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conduct, and the best security for fidelity, is to make interest coincide with duty. Even the love of fame, the ruling passion of noble minds, prompting a man to plan and undertake ardu. ous enterprises for the public benefit, which might require time to perfect them, would deter him from the undertaking, if he foresaw that he must quit the scene before he could accomplish the work, and commit it, together with his own reputation, to hands that might be unequal or unfriendly to the task.
2dly. Experience is the parent of wisdom, and highly desirable in the first magistrate of a nation. It would be injurious and absurd to declare, that as soon as it is acquired, its possessor shall be compelled to abandon the station in which he acquired it, and to which it is adapted.
3dly. A third ill effect of the exclusion would be, the banishing men from stations in which their presence might be of the greatest moment to the public interest on particular emergencies. An ordinance which prevents a nation from making use of its own citizens, in the manner best suited to peculiar exigencies and circumstances, must be unwise. Suppose, for instance, a war to exist, and the president then in place, peculiarly fitted by his military talents and experience to conduct it to advantage: to be obliged to exclude him from office, perhaps to substitute inexperience for experience, and thereby unhinge and set afloat the settled train of administration, might be of the greatest detriment.*
The apprehension of the interference of foreign nations in regard to the office of president, unless he was at first elected for life, seems to be without foundation. While he is elected only for four years at a time, it is evident that it would be of no use to foreign powers to corrupt him, unless they can
* Federalist, No. 72.
intimidate or corrupt those who elect him ; but by the guarded provisions of the Constitution, it is impossible to know for a long time beforehand, who those electors will be. As, however, this mode of election has now become the act of the people, and the electors are merely nominal, the whole body of the people, or at least a majority of them, must be corrupted or intimidated, before such a scheme can succeed; a measure not very practicable by any foreign power. It is well known that in Poland, the king was elected, not by the people at large, but by an aristocratic class, small in number, and therefore accessible to foreign intrigues,
If it were desired by such powers to obtain an' undue ascendancy in our government, the attempts would be made, not on the president, but on the members of the legislature, and particularly of the senate, but in no government is it recollected that a necessary rotation in office was ever imposed on the members of the legislature.
Down to the present moment, nothing in point of fact has occurred among us to excite a regret at the continued eligibility of the same individual. No undue influence has been practised, and the voice of the people, sovereign in fact, as well as in theory, has been independently exercised, both in the continuance and in the remoyal of their public agents. The predominant feature of the American character, seems, in truth, to be that sort of good sense, which invariably leads to just distinctions between partial and general benefit. It is not pretended, that party ebullitions do not sometimes overpower the calm reflection of the community, but the illusions are temporary, and the sound judgment which never wholly departs from the entire body, ultimately recovers its ascendancy.
That universal phrenzy of the nation, of which Europe, both in ancient and modern times has exhibited instances, never found place with us. Temperate and self-collected in the most
trying seasons, America always pursued a regular course, terminating in that security and peace, which violent agitations and tumultuous passions could not have procured. Their good sense displays itself in the utter rejection of personal influence, when the pursuits of the party are hostile to the general sentiment. What is believed to be for the public good, is never sacrificed to the views of any individual, however distinguished.
But there are certain legitimate restraints on the office of president, which remove from the people every cause of uneasiness in respect to it.
These restraints consist; in part, of those already mentioned in regard to the legislative bodies. In the first place, he is equally bound by the Constitution, and must feel the same interest in conforming to it, that is felt by those bodies. He has even less to do in respect to alterations of the Constitution than the two houses have. He cannot recommend to the people an amendment of it, and if the two houses resolve to submit one to them, his concurrence in their so doing is not required,* and perhaps would not be allowed.
Self-interest, (as just before observed,) is one of the strongest permanent influences of human action, and wherever it can be coupled with public duty, it affords great reason for believing that they will act in concert.
Now, if we consider that the president, being a single officer, without those combinations which may be formed by the members of the two houses; not at any time during his official existence, returning to and mixing with the mass of the people, and thereby to some extent enabled to deceive and mislead them; but whatever may personally be his social habits and republican simplicity, still separated from extensive practical intercourse by the very nature of his office; we shall at once
* Hollingsworth v. Virginia, 3 Dallas, 378.
perceive that all eyes being constantly fixed on him, his motions will always be scrupulously watched, and so much of the regular execution of his power as may be considered to depend on popular acquiescence, will be diminished, in proportion as he evinces a design to extend it beyond its conştitutional bounds.
Nor would the supposed influence of the other executive officers support him in such cases. Compared with the mass of the people, their numbers are small, and their very dependence on him would render them suspected. But the interests of those officers would operate in another direction: as a wilful infringement of the Constitution will naturally terminate in some way, in a destitution of the president's power, their interest would not be promoted by contributing to an event injurious to themselves, since his successor would of course manifest a deference to public opinion by removing all the promoters and participators of the preceding delinquency.
The Constitution may therefore be considered as having a still stronger hold on the president, than on the legislative body.
2dly. If, from its nature, any political or casual motives could have an effect on the judicial interposition when regularly called forth, it would seem that it would be exercised with more alacrity against a single officer, already become the subject of general suspicion or disapprobation, than against those acts which must be considered as the measures of the entire government.
But this is altogether an illegitimate view of the character of the judicial power and mode of action. On the contrary, the president, while labouring under public reprobation, would look forward to the judiciary, with a certain confidence that prejudice and error would find no room in the judgments by which the legality of his conduct would be decided.
This check upon him would therefore be the more complete by being unbiassed and certain.
3dly. But, as before observed in regard to the legislature, the opportunity for this judicial intervention in its common form, may be remote, and one transgression not resisted, may lead to another, till the accumulation becomes too heavy to be borne.
Then, the power of the people arises in its majesty, and through their appropriate organs, the house of representatives, the judicial power is appealed to in another, a most imposing and conclusive form.
The dignified tribunal which the Constitution has provided for the trial of impeachments, has now the eyes of the public immovably fixed on it. Guilt or innocence, not prejudice or party motives, form the ground of decision, and although the senate does not directly vacate or annul the illegal acts that have taken place, which are still left to the redress of the ordinary tribunals; it prevents the possibility of their being again committed by the same individual, and the probability of their being copied by another.
4thly. And so effectual are the disqualifications which the senate may pronounce, that if the people, subsequently imposed on and misled by the discarded president or his partizans, were inclined again to confide a public trust to him, it would not be in their power to do so. The sentence of the senate is immutable.
No similar caution, no analogous defence of the people against their own dangerous clemency or forgetfulness, are to be found elsewhere. The ostracism of Athens, the interdictions from fire and water of Rome, the disqualifications in sentences on impeachments in England, might all be repealed, and the party, however politically dangerous, be restored to his former rank.
It may be inquired, why the power of pardoning should be absolutely excluded in such a case as this? The answer has