Federalist Papers – Essay #66

In Essay #66, the final essay focusing on the Senate and titled, Objections to the Power of the Senate To Set as a Court for Impeachments Further Considered, Alexander Hamilton takes aim at four objections raised against the powers granted to the Senate as a court for the trial of impeachment.

  • The provision “confounds legislative and judiciary authorities in the same body.” He argues that the Senate must hold the executive accountable – the House as the accuser and the Senate as the judge – and experience in the states show that such an arrangement is workable;
  • The Senate will have so much power as to become aristocratic in a nature. Hamilton argues that the house will have sufficient powers to counter the influence of the Senate;
  • Senators will not be able to impartially judge presidential appointees who they once voted to confirm.  Hamilton argues that the Senate will not be so biased as to be blind to the “evidences of guilt so extraordinary” as to have induced the representatives in the House to have impeached the official; and
  • Senators will not be able to impartially judge themselves for the role they play in the ratification of foreign treaties; Hamilton dismisses this on the basis that it would likely be only a few corrupt leaders in the senate who manipulated the treaty and that these men could be impeached and tried.

Hamilton argues that a diversity of competing interests would keep the Senate from successfully conspiring to threaten American liberty. Furthermore, he argues that the role played by the House of Representatives limits the power of the Senate – the House is more democratic (members elected by the people) and the Senate members are chosen by the state legislatures. (This, of course, was changed by the 17th amendment in 1913 to election by the people)

Credit for the summary and analysis of Essay #66 is given to Brittany Nelson and Christopher Higgins (second revision 09/15/2011). Weinbloom, Elizabeth ed. “The Federalist Papers Essay #66 Summary and Analysis”. GradeSaver, 30 December 2011 Web. 15 February 2019.

You can read a summary and analysis of Essay #66 by clicking HERE.

You can read the entire text of Essay #66 by clicking HERE.

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