The System of Checks and Balances, James Madison

Essay by katyseanCollege, UndergraduateA+, January 2005

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Checks and Balances

American History

James Madison believed that the government powers must be divided into separate areas and that each part should have a limited amount of power and control. James Madison felt this was important for many reasons, one he refers to in this quote, "If men were all angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

Essentially Madison was referring to a commonly know term in today's society, "checks and balances". Checks and Balances refer to the fact that each branch of government has many ways to check on the power of other branches. For example, the President can veto a bill, Congress can over-ride a veto and the Supreme Court can declare a law unconstitutional. Madison also believed that the members of each branch should be independent. He addressed the possible problems of how power could be divided equally but gave many facts that supported his idea that a divided government system would in turn be a safer way to conduct governing.

Madison also touched on the social aspect on how a divide government would make the "weaker" and the "stronger" man more secure, in this quote he states "by a like motive, to wish for a government which will protect all parties, the weaker as well as the more powerful."

Madison had a extremely strong passion for how government should be ran and the most effective way of doing so, which is why now in 2004 and many years prior, the system of checks and balances have existed.