Article 2, Section 1, Clauses 2 and 3
Records of the Federal Convention
[1:68; Madison, 1 June]
The next clause in Resolution 7, relating to the mode of appointing, & the duration of, the Executive being under consideration,
Mr. Wilson said he was almost unwilling to declare the mode which he wished to take place, being apprehensive that it might appear chimerical. He would say however at least that in theory he was for an election by the people; Experience, particularly in N. York & Massts, shewed that an election of the first magistrate by the people at large, was both a convenient & successful mode. The objects of choice in such cases must be persons whose merits have general notoriety.
Mr. Sherman was for the appointment by the Legislature, and for making him absolutely dependent on that body, as it was the will of that which was to be executed. An independence of the Executive on the supreme Legislative, was in his opinion the very essence of tyranny if there was any such thing.
. . . . .
The mode of appointing the Executive was the next question.
Mr. Wilson renewed his declarations in favor of an appointment by the people. He wished to derive not only both branches of the Legislature from the people, without the intervention of the State Legislatures but the Executive also; in order to make them as independent as possible of each other, as well as of the States;
Col. Mason favors the idea, but thinks it impracticable. He wishes however that Mr. Wilson might have time to digest it into his own form.--the clause "to be chosen by the National Legislature"--was accordingly postponed.--
Mr. Rutlidge suggests an election of the Executive by the second branch only of the national Legislature--
[1:80; Madison, 2 June]
Mr. Wilson made the following motion, to be substituted for the mode proposed by Mr. Randolph's resolution.
"that the Executive Magistracy shall be elected in the following manner: That the States be divided into districts: & that the persons qualified to vote in each district for members of the first branch of the national Legislature elect members for their respective districts to be electors of the Executive magistracy. that the said Electors of the Executive magistracy meet at and they or any of them so met shall proceed to elect by ballot, but not out of their own body person in whom the Executive authority of the national Government shall be vested."
Mr. Wilson repeated his arguments in favor of an election without the intervention of the States. He supposed too that this mode would produce more confidence among the people in the first magistrate, than an election by the national Legislature.
Mr. Gerry, opposed the election by the national legislature. There would be a constant intrigue kept up for the appointment. The Legislature & the candidates wd. bargain & play into one another's hands. votes would be given by the former under promises or expectations from the latter, of recompensing them by services to members of the Legislature or to their friends. He liked the principle of Mr. Wilson's motion, but fears it would alarm & give a handle to the State partizans, as tending to supersede altogether the State authorities. He thought the Community not yet ripe for stripping the States of their powers, even such as might not be requisite for local purposes. He was for waiting till people should feel more the necessity of it. He seemed to prefer the taking the suffrages of the States instead of Electors, or letting the Legislatures nominate, and the electors appoint. He was not clear that the people ought to act directly even in the choice of electors, being too little informed of personal characters in large districts, and liable to deceptions.
Mr Williamson could see no advantage in the introduction of Electors chosen by the people who who would stand in the same relation to them as the State Legislatures, whilst the expedient would be attended with great trouble and expence. On the question for agreeing to Mr. Wilson's substitute, it was negatived: Massts. no. Cont. no. N. Y. no. Pa. ay. Del. no. Mard. ay. Virga. no. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geoa. no. [Ayes--2; noes--8.]
On the question for electing the Executive by the national legislature, for the term of seven years, it was agreed to Massts. ay. Cont. ay. N. Y. ay. Pena. no. Del. ay. Maryd. no. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [ayes--8; noes--2.]
[1:175; Madison, 9 June]
Mr. Gerry, according to previous notice given by him, moved "that the National Executive should be elected by the Executives of the States whose proportion of votes should be the same with that allowed to the States in the election of the Senate." If the appointmt. should be made by the Natl. Legislature, it would lessen that independence of the Executive which ought to prevail, would give birth to intrigue and corruption between the Executive & Legislature previous to the election, and to partiality in the Executive afterwards to the friends who promoted him. Some other mode therefore appeared to him necessary. He proposed that of appointing by the State Executives as most analogous to the principle observed in electing the other branches of the Natl. Govt.; the first branch being chosen by the people of the States, & the 2d. by the Legislatures of the States; he did not see any objection agst. letting the Executive be appointed by the Executives of the States. He supposed the Executives would be most likely [Volume 3, Page 537] to select the fittest men, and that it would be their interest to support the man of their own choice.
Mr. Randolph urged strongly the inexpediency of Mr. Gerry's mode of appointing the Natl. Executive. The confidence of the people would not be secured by it to the Natl. magistrate. The small States would lose all chance of an appointmt. from within themselves. Bad appointments would be made; the Executives of the States being little conversant with characters not within their own small spheres. The State Executives too notwithstanding their constitutional independence, being in fact dependent on the State Legislatures will generally be guided by the views of the latter, and prefer either favorites within the States, or such as it may be expected will be most partial to the interests of the State. A Natl. Executive thus chosen will not be likely to defend with becoming vigilance & firmness the national rights agst. State encroachments. Vacancies also must happen. How can these be filled? He could not suppose either that the Executives would feel the interest in supporting the Natl. Executive which had been imagined. They will not cherish the great Oak which is to reduce them to paltry shrubs.
On the question for referring the appointment of the Natl. Executive to the State Executives as propd. by Mr. Gerry Massts. no. Cont. no. N. Y. no. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. divd. Md. no. Va. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes--0; noes--9; divided--1.]
[1:236; Madison, 13 June]
9. Resolved that a National Executive be instituted to consist of a single person, to be chosen by the Natl. Legislature for the term of seven years, with power to carry into execution the national laws, to appoint to offices in cases not otherwise provided for--to be ineligible a second time, & to be removeable on impeachment and conviction of malpractices or neglect of duty--to receive a fixed stipend by which he may be compensated for the devotion of his time to public service to be paid out of the national Treasury.
[1:244; Madison, 15 June]
4. Resd. that the U. States in Congs. be authorized to elect a federal Executive to consist of persons, to continue in office for the term of years,
[2:29; Madison, 17 July]
9th. Resol: "that Natl. Executive consist of a single person." Agd. to nem. con.
"To be chosen by the National Legisl:"
Mr. Governr. Morris was pointedly agst. his being so chosen. He will be the mere creature of the Legisl: if appointed & impeachable by that body. He ought to be elected by the people at large, by the freeholders of the Country. That difficulties attend this mode, he admits. But they have been found superable in N. Y. &. in Cont. and would he believed be found so, in the case of an Executive for the U. States. If the people should elect, they will never fail to prefer some man of distinguished character, or services; some man, if he might so speak, of continental reputation. If the Legislature elect, it will be the work of intrigue, of cabal, and of faction: it will be like the election of a pope by a conclave of cardinals; real merit will rarely be the title to the appointment. He moved to strike out "National Legislature" & insert "citizens of U. S."
Mr. Sherman thought that the sense of the Nation would be better expressed by the Legislature, than by the people at large. The latter will never be sufficiently informed of characters, and besides will never give a majority of votes to any one man. They will generally vote for some man in their own State, and the largest State will have the best chance for the appointment. If the choice be made by the Legislre. A majority of voices may be made necessary to constitute an election.
Mr. Wilson. two arguments have been urged agst. an election of the Executive Magistrate by the people. 1 the example of Poland where an Election of the supreme Magistrate is attended with the most dangerous commotions. The cases he observed were totally dissimilar. The Polish nobles have resources & dependents which enable them to appear in force, and to threaten the Republic as well as each other. In the next place the electors all assemble in one place: which would not be the case with us. The 2d. argt. is that a majority of the people would never concur. It might be answered that the concurrence of a majority of people is not a necessary principle of election, nor required as such in any of the States. But allowing the objection all its force, it may be obviated by the expedient used in Masts. where the Legislature by majority of voices, decide in case a majority of people do not concur in favor of one of the candidates. This would restrain the choice to a good nomination at least, and prevent in a great degree intrigue & cabal. A particular objection with him agst. an absolute election by the Legislre. was that the Exec: in that case would be too dependent to stand the mediator between the intrigues & sinister views of the Representatives and the general liberties & interests of the people.
Mr. Pinkney did not expect this question would again have been brought forward; An Election by the people being liable to the most obvious & striking objections. They will be led by a few active & designing men. The most populous States by combining in favor of the same individual will be able to carry their points. The Natl. Legislature being most immediately interested in the laws made by themselves, will be most attentive to the choice of a fit man to carry them properly into execution.
