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Cumberland Gazette, 13 March 1788

Friend WAIT, We are now in a hopeful way. The lower class fall in with the views of some of the better sort: who reprobate the old-fashioned ideas of 1775, viz. that the common people were good judges in the affairs of government; and that their time was well spent when it was devoted to the study of politicks and religion—the latter of which was then supposed to be necessary to the well being of civil society. We leave our share in the general government, to ten men; and our State matters may soon be reduced. As to religion, our great folks are not obliged to make a declaration on that score: and if the lower class, who are desirous to imitate those who move in a higher sphere, should once be made to believe it unfashionable, we may turn our clergy a grazing—and employ our time, that heretofore has been employed in politicks and religion, to the pursuit of wealth, to enable us to pay our debts, and support the dependants on government in the style of the great men of the east.

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 chusing the electors; and the day on which they shall give their votes.” But suppose they should think it for the publick good, after the first election, to appoint the first Tuesday of September, in the year two thousand, for the purpose of chusing 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 lost 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.

I send you a few pounds of flax—a most excellent article. It will employ the idle, who may be out of business, to turn it into cloth; and when reduced to rags, it will be useful to make paper for your business. And if in some future day your press should be stopped, it will make small cords to tickle the idle and restless, and to bind the turbulent to their good behaviour.

Your press is free: therefore you will oblige me by inserting the foregoing in your useful paper.