. . . . In the first place the office of president of the United States appearsto me to be clothed with such powers as are dangerous. To be the fountain ofall honors in the United States - commander in chief of the army, navy, andmilitia; with the power of making treaties and of granting pardons; and to bevested with an authority to put a negative upon all laws, unless two thirds ofboth houses shall persist in enacting it, and put their names down upon callingthe yeas and nays for that purpose - is in reality to be a king, as much a king asthe king of Great Britain, and a king too of the worst kind: an elective king. If such powers as these are to be trusted in the hands of any man, they ought,for the sake of preserving the peace of the community, at once to be madehereditary. Much as I abhor kingly government, yet I venture to pronounce,where kings are admitted to rule they should most certainly be vested withhereditary power. The election of a king whether it be in America or Poland,will be a scene of horror and confusion; and I am perfectly serious when Ideclare, that, as a friend to my country, I shall despair of any happiness inthe United States until this office is either reduced to a lower pitch of power,or made perpetual and hereditary. When I say that our future president will beas much a king as the king of Great Britain, I only ask of my readers to lookinto the constitution of that country, and then tell me what importantprerogative the king of Great Britain is entitled to which does not also belongto the president during his continuance in office. The king of Great Britain,it is true, can create nobility which our president cannot; but our presidentwill have the power of making all the great men, which comes to the same thing. All the difference is, that we shall be embroiled in contention about the choiceof the man, while they are at peace under the security of an hereditarysuccession. To be tumbled headlong from the pinnacle of greatness and bereduced to a shadow of departed royalty, is a shock almost too great for humannature to endure. It will cost a man many struggles to resign such eminentpowers, and ere long, we shall find some one who will be very unwilling to partwith them. Let us suppose this man to be a favorite with his army, and thatthey are unwilling to part with their beloved commander in chief - or to make thething familiar, let us suppose a future president and commander in chief adoredby his army and the militia to as great a degree as our late illustriouscommander in chief; and we have only to suppose one thing more, that this man iswithout the virtue, the moderation and love of liberty which possessed the mindof our late general - and this country will be involved at once in war andtyranny. So far is it from its being improbable that the man who shallhereafter be in a situation to make the attempt to perpetuate his own power,should want the virtues of General Washington, that it is perhaps a chance ofone hundred millions to one that the next age will not furnish an example of sodisinterested a use of great power. We may also suppose, without trespassingupon the bounds of probability, that this man may not have the means ofsupporting, in private life, the dignity of his former station; that likeCaesar, he may be at once ambitious and poor, and deeply involved in debt. Sucha man would die a thousand deaths rather than sink from the heights of splendorand power, into obscurity and wretchedness. We are certainly about giving ourpresident too much or too little; and in the course of less than twenty years weshall find that we have given him enough to enable him to take all. It would beinfinitely more prudent to give him at once as much as would content him, sothat we might be able to retain the rest in peace, for if once power is seizedby violence, not the least fragment of liberty will survive the shock. I wouldtherefore advise my countrymen seriously to ask themselves this question:Whether they are prepared to receive a king?If they are, to say so at once,and make the kingly office hereditary; to frame a constitution that should setbounds to his power, and, as far as possible, secure the liberty of the subject.
When a man constitutionally retires from office, he retires withoutpain; he is sensible he retires because the laws direct it, and not from thesuccess of his rivals, nor with that public disapprobation which being left out,when eligible, implies. It is said that a man knowing that at a given period hemust quit his office, will unjustly attempt to take from the public, and lay instore the means of support and splendor in his retirement. There can, I think,be but very little in this observation. The same constitution that makes a maneligible for a given period only, ought to make no man eligible till he arriveto the age of forty or forty-five years. If he be a man of fortune, be willretire with dignity to his estate; if not, he may, like the Roman consuls, andother eminent characters in republics, find an honorable support and employmentin some respectable office. A man who must, at all events, thus leave hisoffice, will have but few or no temptations to fill its dependent offices withhis tools, or any particular set of men; whereas the man constantly lookingforward to his future elections, and perhaps, to the aggrandizement of hisfamily, will have every inducement before him to fill all places with his ownprops and dependents. As to public monies, the president need handle none ofthem, and he may always rigidly be made to account for every shilling he shallreceive.
I have been anxiously expecting that some enlightened patriot would, erethis, have taken up the pen to expose the futility, and counteract the banefultendency of such principles. Mr. Adams' sine qua non of a good government isthree balancing powers; whose repelling qualities are to produce an equilibriumof interests, and thereby promote the happiness of the whole community. Heasserts that the administrators of every government, will ever be actuated byviews of private interest and ambition, to the prejudice of the public good;that therefore the only effectual method to secure the rights of the people andpromote their welfare, is to create an opposition of interests between themembers of two distinct bodies, in the exercise of the powers of government, andbalanced by those of a third. This hypothesis supposes human wisdom competentto the task of instituting three co-equal orders in government, and acorresponding weight in the community to enable them respectively to exercisetheir several parts, and whose views and interests should be so distinct as toprevent a coalition of any two of them for the destruction of the third. Mr. Adams, although he has traced the constitution of every form of government thatever existed, as far as history affords materials, has not been able to adduce asingle instance of such a government. He indeed says that the Britishconstitution is such in theory, but this is rather a confirmation that hisprinciples are chimerical and not to be reduced to practice. If such anorganization of power were practicable, how long would it continue? Not aday-for there is so great a disparity in the talents, wisdom and industry ofmankind, that the scale would presently preponderate to one or the other body,and with every accession of power the means of further increase would be greatlyextended. The state of society in England is much more favorable to such ascheme of government than that of America. There they have a powerfulhereditary nobility, and real distinctions of rank and interests; but eventhere, for want of that perfect equality of power and distinction of interestsin the three orders of government, they exist but in name. The only operativeand efficient check upon the conduct of administration, is the sense of thepeople at large.
