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would be liable? To a certain extent, the benefits of that union
will be obtained from making the chief justice of the Supreme Court
the president of the court of impeachments, as is proposed to be
done in the plan of the convention; while the inconveniences of an
entire incorporation of the former into the latter will be
substantially avoided. This was perhaps the prudent mean. I
forbear to remark upon the additional pretext for clamor against the
judiciary, which so considerable an augmentation of its authority
would have afforded.
Would it have been desirable to have composed the court for the
trial of impeachments, of persons wholly distinct from the other
departments of the government? There are weighty arguments, as well
against, as in favor of, such a plan. To some minds it will not
appear a trivial objection, that it could tend to increase the
complexity of the political machine, and to add a new spring to the
government, the utility of which would at best be questionable. But
an objection which will not be thought by any unworthy of attention,
is this: a court formed upon such a plan, would either be attended
with a heavy expense, or might in practice be subject to a variety
of casualties and inconveniences. It must either consist of
permanent officers, stationary at the seat of government, and of
course entitled to fixed and regular stipends, or of certain
officers of the State governments to be called upon whenever an
impeachment was actually depending. It will not be easy to imagine
any third mode materially different, which could rationally be
proposed. As the court, for reasons already given, ought to be
numerous, the first scheme will be reprobated by every man who can
compare the extent of the public wants with the means of supplying
them. The second will be espoused with caution by those who will
seriously consider the difficulty of collecting men dispersed over
the whole Union; the injury to the innocent, from the
procrastinated determination of the charges which might be brought
against them; the advantage to the guilty, from the opportunities
which delay would afford to intrigue and corruption; and in some
cases the detriment to the State, from the prolonged inaction of men
whose firm and faithful execution of their duty might have exposed
them to the persecution of an intemperate or designing majority in
the House of Representatives. Though this latter supposition may
seem harsh, and might not be likely often to be verified, yet it
ought not to be forgotten that the demon of faction will, at certain
seasons, extend his sceptre over all numerous bodies of men.
But though one or the other of the substitutes which have been
examined, or some other that might be devised, should be thought
preferable to the plan in this respect, reported by the convention,
it will not follow that the Constitution ought for this reason to be
rejected. If mankind were to resolve to agree in no institution of
government, until every part of it had been adjusted to the most
exact standard of perfection, society would soon become a general
scene of anarchy, and the world a desert. Where is the standard of
perfection to be found? Who will undertake to unite the discordant
opinions of a whole community, in the same judgment of it; and to
prevail upon one conceited projector to renounce his INFALLIBLE
criterion for the FALLIBLE criterion of his more CONCEITED NEIGHBOR?
To answer the purpose of the adversaries of the Constitution, they
ought to prove, not merely that particular provisions in it are not
the best which might have been imagined, but that the plan upon the
whole is bad and pernicious.
PUBLIUS.

FEDERALIST No. 66

Objections to the Power of the Senate To Set as a Court for
Impeachments Further Considered
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, March 11, 1788.

HAMILTON

To the People of the State of New York:
A REVIEW of the principal objections that have appeared against
the proposed court for the trial of impeachments, will not
improbably eradicate the remains of any unfavorable impressions
which may still exist in regard to this matter.
The FIRST of these objections is, that the provision in question
confounds legislative and judiciary authorities in the same body, in
violation of that important and wellestablished maxim which requires
a separation between the different departments of power. The true
meaning of this maxim has been discussed and ascertained in another
place, and has been shown to be entirely compatible with a partial
intermixture of those departments for special purposes, preserving
them, in the main, distinct and unconnected. This partial
intermixture is even, in some cases, not only proper but necessary
to the mutual defense of the several members of the government
against each other. An absolute or qualified negative in the
executive upon the acts of the legislative body, is admitted, by the
ablest adepts in political science, to be an indispensable barrier
against the encroachments of the latter upon the former. And it
may, perhaps, with no less reason be contended, that the powers
relating to impeachments are, as before intimated, an essential
check in the hands of that body upon the encroachments of the
executive. The division of them between the two branches of the
legislature, assigning to one the right of accusing, to the other
the right of judging, avoids the inconvenience of making the same
persons both accusers and judges; and guards against the danger of
persecution, from the prevalency of a factious spirit in either of
those branches. As the concurrence of two thirds of the Senate will
be requisite to a condemnation, the security to innocence, from this
additional circumstance, will be as complete as itself can desire.
It is curious to observe, with what vehemence this part of the
plan is assailed, on the principle here taken notice of, by men who
profess to admire, without exception, the constitution of this
State; while that constitution makes the Senate, together with the
chancellor and judges of the Supreme Court, not only a court of
impeachments, but the highest judicatory in the State, in all
causes, civil and criminal. The proportion, in point of numbers, of
the chancellor and judges to the senators, is so inconsiderable,
that the judiciary authority of New York, in the last resort, may,
with truth, be said to reside in its Senate. If the plan of the
convention be, in this respect, chargeable with a departure from the
celebrated maxim which has been so often mentioned, and seems to be
so little understood, how much more culpable must be the
constitution of New York?1
A SECOND objection to the Senate, as a court of impeachments,
is, that it contributes to an undue accumulation of power in that
body, tending to give to the government a countenance too
aristocratic. The Senate, it is observed, is to have concurrent
authority with the Executive in the formation of treaties and in the
appointment to offices: if, say the objectors, to these
prerogatives is added that of deciding in all cases of impeachment,
it will give a decided predominancy to senatorial influence. To an
objection so little precise in itself, it is not easy to find a very
precise answer. Where is the measure or criterion to which we can
appeal, for determining what will give the Senate too much, too
little, or barely the proper degree of influence? Will it not be
more safe, as well as more simple, to dismiss such vague and
uncertain calculations, to examine each power by itself, and to
decide, on general principles, where it may be deposited with most
advantage and least inconvenience?
If we take this course, it will lead to a more intelligible, if
not to a more certain result. The disposition of the power of
making treaties, which has obtained in the plan of the convention,
will, then, if I mistake not, appear to be fully justified by the
considerations stated in a former number, and by others which will
occur under the next head of our inquiries. The expediency of the
junction of the Senate with the Executive, in the power of
appointing to offices, will, I trust, be placed in a light not less
satisfactory, in the disquisitions under the same head. And I
flatter myself the observations in my last paper must have gone no
inconsiderable way towards proving that it was not easy, if
practicable, to find a more fit receptacle for the power of
determining impeachments, than that which has been chosen. If this
be truly the case, the hypothetical dread of the too great weight of
the Senate ought to be discarded from our reasonings.
But this hypothesis, such as it is, has already been refuted in
the remarks applied to the duration in office prescribed for the
senators. It was by them shown, as well on the credit of historical
examples, as from the reason of the thing, that the most POPULAR
branch of every government, partaking of the republican genius, by
being generally the favorite of the people, will be as generally a
full match, if not an overmatch, for every other member of the
Government.
But independent of this most active and operative principle, to
secure the equilibrium of the national House of Representatives, the
plan of the convention has provided in its favor several important
counterpoises to the additional authorities to be conferred upon the
Senate. The exclusive privilege of originating money bills will
belong to the House of Representatives. The same house will possess
the sole right of instituting impeachments: is not this a complete
counterbalance to that of determining them? The same house will be
the umpire in all elections of the President, which do not unite the
suffrages of a majority of the whole number of electors; a case
which it cannot be doubted will sometimes, if not frequently, happen.
The constant possibility of the thing must be a fruitful source of
influence to that body. The more it is contemplated, the more
important will appear this ultimate though contingent power, of
deciding the competitions of the most illustrious citizens of the
Union, for the first office in it. It would not perhaps be rash to
predict, that as a mean of influence it will be found to outweigh
all the peculiar attributes of the Senate.
A THIRD objection to the Senate as a court of impeachments, is
drawn from the agency they are to have in the appointments to office.
It is imagined that they would be too indulgent judges of the
conduct of men, in whose official creation they had participated.
The principle of this objection would condemn a practice, which is
to be seen in all the State governments, if not in all the
governments with which we are acquainted: I mean that of rendering
those who hold offices during pleasure, dependent on the pleasure of
those who appoint them. With equal plausibility might it be alleged
in this case, that the favoritism of the latter would always be an
asylum for the misbehavior of the former. But that practice, in
contradiction to this principle, proceeds upon the presumption, that
the responsibility of those who appoint, for the fitness and
competency of the persons on whom they bestow their choice, and the
interest they will have in the respectable and prosperous
administration of affairs, will inspire a sufficient disposition to
dismiss from a share in it all such who, by their conduct, shall
have proved themselves unworthy of the confidence reposed in them.
Though facts may not always correspond with this presumption, yet
if it be, in the main, just, it must destroy the supposition that
the Senate, who will merely sanction the choice of the Executive,
should feel a bias, towards the objects of that choice, strong
enough to blind them to the evidences of guilt so extraordinary, as
to have induced the representatives of the nation to become its
accusers.
If any further arguments were necessary to evince the
improbability of such a bias, it might be found in the nature of the
agency of the Senate in the business of appointments.
It will be the office of the President to NOMINATE, and, with
the advice and consent of the Senate, to APPOINT. There will, of
course, be no exertion of CHOICE on the part of the Senate. They
may defeat one choice of the Executive, and oblige him to make
another; but they cannot themselves CHOOSE, they can only ratify or
reject the choice of the President. They might even entertain a
preference to some other person, at the very moment they were
assenting to the one proposed, because there might be no positive
ground of opposition to him; and they could not be sure, if they
withheld their assent, that the subsequent nomination would fall
upon their own favorite, or upon any other person in their
estimation more meritorious than the one rejected. Thus it could
hardly happen, that the majority of the Senate would feel any other
complacency towards the object of an appointment than such as the
appearances of merit might inspire, and the proofs of the want of it
destroy.
A FOURTH objection to the Senate in the capacity of a court of
impeachments, is derived from its union with the Executive in the
power of making treaties. This, it has been said, would constitute
the senators their own judges, in every case of a corrupt or
perfidious execution of that trust. After having combined with the
Executive in betraying the interests of the nation in a ruinous
treaty, what prospect, it is asked, would there be of their being
made to suffer the punishment they would deserve, when they were
themselves to decide upon the accusation brought against them for
the treachery of which they have been guilty?
This objection has been circulated with more earnestness and
with greater show of reason than any other which has appeared
against this part of the plan; and yet I am deceived if it does not
rest upon an erroneous foundation.
The security essentially intended by the Constitution against
corruption and treachery in the formation of treaties, is to be
sought for in the numbers and characters of those who are to make
them. The JOINT AGENCY of the Chief Magistrate of the Union, and of
two thirds of the members of a body selected by the collective
wisdom of the legislatures of the several States, is designed to be
the pledge for the fidelity of the national councils in this
particular. The convention might with propriety have meditated the
punishment of the Executive, for a deviation from the instructions
of the Senate, or a want of integrity in the conduct of the
negotiations committed to him; they might also have had in view the
punishment of a few leading individuals in the Senate, who should
have prostituted their influence in that body as the mercenary
instruments of foreign corruption: but they could not, with more or
with equal propriety, have contemplated the impeachment and
punishment of two thirds of the Senate, consenting to an improper
treaty, than of a majority of that or of the other branch of the
national legislature, consenting to a pernicious or unconstitutional
law, a principle which, I believe, has never been admitted into any
government. How, in fact, could a majority in the House of
Representatives impeach themselves? Not better, it is evident, than
two thirds of the Senate might try themselves. And yet what reason
is there, that a majority of the House of Representatives,
sacrificing the interests of the society by an unjust and tyrannical
act of legislation, should escape with impunity, more than two
thirds of the Senate, sacrificing the same interests in an injurious
treaty with a foreign power? The truth is, that in all such cases
it is essential to the freedom and to the necessary independence of
the deliberations of the body, that the members of it should be
exempt from punishment for acts done in a collective capacity; and
the security to the society must depend on the care which is taken
to confide the trust to proper hands, to make it their interest to
execute it with fidelity, and to make it as difficult as possible
for them to combine in any interest opposite to that of the public
good.
So far as might concern the misbehavior of the Executive in
perverting the instructions or contravening the views of the Senate,
we need not be apprehensive of the want of a disposition in that
body to punish the abuse of their confidence or to vindicate their
own authority. We may thus far count upon their pride, if not upon
their virtue. And so far even as might concern the corruption of
leading members, by whose arts and influence the majority may have
been inveigled into measures odious to the community, if the proofs
of that corruption should be satisfactory, the usual propensity of
human nature will warrant us in concluding that there would be
commonly no defect of inclination in the body to divert the public
resentment from themselves by a ready sacrifice of the authors of
their mismanagement and disgrace.
PUBLIUS.
In that of New Jersey, also, the final judiciary authority is in
a branch of the legislature. In New Hampshire, Massachusetts,
Pennsylvanis, and South Carolina, one branch of the legislature is
the court for the trial of impeachments.

