What is the most significant part of Hamilton’s argument in Federalist 70? Why does Hamilton argue in favour of a single executive? Are the comparisons Hamilton makes to the Roman warranted?
Alexander Hamilton is considered as the founder of principles that govern Federal Governments in the United States of America and thus the true architect of the modern administrative state. Hamilton’s most significant argument in Federal 70 was the creation of a strong executive.
Hamilton in Federalist 70 believed that good governance could only be attained through an energetic and accountable executive. A critical look at Hamilton’s argument that was attached to the structure of government, administration and rule of law as well as policies is still relevant in the contemporary United States of America.
Hamilton expressed that a strong executive is a fundamental requirement for a nation’s economic prosperity, a view he held so dearly that he made political rivalry between him and people who held different views. It is imperative to note that during constitutional convention which was held in 1787, he advocated for a government in the form of an elected monarchy.
This opinion was shot down by delegates in the convention. In spite of the defeat, he continued advocating for creation of a strong executive. Hamilton’s views of a strong executive were anchored on the failures of the confederation plan which aimed at over-devolution of government affairs. It was evident that a plan of devolution that gave states maximum discretion over the federal government was improper.
This was because of difficulties in formulating and ratifying rules to govern the same which took years to come up with largely due to disagreements in boundaries and commerce.
In order to support the views of Alexander Hamilton, failure among states to work under the terms of the Paris Treaty that ended the Revolutionary War made leaders to agree on making a strong government that would supervise affairs of the states. This agreement was reached after states started formulating their own independent foreign policies while other states fought on whom to control the western land.
By 1787, it was evident that the devolution plan was not working and the solution to this would be formulating a strong federal government that would have executive powers over the states’ governments.
The quest for a strong executive was echoed by Alexander Hamilton and being the first treasury secretary, he planned and wrote reports on modalities of creating strong executive government. His reports included report on public credit, manufacturing and creation of a national banking system. Hamilton considered three basic principles in his views regarding the newly agitated public administration structure and strategy.
Firstly, Hamilton considered independence, responsibility and power as key principles that would indeed play a role if a strong executive agenda would succeed and give good results. According to Hamilton, the laws that had been ratified by the congress posed limitations on the independence of the federal government. It was his wish that for the executive to be able to implement laws, it required independence and freedom.
It was also evident that Hamilton in his later works (such as in Federalist71) showed that there was need for separation of powers between the executive and the legislature. In addition, he showed that it was important to vest adequate authority to the executive such as freedom to determine how best to implement and administer laws.
Hamilton was strongly convinced that a weak government was bound to deliver poor results mainly due to bad policies. He also believed that there was much needed for a decisive organ that would drive policies on behalf of states’ governments. In addition, Hamilton held the view that it required a strong government to protect the people’s interest if they required to rule and be served at the same time.
It is evident that the Federalist 70 (a book by Hamilton) was probably the first of its kind on the subject of public administration whose relevance was noted almost a century later. The book outlined what was entailed by “energy in the executive”.
On the principle of power, Hamilton outlined that a strong executive required unity, and that there ought to have been a president as the leader of the government who should be in power for a definite duration of time. Also, he said that the president was supposed to be competent enough to be able understand and push policies for the good of the nation.
The third principle of responsibility was aimed at keeping the executive government accountable so that it didn’t exhibit or exercise too much power. Hamilton suggested that for the executive to be accountable, it required Congress that would supervise it.
Although Hamilton’s view on separation of powers between the legislature and executive was received well, he suggested that it could not be enough to vest all the authority to the Congress to check the executive. There was need for a stronger executive branch (Congress) that could have power to impeach even the president.
There was strong need to check the executive so that it does not exercise too much power. Therefore, the proposed government would be responsible for its actions for the good of the citizen of the nation.
In order to prove that his argument was the only way to push for the economic development agenda and a change from agrarian dependent economy to manufacturing, Hamilton in the capacity of treasury secretary was instrumental in the planning and creation of the First Bank of the United States of America which was government-supported.
Hamilton’s view on a long term vision was that when an executive government is in place, it is possible to formulate policies that can change even the economic position of the nation. His vision of a manufacturing driven economy was that it would play a major role for America to engage in global commerce compared to an economy driven by agriculture.
Hamilton’s strong support for a powerful government led by an executive leader was envisioned in the future of America in the sense that an economic transformation would only be possible when a strong executive was is in place to push the agenda forward.
Hamilton’s values for the administration of the United States of America can be summarized as a system that blends a strong executive (monarchy), a strong legislature (democratic) and an independent judicial system which has powers to overrule the will of the majority if liberty is destroyed (aristocracy).
To enable this kind of system to flourish peacefully, there is need to balance them in such a way that none becomes more superior to the other or vise versa.
It was evident that Alexander Hamilton admired and also had passion for Rome. His envisioned America resembled what used to be the administration in Ancient Roman Republic. Rome portrayed a history whose greatness was achieved through trade and commerce. In addition, this history was established and strongly supported by military of elite.
It is generally viewed that Rome’s administration was strategized to command and conquer. The empire in Rome was mandated to protect the interests of the people led by a central figure. This was the exact vision that Hamilton had for American administration. In his era, Caesar was referred to as a destroyer of republics and thus never enjoyed the admiration of many people.
However, Hamilton admired him and referred to him as “the greatest villain and the founder”. As mentioned earlier, Humiliations view was to have an executive leader whose mandate was to give an informed leadership by pushing forward the policies that would make America great. The Roman Empire shared the same set up.
Hamilton’s vision would be put into operation by employing policies and mechanism that would reduce poverty through funding and assumption or through empowering the rich and employing mechanisms of expanding trade throughout the world. The latter would be put in place while still enforcing domestic fiscal authority.
This strategy would be possible if a strong executive was put in place to push for these agendas. Hamilton’s vision encompassed a strong government’s quest to empower members of the political elite that would transform the administration from within.
To date, America’s administration reflects the foundation that was laid by the founder of modern administration, Alexander Hamilton. His argument regarding the Roman Republic and his admiration of the system of administration in Rome are indeed warranted.
Hamilton participated in the enactment of some of his proposals in the constitution that changed the administration of the United States. Therefore, he can be rightfully referred to as the founder of modern administration in the United States of America.