The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates of 1793-1794

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9780865976894: The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates of 1793-1794
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The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates of 1793-–1794 matched Hamilton and Madison in the first chapter of an enduring discussion about the proper roles of executive and legislative branches in the conduct of American foreign policy. Ignited by President Washington s Neutrality Proclamation of 1793, which annulled the eleventh article of America s Treaty with France of 1778, the debate addressed whether Washington had the authority to declare America neutral, despite an early alliance treaty with France. Hamilton argued that Washington s actions were constitutional and that friction between the two branches was an unavoidable, but not harmful, consequence of the separation of powers. Madison countered that Washington s proclamation would introduce “new principles and new constructions into the Constitution and contended that “the power to declare war and make treaties can never fall within the definition of executive powers. In the introduction, Morton Frisch asserts that the debate between Hamilton and Madison helped to clarify “certain constitutional principles that we now associate with executive power generally such as that foreign policy is essentially an executive function. Yet it is the open-ended character of our Constitution that has continued to allow different interpretations of the limits of the powers of government, a debate that continues to this day. Frisch writes in the introduction, “The open-ended character of some of the constitutional provisions afforded opportunities for extending the powers of government beyond their specified limits. Although not given prior sanction by the Constitutional Convention, such additions served to provide a more complete definition of powers without actually changing the ends of government.

The Liberty Fund edition brings together for the first time all the relevant original documents of this controversy: Washington s Neutrality Proclamation, the full text of the Pacificus and Helvidius letters, Jefferson s letter to Madison imploring him to answer Hamilton s arguments, and Hamilton s Americanus letters, intended as his final response to Madison s rebuttal. This edition is supplemented with an introduction by Frisch, which places the work in historical context.

Morton J. Frisch (1923-–2006) was Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Northern Illinois University.

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About the Author:

Alexander Hamilton was born in the West Indies in 1757, the illegitimate child of a Scottish merchant. He came to the American colonies to study at King's College (now Columbia University), and became an early and ardent supporter of the Revolutionary cause. During the Revolutionary War he was aide-de-camp to George Washington and a member of the Continental Congress. He was a leading figure at the Constitutional Convention (1787) and a principal author of The Federalist Papers. At first Secretary of the Treasury he articulated a policy of protection for manufacturing interests, strong central government, and establishment of a national bank. After leaving the Cabinet, he practiced law in New York. His personal attacks hindered the political career of the volatile Aaron Burr, who finally challenged him to a duel in 1804. Hamilton was shot, and died of his wounds.
John Jay (1747-1829) was a conservative lawyer who became a leading patriot. He was a minister to Spain (1780-82), the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1789-95), and he negotiated the treaty of 1795 between the U.S. and Britain. His contributions to The Federalist Papers concern foreign affairs.
James Madison was born in 1751, the son of a Virginia planter. He worked for the Revolutionary cause as a member of the Continental Congress and the Virginia House of Delegates. The leader of deliberations at the Constitutional Convention, he fought for the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Through an ally of Hamilton on the Constitution he was a supporter of Jefferson's agrarian policies. He was Jefferson's Secretary of State (1801-9) and his successor as president (1809-17), but his presidencywas marred by the unpopular War of 1812. Madison died in 1836

The Constitution of the United States of America was drafted chiefly by James Madison, considered to be The Father of the Constitution for his major contributions to the document.

Review:

In the Introduction, Frisch points out that the Founders avoided the inflexibility of most written Constitutions by providing general principles of governance, but not elaborating on certain specifics. He credits the debates for clarifying the constitutional principles that are now associated with executive power. Those interested in enlarging their understanding of the Constitution can ascertain what those powers are by reading this fascinating book. Liberty Fund has performed a great service by bringing together, for the first time, all the documents relevant to the Debates in a single, readable volume.

www.whatwouldthefoundersthink.com
August 2011


Edited and with an introduction by Morton J. Frisch (Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Northern Illinois University), The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates of 1793-1794 collects the landmark debates between founding American figures Alexander Hamilton (a.k.a. Pacificus) and James Madison (a.k.a. Helvidius) about the proper roles of America's executive and legislative branches in the area of foreign policy. Hamilton was a proponent of strong executive control over foreign policy, while Madison countered with the charge that Washington's Neutrality Proclamation of 1793 would impede the Senate's ability to make war. The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates of 1793-1794 collects all of the pertinent original documents involved in these landmark debates, including Washington's Neutrality Proclamation, the full text of the Pacificus and Helvidius letters, Jefferson's letter to Madison requesting him to respond to Hamilton, and Hamilton's Americanus letters, written as a final response to Madison's rebuttal. A scholarly presentation of a classic primary source of American history, worthy of the highest recommendation for college and public library reference collections.

The Midwest Book Review
June 2008

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Book Description Liberty Fund Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates of 1793-1794 matched Hamilton and Madison in the first chapter of an enduring discussion about the proper roles of executive and legislative branches in the conduct of American foreign policy. Ignited by President Washington s Neutrality Proclamation of 1793, which annulled the eleventh article of America s treaty with France of 1778, the debate addressed whether Washington had the authority to declare America neutral, despite the early alliance treaty with France. The Liberty Fund edition brings together for the first time all the relevant original documents of this controversy. Morton J. Frisch (1923-2006) was Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Northern Illinois University. Seller Inventory # AAG9780865976894

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