Article 2, Section 1, Clause 6
[Volume 3, Page 566]
James Madison to Edmund Pendleton21 Feb. 1792Papers 14:235--36
The Bill concerning the election of a President & Vice President and the eventual successor to both, which has long been depending, has finally got thro' the two Houses. It was made a question whether the number of electors ought to correspond with the new apportionment or the existing House of Reps. The text of the Constitution was not decisive, and the Northern interest was strongly in favor of the latter interpretation. The intrinsic rectitude however of the former turned the decision in both houses in favor of the Southern. On another point the Bill certainly errs. It provides that in case of a double vacancy, the Executive powers shall devolve on the Presidt. pro. tem. of the Senate & he failing, on the Speaker of the House of Reps. The objections to this arrangement are various. 1. It may be questioned whether these are officers, in the constitutional sense. 2. If officers whether both could be introduced. 3. As they are created by the Constitution, they would probably have been there designated if contemplated for such a service, instead of being left to Legislative selection. 4. Either they will retain their legislative stations, and their incompatible functions will be blended; or the incompatibility will supersede those stations, & then those being the substratum of the adventitious functions, these must fail also. The Constitution says, Congs. may declare what officers &c. which seems to make it not an appointment or a translation; but an annexation of one office or trust to another office. The House of Reps. proposed to substitute the Secretary of State, but the Senate disagreed, & there being much delicacy in the matter it was not pressed by the former.
The Papers of James Madison. Edited by William T. Hutchinson et al. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1962--77 (vols. 1--10); Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1977--(vols. 11--).
© 1987 by The University of Chicago