The challenge of securing a two-thirds majority on contracts was one of the motivations for the huge increase in executive agreements after World War II. In 1952, for example, the United States signed 14 treaties and 291 executive agreements. These were more executive agreements than those concluded during the century from 1789 to 1889. Executive agreements continue to grow rapidly. What is the difference between a contract and an executive agreement? Some other nations have similar provisions for treaty ratification. In the summer of 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention debated the structure and responsibilities of a new legislative body. One of the questions they asked was whether the power of contracting lies within the legislative or executive department? Depending on the statutes of the federal government, a contract could be concluded with the agreement of nine of the thirteen states or two-thirds. Some delegates, such as Charles Pinckney of South Carolina, insisted that the Senate, where each state is represented on an equal footing, should have exclusive power to enter into contracts. Alexander Hamilton argued that the executive should exercise powers over external relations and should therefore have the power to enter into contracts “with the Council and the approval of the Senate.” In the end, Hamilton`s argument proved persuasive. Most executive agreements were concluded in accordance with a treaty or an act of Congress. However, presidents have sometimes reached executive agreements to achieve goals that would not find the support of two-thirds of the Senate. For example, after the outbreak of World War II, but before the Americans entered the conflict, President Franklin D.
Roosevelt negotiated an executive agreement that gave the United Kingdom 50 obsolete destroyers in exchange for 99-year leases on some British naval bases in the Atlantic. The Senate approved the ratification of one of the most controversial treaties in U.S. history during the Washington administration. At the insistence of the federalist senators, the President sent Supreme Justice John Jay to London to settle open disputes with Britain. Washington did not consult with the entire Senate before seeking its opinion and approval of the treaty, known as “Jay.” Opponents of the treaty, especially Jeffersonian Republicans, supported New York Senator Aaron Burr to reopen negotiations after a series of specific proposals, but federal senators proposed the plan and secured approval of Jay`s controversial treaty on June 24, 1795.