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An expansive republic: The Federalist response to Confederate failure

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Garrett S.
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  1. Introduction.
  2. Essays nine and ten of The Federalist Papers.
  3. Pennsylvanian Anti-Federalists first argument against the establishment of an expansive republic.
  4. The second main objection to a large republic put forth.
  5. Conclusion.

Of the many issues that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay sought to confront and explain in their Federalist Papers, one of the overriding matters of contention was the new Constitution's focus on expanding the proposed size and scope of the republic. The Federalists believed that one of the decisive causes for the failure of the previous Articles of the Confederation was that the small, isolated and homogonous state republics created by the Articles heightened the noxious effects of factions, which were considered to be close bedfellows to tyranny and oppression. Along with recognizing flaws inherent in a small republic, the Federalist also notes the strong advantages of instituting a larger republic; they believed that a republic of a greater scope, well organized and well-run, could effectively manage itself, as there is inherent in its design the ability to eradicate faction, tyranny and oppression, while simultaneously promoting an efficient means of attaining public well-being.

[...] In Federalist number ten, Madison writes that he has been witness to infinite complaints ?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? in the current state of Government under the Articles of the Confederation (Rossiter 72). Madison attributes these glaring issues to the prolific growth of faction in small, homogonous republics, as the ?smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it . [...]


[...] However, a large republic can flourish in virtuous or non-virtuous societies, as it has, inherent in its design, the ability to function in any social atmosphere. Although the Constitution the Framers created was unprecedented and radically different in comparison to its predecessor, the new design for a large republic was free of the inherent flaws that were carried by the Articles of the Confederation. It would seem that a complete overhaul of the republican concept was much more appropriate and effective than attempting in vain to remedy the doomed and altogether faulty Articles, as the framers abandoned the necessity of an [...]

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