Federalist Papers Summary 68

Alexander Hamilton

 

Federalist Papers Summary No. 68

 
 

Federalist Papers Author Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton

Federalist Papers Summary Number 68

The Federalist Papers Summary No 68: Hamilton
March 12, 1788

This paper deals with the method of appointing the person to be President of the United States, a method which received very little criticism and was considered by the author to be if not perfect at least excellent.  “It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person” to be president.  Therefore the people choose electors in each State for this special purpose in a manner directed by the State Legislature.  It was equally desirable that the immediate election, that is the choice of president, should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities necessary to be president and that these men could not hold any office under the United States.  It might be noted that there was no indication that electors were chosen because they favored a particular candidate also favored by the public.  They were presumably chosen by the people because they were more qualified than the people themselves to make the proper choice.  With the limited media available to the general population at the time, this was probably a correct choice for a nationwide election.

Other considerations were that multiple electors, equal to the number of representatives and senators, would “afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder”.  It was considered that the direct election of the person favored to be president by the people could result in convulsions to the “community with extraordinary or violent movements”.  Further having electors chosen for this single purpose would eliminate the possibility of corruption from internal or external sources.  Since the same process was required for re-election,  the president's continuation in office rested solely with the people.

The results of the electors votes from each state are collected at the national government where the person obtaining a majority of the votes will be president.  If no person obtains a majority the house of representative “shall select out of the candidates who shall have the five highest numbers of votes the man who in their opinion may be best qualified for the office”.   Hamilton assures us that through this process any man who is not qualified will not become president.  The vice president is chosen in the same manner with the difference that the senate makes the decision if a majority is not obtained.

 

Summary Written by Donald Mellon

 

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