The Father Without a Son, an article by Lee Harris at TCS Daily, has, amongst other things, a great overview of how the United States wound up with a President instead of an elected monarch. The title of his article is from George Washington's contention that he was better suited to the office because he had no son (and therefore no heir apparent).
The article is packed with information on some of the difficulties the founders faced in setting up a brand new type of government, on Washington himself, and on how later Presidents were swayed by his example.
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