Madison's Assessment - Compromise and Federalist #37

Madison's Assessment - Compromise and Federalist #37

For Federalist #37 we finally see James Madison return.

After a month-long absence, Madison again takes up the pen of Publis and begins a run of 21 straight Papers.

In this essay, James discusses the challenges the Delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention faced.

Federalist #37

January 11, 1788

James Madison

Madison’s Assessment

After a full month of Alexander Hamilton’s writing, the publication of Federalist #37 finally brought the ideas of James Madison back to the people of New York (though they did not know it, since he was using a pen name).

Madison’s words are in his usual intellectual yet matter-of-fact style as he discusses the extraordinary situation the Constitutional Congressmen found themselves in.

While presenting his argument in #37, it is interesting to note that he refers to ‘them’ instead of ‘we’ in an attempt to distance himself from the Congress and seem more objective.

More than providing arguments for the Constitution, Madison uses this Paper to set the scene in which the Framers attempted to devise a new government.


Madison quickly reveals that the Constitution is not perfect.

He reminds the reader that any government that one person was 100% happy with would leave everyone else extremely dissatisfied. In order to create a more perfect government, everyone would have to compromise. 

James states the situation perfectly when he says, ‘The real wonder is that so many difficulties should have been surmounted…’

No Examples

Madison goes on to point out that the Framers had no previous example to base their experience on.

Any earlier republic, in his estimation, ended in failure. Therefore, they had to learn from their mistakes and hope for better results.

In doing so, they overstepped their goal of revising the Articles of Confederation and instead created a stable Federal Government which protected the liberties of the people by ceding certain powers to the States.

Have you missed our previous Federalist Friday articles?

Take a look at the full list here.

The Federalist Papers are written in 18th century English and can be difficult to understand.

‘The Accessible Federalist’ takes some of the most important Papers and translates them into modern English, making them easier for us 21st century readers.

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