The Federalist Papers Reader and Historical Documents of Our American Heritage

By Frederick Quinn | Go to book overview

No. 49
The Same Subject Continued with the Same View

The papers continue their strong case for a republican government but seek clear restraints on governmental power. This is considerably different from a pure democracy, where popular will and impulse rule. Madison's opposition to "direct democracy" is restated here. Madison believes there should be provisions to amend the Constitution, but such changes should be infrequent and difficult to enact to avoid turning momentary political passions into immutable law.

The author of the Notes on the State of Virginia, quoted in the last paper, has subjoined to that valuable work the draught of a constitution, which had been prepared in order to be laid before a convention expected to be called in 1783, by the legislature, for the establishment of a constitution for that commonwealth. The plan, like everything from the same pen, marks a turn of thinking, original, comprehensive, and accurate; and is the more worthy of attention as it equally displays a fervent attachment to republican government and an enlightened view of the dangerous propensities against which it ought to be guarded. One of the precautions which he proposes, and on which he appears ultimately to rely as a palladium to the weaker departments of power against the invasions of the stronger, is perhaps altogether his own, and as it immediately relates to the subject of our present inquiry, ought not to be overlooked.

His proposition is "that whenever any two of the three branches of government shall concur in opinion, each by the voices of two thirds of their

-126-

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