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James Madison, Executive Power, and the Question of Consistency
Unformatted Document Text:  Republic and the beginning of monarchy, so the creation of the American equivalent made up of corrupted members of Congress, and wealthy North Eastern businessmen marked the beginning of the end of the American Republic, and the rise of an American Monarchy. Like the Roman Praetorian Guard the increase of the American Praetorian guard’s power would parallel the growth of executive power and the withering away of the vestiges of the Republic. And like the old Praetorian guard of Rome its American equivalent would have the power to be the kingmaker. It would be the “tool and the tyrant.” 49 As the Federalists consolidated their hold on the government under John Adams’ administration, Madison’s conviction that the American government was going in the wrong direction was only strengthened. Ironically, now that Congress was corrupted the only way to rebalance the body politic was to enhance the power of the States. Madison’s fear of Monarchy pushed him into league with the old Anti-Federalists who had predicted that the new Constitution would lead to a consolidated national government controlled by a powerful executive branch. Madison’s “Virginia Resolutions” represent the extreme point in his journey away from his position as a “nationalist” in the 1780s. However, once the Republicans gained control of Congress and the Presidency, Madison could again place his confidence in Congress. And when he was elected to the Presidency he consistently deferred to Congress, staying to the principle of legislative supremacy. 49 James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, New York, 10 July, 1791, Ibid, 14: 43; James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, New York, 8 August, 1791, Ibid, 14: 69. 30

Authors: Edwards, Gregory.
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Republic and the beginning of monarchy, so the creation of the American equivalent made up of corrupted
members of Congress, and wealthy North Eastern businessmen marked the beginning of the end of the American
Republic, and the rise of an American Monarchy. Like the Roman Praetorian Guard the increase of the American
Praetorian guard’s power would parallel the growth of executive power and the withering away of the vestiges of the
Republic. And like the old Praetorian guard of Rome its American equivalent would have the power to be the
kingmaker. It would be the “tool and the tyrant.”
As the Federalists consolidated their hold on the government under John Adams’ administration, Madison’s
conviction that the American government was going in the wrong direction was only strengthened. Ironically, now
that Congress was corrupted the only way to rebalance the body politic was to enhance the power of the States.
Madison’s fear of Monarchy pushed him into league with the old Anti-Federalists who had predicted that the new
Constitution would lead to a consolidated national government controlled by a powerful executive branch.
Madison’s “Virginia Resolutions” represent the extreme point in his journey away from his position as a
“nationalist” in the 1780s. However, once the Republicans gained control of Congress and the Presidency, Madison
could again place his confidence in Congress. And when he was elected to the Presidency he consistently deferred
to Congress, staying to the principle of legislative supremacy.
49
James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, New York, 10 July, 1791, Ibid, 14: 43; James Madison to Thomas Jefferson,
New York, 8 August, 1791, Ibid, 14: 69.
30


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