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any thing, it teaches us not to be enamoured of plurality in the executive. We have seen that the Achæans, on an experiment of two prætors, were induced to abolish one. The Roman history records many instances of mischiefs to the republic from the dissentions between the consuls, and between the military tribunes, who were at times substituted to the consuls. But it gives us no specimens of any peculiar advantages derived to the state, from the plurality of those magistrates. That the dissentions between them were not more frequent or more fatal, is matter of astonishment, until we advert to the singular position in which the republic was almost continually placed, and to the prudent policy pointed out by the circumstances of the state, and pursued by the consuls, of making a division of the government between them. The patricians, engaged in a perpetual struggle with the plebeians, for the preservation of their ancient authorities and dignities ; the consuls, who were generally chosen out of the former body, were commonly united by the personal interest they had in the defence of the privileges of their order.
In addition to this motive of union, after the arms of the republic had considerably expanded the bounds of its empire, it became an established custom with the consuls to divide the administration between themselves by lot; one of them remaining at Rome to govern the city and its environs; the other taking the command in the more distant provinces. This expedient must, no doubt, have had great influence in preventing those collisions and rivalships which might otherwise have embroiled the republic.
But quitting the dim light of historical research, and attaching ourselves purely to the dictates of reason and good sense, we shall discover much greater cause to reject, than to approve, the idea of plurality in the executive, under any modification whatever.
Wherever two or more persons are engaged in any common enterprize or pursuit, there is always danger of difference of opinion. If it be a public trust or office, in which they are clothed with equal dignity and authority, there is peculiar danger of personal emulation and even animosity. From either, and especially from all these causes, the most bi ter dissentions are apt to spring. Whenever these happen, they lessen the respectability, weaken the authority, and distract the plans and opera. tions of those wbom they divide. If they should unfortunately assail the supreme executive magistracy of a country, consisting of plurality of persons, they might impede or frustrate the most important measures of the government, in the most critical emergencies of the state. And what is still worse, they might split the community into violent and irreconcilable factions, adhering differently to the different individuals who composed the magistracy.
Men often oppose a thing, merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike. But if they have been consulted, and have bappened to disapprove, opposition then becomes, in their estimation, an indispen. sable duty of self-love. They seem to think themselves bound in honour, and by all the motives of personal infallibility, to defeat the success of wbat has been resol. ved upon, contrary to their sentiments. Men of upright and benevolent tempers have too many opportunities of remarking, with horror, to what desperate lengths this disposition is sometimes carried, and how often the great interests of society are sacrificed to the vanity, to the conceit, and to the obstinacy of individuals, who have credit enough to make their passions and their caprices interesting to mankind. Perhaps the question now before the public may, in its consequences, afford melancholy proofs of the effects of this despicable frailty, or rather detestable vice in the human character.
Upon the principles of a free government, inconveniences from the source just mentioned, must necessarily be submitte:i to in the formation of the legislature; but it is un necessary, and therefore unwise, to introduce them into the constitution of the executive. It is here too, that they may be most pernicious. In the legislature, promptitude of decision is oftener an evil than a benefit. The differences of opinion, and the jarrings of parties in that department of the government, though they may sometimes obstruct salutary plans, yet often promote deliberation and circumspection; and serve to check excesses in the majority. When a resolution too is once taken, the opposition must be at an end. That resolution is a law, and resistance to it punishable. But no favourable cir. cumstances palliate, or atone for the disadvantages of dissention in the executive department. Here they are pure and unmixed. There is no point at which they cease to operate. They serve to embarrass and weaken the execution of the plan or measiue to which they relate, from the first step to the final conclusion of it. They constantly counteract those qualities in the executive, which are the most necessary ingredients in its composition....vigour and expedition; and this without any coun. terbalancing good. In the conduct of war, in which the energy of the executive is the bulwark of the national security, every thing would be to be apprehended from its plurality.
