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“cabal and corruption " * which would attach to that method of choice. The plan of choosing the president by electors, which he now revived, had made such progress that five states voted with him, among them Pennsylvania and Virginia. A reference of the subject to a committee was lost for the moment by a tie vote, Connecticut being divided.t But opinion ripened so fast that, on the thirty-first of August, the mode of choosing the president, his powers, and the question of his reeligibility, was with other unfinished business referred to a grand committee of one from each state. The Eleven, appointed by ballot, were Gilman, King, Sherman, Brearley, Gouverneur Morris, Dickinson, Carroll, Madison, Williamson, Butler, and Baldwin. $
Gouverneur Morris had loudly put forward his wish to make of the senate a thoroughly aristocratic body, and of the president a tenant for life. It agreed with this view to repose the eventual election of the president in the senate. The electoral colleges, in the want of all means of rapid intercommunication, would have rarely cast a majority for one man; and the requisition on the electors to vote each for two men increased the chances that there would be no election, and that one of the candidates at least would be a citizen of a smaller state. He was aware that the outgoing president would be apt to be a candidate for re-election ; and desired nothing better than such a junction between the president and senate as would secure a re-election during life.
Sherman hated aristocracy ; but he was specially watchful of the equal power of the smaller states, and saw that, on the first ballot of the election, the large states, having many votes, would always bring forward their candidates with superior strength. To gain a chance for electing a president from the small states, they insisted that, in case there should be no election by the colleges, not less than five names should be reported as candidates for the eventual election, and among five names there was a great probability that there would be one from the smaller states. They therefore insisted that the eventual election should be made by the senate; and this was carried by a Gilpin, 1420; Elliot, 473.
+ Gilpin, 1421; Elliot, 474. Gilpin, 1478; Elliot, 503.
coalition of aristocratic tendencies in Gouverneur Morris and others from the large states with the passion of the small states for disproportionate chances for power.
The committee, having considered the subject in all its bearings, made their report on the fourth day of September.* The term of the presidency was limited to four years; and the election was confided to electors to be appointed in each state as its legislature might direct; and to be equal to the whole number of its senators and representatives in congress ; so that the electoral colleges collectively were to be the exact counterpart of the joint convention of the legislature.
The electors of each state were to meet t in their respective states and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one, at least, should not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. A certified list of these votes, under the seal of the electoral college, was to be transmitted to the president of the senate. I
“The president of the senate," discharging a purely ministerial office, “shall in that house open all the certificates, and the votes shall be then and 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 has such a majority and an equal number of votes—a case that would most rarely, perhaps never, occurthen the senate shall # choose by ballot one of them for president; but if no person has a majority, then, from the five highest on the list, “the senate,'” in which body the smallest state had an equal vote with the largest, “shall choose by ballot the president.” “After the choice of the president, the person having the greatest number of votes,” whether a majority of them or not, “shall be vice-president”—an officer now for the first time introduced; “but if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, then the senate shall choose from them the vice-president." ||
Mason, who thought the insulated electoral colleges would hardly ever unite their votes on one man, spoke earnestly:
Gilpin, 1485–1488 ; Elliot, 506, 507. + Gilpin, 1486 ; Elliot, 507. | Ibid.
#“ Immediately," not in original report. It was inserted 6 September. Gil. pin, 1509; Elliot, 518, and i., 283, 289. | Gilpin, 1486, 1437; Elliot, 507.
“The plan is liable to this strong objection, that nineteen times in twenty the president will be chosen by the senate, an improper body for the purpose.” To the objection of Charles Pinckney, that electors would be strangers to the several candidates, and unable to decide on their comparative merits, Baldwin answered : “ The increasing intercourse among the people of the states will render important characters less and less unknown." * “ This subject,” said Wilson, “has greatly divided the house, and will divide the people. It is, in truth, the most difficult of all on which we have had to decide. I have never made up an opinion on it entirely to my own satisfaction.” The choice by electors “is, on the whole, a valuable improvement on the former plan. It gets rid of cabal and corruption; and continental characters will multiply as we more and more coalesce, so as to enable the electors in every part of the union to know and judge of them. It clears the way for a discussion of the question of the re-eligibility of the president on its own merits, which the former mode of election seemed to forbid. It may, however, be better 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." +
“I wish to know," asked Randolph, chiming in with Wilson, “why the eventual election is referred to the senate, and not to the legislature? I see no necessity for this, and many objections to it.” ť
On the fifth, Mason, supported by Gerry, attempted to reduce the number of candidates to be voted for from five to three;# but the small states, who saw their best chance of furnishing a president in the larger number, were humored by the convention, and to the last the number of five was not changed.
