To the editor: During the early days of the republic, there was some question as to what title to grant the nation’s chief executive officer. Members of the Congress were concerned as to the signal the wrong title might send. After all, we had just fought a war to rid ourselves of King George III, and we had committed to the idea that we aspired to be a democratic republic.
Various ideas were floated. “His Exalted Highness,” “His Elective Highness,” and Washington’s own suggestion: “His High Mightiness,” were among those considered. At a dinner party for a select group of members of the House of Representatives, Washington asked Peter Muhlenberg, who had been one of his trusted subordinates in the Continental Army, what he thought. “Why General, if we were certain that the office would always be held by men as large as yourself it would be appropriate.” Then he went on to caution that if a small man were elected, it would not wear so well. We seem, in Donald Trump, to have elected the small man Muhlenberg warned of 235 years ago.