|Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:|
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vol. IV: Literature of the Republic, Part I., Constitutional period, 17881820
|The Office of President|
|By Alexander Hamilton (17571804)|
[From The Federalist on the New Constitution. Written, 1788.Revised Edition. 1818.]
THE CONSTITUTION of the executive department of the proposed government next claims our attention.
| There is hardly any part of the system, the arrangement of which could have been attended with greater difficulty, and there is perhaps none which has been inveighed against with less candor, or criticised with less judgment.|| 2|
| Here the writers against the constitution seem to have taken pains to signalize their talent of misrepresentation. Calculating upon the aversion of the people to monarchy, they have endeavored to enlist all their jealousies and apprehensions in opposition to the intended President of the United States; not merely as the embryo, but as the full-grown progeny of that detested parent. To establish the pretended affinity, they have not scrupled to draw resources even from the regions of fiction. The authorities of a magistrate, in few instances greater, in some instances less, than those of a governor of New York, have been magnified into more than royal prerogatives. He has been decorated with attributes, superior in dignity and splendor to those of a king of Great Britain. He has been shown to us with the diadem sparkling on his brow, and the imperial purple flowing in his train. He has been seated on a throne surrounded with minions and mistresses; giving audience to the envoys of foreign potentates, in all the supercilious pomp of majesty. The images of Asiatic despotism and voluptuousness have not been wanting to crown the exaggerated scene. We have been taught to tremble at the terrific visages of murdering janizaries; and to blush at the unveiled mysteries of a future seraglio.|| 3|
| Attempts extravagant as these to disfigure, or rather to metamorphose the object, render it necessary to take an accurate view of its real nature and form; in order to ascertain its true aspect and genuine appearance, to unmask the disingenuity, and to expose the fallacy of the counterfeit resemblances which have been so insidiously, as well as industriously, propagated.|| 4|
| In the execution of this task, there is no man who would not find it an arduous effort either to behold with moderation, or to treat with seriousness, the devices, not less weak than wicked, which have been contrived to pervert the public opinion in relation to the subject. They so far exceed the usual, though unjustifiable licenses of party artifice, that even in a disposition the most candid and tolerant, they must force the sentiments which favor an indulgent construction of the conduct of political adversaries, to give place to a voluntary and unreserved indignation. It is impossible not to bestow the imputation of deliberate imposture and deception upon the gross pretence of a similitude between a king of Great Britain, and a magistrate of the character marked out for that of the President of the United States. It is still more impossible to withhold that imputation from the rash and barefaced expedients which have been employed to give success to the attempted imposition.|| 5|
| In one instance, which I cite as a sample of the general spirit, the temerity has proceeded so far as to ascribe to the President of the United States a power which, by the instrument reported, is expressly allotted to the executives of the individual States. I mean the power of filling casual vacancies in the Senate.|| 6|
| This bold experiment upon the discernment of his countrymen has been hazarded by the writer who (whatever may be his real merit) has had no inconsiderable share in the applauses of his party; and who, upon this false and unfounded suggestion, has built a series of observations equally false and unfounded. Let him now be confronted with the evidence of the fact; and let him, if he be able, justify or extenuate the shameful outrage he has offered to the dictates of truth, and to the rules of fair dealing.|| 7|