Debate of Nov. 10, 1896.Question: "Resolved, That the election of a President to a third term is advisable."
Brief for the Affirmative.H. G. GRAY and A. F. HESS.
Best general references: Timothy O. Howe, No. Am. Rev. 130, p. 115. J. B. McMaster, Forum, XX, 257. E. W. Stoughton, No. Am. Rev. 130, p. 224. G. S. Boutwell, No. Am. Rev., 130, p. 570. N. Y. World, Oct. 7, '95. New York Herald, Nov. 9, 11, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 29, 1895.
A. It is according to the spirit of the Constitution. I. The Federal Constitutional Convention favored it. (a) They gave the question thorough discussion (McMasters, Forum, XX, 258). (b) The only objection to re-eligibility was when Congress should elect the President. (1) Frequent votes show this (Aowe, No. Am. Rev., 130, p. 120). (2) When the electoral plan was debated no objection was offered to re-eligibility. (c) None of the delegates who refused to sign the Constitution gave, in their public statements, as a reason for their refusal, the re-eligibility clause. II. The State Conventions, called to ratify the Constitution favored it (a) All the states offered many amendments (Von Holst, Const. History I, 60), but only three states offered amendments against the re-eligibility of the President (Howe, No. Am. Rev., 130, p. 121).
B. The people should be the judges. I. They have always shown discrimination in the election of Presidents. (a) In the past they have granted second terms only to such men as Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Lincoln, Grant and Cleveland. (b) They have shown it in the case of the present President (1) They elected Cleveland for a second term after a beak of four years.
C. It would be beneficial to the welfare of the country. I. There would be less frequent distribution of offices (a) There have been fewer removals when a president has succeeded himself than when a president has succeeded another, even of the same party. (b) A new President has to reward his supporters. II. Extra terms offer motives for clean administration (a) The President's misdoings are brought to light by the hostile press. III. The refusal of a third term might destroy a definite policy (a) Continuity is essential to successful foreign policy. IV. At times it would be unwise to change the chief executive (a) It might deprive the country of an efficient President. (1) In time of war (Stoughton, No. Am. Rev. 130 p. 227) (2) In time of financial troubles.
Brief for the Negative.R. P. BASS 1 GR., and F. S. BAYLEY '97.
Best general references: J. B. McMaster, Forum XX, p. 257; D. B. Eaton, N. Am. Rev., 154, p. 691; Nat. I. Review, XI, p. 377; Bryce, Am. Commonwealth, Vol. I, Chaps. V, VI, VII; Horace White, Lecture on Third Term Dangerous.
Election to third term would not be advisable. I. It is contrary to the unwritten principles of our government. A. Those principles, as understood by the constitutional convention and laid down by our great statesmen and presidents, are opposed to third terms. B. It is contrary to the will of the people. (1) On adopting the constitution New York declared against third terms. (2) Popular expression at end of Jefferson's second term was against it. (3) The fear of a third term for Grant in '75 caused a great popular outcry. (4) Grant's defeat for the nomination in '80 was caused by the same fear.
II. Expediency does not call for the breaking of these principles. A. Efficient men are readily found to fill the position. McMaster, Forum, XX, 265. B. The maintenance of a steady policy does not require it. (1) The foreign policy is controlled more by natural the President. (Bryce). (2) The home policy is mainly controlled by congress. (3) Continuance of the same policy depends upon the continued supremacy of the same party and not upon the re-election of the same president.
III. To establish the third term precedent would be dangerous. A. The existing precedent once broken, there would be nothing to limit the number of terms given one man. B. It would lead, from the power of appointment, to increased corruption (No. Am. 154: 691.) C. It would endanger our republican form of government. (1). It would lead to one of two things: (x) the development of a governing class, or (y) a strong, one-man government. (a.) In seeking several terms, the President must trust more and more either to the help of bosses and machines or to the love of the people. (b.) In the first the tendency is toward the stealing of the people's power by one class: in the second, the people transfer their power to a popular idol. (Bryce p. 69.) (2.) Frequent change of President is essential to a republican government. (a.) By change alone, is the interest and responsibility of the people in the government maintained. (b.) Continued re-election of the same man is the beginning of the resignation of self government.