Taming the Prince: The Ambivalence of Modern Executive Power

Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr., Taming the Prince: The Ambivalence of Modern Executive Power, The Free Press, 1989; paperback edition, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. The Johns Hopkins University Press; Reprint edition (April 1, 1993)

From the publisher:

This survey of Western political thought ranges from Aristotle to “The Federalist Papers”, showing how the doctrine of executive power arose and how it has developed to the present day. Although there were various “proto-executives”, from Roman dictators to Christian kings, the modern executive first appears with Machiavelli’s “The Prince”. Yet Machiavelli’s strong – even cruel – leader undermines republican theory. Subsequent philosophers, Mansfield argues, seized upon the Prince and transformed him into the American president. Liberalized by Locke, constitutionalized by Montesquieu, Machiavelli’s bloodthirsty executive was finally “tamed” by channelling his antinomian energies into a uniquely flexible constitutional framework.

Program on Constitutional Government [pdf]