Federalist Paper No. 51, by James Madison

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“In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself,” are words written by James Madison in The Federalist Papers No. 51. The Federalist Paper No. 51 is one of several documents that compose the Federalist Papers, a series of essays written by James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton promoting the ratification of the Constitution. In this particular paper, several principles are used as arguments for ratification. Specifically, a main argument discussed is the means this government would have to self-regulate itself. Following the sentence quoted above is, “A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” The auxiliary precautions Madison refers to is one of the many principles of our government that is still in action today, a system of checks and balances. Such a principle was born from the Constitution as a result of the existence of three branches and their division of powers.

The formal definition of checks and balances is a system that allows each branch of government the ability to counterbalance the influences of the other branches in order to prevent the concentration of power in only one branch, becoming a tyrant. James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 51 that “the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other that the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights.” For example, Congress passed a bill that would require federal and state gov...

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