On the whole, it would be, in my opinion, almost as well to create a limited monarchy at once, and give some family permanent power and interest in the community, and let it have something valuable to itself to lose in convulsions in the state, and in attempts of usurpation, as to make a first magistrate eligible for life, and to create hopes and expectations in him and his family of obtaining what they have not. In the latter case, we actually tempt them to disturb the state, to foment struggles and contests, by laying before them the flattering prospect of gaining much without risking anything.
The constitution provides only that the president shall hold his office during the term of four years; that, at most, only implies, that one shall be chosen every fourth year. It also provides that in case of the removal, death, resignation, or inability, both of the president and vice-president, congress may declare what officer shall act as president; and that such officers shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a president shall be elected. It also provides that congress may determine the time of choosing electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes. Considering these clauses together, I submit this question--whether in case of a vacancy in the office of president, by the removal, death, resignation, or inability of the president and vice president, and congress should declare that a certain officer, as secretary of foreign affairs, for instance, shall act as president, and suffer such officer to continue several years, or even for his life, to act as president, by omitting to appoint the time for choosing electors of another president, it would be any breach of the constitution? There appears to me to be an intended provision for supplying the office of president--not only for any remaining portion of the four years, but in cases of emergency--until another president shall be elected. . . . [But] we do not know that it is impossible; we do not know that it is improbable, in case a popular officer should thus be declared the acting president, that he might continue for life, and without any violent act, but merely by neglects and delays on the part of congress. . . .
THE FEDERAL FARMER
THE POWERS AND DANGEROUS POTENTIALS OF
HIS ELECTED MAJESTY
One of the most frequently voiced reasons for dissent to the Constitution--a reason the founding fathers fully anticipated--was the warning cry that the President might easily become an elected king. (See Antifederalist No. 74, and Louise B. Dunbar, A Study of "Monarchical" Tendencies in the United States from 1776 to 1801, Urbana, 1922, pp. 99-101).
Many Antifederalists felt, as did "AN OLD WHIG" in the following essay, that an established hereditary monarchy was preferable to all the evils of an elected despot. The essay was printed in The New-York Journal, December 11, 1787, reprinted from the [ Philadelphia] Independent Gazetteer.