In Essay #46, The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared, James Madison continues his efforts of reassurance that the Federal government will not threaten the powers reserved for the states.
Madison uses two arguments that were covered in previous essays:
- State officials and representatives live in close daily contact with the electorate and deal with issues that directly impact their lives;
- Just as representatives in state governments are typically biased towards their home counties and towns, so will representatives in Congress be biased towards their home states: “A local spirit will infallibly prevail much more in the members of the congress, than a national spirit will prevail in the legislatures of the particular states.”
Furthermore, Madison argues that if the federal government were to encroach on the rights of the states, the latter would have a significant advantage in resisting such action. States could ultimately band together in resisting the federal government. Madison dismisses as highly unlikely the chances of the federal government being able to raise an army powerful enough to overcome all the state militias.
Obviously, Madison didn’t foresee the Civil War.
Credit for the summary and analysis of Essay #46 is given to Brittany Nelson and Christopher Higgins (second revision 09/15/2011). Weinbloom, Elizabeth ed. “The Federalist Papers Essay #46 Summary and Analysis”. GradeSaver, 30 December 2011 Web. 5 February 2019.