Hamilton’s “Dissimilitude” was Shot by the President of the United States

Pithy Introduction: Working Paper

Part I: In order to determine how Hamilton’s “dissimilitude” in Federalist Paper 69 regarding the power to “declare war” (independent variable) impacts presidential war policy (dependent variable); this study applies a contextual analysis to the actions of the Washington, Polk and W. Bush presidencies. I analyze possible demagoguery (as described by Tulis) and republicanism (as described by Tulis, the Federalist Papers, etc.) with respect to the (1) counter-factual and (2) critical junctures surrounding Washington, Polk and W. Bush’s divergence from Federalist Paper 69.

***Specific Section of Federalist 69 [that under inspection] is below.

Scholars generally agree that Polk was the first President to deviate from Hamilton’s procedural and constitutional war power rules. Since then, W. Bush departed from the prescription altogether with his “preemptive” war policy. Thus, today, I examine speeches regarding how far the former presidents have travelled from Hamilton’s original design to insulate the President from engaging demagoguery, and war. By examining State of the Union addresses and presidential addresses, I am able to differentiate between republicanism and demagoguery, and not the scale of change in those speeches.

Personal note: It’s not that the U.S. shouldn’t actively combat terrorism and terrorists. It should. And, it is doing so. But it should also be recognized that the prescribed republican government has deviated from Hamilton’s original prescriptions. We should seriously examine how Hamilton’s prescriptions would be enforced today without deviation–or if there is a more “republican” way of doing so.

Certainly, this essay presupposes that Hamilton’s argument was sincere, which is a presupposition that many might disagree with. Yet, today’s Supreme Court and legal academy readily subscribe to the Federalist Papers and original intent as doctrine, as so I continue this research along that train of political thought.

Part II: On the bright side, historical evidence demonstrates that republicanism holds the power to resuscitate, energize, and reinforce non-domination as public policy within the natural separation of war powers and prevent America’s President from arbitrarily initiating war in a foreign and sovereign nation. After all, republicanism played quite a role during America’s founding. Republicanism is the likely power source of renewal for the American government respecting the founders’ prescribed limits of presidential war powers. On the other hand, laments have begun as our hope drowns by the thickening war cadence-as President Obama continues most aspects of the Bush Doctrine and even expands some others.


The President is to be the “commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States. He is to have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment; to recommend to the consideration of Congress such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; to convene, on extraordinary occasions, both houses of the legislature, or either of them, and, in case of disagreement between them with respect to the time of adjournment, to adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; to take care that the laws be faithfully executed; and to commission all officers of the United States.” In most of these particulars, the power of the President will resemble equally that of the king of Great Britain and of the governor of New York.

The most material points of difference are these: — First. The President will have only the occasional command of such part of the militia of the nation as by legislative provision may be called into the actual service of the Union. The king of Great Britain and the governor of New York have at all times the entire command of all the militia within their several jurisdictions. In this article, therefore, the power of the President would be inferior to that of either the monarch or the governor. Second. The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies — all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature. The governor of New York, on the other hand, is by the constitution of the State vested only with the command of its militia and navy. But the constitutions of several of the States expressly declare their governors to be commanders-in-chief, as well of the army as navy; and it may well be a question, whether those of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, in particular, do not, in this instance, confer larger powers upon their respective governors, than could be claimed by a President of the United States  (Italics added).


3 thoughts on “Hamilton’s “Dissimilitude” was Shot by the President of the United States

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