Mr. Govr. Morris. It is said that in case of an election by the people the populous States will combine & elect whom they please. Just the reverse. The people of such States cannot combine. If their be any combination it must be among their representatives in the Legislature. It is said the people will be led by a few designing men. This might happen in a small district. It can never happen throughout the continent. In the election of a Govr. of N. York, it sometimes is the case in particular spots, that the activity & intrigues of little partizans are successful, but the general voice of the State is never influenced by such artifices. It is said the multitude will be uninformed. It is true they would be uninformed of what passed in the Legislative Conclave, if the election were to be made there; but they will not be uninformed of those great & illustrious characters [Volume 3, Page 538] which have merited their esteem & confidence. If the Executive be chosen by the Natl. Legislature, he will not be independent on it; and if not independent, usurpation & tyranny on the part of the Legislature will be the consequence. This was the case in England in the last Century. It has been the case in Holland, where their Senates have engrossed all power. It has been the case every where. He was surprised that an election by the people at large should ever have been likened to the polish election of the first Magistrate. An election by the Legislature will bear a real likeness to the election by the Diet of Poland. The great must be the electors in both cases, and the corruption & cabal wch are known to characterize the one would soon find their way into the other. Appointments made by numerous bodies, are always worse than those made by single responsible individuals, or by the people at large.
Col. Mason. It is curious to remark the different language held at different times. At one moment we are told that the Legislature is entitled to thorough confidence, and to indefinite power. At another, that it will be governed by intrigue & corruption, and cannot be trusted at all. But not to dwell on this inconsistency he would observe that a Government which is to last ought at least to be practicable. Would this be the case if the proposed election should be left to the people at large. He conceived it would be as unnatural to refer the choice of a proper character for chief Magistrate to the people, as it would, to refer a trial of colours to a blind man. The extent of the Country renders it impossible that the people can have the requisite capacity to judge of the respective pretensions of the Candidates.--
Mr. Wilson. could not see the contrariety stated (by Col. Mason) The Legislre. might deserve confidence in some respects, and distrust in others. In acts which were to affect them & yr. Constituents precisely alike confidence was due. In others jealousy was warranted. The appointment to great offices, where the Legislre. might feel many motives, not common to the public confidence was surely misplaced. This branch of business it was notorious, was most corruptly managed of any that had been committed to legislative bodies.
Mr. Williamson, conceived that there was the same difference between an election in this case, by the people and by the legislature, as between an appt. by lot, and by choice. There are at present distinguished characters, who are known perhaps to almost every man. This will not always be the case. The people will be sure to vote for some man in their own State, and the largest State will be sure to succede. This will not be Virga. however. Her slaves will have no suffrage. As the Salary of the Executive will be fixed, and he will not be eligible a 2d. time, there will not be such a dependence on the Legislature as has been imagined.
Question on an election by the people instead of the Legislature; which passed in the negative.
Mas. no. Cont. no. N.J. no. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no. N.C. no. S.C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes--1; noes--9.]
Mr. L. Martin moved that the Executive be chosen by Electors appointed by the several Legislatures of the individual States.
Mr. Broome 2ds. On the Question, it passed in the negative.
Mas. no. Cont. no. N.J. no. Pa. no. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. no. N.C. no. S.C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes--2; noes--8.]
On the question on the words "to be chosen by the Nationl. Legislature" it passed unanimously in the affirmative.
[2:57; Madison, 19 July]
On the question on Mr. Govr. Morris motion to reconsider generally the Constitution of the Executive--
Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N.J. ay. & all the others ay.
Mr. Elseworth moved to strike out the appointmt. by the Natl. Legislature, and insert "to be chosen by electors appointed by the Legislatures of the States in the following ratio; towit--one for each State not exceeding 200,000 inhabts. two for each above yt. number & not exceeding 300,000. and, three for each State exceeding 300,000.-- Mr. Broome 2ded. the motion
Mr. Rutlidge was opposed to all the modes except the appointment by the Natl. Legislature. He will be sufficiently independent, if he be not re-eligible
Mr. Gerry preferred the motion of Mr. Elseworth to an appointmt. by the Natl. Legislature, or by the people; tho' not to an appt. by the State Executives. He moved that the electors proposed by Mr. E. should be 25 in number, and allotted in the following proportion. to N.H. 1. to Mas. 3. to R.I. 1. to Cont. 2-to N.Y. 2-N.J. 2. Pa. 3. Del. 1. Md. 2. Va. 3. N.C. 2. S.C. 2. Geo. 1.
The question as moved by Mr. Elseworth being divided, on the 1st. part shall ye. Natl. Executive be appointed by Electors?
Mas-divd. Cont. ay. N.J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay- N.C. no. S.C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes--6; noes--3; divided--1.]
On 2d. part shall the Electors be chosen by State Legislatures?
Mas. ay. Cont. ay. N.J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. no. N.C. ay. S.C. no. Geo. ay. [Ayes--8; noes--2.]
The part relating to the ratio in which the States sd. chuse electors was postponed nem. con.
Mr. L. Martin moved that the Executive be ineligible a 2d. time.
Mr. Williamson 2ds. the motion. He had no great confidence in the Electors to be chosen for the special purpose. They would not be the most respectable citizens; but persons not occupied in the high offices of Govt. They would be liable to undue influence, which might the more readily be practiced as some of them will probably be in appointment 6 or 8 months before the object of it comes on.
Mr. Elseworth supposed any persons might be appointed Electors, excepting solely, members of the Natl. Legislature.
On the question shall he be ineligible a 2d. time?
Mas. no. Ct. no. N.J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no. N.C. ay. S.C. ay. Geo. no. [Ayes--2; noes--8.][Volume 3, Page 539]
On the question shall the Executive continue for 7 years? It passed in the negative Mas. divd. Cont. ay. N--J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no. N.C. divd. S.C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes--3; noes--5; divided--2.]
Mr. King was afraid we shd. shorten the term too much.
Mr. Govr Morris was for a short term, in order to avoid impeachts. which wd. be otherwise necessary.
Mr. Butler was agst. a frequency of the elections. Geo & S.C. were too distant to send electors often.
Mr. Elseworth was for 6 years. If the elections be too frequent, the Executive will not be firm eno'. There must be duties which will make him unpopular for the moment. There will be outs as well as ins. His administration therefore will be attacked and misrepresented.
Mr. Williamson was for 6 years. The expence will be considerable & ought not to be unnecessarily repeated. If the Elections are too frequent, the best men will not undertake the service and those of an inferior character will be liable to be corrupted.
On question for 6 years?
Mas. ay. Cont. ay. N.J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. ay. N.C. ay. S.C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes--9; noes--1.]
[2:63; Madison, 20 July]
The postponed Ratio of Electors for appointing the Executive; to wit 1 for each State whose inhabitants do not exceed 100,000, &c. being taken up.
Mr. Madison observed that this would make in time all or nearly all the States equal. Since there were few that would not in time contain the number of inhabitants entitling them to 3 Electors; that this ratio ought either to be made temporary, or so varied as that it would adjust itself to the growing population of the States.
Mr. Gerry moved that in the 1st instance the Electors should be allotted to the States in the following ratio: to N.H. 1. Mas. 3. R.I. 1. Cont. 2. N.Y. 2. N.J. 2. Pa. 3. Del. 1. Md. 2. Va. 3. N.C. 2. S.C. 2. Geo. 1.
On the question to postpone in order to take up this motion of Mr. Gerry. It passed in the affirmative.
Mas. ay. Cont. no. N.J. no. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. no. Va. ay. N.C. ay. S.C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes--6; noes--4.]
Mr. Elseworth moved that 2 Electors be allotted to N.H. Some rule ought to be pursued; and N.H. has more than 100,000 inhabitants. He thought it would be proper also to allot 2. to Georgia.
Mr. Broom & Mr. Martin moved to postpone Mr. Gerry's allotment of Electors, leaving a fit ratio to be reported by the Committee to be appointed for detailing the Resolutions.
On this motion.
Mas.-no. Ct. no. N.J. ay. Pa. no. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. no. N.C. no. S.C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes--3; noes--7.]
Mr. Houston 2ded. the motion of Mr. Elseworth to add another Elector to N.H. & Georgia. On the Question:
Mas. no. Ct ay. N.J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no. N.C. no. S.C.-ay-Geo-ay. [Ayes--3; noes--7.]
Mr. Williamson moved as an amendment to Mr. Gerry's allotment of Electors in the 1st. instance that in future elections of the Natl. Executive, the number of Electors to be appointed by the several States shall be regulated by their respective numbers of Representatives in the 1st. branch pursuing as nearly as may be the present proportions.
On question on Mr. Gerry's ratio of Electors
Mas. ay. Ct ay. N.J. no. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. no. Va. ay-N.C. ay. S.C. ay. Geo. no. [Ayes--6; noes--4.]
. . . . .
Mr. Gerry & Govr. Morris moved "that the Electors of the Executive shall not be members of the Natl. Legislature, nor officers of the U. States, nor shall the Electors themselves be eligible to the supreme Magistracy." Agreed to nem. con.
