The Federalist Papers | Study Guide

Alexander Hamilton

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "The Federalist Papers Study Guide." Course Hero. 27 Apr. 2018. Web. 17 Jan. 2019. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2018, April 27). The Federalist Papers Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved January 17, 2019, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2018)



Course Hero. "The Federalist Papers Study Guide." April 27, 2018. Accessed January 17, 2019.


Course Hero, "The Federalist Papers Study Guide," April 27, 2018, accessed January 17, 2019,

The Federalist Papers | Essays 73–75 | Summary



Essay 73: The Provision for the Support of the Executive, and the Veto Power

In this paper, Hamilton focuses on two aspects of the presidency and the powers of that office: the president's salary and his veto power. With regard to the first, Hamilton remarks that a fixed salary for the duration of the president's term will serve as security against the possibility that the president or the legislature will indulge in improper activities.

Hamilton next discusses the president's limited veto power, which he refers to as a "qualified negative." The Constitution provides that the president may veto an act of Congress but also this veto may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both the House and the Senate. Hamilton thoroughly examines this provision, commenting on both the executive and the legislative branches. He first asks whether it was proper for the convention to confer a veto power on a single individual, as opposed to the considered judgment, virtue, and wisdom of a number of legislators. To this question he replies the issue is not a question of numbers but rather one of the possible fallibility of the legislature, which may be led astray by a love of power or a spirit of faction. The executive needs the veto power as a shield, and also as a means of preventing the enactment of bad laws "through haste, inadvertence, or design."

Hamilton also uses a comparative example to bolster his support of the Constitution's veto arrangements. He refers to the absolute and unqualified power of the British king to veto acts of Parliament, saying the monarch very rarely uses this power because its use runs the risk of displeasing the nation.

Toward the end of his paper Hamilton introduces another comparative example: the use of the veto power in the state of New York, where it is shared by the governor and several other officials.

Essay 74: The Command of the Military and Naval Forces, and the Pardoning Power of the Executive

As the title suggests, Hamilton's focus in this essay is on two other aspects of the presidency: the president's status as commander-in-chief and his pardoning power. On the former, Hamilton has little to say: he assumes most people agree the assignment of military authority to a single individual is appropriate.

The issue of pardons is more complex, however. For example, some observers have suggested the legislative branch ought to be involved in considering pardons for treason. Here Hamilton refers again to Shays's Rebellion in Massachusetts (1786–87). Hamilton believes there are strong arguments against such a plan. Since treasonous and seditious acts are often the result of widespread disaffection in a community, it is reasonable to suppose some of such sentiment may have spilled over to taint the people's representatives in the legislature. Furthermore, Hamilton argues that conferring the pardoning power on a single individual, the chief magistrate, will have the benefit of enabling him to act in a timely fashion to restore public order.

Essay 75: The Treaty-Making Power of the Executive

In this paper, Hamilton defends the convention's decision to assign treaty-making power to both the executive and the legislative branches of government. Treaties are inherently special types of agreement. Presidents, whose terms in office are relatively short, should be subject to legislative scrutiny. Conferral of the treaty-making power to the Senate alone and exclusion of the president from the process would diminish the confidence and respect of foreign powers.


Compared to the harsh language of such papers as Essay 67, Hamilton's diction and tone in these essays about the presidency are generally sober and restrained. Essay 73 may be considered along with Madison's Essay 51 in its emphasis on checks and balances: both papers illustrate how important this concept was to the framers. The thoroughgoing and judicious analysis of the president's veto power is itself an exemplar of moderation.

Hamilton exhibits similar caution and restraint when he discusses the pardoning power in Essay 74. He makes it clear that the vesting of this power in a single individual is far preferable to its conferral on a group, for reasons that are both practical and psychological.

The discussion of the treaty-making power in Essay 75 offers an interesting example of the Founding Fathers' ability to depart from, or vary, even the most revered guiding governmental principles, such as the separation of powers. The reality, Hamilton asserts, is that treaties are a special kind of contracts, to which both the executive and the legislative branches may suitably contribute. The president stands in need of restraint by the legislature, but the legislature can hardly be expected to substitute for the prestige of the chief magistrate, especially where foreign nations are concerned.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The Federalist Papers? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!