Essay #41, General View of the Powers Conferred by the Constitution, begins a series of essays that defend the extensive power granted to the central government by the Constitution. The scholarly James Madison structures his argument into two broad categories:
- The sum of power vested in government; and
- The particular structure of the government.
Madison’s focus in this essay is on the first category – the sum of power vested in government – and he wastes no time getting to his main point: In his own words, “Governments must be given power in order to govern; however, by giving governments power, the people run the risk of that power being abused by government.”
Once again, in an appeal to the “good sense of the people of America,” he reminds his audience the overall goal should be “the greater, not the perfect, good.”
In discussing the major classifications of powers granted to the national government, Madison recapitulates many of the arguments presented in other essays: see especially Essays 8 and 24 (armies), Essay 26 (budget terms), and Essay 23 (militia).
Credit for the summary and analysis of Essay #41 is given to Brittany Nelson and Christopher Higgins (second revision 09/15/2011). Weinbloom, Elizabeth ed. “The Federalist Papers Essay #41 Summary and Analysis”. GradeSaver, 30 December 2011 Web. 30 January 2019.