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tion to impeach is placed, where it should be, in the possession and power of the immediate representatives of the people. The trial is before a body of great dignity, and ability, and independence, possessing the requisite knowledge and firmness to act with vigour, and to decide with impartiality upon the charges. The persons subjected to the trial are officers of the national government; and the offences are such, as may affect the rights, duties, and relations of the party accused to the public in his political or official character, either directly or remotely. The general rules of law and evidence, applicable to common trials, are interposed, to protect the party against the exercise of wanton oppression, and arbitrary power. And the final judgment is confined to a removal from, and disqualification for, office; thus limiting the punishment to such modes of redress, as are peculiarly fit for a political tribunal to administer, and as will secure the public against political injuries. In other respects the offence is left to be disposed of by the common tribunals of justice, according to the laws of the land, upon an indictment found by a grand jury, and a trial by jury of peers, before whom the party is to stand for his final deliverance, like his fellow citizens.

CHAPTER XI.

ELECTIONS AND MEETINGS OF CONGRESS.

§ 408. THE first clause of the fourth section of the first article is as follows: "The times, places, and man"ner of holding elections for senators and representa-, "tives shall be prescribed in each state by the legisla"ture thereof. But the congress may, at any time, by "law, make or alter such regulations, except as to the "place of choosing senators."

409. This clause does not appear to have attracted much attention, or to have encountered much opposition in the convention, at least as far, as can be gathered from the journal of that body. But it was afterwards assailed by the opponents of the constitution, both in and out of the state conventions, with uncommon zeal and virulence. The objection was not to that part of the clause, which vests in the state legislatures the power of prescribing the times, places, and manner of holding elections; for, so far, it was a surrender of power to the state governments. But it was, to the superintending power of congress to make, or alter such regulations. It was said, that such a superintending power would be dangerous to the liberties of the people, and to a just exercise of their privileges in elections. Congress might prescribe the times of election so unreasonably, as to prevent the attendance of the electors; or the place at so inconvenient a distance from the body of the electors, as to prevent a due exercise of the right of choice. And congress might contrive the manner of holding elections, so as to exclude all but their own favourites from office. They might modify the right of

elections, as they should please; they might regulate the number of votes by the quantity of property, without involving any repugnancy to the constitution. These, and other suggestions of a similar nature, calculated to spread terror and alarm among the people, were dwelt upon with peculiar emphasis.

§ 410. In answer to all such reasoning, it was urged, that there was not a single article in the whole system more completely defensible. Its propriety rested upon this plain proposition, that every government ought to contain in itself the means of its own preservation. If, in the constitution, there were some departures from this principle, (as it might be admitted there were,) they were matters of regret, and dictated by a controlling moral or political necessity; and they ought not to be extended. It was obviously impracticable to frame, and insert in the constitution an election law, which would be applicable to all possible changes in the situation of the country, and convenient for all the states. A discretionary power over elections must be vested somewhere. There seemed but three ways, in which it could be reasonably organized. It might be lodged either wholly in the national legislature; or wholly in the state legislatures; or primarily in the latter, and ultimately in the former. The last was the mode adopted by the convention. The regulation of elections is submitted, in the first instance, to the local governments, which, in ordinary cases, and when no improper views prevail, may both conveniently and satisfactorily be by them exercised. But, in extraordinary circumstances, the power is reserved to the national government; so that it may not be abused, and thus hazard the safety and permanence of the Union. Nor let it be thought, that such an occurrence is wholly imaginary.

It is a known fact, that, under the confederation, Rhode-Island, at a very critical period, withdrew her delegates from congress; and thus prevented some important measures from being carried.

§ 411. The objections, then, to the provision are not sound, or tenable. The reasons in its favour are, on the other hand, of great force and importance. In the first place, the power may be applied by congress to correct any negligence in a state in regard to elections, as well as to prevent a dissolution of the government by designing and refractory states, urged on by some temporary excitements. In the next place, it will operate as a check in favour of the people against any designs of a federal senate, and their constituents, to deprive the people of the state of their right to choose representatives. In the next place, it provides a remedy for the evil, if any state, by reason of invasion, or other cause, cannot have it in its power to appoint a place, where the citizens can safely meet to choose representatives. In the last place, (as the plan is but an experiment,) it may hereafter become important, with a view to the regular operations of the general government, that there should be a uniformity in the time and manner of electing representatives and senators, so as to prevent vacancies, when there may be calls for extraordinary sessions of congress. If such a time should occur, or such a uniformity be hereafter desirable, congress is the only body possessing the means to produce it.

§ 412. It remains only to notice an exception to the power of congress in this clause. It is, that congress cannot alter, or make regulations, "as to the place of choosing senators." This exception is highly reasonable. The choice is to be made by the state legislature;

and it would not be either necessary, or becoming in congress, to prescribe the place, where it should sit. This exception was not in the revised draft of the constitution; and was adopted almost at the close of the convention; not, however, without some opposition, for nine states were in its favour, one against it, and one was divided.

§ 413. The second clause of the fourth section of the first article is as follows: "The congress shall assemble at "least once in every year; and such meeting shall be on "the first Monday in December, unless they shall by "law appoint a different day." This clause, for the first time, made its appearance in the revised draft of the constitution near the close of the convention; and was silently adopted, and, so far as can be perceived, without opposition. Annual parliaments had been long a favourite opinion and practice with the people of England; and in America, under the colonial governments, they were justly deemed a great security to public liberty. The present provision could hardly be overlooked by a free people, jealous of their rights; and therefore the constitution fixed a constitutional period, at which congress should assemble in every year, unless some other day was specially prescribed. Thus, the legislative discretion was necessarily bounded; and annual sessions were placed equally beyond the power of faction, and of party, of power, and of corruption. In two of the states a more frequent assemblage of the legislature was known to exist. But it was obvious, that from the nature of their duties, and the distance of their abodes, the members of congress ought not to be brought together at shorter periods, unless upon the most pressing exigencies. A provi

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