In the Federalist Papers, Number Seventy, published March Fifteenth, 1788, Alexander Hamilton said, “A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be in theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.” He argued that a single executive, as opposed to an executive council, would be a far better choice. He knew that it would be the best way to go.
When Hamilton wrote the federalist paper number seventy, America had just broken away from the English monarchy and was forming how the government was to be structured. When he said a feeble executive, he meant a president who did not have much power and had to share power with an executive council. He thought that a council of more than one executive would lead to a weaker government.
Hamilton believed in the energy of the executive, an energetic singular leader. He believed it was essential to the community and foreign attacks. He did not want the power to be diluted amongst many. He said this would deprive people of two securities. One being the restraint of public opinion: who do you hold accountable if there is more than one person in charge and one of the persons does something wrong? If there is more than one person in the office and something goes wrong, people could point fingers on each other. On another hand, if there is one president we know who to blame, and can remove that person from office.
He also thought that secrecy in one individual executive was acceptable, especially in times of war. Though historians such as Arthur Schlesinger Jr. thought much differently. He believed that this type of executive secrecy would ultimately lead to the power to withhold, leak, and the power to lie. An example of this is how Eisenhower hid CIA operations. “The power to withhold and the power to leak led on inexorably to the power to lie. The secrecy system instilled in the executive branch the idea that foreign policy was no one’s business, save its own, and the uncontrolled secrecy made it easy for lying to become routine. It was in this spirit that Eisenhower concealed the CIA operations it was mounting against governments around the world.” (Khan Academy)
Though Hamilton had the right idea for having a single executive as president, we can see that our forefathers were wise enough to include the Legislative and Judicial Branches to check and balance their executive. One example of this is the twenty-second amendment, which allows for no more than two terms, four years each in a presidency. President Franklin Delanor Roosevelt served four terms during the great depression. As a reaction, on March Twenty-Fourth, 1947, Congress amended the Constitution. A second example is the War Powers Act of 1973, in which Congress and the Legislative Branch voted and deliberated that a president could not commit the United States to war without the consent of the U.S. Congress.
In the Federalist Papers, Number Seventy, Alexander Hamilton argues the idea of having a single executive as our president is essential for a thriving republic. This president is an energetic force whose ultimate wisdom will lead the nation while accepting the advice, counsel, and criticism of the other branches. The Legislative and Judicial Branches serve to check and balance this individual as not to allow him or her to have total abuse of power.
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