Federalist No. 52

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
James Madison, author of Federalist No. 52

Federalist No. 52, an essay by James Madison[fn 1], is the fifty-second of The Federalist Papers. It was published in the New York Packet on February 8, 1788, with the pseudonym Publius, under which all The Federalist papers were published. This essay is the first of two examining the structure of the United States House of Representatives under the proposed United States Constitution. It is titled The House of Representatives".[1]

The essay is largely concerned with qualifications of representatives and the frequency of their election. The Federalists argued that annual elections would not afford representatives enough time to learn about their office. They proposed biennial elections to allow representatives to gain experience without remaining in office for too long.[1]

The essay also makes reference to the right to vote as laid down in the Constitution, stating:

The definition of the right of suffrage is very justly regarded as a fundamental article of republican government. It was incumbent on the convention, therefore, to define and establish this right in the Constitution. To have left it open for the occasional regulation of the Congress, would have been improper for the reason just mentioned. To have submitted it to the legislative discretion of the States, would have been improper for the same reason; and for the additional reason that it would have rendered (IT)too dependent on the State governments that branch of the federal government which ought to be dependent on the people alone.

Federalist paper no.52 also continues on to Federalist paper no.53 titled "House of Representative continued" to continue Madison's argument about biennial election and reassuring that their liberty will be secure under the proposed constitution.[1]


Before the creation of Federalist No. 52, the United States was run under the Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress was unicameral, meaning it was a single legislative body. It was Federalist No. 52 that split Congress to the House of Representatives and Senate. The reason for this was because of the belief that Congress would soon become tyrannical, which the United States had fought against in the American Revolution.[2] The fear of tyranny was established due to the power that Congress possessed and the less efficient method of representation. The method of representation was that each state is allowed one representative, regardless of the size of the state or the population. This meant that each state would only be given one vote in every meeting held within the House of Representatives.[3] Madison believed that corruption can develop within the House of Representatives, since only one representative represented a state, meaning that one representative can easily be influence in decision making by outside sources, especially if the qualification of said candidate is not specified. It was Federalist 52 that specified the qualification of a candidate running for representation of their state. Madison's main vision was a proper and fair method for states across the United States to represent themselves. That included methods that would prevent future corruption of candidates and fair representation of bigger and more populated states. That was is what prompted the creation of Federalist 52.

Madison Argument/Reason[edit]

Madison's vision of an organized and efficient method of representation came to fruition once Federalist 52 was published. It was his methods of organizing the House of Representatives that made it into such an important part of our government. Madison believed that biennial elections would result in a powerful and more effective form of representation and liberty. He compares his biennial election to the octennial elections that took place, during that time, in Ireland. According to Madison, Ireland received little forms of liberty to their citizens in regards to representation, however, liberty was still present. Madison states that if Ireland's octennial elections resulted in a form of liberty and representation, then a biennial election would result in a greater amount of liberty and representation for the United States.[3] Of course, biennial elections alone cannot guarantee liberty and fair representation. What would guarantee fair representation is the quality of the candidate chosen for representation. Madison states, in an organized list, the qualifications one should look for in an individual that will make them eligible for candidacy. According to Madison, a candidate, "…must be of the age of twenty-five years: must have been seven years a citizen of the United States: must, at the time of his election, be an inhabitant of the State he is to represent: and, during the time of his service, must be in no office under the United States.".[3] It was these qualifications that guaranteed that a proper and professional candidate would be chosen for representation. Madison's Federalist 52 had completely changed the way states represented themselves, and organized it to a uniform order that is still organized the same way today.

House of Representative and Senate[edit]

In 1789, the House of Representatives met, for the first time, in New York. They then moved to Philadelphia in 1790, and in 1800, the House of Representatives met in Washington DC, and would meet there for decades to come. From then hence forth, many laws and acts were implemented such as the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1803 to the abolish of slavery in 1865. After the ratification of the US Constitution, the amount of representatives for every state now depends on the population of the state. This results in fair and efficient voting and passing of laws.[4]

The House of Representatives have a few jobs only it can do such as initiating bills for raising revenue, decide if a government official should be put on a trial before the Senate if he/she commits a crime against the country and finally to choose the President in the event that a presidential candidate fails to get a majority of the Electoral College votes.[5]

The Senate has far more power than the House of Representatives such as the "advice and consent" powers (for example: to approve treaties) are a sole Senate privilege. But certain things still have to be passed by the House of Representative first before it can reach the Senate.[6]

As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 39, "The House of Representatives will derive its powers from the people of America....The Senate, on the other hand, will derive its powers from the States, as political and co-equal societies; and these will be represented on the principle of equality in the Senate."[6]

Modern Situation[edit]

Currently, most of the United States' rules and regulation for the House of Representatives have not changed since they were introduced in the Constitution. The qualification criteria remain the same as well: Representatives must be twenty-five or older, have been a citizen for at least 7 years, and must be inhabitants of the state they represent.[7]

The Congress is divided into two houses, the House of Representative and the Senate, and the qualification for them are slightly different. Members of the Senate are required to be aged 30 years or older, and to have been a citizen for at least 9 years. The reason for this is because Senators represent an entire state, whereas members of the House represent only their congressional district.[7]


  1. ^ it is disputed whether this essay was written by Madison or Alexander Hamilton
  1. ^ a b c "The Federalist Papers - Congress.gov Resources -". www.congress.gov. Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  2. ^ Prince, L Bradford (1867). The Articles of Confederation vs. the Constitution: The progress of nationality among the people and in the government. New York : G.P. Putnam & Son.
  3. ^ a b c Madison, James; Hamilton, Alexander (2009-04-17). The Federalist Papers. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300118902.
  4. ^ "History of the House · House.gov". www.house.gov. Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  5. ^ "The Legislative Branch". whitehouse.gov. 2015-04-01. Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  6. ^ a b "U.S. Senate: Senate Legislative Process". www.senate.gov. Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  7. ^ a b "Qualifications of Members of Congress < The Legislative Branch: The Reach of Congress < Government 1991 < American History From Revolution To Reconstruction and beyond". www.let.rug.nl. Retrieved 2016-10-31.

External links[edit]