Federalist Papers Summary 76

Alexander Hamilton


Federalist Papers Summary No. 76


Federalist Papers Author Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton

Federalist Papers Summary Number 76

The Federalist Papers Summary No 76: Hamilton
April 1, 1788

This paper deals with the president's power to nominate and with the advice and consent of the senate appoint ambassadors, public ministers, supreme court judges, and various other officials.  It is claimed that it is not easy to conceive of a better process than this for selecting men of character for the administration or the courts.  Appointments could be made in three ways, by a single person, by a select assembly of moderate number, or by a single man with concurrence of the assembly.  One person is better able to select men with the particular attributes needed for each different office than an assembly.  Assemblies by their nature will have the “full display of all private and party likings and dislikes, partialities and antipathies, attachments and animosities” of those that make up the assembly.  The merit of the candidate will be lost and the choices will be made by “give us our man and you can have yours”.

Critics have proposed that the president should have the sole power to appoint not just nominate, but it is easy to show that the advantages from the sole power to appoint are contained in the power to nominate for every man nominated by the president and appointed by the senate would be the president's choice.  And even if his choice was rejected by the senate his next nomination would also be his choice.  What advantage could the senate have in rejecting a nomination for the next choice would not necessarily be a person favored by the senate.

The disadvantages from the power to appoint are removed by the proposed plan of only having the power to nominate.  The cooperation of the senate provides an excellent check against favoritism and would prevent the appointment of unfit characters from his state, or family connections, or personal attachments, or by popularity alone.  The president, an elected official, would not risk an unfavorable exposure by the entire senate of his choice if it was based on other than merit.

The last consideration is can the president secure the compliance to his views regarding his nominations or will the senate act independently.  History of the British House of Commons has shown that at times many in an entire body of government can be corrupted but even then there are also many public spirited and independent men who have much influence in the councils of a nation.  It has been more likely that the House will influence the Monarch in choices of men and measures.  So it is a considerable stretch to suppose that the integrity of the entire senate can be  purchased by the president.  Thus it is clear that although some members of the senate  may be influenced by the president the majority will not and the cooperation needed by the senate will be an effective counter to any poor choices by the president. 



Summary Written by Donald Mellon


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