Federalist Papers Summary 62
The Federalist Essays Summary No 62: James Madison February 27, 1788
Madison now turns to the senate listing the areas to be considered. 1. the qualifications of senators. 2. the appointment of them by the state legislatures. 3. the equality of representation in the senate. 4. the number of senators and the term for which they are to be elected. 5. the powers vested in the senate. The first four are discussed in this paper.
- The qualifications for senators consist of a more advanced age, thirty years, and longer period of citizenship, nine years, than representatives, twenty-five and seven years respectively, because of “the nature of the senatorial trust” which requires a greater extent of information and character.
2. It should be unnecessary to explain why senators are to be chosen by state legislatures. It favors a selection of competent senators and gives the states an agency in the formation of the federal government and secures the authority of the state governments.
3. The fact that all states have equal representation in the senate is obviously a compromise between the desires of the large and small states. He makes the distinction between the house which represents the people bound together in one nation and the senate which represents the individual sovereign states. A government formed to benefit the larger states would not likely satisfy the smaller states which might seek a government more unfavorable to the former than the one proposed which “preserves the sovereignty remaining in the individual states”. An interesting point is made about this form or government that “no law or resolution can now be passed without the concurrence first of a majority of the people and then of a majority of the states”. Wouldn’t it be nice if this were still true.
4. The number of senators and their term in office is considered next and although this seems less controversial it takes the rest of the paper and part of the next to justify. First consider why there is a senate and what would be “the inconveniences which a republic must suffer from the want of such an institution”.
1. First having two different bodies protects the people from schemes of usurpation where the corruption of one would otherwise be sufficient.
2. Second the senate guards against a single or numerous body from being swayed by passion of the moment or eloquence “by possessing great firmness and holding its authority by a tenure of considerable duration”.
3. Third the current government under the Articles lacking a senate is embarrassed by all the frequent repeals, amendments, and impeachments of its laws and regulations. “A good government implies two things; first, fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained.” Although most governments fail to provide either or both of these requirements, the proposed constitution solves the second “which increases the security for the first”.
4. Fourth there is a requirement for stability in one body of government. Without stability there will be no respect and confidence from other nations as is the current situation he states. Madison presents another pearl of wisdom so lacking in our twenty-first century legislative bodies: “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow”. And another; “what prudent merchant will hazard his fortunes in any new branch of commerce when he knows not but that his plans may be rendered unlawful before they can be executed?”.
Federalist Papers Summary 62 Written by Donald Mellon