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title:“Governor Lewis to [--]”
authors:Morgan Lewis
date written:1805

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 7:57 a.m. UTC
retrieved:April 17, 2021, 3:13 a.m. UTC

Lewis, Morgan. "Letter to [--]." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

Governor Lewis to [--] (1805)

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 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 monarchic form of government, I was satisfied it was the effect of misconception or designed misrepresentation.
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 every vital interest of the state will be merged in the all-absorbing question of who shall be the next/smcap president?"

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