Antifederalist Nos. 76-77 AN ANTIFEDERALIST VIEW OF THE APPOINTING POWER UNDER THE CONSTITUTION

In addition toFederalist No. 67, Alexander Hamilton deemed it necessary to devote two other essays (Nos. 76 and 77) largely to the issue of the executive appointing power, rebutting various propositions put forward by Antifederalists. For example, in the following essay "THE FEDERAL FARMER," Richard Henry Lee, advocated an executive council to advise and direct the president on appointments. Hamilton responded that "every mere council of appointment, however constituted, will be a conclave, in which cabal and intrigue will have their full scope."

The essay is from the Additional Letters, pp. 110-23.

. . . . In contemplating the necessary officers of the union, there appear to be six different modes in which, in whole or in part, the appointments may be made: 1. by the legislature; 2. by the president and the senate; 3. by the president and an executive council; 4. by the president alone; 5. by the heads of the departments; 6. by the state governments. Among all these, in my opinion, there may be an advantageous distribution of the power of appointments.

In considering the legislators, in relation to the subject before us, two interesting questions particularly arise: 1. whether they ought to be eligible to hold any offices whatever during the period for which they shall be elected to serve, and even for some time afterwards. 2. how far they ought to participate in the power of appointments. As to the first, it is true that legislators in foreign countries, or in our state governments, are not generally made ineligible to office. There are good reasons for it. In many countries the people have gone on without ever examining the principles of government. There have been but few countries in which the legislators have been a particular set of men periodically chosen. But the principal reason is, that which operates in the several states, viz., the legislators are so frequently chosen, and so numerous, compared with the number of offices for which they can reasonably consider themselves as candidates, that the chance of any individual member's being chosen, is too small to raise his hopes or expectations, or to have any considerable influence upon his conduct. Among the state legislators, one man in twenty may be appointed in some committee business, etc., for a month or two; but on a fair computation, not one man in a hundred sent to the state legislatures is appointed to any permanent office of profit. Directly the reverse of this will evidently be found true in the federal administration. Throughout the United States, about four federal senators, and thirty-three representatives, averaging the elections, will be chosen in a year. These few men may rationally consider themselves as the fairest candidates for a very great number of lucrative offices, which must become vacant in the year; and pretty clearly a majority of the federal legislators, if not excluded, will be mere expectants for public offices. I need not adduce further arguments to establish a position so clear. I need only call

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