The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates of 1793-94: Toward the Completion of the American Founding

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The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates of 1793-94: Toward the Completion of the American Founding

Author: Alexander Hamilton
Publisher: Liberty Fund Inc.
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 140
Cover Price: $ 12.00

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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 the executive and legislative branches in the conduct of American foreign policy. Ignited by President Washington's "Neutrality Proclamation of 1793", 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. While the Pacificus-Helvidius debates did not resolve this ongoing constitutional controversy, they did define the grounds upon which this question was to be examined, to this very day.

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Background Information

James Madison helped draft the Constitution, collaborated on the Federalist Papers and became Americ'as Fourth President. Alexander Hamilton was one of the authors of the Federalist Papers, the first Secretary of the Treasury and died in a duel with Aaron Burr.