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  • Vices of the Political System of the United States

     |  Articles of Confederation

    Vices of the Political System of the United States Vices of the Political System of the United States 1 James Madison In this essay, Madison outlines the main issues that the Constitutional Convention should address. His early arrival in Philadelphia allowed him to incorporate his ideas into a recommended plan for the Convention—what came to be called the Virginia Plan—representing no mere revision of the Articles of Confederation, but the adoption of an entirely new Constitution. April 1787 1. Failure of the States to comply with the Constitutional requisitions. This evil has been so fully experienced both during the war and since the peace, results so naturally from the number and independent authority of the States and has been so uniformly ...
  • Federalist 48

     |  Rethinking Union and Government

    Federalist 48 Federalist 48 1 James Madison Taking the argument of the previous paper one step further, Publius argues that overlapping branches are essential to the maintenance of separation of powers. Unless each branch possesses "practical security" against the other two, departmental boundaries will be mere "parchment barriers" and the legislative branch will likely absorb all power to itself. February 1, 1788 These Departments Should Not Be So Far Separated as to Have No Constitutional Control Over Each Other It was shown in the last paper that the political apothegm there examined does not require that the legislative, executive, and judiciary departments should be wholly unconnected with each other. I shall undertake, in the next ...
  • Federalist 53

     |  Three Branches of Government

    Federalist 53 Federalist 53 1 James Madison Publius often returns to the problem posed by majority tyranny. Here he expresses his preference for biennial over annual elections. February 9, 1788 The Same Subject Continued: The House of Representatives I shall here, perhaps, be reminded of a current observation "that where annual elections end, tyranny begins." If it be true, as has often been remarked, that sayings which become proverbial are generally founded in reason, it is not less true that when once established they are often applied to cases to which the reason of them does not extend. I need not look for a proof beyond the case before us. What is the reason on which this proverbial observation is founded? No man will subject himself ...
  • Federalist 62

     |  Three Branches of Government

    Federalist 62 Federalist 62 1 James Madison The Senate, with its equal representation of each state and members selected by state legislatures, was at once a concession to small states and a bulwark of federalism. Due to its structure, it would also lend the legislative branch stability and wisdom. February 27, 1788 The Senate Having examined the constitution of the House of Representatives, and answered such of the objections against it as seemed to merit notice, I enter next on the examination of the Senate. The heads into which this member of the government may be considered are: I. The qualification of senators; II. The appointment of them by the State legislatures; III. The equality of representation in the Senate; IV. The number of ...
  • On Property

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    On Property On Property 1 James Madison Madison, known as the "Father of the Constitution," was elected from Virginia to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1788, where he served four terms. This essay, which then-Congressman Madison wrote for a New York newspaper, connects the idea of property rights as commonly understood to man's natural rights, culminating in the right of conscience. March 29, 1792 This term in its particular application means "that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual." In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage ...
  • Letter to Edward Everett

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    Letter to Edward Everett Letter to Edward Everett 1 James Madison In this 1830 response to Massachusetts statesman Edward Everett, Madison maintains that a state does not possess the authority to strike down as unconstitutional an act of the federal government. The contrary doctrine, known as nullification, would take on later significance. August 28, 1830 I have duly received your letter in which you refer to the "nullifying doctrine," advocated as a constitutional right by some of our distinguished fellow citizens; and to the proceedings of the Virginia Legislature in 98 and 99, as appealed to in behalf of that doctrine; and you express a wish for my ideas on those subjects. I am aware of the delicacy of the task in some respects; and ...
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