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nature of the war, his own eminence, his character and feelings, the poverty of a country which he foresaw would often be unable to pay even the common soldier, and his motives for embarking in the contest, all united to make the idea of compensation inadmissible to a man whose fortune made it unnecessary. Such a combination of circumstances could scarcely ever occur in the case of a chief magistrate of a regular and established government. If an individual should happen to be placed in the office, who possessed private means enough to render a salary unnecessary to his own wants, or to the dignity of the position, the duty of his example might point in precisely the opposite direction, and make it expedient that he should receive what his successors would be unable to decline. But the real question which the framers of the Constitution had to decide was, in what way could the office be constituted so as to give the people of the United States the widest range of choice among the public men fit to be placed in it. To attach no salary to the chief executive office, in a republican government, would practically confine the office to men who had inherited or accumulated wealth. The Convention determined that this mischief should be excluded. They adopted the principle of compensation for the office of chief magistrate, and when the committee of detail came to give effect to this decision, they added the provision, that the compensation shall neither be increased nor dimin ished during the period for which a President has
been elected.' The limitation which confines the President to his stated compensation, and forbids him to receive any other emolument from the United States, or from any State, was subsequently introduced, but not by unanimous consent.2
The question whether the single person in whom the executive power was to be vested should exercise it with or without the aid or control of any council of state, was one that in various ways ran through the several stages of the proceedings. As soon as it was settled that the executive should consist of a single person, the nature and degree of his responsibility, and the extent to which it might be shared by or imposed upon any other officers, became matters of great practical moment. What was called at one time a council of revision was a body distinct from a cabinet council, and was proposed for a dif ferent purpose. The function intended for it by its advocates related exclusively to the exercise of the revisionary check upon legislation. But we have seen that the nature of this check, the purposes for which it was to be established, and the practical success with which it could be introduced into the legislative system, required that the power and the responsibility should rest with the President alone. There remained, however, the further question concerning a cabinet, or council of state; an advisory body, with which some of the most important persons in the Convention desired to sur
1 Elliot, V. 380.
2 Connecticut, New Jersey, Del- against it.
aware, and North Carolina voted
round the President, to assist him in the discharge of his duties, without the power of controlling his actions, and without diminishing his legal responsibility. Such a plan not having received the sanction of the Convention, the draft of the Constitution reported by the committee of detail of course contained no provision for it. It was subsequently brought forward, and received the recommendation of a committee; but the grand committee, who were charged with the adjustment of the executive office, substituted for it a different provision, which gave the President power to "require the opinion in writing of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices." The friends of a council regarded this arrangement of the executive office, especially with regard to the power of appointment, as entirely defective. But the reason on which it was rested by the grand committee, and on which the plan of a council of state was rejected, was, that the President of the United States, unlike the executive in mixed governments of the monarchical form, was to be personally responsible for his official conduct, and that the Constitution should do nothing to diminish that responsibility, even in appearance. If it had not been intended to make the President liable to impeachment, a cabinet might have been useful, and would certainly have been necessary, if
3 Elliot, V. 525.
1 Elliot, V. 446, 462.
2 Mason, Franklin, Wilson, Dickinson, and Madison.
there was to be any responsibility anywhere for executive acts. But a large majority of the States preferred to interpose no shield between the President and a public accusation. He might derive any assistance from the great officers of the executive departments which Congress might see fit to establish, that he could obtain from their opinions or advice; but the powers which the Constitution was to confer on him must be exercised by himself, and every of ficial act must be performed as his own.1
What those powers were to be, had not been fully
1 Those who are not familiar with the precise structure of the American government will probably be surprised to learn that what is in practice sometimes called the "Cabinet" has no constitutional existence as a directory body, or one that can decide anything. The theory of our government is, that what belongs to the executive power is to be exercised by the uncontrolled will of the President. Acting upon the clause of the Constitution which empowers the President to call for the opinions in writing of the heads of departments, Washington, the first President, commenced the practice of taking their opinions in separate consultation; and he also, upon important occasions, assembled them for oral discussion, in the form of a council. After having heard the reasons and opinions of each, he decided the course to be pursued. The second President, Mr. John Adams, followed substantially the same prac
tice. The third President, Mr.
settled when the first draft of the Constitution came from the committee of detail. The executive function, or the power and duty of causing the laws to be duly and faithfully executed; authority to give information to Congress on the state of the Union, and to recommend measures for their consideration ; power in certain cases to convene and to adjourn the two houses; the commissioning of all officers, and the appointing to office in cases not otherwise provided for by the Constitution; the receiving of ambassadors; the granting of reprieves and pardons; the chief command of the army and navy of the United States and of the militia of the several States, - were all provided for. But the foreign relations of the country were committed wholly to the Senate, as was also the appointment of ambassadors and of judges of the Supreme Court. It is not necessary to explain again the grounds on which the Convention were finally obliged to alter this arrangement. It will be convenient, however, to take up the several powers and functions of the executive, and to describe briefly the scope and purpose ultimately given to each of them.
In the plan of government originally proposed by Governor Randolph, the division into the three departments of an executive, a legislative, and a judiciary, implied, for the first of these departments, according to the theory of all governments which are thus separated, power to carry into execution the existing laws. This government, however, was to succeed one that had regulated the affairs of the