Get access

Federalist No. 72: What Happened to the Public Service Ideal?


James L. Perry is Distinguished Professor at Indiana University Bloomington and World Class University Distinguished Professor at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. He is the coeditor of Motivation in Public Management: The Call of Public Service (2008). Dr. Perryis a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. His current research interests include public service motivation,performance pay, and job security.


Federalist No. 72 is an oft-neglected defense of the president’s reeligibility for election. However, the paper goes well beyond this issue to basic models of human nature and motivation. James L. Perry’s essay confronts this broad issue as a guide to “a public service ethic.” Like other authors in this special issue, Perry reads broadly through the Federalist Papers in search of a deeper definition of public service motivation as a balance between the potency of passion and the limits of reason. Controlling passion was no doubt important to the founders, but it may have drowned out the greater good envisioned in public service commitments to acting on behalf of the people.