FEDERALIST No. 67

The Executive Department
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, March 11, 1788.

HAMILTON

To the People of the State of New York:
THE constitution of the executive department of the proposed
government, claims next our attention.
There is hardly any part of the system which could have been
attended with greater difficulty in the arrangement of it than this;
and there is, perhaps, none which has been inveighed against with
less candor or criticised with less judgment.
Here the writers against the Constitution seem to have taken
pains to signalize their talent of misrepresentation. Calculating
upon the aversion of the people to monarchy, they have endeavored to
enlist all their jealousies and apprehensions in opposition to the
intended President of the United States; not merely as the embryo,
but as the full-grown progeny, of that detested parent. To
establish the pretended affinity, they have not scrupled to draw
resources even from the regions of fiction. The authorities of a
magistrate, in few instances greater, in some instances less, than
those of a governor of New York, have been magnified into more than
royal prerogatives. He has been decorated with attributes superior
in dignity and splendor to those of a king of Great Britain. He has
been shown to us with the diadem sparkling on his brow and the
imperial purple flowing in his train. He has been seated on a
throne surrounded with minions and mistresses, giving audience to
the envoys of foreign potentates, in all the supercilious pomp of
majesty. The images of Asiatic despotism and voluptuousness have
scarcely been wanting to crown the exaggerated scene. We have been
taught to tremble at the terrific visages of murdering janizaries,
and to blush at the unveiled mysteries of a future seraglio.
Attempts so extravagant as these to disfigure or, it might
rather be said, to metamorphose the object, render it necessary to
take an accurate view of its real nature and form: in order as well
to ascertain its true aspect and genuine appearance, as to unmask
the disingenuity and expose the fallacy of the counterfeit
resemblances which have been so insidiously, as well as
industriously, propagated.
In the execution of this task, there is no man who would not
find it an arduous effort either to behold with moderation, or to
treat with seriousness, the devices, not less weak than wicked,
which have been contrived to pervert the public opinion in relation
to the subject. They so far exceed the usual though unjustifiable
licenses of party artifice, that even in a disposition the most
candid and tolerant, they must force the sentiments which favor an
indulgent construction of the conduct of political adversaries to
give place to a voluntary and unreserved indignation. It is
impossible not to bestow the imputation of deliberate imposture and
deception upon the gross pretense of a similitude between a king of
Great Britain and a magistrate of the character marked out for that
of the President of the United States. It is still more impossible
to withhold that imputation from the rash and barefaced expedients
which have been employed to give success to the attempted imposition.
In one instance, which I cite as a sample of the general spirit,
the temerity has proceeded so far as to ascribe to the President of
the United States a power which by the instrument reported is
EXPRESSLY allotted to the Executives of the individual States. I
mean the power of filling casual vacancies in the Senate.
This bold experiment upon the discernment of his countrymen has
been hazarded by a writer who (whatever may be his real merit) has
had no inconsiderable share in the applauses of his party1; and
who, upon this false and unfounded suggestion, has built a series of
observations equally false and unfounded. Let him now be confronted
with the evidence of the fact, and let him, if he be able, justify
or extenuate the shameful outrage he has offered to the dictates of
truth and to the rules of fair dealing.
The second clause of the second section of the second article
empowers the President of the United States ``to nominate, and by
and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint
ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the
Supreme Court, and all other OFFICERS of United States whose
appointments are NOT in the Constitution OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR, and
WHICH SHALL BE ESTABLISHED BY LAW.'' Immediately after this clause
follows another in these words: ``The President shall have power to
fill up ?? VACANCIES that may happen DURING THE RECESS OF THE
SENATE, by granting commissions which shall EXPIRE AT THE END OF
THEIR NEXT SESSION.'' It is from this last provision that the
pretended power of the President to fill vacancies in the Senate has
been deduced. A slight attention to the connection of the clauses,
and to the obvious meaning of the terms, will satisfy us that the
deduction is not even colorable.
The first of these two clauses, it is clear, only provides a
mode for appointing such officers, ``whose appointments are NOT
OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR in the Constitution, and which SHALL BE
ESTABLISHED BY LAW''; of course it cannot extend to the
appointments of senators, whose appointments are OTHERWISE PROVIDED
FOR in the Constitution2, and who are ESTABLISHED BY THE
CONSTITUTION, and will not require a future establishment by law.
This position will hardly be contested.
The last of these two clauses, it is equally clear, cannot be
understood to comprehend the power of filling vacancies in the
Senate, for the following reasons: First. The relation in
which that clause stands to the other, which declares the general
mode of appointing officers of the United States, denotes it to be
nothing more than a supplement to the other, for the purpose of
establishing an auxiliary method of appointment, in cases to which
the general method was inadequate. The ordinary power of
appointment is confined to the President and Senate JOINTLY, and can
therefore only be exercised during the session of the Senate; but
as it would have been improper to oblige this body to be continually
in session for the appointment of officers and as vacancies might
happen IN THEIR RECESS, which it might be necessary for the public
service to fill without delay, the succeeding clause is evidently
intended to authorize the President, SINGLY, to make temporary
appointments ``during the recess of the Senate, by granting
commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.''
Secondly. If this clause is to be considered as supplementary
to the one which precedes, the VACANCIES of which it speaks must be
construed to relate to the ``officers'' described in the preceding
one; and this, we have seen, excludes from its description the
members of the Senate. Thirdly. The time within which the
power is to operate, ``during the recess of the Senate,'' and the
duration of the appointments, ``to the end of the next session'' of
that body, conspire to elucidate the sense of the provision, which,
if it had been intended to comprehend senators, would naturally have
referred the temporary power of filling vacancies to the recess of
the State legislatures, who are to make the permanent appointments,
and not to the recess of the national Senate, who are to have no
concern in those appointments; and would have extended the duration
in office of the temporary senators to the next session of the
legislature of the State, in whose representation the vacancies had
happened, instead of making it to expire at the end of the ensuing
session of the national Senate. The circumstances of the body
authorized to make the permanent appointments would, of course, have
governed the modification of a power which related to the temporary
appointments; and as the national Senate is the body, whose
situation is alone contemplated in the clause upon which the
suggestion under examination has been founded, the vacancies to
which it alludes can only be deemed to respect those officers in
whose appointment that body has a concurrent agency with the
President. But lastly, the first and second clauses of the
third section of the first article, not only obviate all possibility
of doubt, but destroy the pretext of misconception. The former
provides, that ``the Senate of the United States shall be composed
of two Senators from each State, chosen BY THE LEGISLATURE THEREOF
for six years''; and the latter directs, that, ``if vacancies in
that body should happen by resignation or otherwise, DURING THE
RECESS OF THE LEGISLATURE OF ANY STATE, the Executive THEREOF may
make temporary appointments until the NEXT MEETING OF THE
LEGISLATURE, which shall then fill such vacancies.'' Here is an
express power given, in clear and unambiguous terms, to the State
Executives, to fill casual vacancies in the Senate, by temporary
appointments; which not only invalidates the supposition, that the
clause before considered could have been intended to confer that
power upon the President of the United States, but proves that this
supposition, destitute as it is even of the merit of plausibility,
must have originated in an intention to deceive the people, too
palpable to be obscured by sophistry, too atrocious to be palliated
by hypocrisy.
I have taken the pains to select this instance of
misrepresentation, and to place it in a clear and strong light, as
an unequivocal proof of the unwarrantable arts which are practiced
to prevent a fair and impartial judgment of the real merits of the
Constitution submitted to the consideration of the people. Nor have
I scrupled, in so flagrant a case, to allow myself a severity of
animadversion little congenial with the general spirit of these
papers. I hesitate not to submit it to the decision of any candid
and honest adversary of the proposed government, whether language
can furnish epithets of too much asperity, for so shameless and so
prostitute an attempt to impose on the citizens of America.
PUBLIUS.
1 See CATO, No. V.
2 Article I, section 3, clause I.

FEDERALIST No. 68

The Mode of Electing the President
From the New York Packet.
Friday, March 14, 1788.

