Federalist Papers – Essay #69

In Essay #69, The Real Character of the Executive, Alexander Hamilton addresses anti-federalist fears that the new Constitution may elevate the President to the level of a monarch – rejected by the revolutionary war.

Hamilton makes the following comparisons:

  • The president is elected for a specific term, whereas the king of England inherits his position for life;
  • The president has only a qualified negative on legislative acts—i.e. his veto can be overturned—whereas the king has an absolute negative;
  • Both the president and the king serve as commander in chief, but the king also has the power to raise and maintain armies—a power reserved for the legislature in America;
  • The president can only make treaties with the approval of the Senate. The king can make binding treaties as he sees fit;
  • The president can only appoint officers with the approval of the Senate, whereas the king can grant whatever titles he likes; and
  • The powers of the president in terms of commerce and currency are severely limited, whereas the king is “in several respects the arbiter of commerce.”

In order to make the argument more relevant to the people of New York, whom Hamilton is addressing, he introduces a comparison between the president and the governor of New York as well. Surely, the people of New York would not claim that the president under the proposed constitution is an elected monarch if his powers are roughly commensurate to their own governor.

Credit for the summary and analysis of Essay #69 is given to Brittany Nelson and Christopher Higgins (second revision 09/15/2011). Weinbloom, Elizabeth ed. “The Federalist Papers Essay #69 Summary and Analysis”. GradeSaver, 30 December 2011 Web. 18 February 2019.

You can read a summary and analysis of Essay #69 by clicking HERE.

You can read the entire text of Essay #69 by clicking HERE.

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