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quarter, as if the exercise of its rights, by either the executivo or judiciary, were a breach of their privilege, and an outrage to their dignity. They often appear disposed to exert an imperious control over the other departments; and, as they commonly have the people on their side, they always act with such momentum, as to make it very difficult for the other members of the government to maintain the balance of the constitution.
It may perhaps be asked, how the shortness of the duration in office can affect the independence of the executive on the legislature, unless the one were possessed of the power of appointing or displacing the other? One answer to this inquiry may be drawn from the principle already mentioned, that is, from the slender intorost a man is apt to take in a short-lived advantage, and the little inducement it affords him to expose himself, on account of it, to any considerable inconvenience or hazard. Another answer, perhaps more obvious, though not more conclusive, will result from the circumstance of the influence of the legislative body over the people; which might be employed to prevent the re-election of a man who, by an upright resistance to any sinister project of that body, should have made himself obnoxious to its resentment.
It may be asked also, whether a duration of four years would answer the end proposed ? and if it would not, whether a less period, which would at least be recommended by greater security against ambitious designs, would not, for that reason, be preferable to a longer period, which was, at the same time, too short for the purpose of inspiring the desired firmness and independence of the magistrate ?
It cannot be affirmed, that a duration of four years, or any other limited duration, would completely answer the end proposed; but it would contribute towards it in a degree which would havo a material influence upon the spirit and character of the government. Between the commencement and termi. nation of such a period, there would always be a considerable
interval, in which the prospect of an annihilation would be bufficiontly remote, not. to have an improper effoct upon the conduct of a man endued with a tolerable portion of fortitudo; and in which he might reasonably promise himself, that thero would be time enough before it arrived, to make the community sensible of the propriety of the measures he might incline to pursue. Though it be probable that, as he approached the moment when the public were, by a new election, to signify their sense of his conduct, his confidence, and with it his firmness, would decline; yet both the one and the other would derive support from the opportunities which his previous continuance in the station had afforded him, of establishing himself in the esteem and good will of his constituents.
He might then, with prudence, bazard the incurring of reproach, in proportion to the proofs he had given of his wisdom and integrity, and to the title he bad acquired to the respect and attachment of his fellow citizens. As, on the one hand, a duration of four years will contribute to the firmness of the executive in a sufficient degree to render it a very valuable ingredient in the composition; 80, on the other, it is not long enough to justify any alarm for the public liberty. If a British Kouse of Bommons, from the most feeble beginnings, from the mere power of assenting or disagreeing to the imposition of a new tax, have, by rapid strides, reduced the prerogatives of the crown, and the privileges of the nobility, within the limits they conceived to be compatible with the principles of a free government; while they raised themselves to the rank and consequence of a coequal branch of the legislature; if they have been able, in one instance, to abolish both the royalty and the aristocracy, and to overturn all the ancient establishments, as well in the church as state; if they have been able, on a recent occasion, to make the monarch tremble at the prospect of an innovation*
* This was the case with respect to Mr. Fox's India bill, which was carried in the House of fommons, and rejected in the House of bords, to the entirc satisfaction, as it is said, of the people.
attempted by thom; what would be to be feared from an elective magistrate of four years duration, with the confined authorities of a president of the United States ? What but that he might be unequal to the task which the constitution assigns him? I shall only add, that if his duration be such as to leave a doubt of his firmness, that doubt is inconsistent with a jealousy of his encroachments.
NEW YORK, MARCH 21, 1788.
THE SAME VIEW CONTINUED, IN REGARD TO THE RE-ELIGIBILITY
OF THE PRESIDENT.
THE ADMINISTRATION of government, in its largest sense, comprehends all the operations of the body politic, whether legislative, executive, or judiciary; but in its most usual, and perhaps in its most precise signification, it is limited to executive details, and falls peculiarly within the province of the executive department. The actual conduct of foreign negociations, the preparatory plans of finance, the application and disbursement of the public monies, in conformity to the general appropriations of the legislature, the arrangement of the army and navy, the direction of the operations of war; these, and other matters of a like nature, constitute what seems to be most properly understood by the administration of government. The persons, therefore, to whose immediato management these different matters are committed, ought to be considered as tho assistants or deputies of the chief magistrate; and, on this account, they ought to derive their offices from his appointment, at least from his nomination, and to be subject to his superintendence. This view of the thing will at once suggest to us the intimate connexion between the duration of the executive magistrate in office, and the stability of the system
of administration. To undo what bas been done by a predo. cessor, is very often considered by a successor, as the best proof he can give of his own capacity and desert; and, in addition to this propensity, where the alteration has been the result of public choice, the person substituted is warranted in supposing, that the dismission of his predecessor has proceeded from a dislike to his measures, and that the less he resembles him, the more he will recommend himself to the favour of bis constituents. These considerations, and the influence of personal confidences and attachments, would be likely to induce every new president to promote a change of men to fill the subordinate stations; and these causes together, could not fail to occasion a disgraceful and ruinous mutability in the administration of the government.
With a positive duration of considerable extent, I connect the circumstance of re-eligibility. The first is necessary, to give the officer himself the inclination, and the resolution to act his part well, and to the community time and leisure to observe the tendency of his measures, and thence to form an experimental estimate of their merits. The last is necessary to enable the people, when they see reason to approve of his conduct, to continuo bim in the station, in order to prolong tho utility of his talents and virtues, and to secure to the government, the advantage of permanency in a wise system of administration.
Nothing appears more plausible at first sight, nor more ill founded upon close inspection, than a scheme which, in relation to the present point, has had some respectable advocates - 1 mean that of continuing the chief magistrate in office for a certain time, and then excluding him from it, either for a limited period or for ever after. This exclusion, whether temporary or perpetual, would have nearly the same effects; and these effects would be for the most part rather pernicious than salutary.
One ill effect of the exclusion would be, a diminution of the inducements to good behaviour. There are few men who would