HAMILTON

To the People of the State of New York:
THE mode of appointment of the Chief Magistrate of the United
States is almost the only part of the system, of any consequence,
which has escaped without severe censure, or which has received the
slightest mark of approbation from its opponents. The most
plausible of these, who has appeared in print, has even deigned to
admit that the election of the President is pretty well
guarded.1 I venture somewhat further, and hesitate not to
affirm, that if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least
excellent. It unites in an eminent degree all the advantages, the
union of which was to be wished for.
It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in
the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be
confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of
making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by the
people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture.
It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be
made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the
station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation,
and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements
which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of
persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass,
will be most likely to possess the information and discernment
requisite to such complicated investigations.
It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity
as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be
dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so
important an agency in the administration of the government as the
President of the United States. But the precautions which have been
so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an
effectual security against this mischief. The choice of SEVERAL, to
form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to
convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements,
than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the
public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to
assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this
detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats
and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people,
than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.
Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable
obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption.
These most deadly adversaries of republican government might
naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than
one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain
an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better
gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief
magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against
all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious
attention. They have not made the appointment of the President to
depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with
beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in
the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to
be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole
purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from
eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be
suspected of too great devotion to the President in office. No
senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or
profit under the United States, can be of the numbers of the
electors. Thus without corrupting the body of the people, the
immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task
free from any sinister bias. Their transient existence, and their
detached situation, already taken notice of, afford a satisfactory
prospect of their continuing so, to the conclusion of it. The
business of corruption, when it is to embrace so considerable a
number of men, requires time as well as means. Nor would it be
found easy suddenly to embark them, dispersed as they would be over
thirteen States, in any combinations founded upon motives, which
though they could not properly be denominated corrupt, might yet be
of a nature to mislead them from their duty.
Another and no less important desideratum was, that the
Executive should be independent for his continuance in office on all
but the people themselves. He might otherwise be tempted to
sacrifice his duty to his complaisance for those whose favor was
necessary to the duration of his official consequence. This
advantage will also be secured, by making his re-election to depend
on a special body of representatives, deputed by the society for the
single purpose of making the important choice.
All these advantages will happily combine in the plan devised by
the convention; which is, that the people of each State shall
choose a number of persons as electors, equal to the number of
senators and representatives of such State in the national
government, who shall assemble within the State, and vote for some
fit person as President. Their votes, thus given, are to be
transmitted to the seat of the national government, and the person
who may happen to have a majority of the whole number of votes will
be the President. But as a majority of the votes might not always
happen to centre in one man, and as it might be unsafe to permit
less than a majority to be conclusive, it is provided that, in such
a contingency, the House of Representatives shall select out of the
candidates who shall have the five highest number of votes, the man
who in their opinion may be best qualified for the office.
The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the
office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not
in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.
Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may
alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single
State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of
merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole
Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary
to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of
President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say,
that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station
filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue. And this
will be thought no inconsiderable recommendation of the
Constitution, by those who are able to estimate the share which the
executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or
ill administration. Though we cannot acquiesce in the political
heresy of the poet who says: ``For forms of government let fools
contest That which is best administered is best,''
yet we may safely pronounce, that the true test of a good
government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good
administration.
The Vice-President is to be chosen in the same manner with the
President; with this difference, that the Senate is to do, in
respect to the former, what is to be done by the House of
Representatives, in respect to the latter.
The appointment of an extraordinary person, as Vice-President,
has been objected to as superfluous, if not mischievous. It has
been alleged, that it would have been preferable to have authorized
the Senate to elect out of their own body an officer answering that
description. But two considerations seem to justify the ideas of
the convention in this respect. One is, that to secure at all times
the possibility of a definite resolution of the body, it is
necessary that the President should have only a casting vote. And
to take the senator of any State from his seat as senator, to place
him in that of President of the Senate, would be to exchange, in
regard to the State from which he came, a constant for a contingent
vote. The other consideration is, that as the Vice-President may
occasionally become a substitute for the President, in the supreme
executive magistracy, all the reasons which recommend the mode of
election prescribed for the one, apply with great if not with equal
force to the manner of appointing the other. It is remarkable that
in this, as in most other instances, the objection which is made
would lie against the constitution of this State. We have a
Lieutenant-Governor, chosen by the people at large, who presides in
the Senate, and is the constitutional substitute for the Governor,
in casualties similar to those which would authorize the
Vice-President to exercise the authorities and discharge the duties
of the President.
PUBLIUS.
1 Vide FEDERAL FARMER.

FEDERALIST No. 69

The Real Character of the Executive
From the New York Packet.
Friday, March 14, 1788.

HAMILTON

To the People of the State of New York:
I PROCEED now to trace the real characters of the proposed
Executive, as they are marked out in the plan of the convention.
This will serve to place in a strong light the unfairness of the
representations which have been made in regard to it.
The first thing which strikes our attention is, that the
executive authority, with few exceptions, is to be vested in a
single magistrate. This will scarcely, however, be considered as a
point upon which any comparison can be grounded; for if, in this
particular, there be a resemblance to the king of Great Britain,
there is not less a resemblance to the Grand Seignior, to the khan
of Tartary, to the Man of the Seven Mountains, or to the governor of
New York.
That magistrate is to be elected for FOUR years; and is to be
re-eligible as often as the people of the United States shall think
him worthy of their confidence. In these circumstances there is a
total dissimilitude between HIM and a king of Great Britain, who is
an HEREDITARY monarch, possessing the crown as a patrimony
descendible to his heirs forever; but there is a close analogy
between HIM and a governor of New York, who is elected for THREE
years, and is re-eligible without limitation or intermission. If we
consider how much less time would be requisite for establishing a
dangerous influence in a single State, than for establishing a like
influence throughout the United States, we must conclude that a
duration of FOUR years for the Chief Magistrate of the Union is a
degree of permanency far less to be dreaded in that office, than a
duration of THREE years for a corresponding office in a single State.
The President of the United States would be liable to be
impeached, tried, and, upon conviction of treason, bribery, or other
high crimes or misdemeanors, removed from office; and would
afterwards be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary
course of law. The person of the king of Great Britain is sacred
and inviolable; there is no constitutional tribunal to which he is
amenable; no punishment to which he can be subjected without
involving the crisis of a national revolution. In this delicate and
important circumstance of personal responsibility, the President of
Confederated America would stand upon no better ground than a
governor of New York, and upon worse ground than the governors of
Maryland and Delaware.
The President of the United States is to have power to return a
bill, which shall have passed the two branches of the legislature,
for reconsideration; and the bill so returned is to become a law,
if, upon that reconsideration, it be approved by two thirds of both
houses. The king of Great Britain, on his part, has an absolute
negative upon the acts of the two houses of Parliament. The disuse
of that power for a considerable time past does not affect the
reality of its existence; and is to be ascribed wholly to the
crown's having found the means of substituting influence to
authority, or the art of gaining a majority in one or the other of
the two houses, to the necessity of exerting a prerogative which
could seldom be exerted without hazarding some degree of national
agitation. The qualified negative of the President differs widely
from this absolute negative of the British sovereign; and tallies
exactly with the revisionary authority of the council of revision of
this State, of which the governor is a constituent part. In this
respect the power of the President would exceed that of the governor
of New York, because the former would possess, singly, what the
latter shares with the chancellor and judges; but it would be
precisely the same with that of the governor of Massachusetts, whose
constitution, as to this article, seems to have been the original
from which the convention have copied.
The President is to be the ``commander-in-chief of the army and
navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States,
when called into the actual service of the United States. He is to
have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the
United States, EXCEPT IN CASES OF IMPEACHMENT; to recommend to the
consideration of Congress such measures as he shall judge necessary
and expedient; to convene, on extraordinary occasions, both houses
of the legislature, or either of them, and, in case of disagreement
