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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1488
AUTHOR: Grover Cleveland (1837–1908)
QUOTATION: And still the question, “What shall be done with our ex-Presidents?” is not laid at rest; and I sometimes think Watterson’s solution of it, “Take them out and shoot them,” is worthy of attention.
ATTRIBUTION: GROVER CLEVELAND, letter to William F. Vilas, April 19, 1889.—Letters of Grover Cleveland, 1850–1908, ed. Allan Nevins, p. 204 (1933).

Henry Watterson, editor of the Louisville, Kentucky, Courier-Journal for fifty years, feared that a president’s ambitions would lead him to seek a third term and then life tenancy. Because any other position after the presidency would seem anticlimactic, Watterson believed the country was not safe from any president while he was alive. He especially worried about Theodore Roosevelt, a young president who greatly enjoyed the presidency, and he frequently editorialized on this theme during Roosevelt’s second term, though the remark was facetious.—Joseph Henry Wall, Henry Watterson, pp. 254–55 (1956).
SUBJECTS: Presidency