[2:73; Madison, 21 July]
Mr. Williamson moved "that the Electors of the Executive should be paid out of the National Treasury for the Service to be performed by them". Justice required this: as it was a national service they were to render. The motion was agreed to nem.--con.
[2:95; Madison, 23 July]
Mr. Houston & Mr. Spaight moved "that the appointment of the Executive by Electors chosen by the Legislatures of the States, be reconsidered." Mr. Houston urged the extreme inconveniency & the considerable expense, of drawing together men from all the States for the single purpose of electing the Chief Magistrate.
On the question which was put without any debate
N.H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. Pa. no. Del--ay. Md. no. Virga. no. N.C. ay. S.C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes--7; noes--3.]
Ordered that to morrow be assigned for the reconsideration. Cont & Pena. no.--all the rest ay--
[2:99; Madison, 24 July]
The appointment of the Executive by Electors reconsidered.
Mr. Houston moved that he be appointed by the "Natl. Legislature," instead of "Electors appointed by the State Legislatures" according to the last decision of the mode He dwelt chiefly on the improbability, that capable men would undertake the service of Electors from the more distant States.
Mr. Spaight seconded the motion.
Mr. Gerry opposed it. He thought there was no ground to apprehend the danger urged by Mr. Houston. The election of the Executive Magistrate will be considered as of vast importance and will excite great earnestness. The best men, the Governours of the States will not hold it derogatory from their character to be the electors. If the motion should be agreed to, it will be necessary to make the Executive ineligible a 2d. time, in order to render him independent of the Legislature; which was an idea extremely repugnant to his way of thinking.
Mr. Strong supposed that there would be no necessity, if the Executive should be appointed by the Legislature, to make him ineligible a 2d. time; as new elections of the Legislature will have intervened; and he will not depend for his 2d. appointment on the same sett of men as his first [Volume 3, Page 540] was recd. from. It had been suggested that gratitude for his past appointment wd. produce the same effect as dependence for his future appointment. He thought very differently. Besides this objection would lie agst. the Electors who would be objects of gratitude as well as the Legislature. It was of great importance not to make the Govt. too complex which would be the case if a new sett of men like the Electors should be introduced into it. He thought also that the first characters in the States would not feel sufficient motives to undertake the office of Electors.
Mr. Williamson was for going back to the original ground; to elect the Executive for 7 years and render him ineligible a 2d. time. The proposed Electors would certainly not be men of the 1st. nor even of the 2d. grade in the States. These would all prefer a seat either in the Senate or the other branch of the Legislature. He did not like the Unity in the Executive. He had wished the Executive power to be lodged in three men taken from three districts into which the States should be divided. As the Executive is to have a kind of veto on the laws, and there is an essential difference of interests between the N. & S. States, particularly in the carrying trade, the power will be dangerous, if the Executive is to be taken from part of the Union, to the part from which he is not taken. The case is different here from what it is in England; where there is a sameness of interest throughout the Kingdom. Another objection agst. a single Magistrate is that he will be an elective King, and will feel the spirit of one. He will spare no pains to keep himself in for life, and will then lay a train for the succession of his children. It was pretty certain he thought that we should at some time or other have a King; but he wished no precaution to be omitted that might postpone the event as long as possible.--Ineligibility a 2d. time appeared to him to be the best precaution. With this precaution he had no objection to a longer term than 7 years. He would go as far as 10 or 12 years.
Mr. Gerry moved that the Legislatures of the States should vote by ballot for the Executive in the same proportions as it had been proposed they should chuse electors; and that in case a majority of the votes should not center on the same person, the 1st. branch of the Natl. Legislature should chuse two out of the 4 candidates having most votes, and out of these two, the 2d. branch should chuse the Executive.
Mr. King seconded the motion--and on the Question to postpone in order to take it into consideration, The noes were so predominant that the States were not counted.
Question on Mr. Houston's motion that the Executive be appd. by Nal. Legislature
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. no. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. ay. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes--7; noes--4.]
Mr. L. Martin & Mr. Gerry moved to reinstate the ineligibility of the Executive a 2d. time.
Mr. Elseworth. With many this appears a natural consequence of his being elected by the Legislature. It was not the case with him. The Executive he thought should be reelected if his conduct proved him worthy of it. And he will be more likely to render himself worthy of it if he be rewardable with it. The most eminent characters also will be more willing to accept the trust under this condition, than if they foresee a necessary degradation at a fixt period.
[2:109; Madison, 25 July]
Mr. Gerry repeated his remark that an election at all by the Natl. Legislature was radically and incurably wrong; and moved that the Executive be appointed by the Governours & Presidents of the States, with advice of their Councils, and when there are no Councils by Electors chosen by the Legislatures. The executives to vote in the following proportions; viz--
Mr. Madison. There are objections agst. every mode that has been, or perhaps can be proposed. The election must be made either by some existing authority under the Natil. or State Constitutions--or by some special authority derived from the people--or by the people themselves.--The two Existing authorities under the Natl. Constitution wd be the Legislative & Judiciary. The latter he presumed was out of the question. The former was in his Judgment liable to insuperable objections. Besides the general influence of that mode on the independence of the Executive, 1. the election of the Chief Magistrate would agitate & divide the legislature so much that the public interest would materially suffer by it. Public bodies are always apt to be thrown into contentions, but into more violent ones by such occasions than by any others. 2. the candidate would intrigue with the Legislature, would derive his appointment from the predominant faction, and be apt to render his administration subservient to its views. 3. The Ministers of foreign powers would have and make use of, the opportunity to to mix their intrigues & influence with the Election. Limited as the powers of the Executive are, it will be an object of great moment with the great rival powers of Europe who have American possessions, to have at the head of our Governmt. a man attached to their respective politics & interests. No pains, nor perhaps expence, will be spared, to gain from the Legislature an appointmt. favorable to their wishes. Germany & Poland are witnesses of this danger. In the former, the election of the Head of the Empire, till it became in a manner hereditary, interested all Europe, and was much influenced by foreign interference--In the latter, altho' the elective Magistrate has very little real power, his election has at all times produced the most eager interference of forign princes, and has in fact at length slid entirely into foreign hands. The existing authorities in the States are the Legislative, Executive & Judiciary. The appointment of the Natl Executive by the first was objectionable in many points of view, some of which had been already mentioned. He would mention one which of itself would decide his opinion. The Legislatures of the States had betrayed a strong propensity to a variety of pernicious measures. One object of the Natl. Legislre. was to controul this propensity. One object of the Natl. Executive, so far as it would have a negative on the laws, was to controul the Natl. Legislature, so far as it might be infected with a similar propensity. Refer the appointmt of the Natl. Executive to the State Legislatures, and this controuling purpose may be defeated. The Legislatures can & [Volume 3, Page 541] will act with some kind of regular plan, and will promote the appointmt. of a man who will not oppose himself to a favorite object. Should a majority of the Legislatures at the time of election have the same object, or different objects of the same kind, the Natl Executive, would be rendered subservient to them. --An appointment by the State Executives, was liable among other objections to this insuperable one, that being standing bodies, they could & would be courted, and intrigued with by the Candidates, by their partizans, and by the Ministers of foreign powers. The State Judiciarys had not & he presumed wd. not be proposed as a proper source of appointment. The Option before us then lay between an appointment by Electors chosen by the people--and an immediate appointment by the people. He thought the former mode free from many of the objections which had been urged agst. it, and greatly preferable to an appointment by the Natl. Legislature. As the electors would be chosen for the occasion, would meet at once, & proceed immediately to an appointment, there would be very little opportunity for cabal, or corruption. As a further precaution, it might be required that they should meet at some place, distinct from the seat of Govt. and even that no person within a certain distance of the place at the time shd. be eligible. This mode however had been rejected so recently & by so great a majority that it probably would not be proposed anew. The remaining mode was an election by the people or rather by the qualified part of them at large. With all its imperfections he liked this best. He would not repeat either the general argumts. for or the objections agst this mode. He would only take notice of two difficulties which he admitted to have weight. The first arose from the disposition in the people to prefer a Citizen of their own State, and the disadvantage this wd. throw on the smaller States. Great as this objection might be he did not think it equal to such as lay agst. every other mode which had been proposed. He thought too that some expedient might be hit upon that would obviate it. The second difficulty arose from the disproportion of qualified voters in the N. & S. States, and the disadvantages which this mode would throw on the latter. The answer to this objection was 1. that this disproportion would be continually decreasing under the influence of the Republican laws introduced in the S. States, and the more rapid increase of their population. 2. That local local considerations must give way to the general interest. As an individual from the S. States he was willing to make the sacrifice.
Mr. Elseworth. The objection drawn from the different sizes of the States, is unanswerable. The Citizens of the largest States would invariably prefer the Candidate within the State: and the largest States wd. invariably have the man.
