The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787/Volume 3/Appendix A/CXCVIII

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ⅭⅩⅭⅧ. George Washington to La Fayette.[1]

Mount Vernon April 28th. 1788

For example: there was not a member of the convention, I believe, who had the least objection to what is contended for by the Advocates for a Bill of Rights and Tryal by Jury. The first, where the people evidently retained every thing which they did not in express terms give up, was considered nugatory as you will find to have been more fully explained by Mr. Wilson and others: — And as to the second, it was only the difficulty of establishing a mode which should not interfere with the fixed modes of any of the States, that induced the Convention to leave it, as a matter of future adjustment.

There are other points on which opinions would be more likely to vary. As for instance, on the ineligibility of the same person for President, after he should have served a certain course of years. Guarded so effectually as the proposed Constitution is, in respect to the prevention of bribery and undue influence in the choice of President: I confess, I differ widely myself from Mr Jefferson and you, as to the necessity of expediency of rotation in that appointment. The matter was fairly discussed in the Convention, & to my full convictions; though I cannot have time or room to sum up the arguments in this letter. There cannot, in my judgment, be the least danger that the President will by any practicable intrigue ever be able to continue himself one moment in office, much less perpetuate himself in it — but in the last stage of corrupted morals and political depravity: and even then there is as much danger that any other species of domination would prevail. Though, when a people shall have become incapable of governing themselves and fit for a master, it is of little consequence from what quarter he comes.

  1. Documentary History of the Constitution, Ⅳ, 599–602.