Article 1, Section 6, Clause 2

Document 1

Records of the Federal Convention

[1:379; Yates, 22 June]

[Resolved that the members of the first branch of the National Legislature . . . to be ineligible to any office established by a particular State, or under the authority of the U. States, . . . during the term of service, and under the national Government for the space of one year after its expiration.]

Mr. Gorham. I move that after the words, and under the national government for one year after its expiration, be struck out.

Mr. King for the motion. It is impossible to carry the system of exclusion so far; and in this instance we refine too much by going to utopian lengths. It is a mere cobweb.

Mr. Butler. We have no way of judging of mankind but by experience. Look at the history of the government of Great Britain, where there is a very flimsy exclusion--Does it not ruin their government? A man takes a seat in parliament to get an office for himself or friends, or both; and this is the great source from which flows its great venality and corruption.

Mr. Wilson. I am for striking out the words moved for. Strong reasons must induce me to disqualify a good man from office. If you do, you give an opportunity to the dependent or avaricious man to fill it up, for to them offices are objects of desire. If we admit there may be cabal and intrigue between the executive and legislative bodies, the exclusion of one year will not prevent the effects of it. But we ought to hold forth every honorable inducement for men of abilities to enter the service of the public.--This is truly a republican principle. Shall talents, which entitle a man to public reward, operate as a punishment? While a member of the legislature, he ought to be excluded from any other office, but no longer. Suppose a war breaks out and a number of your best military characters were members; must we lose the benefit of their services? Had this been the case in the beginning of the war, what would have been our situation?--and what has happened may happen again.

Mr. Madison. Some gentlemen give too much weight and others too little to this subject. If you have no exclusive clause, there may be danger of creating offices or augmenting the stipends of those already created, in order to gratify some members if they were not excluded. Such an instance has fallen within my own observation. I am therefore of opinion, that no office ought to be open to a member, which may be created or augmented while he is in the legislature.

Mr. Mason. It seems as if it was taken for granted, that all offices will be filled by the executive, while I think many will remain in the gift of the legislature. In either case, it is necessary to shut the door against corruption. If otherwise, they may make or multiply offices, in order to fill them. Are gentlemen in earnest when they suppose that this exclusion will prevent the first characters from coming forward? Are we not struck at seeing the luxury and venality which has already crept in among us? If not checked we shall have ambassadors to every petty state in Europe--the little republic of St. Marino not excepted. We must in the present system remove the temptation. I admire many parts of the British constitution and government, but I detest their corruption.--Why has the power of the crown so remarkably increased the last century? A stranger, by reading their laws, would suppose it considerably diminished; and yet, by the sole power of appointing the increased officers of government, corruption pervades every town and village in the kingdom. If such a restriction should abridge the right of election, it is still necessary, as it will prevent the people from ruining themselves; and will not the same causes here produce the same effects? I consider this clause as the corner-stone on which our liberties depend--and if we strike it out we are erecting a fabric for our destruction.

Mr. Gorham. The corruption of the English government cannot be applied to America. This evil exists there in the venality of their boroughs: but even this corruption has its advantage, as it gives stability to their government. We do not know what the effect would be if members of parliament were excluded from offices. The great bulwark of our liberty is the frequency of elections, and their great danger is the septennial parliaments.

Mr. Hamilton. In all general questions which become the subjects of discussion, there are always some truths mixed with falsehoods. I confess there is danger where men are capable of holding two offices. Take mankind in general, they are vicious--their passions may be operated upon. We have been taught to reprobate the danger of influence in the British government, without duly reflecting how far it was necessary to support a good government. We have taken up many ideas upon trust, and at last, pleased with our own opinions, establish them as undoubted truths. Hume's opinion of the British constitution confirms the remark, that there is always a body of firm patriots, who often shake a corrupt administration. Take mankind as they are, and what are they governed by? Their passions. There may be in every government a few choice spirits, who may act from more worthy motives. One great error is that we suppose mankind more honest than they are. Our prevailing passions are ambition and interest; and it will ever be the duty of a wise government to avail itself of those passions, in order to make them subservient to the public good--for these ever induce us to action. Perhaps a few men in a state, may, from patriotic motives, or to display their talents, or to reap the advantage of public applause, step forward; but if we adopt the clause we destroy the motive. I am therefore against all exclusions and refinements, except only in this case; that when a member takes his seat, he should vacate every other office. It is difficult to put any exclusive regulation into effect. We must in some degree submit to the inconvenience.