Question on Mr. Elseworth's motion as above.
N. H. ay. Mas. no. Ct. ay. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. no-Md. ay. Va no. N- C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes--4; noes--7.]
Mr. Pinkney moved that the election by the Legislature be qualified with a proviso that no person be eligible for more than 6 years in any twelve years. He thought this would have all the advantage & at the same time avoid in some degree the inconveniency, of an absolute ineligibility a 2d. time.
Col. Mason approved the idea. It had the sanction of experience in the instance of Congs. and some of the Executives of the States. It rendered the Executive as effectually independent, as an ineligibility after his first election, and opened the way at the same time for the advantage of his future services. He preferred on the whole the election by the Natl. Legislature: Tho' Candor obliged him to admit, that there was great danger of foreign influence, as had been suggested. This was the most serious objection with him that had been urged.
Mr Butler. The two great evils to be avoided are cabal at home, & influence from abroad. It will be difficult to avoid either if the Election be made by the Natl Legislature. On the other hand, the Govt. should not be made so complex & unwieldy as to disgust the States. This would be the case, if the election shd. be referred to the people. He liked best an election by Electors chosen by the Legislatures of the States. He was agst. a re-eligibility at all events. He was also agst. a ratio of votes in the States. An equality should prevail in this case. The reasons for departing from it do not hold in the case of the Executive as in that of the Legislature.
Mr. Gerry approved of Mr Pinkney's motion as lessening the evil.
Mr Govr. Morris was agst. a rotation in every case. It formed a political School, in wch. we were always governed by the scholars, and not by the Masters -- The evils to be guarded agst in this case are. 1. the undue influence of the Legislature. 2. instability of Councils. 3. misconduct in office. To guard agst. the first, we run into the second evil. we adopt a rotation which produces instability of Councils. To avoid Sylla we fall into Charibdis. A change of men is ever followed by a change of measures We see this fully exemplified in the vicissitudes among ourselves, particularly in the State of Pena. The selfsufficiency of a victorious party scorns to tread in the paths of their predecessors. Rehoboam will not imitate Solomon. 2. the Rotation in office will not prevent intrigue and dependence on the Legislature. The man in office will look forward to the period at which he will become re-eligible. The distance of the period, the improbability of such a protraction of his life will be no obstacle. Such is the nature of man, formed by his benevolent author no doubt for wise ends, that altho' he knows his existence to be limited to a span, he takes his measures as if he were to live forever. But taking another supposition, the inefficacy of the expedient will be manifest. If the magistrate does not look forward to his reelection to the Executive, he will be pretty sure to keep in view the opportunity of his going into the Legislature itself. He will have little objection then to an extension of power on a theatre where he expects to act a distinguished part; and will be very unwilling to take any step that may endanger his popularity with the Legislature, on his influence over which the figure he is to make will depend. 3. To avoid the third evil, impeachments will be essential, and hence an additional reason agst an election by the [Volume 3, Page 542] Legislature. He considered an election by the people as the best, by the Legislature as the worst, mode. Putting both these aside, he could not but favor the idea of Mr. Wilson, of introducing a mixture of lot. It will diminish, if not destroy both cabal & dependence.
Mr. Williamson was sensible that strong objections lay agst an election of the Executive by the Legislature, and that it opened a door for foreign influence. The principal objection agst. an election by the people seemed to be, the disadvantage under which it would place the smaller States. He suggested as a cure for this difficulty, that each man should vote for 3 candidates. One of these he observed would be probably of his own State, the other 2. of some other States; and as probably of a small as a large one.
Mr. Govr. Morris liked the idea, suggesting as an amendment that each man should vote for two persons one of whom at least should not be of his own State.
Mr Madison also thought something valuable might be made of the suggestion with the proposed amendment of it. The second best man in this case would probably be the first, in fact. The only objection which occurred was that each Citizen after havg. given his vote for his favorite fellow Citizen wd. throw away his second on some obscure Citizen of another State, in order to ensure the object of his first choice. But it could hardly be supposed that the Citizens of many States would be so sanguine of having their favorite elected, as not to give their second vote with sincerity to the next object of their choice. It might moreover be provided in favor of the smaller States that the Executive should not be eligible more than times in years from the same State.
Mr. Gerry--A popular election in this case is radically vicious. The ignorance of the people would put it in the power of some one set of men dispersed through the Union & acting in Concert to delude them into any appointment. He observed that such a Society of men existed in the Order of the Cincinnati. They were respectable, United, and influencial. They will in fact elect the chief Magistrate in every instance, if the election be referred to the people.--His respect for the characters composing this Society could not blind him to the danger & impropriety of throwing such a power into their hands.
Mr. Dickenson. As far as he could judge from the discussion which had taken place during his attendance, insuperable objections lay agst an election of the Executive by the Natl. Legislature; as also by the Legislatures or Executives of the States--He had long leaned towards an election by the people which he regarded as the best and purest source. Objections he was aware lay agst this mode, but not so great he thought as agst the other modes. The greatest difficulty in the opinion of the House seemed to arise from the partiality of the States to their respective Citizens. But, might not this very partiality be turned to a useful purpose. Let the people of each State chuse its best Citizen. The people will know the most eminent characters of their own States, and the people of different States will feel an emulation in selecting those of which they will have the greatest reason to be proud--Out of the thirteen names thus selected, an Executive Magistrate may be chosen either by the Natl Legislature, or by Electors appointed by it.
On a Question which was moved for postponing Mr. Pinkney's motion, in order to make way for some such proposition as had been hinted by Mr. Williamson & others. it passed in the negative.
N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. ay. Va ay. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes--5; noes--6.]
On Mr. Pinkney's motion that no person shall serve in the Executive more than 6 years in 12. years, it passed in the negative.
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. no. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay [Ayes--5; noes--6.]
[2:118; Madison, 26 July]
Col. Mason. In every Stage of the Question relative to the Executive, the difficulty of the subject and the diversity of the opinions concerning it have appeared. Nor have any of the modes of constituting that department been satisfactory. 1. It has been proposed that the election should be made by the people at large; that is that an act which ought to be performed by those who know most of Eminent characters, & qualifications, should be performed by those who know least. 2 that the election should be made by the Legislatures of the States. 3. by the Executives of the States. Agst these modes also strong objections have been urged. 4. It has been proposed that the election should be made by Electors chosen by the people for that purpose. This was at first agreed to: But on further consideration has been rejected. 5. Since which, the mode of Mr Williamson, requiring each freeholder to vote for several candidates has been proposed. This seemed like many other propositions, to carry a plausible face, but on closer inspection is liable to fatal objections. A popular election in any form, as Mr. Gerry has observed, would throw the appointment into the hands of the Cincinnati, a Society for the members of which he had a great respect; but which he never wished to have a preponderating influence in the Govt. 6. Another expedient was proposed by Mr. Dickenson, which is liable to so palpable & material an inconvenience that he had little doubt of its being by this time rejected by himself. It would exclude every man who happened not to be popular within his own State; tho' the causes of his local unpopularity might be of such a nature as to recommend him to the States at large. 7. Among other expedients, a lottery has been introduced. But as the tickets do not appear to be in much demand, it will probably, not be carried on, and nothing therefore need be said on that subject. After reviewing all these various modes, he was led to conclude-- that an election by the Natl Legislature as originally proposed, was the best. If it was liable to objections, it was liable to fewer than any other. He conceived at the same time that a second election ought to be absolutely prohibited. Having for his primary object, for the pole star of his political conduct, the preservation of the rights of the people, he held it as an essential point, as the very palladium of Civil liberty, that the great officers of State, and particularly the Executive should at fixed periods return to that mass from which [Volume 3, Page 543] they were at first taken, in order that they may feel & respect those rights & interests, Which are again to be personally valuable to them. He concluded with moving that the constitution of the Executive as reported by the Come. of the whole be re-instated, viz. "that the Executive be appointed for seven years, & be ineligible a 2d. time,"
Mr. Davie seconded the motion
Docr. Franklin. It seems to have been imagined by some that the returning to the mass of the people was degrading the magistrate. This he thought was contrary to republican principles. In free Governments the rulers are the servants, and the people their superiors & sovereigns. For the former therefore to return among the latter was not to degrade but to promote them-- and it would be imposing an unreasonable burden on them, to keep them always in a State of servitude, and not allow them to become again one of the Masters.
Question on Col. Masons motion as above; which passed in the affirmative
N. H. ay. Masts. not on floor. Ct. no. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes--7; noes--3; absent--1.]
Mr. Govr. Morris was now agst. the whole paragraph. In answer to Col. Mason's position that a periodical return of the great officers of the State into the mass of the people, was the palladium of Civil liberty he wd. observe that on the same principle the Judiciary ought to be periodically degraded; certain it was that the Legislature ought on every principle-- yet no one had proposed. or conceived that the members of it should not be re-eligible. In answer to Docr. Franklin. that a return into the mass of the people would be a promotion. instead of a degradation, he had no doubt that our Executive like most others would have too much patriotism to shrink from the burden of his office, and too much modesty not to be willing to decline the promotion.
