I just finished reading this book which is about the constitutional convention held in 1787. It's quite good and is a thorough account of what happened that fateful summer in Philadelphia when "plain, honest men" hammered out the US Constitution.
While the Founders debated everything, one point in particular that they had a lot of debate about was the role of the president. Having just fought a revolution to throw off the yoke of a king, they were very leery about investing too much authority in one man. They spent days debating it until they finally came to an agreement.
They definitely did not want the president to be anything like a monarch. They felt his authority should be carefully circumscribed.
The story of how they came up with the electoral college is fascinating in itself.