Portrait of Viscount James Bryce

James Bryce believed that the Founders intended that the American President would be “a reduced and improved copy of the English king” (1885)

Found in: The American Commonwealth, vol. 1

James Bryce discusses the office of President and the manner of his election in a Chapter on “The President”:

Presidents, Kings, Tyrants, & Despots

Assuming that there was to be such a magistrate [the office of President], the statesmen of the Convention, like the solid practical men they were, did not try to construct him out of their own brains, but looked to some existing models. They therefore made an enlarged copy of the state governor, or to put the same thing differently, a reduced and improved copy of the English king. He is George III shorn of a part of his prerogative by the intervention of the Senate in treaties and appointments, of another part by the restriction of his action to federal affairs, while his dignity as well as his influence are diminished by his holding office for four years instead of for life. His salary is too small to permit him either to maintain a court or to corrupt the legislature; nor can he seduce the virtue of the citizens by the gift of titles of nobility, for such titles are altogether forbidden. Subject to these precautions, he was meant by the Constitution-framers to resemble the state governor and the British king, not only in being the head of the executive, but in standing apart from and above political parties. He was to represent the nation as a whole, as the governor represented the state commonwealth. The independence of his position, with nothing either to gain or to fear from Congress, would, it was hoped, leave him free to think only of the welfare of the people.