between them WITH RESPECT TO THE TIME OF ADJOURNMENT, to adjourn
them to such time as he shall think proper; to take care that the
laws be faithfully executed; and to commission all officers of the
United States.'' In most of these particulars, the power of the
President will resemble equally that of the king of Great Britain
and of the governor of New York. The most material points of
difference are these: First. The President will have only the
occasional command of such part of the militia of the nation as by
legislative provision may be called into the actual service of the
Union. The king of Great Britain and the governor of New York have
at all times the entire command of all the militia within their
several jurisdictions. In this article, therefore, the power of the
President would be inferior to that of either the monarch or the
governor. Secondly. The President is to be commander-in-chief
of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his
authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great
Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to
nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military
and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy;
while that of the British king extends to the DECLARING of war and
to the RAISING and REGULATING of fleets and armies, all which, by
the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the
legislature.1 The governor of New York, on the other hand, is
by the constitution of the State vested only with the command of its
militia and navy. But the constitutions of several of the States
expressly declare their governors to be commanders-in-chief, as well
of the army as navy; and it may well be a question, whether those
of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, in particular, do not, in this
instance, confer larger powers upon their respective governors, than
could be claimed by a President of the United States. Thirdly.
The power of the President, in respect to pardons, would extend to
all cases, EXCEPT THOSE OF IMPEACHMENT. The governor of New York
may pardon in all cases, even in those of impeachment, except for
treason and murder. Is not the power of the governor, in this
article, on a calculation of political consequences, greater than
that of the President? All conspiracies and plots against the
government, which have not been matured into actual treason, may be
screened from punishment of every kind, by the interposition of the
prerogative of pardoning. If a governor of New York, therefore,
should be at the head of any such conspiracy, until the design had
been ripened into actual hostility he could insure his accomplices
and adherents an entire impunity. A President of the Union, on the
other hand, though he may even pardon treason, when prosecuted in
the ordinary course of law, could shelter no offender, in any
degree, from the effects of impeachment and conviction. Would not
the prospect of a total indemnity for all the preliminary steps be a
greater temptation to undertake and persevere in an enterprise
against the public liberty, than the mere prospect of an exemption
from death and confiscation, if the final execution of the design,
upon an actual appeal to arms, should miscarry? Would this last
expectation have any influence at all, when the probability was
computed, that the person who was to afford that exemption might
himself be involved in the consequences of the measure, and might be
incapacitated by his agency in it from affording the desired
impunity? The better to judge of this matter, it will be necessary
to recollect, that, by the proposed Constitution, the offense of
treason is limited ``to levying war upon the United States, and
adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort''; and that
by the laws of New York it is confined within similar bounds.
Fourthly. The President can only adjourn the national legislature
in the single case of disagreement about the time of adjournment.
The British monarch may prorogue or even dissolve the Parliament.
The governor of New York may also prorogue the legislature of this
State for a limited time; a power which, in certain situations, may
be employed to very important purposes.
The President is to have power, with the advice and consent of
the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the senators
present concur. The king of Great Britain is the sole and absolute
representative of the nation in all foreign transactions. He can of
his own accord make treaties of peace, commerce, alliance, and of
every other description. It has been insinuated, that his authority
in this respect is not conclusive, and that his conventions with
foreign powers are subject to the revision, and stand in need of the
ratification, of Parliament. But I believe this doctrine was never
heard of, until it was broached upon the present occasion. Every
jurist2 of that kingdom, and every other man acquainted with its
Constitution, knows, as an established fact, that the prerogative of
making treaties exists in the crown in its utmost plentitude; and
that the compacts entered into by the royal authority have the most
complete legal validity and perfection, independent of any other
sanction. The Parliament, it is true, is sometimes seen employing
itself in altering the existing laws to conform them to the
stipulations in a new treaty; and this may have possibly given
birth to the imagination, that its co-operation was necessary to the
obligatory efficacy of the treaty. But this parliamentary
interposition proceeds from a different cause: from the necessity
of adjusting a most artificial and intricate system of revenue and
commercial laws, to the changes made in them by the operation of the
treaty; and of adapting new provisions and precautions to the new
state of things, to keep the machine from running into disorder. In
this respect, therefore, there is no comparison between the intended
power of the President and the actual power of the British sovereign.
The one can perform alone what the other can do only with the
concurrence of a branch of the legislature. It must be admitted,
that, in this instance, the power of the federal Executive would
exceed that of any State Executive. But this arises naturally from
the sovereign power which relates to treaties. If the Confederacy
were to be dissolved, it would become a question, whether the
Executives of the several States were not solely invested with that
delicate and important prerogative.
The President is also to be authorized to receive ambassadors
and other public ministers. This, though it has been a rich theme
of declamation, is more a matter of dignity than of authority. It
is a circumstance which will be without consequence in the
administration of the government; and it was far more convenient
that it should be arranged in this manner, than that there should be
a necessity of convening the legislature, or one of its branches,
upon every arrival of a foreign minister, though it were merely to
take the place of a departed predecessor.
The President is to nominate, and, WITH THE ADVICE AND CONSENT
OF THE SENATE, to appoint ambassadors and other public ministers,
judges of the Supreme Court, and in general all officers of the
United States established by law, and whose appointments are not
otherwise provided for by the Constitution. The king of Great
Britain is emphatically and truly styled the fountain of honor. He
not only appoints to all offices, but can create offices. He can
confer titles of nobility at pleasure; and has the disposal of an
immense number of church preferments. There is evidently a great
inferiority in the power of the President, in this particular, to
that of the British king; nor is it equal to that of the governor
of New York, if we are to interpret the meaning of the constitution
of the State by the practice which has obtained under it. The power
of appointment is with us lodged in a council, composed of the
governor and four members of the Senate, chosen by the Assembly.
The governor CLAIMS, and has frequently EXERCISED, the right of
nomination, and is ENTITLED to a casting vote in the appointment.
If he really has the right of nominating, his authority is in this
respect equal to that of the President, and exceeds it in the
article of the casting vote. In the national government, if the
Senate should be divided, no appointment could be made; in the
government of New York, if the council should be divided, the
governor can turn the scale, and confirm his own nomination.3
If we compare the publicity which must necessarily attend the mode
of appointment by the President and an entire branch of the national
legislature, with the privacy in the mode of appointment by the
governor of New York, closeted in a secret apartment with at most
four, and frequently with only two persons; and if we at the same
time consider how much more easy it must be to influence the small
number of which a council of appointment consists, than the
considerable number of which the national Senate would consist, we
cannot hesitate to pronounce that the power of the chief magistrate
of this State, in the disposition of offices, must, in practice, be
greatly superior to that of the Chief Magistrate of the Union.
Hence it appears that, except as to the concurrent authority of
the President in the article of treaties, it would be difficult to
determine whether that magistrate would, in the aggregate, possess
more or less power than the Governor of New York. And it appears
yet more unequivocally, that there is no pretense for the parallel
which has been attempted between him and the king of Great Britain.
But to render the contrast in this respect still more striking, it
may be of use to throw the principal circumstances of dissimilitude
into a closer group.
The President of the United States would be an officer elected
by the people for FOUR years; the king of Great Britain is a
perpetual and HEREDITARY prince. The one would be amenable to
personal punishment and disgrace; the person of the other is sacred
and inviolable. The one would have a QUALIFIED negative upon the
acts of the legislative body; the other has an ABSOLUTE negative.
The one would have a right to command the military and naval forces
of the nation; the other, in addition to this right, possesses that
of DECLARING war, and of RAISING and REGULATING fleets and armies by
his own authority. The one would have a concurrent power with a
branch of the legislature in the formation of treaties; the other
is the SOLE POSSESSOR of the power of making treaties. The one
would have a like concurrent authority in appointing to offices;
the other is the sole author of all appointments. The one can
confer no privileges whatever; the other can make denizens of
aliens, noblemen of commoners; can erect corporations with all the
rights incident to corporate bodies. The one can prescribe no rules
concerning the commerce or currency of the nation; the other is in
several respects the arbiter of commerce, and in this capacity can
establish markets and fairs, can regulate weights and measures, can
lay embargoes for a limited time, can coin money, can authorize or
prohibit the circulation of foreign coin. The one has no particle
of spiritual jurisdiction; the other is the supreme head and
governor of the national church! What answer shall we give to those
who would persuade us that things so unlike resemble each other?
The same that ought to be given to those who tell us that a
government, the whole power of which would be in the hands of the
elective and periodical servants of the people, is an aristocracy, a
monarchy, and a despotism.
PUBLIUS.
1 A writer in a Pennsylvania paper, under the signature of
TAMONY, has asserted that the king of Great Britain owes his
prerogative as commander-in-chief to an annual mutiny bill. The
truth is, on the contrary, that his prerogative, in this respect, is
immemorial, and was only disputed, ``contrary to all reason and
precedent,'' as Blackstone vol. i., page 262, expresses it, by the
Long Parliament of Charles I. but by the statute the 13th of Charles
II., chap. 6, it was declared to be in the king alone, for that the
sole supreme government and command of the militia within his
Majesty's realms and dominions, and of all forces by sea and land,
and of all forts and places of strength, EVER WAS AND IS the
undoubted right of his Majesty and his royal predecessors, kings and
queens of England, and that both or either house of Parliament
cannot nor ought to pretend to the same.
2 Vide Blackstone's ``Commentaries,'' vol i., p. 257.
3 Candor, however, demands an acknowledgment that I do not think
the claim of the governor to a right of nomination well founded.
Yet it is always justifiable to reason from the practice of a
government, till its propriety has been constitutionally questioned.
And independent of this claim, when we take into view the other
considerations, and pursue them through all their consequences, we
shall be inclined to draw much the same conclusion.

