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Madison has already proposed, in Federalist 47, that the powers of government ought to be divided in order that they be limited. In Federalist 48, he furthers and refines this argument by saying that the powers of government should not be so separate that one branch of government should be able to gain more power than the others. According to Madison, this is what had happened in many of the state governments in the years since the Revolution. State legislatures had become too powerful and too "democratical" in the minds of many of the Framers. Madison argued that this was the main thing to be feared in a representative government: that the legislature would, being animated by the "passions" of the people, would make bad laws and abuse their authority. He pointed to the legislatures of Virginia and Pennsylvania as examples of how this had happened. Viewed in its context, this essay is supporting Madision's larger argument for a system of checks and balances.
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