The Federalist (Ford)/Hamilton's Syllabus

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A. I. A republic, a word used in various senses, has been applied to aristocracies and monarchies.
1. To Rome, under the kings.
2. To Sparta, though a Senate for life.
3. To Carthage, though the same.
4. To United Netherlands, though Stadtholder, hereditary nobles.
5. To Poland, though aristocracy and monarchy.
6. To Great Britain, though monarchy, etc.
II. Again, great confusion about words democracy, aristocracy, monarchy.
I. Democracy defined by some, Rousseau, etc., a government exercised by the collective body of the people.
a. Delegation of their power has been made the criterion of democracy.

2. Aristocracy has been used to designate governments,
a. Where an independent few possessed sovereignty.
b. Where the representatives of the people possessed it.
3. Monarchy, where sovereignty is in the hands of a single man.
 General idea—Independent in his situation, in any other sense would apply to State of New York.
4. Democracy in my sense, where the whole power of the government is in the people,
a. Whether exercised by themselves, or
b. By their Representatives, chosen by them either mediately or immediately, and legally accountable to them.
5. Aristocracy, where whole sovereignty is permanently in the hands of a few for life or hereditary.
6. Monarchy, where the whole sovereignty is in the hands of one man for life or hereditary.
7. Mixed government, where these three principles unite.
B. I. Consequence, the proposed government a representative democracy.
1. House of Representatives directly chosen by the people for two years.
2. Senate indirectly chosen by them for six years.
3. President indirectly chosen by them for four years.
 Thus legislative and executive representatives of the people
4. Judicial power, representatives of the people indirectly chosen during good behavior.
5. All officers indirect choice of the people.
 Constitution revocable and alterable by the people.
C. I. This representative democracy, as far as is consistent with its genius, has all the features of good government. These features:
1. An immediate and operative representation of the people, which is found in the House of Representatives.
2. Stability and wisdom, which is found in the Senate.
3. A vigorous executive, which is found in the President.
4. An independent judiciary, which is found in the Supreme Court, etc.
II. b. A separation of the essential powers of government.
Ascertain the sense of the maxim.
1. One department must not wholly possess the powers of another.
— British government.
III. Departments of power must be separated, yet so as to check each other.
1. Legislative.
2. Legislative executive.
3. Judicial legislative.
4. Legislative judicial.
 All this is done in the proposed constitution.
1. Legislative in the Congress, yet checked by negative of the Executive.
2. Executive in the President, yet checked by impeachment of Congress.
3. Judicial check upon legislative, or interpretation of laws.
4. And checked by legislative through impeachment.
D. I. Can such a government apply to so extensive a territory?
Exaggerated ideas of extent.
N. 45 52
S. 31 31
  14 11   434
  973 764½ mean 868¾ by
Great Britain.
II. Despotic government for a large country to be examined.


Full House of Representatives chosen every second year, etc.
II. Senate for six years by Legislatures.

Rotation every two years.
Probable increase.

III. Executive. Manner of appointment.

Negotiation of treaties.
Nomination of officers.

IV. Judicial power. Constitution of judges.

Extent of powers.
Inferior courts.
Trial by jury.
Criminal cases.



I. To provide revenue for the Common defense.
II. To regulate commerce.
III. To declare war.
V. Admission of new states.
VI. Disposal of property.


I. To prohibit importation of slaves after 1808.
II. Account to be rendered of expenditure of moneys.
No state shall emit bills of credit [pass no bill of at]tainder, ex-post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant title of nobility.
IV. Definition of treason.
V. Guarantee of Republican government.


  1. This paper has been printed in both editions of the writings of Hamilton as a "Brief Argument on the Constitution of the United States." Study of it, however, indicates that it is a preliminary outline of The Federalist, from No. 39 to the end. As already mentioned in the Introduction, the beginning of the term of the New York Supreme Court compelled Hamilton to cease temporarily his work on The Federalist with No. 36, and he probably drew np this guide for Madison, who at that point assumed the task, and who closely followed in the succeeding essays the sequence here outlined. By merely transposing the last portions headed "Powers" and "Miscellaneous Advantages" so that they precede that headed "Review," we have the arrangement of ideas adopted in The Federalist. The syllabns is especially valuable in view of the dispnte over the authorship, for it shows how sharp a line Hamilton drew between the "Powers" and the "Revew" of the three departments, the latter being evidently considered by him as one synthetic whole. A comparison of No. 39 with "A" and "B" reveals how thoroughly Madison absorbed the syllabus in this number, and as that has been most quoted of all those from Madison's pen, the source of his ideas possesses much interest.