In Essay #37, Concerning the Difficulties of the Convention in Devising a Proper Form of Government, James Madison tries to convince readers that a government must be at least as energetic and strong as the one proposed.
The scholarly Madison pointed out that one of the ironies of human affairs was that important public matters are seldom examined objectively – that passion and prejudices must be tempered in the evaluation process.
The method he used was to examine the defects of the existing government and to expose the difficulties that the delegates to the Philadelphia conventions encountered in forging the new Constitution.
- How to establish an energetic and stable government without threatening the liberties of the people
- The framers of the new Constitution realized that they could not erect a strong governmental structure based on a weak foundation;
- They lacked precedent and had to look to historical experience and not simply political theory;
- The fundamental goal was to establish an energetic and stable government without threatening the liberties of the people;
- A BALANCE between the people who hold power and the people who are governed;
- Those in power must be responsible to the people;
- A BALANCE between the Federal and state powers is necessary.
Madison attributed the success of the delegates to two important factors:
- The framers were free of party animosities;
- The delegates were so pleased with the final product that they were willing to put aside certain personal objections in order to avoid further delay or the necessity of drafting an entirely new document.
Madison devoted his efforts in this Essay (#37) and his subsequent Essay (#38) to articulating the difficulties faced by the delegates in guaranteeing both the security of the few and the liberty of many.
Credit for the summary and analysis of Essay #37 is given to Brittany Nelson and Christopher Higgins (second revision 09/15/2011). Weinbloom, Elizabeth ed. “The Federalist Papers Essay 37 Summary and Analysis”. GradeSaver, 30 December 2011 Web. 30 January 2019.