The question was then put for striking out--4 ayes--4 noes--3 states divided. New-York of the number.

[1:386; Madison, 23 June]

Genl. Pinkney moves to strike out the ineligibility of members of the 1st. branch to offices established "by a particular State." He argued from the inconveniency to which such a restriction would expose both the members of the 1st. branch, and the States wishing for their services; from the smallness of the object to be attained by the restriction.

It wd. seem from the ideas of some that we are erecting a Kingdom to be divided agst. itself, he disapproved such a fetter on the Legislature.

Mr. Sherman seconds the motion. It wd. seem that we are erecting a Kingdom at war with itself. The Legislature ought not to be fettered in such a case. on the question

Masts. no. Cont. ay. N. Y. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay [Ayes--8; noes--3.]

Mr. Madison renewed his motion yesterday made & waved to render the members of the 1st. branch "ineligible during their term of service, & for one year after--to such offices only as should be established, or the emoluments thereof, augmented by the Legislature of the U. States during the time of their being members." He supposed that the unnecessary creation of offices, and increase of salaries, were the evils most experienced, & that if the door was shut agst. them, it might properly be left open for the appointt. of members to other offices as an encouragmt. to the Legislative service.

Mr. Alex: Martin seconded the motion.

Mr. Butler. The amendt. does not go far eno' & wd. be easily evaded

Mr. Rutlidge, was for preserving the Legislature as pure as possible, by shutting the door against appointments of its own members to offices, which was one source of its corruption.

Mr. Mason. The motion of my colleague is but a partial remedy for the evil. He appealed to him as a witness of the shameful partiality of the Legislature of Virginia to its own members. He enlarged on the abuses & corruption in the British Parliament, connected with the appointment of its members. He cd. not suppose that a sufficient number of Citizens could not be found who would be ready, without the inducement of eligibility to offices, to undertake the Legislative service. Genius & virtue it may be said, ought to be encouraged. Genius, for aught he knew, might, but that virtue should be encouraged by such a species of venality, was an idea, that at least had the merit of being new.

Mr. King remarked that we were refining too much in this business; and that the idea of preventing intrigue and solicitation of offices was chimerical. You say that no member shall himself be eligible to any office. Will this restrain him from availing himself of the same means which would gain appointments for himself, to gain them for his son, his brother, or any other object of his partiality. We were losing therefore the advantages on one side, without avoiding the evils on the other.

Mr. Wilson supported the motion. The proper cure he said for corruption in the Legislature was to take from it the power of appointing to offices. One branch of corruption would indeed remain, that of creating unnecessary offices, or granting unnecesary salaries, and for that the amendment would be a proper remedy. He animadverted on the impropriety of stigmatizing with the name of venality the laudable ambition of rising into the honorable offices of the Government; an ambition most likely to be felt in the early & most incorrupt period of life, & which all wise & free Govts. had deemed it sound policy, to cherish, not to check. The members of the Legislature have perhaps the hardest & least profitable task of any who engage in the service of the state. Ought this merit to be made a disqualification?

Mr. Sherman, observed that the motion did not go far enough. It might be evaded by the creation of a new office, the translation to it of a person from another office, and the appointment of a member of the Legislature to the latter. A new Embassy might be established to a new court & an ambassador taken from another, in order to create a vacancy for a favorite member. He admitted that inconveniencies lay on both sides. He hoped there wd. be sufficient inducements to the public service without resorting to the prospect of desireable offices, and on the whole was rather agst. the motion of Mr. Madison.

Mr. Gerry thought there was great weight in the objection of Mr. Sherman. He added as another objection agst. admitting the eligibility of members in any case that it would produce intrigues of ambitious men for displacing proper officers, in order to create vacancies for themselves. In answer to Mr. King he observed that although members, if disqualified themselves might still intrigue & cabal for their sons, brothers &c, yet as their own interest would be dearer to them, than those of their nearest connections, it might be e[x]pected they would go greater lengths to promote it.

