The Presidency 2

4.          The framers had good reason to fear the tyranny of factions.  The period when the thirteen original American colonies were formed overlapped with one of the most violent and deadly times in English and European history.  Memories of the Thirty Year’s War (1618-1648) which involved most of the European states of the time, the English Civil War (1642-1651), and the French and Indian Wars (1754-1763), and the Seven Year’s War (1756-1763) were fresh in the minds of colonial leaders. Many concluded that the factional divisions that led to these wars were to be avoided at all costs.  Thus, James Madison said in Federalist 10, “A zeal for different opinions … have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.”  Yet, the framers expected that people would naturally divide themselves into various factions, especially when advocating for their rights and privileges under the law. Thus, they faced a fundamental problem: how to balance the need for an empowered executive to get things done against the risk of a tyrannical executive favoring only one faction.
Image: John Adams. By Gilbert Stuart.

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