*There are two slightly different versions of No. 70 included here.

FEDERALIST No. 70

The Executive Department Further Considered
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, March 18, 1788.

HAMILTON

To the People of the State of New York:
THERE is an idea, which is not without its advocates, that a
vigorous Executive is inconsistent with the genius of republican
government. The enlightened well-wishers to this species of
government must at least hope that the supposition is destitute of
foundation; since they can never admit its truth, without at the
same time admitting the condemnation of their own principles.
Energy in the Executive is a leading character in the definition of
good government. It is essential to the protection of the community
against foreign attacks; it is not less essential to the steady
administration of the laws; to the protection of property against
those irregular and high-handed combinations which sometimes
interrupt the ordinary course of justice; to the security of
liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of
faction, and of anarchy. Every man the least conversant in Roman
story, knows how often that republic was obliged to take refuge in
the absolute power of a single man, under the formidable title of
Dictator, as well against the intrigues of ambitious individuals who
aspired to the tyranny, and the seditions of whole classes of the
community whose conduct threatened the existence of all government,
as against the invasions of external enemies who menaced the
conquest and destruction of Rome.
There can be no need, however, to multiply arguments or examples
on this head. A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the
government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad
execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be in
theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.
Taking it for granted, therefore, that all men of sense will
agree in the necessity of an energetic Executive, it will only
remain to inquire, what are the ingredients which constitute this
energy? How far can they be combined with those other ingredients
which constitute safety in the republican sense? And how far does
this combination characterize the plan which has been reported by
the convention?
The ingredients which constitute energy in the Executive are,
first, unity; secondly, duration; thirdly, an adequate provision
for its support; fourthly, competent powers.
The ingredients which constitute safety in the repub lican sense
are, first, a due dependence on the people, secondly, a due
responsibility.
Those politicians and statesmen who have been the most
celebrated for the soundness of their principles and for the justice
of their views, have declared in favor of a single Executive and a
numerous legislature. They have with great propriety, considered
energy as the most necessary qualification of the former, and have
regarded this as most applicable to power in a single hand, while
they have, with equal propriety, considered the latter as best
adapted to deliberation and wisdom, and best calculated to
conciliate the confidence of the people and to secure their
privileges and interests.
That unity is conducive to energy will not be disputed.
Decision, activity, secrecy, and despatch will generally
characterize the proceedings of one man in a much more eminent
degree than the proceedings of any greater number; and in
proportion as the number is increased, these qualities will be
diminished.
This unity may be destroyed in two ways: either by vesting the
power in two or more magistrates of equal dignity and authority; or
by vesting it ostensibly in one man, subject, in whole or in part,
to the control and co-operation of others, in the capacity of
counsellors to him. Of the first, the two Consuls of Rome may serve
as an example; of the last, we shall find examples in the
constitutions of several of the States. New York and New Jersey, if
I recollect right, are the only States which have intrusted the
executive authority wholly to single men.1 Both these methods
of destroying the unity of the Executive have their partisans; but
the votaries of an executive council are the most numerous. They
are both liable, if not to equal, to similar objections, and may in
most lights be examined in conjunction.
The experience of other nations will afford little instruction
on this head. As far, however, as it teaches any thing, it teaches
us not to be enamoured of plurality in the Executive. We have seen
that the Achaeans, on an experiment of two Praetors, were induced to
abolish one. The Roman history records many instances of mischiefs
to the republic from the dissensions between the Consuls, and
between the military Tribunes, who were at times substituted for the
Consuls. But it gives us no specimens of any peculiar advantages
derived to the state from the circumstance of the plurality of those
magistrates. That the dissensions between them were not more
frequent or more fatal, is a matter of astonishment, until we advert
to the singular position in which the republic was almost
continually placed, and to the prudent policy pointed out by the
circumstances of the state, and pursued by the Consuls, of making a
division of the government between them. The patricians engaged in
a perpetual struggle with the plebeians for the preservation of
their ancient authorities and dignities; the Consuls, who were
generally chosen out of the former body, were commonly united by the
personal interest they had in the defense of the privileges of their
order. In addition to this motive of union, after the arms of the
republic had considerably expanded the bounds of its empire, it
became an established custom with the Consuls to divide the
administration between themselves by lot one of them remaining at
Rome to govern the city and its environs, the other taking the
command in the more distant provinces. This expedient must, no
doubt, have had great influence in preventing those collisions and
rivalships which might otherwise have embroiled the peace of the
republic.
But quitting the dim light of historical research, attaching
ourselves purely to the dictates of reason and good sense, we shall
discover much greater cause to reject than to approve the idea of
plurality in the Executive, under any modification whatever.
Wherever two or more persons are engaged in any common
enterprise or pursuit, there is always danger of difference of
opinion. If it be a public trust or office, in which they are
clothed with equal dignity and authority, there is peculiar danger
of personal emulation and even animosity. From either, and
especially from all these causes, the most bitter dissensions are
apt to spring. Whenever these happen, they lessen the
respectability, weaken the authority, and distract the plans and
operation of those whom they divide. If they should unfortunately
assail the supreme executive magistracy of a country, consisting of
a plurality of persons, they might impede or frustrate the most
important measures of the government, in the most critical
emergencies of the state. And what is still worse, they might split
the community into the most violent and irreconcilable factions,
adhering differently to the different individuals who composed the
magistracy.
Men often oppose a thing, merely because they have had no agency
in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom
they dislike. But if they have been consulted, and have happened to
disapprove, opposition then becomes, in their estimation, an
indispensable duty of self-love. They seem to think themselves
bound in honor, and by all the motives of personal infallibility, to
defeat the success of what has been resolved upon contrary to their
sentiments. Men of upright, benevolent tempers have too many
opportunities of remarking, with horror, to what desperate lengths
this disposition is sometimes carried, and how often the great
interests of society are sacrificed to the vanity, to the conceit,
and to the obstinacy of individuals, who have credit enough to make
their passions and their caprices interesting to mankind. Perhaps
the question now before the public may, in its consequences, afford
melancholy proofs of the effects of this despicable frailty, or
rather detestable vice, in the human character.
Upon the principles of a free government, inconveniences from
the source just mentioned must necessarily be submitted to in the
formation of the legislature; but it is unnecessary, and therefore
unwise, to introduce them into the constitution of the Executive.
It is here too that they may be most pernicious. In the
legislature, promptitude of decision is oftener an evil than a
benefit. The differences of opinion, and the jarrings of parties in
that department of the government, though they may sometimes
obstruct salutary plans, yet often promote deliberation and
circumspection, and serve to check excesses in the majority. When a
resolution too is once taken, the opposition must be at an end.
That resolution is a law, and resistance to it punishable. But no
favorable circumstances palliate or atone for the disadvantages of
dissension in the executive department. Here, they are pure and
unmixed. There is no point at which they cease to operate. They
serve to embarrass and weaken the execution of the plan or measure
to which they relate, from the first step to the final conclusion of
it. They constantly counteract those qualities in the Executive
which are the most necessary ingredients in its composition, vigor
and expedition, and this without anycounterbalancing good. In the
conduct of war, in which the energy of the Executive is the bulwark
of the national security, every thing would be to be apprehended
from its plurality.
It must be confessed that these observations apply with
principal weight to the first case supposed that is, to a plurality
of magistrates of equal dignity and authority a scheme, the
advocates for which are not likely to form a numerous sect; but
they apply, though not with equal, yet with considerable weight to
the project of a council, whose concurrence is made constitutionally
necessary to the operations of the ostensible Executive. An artful
cabal in that council would be able to distract and to enervate the
whole system of administration. If no such cabal should exist, the
mere diversity of views and opinions would alone be sufficient to
tincture the exercise of the executive authority with a spirit of
habitual feebleness and dilatoriness.
But one of the weightiest objections to a plurality in the
Executive, and which lies as much against the last as the first
plan, is, that it tends to conceal faults and destroy responsibility.
Responsibility is of two kinds to censure and to punishment. The
first is the more important of the two, especially in an elective
office. Man, in public trust, will much oftener act in such a
manner as to render him unworthy of being any longer trusted, than
in such a manner as to make him obnoxious to legal punishment. But
the multiplication of the Executive adds to the difficulty of
detection in either case. It often becomes impossible, amidst
mutual accusations, to determine on whom the blame or the punishment
of a pernicious measure, or series of pernicious measures, ought
really to fall. It is shifted from one to another with so much
dexterity, and under such plausible appearances, that the public
opinion is left in suspense about the real author. The
circumstances which may have led to any national miscarriage or
misfortune are sometimes so complicated that, where there are a
number of actors who may have had different degrees and kinds of
agency, though we may clearly see upon the whole that there has been
mismanagement, yet it may be impracticable to pronounce to whose
account the evil which may have been incurred is truly chargeable.
``I was overruled by my council. The council were so divided in
their opinions that it was impossible to obtain any better
resolution on the point.'' These and similar pretexts are
constantly at hand, whether true or false. And who is there that
will either take the trouble or incur the odium, of a strict
scrunity into the secret springs of the transaction? Should there
be found a citizen zealous enough to undertake the unpromising task,
if there happen to be collusion between the parties concerned, how
easy it is to clothe the circumstances with so much ambiguity, as to
render it uncertain what was the precise conduct of any of those
parties?
In the single instance in which the governor of this State is
coupled with a council that is, in the appointment to offices, we
have seen the mischiefs of it in the view now under consideration.
Scandalous appointments to important offices have been made. Some
cases, indeed, have been so flagrant that ALL PARTIES have agreed in
the impropriety of the thing. When inquiry has been made, the blame
has been laid by the governor on the members of the council, who, on
their part, have charged it upon his nomination; while the people
remain altogether at a loss to determine, by whose influence their
interests have been committed to hands so unqualified and so
manifestly improper. In tenderness to individuals, I forbear to
descend to particulars.
It is evident from these considerations, that the plurality of
the Executive tends to deprive the people of the two greatest
securities they can have for the faithful exercise of any delegated
power, first, the restraints of public opinion, which lose their
efficacy, as well on account of the division of the censure
attendant on bad measures among a number, as on account of the
uncertainty on whom it ought to fall; and, secondly, the
opportunity of discovering with facility and clearness the
misconduct of the persons they trust, in order either to their
removal from office or to their actual punishment in cases which
admit of it.
In England, the king is a perpetual magistrate; and it is a
maxim which has obtained for the sake of the pub lic peace, that he
is unaccountable for his administration, and his person sacred.
Nothing, therefore, can be wiser in that kingdom, than to annex to
the king a constitutional council, who may be responsible to the
nation for the advice they give. Without this, there would be no
responsibility whatever in the executive department an idea
inadmissible in a free government. But even there the king is not
bound by the resolutions of his council, though they are answerable
for the advice they give. He is the absolute master of his own
conduct in the exercise of his office, and may observe or disregard
the counsel given to him at his sole discretion.
But in a republic, where every magistrate ought to be personally
responsible for his behavior in office the reason which in the
British Constitution dictates the propriety of a council, not only
ceases to apply, but turns against the institution. In the monarchy
of Great Britain, it furnishes a substitute for the prohibited
responsibility of the chief magistrate, which serves in some degree
as a hostage to the national justice for his good behavior. In the
American republic, it would serve to destroy, or would greatly
diminish, the intended and necessary responsibility of the Chief
Magistrate himself.
The idea of a council to the Executive, which has so generally
obtained in the State constitutions, has been derived from that
maxim of republican jealousy which considers power as safer in the
hands of a number of men than of a single man. If the maxim should
be admitted to be applicable to the case, I should contend that the
advantage on that side would not counterbalance the numerous
disadvantages on the opposite side. But I do not think the rule at
all applicable to the executive power. I clearly concur in opinion,
in this particular, with a writer whom the celebrated Junius
pronounces to be ``deep, solid, and ingenious,'' that ``the
executive power is more easily confined when it is ONE'';2 that
it is far more safe there should be a single object for the jealousy
and watchfulness of the people; and, in a word, that all
multiplication of the Executive is rather dangerous than friendly to
liberty.
A little consideration will satisfy us, that the species of
security sought for in the multiplication of the Executive, is
nattainable. Numbers must be so great as to render combination
difficult, or they are rather a source of danger than of security.
The united credit and influence of several individuals must be more
formidable to liberty, than the credit and influence of either of
them separately. When power, therefore, is placed in the hands of
so small a number of men, as to admit of their interests and views
being easily combined in a common enterprise, by an artful leader,
it becomes more liable to abuse, and more dangerous when abused,
than if it be lodged in the hands of one man; who, from the very
circumstance of his being alone, will be more narrowly watched and
more readily suspected, and who cannot unite so great a mass of
influence as when he is associated with others. The Decemvirs of
Rome, whose name denotes their number,3 were more to be dreaded
in their usurpation than any ONE of them would have been. No person
would think of proposing an Executive much more numerous than that
body; from six to a dozen have been suggested for the number of the
council. The extreme of these numbers, is not too great for an easy
combination; and from such a combination America would have more to
fear, than from the ambition of any single individual. A council to
a magistrate, who is himself responsible for what he does, are
generally nothing better than a clog upon his good intentions, are
often the instruments and accomplices of his bad and are almost
always a cloak to his faults.
I forbear to dwell upon the subject of expense; though it be
evident that if the council should be numerous enough to answer the
principal end aimed at by the institution, the salaries of the
members, who must be drawn from their homes to reside at the seat of
government, would form an item in the catalogue of public
expenditures too serious to be incurred for an object of equivocal
utility. I will only add that, prior to the appearance of the
Constitution, I rarely met with an intelligent man from any of the
States, who did not admit, as the result of experience, that the
UNITY of the executive of this State was one of the best of the
distinguishing features of our constitution.
PUBLIUS.
1 New York has no council except for the single purpose of
appointing to offices; New Jersey has a council whom the governor
may consult. But I think, from the terms of the constitution, their
resolutions do not bind him.
2 De Lolme.
3 Ten.

*There are two slightly different versions of No. 70 included here.

FEDERALIST No. 70

The Executive Department Further Considered
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, March 18, 1788.