Mr. Madison had been led to this motion as a middle ground between an eligibility in all cases, and an absolute disqualification. He admitted the probable abuses of an eligibility of the members, to offices, particularly within the gift of the Legislature He had witnessed the partiality of such bodies to their own members, as had been remarked of the Virginia assembly by his colleague (Col. Mason). He appealed however to him in turn to vouch another fact not less notorious in Virginia, that the backwardness of the best citizens to engage in the legislative service gave but too great success to unfit characters. The question was not to be viewed on one side only. The advantages & disadvantages on both ought to be fairly compared. The objects to be aimed at were to fill all offices with the fittest--characters, & to draw the wisest & most worthy citizens into the Legislative service. If on one hand, public bodies were partial to their own members; on the other they were as apt to be misled by taking characters on report, or the authority of patrons and dependents. All who had been concerned in the appointment of strangers on these recommendations must be sensible of this truth. Nor wd. the partialities of such Bodies be obviated by disqualifying their own members. Candidates for office would hover round the seat of Govt. or be found among the residents there, and practise all the means of courting the favor of the members. A great proportion of the appointments made by the States were evidently brought about in this way. In the general Govt. the evil must be still greater, the characters of distant states, being much less known throughout the U. States than those of the distant parts of the same State. The elections by Congress had generally turned on men living at the seat of the fedl Govt. or in its neighbourhood.--As to the next object, the impulse to the Legislative service, was evinced by experience to be in general too feeble with those best qualified for it. This inconveniency wd. also be more felt in the Natl. Govt. than in the State Govts as the sacrifices reqd. from the distant members wd. be much greater, and the pecuniary provisions, probably, more disproporti[on]ate. It wd. therefore be impolitic to add fresh objections to the Legislative service by an absolute disqualification of its members. The point in question was whether this would be an objection with the most capable citizens. Arguing from experience he concluded that it would. The Legislature of Virga would probably have been without many of its best members, if in that situation, they had been ineligible to Congs. to the Govt. & other honorable offices of the State.

Mr. Butler thought Characters fit for office wd. never be unknown.

Col. Mason. If the members of the Legislature are disqualified, still the honors of the State will induce those who aspire to them, to enter that service, as the field in which they can best display & improve their talents, & lay the train for their subsequent advancement.

Mr. Jenifer remarked that in Maryland, the Senators chosen for five years, cd. hold no other office & that this circumstance gained them the greatest confidence of the people.

On the question for agreeing to the motion of Mr. Madison. Massts. divd. Ct. ay. N. Y. no. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes--2; noes--8; divided--1.]

Mr. Sherman movd. to insert the words "and incapable of holding" after the words "eligible to offices" wch. was agreed to without opposition.

The word "established" & the words "Natl. Govt." were struck out of Resolution 3d;

Mr. Spaight called for a division of the question, in consequence of which it was so put, as that it turned in the first member of it, "on the ineligibility of the members during the term for which they were elected"--whereon the States were, Massts. divd. Ct. ay. N. Y. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. no.

[Ayes--8; noes--2; divided--1.]

On the 2d. member of the sentence extending ineligibility of members to one year after the term for which they were elected Col. Mason thought this essential to guard agst--evasions by resignations, and stipulations for office to be fulfilled at the expiration of the legislative term. Mr. Gerry had known such a case. Mr. Hamilton. Evasions cd. not be prevented ÷ as by proxies--by friends holding for a year. and them opening the way &c. Mr. Rutlidge admitted the possibility of evasions but was for controuling them as possible. Mas. no. Ct. no. N. Y. ay. N. J. no. Pa. divd. Del. ay. Mard. ay. Va. no N. C. no. S. C. ay. Geo no

[Ayes--4; noes--6; divided--1.]

[1:428; Madison, 26 June]

Mr. Butler moved to strike out the the ineligibility of Senators to State offices.

Mr. Williamson seconded the motion.

Mr. Wilson remarked the additional dependence this wd. create in the Senators on the States. The longer the time he observed allotted to the officer, the more compleat will be the dependance, if it exists at all.

Genl. Pinkney was for making the States as much as could be conveniently done a part of the Genl. Gov't: If the Senate was to be appointed by the States, it ought in pursuance of the same idea to be paid by the States: and the States ought not to be barred from the opportunity of calling members of it into offices at home. Such a restriction would also discourage the ablest men from going into the Senate.

Mr. Wiliamson moved a resolution so penned as to admit of the two following questions. 1. whether the members of the Senate should be ineligible to & incapable of holding offices under the U. States

2. whether &c. under the particular States.

On the question to postpone in order to consider Williamson's Resoln: Masts. no. Cont. ay. N. Y. no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes--8; noes--3.]

