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of the expenditure to which, as the head of the nation, he is generally required to submit; restricted as it is, to a sum of twenty-five thousand dollars, or about five thousand guineas annually, which can scarcely be supposed to meet his necessary disbursements :- but his patronage is of an extensive, as of a dangerous kind ; and in the hands of an ambitious and selfish man, might easily be used with disastrous consequences to the peace and well being of his country. 'Tis true, that he is nominally restricted in its application, by the Senate, which is privileged to exercise a veto in many of his appointments; but even this, when considering the mode in which such a control may be avoided, or rendered nugatory, together with the other, and many weapons within his reach, and which he may wield at pleasure; the absolute authority which he exercises over the various departments of the government, that are in fact responsible to him only, for their acts, unless that they are so glaringly inconsistent, or illegal, as to merit impeachment; with the sword of the country in the one hand, and its treasures in the other, it is impossible to consider him in the light merely, in which he is represented to the world, as the chief magistrate of a free people, under their immediate restraint, and incapable of, at any time, gainsaying, or disputing their will, or high behests. Should he act corruptly, or from design, it is also true, that he is liable to be arraigned before the general Senate; though this provision in the law may be considered a mere waste of words,
CHANGE OF PUBLIC OFFICERS.
or of the parchment on which it is written, from the exceeding difficulty of its accomplishment, under almost any circumstances, and the unexampled patience with which every American would submit to the most oppressive wrong, rather than expose to the world any of the excrescences that grow out of their peculiar system.
The President is also irresponsible to any party during the term for which he is elected, for the course of policy, either in the foreign, or domestic relations of his country, he may choose to pursue: he is neither called upon, nor required, as of right, to enter into a vindication of his views,-an explanation of his conduct, or, to excuse himself from the errors of his government, however at war its measures may be, with the best interests of his country ; which is compelled to bear with the infliction of the many blunders, the frequently admitted evils of his misgovernment, whatever may be their consequence, until the residue of the four years of his incumbency may expire. His power to do good is circumscribed by legal restrictions; his means of effecting evil, numerous-and, in a great measure, beyond control.
The now practice of changing, on every successive administration, the public officers, the retainers of the government, from the first Secretary of State, to the porter in charge of the door, or entrance to the Capitol, without reference to former, or past services, or the reward that a nation owes to its
public servants, has grown upon the country, without exciting the apprehensions, or jealousies of the people; who become reconciled to the practice, when told, that it is one of the necessary ingredients to their republican form of government, that the favours and patronage of the executive should be divided amongst its citizens, and that each in his own person, however unfitted for the duties, should share in turn in the emoluments of office. The hope of individual gain at the public cost, even at some distant day, reconciles the many who are expectants for situations, to any abuse in the distribution of government patronage; and closes their eyes to the alarming influence of the man, whose uncontrolled will may at any time wield a power at present unknown even to European monarchies, and destructive to the independence-whatever of real liberty that America possesses. In the first year of the administration of Andrew Jackson, (late President of the United States) he is said to have removed, or otherwise appointed, no less than two thousand one hundred, of all grades, to situations under the Federal Government.
The character of the men who heretofore filled this high and honourable trust, was an assurance-a sufficient guarantee to every American, that the power with which they were invested by the constitution would never be abused, or sullied in their hands: a time, however, may arrive when the bright example of their career may no longer serve to guide DANGER OF UNRESTRAINED POWER.
their successors in the “path of honour, and the way to greatness,” or check the ambitious, selfish design of some bold and daring innovator, who, reckless of all ties of country and of ulterior consequence, may avail himself of the uncontrolled authority invested in the chief magistrate of the Republic, and under the guise of a laudable patriotism, wield it with unerring and destructive aim, to the attainment of some sinister and dangerous purpose :--but these are of the natural consequences to be apprehended in confiding an unrestrained power of this kind to the hands of any one individual-an absolutism, uncontrolled by public opinion, or otherwise restrained by any of the guards, by which public liberty should ever be protected in its due and wholesome exercise. *
Accustomed as we are at this side, to the full and
* We feel assured that we shall be fully sustained in these opinions, by every American of intelligence, or who can soar above the prejudices of an early and narrowed education, to view these things in their proper light. We might recite instances where the same apprehensions, the same sentiments, have been acknowledged by men of all parties in the United States, even the most moderate in politics, who admit the evils we have pointed out, as inherent in the character or peculiar structure of their form of government, for which, however, they are seldom prepared to suggest or offer any remedy. We quote the following testimony in support of our views, from the published letter of General Winfield Scott, Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army (and who is now among the candidates for the next Presidency of the Republic), of date 25th Oct., 1841, to the people of the United States, explanatory of his opinions, on this, as well as on various other important questions, connected with the Government and well-being of his country :
peaceful enjoyment of a rational freedom-the entire protection of life and property, under the mild and
“ The President is, under the checks of the constitution and law, rightfully invested with the power of the sword, and he has again and again had that of the purse also. The House of Congress, it is true, lays taxes for imports, and regulates the sale of the public domain ; but it is be (through his agents) who handles the proceeds. From 1833 to 1836, (to say nothing of the present) he alone nominated and dismissed all the agents who kept, as well as those who collected, distributed and disbursed the public revenue. The apophthegm-make us your executor, we care not who are your legislators-has a frightful application to such small agents, and the immense treasure that annually passes through their hands.
“The rapid increase and spread of population ; the growth of national wealth ; the amount of revenue collected and disbursed; the new relations (by the extension of commerce) with foreign countries ; the additional appointments at home and abroad; the number and value of contracts-all constantly and necessarily on the increase ; a general decay in morals, perhaps as great in Congress as elsewhere ; the habit that we have seen prevail during the several Presidential terms- of filling public offices with but little or no regard to moral standing-have, taken together, already opened to government, elements of power and corruption, which it was impossible for the framers and adopters of the Constitution to foresee or to conceive. Who at that distant day, for example, ever dreamt of the spectacles which have recently disgusted every honest citizen: of post-masters, mail-contractors, mail-agents, and census-takers, covering the land with government pamphlets, handbills, and extra-gazettes, sufficient (if read) to sap the morals, public and private, of an entire generation ? of Custom-house mercenaries in the large cities, living on the public, neglecting every duty for party meetings and the polls, and rendering to power the most bribe-worthy services ? of district attorneys and collectors, rambling missionaries, defending every abuse of office—their own the most indecent-or in order to maintain power in the hands of their patron ? All who have