Representatives is so constituted as to support in the members an habitual recollection of their dependence on the people.
  5. That they can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society.

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