Mr. Gerry & Mr. Madison--move to add to Mr. Williamsons 1. quest: "and for 1 year thereafter." On this amendt.

Masts. no. Cont. ay N. Y. ay. N. J. no. P. no. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. no. [Ayes--7; noes--4.]

On Mr. Will--son's 1 Question as amended. vz. inelig: & incapable &c. &c. for 1 year &c. agd. unanimously.

On the 2. question as to ineligibility &c. to State offices.

Mas. ay. Ct. no. N. Y. no. N. J. no. P. ay. Del. no. Md. no. Va. ay. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes--3; noes--8.]

[1:518; Yates, 2 July]

[G. Morris:] You intend also that the second branch shall be incapable of holding any office in the general government.--It is a dangerous expedient. They ought to have every inducement to be interested in your government. Deprive them of this right, and they will become inattentive to your welfare. The wealthy will ever exist; and you never can be safe unless you gratify them as a body, in the pursuit of honor and profit. Prevent them by positive institutions, and they will proceed in some left-handed way. A son may want a place--you mean to prevent him from promotion--They are not to be paid for their services--they will in some way pay themselves; nor is it in your power to prevent it. It is good policy that men of property be collected in one body, to give them one common influence in your government. Let vacancies be filled up as they happen, by the executive. Besides it is of little consequence, on this plan, whether the states are equally represented or not. If the state governments have the division of many of the loaves and fishes, and the general government few, it cannot exist. This senate would be one of the baubles of the general government. If you choose them for seven years, whether chosen by the people or the states; whether by equal suffrage or in any other proportion, how will they be a check? They will still have local and state prejudices.--A government by compact is no government at all. You may as well go back to your congressional federal government, where, in the character of ambassadors, they may form treaties for each state.

[2:283; Madison, 14 Aug.]

Mr. Pinkney argued that the making the members ineligible to offices was degrading to them, and the more improper as their election into the Legislature implied that they had the confidence of the people; that it was inconvenient, because the Senate might be supposed to contain the fittest men. He hoped to see that body become a School of Public Ministers, a nursery of Statesmen: that it was impolitic, because the Legislature would cease to be a magnet to the first talents and abilities. He moved to postpone the section in order to take up the following proposition viz--"the members of each House shall be incapable of holding any office under the U.S. for which they or any of others for their benefit receive any salary, fees, or emoluments of any kind--and the acceptance of such office shall vacate their seats respectively"

Genl. Mifflin 2ded. the motion

Col. Mason ironically proposed to strike out the whole section, as a more effectual expedient for encouraging that exotic corruption which might not otherwise thrive so well in the American Soil--for compleating that Aristocracy which was probably in the contemplation of some among us. and for inviting into the Legislative service, those generous & benevolent characters who will do justice to each other's merit, by carving out offices & rewards for it. In the present state of American morals & manners, few friends it may be thought will be lost to the plan, by the opportunity of giving premiums to a mercenary & depraved ambition.

Mr Mercer. It is a first principle in political science, that whenever the rights of property are secured, an aristocracy will grow out of it. Elective Governments also necessarily become aristocratic, because the rulers being few can & will draw emoluments for themselves from the many. The Governments of America will become aristocracies. They are so already. The public measures are calculated for the benefit of the Governors, not of the people. The people are dissatisfied & complain. They change their rulers, and the public measures are changed, but it is only a change of one scheme of emolument to the rulers, for another. The people gain nothing by it, but an addition of instability & uncertainty to their other evils.--Governmts. can only be maintained by force or influence. The Executive has not force, deprive him of influence by rendering the members of the Legislature ineligible to Executive offices, and he becomes a mere phantom of authority. The Aristocratic part will not even let him in for a share of the plunder. The Legislature must & will be composed of wealth & abilities, and the people will be governed by a Junto. The Executive ought to have a Council, being members of both Houses. Without such an influence, the war will be between the aristocracy & the people. He wished it to be between the Aristocracy & the Executive. Nothing else can protect the people agst. those speculating Legislatures which are now plundering them throughout the U. States.