On the question on the whole resolution as amended in the words following--"that a National Executive be instituted--to consist of a single person--to be chosen by the Natl. legislature--for the term of seven years--to be ineligible a 2d. time--with power to carry into execution the natl. laws--to appoint to offices in cases not otherwise provided for--to be removeable on impeachment & conviction of mal-practice or neglect of duty--to receive a fixt compensation for the devotion of his time to the public service, to be paid out of the Natl. Treasury"--it passed in the affirmative
N. H. ay. Mas. not on floor. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. divd. Mr. Blair & Col. Mason ay. Genl. Washington & Mr Madison no. Mr. Randolph happened to be out of the House. N- C- ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [Ayes--6; noes--3; divided--1; absent--1.]
[2:185; Madison, 6 Aug.]
Sect. 1. The Executive Power of the United States shall be vested in a single person. His stile shall be "The President of the United States of America;" and his title shall be, "His Excellency". He shall be elected by ballot by the Legislature. He shall hold his office during the term of seven years; but shall not be elected a second time.
[2:196; Madison, 7 Aug.]
Mr. Ghorum contended that elections ought to be made by joint ballot. If separate ballots should be made for the President, and the two branches should be each attached to a favorite, great delay, contention & confusion may ensue. These inconveniences have been felt in Masts. in the election of officers of little importance compared with the Executive of the U. States. The only objection agst. a joint ballot is that it may deprive the Senate of their due weight; but this ought not to prevail over the respect due to the public tranquility & welfare.
Mr. Wilson was for a joint ballot in several cases at least; particularly in the choice of the President, and was therefore for the amendment. Disputes between the two Houses, during & concerng the vacancy of the Executive, might have dangerous consequences.
[2:401; Madison, 24 Aug.]
Art X. sect. 1. "The executive power of the U--S--shall be vested in a single person. His stile shall be "The President of the U--S. of America" and his title shall be "His Excellency". He shall be elected by ballot by the Legislature. He shall hold his office during the term of seven years; but shall not be elected a second time.
On the question for vesting the power in a single person--It was agreed to nem: con: So also on the Stile and title--
Mr. Rutlidge moved to insert "joint" before the word "ballot", as the most convenient mode of electing.
Mr. Sherman objected to it as depriving the States represented in the Senate of the negative intended them in that house,
Mr. Ghorum said it was wrong to be considering, at every turn whom the Senate would represent. The public good was the true object to be kept in view-- Great delay and confusion would ensue if the two Houses shd vote separately, each having a negative on the choice of the other.
Mr. Dayton. It might be well for those not to consider how the Senate was constituted, whose interest it Was to keep it out of sight.--If the amendment should be agreed to, a joint ballot would in fact give the appointment to one House. He could never agree to the clause with such an amendment. There could be no doubt of the two Houses separately concurring in the same person for President. The importance & necessity of the case would ensure a concurrence.
Mr. Carrol moved to strike out, "by the Legislature" and insert "by the people"--Mr Wilson 2ded. him & on the question
N. H. no. Massts. no. Cont. no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md no. Va. no N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes--2; noes--9.]
Mr Brearly was opposed to the motion for inserting the word "joint". The argument that the small States should not put their hands into the pockets of the large ones did not apply in this case.
Mr. Wilson urged the reasonableness of giving the larger States a larger share of the appointment, and the danger of delay from a disagreement of the two Houses. [Volume 3, Page 544] He remarked also that the Senate had peculiar powers balancing the advantage given by a joint balot in this case to the other branch of the Legislature.
Mr. Langdon. This general officer ought to be elected by the joint & general voice. In N. Hampshire the mode of separate votes by the two Houses was productive of great difficulties. The Negative of the Senate would hurt the feelings of the man elected by the votes of the other branch. He was for inserting "joint" tho' unfavorable to N. Hampshire as a small State.
Mr. Wilson remarked that as the President of the Senate was to be the President of the U--S. that Body in cases of vacancy might have an interest in throwing dilatory obstacles in the way, if its separate concurrence should be required.
Mr. Madison. If the amendment be agreed to the rule of voting will give to the largest State, compared with the smallest, an influence as 4 to 1 only, altho the population is as 10 to 1. This surely cannot be unreasonable as the President is to act for the people not for the States. The President of the Senate also is to be occasionally President of the U.S. and by his negative alone can make 3/4 of the other branch necessary to the passage of a law-- This is another advantage enjoyed by the Senate.
On the question for inserting "joint", it passed in the affirmative
N. H. ay. Masts ay--Ct. no. N. J. no. Pa. ay--Del. ay. Md. no. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. no. [Ayes--7; noes--4.]
Mr. Dayton then moved to insert, after the word "Legislatures" the words "each State having one vote" Mr Brearly 2ded. him, and on the question it passed in the negative
N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. ay. Md ay. Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. ay [Ayes--5; noes--6.]
Mr. Pinkney moved to insert after the word "Legislature" the words "to which election a majority of the votes of the members present shall be required" &
On this question, it passed in the affirmative
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. ay--Md. ay--Va. ay--N. C. ay--S. C. ay--Geo. ay. [Ayes--10; noes--1.]
Mr Read moved "that in case the numbers for the two highest in votes should be equal, then the President of the Senate shall have an additional casting vote", which was disagreed to by a general negative.
Mr. Govr Morris opposed the election of the President by the Legislature. He dwelt on the danger of rendering the Executive uninterested in maintaining the rights of his Station, as leading to Legislative tyranny. If the Legislature have the Executive dependent on them, they can perpetuate & support their usurpations by the influence of tax-gatherers & other officers, by fleets armies &c. Cabal & corruption are attached to that mode of election: so also is ineligibility a second time. Hence the Executive is interested in Courting popularity in the Legislature by sacrificing his Executive rights; & then he can go into that Body, after the expiration of his Executive Office, and enjoy there the fruits of his policy. To these considerations he added that rivals would be continually intriguing to oust the President from his place. To guard against all these evils he moved that the President "shall be chosen by Electors to be chosen by the people of the several States" Mr Carrol 2ded. him & on the question it passed in the negative
N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. ay. N--J--ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. no--Va. ay. N--C--no--S--C--no--Geo-- no. [Ayes--5; noes--6.]
Mr. Dayton moved to postpone the consideration of the two last clauses of sect. 1. art. X. which was disagreed to without a count of the States.
Mr Broome moved to refer the two clauses to a Committee of a Member from each State. & on the question, it failed the States being equally divided.
N--H-- no-- Mas--no. Ct. divd. N-- J-- ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay--Va. ay. N--C--no. S. C. no--Geo. no. [Ayes--5; noes--5; divided--1.]
On the question taken on the first part of Mr. Govr Morris's Motion to wit "shall be chosen by electors" as an abstract question, it failed the States being equally divided--
N--H--no. Mas. abst. Ct. divd. N. Jersey ay Pa ay. Del. ay. Md. divd. Va ay--N--C-- no. S. C. no. Geo. no. [Ayes--4; noes--4; divided--2; absent--1.]
The consideration of the remaining clauses of sect 1. art X. was then posponed till tomorrow at the instance of the Deputies of New Jersey--
[2:497; Madison, 4 Sept.]
[Report of the Committee of Eleven:] "(4) After the word 'Excellency' in sect. 1. art. 10. to be inserted. 'He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and together with the vice-President, chosen for the same term, be elected in the following manner, viz. Each State shall appoint in such manner as its Legislature may direct, a number of electors equal to the whole number of Senators and members of the House of Representatives, to which the State may be entitled in the Legislature. The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves; and they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each, which list they shall sign and certify and transmit sealed to the Seat of the. Genl. Government, directed to the President of the Senate--The President of the Senate shall in that House open all the certificates; and the votes shall be then & there counted. The Person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of that of the electors; and if there be more than one who have such a majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the Senate shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President: but if no person have a majority. then from the five highest on the list, the Senate shall choose by ballot the President. And in every case after the choice of the President, the person having the greatest number of votes shall be vice-president: but if there should remain two or [Volume 3, Page 545] more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them the vice-President. The Legislature may determine the time of choosing and assembling the Electors, and the manner of certifying and transmitting their votes.'"
. . . . .
The (4) clause was accordingly taken up.
