Skip to Main Content

The Purpose of Government

9 Lessons


Securing fundamental individual rights, as well as the rights of the people as a whole to govern themselves through consent is the principal object of the republic envisioned by the Founders like James Madison, James Wilson, Alexander Hamilton, and George Mason. We find in Federalist No. 10 (1787), however, another characterization of what Madison calls the “first object” of government that is worthy of more consideration than it generally receives.

Capturing his vision of a defensible democratic republic perhaps better than a mere reference to securing fundamental rights, Madison invited the American people in the late 1780s to embrace a governmental arrangement that would protect them in the exercise of their “diverse faculties.”