Federalist Essays Summary No. 18

 

Federalist Papers Summary No. 18

 
 

Federalist Papers Author James Madison
James Madison

Federalist Essays Summary Number 18

The Federalist Papers Summary No 18:  Madison
(With the Assistance of Alexander Hamilton)

December 7, 1787

Although the paper is not short, the summary will be for two reasons; few would read it to the end other than ancient history devotees and the amount of research required to provide necessary background information would be prohibitive.  The paper describes two confederacies of antiquity that were similar to the current confederacy and how they failed.  The first of these was the Grecian Republics associated under the Amphyctionic Council.  This was a collection of cities in Greece that united much as the States united under the Articles of Confederation.  It failed when the more powerful cities began to dominate the weaker. 

The second example is that of the Archaean League which was another society of Grecian republics much wiser in its organization but not exempt from a similar catastrophe.  This league existed at the time of the Amphyctionic Council, but it united the smaller cities of Greece whereas the council was concerned with the larger cities.  Modern historians credit the Archaean League with introducing representation proportional to population but Madison does not mention this as part of the “curious political fabric” which he says regrettably they know little of.   This League was eventually overrun by Roman armies after years of warfare involving alliances with the various powers of the time and region.

These examples “emphatically illustrate the tendency of federal bodies, rather to anarchy among the members, than to tyranny in the head”.  That is political organizations like that formed under the Articles dissolve because of conflict among the States not from conflicts with the national governing body. 

Summary Written by Donald Mellon

 

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