« EelmineJätka »
the duties of the station might be discharged, the stronger would be the reasons for continuing the individual in office. The ineligibility was accordingly stricken out. Hence it was, that a variety of propositions concerning the length of the term of office were attempted, as expedients to counteract the evils of an election by the legislature of a magistrate who was to be re-eligible; and among them was one which contemplated "good behavior" as the sole tenure of the office. This proposition was much considered; it received the votes of four States out of ten; and it is not at all improbable that it would have received a much larger support, if the supposed disadvantages of an election by the people had led a majority of the States finally to retain the mode of an election by the national legislature.3 But
1 Moved by Dr. M'Clurg, one of the Virginia delegates, and the person appointed in the place of Patrick Henry, who declined to attend the Convention.
2 New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, ay, 4; Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no, 6.
3 I understand Mr. Madison to have voted for this proposition, and that his view of it was, that it might be a necessary expedient to prevent a dangerous union of the legis lative and executive departments. He said that the propriety of the plan of an executive during good behavior would depend on the practicability of instituting a tri
bunal for impeachments, as certain and as adequate in the case of the executive as in the case of the judges. His remarks, of course, were predicated upon the idea of a final necessity for retaining the choice of the executive by the legislature. In a note to his "Debates," appended to the vote on this question, it is said: "This vote is not to be considered as any certain index of opinion, as a number in the affirmative probably had it chiefly in view to alarm those attached to a dependence of the executive on the legislature, and thereby to facilitate some final arrangement of a contrary tendency. The avowed friends of an executive 'during good behavior' were
in consequence of the impossibility of agreeing upon a proper length of term for an executive that was to be chosen by the legislature, the majority of the Convention went back to the plan of making the incumbent ineligible a second time, which implied that some definite term was to be adopted. This again compelled them to consider in what other mode the executive could be appointed, so as to avoid the evil of subjecting the office to the unrestrained influence of the legislature, and to remove the restriction upon the eligibility of the officer for a second term.
In an election of the chief executive magistrate by the people, voting directly, the right of suffrage would have to be confined to the free inhabitants of the several States. But even with respect to the free inhabitants, the right of suffrage was differently
not more than three or four, nor is it certain they would have adhered to such a tenure." (Madison, Elliot, V. 327.) By "the avowed friends of an executive during good behavior," I understand Mr. Madison to mean those who would have preferred that tenure, under all forms and modes of election. I can trace in the debates no evidence that any other person except Gouverneur Morris was indifferent to the mode in which the executive should be chosen, provided he held his place by this tenure. Whether Hamilton held this opinion, and adhered to it throughout, is a disputed point. In a letter to Timothy Pickering, written in 1803, he says that his
final opinion was against an executive during good behavior, "on account of the increased danger to the public tranquillity incident to the election of a magistrate of this degree of permanency." In proof of this view of the subject, he remarks: "In the plan of a constitution which I drew up while the Convention was sitting, and which I communicated to Mr. Madison about the close of it, perhaps a day or two after, the office of President has no longer duration than for three years." (Niles's Register, November 7, 1812.) In this he was probably mistaken. (See Hamilton's Works, II. 401. Madison, Elliot, V. 584.)
regulated in the different States; and there must either be a uniform and special rule established as to the qualification of voters for the executive of the United States, or the rule of suffrage of each State must be adopted for this as well as other national elections. In the Northern States, too, the right of suffrage was much more diffused than in the Southern, and the question must arise, as it had arisen in the construction of the representative system, whether the States were to possess an influence in the choice of a chief magistrate for the Union in proportion to the number of their inhabitants, or only in proportion to their qualified voters, or their free inhabitants.
The substitution of electors would obviate these difficulties, by affording the means of determining the precise weight in the election that should be allotted to each State, without attempting to prescribe a uniform rule of suffrage in the primary elections, and without being obliged to settle the discrepancies between the election laws of the States. They furnished, also, the means of removing the election from the direct action of the people, by confiding the ultimate selection to a body of men, to be chosen for the express purpose of exercising a real choice among the eminent individuals who might be thought fit for the station. But the mode of choice was complicated with the other questions of re-eligibility, and especially with that of impeachment. If appointed by electors, there would be danger of their being corrupted by the person in office, if he were
eligible a second time, or by a candidate who had not filled the station. Hence there would be a propriety in making the executive subject to impeachment while in office. If chosen by the legislature, it seemed to be generally agreed, that the executive ought not to be eligible a second time; but whether he ought to be subject to impeachment, and by what tribunal, was a subject on which there were great differences of opinion.
The consequence of this great diversity of views was, that the plan embraced in the ninth resolution of the committee of the whole was retained and sent to the committee of detail.
With respect to the judiciary, several important changes were made in the plan of the committee of the whole. The prohibition against any increase of salary of the individuals holding the office was stricken out, and the restriction was made applicable only to a diminution of the salary The cognizance of impeachments of national officers was taken from their jurisdiction, and the principle was adopted which extended that jurisdiction to "all cases arising under the national laws, and to such other questions as may involve the national peace and harmony.” The power to appoint inferior tribunals was confirmed to the national legislature.
The fourteenth resolution, providing for the admission of new States, was unanimously agreed to.
The fifteenth resolution, providing for the continuance of Congress and for the completion of their engagements, was rejected.
The principle of the sixteenth resolution, which provided a guaranty by the United States of the institutions of the States, was essentially modified. In the place of a guaranty applicable both to a republican constitution and the "existing laws" of a State, the declaration was adopted, "that a republican form of government shall be guaranteed to each State, and that each State shall be protected against foreign and domestic violence."1
The seventeenth resolution, that provision ought to be made for future amendments, was adopted without debate.2
The eighteenth resolution, requiring the legislative, executive, and judicial officers of the States to be bound by oath to support the Articles of Union, was then extended to include the officers of the national government.
The next subject that occurred in the order of the resolutions was that of the proposed ratification of the new system by the people of the States, acting through representative bodies to be expressly chosen for this purpose, instead of referring it for adoption to the legislatures of the States.
As this is a subject on which very different theories are maintained, arising partly from different views of the historical facts, and as there are very different degrees of importance attached to the mode in which the framers of the Constitution provided
1 Ante, Chap. V.
2 At this point (July 23) John Langdon and Nicholas Gilman took
their seats as delegates from New Hampshire.