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er conferred by election or by descent. According to this · definition, the actual government of the United States, and of most of the states, is a monarchy.
"In practice, the terms republic and republican have been applied with as little precision. Even the government of England, with a powerful hereditary king, has been repeatedly spoken of by authors as a commonwealth or republic. The late government of Holland, with an hereditary stadtholder, was constantly so denominated. That of Poland, previous to the dissolution of the state, with an executive for life, was never called by any other name.
“ The truth seems to be, that all governments have been deemed republics, in which a large portion of the sovereignty has been vested in the whole or in a considerable body of the people; and that none have been deemed monarchies, as contrasted with the republican standard, in which there has not been an hereditary chief magistrate.
“ Were we to attempt a correct definition of a republi. can government, we should say, “That is a republican government, in which both the executive and legislative organs are appointed by a popular election, and hold their offices upon a responsible and defeasible tenure.' If this be not so, then the tenure of good behaviour for the judicial department is anti-republican, and the government of this state is not a republic; if the contrary, then a government would not cease to be republican because a branch of the legislature, or even the executive, held their offices during good behaviour. In this case the two essential criteria would still concur—the creation of the officer by a popular election, and the possibility of his removal in the course of law, by accusation before, and conviction by, a competent tribunal.
“ How far it may be expedient to go, even within the bounds of the theory, in framing a constitution, is a different question, upon which we pretend not to give our opinion. It is enough for the purpose of our assertion, if it be in principle correct. For even then, upon the statement of the citizen' himself, General Hamilton did not propose a monarchy.
“Thus much too we will add; that whether General Hamilton at any stage of the deliberations of the convention did, or did not make the proposition ascribed to him, it is certain that his more deliberate and final opinion, adopted a moderate term of years for the duration of the office of president; as also appears by a plan of a constitution, in writing now in this city, drawn up by that gentleman in detail.
" Whether the first system presented by Mr. Hamilton, was the one to which he gave a decided preference, it would be difficult to say, since we find him adopting and proposing a different one in the course of the sitting of the convention. It may have been that his opinion was nearly balanced between the two; nay, it is possible he may have really preferred the one last proposed, and that the former, like many others, was brought forward to make it the subject of discussion, and see what would be the opinions of different gentlemen on so momentous a subject. And, it is now repeated with confidence, that the Virginia delegation did vote for the most energetic form of government, and that Mr. Maddison was of the number. But we desire to be distinctly understood, that it was never intended, by mentioning this circumstance, to impeach the purity of Mr. Maddison's motives. To arraign the morals of any man, because he entertains a speculative opinion on government different from ourselves, is worse than arrogance. He who does so, must entertain notions in ethics extremely crude, and certainly unfavourable to virtue.”
It is not to be believed that such a statement would have been thus publicly made, challenging contradiction, during the lives of so many members of the convention, if it had been in any respect erroneous ; nor that Hamilton would
have referred to his second plan of a constitution as being " in writing now in this city," unless it was there to be produced. This was a topic of much interest, and much canvassed in the political controversies which had arisen, yet his representation was not controverted. Another exposition of his opinions is found in a letter addressed by him to Colonel Pickering during the following year.*
* New-York, September 16, 1803. MY DEAR SIR,
I will make no apology for my delay in answering your inquiry some time since made, because I could offer none which would satisfy myself. I pray you only to believe that it proceeded from any thing rather than want of re. spect or regard. I shall now comply with your request.
The highest toned propositions which I made in the convention were for a president, senate, and judges, during good behaviour ; a house of representatives for three years. Though I would have enlarged the legislative power of the general government, yet I never contemplated the abolition of the state governments; but on the contrary, they were, in some particulars, constituent parts of my plan.
This plan was, in my conception, conformable with the strict theory of a government purely republican; the essential criteria of which are, that the principal organs of the executive and legislative departments be elected by the people, and hold their offices by a responsible and temporary or defeasible tenure.
A vote was taken on the proposition respecting the executive. Five states were in favour of it; among these Virginia ; and though, from the manner of voting by delegations, individuals were not distinguished, it was morally certain, from the known situation of the Virginia members, (six in number, two of them, Mason and Randolph, professing popular doctrines,) that Madison must have concurred in the vote of Virginia. Thus, if I sinned against republicanism, Mr. Madison was not less guilty.
