The Presidential Term of Office
See also Federalist No. 71
From by "A CUSTOMER" in the Maine Cumberland Gazette, March 13, 1788.
I have one difficulty in my mind respecting our admirable Constitution, which I hope somebody will attempt to remove. Art. 3, sect. 1: "The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years." Here is no declaration that a new one shall be chosen at the expiration of that time. "Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors; and the day on which they shall give their votes." But suppose they should think it for the public good, after the first election, to appoint the first Tuesday of September, in the year two thousand, for the purpose of choosing the second President; and by law empower the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court to act as President until that time. However disagreeable it might be to the majority of the States, I do not see but that they are left without a remedy, provided four States should be satisfied with the measure. The President elected is not to receive any other emolument; yet the Chief Justice is not disqualified as a Judge. Why did our worthy Chief Justice, at Cambridge the year past, in his address to the Grand Jury, call upon them to support "that free and excellent Constitution, which it has cost the blood of thousands of our friends and fellow citizens to establish; that Constitution which has carefully separated and distinguished the principal departments of power, that they might never combine against the liberty of the subject"—if it is not a necessary article in a constitution? If necessary in a State constitution, why not in one for the whole people? Was it not as easy to have said the President should be chosen every fourth year, as to have said the Representatives shall be chosen every second year? The celebrated Mr. King observes that this is not a confederation of States—for the style is in the name of the people. Therefore, it appears to me, the rights of the people should be as well guarded, on this point, here, as in the constitution of a State.…