Mr. Gerry read a Resolution of the Legislature of Massts. passed before the Act of Congs. recommending the Convention, in which her deputies were instructed not to depart from the rotation established in the 5th. art: of Confederation, nor to agree in any case to give to the members of Congs. a capacity to hold offices under the Government. This he said was repealed in consequence of the Act of Congs. with which the State thought it proper to comply in an unqualified manner. The Sense of the State however was still the same. He could not think with Mr. Pinkney that the disqualification was degrading. Confidence is the road to tyranny. As to Ministers & Ambassadors few of them were necessary. It is the opinion of a great many that they ought to be discontinued, on our part; that none may be sent among us, & that source of influence be shut up. If the Senate were to appoint Ambassadors as seemed to be intended, they will multiply embassies for their own sakes. He was not so fond of those productions as to wish to establish nurseries for them. If they are once appointed, the House of Reps. will be obliged to provide salaries for them, whether they approve of the measures or not. If men will not serve in the Legislature without a prospect of such offices, our situation is deplorable indeed. If our best Citizens are actuated by such mercenary views, we had better chuse a single despot at once. It will be more easy to satisfy the rapacity of one than of many. According to the idea of one Gentleman (Mr. Mercer) our Government it seems is to be a Govt. of plunder. In that case it certainly would be prudent to have but one rather than many to be employed in it. We cannot be too circumspect in the formation of this System. It will be examined on all sides and with a very suspicious eye. The People who have been so lately in arms agst. G. B. for their liberties, will not easily give them up. He lamented the evils existing at present under our Governments, but imputed them to the faults of those in office, not to the people. The misdeeds of the former will produce a critical attention to the opportunities afforded by the new system to like or greater abuses. As it now stands it is as compleat an aristocracy as ever was framed If great powers should be given to the Senate we shall be governed in reality by a Junto as has been apprehended. He remarked that it would be very differently constituted from Congs 1. there will be but 2 deputies from each State, in Congs. there may be 7. and are generally 5.--2. they are chosen for six years. those of Congs. annually. 3. they are not subject to recall; those of Congs. are. 4. In Congs. 9 states are necessary for all great purposes--here 8 persons will suffice. Is it to be presumed that the people will ever agree to such a system? He moved to render the members of the H. of Reps. as well as of the Senate ineligible not only during, but for one year after the expiration of their terms.--If it should be thought that this will injure the Legislature by keeping out of it men of abilities who are willing to serve in other offices it may be required as a qualification for other offices, that the Candidate shall have served a certain time in the Legislature.

Mr Govr. Morris. Exclude the officers of the army & navy, and you form a band having a different interest from & opposed to the civil power: you stimulate them to despise & reproach those "talking Lords who dare not face the foe". Let this spirit be roused at the end of a war, before your troops shall have laid down their arms, and though the Civil authority be "entrenched in parchment to the teeth" they will cut their way to it. He was agst. rendering the members of the Legislature ineligible to offices. He was for rendering them eligible agn. after having vacated their Seats by accepting office. Why should we not avail ourselves of their services if the people chuse to give them their confidence. There can be little danger of corruption either among the people or the Legislatures who are to be the Electors. If they say, we see their merits, we honor the men, we chuse to renew our confidence in them, have they not a right to give them a preference; and can they be properly abridged of it.

Mr. Williamson; introduced his opposition to the motion by referring to the question concerning "money bills". That clause he said was dead. Its ghost he was afraid would notwithstanding haunt us. It had been a matter of conscience with him, to insist upon it as long as there was hope of retaining it. He had swallowed the vote of rejection, with reluctance. He could not digest it. All that was said on the other side was that the restriction was not convenient. We have now got a House of Lords which is to originate money-bills. To avoid another inconveniency, we are to have a whole Legislature at liberty to cut out offices for one another. He thought a self-denying ordinance for ourselves would be more proper. Bad as the Constitution has been made by expunging the restriction on the Senate concerning money bills he did not wish to make it worse by expunging the present Section. He had scarcely seen a single corrupt measure in the Legislature of N-- Carolina, which could not be traced up to office hunting.

Mr Sherman. The Constitution shd. lay as few temptations as possible in the way of those in power. Men of abilities will increase as the Country grows more populous and, and the means of education are more diffused.

Mr. Pinkney-- No State has rendered the members of the Legislature ineligible to offices. In S-- Carolina the Judges are eligible into the Legislature. It cannot be supposed then that the motion will be offensive to the people. If the State Constitutions should be revised he believed restrictions of this sort wd be rather diminished than multiplied.