It must be confessed, that these observations apply with principal weight to the first case supposed, that is, to a plurality of magistrates of equal dignity and autho. rity ; a scheme, the advocates for which are not likely to form a numerous sect : but they apply, though not with equal, yet with considerable weight, to the project of a council, whose concurrence is made constitutionally ne. cessary to the operations of the ostensible executive. An artful cabal in that council, would be able to distract and to enervate the whole system of administration. If no such cabal should exist, the mere diversity of views and opinions would alone be sufficient to tincture the exercise of the executive authority with a spirit of habitual feebleness and dilatoriness.
But one of the weightiest objections to a plurality in the executive, and which lies as much against the last as the first plan, is, that it tends to conceal faults, and destroy responsibility. Responsibility is of two kinds, to censure and to punishment. The first is the most important of the two ; especially in an elective office. Men in public trust will inuch oftener act in such a manner
as to render them unworthy of being any longer trusted, than in such a manner as to make them obnoxious to legal punishment. But the multiplication of the executive adds to the difficulty of detection in either case, It often becomes impossible, amidst mutual accusations, to determine on whom the blame or the punishment of a perpicious measure, or series of pernicious measures, ought really to fall. It is shifted from one to another with so much dexterity, and under such plausible appearances, that the public opinion is left in suspense about the real autlior. The circumstances which may bave led to any national miscarriage or misfortune, are sometimes so complicated, that where there are a number of actors who may have had different degrees and kinds of agency, though we may clearly see upon the whole that there has been mismanagement, yet it may be impracticable to pronounce, to whose account the evil which may have been incurred is truly chargeable.
“ I was overruled by my council. T'he council were « so divided in their opinions, that it was impossible to 6 obtain any better resolution on the point." These and similar pretexts are constantly at hand, whether true or false. And who is there that will either take the trouble, or incur the odium, of a strict scrutiny into the secret springs of the transaction ? Should there be found a citizen zealous enough to undertake the unpromising task, if there happen to be a collusion between the parties concerned, how easy is it to clothe the circumstances with so much ambiguity, as to render it uncertain what was the precise conduct of any of those parties?
In the single instance in which the governor of this state is coupled with a council, that is, in the appointment to offices, we have seen the mischiefs of it in the view now under consideration. Scandalous appointments to important offices bave been made. Some cases indeed have been so flagrant, that ALL PARTIES have agreed in the impropriety of the thing. When inquiry has been made, the blame has been laid by the governor on the members of the council ; who, on their part, have
charged it upon his nomination : while the people re. main altogether at a loss to determine hy whose influence their interests have been committed to hands so mani. festly improper. In tenderness to individuals, I forbear to descend to particulars.
It is evident from these considerations, that the plu. rality of the executive tends to deprive the people of the two greatest securities they can have for the faithful exercise of any delegated power. First. The restraints of public opinion, which lose their efficacy as well on account of the division of the censure attendant on bad measures among a number, as on account of the uncer. tainty on whom it ought to fall ; and secondly, the opportunity of discovering with facility and clearness the misconduct of the persons they trust, in order either to their removal from office, or to their actual punishment, in cases which admit of it.
In England, the king is a perpetual magistrate ; and it is a maxim which has obtained for the sake of the public peace, that he is unaccountable for his administration, and his person sacred, Nothing, therefore, can be wiser in that kingdom, than to annex to the king a constitutional council, who may be responsible to the nation for the advice they give. Without this, there would be no responsibility whatever in the executive department, an idea inadmissible in a free government. But even there, the king is not bound by the resolutions of his council, though they are answerable for the ad. vice they give. He is the absolute master of his own conduct in the exercise of his office; and may observe or disregard the counsel given to him at his sole discretion.
But in a republic, where every magistrate ought to be personally responsible for his behaviour in office, the reason which in the British constitution distates the propriety of a council, not only ceases to apply, but turns against the institution. In the monarchy of Great Britain, it furnishes a substitute for the probibited responsibility of the chief magistrate; which serves in some de. gree as a hostage to the national justice for his good