Federalist 47, 48, 51

Federalist 47, 48, 51
Read Federalist Papers 47, 48 and 51 in American Government: Readings and Cases, p 41-45, and answer
the following questions:
1. Madison points out in Federalist 47 that the powers of the three branches of government are
distributed and blended together in certain ways. At the same time, he notes that “the
accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of
one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be
pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” How does Madison justify the intermixture of
powers with this theory of the separation of powers?
2. What is Madison’s view of the inherent power potentials of the legislative, executive, and
judicial branches of government?
3. What does Madison mean when he says (Federalist 51), “The great security against a gradual
concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who
administer each department the necessary constitutional means, and personal motives, to resist
encroachments of the others”?
4. How did Madison’s view of human nature affect his theory of government?
5. The entire thrust of Madison’s argument in Federalist 47, 48, and 51 seems to be in the direction
of controlling and even weakening the exercise of governmental power. This is a negative view
of the role of government. The main question The Federalist raises seems to be how to prevent
the arbitrary exercise of political power, rather than how to guarantee effective political
leadership. Do you accept Madison’s goal as the primary one in establishing a government
system? Is the Constitution really as negative as Madison implies?
AP Politics
Free State High School