A Possible Conversation Between Alexander Hamilton and James Madison

Summer of 1787, during the constitutional convention

Hamilton: “Hey James, what’s up? The new Constitution is starting to take shape, you think? Anyway, I’ve been meaning to ask you…do you think we should put something in there about the president trying to pardon himself?”

Madison: “Dude, are you serious? No president would ever try to do that. Ever. Besides, no man can be both judge and defendant in his own case.”

Hamilton: “Yeah, I guess you’re right. But what if the president tried to pardon someone who was convicted of a crime that had some kind of connection to the president himself?”

Madison: “Alex, did you smoke too much opium last night? That’s crazy talk. There’s no way the Republic would ever fall to that level.”

Hamilton: “Yeah, I suppose so…but what about this? You know John Jay from New York; the dude with the crazy hair?”

Madison: “We all have crazy hair. But yeah, I know him. What about him?”

Hamilton: “He comes from a wealthy family. Let’s say he built an Inn or some other similar enterprise, and then became president. What would stop the Representatives from staying at his Inn to gain favor. And suppose they even committed the egregious offence of using Government funds to pay for…”

Madison: “Alex, let me stop you here. Remember we covered this last week. We put it in Article II, Section 1. That prevents him from taking anything of value from the Federal Government or the States. I think you had gone to the washroom then.

Hamilton: “Oh yeah, that was when I got this cool new quill and was distracted trying it out. You know how the latest technology does that.”

Madison: “Right. So, remember we also have Article I, Section 9, which says that the president can’t take anything of value from any foreign governments either. If he were to violate any of these three provisions, we would put him out on his arse!”

Hamilton: “Ok, that’s cool. Glad you reminded me of that. What would you think about adding something to provide a more serious punishment for a president who was guilty of all three of those provisions at the same time?”

Madison: “Bloody hell, Alex! How could that ever happen? And as I said, as soon as the president was guilty of violating even one of those provisions, he would be promptly impeached. Hamilton, surely it’s the opium talking now!”

Hamilton: “My apologies, James. I was just trying to think of all of the worst possibilities at the same time”.




Just a guy who tries to live a life of thoughtful integrity. I write about faith issues, personal stuff, Christianity, music, politics.

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David Newman

David Newman

Just a guy who tries to live a life of thoughtful integrity. I write about faith issues, personal stuff, Christianity, music, politics.

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