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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;
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1676. CONSTITUTION (The Federal), Disapproval of.—[further continued].
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3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
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1676. CONSTITUTION (The Federal), Disapproval of.—[further continued].

I dislike, and greatly
dislike, the abandonment in every instance, of
the necessity of rotation in office, and most
particularly in the case of the President. Experience
concurs with reason in concluding
that the first magistrate will always be reelected,
if the Constitution permits it. He is
then an officer for life. This once observed,
it becomes of so much consequence to certain
nations to have a friend or a foe at the head
of our affairs, that they will interfere with
money and with arms. A Galloman, or an
Angloman will be supported by the nation he
befriends. If once elected, and at a second or
third election outvoted by one or two votes,
he will pretend false votes, foul play, hold
possession of the reins of government, be
supported by the States voting for him, especially
if they are the central ones, lying in
a compact body themselves, and separating
their opponents; and they will be aided by
one nation of Europe, while the majority are
aided by another. The election of a President
of America, some years hence will be
much more interesting to certain nations of
Europe than ever the election of a King of
Poland was. Reflect on all the instances in
history, ancient and modern, of elective monarchies,
and say if they do not give foundation
for my fears. The Roman Emperors, the
Popes, while they were of any importance;
the German Emperors, till they became hereditary
in practice; the Kings of Poland; the
Deys of the Ottoman Dependencies. It May
be said that if elections are to be attended
with these disorders, the seldomer they are
renewed the better. But experience shows
that the only way to prevent disorder is to


Page 192
render them uninteresting by frequent
changes. An incapacity to be elected a
second time would have been the only effectual
preventive. The power of removing him
every fourth year by the vote of the people,
is a power which will not be exercised. The
King of Poland is removable every day by
the Diet, yet he is never removed. Smaller
objections are, the appeal in fact as well as
law, and the binding all persons, legislative,
executive, and judiciary by oath to maintain
that Constitution. I do not pretend to decide
what would be the best method of procuring
the establishment of the manifold good
things in this Constitution, and of getting rid
of the bad. Whether by adopting it, in
hopes of future amendment; or after it has
been duly weighed and canvassed by the
people, after seeing the parts they generally
dislike, and those they generally approve, to
say to them: “We see now what you wish.
Send together your deputies again, let them
frame a constitution for you, omitting what
you have condemned, and establishing the
powers you approve. Even these will be a
great addition to the energy of your government.
” At all events, I hope you will not be
discouraged from other trials, if the present
one should fail of its full effect. I have thus
told you freely what I like and dislike; merely
as a matter of curiosity, for I know your own
judgment has been formed on all these points
after having heard everything which could be
urged on them. * * * After all, it is my
principle that the will of the majority should
always prevail. If they approve the proposed
convention in all its parts, I shall concur
in it cheerfully, in hopes that they will
amend it whenever they shall find it works
To James Madison. Washington ed. ii, 330. Ford ed., iv, 477.
(P. December 20, 1787)