Friday, January 23, 2009

Hamilton worries about those too fond of power

This paragraph is written by Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father, in the collected "Federalist Papers." Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay wrote a series of papers that explained and supported the Constitution of the United States in 1787. These papers were published in newspapers and in a separate book. Anyway, here is the paragraph that caught my eye, about the problem of those who have power and are reluctant to surrender it when it is their time:

Would it promote the peace of the community, or the stability of the government, to have half a dozen men who had had credit enough to raise themselves to the seat of the supreme magistracy wandering among the people like discontented ghosts and sighing for a place which they were destined never more to possess?

While Hamilton was writing about a specific aspect of succession it is a very useful image in general to think about people who just will not let go of power when it is past their time.