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Article 2, Section 3



Document 5

Records of the Federal Convention

[1:21; Madison, 29 May]

7. Resd. that a National Executive be instituted; . . . and that besides a general authority to execute the National laws, it ought to enjoy the Executive rights vested in Congress by the Confederation.

[1:63; Journal, 1 June]

It was then moved, by Mr. Madison, seconded by Mr Wilson, after the word instituted to add the words

"with power to carry into execution the national laws,--" . . .

and on a division of the amendment the following clauses were agreed to--namely

"with power to carry into execution the national laws"; . . .

[1:66; Madison, 1 June]

[Wilson:] The only powers he conceived strictly Executive were those of executing the laws, and appointing officers, not appertaining to and appointed by the Legislature.

. . . . .

Mr. Madison thought it would be proper, before a choice shd. be made between a unity and a plurality in the Executive, to fix the extent of the Executive authority; that as certain powers were in their nature Executive, and must be given to that departmt. whether administered by one or more persons, a definition of their extent would assist the judgment in determining how far they might be safely entrusted to a single officer. He accordingly moved that so much of the clause before the Committee as related to the powers of the Executive shd. be struck out & that after the words "that a national Executive ought to be instituted" there be inserted the words following viz, "with power to carry into effect. the national laws. to appoint to offices in cases not otherwise provided for, and to execute such other powers not Legislative nor Judiciary in their nature as may from time to time be delegated by the national Legislature". The words "not legislative nor judiciary in their nature" were added to the proposed amendment in consequence of a suggestion by Genl Pinkney that improper powers might otherwise be delegated,

Mr. Wilson seconded this motion

Mr. Pinkney moved to amend the amendment by striking out the last member of it; viz. "and to execute such other powers not Legislative nor Judiciary in their nature as may from time to time be delegated." He said they were unnecessary, the object of them being included in the "power to carry into effect the national laws".

Mr. Randolph seconded the motion.

Mr. Madison did not know that the words were absolutely necessary, or even the preceding words. "to appoint to offices &c. the whole being perhaps included in the first member of the proposition. He did not however see any inconveniency in retaining them, and cases might happen in which they might serve to prevent doubts and misconstructions.

In consequence of the motion of Mr. Pinkney, the question on Mr. Madison's motion was divided; and the words objected to by Mr. Pinkney struck out; by the votes of Connecticut. N. Y. N. J. Pena. Del. N. C. & Geo: agst. Mass. Virga. & S. Carolina the preceding part of the motion being first agreed to: Connecticut divided, all the other States in the affirmative.

[2:23; Journal, 17 July]

On the question to agree to the following clause namely "with power to carry into effect the national laws"

it passed unanimously in ye affirmative

[2:145, 158, 171; Committee of Detail, IV, VII, IX]

The executive Governor of the united People & States of America. . . .

5. His powers shall be

1. to carry into execution the national laws. . . .

5. to appoint to offices not otherwise provided for by the constitution

shall propose to the Legisle. from Time to Time by Speech or Messg such Meas as concern this Union. . . .

10. receiving embassadors 11. commissioning officers

12. convene legislature. . . .

. . . . .

There shall be a President, in which the Ex. Authority of the U. S. shall be vested. It shall be his Duty to inform the Legislature of the Condition of U. S. so far as may respect his Department--to recommend Matters to their Consideration--to correspond with the Executives of the several States--to attend to the Execution of the Laws of the U. S.--to transact Affairs with the Officers of Government, civil and military--to expedite all such Measures as may be resolved on by the Legislature--to inspect the Departments of foreign Affairs--War--Treasury--Admiralty--to reside where the Legislature shall sit--to commission all Officers, and keep the Great Seal of U. S.--He shall, by Virtue of his Office, be Commander in chief of the Land Forces of U. S. and Admiral of their Navy--He shall have Power to convene the Legislature on extraordinary Occasions--to prorogue them, provided such Prorogation shall not exceed Days in the space of any

--He may suspend Officers, civil and military

. . . . .

