Portrait of Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton on the Civil Balance of Power

Found in: The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 1

This quotation from Alexander Hamilton at the Federal Convention—where amid the shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation the Framers drafted and debated the U.S. Constitution—speaks to the difficulty of forming a national government that can adequately defend the interests of all parts of civil society.


In every community where industry is encouraged, there will be a division of it into the few and the many. Hence, separate interests will arise. There will be debtors and creditors, etc. Give all power to the many, they will oppress the few. Give all power to the few, they will oppress the many. Both, therefore, ought to have the power, that each may defend itself against the other. (FROM: SPEECHES IN THE FEDERAL CONVENTION, Monday, June 18, 1787) - Alexander Hamilton