Opposition to a Unitary Executive (June 4)
The chief advantages which have been urged in favour of Unity in the Executive, are the Secrecy, the Dispatch, the Vigour and Energy which the Government will derive from it; especially in time of War. That these are great Advantages, I shall most really allow. They have been strongly insisted on by all monarchical Writers, they have been acknowledged by the ablest and mout candid Deferrers of Republican Government; and it can not be denied that a Monarchy possesses them in a much greater Degree than a Relic. Yet perhaps a little Reflection may incline us to doubt whetber these advantages are not greater in Theory than in Practise lead us to enquire whether there is not some prevailing Principle in Republican Government, which sets at Naught, and tramples upon this boasted Superiority, as hath been experienced, to their cost by most Monarchys, which have been imprudent enough to invade or attack their republican Neighbors. This invincible Principle is to be found in the Love the Affection the Attachment of the Citizens to their laws, to their Freedom, and to their Country. Every Husbandman will be quickly converted into a Soldier, when he knows and feels that he is to fight not in defence of the Rights of a particular Family, or a Prince; but for his own. This is the true Construction of that pro Aris and focis (for altars and firesides) which has, in all Ages, perform'd such Wonders. It was this which, in ancient times, enabled the little cluster of Grecian Republics to resist and almost constantly to defeat the Persian Monarch. It was this which supported the States of Holland against a Body of veteran Troops through a Thirty Years War with Spain, then the greatest Monarchy in Europe and finally rendered them victorious. It is this which preserves the Freedom and Independence of the Swiss Cantons, in the midst of the most powerful Nations. And who that reflects seriously upon the Situation of America, in the Beginning of the late War, without Arms, without Soldiers, without Trade, Money, or Credit in a Manner destitute of all Resources, but must ascribe our Success to this pervading all. powerful Principle?
We have not yet been able to define the Powers of tbe Executive; and however moderately some Gentlemen may talk or think upon the Subject, I believe there is a general Tendency to a strong Executive and I am inclined to think a strong Executive neccessary. If strong and extensive Powers are vested in the Executive, and that Executive consists only of one Person, the Government will of course degenerate, (for I will call it degeneracy) into a Monarchy:A Government so contrary to the Genius of the People, that they will reject even the Appearance of it. consider the federal Government as in some Measure dissolved by the Meeting of this Convention. Are there no Dangers to be apprehended from procrastinating the time between the breaking up of this Assembly and the adoption of a new System of Government. I dread the Interval. If it should not be brought to an Issue in the Course of the first Year, the Consequences may be fatal. Has not the different Parts of this extensive Government the several States of which it is composed a Right to expect an equal Participation in the Executive, as the best Means of securing an equal Attention to their Interests. Should an Insurrection, a Rebellion or Invasion happen in New Hampshire when the single supreme Magistrate is a Citizen of Georgia, would not the people of New Hampshire naturally ascribe any Delay in defending them to such a Circumstance and so vice versa. If the Executive is vested in three Persons, one chosen from the northern, one from the middle, and one from the Southern States, will it not contribute to quiet the Minds of the People, & convince them that there will be proper attention paid to their respective Concerns? Will not three Men so chosen bring with them, into Office, a more perfect and extensive Knowledge of the real Invests of this great Union? Will not such a Model of Appointment be the most effectual means of preventing Cabals and Intrigues between the Legislature and the Candidates for this Office, especially with those Candidates who from their local Situation, near the seat of the federal Government, will have the greatest Temptations and the greatest Opportunities. Will it not be the most effectual Means of checking and counteracting the aspiring Views of dangerous and ambitious Men, and consequently the best Security for the Stability and Duration of our Government upon the invaluable Principles of Liberty? These Sir, are some of my Motives for preferring an Executive consisting of three Persons rather than of one.