Federalist Papers Summary 77

Alexander Hamilton

 

Federalist Papers Summary No. 77

 
 

Federalist Papers Author Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton

Federalist Papers Summary Number 77

The Federalist Papers Summary No 77: Hamilton
April 2, 1788

This, the last paper on presidential powers, continues the discussion of nominating people for administration positions and touches on a few remaining powers not yet mentioned.  The cooperation by the senate also contributes to the stability of Government for the consent of the senate must also be required to displace as well as appoint.  A change in the president might not result in a wholesale change in appointments from the previous administration if the appointments had performed well. 

He returns to the discussion of the president influencing the senate toward his nominations and the senate having an undue influence on the president's choices.  Some have made the absurd argument that the president would have undue influence of the senate because the senate can constrain him.  And what would be the senate's object in influencing the president?  The only influence would be in approving his choice of one ill fitted to the job but the likelihood of this occurring would be remote.  If the influence over the president results from restraining him then that is what is intended.  Therefore the right of nomination produces all of the good of appointment and few of the ills.

In New York, where these papers are first published, the process of appointments is less optimum that that proposed for the president.  Appointments are made by a body of three to five people of whom the governor is always one.  The governor claims the right of nomination and appointment is approved by the vote of two others of the four remaining.  All is done behind closed doors out of the sight of the public so there is no public disclosure of the nominees qualifications or which of the five to place blame if the nominee turns out to be ill qualified.  At times appointments are made when those in the body of five that are against a nominee are absent adding to the intrigue.  Increasing the number in the appointing body would not ease the problems for there will always be bartering between the members to satisfy friends and connections.  This bartering process among a larger number could result in a few families holding all government positions leading directly to an aristocracy or an oligarchy.  Clearly the proposed plan where the senate approves the nomination in the public light is a preferred plan.

The remaining powers of the executive are giving information to congress on the state of the union, in making recommendations on measures he considers expedient, in convening them or either branch upon extraordinary occasions, in adjoining them when they cannot themselves agree upon a time, in receiving ambassadors and other public ministers, in faithfully executing the laws, and in commissioning all the officers of the United States.  He provides little justification for these powers for there has been little disagreement with them.

The concluding thought concerning the energy of the president, is does the office “combine the requisites to safety in the republican sense, a due dependence on the people, a due responsibility?”.  The answer can be deduced from “the election of the president once every four years by persons immediately chosen by the people for that purpose, and from his being at all times liable to impeachment, trial, dismission from office, incapacity to serve in any other, and to forfeiture of life and estate by subsequent prosecution in the common course of law”.  In all instances where the abuse of executive authority can be feared, treason, bribery or other crimes and misdemeanors he is subject to the control of one branch of the legislature.

 

Summary Written by Donald Mellon

 

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