Federalist Papers – Essay #73

In Essay #73, The Provision For The Support of the Executive, and the Veto Power, Alexander Hamilton discusses

  • how the President should be compensated, and
  • the concept of the veto power over legislation (an example of checks and balances)

Regarding compensation, Hamilton argues that the President’s salary should be frozen during the term in office so that the legislature cannot use compensation to influence the President regarding any legislative issue, i.e., the lure of incentive compensation is removed.

As Hamilton so eloquently puts it, The legislature, with a discretionary power over the salary and emoluments of the Chief Magistrate, could render him as obsequious to their will as they might think proper to make him.”

Regarding the veto, this is an example of the checks and balances in action. Hamilton argues that the executive branch should have a means of thwarting attempts by any faction to ram legislation that is detrimental to the people as a whole through the Congress. Recognizing that the Congress is the most powerful of the three branches of government, the Constitution provides the veto power for the executive, but the Congress can override the President’s veto by a two-thirds majority vote in both bodies.

Alexender Hamilton’s words about the veto are, as usual, eloquent, informative and intertaining:

“The propensity of the legislative department to intrude upon the rights, and to absorb the powers, of the other departments, has been already suggested and repeated; the insufficiency of a mere parchment delineation of the boundaries of each, has also been remarked upon; and the necessity of furnishing each with constitutional arms for its own defense, has been inferred and proved. From these clear and indubitable principles results the propriety of a negative, either absolute or qualified, in the Executive, upon the acts of the legislative branches. Without the one or the other, the former would be absolutely unable to defend himself against the depredations of the latter. He might gradually be stripped of his authorities by successive resolutions,or annihilated by a single vote. And in the one mode or the other, the legislative and executive powers might speedily come to be blended in the same hands. If even no propensity had ever discovered itself in the legislative body to invade the rights of the Executive, the rules of just reasoning and theoretic propriety would of themselves teach us, that the one ought not to be left to the mercy of the other, but ought to possess a constitutional and effectual power of self-defense.”

Credit for the summary and analysis of Essay #73 is given to Brittany Nelson and Christopher Higgins (second revision 09/15/2011). Weinbloom, Elizabeth ed. “The Federalist Papers Essay #73 Summary and Analysis”. GradeSaver, 30 December 2011 Web. 19 February 2019.

You can read a summary and analysis of Essay #73 by clicking HERE.

You can read the entire text of Essay #73 by clicking HERE.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.