Federalist Papers – Essay #74

In Essay #74, Alexander Hamilton addresses, The Command of the Military and Naval Forces, and the Pardoning Power of the Executive.

Assignment of the duties of commander in chief of the military is a cut and dried issue with Hamilton. His principal argument is that the demands of war require a single supreme leader. A distribution of military authority among multiple, supreme executives could lead to disaster.

The issue of the President having sole power to grant pardons prompts a discussion about the problems of involving the legislature for approval and the political problems that such involvement might arouse. Additionally, Hamilton presents a situation dealing with the principle to “restore the tranquility of the commonwealth.”

The anti-federalists were opposed to the President’s sole power of granting pardons because of historical abuse by European monarchs. Later, the first high-profile pardon was issued by President Washington to the leaders of the Whiskey Rebellion in return for their renouncement of violent opposition to US law. Therefore this early use of the pardon affirmed Hamilton’s claim that this particular power of the president would at times be essential to restoring peace and public order during times of domestic upheaval.

Credit for the summary and analysis of Essay #74 is given to Brittany Nelson and Christopher Higgins (second revision 09/15/2011). Weinbloom, Elizabeth ed. “The Federalist Papers Essay #74 Summary and Analysis”. GradeSaver, 30 December 2011 Web. 19 February 2019.

You can read a summary and analysis of Essay #74 by clicking HERE.

You can read the entire text of Essay #74 by clicking HERE.

3 thoughts on “Federalist Papers – Essay #74

  1. Pingback: The Power of the President to Grant Pardons | Critical Skills!

  2. Publius

    How does Essay #74, published in 1788, use the Whiskey Rebellion, which took place in the 1790s, as an example? Isn’t that looking into the future?

    1. Charles C. Jett

      You are correct in your comment. The pardon issued by Washington occurred later. It was an example of how the pardon was first used in a way that was not abusive. Thank you. ~ CC

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