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ImageAt a time when many had placed their trust in the individual states rather than in national leaders, the framers were very hesitant on how to approach or even handle the office of the presidency or as they referred to it as, the Executive. When inventing the United States Constitution, creating the office of a National Executive was an area that was cumbersome for the framers. To the framers the Executive office had the potential to be as powerful as the King of England which would be contrary to their beliefs on liberty. Charles Pinkney was a man who often looked for personal acclaim around every turn yet felt concern with allowing a National Executive too much power.  Carol Berkin’s, A Brilliant Solution Inventing the American Constitution, eloquently illustrates this anxiety over the office of the Executive, “To give the executive the power to make war and peace was, in Pinckney’s view, to make him as powerful as the king of England and as likely to become a tyrant as George III.”[1]

There were many concerns regarding this particular office, most having to do with obtaining too much power. Delegates could not seem to come together and agree on the position of power the National Executive should hold. Since the entire premise of the Constitutional Convention was to save the newly formed America, the office of the Executive became an issue that encircled many opinions and approaches. Along with too much power, some delegates believed that the office of the Executive should only be a voice for the legislature, while others believed the Executive should be receptive to the nation as a whole. Regardless of their beliefs, the framers did not come to a conclusion overnight and their intentions for the office were not declared until several months later.

George Washington did play a major role in the formation of the office. He viewed the office of the Executive as, “a symbol of national unity, the peoples champion and the country’s most distinguished citizen.”[2] This model that he wanted for the office did transform when Washington used his powers of the Executive office to raise and army to face the Whiskey Rebellion. However his ideology of the Executive, it seems there was no stopping the power that the seat held and currently holds today. The seat of the Executive would hold much more of an active role than ever imagined. In the end, the framers realized the real position of the president as much more than just a symbolic figure, rather, a functioning and effective leader who exercises certain powers for the betterment of the country.


[1] Carol Berkin, A Brilliant Solution Inventing the American Constitution, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2002, 85.

[2] Ibid, 206.

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