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Union for several years, in which all the powers vested in the confederacy of the States were held and exercised by the Congress of their deputies; and among those powers was that of declaring war and making peace. This function is, moreover, embraced in the general powers of the executive department, in most governments in which there is a regular separation of that department from the legislative and the judiciary. But it became apparent at the very commencement of the process of forming the Constitution of the United States, that the question whether the executive should be intrusted with the power of war and peace would not only be made, but that the system would have to be so arranged as to make the government, in this particular, an exception to the general rule. This was partly owing to an unwillingness to intrust such a power to one person; -or even to a plurality of persons, if the executive should be so constituted. If to the general powers of executing the laws, and of appointing to office, there were to be added the power to make war and peace, and the whole were to be vested in a single magistrate, it was rightly said that the government would be in substance an elective monarchy. The power of the executive, over the external relations of the country at least, would be the same, in kind and in extent, as it is in constitutional monarchies, and the sole difference would be that the supreme magistrate would be elective. This was not intended, and was not admissible. Still another reason for making the government of the United States, in this
feature, an exception to the general rule, was the necessity for giving to the States, in their corporate capacities, some control over the foreign relations of the country.
Our further inquiries concerning this part of the powers and functions of the chief magistrate will only need to extend so far as to ascertain what is the "executive power," which the Constitution declares shall be "vested" in the President. In the resolutions, which at different stages had previously passed in the Convention, this had been described as a "power to carry into execution the national laws"; and this description was regarded as including such other powers, not legislative or judicial in their nature, as might from time to time be delegated to the President by Congress. The committee of detail, in drafting the Constitution, employed the phrase "executive power" to describe what had thus been des ignated by the resolutions sent to them; and as the plan of government which they presented proposed to make the declaration of a state of war a legislative act, the prosecution of a war, when declared, was left to fall within the executive duties as part of the "executive power." In order, moreover, that the executive duties might be still more clearly defined, the committee provided that the President "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed," and imposed upon him the same obligation by the force of his oath of office. The committee having been directed to provide for the end in view, it was consid
Elliot, V. 141, 142.
ered that they were also to provide the means by which the end was to be obtained.1 Accordingly, they made the President commander-in-chief of the army and navy, and of the militia of the States when called into the service of the United States. The President appears, therefore, to have been placed in the same position with reference to the means to be employed in the discharge of all his executive duties, when force may in his judgment be necessary. The declaration of a state of war is an enactment by the legislative branch of the government; the creation of laws is a function that belongs exclusively to the same department; - but when a law exists, or the state of war exists, it is for the President, by virtue of his executive office, and of his position as commander-in-chief, to employ the army and navy, and the militia actually called into the service of the United States, in the execution of the law, or the prosecution of hostilities, in such a manner as he may think proper.
Closely allied to the power of executing the laws is that of pardoning offences, and relieving against judicial sentences. This power was originally ex
1 Elliot, V. 343, 344.
2 The Constitution having vested in Congress power to provide for calling the militia into the service of the United States, to execute the laws, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions, the President cannot call out the militia unless authorized to do so by Congress. But with respect to the employ
ment of the army and navy for any executive purpose, it may be doubted whether any authority from Congress is necessary; as it may also be doubted whether Congress can exercise any control over the President in the use of the land or naval forces, either in the execution of the laws, or in the discharge of any other executive duty.
tended by the committee of detail to all offences against the United States, excepting cases of impeachment, in which they provided that the pardon of the President should not be pleaded in bar. This would have made the power precisely like that of the king of England; since, by the English law, although the king's pardon cannot be pleaded in bar of an impeachment, he may, after conviction, pardon the offender. But as it was intended in the Constitution of the United States to limit the judgment in an impeachment to a removal from office, and to subsequent disqualification for office, there would not be the same reason for extending to it the executive power of pardon that there is in England, where the judg ment is not so limited. The Convention, therefore, took from the President all power of pardon in cases of impeachment, making them the sole exception to the power. A strong effort was indeed made to establish another exception in cases of treason, upon the ground, chiefly, that the criminal might be the President's own instrument in an attempt to subvert the Constitution. But since all agreed that a power of pardon was as necessary in cases of treason as in all other offences, and as it must be given to the legislature, or to one branch of it, if not lodged with the executive, a very large majority of the States preferred to place it in the hands of the President, especially as he would be subject to impeachment for any participation in the guilt of the party accused."
The power to make treaties, which had been given
1 Elliot, V. 480.
2 Ibid. 549.
to the Senate by the committee of detail, and which was afterwards transferred to the President, to be exercised with the advice and consent of two thirds of the senators present, was thus modified on account of the changes which the plan of government had undergone, and which have been previously explained. The power to declare war having been vested in the whole legislature, it was necessary to provide the mode in which a war was to be terminated. As the President was to be the organ of communication with other governments,' and as he would be the general guardian of the national interests, the negotiation of a treaty of peace, and of all other treaties, was necessarily confided to him. But as treaties would not only involve the general interests of the nation, but might touch the particular interests of individual States, and, whatever their ef fect, were to be part of the supreme law of the land, it was necessary to give to the senators, as the direct representatives of the States, a concurrent authority with the President over the relations to be affected by them. The rule of ratification suggested by the committee to whom this subject was last confided was, that a treaty might be sanctioned by two thirds of the senators present, but not by a smaller number. A question was made, however, and much considered, whether treaties of peace ought not to be subjected to a different rule. One suggestion was, that the Senate ought to have power to make treaties of
1 It was to be one of the distinct functions of the President "to re
ceive ambassadors and other public ministers."