Let us look to the first article of the proposed new constitution, whichtreats of the legislative powers of Congress; and to the eighth section, whichpretends to define those powers. We find here that the Congress in itslegislative capacity, shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, andexcises; to borrow money; to regulate commerce; to fix the rule fornaturalization and the laws of bankruptcy; to coin money; to punishcounterfeiters; to establish post offices and post roads; to secure copy rightsto authors; to constitute tribunals; to define and punish piracies; to declarewar; to raise and support armies; to provide and support a navy; to call forththe militia; to organize, arm and discipline the militia; to exercise absolutepower over a district ten miles square, independent of all the Statelegislatures, and to be alike absolute over all forts, magazines, arsenals,dock-yards, and other needful buildings thereunto belonging. This is a shortabstract of the powers given to Congress. These powers are very extensive, butI shall not stay at present to inquire whether these express powers werenecessary to be given to Congress? Whether they are too great or too small?
That the new constitution cannot make a union of states, but only ofindividuals, and purposes the beginning of one new society, one new governmentin all matters, is evident from these considerations, viz: It marks no line ofdistinction between separate state matters, and what would of right come underthe control of the powers ordained in a union of states. To say that no linecould be drawn, is giving me the argument. For what can be more absurd than tosay, that states are united where a general power is established that extends toall objects of government, i. e. , all that exist among the people who make thecompact? And is it not clear that Congress have the right (by theconstitution), to make general laws for proving all acts, records, proceedings,and the effect thereof, in what are now called the states? Is it possible afterthis that any state act can exist, or any public business be done, without thedirection and sanction of Congress, or by virtue of some subordinate authority? If not, how in the nature of things can there be a union of states? Does notthe uniting of states, as states, necessarily imply the existence of separatestate powers?
Following the Potsdam Agreement guidelines, Gen. MacArthur’s primary focus in Manila next shifted to organizing the full-scale surrender that would follow. The complexities had to be resolved quickly. A series of meetings were held in the course of a few short hours in which the Allies essentially dictated to the Japanese instructions for their next steps and a rough outline of how the Allied occupation of Japan would commence.
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That a national government will add to the dignity and increase the splendor of the United States abroad, can admit of no doubt: it is essentially requisite for both. That it will render government, and officers of government, more dignified at home is equally certain. That these objects are more suited to the manners, if not [the] genius and disposition of our people is, I fear, also true. That it is requisite in order to keep us at peace among ourselves, is doubtful. That it is necessary, to prevent foreigners from dividing us, or interfering in our government, I deny positively; and, after all, I have strong doubts whether all its advantages are not more specious than solid. We are vain, like other nations. We wish to make a noise in the world; and feel hurt that Europeans are not so attentive to America in peace, as they were to America in war. We are also, no doubt, desirous of cutting a figure in history. Should we not reflect, that quiet is happiness? That content and pomp are incompatible? I have either read or heard this truth, which the Americans should never forget: That the silence of historians is the surest record of the happiness of a people. The Swiss have been four hundred years the envy of mankind, and there is yet scarcely an history of their nation. What is history, but a disgusting and painful detail of the butcheries of conquerors, and the woeful calamities of the conquered? Many of us are proud, and are frequently disappointed that office confers neither respect nor difference. No man of merit can ever be disgraced by office. A rogue in office may be feared in some governments - he will be respected in none. After all, what we call respect and difference only arise from contrast of situation, as most of our ideas come by comparison and relation. Where the people are free there can be no great contrast or distinction among honest citizens in or out of office. In proportion as the people lose their freedom, every gradation of distinction, between the Governors and governed obtains, until the former become masters, and the latter become slaves. In all governments virtue will command reverence. The divine Cato knew every Roman citizen by name, and never assumed any preeminence; yet Cato found, and his memory will find, respect and reverence in the bosoms of mankind, until this world returns into that nothing, from whence Omnipotence called it.
That the people are not at present disposed for, and are actually incapable of, governments of simplicity and equal rights, I can no longer doubt. But whose fault is it? We make them bad, by bad governments, and then abuse and despise them for being so. Our people are capable of being made anything that human nature was or is capable of, if we would only have a little patience and give them good and wholesome institutions; but I see none such and very little prospect of such. Alas! I see nothing in my fellow-citizens, that will permit my still fostering the delusion, that they are now capable of sustaining the weight of SELF-GOVERNMENT: a burden to which Greek and Roman shoulders proved unequal. The honor of supporting the dignity of the human character, seems reserved to the hardy Helvetians alone.