In Essay #71, The Duration in Office of the Executive, Alexander Hamilton defends the provision of the constitution for a presidential term of four-years.
In contrast to those who argued that such a long term would enable the President to accumulate too much power, Hamilton defends the four-year term from the perspective of energy.
He argues that a term of four years will give the president
- the ability to counteract temporary passions or influences of faction that may from time to time convulse the American people and their representatives in Congress;
- the ability to pursue policies he feels best. If the term were too short, the president might not be willing to make bold, perhaps controversial decisions since to do so would risk incurring the ire of the people and perhaps cost him reelection.
Hamilton attempts to strike a balance between republican values, which emphasize the role of the people’s will in making policy, and the need for stable, effective and wise government.
He addresses the issue of what Alexis D’Tocqueville warned about a “dictatorship of the majority” in democratic systems. A strong executive at the top would counterbalance such excesses.
Credit for the summary and analysis of Essay #71 is given to Brittany Nelson and Christopher Higgins (second revision 09/15/2011). Weinbloom, Elizabeth ed. “The Federalist Papers Essay #71 Summary and Analysis”. GradeSaver, 30 December 2011 Web. 18 February 2019.