The Prevalence of Lying in the Federalist Papers

Feb 2013
4,299
Coastal Florida
#11
I did miss the point. My apologies. There were many safeguards against "mob rule" in the initial U.S. system. As you likely know, the U.S. Senators were chosen by the state assembly ( only much later to be amended to a popular vote). This was just one example of power the States' wield, in relation to the Federal government at the inception of the nation. And while most electors have voted, at least in recent memory, for the candidate chosen by the popular vote, I am aware that they are not obliged t do so. In effect, the popular vote to this day does not affect the votes of the electoral college, in theory and practice, to this day. o, even if the Founding Fathers insisted that the electors be selected by popular vote, if the electors are not obligated to vote for the presidential candidate who won the popular vote, or even in proportion to the popular vote among the candidates, does it matter?
Let's be practical. Legislative leaders weren't going to select anyone but their cronies for the job. It's hard to imagine the will of the respective legislature wouldn't be carried out by the person they selected.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,927
Dispargum
#12
Erm...it's in the passages Rodger highlighted when he posted the full text of Federalist 68...where Hamilton says "men chosen by the people" and "a small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass". Clearly, he's referring to a popular election to choose the electors.

See post #7 above. ... In that example, they rejected nearly the exact scenario Hamilton claims was intended in Federalist 68. They clearly contemplated requiring this and chose not to.
It's not so clear to me that Hamilton meant a popular election. "The people" is an elastic phrase meaning any kind of democratic process. When Hamilton said "men chosen by the people" and "selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass" he meant men chosen by some kind of democratic process not specified by the Constitution. The founders did not attempt to solve every problem. In this case, they did not specify in the Constitution how electors would be chosen, probably because the founders could not agree among themselves how to choose electors. So they passed the buck and let the state legislatures figure out how choose each state's electors.

The founders clearly preferred indirect democracy over direct democracy. That's why they chose senators via the state legislatures rather than direct election. And that's why they decided the president should be chosen by the electoral college and not by direct popular vote. But indirect democracy was still government by the people. Senators were still chosen by the people, just indirectly through the state legislatures.

It doesn't really matter if the founders considered and rejected choosing electors by popular vote since they did not write this decision into the Constitution. By letting the state legislatures decide how to choose electors, the founders left open the possibility of the legislatures choosing popular vote as a way to pick electors. That's eventually what every state legislature did since that's how we elect presidents today.

When Hamilton said the electors would be chosen by the people, all he meant was that electors would be chosen through some kind of unspecified democratic process. In other words, electors would not be chosen undemocratically. Given the lack of a specified procedure in the Constitution, it's hard to imagine Hamilton describing the choice of electors any other way. Try that as an exercise: Rewrite Federalist 68 in such a way that Hamilton does not lie.
 
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Feb 2013
4,299
Coastal Florida
#13
It's not so clear to me that Hamilton meant a popular election. "The people" is an elastic phrase meaning any kind of democratic process.
"The people" is a reference to all free people in their capacities as citizens within a monolithic group, an entity that was fundamentally & separately distinguished from legislatures, landowners and other sociopolitical groupings. I would also point out that Hamilton claims the selection of electors was intended to be an "immediate act of the people of America" and "the immediate election" of the president would be conducted by the electoral college. A selection by a legislature is not an "immediate act of the people" because the term immediate refers to a direct vote. This term is not meant in a temporal sense here. Rather, it's a reference to proximity.

When Hamilton said "men chosen by the people" and "selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass" he meant men chosen by some kind of democratic process not specified by the Constitution. The founders did not attempt to solve every problem. In this case, they did not specify in the Constitution how electors would be chosen, probably because the founders could not agree among themselves how to choose electors. So they passed the buck and let the state legislatures figure out how choose each state's electors.
They had a hard time determining whether to use electors at all. When the text was submitted to the Third Committee of Eleven on August 31st, there was no mention of electors as they still had the president being selected by Congress. In the letter Madison wrote to Jefferson as the Convention came to a close, he called the agreed-upon language an "expedient". They couldn't agree on anything in particular and didn't like the idea of leaving the decision with Congress so they left it in something of a default position.

The founders clearly preferred indirect democracy over direct democracy.
They saw problems with democracy and thought a representative form of government was better for practical reasons but they didn't have anything against the concept of democracy per se. In fact, I think many people don't realize this, but one branch of the government was explicitly designed as a democratically elected institution, the House of Representatives. This body was designed to directly represent the will of "the people" (i.e. the masses) and be directly elected by them in a way that's unconnected with state legislatures or any other intervening entity.