Mr. Wilson could not approve of the Section as it stood, and could not give up his judgment to any supposed objections that might arise among the people. He considered himself as acting & responsible for the welfare of millions not immediately represented in this House. He had also asked himself the serious question what he should say to his constituents in case they should call upon him to tell them why he sacrificed his own Judgment in a case where they authorized him to exercise it? Were he to own to them that he sacrificed it in order to flatter their prejudices, he should dread the retort: did you suppose the people of Penna. had not good sense enough to receive a good Government? Under this impression he should certainly follow his own Judgment which disapproved of the section. He would remark in addition to the objections urged agst. it. that as one branch of the Legislature was to be appointed by the Legislatures of the States, the other by the people of the States, as both are to be paid by the States, and to be appointable to State offices; nothing seemed to be wanting to prostrate the Natl. Legislature, but to render its members ineligible to Natl offices, & by that means take away its power of attracting those talents which were necessary to give weight to the Governt. and to render it useful to the people. He was far from thinking the ambition which aspired to Offices of dignity and trust, an ignoble or culpable one. He was sure it was not politic to regard it in that light, or to withold from it the prospect of those rewards, which might engage it in the career of public service. He observed that the State of Penna. which had gone as far as any State into the policy of fettering power, had not rendered the members of the Legislature ineligible to offices of Govt.

Mr Elsworth did not think the mere postponement of the reward would be any material discouragement of merit. Ambitious minds will serve 2 years or 7 years in the Legislature for the sake of qualifying themselves for other offices. This he thought a sufficient security for obtaining the services of the ablest men in the Legislature, although whilst members they should be ineligible to Public offices. Besides, merit will be most encouraged, when most impartially rewarded. If rewards are to circulate only within the Legislature, merit out of it will be discouraged.

Mr. Mercer was extremely anxious on this point. What led to the appointment of this Convention? The corruption & mutability of the Legislative Councils of the States. If the plan does not remedy these, it will not recommend itself: and we shall not be able in our private capacities to support & enforce it: nor will the best part of our Citizens exert themselves for the purpose.--It is a great mistake to suppose that the paper we are to propose will govern the U. States? It is The men whom it will bring into the Governt. and interest in maintaining it that is to govern them. The paper will only mark out the mode & the form-- Men are the substance and must do the business. All Govt. must be by force or influence. It is not the King of France--but 200,000 janisaries of power that govern that Kingdom. There will be no such force here; influence then must be substituted; and he would ask whether this could be done, if the members of the Legislature should be ineligible to offices of State; whether such a disqualification would not determine all the most influential men to stay at home, and & prefer appointments within their respective States.

Mr. Wilson was by no means satisfied with the answer given by Mr. Elseworth to the argument as to the discouragement of merit. The members must either go a second time into the Legislature, and disqualify themselves--or say to their Constituents, we served you before only from the mercenary view of qualifying ourselves for offices, and haveg answered this purpose we do not chuse to be again elected.

Mr. Govr. Morris put the case of a war, and the Citizen the most capable of conducting it, happening to be a member of the Legislature. What might have been the consequence of such a regulation at the commencement, or even in the Course of the late contest for our liberties?

On question for postponing in order to take up Mr. Pinkneys motion, it was lost.

N-- H-- ay-- Mas. no. Ct no. N. J-- no. Pa ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. no. S-- C. no. Geo. divd. [Ayes--5; noes--5; divided--1.]

Mr Govr Morris moved to insert, after "office", except offices in the army or navy: but in that case their offices shall be vacated

Mr. Broome 2ds. him

M. Randolph had been & should continue uniformly opposed to the striking out of the clause; as opening a door for influence & corruption. No arguments had made any impression on him, but those which related to the case of war, and a co-existing incapacity of the fittest commanders to be employed. He admitted great weight in these, and would agree to the exception proposed by Mr. Govr. Morris.

Mr. Butler & Mr Pinkney urged a general postponemt. of 9 Sect. art. VI till it should be seen what powers would be vested in the Senate, when it would be more easy to judge of the expediency of allowing the Officers of State to be chosen out of that body.--A general postponement was agreed to nem. con.

[2:489; Madison, 3 Sept.]

