Federalist No. 74

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Alexander Hamilton

Federalist No. 74, authored by Alexander Hamilton under the pen name Publius, is the seventy fourth of 85 essays. Titled "The Command of the Military and Naval Forces, and the Pardoning Power of the Executive", Hamilton discusses several topics, most notably the power of the pardon. Pardons have long been used for political payback, but at the time of the founding the principal argument for reposing the power of pardoning in this case to the Chief Magistrate was for use in domestic insurrections.

It was published on March 25, 1788.


Hamilton elaborated on what was the most important use of the presidential pardon when he wrote:

In seasons of insurrection or rebellion, there are often critical moments, when a welltimed offer of pardon to the insurgents or rebels may restore the tranquillity of the commonwealth; and which, if suffered to pass unimproved, it may never be possible afterwards to recall.

Legislatures filled with even the most well intentioned of members could miss an opportunity to put a bad situation to rest, particularly if a situation arose where one or more members of a rebellious group belonged to one party, while a majority of congress belonged to another.

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