On his birthday, American Digest published some profoundly disturbing but prophetic statements by American patriot Patrick Henry. Some of them predict the constitutional crisis we find ourselves in today. More troubling, he may have realized before it was even ratified, that the problems we face with the Executive Branch are rooted in the shortcomings of the U.S. Constitution, and not because we have strayed too far from it. Bold emphasis, below, is mine.
Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) was an American attorney, planter and politician who became known as an orator during the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779 and from 1784 to 1786…. In 1784, Henry was elected again for a one-year term by the legislature as governor of Virginia, and re-elected twice more, serving until 1786.
Henry declined to attend the Constitutional Convention of 1787, saying that he “smelt a rat in Philadelphia, tending toward the monarchy.”
An ardent supporter of state rights, Henry was an outspoken critic of the United States Constitution. He worried that the untested office of the presidency could devolve into a monarchy.
Henry served as a representative to the Virginia convention of 1788, where he argued against ratifying the U.S. Constitution, on the grounds that it gave too much power to the federal government. It passed. He was instrumental in having the Bill of Rights adopted to amend the new Constitution and protect individual rights. — La Wik
Henry Speaking at Virgina’s Constitution Ratifying Convention: June 5, 1788 Emphasis added:
“Your President may easily become king. Your Senate is so imperfectly constructed that your dearest rights may be sacrificed by what may be a small minority; and a very small minority may continue forever unchangeably this government, although horridly defective. Where are your checks in this government? Your strongholds will be in the hands of your enemies. It is on a supposition that your American governors shall be honest, that all the good qualities of this government are founded; but its defective and imperfect construction puts it in their power to perpetrate the worst of mischiefs, should they be bad men; and, sir, would not all the world, from the eastern to the western hemisphere, blame our distracted folly in resting our rights upon the contingency of our rulers being good or bad?
“Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty! I say that the loss of that dearest privilege has ever followed, with absolute certainty, every such mad attempt.
“If your American chief be a man of ambition and abilities, how easy is it for him to render himself absolute! The army is in his hands, and if he be a man of address, it will be attached to him, and it will be the subject of long meditation with him to seize the first auspicious moment to accomplish his design; and, sir, will the American spirit solely relieve you when this happens?
“I would rather infinitely — and I am sure most of this Convention are of the same opinion — have a king, lords, and commons, than a government so replete with such insupportable evils. If we make a king, we may prescribe the rules by which he shall rule his people, and interpose such checks as shall prevent him from infringing them; but the President, in the field, at the head of his army, can prescribe the terms on which he shall reign master, so far that it will puzzle any American ever to get his neck from under the galling yoke.
“I cannot with patience think of this idea. If ever he violates the laws, one of two things will happen: he will come at the head of his army, to carry every thing before him; or he will give bail, or do what Mr. Chief Justice will order him.
“If he be guilty, will not the recollection of his crimes teach him to make one bold push for the American throne?
“Will not the immense difference between being master of every thing, and being ignominiously tried and punished, powerfully excite him to make this bold push?
“But, sir, where is the existing force to punish him? Can he not, at the head of his army, beat down every opposition? Away with your President! We shall have a king: the army will salute him monarch: your militia will leave you, and assist in making him king, and fight against you: and what have you to oppose this force? What will then become of you and your rights? Will not absolute despotism ensue?” – – Patrick Henry, Virgina Ratifying Convention: June 5, 1788.
Hat tip: Vladimir Solaratov.