HAMILTON

To the People of the State of New York:
THERE is an idea, which is not without its advocates, that a
vigorous Executive is inconsistent with the genius of republican
government. The enlightened well-wishers to this species of
government must at least hope that the supposition is destitute of
foundation; since they can never admit its truth, without at the
same time admitting the condemnation of their own principles.
Energy in the Executive is a leading character in the definition of
good government. It is essential to the protection of the community
against foreign attacks; it is not less essential to the steady
administration of the laws; to the protection of property against
those irregular and high-handed combinations which sometimes
interrupt the ordinary course of justice; to the security of
liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of
faction, and of anarchy. Every man the least conversant in Roman
story, knows how often that republic was obliged to take refuge in
the absolute power of a single man, under the formidable title of
Dictator, as well against the intrigues of ambitious individuals who
aspired to the tyranny, and the seditions of whole classes of the
community whose conduct threatened the existence of all government,
as against the invasions of external enemies who menaced the
conquest and destruction of Rome.
There can be no need, however, to multiply arguments or examples
on this head. A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the
government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad
execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be in
theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.
Taking it for granted, therefore, that all men of sense will
agree in the necessity of an energetic Executive, it will only
remain to inquire, what are the ingredients which constitute this
energy? How far can they be combined with those other ingredients
which constitute safety in the republican sense? And how far does
this combination characterize the plan which has been reported by
the convention?
The ingredients which constitute energy in the Executive are,
first, unity; secondly, duration; thirdly, an adequate provision
for its support; fourthly, competent powers.
The ingredients which constitute safety in the repub lican sense
are, first, a due dependence on the people, secondly, a due
responsibility.
Those politicians and statesmen who have been the most
celebrated for the soundness of their principles and for the justice
of their views, have declared in favor of a single Executive and a
numerous legislature. They have with great propriety, considered
energy as the most necessary qualification of the former, and have
regarded this as most applicable to power in a single hand, while
they have, with equal propriety, considered the latter as best
adapted to deliberation and wisdom, and best calculated to
conciliate the confidence of the people and to secure their
privileges and interests.
That unity is conducive to energy will not be disputed.
Decision, activity, secrecy, and despatch will generally
characterize the proceedings of one man in a much more eminent
degree than the proceedings of any greater number; and in
proportion as the number is increased, these qualities will be
diminished.
This unity may be destroyed in two ways: either by vesting the
power in two or more magistrates of equal dignity and authority; or
by vesting it ostensibly in one man, subject, in whole or in part,
to the control and co-operation of others, in the capacity of
counsellors to him. Of the first, the two Consuls of Rome may serve
as an example; of the last, we shall find examples in the
constitutions of several of the States. New York and New Jersey, if
I recollect right, are the only States which have intrusted the
executive authority wholly to single men.1 Both these methods
of destroying the unity of the Executive have their partisans; but
the votaries of an executive council are the most numerous. They
are both liable, if not to equal, to similar objections, and may in
most lights be examined in conjunction.
The experience of other nations will afford little instruction
on this head. As far, however, as it teaches any thing, it teaches
us not to be enamoured of plurality in the Executive. We have seen
that the Achaeans, on an experiment of two Praetors, were induced to
abolish one. The Roman history records many instances of mischiefs
to the republic from the dissensions between the Consuls, and
between the military Tribunes, who were at times substituted for the
Consuls. But it gives us no specimens of any peculiar advantages
derived to the state from the circumstance of the plurality of those
magistrates. That the dissensions between them were not more
frequent or more fatal, is a matter of astonishment, until we advert
to the singular position in which the republic was almost
continually placed, and to the prudent policy pointed out by the
circumstances of the state, and pursued by the Consuls, of making a
division of the government between them. The patricians engaged in
a perpetual struggle with the plebeians for the preservation of
their ancient authorities and dignities; the Consuls, who were
generally chosen out of the former body, were commonly united by the
personal interest they had in the defense of the privileges of their
order. In addition to this motive of union, after the arms of the
republic had considerably expanded the bounds of its empire, it
became an established custom with the Consuls to divide the
administration between themselves by lot one of them remaining at
Rome to govern the city and its environs, the other taking the
command in the more distant provinces. This expedient must, no
doubt, have had great influence in preventing those collisions and
rivalships which might otherwise have embroiled the peace of the
republic.
But quitting the dim light of historical research, attaching
ourselves purely to the dictates of reason and good se se, we shall
discover much greater cause to reject than to approve the idea of
plurality in the Executive, under any modification whatever.
Wherever two or more persons are engaged in any common
enterprise or pursuit, there is always danger of difference of
opinion. If it be a public trust or office, in which they are
clothed with equal dignity and authority, there is peculiar danger
of personal emulation and even animosity. From either, and
especially from all these causes, the most bitter dissensions are
apt to spring. Whenever these happen, they lessen the
respectability, weaken the authority, and distract the plans and
operation of those whom they divide. If they should unfortunately
assail the supreme executive magistracy of a country, consisting of
a plurality of persons, they might impede or frustrate the most
important measures of the government, in the most critical
emergencies of the state. And what is still worse, they might split
the community into the most violent and irreconcilable factions,
adhering differently to the different individuals who composed the
magistracy.
Men often oppose a thing, merely because they have had no agency
in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom
they dislike. But if they have been consulted, and have happened to
disapprove, opposition then becomes, in their estimation, an
indispensable duty of self-love. They seem to think themselves
bound in honor, and by all the motives of personal infallibility, to
defeat the success of what has been resolved upon contrary to their
sentiments. Men of upright, benevolent tempers have too many
opportunities of remarking, with horror, to what desperate lengths
this disposition is sometimes carried, and how often the great
interests of society are sacrificed to the vanity, to the conceit,
and to the obstinacy of individuals, who have credit enough to make
their passions and their caprices interesting to mankind. Perhaps
the question now before the public may, in its consequences, afford
melancholy proofs of the effects of this despicable frailty, or
rather detestable vice, in the human character.
Upon the principles of a free government, inconveniences from
the source just mentioned must necessarily be submitted to in the
formation of the legislature; but it is unnecessary, and therefore
unwise, to introduce them into the constitution of the Executive.
It is here too that they may be most pernicious. In the
legislature, promptitude of decision is oftener an evil than a
benefit. The differences of opinion, and the jarrings of parties in
that department of the government, though they may sometimes
obstruct salutary plans, yet often promote deliberation and
circumspection, and serve to check excesses in the majority. When a
resolution too is once taken, the opposition must be at an end.
That resolution is a law, and resistance to it punishable. But no
favorable circumstances palliate or atone for the disadvantages of
dissension in the executive department. Here, they are pure and
unmixed. There is no point at which they cease to operate. They
serve to embarrass and weaken the execution of the plan or measure
to which they relate, from the first step to the final conclusion of
it. They constantly counteract those qualities in the Executive
which are the most necessary ingredients in its composition, vigor
and expedition, and this without anycounterbalancing good. In the
conduct of war, in which the energy of the Executive is the bulwark
of the national security, every thing would be to be apprehended
from its plurality.
It must be confessed that these observations apply with
principal weight to the first case supposed that is, to a plurality
of magistrates of equal dignity and authority a scheme, the
advocates for which are not likely to form a numerous sect; but
they apply, though not with equal, yet with considerable weight to
the project of a council, whose concurrence is made constitutionally
necessary to the operations of the ostensible Executive. An artful
cabal in that council would be able to distract and to enervate the
whole system of administration. If no such cabal should exist, the
mere diversity of views and opinions would alone be sufficient to
tincture the exercise of the executive authority with a spirit of
habitual feebleness and dilatoriness.
But one of the weightiest objections to a plurality in the
Executive, and which lies as much against the last as the first
plan, is, that it tends to conceal faults and destroy responsibility.
Responsibility is of two kinds to censure and to punishment. The
first is the more important of the two, especially in an elective
office. Man, in public trust, will much oftener act in such a
manner as to render him unworthy of being any longer trusted, than
in such a manner as to make him obnoxious to legal punishment. But
the multiplication of the Executive adds to the difficulty of
detection in either case. It often becomes impossible, amidst
mutual accusations, to determine on whom the blame or the punishment
of a pernicious measure, or series of pernicious measures, ought
really to fall. It is shifted from one to another with so much
dexterity, and under such plausible appearances, that the public
opinion is left in suspense about the real author. The
circumstances which may have led to any national miscarriage or
misfortune are sometimes so complicated that, where there are a
number of actors who may have had different degrees and kinds of
agency, though we may clearly see upon the whole that there has been
mismanagement, yet it may be impracticable to pronounce to whose
account the evil which may have been incurred is truly chargeable.
``I was overruled by my council. The council were so divided in
their opinions that it was impossible to obtain any better
resolution on the point.'' These and similar pretexts are
constantly at hand, whether true or false. And who is there that
will either take the trouble or incur the odium, of a strict
scrunity into the secret springs of the transaction? Should there
be found a citizen zealous enough to undertake the unpromising task,
if there happen to be collusion between the parties concerned, how
easy it is to clothe the circumstances with so much ambiguity, as to
render it uncertain what was the precise conduct of any of those
parties?
In the single instance in which the governor of this State is
coupled with a council that is, in the appointment to offices, we
have seen the mischiefs of it in the view now under consideration.
Scandalous appointments to important offices have been made. Some
cases, indeed, have been so flagrant that ALL PARTIES have agreed in
the impropriety of the thing. When inquiry has been made, the blame
has been laid by the governor on the members of the council, who, on
their part, have charged it upon his nomination; while the people
remain altogether at a loss to determine, by whose influence their
interests have been committed to hands so unqualified and so
manifestly improper. In tenderness to individuals, I forbear to
descend to particulars.
It is evident from these considerations, that the plurality of
the Executive tends to deprive the people of the two greatest
securities they can have for the faithful exercise of any delegated
power, first, the restraints of public opinion, which lose their
efficacy, as well on account of the division of the censure
attendant on bad measures among a number, as on account of the
uncertainty on whom it ought to fall; and, secondly, the
opportunity of discovering with facility and clearness the
misconduct of the persons they trust, in order either to their
removal from office or to their actual punishment in cases which
admit of it.
In England, the king is a perpetual magistrate; and it is a
maxim which has obtained for the sake of the pub lic peace, that he
is unaccountable for his administration, and his person sacred.
Nothing, therefore, can be wiser in that kingdom, than to annex to
the king a constitutional council, who may be responsible to the
nation for the advice they give. Without this, there would be no
responsibility whatever in the executive department an idea
inadmissible in a free government. But even there the king is not
bound by the resolutions of his council, though they are answerable
for the advice they give. He is the absolute master of his own
conduct in the exercise of his office, and may observe or disregard
the counsel given to him at his sole discretion.
But in a republic, where every magistrate ought to be personally
responsible for his behavior in office the reason which in the
British Constitution dictates the propriety of a council, not only
ceases to apply, but turns against the institution. In the monarchy
of Great Britain, it furnishes a substitute for the prohibited
responsibility of the chief magistrate, which serves in some degree
as a hostage to the national justice for his good behavior. In the
American republic, it would serve to destroy, or would greatly
diminish, the intended and necessary responsibility of the Chief
Magistrate himself.
The idea of a council to the Executive, which has so generally
obtained in the State constitutions, has been derived from that
maxim of republican jealousy which considers power as safer in the
hands of a number of men than of a single man. If the maxim should
be admitted to be applicable to the case, I should contend that the
advantage on that side would not counterbalance the numerous
disadvantages on the opposite side. But I do not think the rule at
all applicable to the executive power. I clearly concur in opinion,
in this particular, with a writer whom the celebrated Junius
pronounces to be ``deep, solid, and ingenious,'' that ``the
executive power is more easily confined when it is ONE'';2 that
it is far more safe there should be a single object for the jealousy
and watchfulness of the people; and, in a word, that all
multiplication of the Executive is rather dangerous than friendly to
liberty.
A little consideration will satisfy us, that the species of
security sought for in the multiplication of the Executive, is
nattainable. Numbers must be so great as to render combination
difficult, or they are rather a source of danger than of security.
The united credit and influence of several individuals must be more
formidable to liberty, than the credit and influence of either of
them separately. When power, therefore, is placed in the hands of
so small a number of men, as to admit of their interests and views
being easily combined in a common enterprise, by an artful leader,
it becomes more liable to abuse, and more dangerous when abused,
than if it be lodged in the hands of one man; who, from the very
circumstance of his being alone, will be more narrowly watched and
more readily suspected, and who cannot unite so great a mass of
influence as when he is associated with others. The Decemvirs of
Rome, whose name denotes their number,3 were more to be dreaded
in their usurpation than any ONE of them would have been. No person
would think of proposing an Executive much more numerous than that
body; from six to a dozen have been suggested for the number of the
council. The extreme of these numbers, is not too great for an easy
combination; and from such a combination America would have more to
fear, than from the ambition of any single individual. A council to
a magistrate, who is himself responsible for what he does, are
generally nothing better than a clog upon his good intentions, are
often the instruments and accomplices of his bad and are almost
always a cloak to his faults.
I forbear to dwell upon the subject of expense; though it be
evident that if the council should be numerous enough to answer the
principal end aimed at by the institution, the salaries of the
members, who must be drawn from their homes to reside at the seat of
government, would form an item in the catalogue of public
expenditures too serious to be incurred for an object of equivocal
utility. I will only add that, prior to the appearance of the
Constitution, I rarely met with an intelligent man from any of the
States, who did not admit, as the result of experience, that the
UNITY of the executive of this State was one of the best of the
distinguishing features of our constitution.
PUBLIUS.
1 New York has no council except for the single purpose of
appointing to offices; New Jersey has a council whom the governor
may consult. But I think, from the terms of the constitution, their
resolutions do not bind him.
2 De Lolme.
3 Ten.

