The Same Subject Continued
(The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and
From the Daily Advertiser.
Thursday, November 22, 1787.


To the People of the State of New York:

AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none
deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and
control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never
finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he
contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice. He will not fail,
therefore, to set a due value on any plan which, without violating the
principles to which he is attached, provides a proper cure for it. The
instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public
councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular
governments have everywhere perished; as they continue to be the
favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty
derive their most specious declamations. The valuable improvements made
by the American constitutions on the popular models, both ancient and
modern, cannot certainly be too much admired; but it would be an
unwarrantable partiality, to contend that they have as effectually
obviated the danger on this side, as was wished and expected. Complaints
are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens,
equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and
personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public
good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures
are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the
rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested
and overbearing majority. However anxiously we may wish that these
complaints had no foundation, the evidence, of known facts will not
permit us to deny that they are in some degree true. It will be found,
indeed, on a candid review of our situation, that some of the distresses
under which we labor have been erroneously charged on the operation of
our governments; but it will be found, at the same time, that other
causes will not alone account for many of our heaviest misfortunes; and,
particularly, for that prevailing and increasing distrust of public
engagements, and alarm for private rights, which are echoed from one end
of the continent to the other. These must be chiefly, if not wholly,
effects of the unsteadiness and injustice with which a factious spirit
has tainted our public administrations.

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a
majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some
common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of
other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by
removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one,
by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the
other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions,
and the same interests.

It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was
worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an
aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less
folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because
it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air,
which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its
destructive agency.

The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise.
As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to
exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the
connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions
and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the
former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The
diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property
originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of
interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of
government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of
acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of
property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the
sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of
the society into different interests and parties.

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we
see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity,
according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for
different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many
other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to
different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or
to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to
the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties,
inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more
disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their
common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual
animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the
most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle
their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But
the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and
unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are
without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those
who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like
discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a
mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests,
grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into
different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The
regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the
principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party
and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.

No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest
would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his
integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit
to be both judges and parties at the same time; yet what are many of the
most important acts of legislation, but so many judicial determinations,
not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concerning the
rights of large bodies of citizens? And what are the different classes
of legislators but advocates and parties to the causes which they
determine? Is a law proposed concerning private debts? It is a question
to which the creditors are parties on one side and the debtors on the
other. Justice ought to hold the balance between them. Yet the parties
are, and must be, themselves the judges; and the most numerous party,
or, in other words, the most powerful faction must be expected to
prevail. Shall domestic manufactures be encouraged, and in what degree,
by restrictions on foreign manufactures? are questions which would be
differently decided by the landed and the manufacturing classes, and
probably by neither with a sole regard to justice and the public good.
The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an
act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is,
perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation
are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice.
Every shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a
shilling saved to their own pockets.

It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust
these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public
good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. Nor, in many
cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view
indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the
immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights
of another or the good of the whole.

The inference to which we are brought is, that the CAUSES of faction
cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of
controlling its EFFECTS.

If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the
republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister
views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse
the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence
under the forms of the Constitution. When a majority is included in a
faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it
to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and
the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good and private
rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to
preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the
great object to which our inquiries are directed. Let me add that it is
the great desideratum by which this form of government can be rescued
from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be
recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.

By what means is this object attainable? Evidently by one of two only.
Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at
the same time must be prevented, or the majority, having such coexistent
passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local
situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of
oppression. If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered to coincide,
we well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on
as an adequate control. They are not found to be such on the injustice
and violence of individuals, and lose their efficacy in proportion to
the number combined together, that is, in proportion as their efficacy
becomes needful.

From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy,
by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who
assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure
for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in
almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication
and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is
nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an
obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been
spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found
incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have
in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in
their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of
government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a
perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same
time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their
opinions, and their passions.

A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of
representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the
cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it
varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of
the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union.

The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic
are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small
number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of
citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be

The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and
enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen
body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of
their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least
likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under
such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced
by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the
public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for
the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of
factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by
intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages,
and then betray the interests, of the people. The question resulting is,
whether small or extensive republics are more favorable to the election
of proper guardians of the public weal; and it is clearly decided in
favor of the latter by two obvious considerations:

In the first place, it is to be remarked that, however small the
republic may be, the representatives must be raised to a certain number,
in order to guard against the cabals of a few; and that, however large
it may be, they must be limited to a certain number, in order to guard
against the confusion of a multitude. Hence, the number of
representatives in the two cases not being in proportion to that of the
two constituents, and being proportionally greater in the small
republic, it follows that, if the proportion of fit characters be not
less in the large than in the small republic, the former will present a
greater option, and consequently a greater probability of a fit choice.

In the next place, as each representative will be chosen by a greater
number of citizens in the large than in the small republic, it will be
more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with success the
vicious arts by which elections are too often carried; and the suffrages
of the people being more free, will be more likely to centre in men who
possess the most attractive merit and the most diffusive and established

It must be confessed that in this, as in most other cases, there is a
mean, on both sides of which inconveniences will be found to lie. By
enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the
representatives too little acquainted with all their local circumstances
and lesser interests; as by reducing it too much, you render him unduly
attached to these, and too little fit to comprehend and pursue great and
national objects. The federal Constitution forms a happy combination in
this respect; the great and aggregate interests being referred to the
national, the local and particular to the State legislatures.

The other point of difference is, the greater number of citizens and
extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of
republican than of democratic government; and it is this circumstance
principally which renders factious combinations less to be dreaded in
the former than in the latter. The smaller the society, the fewer
probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the
fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a
majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of
individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within
which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute
their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater
variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a
majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of
other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more
difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act
in unison with each other. Besides other impediments, it may be remarked
that, where there is a consciousness of unjust or dishonorable purposes,
communication is always checked by distrust in proportion to the number
whose concurrence is necessary.

Hence, it clearly appears, that the same advantage which a republic has
over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a
large over a small republic, -- is enjoyed by the Union over the States
composing it. Does the advantage consist in the substitution of
representatives whose enlightened views and virtuous sentiments render
them superior to local prejudices and schemes of injustice? It will not
be denied that the representation of the Union will be most likely to
possess these requisite endowments. Does it consist in the greater
security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of
any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest? In an equal
degree does the increased variety of parties comprised within the Union,
increase this security. Does it, in fine, consist in the greater
obstacles opposed to the concert and accomplishment of the secret wishes
of an unjust and interested majority? Here, again, the extent of the
Union gives it the most palpable advantage.

The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their
particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration
through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a
political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects
dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils
against any danger from that source. A rage for paper money, for an
abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other
improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body
of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as
such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district,
than an entire State.

In the extent and proper structure of the Union, therefore, we behold a
republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican
government. And according to the degree of pleasure and pride we feel in
being republicans, ought to be our zeal in cherishing the spirit and
supporting the character of Federalists.