Federalist Papers Summary 64

 

Federalist Papers Summary No. 64

 
 

Federalist Papers Author John Jay
John Jay

Federalist Papers Summary Number 64

The Federalist Papers Summary No 64: Jay
March 5, 1788

This paper discusses the power given to the president to make treaties with the advice and consent of the senate provided two thirds of the senators present concur.  This very important power which relates to war, peace, and commerce has been given by the convention to the president chosen by a select body of electors and the senate appointed by state legislatures.  This ensures that men of quality and character and ages thirty years or greater will be making treaties in a manner conducive to the public good and will afford the highest security. Further these men are those that best understand our national interests whether in relation to the several states or foreign nations.

But some want to commit this power to a popular assembly, presumably the House.  However they would consist of members constantly coming and going in rapid succession and they would therefore not have the benefit of being in positions long enough to become fully acquainted with our national concerns and to form a system to manage them.  The terms of office and the rotation of elections for senators provides the needed stability and knowledge necessary for this responsibility.

Sometimes speed and secrecy is necessary in treaty negotiations, for example, if information is to be obtained from individuals fearful of discovery.  The president is able to maintain secrecy during negotiations and through prudence manage the business of intelligence.  The changing tides of the affairs of men often necessitate speedy reactions such as when informed of the loss of a battle, the death of a Prince, the removal of a minister, or other similar circumstances.  The president also has the ability to react quickly to these changing tides.  “Thus we see that the constitution provides that our negotiations for treaties shall have every advantage which can be derived from talents, information, integrity, and deliberate investigations on the one hand, and from secrecy and dispatch of the other.”

Others contend that treaties should not become the supreme laws of the land, that they should be like other laws that can be repealed at pleasure.  But treaties are made between two parties and therefore can only be modified or repealed by both.  Further, what country would enter into a bargain with us if we maintained the power to alter or cancel it without further negotiation?  And finally, some believe the President and Senate will make treaties without considering the interests of the States or that corruption will prevail.  As repeated many times in the Federalist Papers, since the States appoint the senators, states interests will be considered.  It appears to be the only mechanism in the constitution for the interests of the states to be considered during federal actions.  The idea that the President and two thirds of the Senate could be corrupted is beyond thought.

 

Summary Written by Donald Mellon

 

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