One great objection of Mason would be removed by depriving the senate of the eventual election. || Wilson proposed the capital amendment, to transfer the eventual election from the senate to the legislature." A This change Dickinson approved. But the convention was not yet ripe for the motion, * Gilpin, 1491; Elliot, 5.9.
# Gilpin, 1502; Elliot, 514. + Gilpin, 1491, 1492; Elliot, 509. | Gilpin, 1498, 1499; Elliot, 513. Gilpin, 1492 ; Elliot, 510.
A Gilpin, 1500; Elliot, 513.
all the smaller states voting against it, except New Hampshire, which was divided.
“ The mode of appointment as now regulated,” said Mason at the close of the day, “is utterly inadmissible. I should prefer the government of Prussia to one which will put all power into the hands of seven or eight men ”-a majority of a quorum of the senate—“and fix an aristocracy worse than absolute monarchy.”
On the sixth, Gerry, supported by King and Williamson, proposed that the eventual election should be made by the legislature. Sherman, sedulously supporting the chances of the small states, remarked, that if the legislature, instead of the senate, were to have the eventual appointment of the president, it ought to vote by states. +
Wilson himself, on the same morning, spoke with singular energy, disapproving alike the eventual choice of the presi. dent by the equal vote of the states and the tendency to clothe the senate with special powers: “I have weighed carefully the report of the commitiee for remodelling the constitution of the executive; and, on combining it with other parts of the plan, I am obliged to consider the whole as having a 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 officers of the judiciary department; they are to make treaties; and they are to try all impeachments. The legislative, executive, and 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 withont it. I have always thought the senate too numerous a body for making appointments to office. With all their powers, and the president in their interest, they will depress the other branch of the legislature, and aggrandize themselves in proportion. The new mode of appointing the Gilpin, 1503 ; Elliot, 515.
+ Gilpin, 1504 ; Elliot, 516.
president by electors is a valuable improvement; but I can never agree to purchase it at the price of the ensuing parts of the report." *
“ The mutual connection of the president and senate," said Hamilton, “will perpetuate the one and aggrandize both. I see no better remedy than to let the highest number of ballots, whether a majority or not, appoint the president.”+ The same motion had the day before been offered by Mason, # but the convention, especially the smaller states, inflexibly required a majority.
Williamson, to avoid favoring aristocracy in the senate, and yet to secure the assent of the small states, wished to transfer the eventual choice to the legislature, voting by states. To the legislature Sherman preferred the house of representatives, the members from each state having one vote;# and the convention so decided by ten states out of eleven.
Nor would the convention intrust the counting of the votes to the senate alone. By amendments adopted on the sixth, it was thus finally established: “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.” In every stage of the proceeding the convention suffered no chance for the failure of an election, and had specially guarded against the failure of an election by the negative of one house upon the other, leaving the rules for the conduct of the electoral colleges, or of the two houses when in presence of each other, to be supplied by the familiar experience of the states. On one point, and on one point only, the several states of that day differed in their manner of counting votes. In Virginia the ballot of the two houses was taken in each house respectively, and the boxes examined jointly by a committee of each house. In Massachusetts the whole work was done by the senators and representatives assembled in one room. On this point, therefore, and on this point only, there was need of a special regulation; and, accordingly, the constitution enjoined the counting of the votes in the presence of
* Gilpin, 1504, 1505; Elliot, 516. # Gilpin, 1510; Elliot, 519.
| Gilpin, 1509, 1513; Elliot, 518, 520. Gilpin, 1498, 1499; Elliot, 513.