He shall from Time to Time give information to the Legislature of the State of the (Nation to the Legislature) Union; he may recommend (Matters) such measures as he shall judge nesy. & expedt. to their Consideration, and (he) may convene them on extraordinary Occasions & in Case of a disagreemt between the 2 Houses with regard to the Time of Adj. he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper. (He shall take Care to the best of his Ability, that the Laws) It shall be his duty to provide for the due & faithful exec--of the Laws of the United States (be faithfully executed) to the best of his ability. He shall commission all the Officers of the United States and (shall) appoint (Officers in all Cases) (such of them whose appts.) them in all cases not otherwise provided for by this Constitution. He shall receive Ambassadors, and shall correspond with the (Governours and other) Supreme Executives (Officers) of the several States.1

[2:404; Madison, 24 Aug.]

Sect. 2. Art: X being taken up. the word information was transposed & inserted after "Legislature"

On motion of Mr Govr Morris, "he may" was struck out, & "and" inserted before "recommend" in the clause 2d. sect--2d art: X. in order to make it the duty of the President to recommend, & thence prevent umbrage or cavil at his doing it--

[2:411; Journal, 25 Aug.]

It was moved and seconded to add the words

"and other public Ministers" after the word "Ambassadors" 2 sect. 10 article

which passed in the affirmative. [Ayes--10; noes--0.] It was moved and seconded to strike the words "and may correspond with the supreme executives of the several States" out of ye 2 sect. 10 article

which passed in the affirmative [Ayes--9; noes--1.]

[2:418; Madison, 25 Aug.]

On The question now taken on Mr. Dickinson motion of yesterday, allowing appointments to offices, to be referred by the Genl. Legislature to the Executives of the several States" as a farther amendment to sect. 2. art. X., the votes were

N. H. no Mas. no. Ct ay. Pa. no--Del. no. Md divided-- Va. ay-- N-- C-- no-- S. C. no. Geo. ay-- [Ayes--3; noes--6; divided--1.]

In amendment of the same section, "other public Ministers" were inserted after "ambassadors".

Mr. Govr Morris moved to strike out of the section--"and may correspond with the supreme Executives of the several States" as unnecessary and implying that he could not correspond with others. Mr. Broome 2ded. him.

On the question

N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. no. Va. ay. N. C. ay-- S. C. ay. Geo-- ay. [Ayes--9; noes--1.]

"Shall receive ambassadors & other public Ministers". agreed, to nem. con.

[2:547; Journal, 8 Sept.]

It was moved and seconded to amend the 3rd clause of the 2nd sect. 10 article to read

"He may convene both or either of the Houses on extraordinary occasions"

which passed in the affirmative [Ayes--7; noes--4.]

[2:553; Madison, 8 Sept.]

Mr. McHenry observed that the President had not yet been any where authorized to convene the Senate, and moved to amend Art X. sect. 2. by striking out the words "He may convene them (the Legislature) on extraordinary occasions" & insert "He may convene both or either of the Houses on extraordinary occasions"--This he added would also provide for the case of the Senate being in Session at the time of convening the Legislature.

Mr. Wilson said he should vote agst the motion because it implied that the senate might be in Session, when the Legislature was not, which he thought improper.

On the question

N. H. ay-- Mas. no. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del-- ay. Md. ay. Va. no-- N. C. ay. S. C. no. Geo. ay. [Ayes--7; noes--4.]

[2:574, 600; Committee of Style]

Sect. 2. He shall, from time to time, give to the Legislature information of the State of the Union: and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary, and expedient: he may convene both or either of the Houses on extraordinary occasions, and in case of disagreement between the two Houses, with regard to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper: he shall take care that the laws of the United States be duly and faithfully executed: he shall commission all the officers of the United States; and shall appoint to all offices established by this constitution except in cases herein otherwise provided for, and to all offices which may hereafter be created by law. He shall receive Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls. He shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons except in cases of impeachment.

. . . . .

Sect. 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient: he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper: he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers: he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

  1. [Editors' note.--Words in parentheses were crossed out in the original.]


The Founders' Constitution
Volume 4, Article 2, Section 3, Document 5
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a2_3s5.html
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.


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