That's why they chose senators via the state legislatures rather than direct election. And that's why they decided the president should be chosen by the electoral college and not by direct popular vote. But indirect democracy was still government by the people. Senators were still chosen by the people, just indirectly through the state legislatures.
That's not the case either. The mode for selecting senators was decided on to protect the interests of state governments and the wealthy classes of society who controlled state governments, among other reasons. In contrast with the House, the Senate was not intended to represent the direct will of the people. It's actually very interesting when you read the rationales for all these things when they were debating them. They basically ripped up every proposal into tiny pieces. They then took a tiny piece from here and one from there and so on in order to make sentences and form institutions. You see this throughout the document. For example, consider representation. Some people wanted proportional representation in the legislative branch so we get that in the House. Other people wanted equal footing for each state, so we get that in the Senate. Nobody proposed that mix in the beginning...it was the result of compromise. Really, the text, semantics and meanings behind the Constitution are very much like a patchwork quilt where you sew together little bits of fabric from a bunch of different sources. Everybody got a little piece of what they wanted in there but nobody got everything they wanted. This resulted in a situation where nobody really liked the end result but almost all of them supported it because the practical reality was that they needed a much stronger central government to avoid eventual interstate conflict and they didn't think they could do any better.

When Hamilton said the electors would be chosen by the people, all he meant was that electors would be chosen through some kind of unspecified democratic process. In other words, electors would not be chosen undemocratically. Given the lack of a specified procedure in the Constitution, it's hard to imagine Hamilton describing the choice of electors any other way. Try that as an exercise: Rewrite Federalist 68 in such a way that Hamilton does not lie.
Easy: The means for selecting presidential electors will be decided at a future time by the state legislature in any way they see fit to do so.
 
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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#14
I don't see any actual evidence provided by the originator of the post to support the claims he made that the writers of the Federalist papers were lying. No contemporay sources that documented what was discussed and decided at the Constitutionality Conventions. The poster claims a knowledge of the details of how the convention proceeded that are not supported by any facts provided.

What we do know was how the Constitution actually came out, and how the first elections were conducted while those who composed and agreed to the Constitution were still alive, and the results of what we know to actually have happened.

So far, I haven't see any actual quotes from the sources and the time of support the claims made that the writers of the Federalist Paper, and life is too short to try to dig out the appropriate quotes myself given the bias of the originator of the thread.

Some actually quotes from.contemporary sources are needed to support the claims, and so far, I don't see any.



I
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,992
US
#15
That's not the case either. The mode for selecting senators was decided on to protect the interests of state governments and the wealthy classes of society who controlled state governments, among other reasons. In contrast with the House, the Senate was not intended to represent the direct will of the people.
Yes. The House was the "people's" reps and the Senate was meant to give the state's some balanced control. Let's not forget, at the formation of the nation, there were a good number of citizens concerned about excessive federal control . Remember, the Union came through the formation of 13 separate and individual former colonies.
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,927
Dispargum
#16
Alright, I'll concede that "chosen by the people" means popular election, but I still don't see a basis for saying that Hamilton lied. These sources suggest that Hamilton expected electors to be chosen by popular vote even if popular vote wasn't mandated by the Constitution:
Founders Online: Draft of a Resolution for the Legislature of New York for the …
Founders Online: James Madison to George Hay, 23 August 1823
United States Electoral College - Wikipedia

The first one is Hamilton's reaction in 1802 to the increasing tendency away from choosing electors by popular vote - a proposed Constitutional Amendment mandating that electors be voted on in local districts, not by state legislatures or conventions nor in winner take all state-wide races. He was supported by James Madison on this issue. In the second source cited, Madison states that choosing electors by popular vote was the intention and assumption at the Constitutional Convention.
According to wiki, in 1789 four states chose their electors by popular vote: Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland. The other five states chose via state legislature. (Only nine states voted that year).
 
Likes: Rodger
Jul 2017
287
Srpska
#17
The key word in the paper seems to be the "immediate" act of the people. This mean general election. However, the confusion comes from the implication of perfect equality of each vote across the nation. That is not the case in our federation, we are a federation of states, we are not a state. Hence the valuing of votes per state through electoral college.
 
Likes: Rodger
Jan 2010
4,414
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#18
He explicitly says the Convention intended a popular election would be held to select the electors and that is an outright falsehood as, in fact, the Convention explicitly rejected the idea of requiring a popular election of any sort, whether direct or indirect (both modes were proposed in Convention). I am not confused about anything. And this is Hamilton speaking, not Madison. I would also note that even Madison acknowledged the practical reality that the states were free to vary the mode of selection and could effectively make the choice under the language that made it through the Convention.[/QUOTE
I don’t think he is saying that a popular election was required to choose electors. He means that the electors themselves would be not be the legislature per se . Today we have a difficult time seeing that democracy then was not a favored method of government , and wouldn’t be until Jackson.

And to accuse Hamilton of lying about this is— Have you been able to find any contemporary accusation during the ratifying process?

/QUOTE]
 
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Feb 2013
4,299
Coastal Florida
#19
I don't see any actual evidence provided by the originator of the post to support the claims he made that the writers of the Federalist papers were lying. No contemporay sources that documented what was discussed and decided at the Constitutionality Conventions. The poster claims a knowledge of the details of how the convention proceeded that are not supported by any facts provided.

What we do know was how the Constitution actually came out, and how the first elections were conducted while those who composed and agreed to the Constitution were still alive, and the results of what we know to actually have happened.

