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James Madison, Executive Power, and the Question of Consistency
Unformatted Document Text:  members of the Senate to augment these qualities with the experience to truly judge the quality of proposed legislation. 37 Such a body of men, he assumed would not be so likely to be moved by the momentary passionate impulses that led to the creation of a plethora of ever changing legislation as had happened in the States. “Every new election in the States,” he declared, “is found to change one half of the representatives,. From this change of men must proceed a change of opinions; and from a change of opinions, a change of measures.” The constant mutability of laws that resulted was a blight on the republic. It led to a loss of respect at home and abroad, opportunities for the wealthy to exploit the “the industrious and uninformed mass of the people.” And even when these governments did pass beneficial legislation the lack of confidence in “public councils” undermined “every useful undertaking.” Madison warned that the House of Representatives could be prone to the same tendencies as the State houses. Consequently, the Senate filled with men with the aforementioned qualifications and experience could disapprove of the ill considered bills coming out of the House, and act as a bulwark against the evils that had plagued the country under the Articles of Confederation. 38 Despite Madison’s predictions and cautious optimism about how the new frame of government would work, the course of American Political History during the 1790s demonstrates that his predictions were wrong on some key points. The members of the Federal Government did not rise above party politics. Ironically, Madison became one of the party leaders opposing the policies of the coauthors of the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. And in the eyes of James Madison, the Senate, controlled by the allies of Hamilton, did not become “the Great Anchor” of the government, but instead a corrupted body that collaborated with the members of the executive branch who intended to turn the republic into a monarchy. In a nutshell, Madison’s only logical recourse was to try and offset the power of a corrupted Federal government by enhancing the power of the States. As previously noted when Alexander Hamilton presented his Report on the Public Credit which outlined his scheme to fund the National debt at par, and assume the State Debts, he expected that James Madison would guide his plan through Congress. Instead, the Virginian led the opposition to the plan claiming that the plan unfairly 37 James Madison, “Federalist #62, Federalist Papers, 376-377. 38 Ibid, 378-380. 22

Authors: Edwards, Gregory.
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members of the Senate to augment these qualities with the experience to truly judge the quality of proposed
legislation.
Such a body of men, he assumed would not be so likely to be moved by the momentary passionate
impulses that led to the creation of a plethora of ever changing legislation as had happened in the States. “Every new
election in the States,” he declared, “is found to change one half of the representatives,. From this change of men
must proceed a change of opinions; and from a change of opinions, a change of measures.” The constant mutability
of laws that resulted was a blight on the republic. It led to a loss of respect at home and abroad, opportunities for the
wealthy to exploit the “the industrious and uninformed mass of the people.” And even when these governments did
pass beneficial legislation the lack of confidence in “public councils” undermined “every useful undertaking.”
Madison warned that the House of Representatives could be prone to the same tendencies as the State houses.
Consequently, the Senate filled with men with the aforementioned qualifications and experience could disapprove of
the ill considered bills coming out of the House, and act as a bulwark against the evils that had plagued the country
under the Articles of Confederation.
Despite Madison’s predictions and cautious optimism about how the new frame of government would
work, the course of American Political History during the 1790s demonstrates that his predictions were wrong on
some key points. The members of the Federal Government did not rise above party politics. Ironically, Madison
became one of the party leaders opposing the policies of the coauthors of the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton
and John Jay. And in the eyes of James Madison, the Senate, controlled by the allies of Hamilton, did not become
“the Great Anchor” of the government, but instead a corrupted body that collaborated with the members of the
executive branch who intended to turn the republic into a monarchy. In a nutshell, Madison’s only logical recourse
was to try and offset the power of a corrupted Federal government by enhancing the power of the States.
As previously noted when Alexander Hamilton presented his Report on the Public Credit which outlined
his scheme to fund the National debt at par, and assume the State Debts, he expected that James Madison would
guide his plan through Congress. Instead, the Virginian led the opposition to the plan claiming that the plan unfairly
37
James Madison, “Federalist #62, Federalist Papers, 376-377.
38
Ibid, 378-380.
22


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