James Madison Papers

James Madison: Notes on the federal system and the nature of government, December 1830

Compact express or tacit, [begin? bein?] & essence of free Govt.

social compact, theoretical, but possible to be realized in [unaccepted?] tendency


Majy. to decide, whether a necessary result or an [ ] one


Majy. to chuse a Govt. binding on all.


Govt. not a party to the compact, but the creature [ ] the compact being among the Governed (sound [construction? intention? of] Constn. [ ]


The Compact permanent in its social origin, unless otherwise [upon?]


The Govt. permanent, but alterable by the Authority which made it.


All political power being created by Consent, thereby also dissoluble, modifiable, &


The sovereign or Creating power, in the Society also revised, by consent, Kentucky & Maine


also unitable. England & Scotland &c. [vs. us,?] [ ]


The Sovereignty, consists of the supreme attributes of power, interest &. [ ] which are susceptible of division, as in the U. S.


Sovereignty, therefore susceptible, by compact, of modifications

* vary from a complete—incorporation to a simple league mode by which a translation of power is mutually created & exchanged.


*letter [sent]

In none of the varying modifications, founded in consent & mutual in their obligations, is there any loss of dignity or equality. Each party, whether an individual in the social compact, or an independent nation in a league gaining as much power over other parties. as is granted to others, * expediency therefore the sole test of the compact

*See letter to Hayne


Happy that power is so, if so valuable divisible, & amalgam a character, as that it can be adapted to the circumstances & interests of different [ ]


Particularly happy, as it admits a compound of Fedl. & Repub Polity equally consistent with & [ ] conservation of liberty within, and safety without


The Fedl. principle particularly valuable, as susceptible of [ ] adaptable to indefinite extents of space, by entering to contractions of its attributes; by a pyramid of Federal systems, [ ] each in the scope of its powers; nothing but time & space, cd. controul the practical extension over the globe; and if these can not be [constituted], how much are they reduced by [ ]improvements, made & to be made—for a proper [ ] under J. M.


In all cases of divided powers even the Simple Govt. among co-ordinate bodies, difficulties & disputes may arise, as been Legisl., Ex. & Judy on & between different branches as Senate & Represents—in St. [Lds.] & Comons.

In Fedl. Systems, tho in Genl. & parties Govt. avoid them by vesting the superior expounding power in the former—limited the difficulty to questions, as to the extreme cases—[ ]; under difference a can and in the fedl. Govt. to last [ ] between the [power] to the Fedl. compact &c.

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