Federalist 70 Explained | Why Does the U.S. Have a Unitary Executive?
Why does the Constitution call for a unitary executive? In this episode of BRI’s Primary Source Close Reads, Kirk looks at Federalist 70 and the debate between adopting a singular or plural executive. How does Publius argue that unity and energy are embodied in a unitary executive? How does the role of disagreement differ between the legislature and the executive?
A Primary Source Close Reads Video Playlist
Primary Source Close Reading with BRI investigates some of the most pivotal speeches and documents that made America. In this series, join BRI staff Kirk Higgins and guests as they dissect how seminal documents, court cases, and speeches forged America’s development and impact our lives today.
Federalist Papers No. 70 (1788)
In this Federalist Paper, Alexander Hamilton argues for a strong executive leader, as provided for by the Constitution, as opposed to the weak executive under the Articles of Confederation. He asserts, “energy in the executive is the leading character in the definition of good government.
Federalist 70 Excerpts
THERE is an idea, which is not without its advocates, that a vigorous Executive is inconsistent with the genius of republican government. The enlightened well-wishers to this species of government must at least hope that the supposition is destitute of foundation; since they can never admit its truth, without at the same time admitting the condemnation of their own principles.
In order to help convince their fellow Americans of their view that the Constitution would not threaten freedom, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay teamed up in 1788 to write a series of essays in defense of the Constitution. The essays, which appeared in newspapers addressed to the people of the state of New York, are known as the Federalist Papers. They are regarded as one of the most authoritative sources on the meaning of the Constitution, including constitutional principles such as checks and balances, federalism, and separation of powers.