Pacificus-Helvidius Debate Analysis

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The Pacificus-Helvidius debate was sparked by George Washington’s “Proclamation of Neutrality.” It was according to this proclamation that America declared its neutrality in the Franco-British conflict. It also set into law the punishment of any American who would provide assistance to either side during said conflict. Pacificus held the belief that this was an unconstitutional extension of powers as well as illegitimate due to a an early alliance with France. Helvidius and I agree, the “Proclamation of Neutrality” was constitutional and legitimate as well as grounded in the Federalist Papers. It is first prudent to mention that the separation of powers was very much intentional; despite this the separation is not perfect and there will be some overlap. With this in mind it is possible that both the senate and executive have concurrent powers in regard to foreign treaties. For example, “the President is to have power, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the senators present concur.” (Federalist 69) While the President may make treaties it must be met with congressional approval; this is one of many measures to ensure the Presidential powers do not…show more content…
It seems that while this overlap is present in war powers the distinction can be made between the powers of war and peace. As shown by Federalist 69 the legislature has the powers to declare war while the executive has the prerogative to maintain peace. As such the legislature acts slowly and deliberatively which is best for a larger body. In stark contrast, the executive acts quickly and decisively allowing it to respond to changing climates and necessitating a single authority or President. It seems in the case of the “Proclamation of Neutrality” that the executive is acting exactly as intended by preserving peace and acting
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