FEDERALIST No. 71

The Duration in Office of the Executive
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, March 18, 1788.

HAMILTON

To the People of the State of New York:
DURATION in office has been mentioned as the second requisite to
the energy of the Executive authority. This has relation to two
objects: to the personal firmness of the executive magistrate, in
the employment of his constitutional powers; and to the stability
of the system of administration which may have been adopted under
his auspices. With regard to the first, it must be evident, that
the longer the duration in office, the greater will be the
probability of obtaining so important an advantage. It is a general
principle of human nature, that a man will be interested in whatever
he possesses, in proportion to the firmness or precariousness of the
tenure by which he holds it; will be less attached to what he holds
by a momentary or uncertain title, than to what he enjoys by a
durable or certain title; and, of course, will be willing to risk
more for the sake of the one, than for the sake of the other. This
remark is not less applicable to a political privilege, or honor, or
trust, than to any article of ordinary property. The inference from
it is, that a man acting in the capacity of chief magistrate, under
a consciousness that in a very short time he MUST lay down his
office, will be apt to feel himself too little interested in it to
hazard any material censure or perplexity, from the independent
exertion of his powers, or from encountering the ill-humors, however
transient, which may happen to prevail, either in a considerable
part of the society itself, or even in a predominant faction in the
legislative body. If the case should only be, that he MIGHT lay it
down, unless continued by a new choice, and if he should be desirous
of being continued, his wishes, conspiring with his fears, would
tend still more powerfully to corrupt his integrity, or debase his
fortitude. In either case, feebleness and irresolution must be the
characteristics of the station.
There are some who would be inclined to regard the servile
pliancy of the Executive to a prevailing current, either in the
community or in the legislature, as its best recommendation. But
such men entertain very crude notions, as well of the purposes for
which government was instituted, as of the true means by which the
public happiness may be promoted. The republican principle demands
that the deliberate sense of the community should govern the conduct
of those to whom they intrust the management of their affairs; but
it does not require an unqualified complaisance to every sudden
breeze of passion, or to every transient impulse which the people
may receive from the arts of men, who flatter their prejudices to
betray their interests. It is a just observation, that the people
commonly INTEND the PUBLIC GOOD. This often applies to their very
errors. But their good sense would despise the adulator who should
pretend that they always REASON RIGHT about the MEANS of promoting
it. They know from experience that they sometimes err; and the
wonder is that they so seldom err as they do, beset, as they
continually are, by the wiles of parasites and sycophants, by the
snares of the ambitious, the avaricious, the desperate, by the
artifices of men who possess their confidence more than they deserve
it, and of those who seek to possess rather than to deserve it.
When occasions present themselves, in which the interests of the
people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of
the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those
interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give
them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection.
Instances might be cited in which a conduct of this kind has saved
the people from very fatal consequences of their own mistakes, and
has procured lasting monuments of their gratitude to the men who had
courage and magnanimity enough to serve them at the peril of their
displeasure.
But however inclined we might be to insist upon an unbounded
complaisance in the Executive to the inclinations of the people, we
can with no propriety contend for a like complaisance to the humors
of the legislature. The latter may sometimes stand in opposition to
the former, and at other times the people may be entirely neutral.
In either supposition, it is certainly desirable that the Executive
should be in a situation to dare to act his own opinion with vigor
and decision.
The same rule which teaches the propriety of a partition between
the various branches of power, teaches us likewise that this
partition ought to be so contrived as to render the one independent
of the other. To what purpose separate the executive or the
judiciary from the legislative, if both the executive and the
judiciary are so constituted as to be at the absolute devotion of
the legislative? Such a separation must be merely nominal, and
incapable of producing the ends for which it was established. It is
one thing to be subordinate to the laws, and another to be dependent
on the legislative body. The first comports with, the last
violates, the fundamental principles of good government; and,
whatever may be the forms of the Constitution, unites all power in
the same hands. The tendency of the legislative authority to absorb
every other, has been fully displayed and illustrated by examples in
some preceding numbers. In governments purely republican, this
tendency is almost irresistible. The representatives of the people,
in a popular assembly, seem sometimes to fancy that they are the
people themselves, and betray strong symptoms of impatience and
disgust at the least sign of opposition from any other quarter; as
if the exercise of its rights, by either the executive or judiciary,
were a breach of their privilege and an outrage to their dignity.
They often appear disposed to exert an imperious control over the
other departments; and as they commonly have the people on their
side, they always act with such momentum as to make it very
difficult for the other members of the government to maintain the
balance of the Constitution.
It may perhaps be asked, how the shortness of the duration in
office can affect the independence of the Executive on the
legislature, unless the one were possessed of the power of
appointing or displacing the other. One answer to this inquiry may
be drawn from the principle already remarked that is, from the
slender interest a man is apt to take in a short-lived advantage,
and the little inducement it affords him to expose himself, on
account of it, to any considerable inconvenience or hazard. Another
answer, perhaps more obvious, though not more conclusive, will
result from the consideration of the influence of the legislative
body over the people; which might be employed to prevent the
re-election of a man who, by an upright resistance to any sinister
project of that body, should have made himself obnoxious to its
resentment.
It may be asked also, whether a duration of four years would
answer the end proposed; and if it would not, whether a less
period, which would at least be recommended by greater security
against ambitious designs, would not, for that reason, be preferable
to a longer period, which was, at the same time, too short for the
purpose of inspiring the desired firmness and independence of the
magistrate.
It cannot be affirmed, that a duration of four years, or any
other limited duration, would completely answer the end proposed;
but it would contribute towards it in a degree which would have a
material influence upon the spirit and character of the government.
Between the commencement and termination of such a period, there
would always be a considerable interval, in which the prospect of
annihilation would be sufficiently remote, not to have an improper
effect upon the conduct of a man indued with a tolerable portion of
fortitude; and in which he might reasonably promise himself, that
there would be time enough before it arrived, to make the community
sensible of the propriety of the measures he might incline to pursue.
Though it be probable that, as he approached the moment when the
public were, by a new election, to signify their sense of his
conduct, his confidence, and with it his firmness, would decline;
yet both the one and the other would derive support from the
opportunities which his previous continuance in the station had
afforded him, of establishing himself in the esteem and good-will of
his constituents. He might, then, hazard with safety, in proportion
to the proofs he had given of his wisdom and integrity, and to the
title he had acquired to the respect and attachment of his
fellow-citizens. As, on the one hand, a duration of four years will
contribute to the firmness of the Executive in a sufficient degree
to render it a very valuable ingredient in the composition; so, on
the other, it is not enough to justify any alarm for the public
liberty. If a British House of Commons, from the most feeble
beginnings, FROM THE MERE POWER OF ASSENTING OR DISAGREEING TO THE
IMPOSITION OF A NEW TAX, have, by rapid strides, reduced the
prerogatives of the crown and the privileges of the nobility within
the limits they conceived to be compatible with the principles of a
free government, while they raised themselves to the rank and
consequence of a coequal branch of the legislature; if they have
been able, in one instance, to abolish both the royalty and the
aristocracy, and to overturn all the ancient establishments, as well
in the Church as State; if they have been able, on a recent
occasion, to make the monarch tremble at the prospect of an
innovation1 attempted by them, what would be to be feared from
an elective magistrate of four years' duration, with the confined
authorities of a President of the United States? What, but that he
might be unequal to the task which the Constitution assigns him? I
shall only add, that if his duration be such as to leave a doubt of
his firmness, that doubt is inconsistent with a jealousy of his
encroachments.
PUBLIUS.
1 This was the case with respect to Mr. Fox's India bill, which
was carried in the House of Commons, and rejected in the House of
Lords, to the entire satisfaction, as it is said, of the people.

FEDERALIST No. 72

The Same Subject Continued, and Re-Eligibility of the Executive
Considered
From the New York Packet.
Friday, March 21, 1788.