So far, I haven't see any actual quotes from the sources and the time of support the claims made that the writers of the Federalist Paper, and life is too short to try to dig out the appropriate quotes myself given the bias of the originator of the thread.

Some actually quotes from.contemporary sources are needed to support the claims, and so far, I don't see any.



I
In post #1, I provided the relevant text from Federalist 68 where Hamilton asserts the Convention intended that electors would be selected by popular election. In post #7, I provided a quote from Madison's journal of the Convention demonstrating the Convention contemplated and rejected requiring that the electors would be selected by popular election. The only thing I haven't quoted is the relevant passage from the Constitution but I suppose I can. From Article II, Section 1:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
Clearly, these quotes by themselves demonstrate there doesn't appear to be any rational basis to believe it was the will of the Convention that popular elections would be held to select the electors. It appears to me that the Convention willed that, at a future time, state legislatures would each determine how to select electors in their own states. I'm not sure what other sources or quotes you're looking for.

And I don't know what bias you're referring to. I've simply looked at the evidence, considered whether it's reasonable Hamilton could have mistakenly believed this and drawn a conclusion accordingly.

Alright, I'll concede that "chosen by the people" means popular election, but I still don't see a basis for saying that Hamilton lied. These sources suggest that Hamilton expected electors to be chosen by popular vote even if popular vote wasn't mandated by the Constitution:
Founders Online: Draft of a Resolution for the Legislature of New York for the …
Founders Online: James Madison to George Hay, 23 August 1823
United States Electoral College - Wikipedia
The proposed amendment came following and in response to the controversial election of 1800. There was actually nothing new about the 1st resolve of the proposed amendment as essentially the same proposal had been made during the Convention in 1787 but it was rejected by the delegates. The 1st resolve was also stripped entirely from the proposal as it evolved into and ratified as the 12th Amendment. I would say the mere fact they proposed the 1st resolve as well as the fact it was stripped from the proposal is proof they were well aware the Convention never intended to require popular elections of electors...and they didn't intend to impose that requirement after the election of 1800 either. Besides, why would the Constitution even need to be changed if that's what it meant in the first place?

I've also seen the letter from Madison to George Hay before. In this case, Madison's claims about the matter appear to be false. Although, at the age of 72, I'm not sure I would say he was lying. Perhaps age was simply catching up to him and his mind was slipping. Or I suppose you could even read it as him acknowledging that popular elections were never intended as he seems to implicitly acknowledge that's not what the Constitution actually says. Again, why would an amendment be necessary if that's what the Convention intended the Constitutional text to mean to begin with? Really, I don't think there was much debate over this point of minutia as it was probably one of the least objectionable parts of the Constitution (because it was a power left the way it was found). However, the matter was sometimes discussed. For instance, future president James Monroe addressed it in the Virginia Ratifying Convention (Elliot's Debates, vol. III, pg. 220):
Let us now consider the reponsibility of the President. [...] How is he elected? By electors appointed according to the directions of the state legislatures. Does the plan of government contemplate any other mode?
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,927
Dispargum
#20
Interesting that Monroe, arguing against ratification, quoted the Constitution, ie, "according to the directions of the state legislatures" which doesn't mean anything since no one yet knew what the legislatures would legislate, while Edmund Randolph, arguing for ratification, repeated Hamilton (Elliot's Debates, vol. III, pg. 202). This tells me there was still a lively debate about how to choose electors.

Hamilton was consistent from Federalist 68 through his 1802 proposed amendment. He always believed the best way to choose electors was through popular voting. He may have been naive to think state legislatures would give up the power to choose electors themselves, but at the time of Federalist 68 he appears to have honestly thought that the legislatures would choose popular voting. If he wasn't completely honest, it was probably his way of influencing the debate - throw the idea out there and if it gets a positive reaction, it strengthens your position. "Separation of Church and state" doesn't appear in the Constitution, but while the First Amendment was being debated, Jefferson threw that phrase out there and it caught on. It's been part of our national dialogue ever since. Hamilton was probably hoping for a similar response - throw the idea of popular elections out there and hope it catches on. I wouldn't call that lying. The legislatures are supposed to be responsive to the wishes of the voters. Hamilton probably assumed the voters would demand popular elections. Incorrectly predicting the future is not the same thing as lying. At the time of Federalist 68, no one knew how electors would be chosen. None of the state legislatures had decided yet. Hamilton had (or thought he had) a reasonable basis to believe the legislatures would choose popular voting.

Saying that the Constitutional Convention never approved popular voting is beside the point. The Constitutional Convention took itself out of the picture when the founders passed the buck on to the state legislatures. The reason the first resolve was stripped in 1802 has nothing to do with what was decided at the Constitutional Convention. It was stripped because the state legislatures did not want to give up the power to choose the electors. There were also issues of partisan politics by 1802 that had not existed at the time of Federalist 68. Both major political parties saw the first resolve as a threat to their interests. That's why it was stripped.
 

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