Federalist Papers Summary 67

Alexander Hamilton

 

Federalist Papers Summary No. 67

 
 

Federalist Papers Author Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton

Federalist Papers Summary Number 67

The Federalist Papers Summary No 67: Hamilton
March 11, 1788

Hamilton now begins a discussion of the executive branch which will continue for eleven articles.  Fully half of this article is a rail against the critics of the Constitution who bestow upon the office of the president powers that equate the president with that of the King of Great Britain.  The other half is used to refute a single misrepresentation as an example of their attempts to enlist the aversion of the people to monarchy. 

The following few sentences are quoted directly from the paper and are included to indicate the level of animosity toward the plan and also to provide for your enjoyment some of the original flowery speech of the times missing from these summaries.  When speaking of the criticism of the presidency he writes:  “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 almost taught to tremble at the terrific visages of murdering janizaries (supporters); and to blush at the unveiled mysteries of a future seraglio (harem).” 

The misrepresentation he uses as an example is to ascribe to the president the power to fill vacancies in the Senate which in fact is expressly allotted to the executives of the individual States.  The person making this misrepresentation, not specifically named, is called upon “now confronted with evidence of 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 facts and the misrepresented clause are in section 2 of Article II of the Constitution.  The provision that gives the president the “power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the senate by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session” is the one which is taken as giving him the power to fill vacancies in the Senate.  Part of the problem may arise from wording in the previous clause that gives the president power to appoint “other officers of the United States whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for”  but Senator's appointments are otherwise provided for in the Constitution, Article I section 3. 

It should be equally clear that the power to fill vacancies during recess does not refer to Senators for several reasons.  The appointment power is joint with the Senate for those offices mentioned but if the Senate is in recess then the President singly can make temporary appointments only for those same offices which do not include Senators.  Also since the State Legislatures have the power to appoint Senators the clause would have stated “when the State Legislatures were in recess” not the United States Senate. 

The final and most compelling proof held to the end for some reason is provided by the words in the first and second clauses of Article I.  The first 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 second 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 the vacancies”. 

Obviously upset by this attempt to mislead the people  he ends with a continuation of the railing against those “for so shameless and so prostitute an attempt to impose on the citizens of America”.

 

Summary Written by Donald Mellon

 

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