I may truly then say that I never proposed either a president or senate for life, and that I neither recommended nor meditated the annihilation of the state governments.
And I may add, that in the course of the discussions in the convention, neither the propositions thrown out for debate, nor even those voted in the earlier stages of deliberation, were considered as evidences of a definitive opinion in the proposer or voter. It appeared to me to be in some sort understood that, with a view to free investigation, experimental propositions might be made, which were to be received merely as suggestions for consideration.
These statements receive light from the letter of a contemporary.* “I will conclude this long epistle by a concise account of a conversation had with Hamilton, which may not be deemed uninteresting, since it exhibits him as
Accordingly it is a fact, that my final opinion was against an executive du. ring good behaviour, on account of the increased danger to the public tran. quillity incident to the election of a magistrate of this degree of permanency. In the plan of a constitution which I drew up while the convention was sitting, and which I communicated to Mr. Madison about the close of it, perhaps a day or two after, the office of president has no greater duration than for thrce years.
This plan was predicated upon these bases :--1. That the political principles of the people of this country would endure nothing but a republican government.-2. That in the actual situation of the country, it was itself right and proper that the republican theory should have a fair and full trial.3. That, to such a trial it was essential that the government should be so constructed as to give it all the energy and the stability reconcilable with the principles of that theory. These were the genuine sentiments of my heart, and upon them I then acted.
I sincerely hope that it may not hereafter be discovered that through want of sufficient attention to the last idea, the experiment of republican govern. ment, even in this country, has not been as complete, as satisfactory, and as decisive, as could be wished.t * Governor Lewis.
+ In the appendix, No. 5, to Madison's Debates, this letter is referred to as evidence that "Colonel Hamilton was under the erroneous impression that this paper limited the duration of the presidential term to three years."
The "paper" thus referred to by Madison, is the first plan. The term of three years is in the second plan. Madison has not left behind him the original of either of the plans which Hamilton gave him, but his copy of one of them. Hamilton's statement is, that he * communicated to Madison the plan in which the office of president has no greater duration than three years, not that he left it with him, but on the contrary publicly refers to it as "a plan of a constitution in writing nou in this city, drawn up by that gentleman in detail."
Having obtained a copy of the first plan, which probably was used during the debates in the convention, Madison retains it in his possession, and refers to it as evidence of Hamilton's "want of memory," and not to the second plan, which Hamilton tenders as giving the testimony to the change of his opinions. But he does not deny that there was a second plan. It will be remarked that the volume containing the Journal of the Convention deposited in the department of state is imperfect-the minutes of September 15th being crossed with a pen, and that the deficiency is supplied by minutes furnished by Madison. Thus, the evidence which this part of the journal might have given on this subject, is lost.-Jour bal, p. 379, in a note.
a statesman who looked beyond the present to the far future interests of his country. It is well known that he never was in the habit of concealing or disguising his sentiments on the subject of government.
“Openly denouncing, on all occasions, the assertion that the best administered was best,' as a political heresy, maintaining the superior aptitude to a good administration of some systems over others, and giving the preference, abstractedly considered, to a well-balanced and limited monarchy, he was at the same time undeviating from the opinion that such a government could not be established in the United States, because a necessary ingredient in its composition, a privileged order, would be sought for in vain among a people whose favourite motto was • Liberty and Equality. When, therefore, the paragraphists of the day announced that he had proposed in the convention of the states a inonarchic form of government, I was satisfied it was the effect of misconception or designed misre. presentation.
“A second version, that he proposed a presidency for life, I thought more probable, but determined to suspend my opinion until I should have an interview with him. This was afforded to me soon after his return to the city of New-York. The monarchic proposition, as I expected, he explicitly denied. The other he admitted, with the qualification, a president during good behaviour, or for a competent period, subject to impeachment, with an ineligibility forever thereafter.
“My reasons,” he said, “ “ were, an exclusion, as far as possible, of the influence of executive patronage in the choice of a chief magistrate, and a desire to avoid the incalculable mischief which must result from the too frequent elections of that officer. In conclusion, he made the following prophetic observation : “You nor I, my friend, may not live to see the day, but most assuredly it will come, when