Mr. Gorham disapproved of making the next highest after the President, the vice-President, without referring the decision to the Senate in case the next highest should have less than a majority of votes. as the regulation stands a very obscure man with very few votes may arrive at that appointment
Mr Sherman said the object of this clause of the report of the Committee was to get rid of the ineligibility, which was attached to the mode of election by the Legislature, & to render the Executive independent of the Legislature. As the choice of the President was to be made out of the five highest, obscure characters were sufficiently guarded against in that case: And he had no objection to requiring the vice-President to be chosen in like manner, where the choice was not decided by a majority in the first instance
Mr. Madison was apprehensive that by requiring both the President & vice President to be chosen out of the five highest candidates, the attention of the electors would be turned too much to making candidates instead of giving their votes in order to a definitive choice, Should this turn be given to the business, the election would in fact be consigned to the Senate altogether. It would have the effect at the same time, he observed, of giving the nomination of the candidates to the largest States.
Mr Govr Morris concurred in, & enforced the remarks of Mr. Madison.
Mr Randolph & Mr Pinkney wished for a particular explanation & discussion of the reasons for changing the mode of electing the Executive.
Mr. Govr. Morris said he would give the reasons of the Committee and his own. The 1st. was the danger of intrigue & faction if the appointmt. should be made by the Legislature. 2 the inconveniency of an ineligibility required by that mode in order to lessen its evils. 3 The difficulty of establishing a Court of Impeachments, other than the Senate which would not be so proper for the trial nor the other branch for the impeachment of the President, if appointed by the Legislature, 4. No body had appeared to be satisfied with an appointment by the Legislature. 5. Many were anxious even for an immediate choice by the people-- 6-- the indispensable necessity of making the Executive independent of the Legislature.--As the Electors would vote at the same time throughout the U.S. and at so great a distance from each other, the great evil of cabal was avoided. It would be impossible also to corrupt them. A conclusive reason for making the Senate instead of the Supreme Court the Judge of impeachments, was that the latter was to try the President after the trial of the impeachment.
Col: Mason confessed that the plan of the Committee had removed some capital objections, particularly the danger of cabal and corruption. It was liable however to this strong objection, that nineteen times in twenty the President would be chosen by the Senate, an improper body for the purpose.
Mr. Butler thought the mode not free from objections, but much more so than an election by the Legislature, where as in elective monarchies, cabal faction & violence would be sure to prevail.
Mr. Pinkney stated as objections to the mode 1. that it threw the whole appointment in fact into the hands of the Senate. 2-- The Electors will be strangers to the several candidates and of course unable to decide on their comparative merits. 3. It makes the Executive reeligible which will endanger the public liberty. 4. It makes the same body of men which will in fact elect the President his Judges in case of an impeachment.
Mr. Williamson had great doubts whether the advantage of reeligibility would balance the objection to such a dependence of the President on the Senate for his reappointment. He thought at least the Senate ought to be restrained to the two highest on the list
Mr. Govr. Morris said the principal advantage aimed at was that of taking away the opportunity for cabal. The President may be made if thought necessary ineligible on this as well as on any other mode of election. Other inconveniences may be no less redressed on this plan than any other.
Mr. Baldwin thought the plan not so objectionable when well considered, as at first view. The increasing intercourse among the people of the States, would render important characters less & less unknown; and the Senate would consequently be less & less likely to have the eventual appointment thrown into their hands.
Mr. Wilson. This subject has greatly divided the House, and will also divide people out of doors. It is in truth the most difficult of all on which we have had to decide. He had never made up an opinion on it entirely to his own satisfaction. He thought the plan on the whole a valuable improvement on the former. It gets rid of one great evil, that of cabal & corruption; & Continental Characters will multiply as we more & more coalesce, so as to enable the electors in every part of the Union to know & judge of them. It clears the way also for a discussion of the question of re-eligibility on its own merits, which the former mode of election seemed to forbid. He thought it might be better however to refer the eventual appointment to the Legislature than to the Senate, and to confine it to a smaller number than five of the Candidates. The eventual election by the Legislature wd. not open cabal anew, as it would be restrained to certain designated objects of choice, and as these must have had the previous sanction of a number of the States: and if the election be made as it ought as soon as the votes of the electors are opened & it is known that no one has a majority of the whole, there can be little danger of corruption-- Another reason for preferring the Legislature to the Senate in this business, was that the House of Reps. will be so often changed as to be free from the influence & faction to which the permanence of the Senate may subject that branch--
Mr. Randolph preferred the former mode of constituting the Executive, but if the change was to be made, he [Volume 3, Page 546] wished to know why the eventual election was referred to the Senate and not to the Legislature? He saw no necessity for this and many objections to it. He was apprehensive also that the advantage of the eventual appointment would fall into the hands of the States near the Seat of Government.
Mr Govr. Morris said the Senate was preferred because fewer could then, say to the President, you owe your appointment to us. He thought the President would not depend so much on the Senate for his re-appointment as on his general good conduct
[2:511; Madison, 5 Sept.]
The Report made yesterday as to the appointment of the Executive being then taken up. Mr. Pinkney renewed his opposition to the mode, arguing 1. that the electors will not have sufficient knowledge of the fittest men, & will be swayed by an attachment to the eminent men of their respective States-- Hence 2dly the dispersion of the votes would leave the appointment with the Senate, and as the President's reappointment will thus depend on the Senate he will be the mere creature of that body. 3. He will combine with the Senate agst the House of Representatives. 4. This change in the mode of election was meant to get rid of the ineligibility of the President a second time, whereby he will become fixed for life under the auspices of the Senate
Mr. Gerry did not object to this plan of constituting the Executive in itself, but should be governed in his final vote by the powers that may be given to the President.
Mr. Rutlidge was much opposed to the plan reported by the Committee. It would throw the whole power into the Senate. He was also against a re-eligibility. He moved to postpone the Report under consideration & take up the original plan of appointment by the Legislature. to wit. "He shall be elected by joint ballot by the Legislature to which election a majority of the votes of the members present shall be required: He shall hold his office during the term of Seven years; but shall not be elected a second time"
On this motion to postpone
N-- H-- divd. Mas. no-- Ct no-- N-- J. no. Pa. no-- Del-- no. Md. no-- Va. no. N. C. ay-- S. C. ay-- Geo. no. [Ayes--2; noes--8; divided--1.]
Col. Mason admitted that there were objections to an appointment by the Legislature as originally planned. He had not yet made up his mind; but would state his objections to the mode proposed by the Committee. 1. It puts the appointment in fact into the hands of the Senate, as it will rarely happen that a majority of the whole votes will fall on any one candidate: and as the Existing President will always be one of the 5 highest, his re-appointment will of course depend on the Senate. 2. Considering the powers of the President & those of the Senate, if a coalition should be established between these two branches, they will be able to subvert the Constitution. -- The great objection with him would be removed by depriving the Senate of the eventual election. He accordingly moved to strike out the words "if such number be a majority of that of the electors"
Mr. Williamson 2ded. the motion. He could not agree to the clause without some such modification. He preferred making the highest tho' not having a majority of the votes, President, to a reference of the matter to the Senate. Referring the appointment to the Senate lays a certain foundation for corruption & aristocracy.
Mr. Govr Morris thought the point of less consequence than it was supposed on both sides. It is probable that a majority of the votes will fall on the same man, As each elector is to give two votes, more than 1/4 will give a majority. Besides as one vote is to be given to a man out of the State, and as this vote will not be thrown away, 1/2 the votes will fall on characters eminent & generally known. Again if the President shall have given satisfaction, the votes will turn on him of course, and a majority of them will reappoint him, without resort to the Senate: If he should be disliked, all disliking him, would take care to unite their votes so as to ensure his being supplanted.
Col: Mason those who think there is no danger of there not being a majority for the same person in the first instance, ought to give up the point to those who think otherwise.
Mr Sherman reminded the opponents of the new mode proposed that if the Small States had the advantage in the Senate's deciding among the five highest candidates, the Large States would have in fact the nomination of these candidates
On the motion of Col: Mason
N. H. no-- Mas. no. Ct. no. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. no-- N. C. ay. S-- C. no. Geo. no [Ayes--2; noes--9.]
Mr. Wilson moved to strike out "Senate" and insert the word "Legislature"
Mr Madison considered it as a primary object to render an eventual resort to any part of the Legislature improbable. He was apprehensive that the proposed alteration would turn the attention of the large States too much to the appointment of candidates, instead of aiming at an effectual appointment of the officer, as the large States would predominate in the Legislature which would have the final choice out of the Candidates. Whereas if the Senate in which the small States predominate should have the final choice, the concerted effort of the large States would be to make the appointment in the first instance conclusive.
