National Archives at Philadelphia

The Chief Executive

Finding Franklin

The Chief Executive

Among the concepts put forth by Franklin was the role of the executive branch and the presidency. Franklin believed that instead of having one person fill this capacity, a body of twelve individuals, themselves members of the legislature, should form an executive council. However, the members of the Constitutional Convention clearly did not heed the advice of Franklin. One man, not twelve, was to hold the office of chief executive in which pardons, orders, and appointments will be issued without the consent of congress.

Refer to CaptionPardon of Charles, a Slave, April 23, 1805 See transcription of this document.

The presidential powers enumerated in the Constitution went beyond Franklin's initial thoughts on centralized power. In particular, the ability to pardon was given to the office of the president in Article II. The pardon would be unilaterally wielded by every president from George Washington to George W. Bush.

Go to:

List of full citations for documents in this exhibit