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THE

AMERICAN REVIEW.

No. LXXVI.

FOR APRIL, 1851.

IMAGINARY PRESIDENTS:

THE IDEAL OF A NATIONAL ADMINISTRATION.

We have yielded our opinions too easily the more while they produce the less. We to the arguments of faction, and the dis- are passed into an almost aristocratical corhonest insinuations of interest; we allow ruption, and are some of us content with men to lead and represent us, and to exer- logs, scotchers and stumbling-blocks, instead cise public authority, whom in private we of Senators. would scorn to trust or meet with respect. A session of three months, and nothing We put Notoriety in office and not Reputa- done by either side for either side; the tion; for the real man we substitute imagi- appropriation bills adroitly delayed and nary creatures, mere men of straw, incapable then rushed through, to shun examination; either to guide or govern. In the great ship the time of all others most sacred to honor of State we lodge a feeble or a worn-out en- and duty, wasted in contemptible talk, or gine, which makes a merit of a backward parliamentary stratagem. motion, lest the great seas may break its The air of the metropolis during this rotten gear or crush in pieces its rusty shafts. wicked three months is sick with scandal. We set up Imaginary Presidents, ticketed Every whisper is of an intrigue or of a with the dogmas of party, in lieu of char- bribe; social and public corruption hateacter.

fully mingled, taking away the last hope Dishonesty thrives under such a system. of manhood and of patriotism. Here we As the leaders are, so are the volunteers are told in one ear that good English gold they beckon after them, the picked men of is ready for so many, who have sold their Asmodeus, the cunning thieves who are constituencies, to kill a tariff; here in the searching the store-room with an arithmeti- other ear comes another rumor, that so cal dark lantern; while we fools, quite igno- many are bought on the other side, t rant of state navigation, fondly imagine they counteract the bribes of Free Trade. Here are working the good ship in some mysteri- a vast job is divided under the rose, ous manner from below. The devil of mis- (a stinking rose,) among six accessories chief and theft has occupation for his saints; in legislative mischief. Here another and their very inactivity is masterly; sitting, they another, a dozen—a hundred—all seeking hatch to life old frauds, or deposit new ones. ripe and eager to be devoured. Here a Quiet, and seemingly harmless, they consume caucus plotting civil war; here another,

19

VOL. VII.

NO. IV.

NEW SERIES.

and another, and another, a score, esti- greatest heart and the strongest will of mating the price of a President, and ready your nation. Find him out, in God's name, to put in sealed proposals, baser and baser, and if you can, elect him in God's name down to the lowest.

and the nation's, and if he refuses the office, Were there a powerful onward movement as it is not unlikely he may, beg of him, amid all this, it might be passed over in si- pray him to accept it, that you and yours lence; debauchery, gambling, bribery, vote may be saved from shame and poverty, auctions, caucuses of civil war, presidencies and perhaps from death by the cannon offered for sale, jobs without limit

, all might shot or bayonet — the tools I use to punbe endured, were there any real action; but ish those and the children of those who elect who can endure a camp without discipline, charlatans and fools to offices of supreme full of sutlers, thieves, idle envoys and a authority. debauched following that outnumbers the For a monarchy it is not always an evil battalions, and no action, the generals bar- omen, when a fool ascends the throne. Legaining for places, and the fortresses gov- gitimacy provides against the catastrophe erned by the spies of the enemy?

that would follow, by intrusting the govLegislators will drink, -, fight, gamble ernment to a minister. Republics have no away fortunes, sell jobs, and waste the time such remedy. The President is the peoof their public agency,-it is perhaps their ple's choice, and that choice loads him with natural proclivity to do so,but those of them the office; he cannot shift responsibility to who do nothing else, appear in a light wholly his ministers, unless, as at present, the intolerable; the thought of it ends in a con- power has fallen to him by succession. Letempt for all government and a scorn of all gitimacy and irresponsibility are one; the authority; somewhere it must lead at last, being born to a supreme power does not and the end is perhaps not far off; when the involve the obligation of being equal to its Central Government puts on the face of a exercise. Legitimacy of itself exonerates the Humbug, the Union will assume the same sovereign; his supremacy is not of his own, respectable features.

or of the people's making; he is the slave How can there be a Union without a of a system, and is required only to wear head ? From the moment a true man the garment and assume the exterior of and a hero takes his place at the head of sovereignty. Far different is it with the the nation, from that moment the nation is temporary sovereign of the Republic: inone and indivisible. Assemble at a rendez- vested with all the authority that a legitivous an army for defense : until its head ap- mate king could ever justly wield, he adds to pears it is a tumultuary and dangerous mob; it the responsibility of a Prime Minister; more the

army of popular representatives is but a than that, a minister of the people's choice, more organized and reputable mischief, un- a premier of the Nation, not of the Court. til a powerful leader holds supreme office, Millions of men have registered their names on the groundwork of the popular will. in his favor, declaring by a solemn act that President, Prime Minister, call him by they have chosen him to represent and exwhat name you will, the head must be seen, ercise the supreme will, the sovereign auand the strong hand felt, the party led, thority; not as a puppet, or an idol, but as a the measures sustained. Let genius and elo- man bearing in his heart and mind the true quence manage the debate, let wisdom and image of justice and goodness, and the true caution temper the arguments, there must idea of national honor. He is set in his be, says Nature, a head somewhere, a recog- high place as the real representative of all nized, or if you please, a “divinely” appointed that is manly, all that is great, generous, power, lodged in a human will, or my laws and admirable, in the character of the Redictate confusion and corruption; I cannot public. endure and will not suffer a temporizer in a If the people, free to vote, have elected a seat of supreme power. The union of your fool, it is ominous of ruin; they have chosen Republic is not in stocks and stones, nor in a fool, and who but a fool will vote for a economy or laws of the greatest good to fool to represent his sovereignty as a man! the greatest number;—it is in the spirit of Is a cunning knave, a plausible, sly, man that I find it; not here and there in many-sided confidant of hell, made Presibooks, or mystical influences, but in the dent, let the people take to themselves the

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