Mr Randolph. We have in some revolutions of this plan made a bold stroke for Monarchy. We are now doing the same for an aristocracy. He dwelt on the tendency of such an influence in the Senate over the election of the President in addition to its other powers, to convert that body into a real & dangerous Aristocracy--
Mr Dickinson was in favor of giving the eventual election to the Legislature, instead of the Senate-- It was too much influence to be superadded to that body--
On the question moved by Mr Wilson
N. H-- divd. Mas. no-- Ct no-- N-- J-- no. Pa. ay. Del-- no. Md. no. Va. ay-- N-- C. no-- S. C. ay. Geo. no. [Ayes--3; noes--7; divided--1.]
Mr Madison & Mr. Williamson moved to strike out the word "majority" and insert "one third" so that the eventual [Volume 3, Page 547] power might not be exercised if less than a majority, but not less than 1/3 of the Electors should vote for the same person--
Mr. Gerry objected that this would put it in the power of three or four States to put in whom they pleased.
Mr. Williamson. There are seven States which do not contain one third of the people-- If the Senate are to appoint, less than one sixth of the people will have the power--
On the question
N. H-- no. Mas. no-- Ct no-- N. J-- no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no-- Va. ay. N-- C. ay. S. C no Geo. no. [Ayes--2; noes--9.]
Mr Gerry suggested that the eventual election should be made by six Senators and seven Representatives chosen by joint ballot of both Houses.
Mr King observed that the influence of the Small States in the Senate was somewhat balanced by the influence of the large States in bringing forward the candidates, and also by the Concurrence of the small States in the Committee in the clause vesting the exclusive origination of Money bills in the House of Representatives.
Col: Mason moved to strike out the word "five" and insert the word "three" as the highest candidates for the Senate to choose out of --
Mr. Gerry 2ded. the motion
Mr. Sherman would sooner give up the plan. He would prefer seven or thirteen.
On the question moved by Col Mason and Mr Gerry
N. H. no-- Mas. no-- Ct. no. N-- J. no. Pa no. Delaware Md. no Va ay-- N-- C-- ay-- S. C. no-- Geo-- no. [Ayes--2; noes--9.]
Mr Spaight and Mr. Rutlidge moved to strike out "five" and insert "thirteen"--to which all the States disagreed -- except N-- C. & S-- C--
Mr Madison & Mr. Williamson moved to insert after "Electors" the words "who shall have balloted" so that the non voting electors not being counted might not increase the number necessary as a majority of the whole--to decide the choice without the agency of the Senate--
On this question
N. H-- no. Mas-- no. Ct. no. N. J-- no. Pa ay. Del. no. Md. ay. Va ay-- N-- C. ay. S-- C-- no. Geo. no [Ayes--4; noes--7.]
Mr. Dickinson moved, in order to remove ambiguity from the intention of the clause as explained by the vote, to add, after the words "if such number be a majority of the whole number of the Electors" the word "appointed"
On this motion
N. H. ay. Mas-- ay-- Con: ay N-- J-- ay-- Pa ay. Delaware Md. ay-- Va. no. N. C. no. S-- C. ay-- Geo. ay. [Ayes--9; noes--2.]
Col: Mason. As the mode of appointment is now regulated, he could not forbear expressing his opinion that it is utterly inadmissible. He would prefer the Government of Prussia to one which will put all power into the hands of seven or eight men, and fix an Aristocracy worse than absolute monarchy.
The words "and of their giving their votes" being inserted on motion for that purpose, after the words "The Legislature may determine the time of chusing and assembling the Electors"
[2:521; Madison, 6 Sept.]
Mr. King and Mr. Gerry moved to insert in the (5) clause of the Report (see Sepr 4) after the words "may be entitled in the Legislature" the words following-- "But no person shall be appointed an elector who is a member of the Legislature of the U.S. or who holds any office of profit or trust under the U.S." which passed nem: con:
Mr. Gerry proposed, as the President was to be elected by the Senate out of the five highest candidates, that if he should not at the end of his term be re-elected by a majority of the Electors, and no other candidate should have a majority, the eventual election should be made by the Legislature--This he said would relieve the President from his particular dependence on the Senate for his continuance in office.
Mr. King liked the idea, as calculated to satisfy particular members & promote unanimity; & as likely to operate but seldom.
Mr Read opposed it, remarking that if individual members were to be indulged, alterations would be necessary to satisfy most of them--
Mr Williamson espoused it as a reasonable precaution against the undue influence of the Senate.
Mr Sherman liked the arrangement as it stood, though he should not be averse to some amendments. He thought he said that if the Legislature were to have the eventual appointment instead of the Senate, it ought to vote in the case by States, in favor of the small States, as the large States would have so great an advantage in nominating the candidates--
Mr. Govr Morris thought favorably of Mr. Gerry's proposition. It would free the President from being tempted in naming to Offices. to Conform to the will of the Senate, & thereby virtually give the appointments to office, to the Senate.
Mr Wilson said that he had weighed carefully the report of the Committee for remodelling the constitution of the Executive; and on combining it with other parts of the plan, he was obliged to consider the whole as having a dangerous tendency to aristocracy; as throwing a dangerous power into the hands of the Senate, They will have in fact, the appointment of the President, and through his dependence on them, the virtual appointment to offices; among others the offices of the Judiciary Department. They are to make Treaties; and they are to try all impeachments. In allowing them thus to make the Executive & Judiciary appointments, to be the Court of impeachments, and to make Treaties which are to be laws of the land, the Legislative, Executive & Judiciary powers are all blended in one branch of the Government. The power of making Treaties involves the case of subsidies, and here as an additional evil, foreign influence is to be dreaded-- According to the plan as it now stands, the President will not be the man of the people as he ought to be, but the Minion of the Senate. He cannot even appoint a tide-waiter without the Senate-- He had always thought the Senate too numerous a body for making appointments to office. The [Volume 3, Page 548] Senate, will moreover in all probability be in constant Session. They will have high salaries. And with all those powers, and the President in their interest, they will depress the other branch of the Legislature, and aggrandize themselves in proportion. Add to all this, that the Senate sitting in Conclave, can by holding up to their respective States various and improbable candidates, contrive so to scatter their votes, as to bring the appointment of the President ultimately before themselves-- Upon the whole, he thought the new mode of appointing the President, with some amendments, a valuable improvement; but he could never agree to purchase it at the price of the ensuing parts of the Report, nor befriend a system of Which they make a part--
Mr. Govr. Morris expressed his wonder at the observations of Mr. Wilson so far as they preferred the plan in the printed Report to the new modification of it before the House, and entered into a comparative view of the two, with an eye to the nature of Mr. Wilsons objections to the last. By the first the Senate he observed had a voice in appointing the President out of all the Citizens of the U.S.--by this they were limited to five candidates previously nominated to them, with a probability of being barred altogether by the successful ballot of the Electors. Here surely was no increase of power. They are now to appoint Judges nominated to them by the President. Before they had the appointment without any agency whatever of the President. Here again was surely no additional power. If they are to make Treaties as the plan now stands, the power was the same in the printed plan-- If they are to try impeachments, the Judges must have been triable by them before. Wherein then lay the dangerous tendency of the innovations to establish an aristocracy in the Senate? As to the appointment of officers, the weight of sentiment in the House, was opposed to the exercise of it by the President alone; though it was not the case with himself-- If the Senate would act as was suspected, in misleading the States into a fallacious disposition of their votes for a President, they would, if the appointment were withdrawn wholly from them, make such representations in their several States where they have influence, as would favor the object of their partiality.
Mr. Williamson. replying to Mr. Morris: observed that the aristocratic complexion proceeds from the change in the mode of appointing the President which makes him dependent on the Senate.
Mr. Clymer said that the aristocratic part to which he could never accede was that in the printed plan, which gave the Senate the power of appointing to Offices.
Mr. Hamilton said that he had been restrained from entering into the discussions by his dislike of the Scheme of Govt in General; but as he meant to support the plan to be recommended, as better than nothing, he wished in this place to offer a few remarks. He liked the new modification, on the whole, better than that in the printed Report. In this the President was a Monster elected for seven years, and ineligible afterwards; having great powers, in appointments to office & continually tempted by this constitutional disqualification to abuse them in order to subvert the Government-- Although he should be made reeligible, Still if appointed by the Legislature, he would be tempted to make use of corrupt influence to be continued in office-- It seemed peculiarly desirable therefore that Some other mode of election should be devised. Considering the different views of different States, & the different districts Northern Middle & Southern, he concurred with those who thought that the votes would not be concentered, and that the appointment would consequently in the present mode devolve on the Senate. The nomination to offices will give great weight to the President-- Here then is a mutual connection & influence, that will perpetuate the President, and aggrandize both him & the Senate. What is to be the remedy? He saw none better than to let the highest number of ballots, whether a majority or not, appoint the President. What was the objection to this? Merely that too small a number might appoint. But as the plan stands, the Senate may take the candidate having the smallest number of votes, and make him President.
