The Trouble with
Leadership: Toward a
Federalist Ethic for
After the American War of Independence, a variety of local conflicts broke out within the loosely united states. New York taxed ships bound for New Jersey, which retaliated by levying lighthouse fees. Maryland fishermen fought Virginians over oysters taken from Chesapeake Bay. Moneyless farmers in Massachusetts banded together to stop courts from convening and sending debtors to prison. Such events brought state delegates to Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 to plan a new organization: a federal government to coordinate their joint affairs and protect their individual rights. The resulting plan, the Constitution of the United States, was shaped in large part by James Madison—who set the stage for the Philadelphia convention with a speech about a classic organizational problem.
Madison told the delegates that all societies were divided into different interest groups, or factions: [rich and poor, debtors and creditors, the landed, the manufacturing, the commercial interests, the inhabitants of this district, or that district, the followers of this political leader or that political leader, the disciples of this religious sect or that religious sect] (June 6, 1787; quoted in Padover, 1953:17-18). Madison went on to observe that throughout history different factions have tried to take advantage of one another: [In Greece and Rome the rich and poor, the creditors and debtors, as well as the patricians and plebeians