US Constitution Amendments 11-14 and The Federalist and Anti-Federalists View of the President

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Federalist and Anti Federalist Views of the President

Federalist and Anti-Federalist views of the President

At one time, there was an idea to have three Presidents.  Can you imagine?

The Federalists wanted to have a strong central government with one executive. to ensure things ran smoothly.The Anti-Federalists were concerned that this would lead to tyranny and desired a triune/three executives..


A strong argument against having a single executive came from George Mason

” I believe there is a general tendency to a strong Executive, and I am inclined to think a strong Executive necessary. If strong and extensive powers are vested in the Executive, and that executive consists only of one person, the government will of course degenerate (for I will call it degeneracy) into a monarchy–a government so contrary to the genius of the people that they will reject even the appearance of it.”

Madison was arguing that if the Federalists prevail in establishing a single executive, that the people will reject him.  Other Anti-Federalists thought that a single executive was ok – that it would give the Government the energy necessary to get things done.  Another reason was that one person would feel the full stress of the office.  Some felt it was ok to have a single executive, but not have him the power of war and peace.  And this was maintained in Congress as having the ability to declare war.

Mr. Mason desired  also stated

Should an Insurrection, a Rebellion or Invasion happen in New Hampshire when the single supreme Magistrate is a Citizen of Georgia, would not the people of New Hampshire naturally ascribe any Delay in defending them to such a Circumstance and so vice versa. If the Executive is vested in three Persons, one chosen from the northern, one from the middle, and one from the Southern States, will it not contribute to quiet the Minds of the People, & convince them that there will be proper attention paid to their respective Concerns?  Will not three Men so chosen bring with them, into Office, a more perfect and extensive Knowledge of the real Invests of this great Union? Will not such a Model of Appointment be the most effectual means of preventing Cabals and Intrigues between the Legislature and the Candidates for this Office, especially with those Candidates who from their local Situation, near the seat of the federal Government, will have the greatest Temptations and the greatest Opportunities. Will it not be the most effectual Means of checking and counteracting the aspiring Views of dangerous and ambitious Men, and consequently the best Security for the Stability and Duration of our Government upon the invaluable Principles of Liberty?


Alexander Hamilton argued these reasons against a triune:

  • The unity in the executive would be destroyed by the contests among the three.  (meaning a contest of power would occur, because there is a human tendency
  • Having a difference of opinion would weaken the office of the President
  • Continual fighting among the three
  • and the largest issue of all:

 One of the weightiest objections to a plurality in the Executive, and which lies as much against the last as the first plan, is, that it tends to conceal faults and destroy responsibility. Responsibility is of two kinds — to censure and to punishment. The first is the more important of the two, especially in an elective office. Man, in public trust, will much oftener act in such a manner as to render him unworthy of being any longer trusted, than in such a manner as to make him obnoxious to legal punishment. But the multiplication of the Executive adds to the difficulty of detection in either case. It often becomes impossible, amidst mutual accusations, to determine on whom the blame or the punishment of a pernicious measure, or series of pernicious measures, ought really to fall. It is shifted from one to another with so much dexterity, and under such plausible appearances, that the public opinion is left in suspense about the real author.


The two sides finally came to an agreement that the President should be:  35 years old, serve for 4 year terms and could be elected as often as the people desired.  However, in the 20th century, that law was changed stating that a President could only serve two terms.


The term of the President identified at 4 years and in the 20th century, the law was passed to ensure that a President can only serve for two terms.  Laws were established to ensure that a President could be impeached, if necessary.  The Federalists desired to allow the President the power to veto a bill to keep a ‘check’ on congress.  The President was to have power over the military, as well as reprieves and pardons.


Amendments 11-14

Amendment 11:

Guarantees State sovereignty in suits against the state by citizens of the states or foreign states.   This was a clean up amendment to deal with issues occurring at the time – due to law suits based on territory, etc.

Amendment 12:

Prescribes how the electoral college is to operate.  How votes are cast, sent to congress and how they are counted.

Amendment 13:

This amendment abolishes slavery.

Amendment 14:

This amendment was written to ensure that the blacks who had been free’d were granted citizenship of the United States of America.This amendment has given rise to many court cases throughout history.  This also states that no state should deprive a person of Life, liberty or property without due process of the law.


I have to share this with you. When I was in school, I did not really ‘care’ about any of this.  I did not truly understand the importance of understanding our founding documents.  I am embarrassed to admit that…but, I wonder how many people truly do not understand how important it really is to know what those documents state.  I can’t help but think that perhaps so many of us have abdicated the responsibility of understanding the true history of our nation and that perhaps…we have handed over..our rights as citizens by doing so.  Now, if you are here, working through this series, I applaud you!  We need responsible citizens NOW and we need to raise responsible citizens.  We need to teach our children….they need to know and grow into leaders who desire to be involved…not only by voting but by running for office….who knows…you may have a future Mayor, Governor, Congressman, Senator…or future President sitting right there with you….next to you or on your lap!

Let’s raise them right: understanding and knowing the importance of our founding documents!



Note: “These posts were originally written as a project with The Founders Academy (who created videos and worksheets) to freely promote the education of the Constitution. The information here in was partially derived from those videos, which are no longer available for free. Please contact aformentioned company to purchase the new videos.”

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