Mr. Pinkney moved to postpone the Report of the Committee of Eleven (see Sepr. 1) in order to take up the following,

"The members of each House shall be incapable of holding any office under the U-- S-- for which they or any other for their benefit, receive any salary, fees or emoluments of any kind, and the acceptance of such office shall vacate their seats respectively." He was strenuously opposed to an ineligibility of members to office, and therefore wished to restrain the proposition to a mere incompatibility. He considered the eligibility of members of the Legislature to the honorable offices of Government, as resembling the policy of the Romans, in making the temple of virtue the road to the temple of fame.

On this question

N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct no-- N-- J. no. Pa ay. Md. no Va. no. N. C. ay. S. C--no. Geo. no. [Ayes--2; noes--8.]

Mr King moved to insert the word "created" before the word "during" in the Report of the Committee. This he said would exclude the members of the first Legislature under the Constitution, as most of the Offices wd. then be created.

Mr. Williamson 2ded. the motion, He did not see why members of the Legislature should be ineligible to vacancies happening during the term of their election,

Mr Sherman was for entirely incapacitating members of the Legislature. He thought their eligibility to offices would give too much influence to the Executive. He said the incapacity ought at least to be extended to cases where salaries should be increased, as well as created, during the term of the member. He mentioned also the expedient by which the restriction could be evaded to wit: an existing officer might be translated to an office created, and a member of the Legislature be then put into the office vacated.

Mr Govr. Morris contended that the eligibility of members to office wd. lessen the influence of the Executive. If they cannot be appointed themselves, the Executive will appoint their relations & friends, retaining the service & votes of the members for his purposes in the Legislature. Whereas the appointment of the members deprives him of such an advantage.

Mr. Gerry. thought the eligibility of members would have the effect of opening batteries agst. good officers, in order to drive them out & make way for members of the Legislature.

Mr Gorham was in favor of the amendment. Without it we go further than has been done in any of the States, or indeed any other Country, The experience of the State Governments where there was no such ineligibility, proved that it was not necessary; on the contrary that the eligibility was among the inducements for fit men to enter into the Legislative service

Mr. Randolph was inflexibly fixed against inviting men into the Legislature by the prospect of being appointed to offices.

Mr. Baldwin remarked that the example of the States was not applicable. The Legislatures there are so numerous that an exclusion of their members would not leave proper men for offices. The case would be otherwise in the General Government.

Col: Mason. Instead of excluding merit, the ineligibility will keep out corruption, by excluding office-hunters.

Mr. Wilson considered the exclusion of members of the Legislature as increasing the influence of the Executive as observed by Mr Govr Morris at the same time that it would diminish, the general energy of the Government. He said that the legal disqualification for office would be odious to those who did not wish for office, but did not wish either to be marked by so degrading a distinction--

Mr Pinkney. The first Legislature will be composed of the ablest men to be found. The States will select such to put the Government into operation. Should the Report of the Committee or even the amendment be agreed to, The great offices, even those of the Judiciary Deparment which are to continue for life, must be filled whilst those most capable of filling them will be under a disqualification

On the question on Mr. King's motion

N--H. ay. Mas. ay--Ct. no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Md. no. Va. ay N--C. ay. S--C. no. Geo--no. [Ayes--5; noes--5.]

The amendment being thus lost by the equal division of the States, Mr Williamson moved to insert the words "created or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased" before the word "during" in the Report of the Committee

Mr. King 2ded. the motion. &

On the question

N--H--ay--Mas--ay--Ct. no. N-- J. no. Pa. ay. Md. no. Va. ay. N--C. ay. S. C. no. Geo--divided. [Ayes--5; noes--4; divided--1.]

The last clause rendering a Seat in the Legislature & an office incompatible was agreed to nem: con:

The Report as amended & agreed to is as follows.

"The members of each House shall be ineligible to any Civil office under the authority of the U. States, created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during the time for which they shall respectively be elected--And no person holding any office under the U. S. shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office."

[2:613; Madison, 14 Sept.]

Mr Baldwin observed that the clause. art. 1. sect 6. declaring that no member of Congs, "during the time for which he was elected; shall be appointed to any Civil office under the authority of the U. S. which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time", would not extend to offices created by the Constitution; and the salaries of which would be created, not increased by Congs. at their first session-- The members of the first Congs consequently might evade the disqualification in this instance.--He was neither seconded nor opposed; nor did any thing further pass on the subject.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 2, Article 1, Section 6, Clause 2, Document 1
The University of Chicago Press

Farrand, Max, ed. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Rev. ed. 4 vols. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1937.

Easy to print version.