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was to be the Vice-President; and if there were two or more having an equal number of electoral votes, the Senate were to choose one of them as Vice-President.
From the proceedings which took place upon this plan, it appears that what many of the framers of the Constitution most apprehended was, that the votes in the electoral bodies would not be sufficiently concentrated to effect a choice, from want of the requisite general knowledge of the persons who might be considered in different parts of the Union as fit candidates for these high offices; and consequently that the election would be thrown into such other body as might be directed to make it after a failure in the action of the electors. It is a remarkable proof of their wisdom, that, although intimations began to appear in the public prints, as soon as the Constitution was published, that Washington would be the first President of the United States, an expectation that must, therefore, have been entertained by the members of the Convention before they had finished their labors, they were at no time under the influence of this pleasing anticipation. They kept steadily in view a state of things in which, from the absence of statesmen of national reputation and influence, and from the effect of local preferences, no choice would be made by the electors. Hence their solicitude to provide for the secondary election, in
1 The Constitution was published in the Pennsylvania Journal, Sept. 19th. On the 27th, another Phila
delphia paper suggested, or, as we should now say, "nominated" General Washington for the Presidency.
such a way as to admit of a re-election of the incumbent. It was soon found that between the President and the Senate there would be a mutual connection and influence, which would be productive of serious evils, whether he were to be made eligible or ineligible a second time, if the Senate were to have the appointment after the electors had failed to make a choice. To remedy this, many of the members, among whom was Hamilton, preferred to let the highest number of electoral votes, whether a majority or not, appoint the President. As the grand committee had proposed to reduce the term of office from seven to four years, and to strike out the clause making the incumbent ineligible, -a change which met the approbation of a large majority of the States, it became still more necessary to prevent any resort to the Senate for a secondary election. But an appointment by less than a majority of the electoral votes presented, on the other hand, the serious objection that the President might owe his appointment to a minority of the States. To preserve, as far as possible, a federal character for the government, in some of its departments, was justly regarded as a point of great importance. One branch of the legislature had become a depositary of the democratic power of a majority of the people of the United States; the other branch was the representative of the States in their corporate capacities; the President was to be in some sense a third branch of the legislative power, by means of his limited control over the enactment of laws; and it was, therefore,
something more than a mere question of convenience, whether he should, at the final stage of the process, be elected by a less number than a majority of all the States. That part of the plan which proposed to elect him by a majority of all the electoral votes, giving to each State as many votes as it was to have in both houses of Congress, might make the individual, when so elected, theoretically the choice of a majority of the people of the United States, although not necessarily the choice of a majority of the States. But there was a peculiar feature of this plan,-afterwards, in the year 1804, changed to a more direct method, by which the electors were required to return their votes for two persons, without designating which of them was their choice for President, and which for Vice-President, the designation being determined by the numbers of votes found to be given for each person. This method of voting increased the chances of a failure to choose the President by the electoral votes. It is not easy to understand why the framers of the Constitution adhered to it; although it is probable that its original design was to prevent corruption and intrigue. Whatever its purpose may have been, it served to make still more prominent the expediency, not only of removing the ultimate election from the Senate, but of providing some mode of conducting that election by which an appointment by a minority of the States would be prevented, when a majority of the electoral votes had not united upon any one individual, or had united upon two.
The plan which had been prepared by the grand committee, and which adjusted the relations between the executive and the Senate respecting appointments and treaties, had left no body in the government so likely to be free from intimate relations with the President, and at the same time so capable of being made the instrument of an election, as the House of Representatives. By the fundamental principle on which that body had been agreed to be organized,in direct contrast to the basis of the Senate, -its members were the representatives of the people inhabiting the several States, and in the business of legislation a majority of their votes was to express the will of a majority of the people of the United States. But the representatives were to be chosen in the separate States; and nothing was more easy, therefore, than to provide that, in any other function, they should act as the agents of their States, making the States themselves the real parties to the act, without doing any violence to the principle on which they were assembled for the purposes of legislation. Accordingly, as soon as a transfer of the ultimate election from the Senate to the House of Repre sentatives was proposed, the method of voting by States was adopted, with only a single dissent.1 The establishment of two thirds as a quorum of the States for this purpose, and the provision that a majority of all the States should be necessary to a choice, followed naturally as the proper safeguards against corruption, and were adopted unanimously. 1 Delaware. Elliot, V. 519.
The principal office of the executive department was thus provided for; but the ultimate choice of the Vice-President remained to be regulated. This office was unknown to the draft of the Constitution prepared by the committee of detail, and was suggested only when the mode of organizing the executive, and of providing for some of the separate functions of the Senate, came to be closely considered together. We are to look for its purposes, therefore, in the provisions specially devised for the settlement of these relations. In the first place, it was apparent that the executive would be a branch of the government that ought never to be vacant. The principle which, in hereditary monarchies, on the death of the sovereign, instantly devolves the executive power upon him who stands next in a fixed order of succession, must in some degree be imitated in purely elective governments, if great mischiefs are to be avoided. The difficulty which attends its application to such governments consists not in the nature of the principle itself, but in finding a number of public functionaries who can be placed in a certain order of succession, without creating mere heirs to the succession, for that purpose alone. In hereditary governments, the members of a family, in a designated order, stand as the successive recipients of the executive office; and each of them, until he reaches the throne, may have no other function in the state than that of an heir, near or remote, to the crown, and may, without inconvenience to the public welfare, occupy