The Corner

Major Discovery

I was reading my old copy of the Federalist Papers when I accidentally spilled some lemon juice on the page. If you’ve seen the National Treasure movies, you know that lemon juice can bring out important hidden information in our founding documents. Look at what I found at the end of Federalist 69. I’ve bolded the text of my discovery:

 

The President of the United States would be an officer elected by the people for FOUR years; the king of Great Britain is a perpetual and HEREDITARY prince. The one would be 

amenable to personal punishment and disgrace; the person of the other is sacred and inviolable. The one would have a QUALIFIED negative upon the acts of the legislative body; 

the other has an ABSOLUTE negative. The one would have a right to command the military and naval forces of the nation; the other, in addition to this right, possesses that of 

DECLARING war, and of RAISING and REGULATING fleets and armies by his own authority. The one would have a concurrent power with a branch of the legislature in the formation of 

treaties; the other is the SOLE POSSESSOR of the power of making treaties. The one would have a like concurrent authority in appointing to offices; the other is the sole author of all 

appointments. The one can confer no privileges whatever; the other can make denizens of aliens, noblemen of commoners; can erect corporations with all the rights incident to 

corporate bodies. The one can prescribe no rules concerning the commerce or currency of the nation; the other is in several respects the arbiter of commerce, and in this capacity can 

establish markets and fairs, can regulate weights and measures, can lay embargoes for a limited time, can coin money, can authorize or prohibit the circulation of foreign coin. The one has no particle of spiritual jurisdiction; the other is the supreme head and governor of the national church! What answer shall we give to those who would persuade us that things so unlike resemble each other? The same that ought to be given to those who tell us that a government, the whole power of which would be in the hands of the elective and periodical servants of the people, is an aristocracy, a monarchy, and a despotism. 

PUBLIUS. 

P.S. It should go without saying that all of these great and meaningful distinctions between a despotic king and an elected president should vanish like the darkness of night with the rising of the sun should the president gain possession a writing implement and a device that allows him to talk with others at great distances. Should this happen, he may rule as a King and as he pleases, with the full right to ignore the will of the people or the rules laid forth in any national charter. 

 

 

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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