l>Article 2, Section 1, Clause 1: An Old Whig, no. 5
Article 2, Section 1, Clause 1
An Old Whig, no. 5
If we pass over the consideration of this subject so essentialto the preservation of our liberties, and turn our eyes tothe form of the government which the Convention haveproposed to us, I apprehend that changing the prospectwill not wholly alleviate our fears.–A few words on thishead, will close the present letter. In the first place theoffice of President of the United States appears to me tobe clothed with such powers as are dangerous. To be thefountain of all honors in the United States, commander inchief of the army, navy and milita, with the power of makingtreaties and of granting pardons, and to be vested withan authority to put a negative upon all laws, unless twothirds of both houses shall persist in enacting it, and puttheir names down upon calling the yeas and nays for thatpurpose, is in reality to be a KING as much a King as theKing of Great-Britain, and a King too of the worst Kind;–an elective King.–If such powers as these are to betrusted in the hands of any man, they ought for the sakeof preserving the peace of the community at once to bemade hereditary.–Much as I abhor kingly government,yet I venture to pronounce where kings are admitted torule they should most certainly be vested with hereditarypower. The election of a King whether it be in America orPoland, will be a scene of horror and confusion; and I amperfectly serious when I declare that, as a friend to mycountry, I shall despair of any happiness in the UnitedStates until his office is either reduced to a lower pitch ofpower or made perpetual and hereditary.–When I saythat our future President will be as much a king as theking of Great-Britain, I only ask of my readers to look intothe constitution of that country, and then tell me what importantprerogative the King of Great-Britain is entitledto, which does not also belong to the President during hiscontinuance in office.–The King of Great-Britain it istrue can create nobility which our President cannot; butour President will have the power of making all the greatmen, which comes to the same thing.–All the differenceis that we shall be embroiled in contention about thechoice of the man, whilst they are at peace under the securityof an hereditary succession.–To be tumbled headlongfrom the pinnacle of greatness and be reduced to ashadow of departed royalty is a shock almost too great forhuman nature to endure. It will cost a man many strugglesto resign such eminent powers, and ere long, we shall find,some one who will be very unwilling to part with them.–Let us suppose this man to be a favorite with his army,and that they are unwilling to part with their beloved commanderin chief; or to make the thing familiar, let us suppose,a future President and commander in chief adoredby his army and the militia to as great a degree as our lateillustrious commander in chief; and we have only to supposeone thing more, that this man is without the virtue,the moderation and love of liberty which possessed themind of our late general, and this country will be involvedat once in war and tyranny. So far it is from its being improbablethat the man who shall hereafter be in a situationto make the attempt to perpetuate his own power, shouldwant the virtues of General Washington; that it is perhapsa chance of one hundred millions to one that the next agewill not furnish an example of so disinterested a use ofgreat power.
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We may also suppose, without trespassingupon the bounds of probability, that this man may nothave the means of supporting in private life the dignity ofhis former station; that like Caesar, he may be at once ambitiousand poor, and deeply involved in debt.–Such aman would die a thousand deaths rather than sink fromthe heights of splendor and power into obscurity andwretchedness. We are certainly about giving our presidenttoo much or too little; and in the course of less than twentyyears we shall find that we have given him enough to enablehim to take all. It would be infinitely more prudent togive him at once as much as would content him, so that wemight be able to retain the rest in peace; for if once poweris seized by violence not the least fragment of liberty willsurvive the shock. I would therefore advise my countrymenseriously to ask themselves this question;–Whetherthey are prepared TO RECEIVE A KING? If they are<,> to sayso at once, and make the kingly office hereditary; to framea constitution that should set bounds to his power, and, asfar as possible secure the liberty of the subject. If we arenot prepared to receive a king, let us call another conventionto revise the proposed constitution, and form it anewon the principles of confederacy of free republics; but byno means, under pretence of a republic, to lay the foundationfor a military government, which is the worst of alltyrannies.
The Founders” ConstitutionVolume 3, Article 2, Section 1, Clause 1, Document 7https://thedailysplash.tv/founders/documents/a2_1_1s7.htmlThe University of Chicago Press
Storing, Herbert J., ed. The Complete Anti-Federalist. 7 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.