Federalist Papers – Essay #47

In Essay #47, The Particular Structure of the New Government and the Distribution of Power Among Its Different Parts, James Madison focuses on the principle of separation of powers.

This is a principle that seems to be under siege today, and it is essential that citizens of today, regardless of political persuasion, should understand this principle completely.

Madison hammers home the point that an unequal division of power could result in the loss of liberty. “Too much power in one branch of government,” he says, “is the very definition of tyranny.”

To support his arguments, Madison reaches back to the French political writer, Montesquieu who used the British constitution has his model. From Montesquieu’s writings, Madison concludes that the proposed Constitution – and the existing state constitutions – do not violate the separation of powers doctrine.

Madison calls the accumulation of legislative, executive, and judicial power in the same hands – whether of one, of a few, or of many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective – the very definition of tyranny.

Madison considers their separation essential to the preservation of liberty.

Credit for the summary and analysis of Essay #47 is given to Brittany Nelson and Christopher Higgins (second revision 09/15/2011). Weinbloom, Elizabeth ed. “The Federalist Papers Essay #47 Summary and Analysis”. GradeSaver, 30 December 2011 Web. 5 February 2019.

You can read the summary and analysis of Essay #47 by clicking HERE.

You can read the entire text of Essay #47 by clicking HERE.

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