HAMILTON

To the People of the State of New York:
THE administration of government, in its largest sense,
comprehends all the operations of the body politic, whether
legislative, executive, or judiciary; but in its most usual, and
perhaps its most precise signification. It is limited to executive
details, and falls peculiarly within the province of the executive
department. The actual conduct of foreign negotiations, the
preparatory plans of finance, the application and disbursement of
the public moneys in conformity to the general appropriations of the
legislature, the arrangement of the army and navy, the directions of
the operations of war, these, and other matters of a like nature,
constitute what seems to be most properly understood by the
administration of government. The persons, therefore, to whose
immediate management these different matters are committed, ought to
be considered as the assistants or deputies of the chief magistrate,
and on this account, they ought to derive their offices from his
appointment, at least from his nomination, and ought to be subject
to his superintendence. This view of the subject will at once
suggest to us the intimate connection between the duration of the
executive magistrate in office and the stability of the system of
administration. To reverse and undo what has been done by a
predecessor, is very often considered by a successor as the best
proof he can give of his own capacity and desert; and in addition
to this propensity, where the alteration has been the result of
public choice, the person substituted is warranted in supposing that
the dismission of his predecessor has proceeded from a dislike to
his measures; and that the less he resembles him, the more he will
recommend himself to the favor of his constituents. These
considerations, and the influence of personal confidences and
attachments, would be likely to induce every new President to
promote a change of men to fill the subordinate stations; and these
causes together could not fail to occasion a disgraceful and ruinous
mutability in the administration of the government.
With a positive duration of considerable extent, I connect the
circumstance of re-eligibility. The first is necessary to give to
the officer himself the inclination and the resolution to act his
part well, and to the community time and leisure to observe the
tendency of his measures, and thence to form an experimental
estimate of their merits. The last is necessary to enable the
people, when they see reason to approve of his conduct, to continue
him in his station, in order to prolong the utility of his talents
and virtues, and to secure to the government the advantage of
permanency in a wise system of administration.
Nothing appears more plausible at first sight, nor more
ill-founded upon close inspection, than a scheme which in relation
to the present point has had some respectable advocates, I mean that
of continuing the chief magistrate in office for a certain time, and
then excluding him from it, either for a limited period or forever
after. This exclusion, whether temporary or perpetual, would have
nearly the same effects, and these effects would be for the most
part rather pernicious than salutary.
One ill effect of the exclusion would be a diminution of the
inducements to good behavior. There are few men who would not feel
much less zeal in the discharge of a duty when they were conscious
that the advantages of the station with which it was connected must
be relinquished at a determinate period, than when they were
permitted to entertain a hope of OBTAINING, by MERITING, a
continuance of them. This position will not be disputed so long as
it is admitted that the desire of reward is one of the strongest
incentives of human conduct; or that the best security for the
fidelity of mankind is to make their interests coincide with their
duty. Even the love of fame, the ruling passion of the noblest
minds, which would prompt a man to plan and undertake extensive and
arduous enterprises for the public benefit, requiring considerable
time to mature and perfect them, if he could flatter himself with
the prospect of being allowed to finish what he had begun, would, on
the contrary, deter him from the undertaking, when he foresaw that
he must quit the scene before he could accomplish the work, and must
commit that, together with his own reputation, to hands which might
be unequal or unfriendly to the task. The most to be expected from
the generality of men, in such a situation, is the negative merit of
not doing harm, instead of the positive merit of doing good.
Another ill effect of the exclusion would be the temptation to
sordid views, to peculation, and, in some instances, to usurpation.
An avaricious man, who might happen to fill the office, looking
forward to a time when he must at all events yield up the emoluments
he enjoyed, would feel a propensity, not easy to be resisted by such
a man, to make the best use of the opportunity he enjoyed while it
lasted, and might not scruple to have recourse to the most corrupt
expedients to make the harvest as abundant as it was transitory;
though the same man, probably, with a different prospect before
him, might content himself with the regular perquisites of his
situation, and might even be unwilling to risk the consequences of
an abuse of his opportunities. His avarice might be a guard upon
his avarice. Add to this that the same man might be vain or
ambitious, as well as avaricious. And if he could expect to prolong
his honors by his good conduct, he might hesitate to sacrifice his
appetite for them to his appetite for gain. But with the prospect
before him of approaching an inevitable annihilation, his avarice
would be likely to get the victory over his caution, his vanity, or
his ambition.
An ambitious man, too, when he found himself seated on the
summit of his country's honors, when he looked forward to the time
at which he must descend from the exalted eminence for ever, and
reflected that no exertion of merit on his part could save him from
the unwelcome reverse; such a man, in such a situation, would be
much more violently tempted to embrace a favorable conjuncture for
attempting the prolongation of his power, at every personal hazard,
than if he had the probability of answering the same end by doing
his duty.
Would it promote the peace of the community, or the stability of
the government to have half a dozen men who had had credit enough to
be raised to the seat of the supreme magistracy, wandering among the
people like discontented ghosts, and sighing for a place which they
were destined never more to possess?
A third ill effect of the exclusion would be, the depriving the
community of the advantage of the experience gained by the chief
magistrate in the exercise of his office. That experience is the
parent of wisdom, is an adage the truth of which is recognized by
the wisest as well as the simplest of mankind. What more desirable
or more essential than this quality in the governors of nations?
Where more desirable or more essential than in the first magistrate
of a nation? Can it be wise to put this desirable and essential
quality under the ban of the Constitution, and to declare that the
moment it is acquired, its possessor shall be compelled to abandon
the station in which it was acquired, and to which it is adapted?
This, nevertheless, is the precise import of all those regulations
which exclude men from serving their country, by the choice of their
fellowcitizens, after they have by a course of service fitted
themselves for doing it with a greater degree of utility.
A fourth ill effect of the exclusion would be the banishing men
from stations in which, in certain emergencies of the state, their
presence might be of the greatest moment to the public interest or
safety. There is no nation which has not, at one period or another,
experienced an absolute necessity of the services of particular men
in particular situations; perhaps it would not be too strong to
say, to the preservation of its political existence. How unwise,
therefore, must be every such self-denying ordinance as serves to
prohibit a nation from making use of its own citizens in the manner
best suited to its exigencies and circumstances! Without supposing
the personal essentiality of the man, it is evident that a change of
the chief magistrate, at the breaking out of a war, or at any
similar crisis, for another, even of equal merit, would at all times
be detrimental to the community, inasmuch as it would substitute
inexperience to experience, and would tend to unhinge and set afloat
the already settled train of the administration.
A fifth ill effect of the exclusion would be, that it would
operate as a constitutional interdiction of stability in the
administration. By NECESSITATING a change of men, in the first
office of the nation, it would necessitate a mutability of measures.
It is not generally to be expected, that men will vary and measures
remain uniform. The contrary is the usual course of things. And we
need not be apprehensive that there will be too much stability,
while there is even the option of changing; nor need we desire to
prohibit the people from continuing their confidence where they
think it may be safely placed, and where, by constancy on their
part, they may obviate the fatal inconveniences of fluctuating
councils and a variable policy.
These are some of the disadvantages which would flow from the
principle of exclusion. They apply most forcibly to the scheme of a
perpetual exclusion; but when we consider that even a partial
exclusion would always render the readmission of the person a remote
and precarious object, the observations which have been made will
apply nearly as fully to one case as to the other.
What are the advantages promised to counterbalance these
disadvantages? They are represented to be: 1st, greater
independence in the magistrate; 2d, greater security to the people.
Unless the exclusion be perpetual, there will be no pretense to
infer the first advantage. But even in that case, may he have no
object beyond his present station, to which he may sacrifice his
independence? May he have no connections, no friends, for whom he
may sacrifice it? May he not be less willing by a firm conduct, to
make personal enemies, when he acts under the impression that a time
is fast approaching, on the arrival of which he not only MAY, but
MUST, be exposed to their resentments, upon an equal, perhaps upon
an inferior, footing? It is not an easy point to determine whether
his independence would be most promoted or impaired by such an
arrangement.
As to the second supposed advantage, there is still greater
reason to entertain doubts concerning it. If the exclusion were to
be perpetual, a man of irregular ambition, of whom alone there could
be reason in any case to entertain apprehension, would, with
infinite reluctance, yield to the necessity of taking his leave
forever of a post in which his passion for power and pre-eminence
had acquired the force of habit. And if he had been fortunate or
adroit enough to conciliate the good-will of the people, he might
induce them to consider as a very odious and unjustifiable restraint
upon themselves, a provision which was calculated to debar them of
the right of giving a fresh proof of their attachment to a favorite.
There may be conceived circumstances in which this disgust of the
people, seconding the thwarted ambition of such a favorite, might
occasion greater danger to liberty, than could ever reasonably be
dreaded from the possibility of a perpetuation in office, by the
voluntary suffrages of the community, exercising a constitutional
privilege.
There is an excess of refinement in the idea of disabling the
people to continue in office men who had entitled themselves, in
their opinion, to approbation and confidence; the advantages of
which are at best speculative and equivocal, and are overbalanced by
disadvantages far more certain and decisive.
PUBLIUS.

FEDERALIST No. 73
The Provision For The Support of the Executive, and the Veto Power
From the New York Packet.
Friday, March 21, 1788.

HAMILTON

To the People of the State of New York:
THE third ingredient towards constituting the vigor of the
executive authority, is an adequate provision for its support. It
is evident that, without proper attention to this article, the
separation of the executive from the legislative department would be
merely nominal and nugatory. The legislature, with a discretionary
power over the salary and emoluments of the Chief Magistrate, could
render him as obsequious to their will as they might think proper to
make him. They might, in most cases, either reduce him by famine,
or tempt him by largesses, to surrender at discretion his judgment
to their inclinations. These expressions, taken in all the latitude
of the terms, would no doubt convey more than is intended. There
are men who could neither be distressed nor won into a sacrifice of
their duty; but this stern virtue is the growth of few soils; and
in the main it will be found that a power over a man's support is a
power over his will. If it were necessary to confirm so plain a
truth by facts, examples would not be wanting, even in this country,
of the intimidation or seduction of the Executive by the terrors or
allurements of the pecuniary arrangements of the legislative body.
It is not easy, therefore, to commend too highly the judicious
attention which has been paid to this subject in the proposed
Constitution. It is there provided that ``The President of the
United States shall, at stated times, receive for his services a
compensation WHICH SHALL NEITHER BE INCREASED NOR DIMINISHED DURING
THE PERIOD FOR WHICH HE SHALL HAVE BEEN ELECTED; and he SHALL NOT
RECEIVE WITHIN THAT PERIOD ANY OTHER EMOLUMENT from the United
States, or any of them.'' It is impossible to imagine any provision
which would have been more eligible than this. The legislature, on
the appointment of a President, is once for all to declare what
shall be the compensation for his services during the time for which
he shall have been elected. This done, they will have no power to
alter it, either by increase or diminution, till a new period of
service by a new election commences. They can neither weaken his
fortitude by operating on his necessities, nor corrupt his integrity
by appealing to his avarice. Neither the Union, nor any of its
members, will be at liberty to give, nor will he be at liberty to
receive, any other emolument than that which may have been
determined by the first act. He can, of course, have no pecuniary
inducement to renounce or desert the independence intended for him
by the Constitution.
The last of the requisites to energy, which have been
enumerated, are competent powers. Let us proceed to consider those
which are proposed to be vested in the President of the United
States.
The first thing that offers itself to our observation, is the
qualified negative of the President upon the acts or resolutions of
the two houses of the legislature; or, in other words, his power of
returning all bills with objections, to have the effect of
preventing their becoming laws, unless they should afterwards be
ratified by two thirds of each of the component members of the
legislative body.
The propensity of the legislative department to intrude upon the
rights, and to absorb the powers, of the other departments, has been
already suggested and repeated; the insufficiency of a mere
parchment delineation of the boundaries of each, has also been
remarked upon; and the necessity of furnishing each with
constitutional arms for its own defense, has been inferred and
proved. From these clear and indubitable principles results the
propriety of a negative, either absolute or qualified, in the
Executive, upon the acts of the legislative branches. Without the
one or the other, the former would be absolutely unable to defend
himself against the depredations of the latter. He might gradually
be stripped of his authorities by successive resolutions, or
annihilated by a single vote. And in the one mode or the other, the
legislative and executive powers might speedily come to be blended
in the same hands. If even no propensity had ever discovered itself
in the legislative body to invade the rights of the Executive, the
rules of just reasoning and theoretic propriety would of themselves
teach us, that the one ought not to be left to the mercy of the
other, but ought to possess a constitutional and effectual power of
selfdefense.
But the power in question has a further use. It not only serves
as a shield to the Executive, but it furnishes an additional
security against the enaction of improper laws. It establishes a
salutary check upon the legislative body, calculated to guard the
community against the effects of faction, precipitancy, or of any
impulse unfriendly to the public good, which may happen to influence
a majority of that body.
The propriety of a negative has, upon some occasions, been
combated by an observation, that it was not to be presumed a single
man would possess more virtue and wisdom than a number of men; and
that unless this presumption should be entertained, it would be
improper to give the executive magistrate any species of control
over the legislative body.
But this observation, when examined, will appear rather specious
than solid. The propriety of the thing does not turn upon the
supposition of superior wisdom or virtue in the Executive, but upon
the supposition that the legislature will not be infallible; that
the love of power may sometimes betray it into a disposition to
encroach upon the rights of other members of the government; that a
spirit of faction may sometimes pervert its deliberations; that
impressions of the moment may sometimes hurry it into measures which
itself, on maturer reflexion, would condemn. The primary inducement
to conferring the power in question upon the Executive is, to enable
him to defend himself; the secondary one is to increase the chances
in favor of the community against the passing of bad laws, through
haste, inadvertence, or design. The oftener the measure is brought
under examination, the greater the diversity in the situations of
those who are to examine it, the less must be the danger of those
errors which flow from want of due deliberation, or of those
missteps which proceed from the contagion of some common passion or
interest. It is far less probable, that culpable views of any kind
should infect all the parts of the government at the same moment and
in relation to the same object, than that they should by turns
govern and mislead every one of them.

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