Mr. Spaight & Mr. Williamson moved to insert "seven" instead of "four" years for the term of the President--
On this motion
N. H. ay. Mas. no. Ct. no-- N. J. no-- Pa no. Del-- no. Md. no. Va. ay. N. C-- ay. S. C. no. Geo-- no. [Ayes--3; noes--8.]
Mr. Spaight & Mr. Williamson then moved to insert "six" instead of "four". On which motion
N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct no. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no, N. C-- ay. S. C. ay-- Geo. no [Ayes--2; noes--9.]
On the term "four" all the States were ay, except N. Carolina, no.
On the question (Clause 4. in the Report) for Appointing President by electors--down to the words,--"entitled in the Legislature" inclusive.
N. H-- ay-- Mas: ay. Cont: ay N. J. ay-- Pa. ay. Del-- ay. Md ay, Va ay. N. C. no-- S-- C-- no-- Geo-- ay. [Ayes--9; noes--2.]
It was moved that the Electors meet at the seat of the Genl. Govt. which passed in the Negative. N. C. only being ay.
It was moved to insert the words "under the seal of the State" after the word "transmit" in 4th clause of the Report which was disagreed to; as was another motion to insert the words "and who shall have given their votes" after the word "appointed" in the 4th Clause of the Report as added yesterday on motion of Mr. Dickinson.
On several motions. the words "in presence of the Senate and House of Representatives" were inserted after the word "Counted" and the word "immediately" before the word "choose"; and the words "of the Electors" after the word "votes".
Mr. Spaight said if the election by Electors is to be crammed down, he would prefer their meeting altogether and deciding finally without any reference to the Senate and moved "That the Electors meet at the seat of the General Government--"
Mr Williamson 2ded. the motion, on which all the States were in the negative except N: Carolina.
On motion the words "But the election shall be on the same day throughout the U-- S--" were added after the [Volume 3, Page 549] words "transmitting their votes." N. H. ay. Mas. no. Ct. ay. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay [Ayes--8; noes--3.]
On a question on the sentence in clause (4). "if such number be a majority of that of the electors appointed."
N-- H-- ay-- Mas. ay. Ct ay. N. J. ay-- Pa no-- Del--ay. Md. ay. Va no-- N. C. no. S-- C. ay Geo. ay. [Ayes--8; noes--3.]
On a question on the clause referring the eventual appointment of the President to the Senate
N-- H-- ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa ay. Del-- ay-- Va ay. N. C. no Here the call ceased.
Mr Madison made a motion requiring 2/3 at least of the Senate to be present at the choice of a President-- Mr. Pinkney 2ded, the motion
Mr. Gorham thought it a wrong principle to require more than a majority in any case. In the present case it might prevent for a long time any choice of a President On the question moved by Mr M-- & Mr. P.
N. H. ay: Mas. abst Ct. no. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. ay. N-- C. ay. S-- C. ay. Geo. ay [Ayes--6; noes--4; absent--1.]
Mr. Williamson suggested as better than an eventual choice by the Senate, that this choice should be made by the Legislature, voting by States and not per capita.
Mr. Sherman suggested the House of Reps. as preferable to "the Legislature", and moved, accordingly,
To strike out the words "The Senate shall immediately choose &c." and insert "The House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President, the members from each State having one vote."
Col: Mason liked the latter mode best as lessening the aristocratic influence of the Senate.
On the motion of Mr. Sherman
N. H. ay. Mas. ay-- Ct. ay-- N. J. ay. Pa ay. Del. no. Md. ay. Va ay. N-- C. ay-- S-- C. ay. Geo. ay, [Ayes--10; noes--1.]
Mr. Govr Morris suggested the idea of providing that in all cases, the President in office, should not be one of the five Candidates; but be only re-eligible in case a majority of the electors should vote for him--(This was another expedient for rendering the President independent of the Legislative body for his continuance in office)
Mr. Madison remarked that as a majority of members wd. make a quorum in the H-- of Reps. it would follow from the amendment of Mr Sherman giving the election to a majority of States, that the President might be elected by two States only, Virga. & Pena. which have 18 members, if these States alone should be present
On a motion that the eventual election of Presidt. in case of an equality of the votes of the electors be referred to the House of Reps.
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. no. Va. ay. N-- C. ay. S. C. ay-- Geo-- ay, [Ayes--8; noes--3.]
Mr. King moved to add to the amendment of Mr. Sherman "But a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the States," and also of a majority of the whole number of the House of Representatives."
Col Mason liked it as obviating the remark of Mr Madison--The motion as far as "States" inclusive was agd. to
On the residue to wit. "and also of a majority of the whole number of the House of Reps. it passed in the Negative
N. H. no. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. no. Va. ay-- N-- C-- ay-- S-- C-- no-- Geo-- no. [Ayes--5; noes--6.]
The Report relating to the appointment of the Executive stands as amended, as follows,
"He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and together with the vice-President, chosen for the same term, be elected in the following manner.
Each State shall appoint in such manner as its Legislature may direct, a number of electors equal to the whole number of Senators and members of the House of Representatives, to which the State may be entitled in the Legislature:
But no person shall be appointed an Elector who is a member of the Legislature of the U.S. or who holds any office of profit or trust under the U.S.
The Electors shall meet in their respective States and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves; and they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the General Government, directed to the President of the Senate.
The President of the Senate shall in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives open all the certificates & the votes shall then be counted.
The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President (if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed) and if there be more than one who have such a majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President, the Representation from each State having one vote-- But if no person have a majority, then from the five highest on the list, the House of Representatives shall in like manner choose by ballot the President-- In the choice of a President by the House of Representatives, a Quorum shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the States, ( and the concurrence of a majority of all the States shall be necessary to such choice-)--And in every case after the choice of the President, the person having the greatest number of votes of the Electors shall be the vice-president: But, if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them the vice-President.
The Legislature may determine the time of choosing the Electors, and of their giving their votes; and the manner of certifying and transmitting their votes--But the election shall be on the same day throughout the U--States."
[2:535; Madison, 7 Sept.]
Mr. Gerry moved "that in the election of President by the House of Representatives, no State shall vote by less than three members, and where that number may not be allotted to a State, it shall be made up by its Senators; and a concurrence of a majority of all the States shall be necessary [Volume 3, Page 550] to make such choice". Without some such provision five individuals might possibly be competent to an election, these being a majority of two thirds of the existing number of States; and two thirds being a quorum for this business.
Mr. Madison 2ded. the motion
Mr. Read observed that the States having but one member only in the House of Reps. would be in danger of having no vote at all in the election: the sickness or absence either of the Representative or one of the Senators would have that effect
Mr. Madison replied that, if one member of the House of Representatives should be left capable of voting for the State, the states having one Representative only would still be subject to that danger. He thought it an evil that so small a number at any rate should be authorized, to elect. Corruption would be greatly facilitated by it. The mode itself was liable to this further weighty objection that the representatives of a Minority of the people, might reverse the choice of a majority of the States and of the people-- He wished some cure for this inconveniency might yet be provided--
Mr Gerry withdrew the first part of his motion; and on the, -- . . .
Question on the 2d. part viz, "and a concurrence of a majority of all the States shall be necessary to make such choice" to follow the words "a member or members from two thirds of the States" --It was agreed to nem: con:
[2:572; Committee of Style]
Sect. 1. The Executive power of the United States shall be vested in a single person. His stile shall be, "The President of the United States of America;" and his title shall be, "His Excellency." He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected in the following manner.
Each State shall appoint, in such manner as it's legislature may direct, a number of Electors equal to the whole number of Senators and Members of the House of representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Legislature. But no Person shall be appointed an Elector who is a member of the Legislature of the United States, or who holds any office of profit or trust under the United States.
The Electors shall meet in their respective States and vote by ballot for two Persons of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves.--and they shall make a list of all the Persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each, which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the general Government, directed to the President of the Senate.
The President of the Senate shall in the presence of the Senate and House of representatives open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.
The Person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President (if such number be a majority of the whole number of the Electors appointed) and if there be more than one who have such a majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President, the representation from each State having one vote--But if no Person have a majority, then from the five highest on the list, the House of representatives shall, in like manner, choose by ballot the President--In the choice of a President by the House of representatives a quorum shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and the concurrence of a majority of all the States shall be necessary to such choice.--and, in every case after the choice of the President, the Person having the greatest number of votes of the Electors shall be the vice-President: But, if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them the Vice President
The Legislature may determine the time of chusing the Electors and of their giving their votes--But the election shall be on the same day throughout the United States
The Legislature may declare by law what officer of the United States shall act as President in case of the death, resignation, or disability of the President and Vice President; and such Officer shall act accordingly, until such disability be removed, or a President shall be elected
The Founders' Constitution
Volume 3, Article 2, Section 1, Clauses 2 and 3, Document 2
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.