rest in peace, for if once power is seized by violence, not the least fragment of liberty will survive the shock. I would therefore 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 set bounds to his power, and, as far as possible, secure the liberty of the subject. If we are not prepared to receive a king, let us call another convention to revise the proposed constitution, and form it anew on the principles of a confederacy of free republics; but by no means, under pretense of a republic, to lay the foundation for a military government, which is the worst of all tyrannies.

AN OLD WHIG


Antifederalist No. 71
THE PRESIDENTIAL TERM OF OFFICE

The founding fathers devoted a considerable amount of attention and debate to the question of the executive term of office. Their disagreements at the Philadelphia convention, however, were ultimately compromised with the decision of a renewable four-year term. Very few Antifederalists approved, but their counter proposals ranged from sensible alternatives to ultra-suspicious diatribes.

The first selection is an excerpt from Luther Martin, The Genuine Information . . . , reprinted in Elliot, I, 377-78; the second selection is a brief excerpt from the eighteenth letter of "AGRIPPA" which appeared in The Massachusetts Gazette, February 5, 1788, and is reprinted in Ford, Essays, pp. 118-19; the third selection by "A CUSTOMER" is from the Maine Cumberland Gazette, March 13, 1788.

. . . . The second article relates to the executive--his mode of election, his powers, and the length of time he should continue in office.

On this subject there was a great diversity of sentiment [at the Philadelphia constitutional convention]. Many of the members were desirous that the President should be elected for seven years, and not to be eligible a second time. Others proposed that he should not be absolutely ineligible, but that he should not be capable of being chosen a second time, until the expiration of a certain number of years. The supporters of the above proposition went upon the idea that the best security for liberty was a limited duration, and a rotation of office, in the chief executive department.

There was a party who attempted to have the President appointed during good behavior, without any limitation as to time; and, not being able to succeed in that attempt, they then endeavored to have him reeligible without any restraint. It was objected that the choice of a President to continue in office during good behavior, would at once be rendering our system an elective monarchy; and that, if the President was to be reeligible without any interval of disqualification, it would amount nearly to the same thing, since, from the powers that the President is to enjoy, and the interests and influence with which they will be attended, he will be almost absolutely certain of

-205-

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