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Article 2, Section 2, Clauses 2 and 3



Document 7

James Madison, Federalist, no. 42, 279--80

22 Jan. 1788

The powers to make treaties and to send and receive Ambassadors, speak their own propriety. Both of them are comprized in the articles of confederation; with this difference only, that the former is disembarrassed by the plan of the Convention of an exception, under which treaties might be substantially frustrated by regulations of the States; and that a power of appointing and receiving "other public Ministers and Consuls," is expressly and very properly added to the former provision concerning Ambassadors. The term Ambassador, if taken strictly, as seems to be required by the second of the articles of confederation, comprehends the highest grade only of public Ministers; and excludes the grades which the United States will be most likely to prefer where foreign embassies may be necessary. And under no latitude of construction will the term comprehend Consuls. Yet it has been found expedient, and has been the practice of Congress to employ the inferior grades of public Ministers; and to send and receive Consuls. It is true that where treaties of commerce stipulate for the mutual appointment of Consuls, whose functions are connected with commerce, the admission of foreign Consuls may fall within the power of making commercial treaties; and that where no such treaties exist, the mission of American Consuls into foreign countries, may perhaps be covered under the authority given by the 9th article of the Confederation, to appoint all such civil officers as may be necessary for managing the general affairs of the United States. But the admission of Consuls into the United States, where no previous treaty has stipulated it, seems to have been no where provided for. A supply of the omission is one of the lesser instances in which the Convention have improved on the model before them. But the most minute provisions become important when they tend to obviate the necessity or the pretext for gradual and unobserved usurpations of power; a list of the cases in which Congress have been betrayed, or forced by the defects of the confederation into violations of their chartered authorities, would not a little surprize those who have paid no attention to the subject; and would be no inconsiderable argument in favor of the new Constitution, which seems to have provided no less studiously for the lesser, than the more obvious and striking defects of the old.


The Founders' Constitution
Volume 4, Article 2, Section 2, Clauses 2 and 3, Document 7
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a2_2_2-3s7.html
The University of Chicago Press

Hamilton, Alexander; Madison, James; and Jay, John. The Federalist. Edited by Jacob E. Cooke. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1961.

Easy to print version.


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