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1787.]

EXECUTIVE POWER.

365

North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, no; Pennsylvania was divided.

The subject of the Executive power was one which gave rise to much discussion, from the great diversity of views entertained by the members, as well as from the importance and inherent difficulty of the subject.

There was at first a preference, by a few of the members, for a plural Executive; but when the proposition contained in the resolutions brought forward by Mr. Patterson, that the national Executive should consist of a single person, was proposed, it was agreed to without opposition or debate.

The important points to be settled were, the mode of appointing the Executive, the extent of his powers, and the tenure of his office.

Mr. Patterson's resolution proposed that the Executive should be chosen by the National Legislature.

This was opposed by Gouverneur Morris. He preferred an election by the people, who, he said, would not fail to elect some man of continental reputation; whereas, an election by the Legislature would be the work of intrigue and faction.

Mr. Sherman preferred an election by the Legislature, because the people would not have the requisite information, and would never concur in a majority. They would generally vote for a citizen of their own State.

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Mr. Wilson was in favor of an election by the people. In answer to the objection drawn from the example of Poland, he showed the difference between an election in this country and that. There the election is made by nobles, who are backed by dependants. This leads to civil commotion; and the election is, moreover, at a single place-neither of which sources of danger would exist here. It might be provided that a majority of voices

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ELECTION OF THE EXECUTIVE.

[CHAP. IV.

should decide the election, though it was not a majority of the people. To give the election to the Legislature would make the Executive dependent on that body.

Mr. Pinckney was much opposed to an election by the people. They would be led by a few artful men; and the most populous States would, by combining in favor of the same individual, carry the election.

Gouverneur Morris answered the objections, and said an election by the Legislature would be really like an election in Poland. "Appointments made by numerous bodies are always worse than those made by single responsible individuals, or by the people at large."

Mr. Mason was decidedly opposed to a popular election, which he likened to referring a trial of colors to a blind man.

Mr. Williamson took the same ground, and said the difference between the two modes was the difference between an appointment by lot and by choice. The people will always vote for some man in their own State. On the question of an election by the people, there was but a single affirmative vote, Pennsylvania; and nine noes; New York still absent.

On the question of a choice by electors appointed by the State Legislatures, Delaware and Maryland voted in the affirmative; eight in the negative.

On the question of a choice by electors chosen by the the National Legislature, such choice was voted unanimously.'

But on further consideration, this mode of appointment seemed repugnant to that independence of the Legisla

1 It was not then foreseen that this mode of choice would not essentially differ from that which had been rejected by every vote but one. No one would have been appointed as an elector, who was not previously known to support the wishes of the Legislature.

1787.]

ELECTION BY ELECTORS.

367

ture which they all wished to confer on the Executive; and two days subsequently, on the motion of Mr. Martin, to reverse a previous vote, and to make the Executive ineligible a second time, the mode of appointment was reconsidered.

Gouverneur Morris dwelt on the importance of making the Executive Magistrate independent of the Legislature; and he saw no way of effecting this, but either to give him his office for life, or to make him eligible by the people.

Mr. Randolph preferred an election of the Chief Magistrate by the Legislature, and making him not reeligible.

Messrs. King, Patterson, Wilson, and Madison, all pressed an election by the people, or by electors; and it seemed to be agreed by all, that if he were elected by the Legislative branch, he should not again be eligible.

Mr. Ellsworth proposed that he be elected by electors appointed by the State Legislatures, in a ratio varying from one elector to three in a State.

For the appointment by electors there were six ayes, and three noes; North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia;- Massachusetts, divided.

On their appointment by the State Legislatures, there were eight ayes; Virginia and South Carolina, no.

The part relative to the proportional votes of the States in the choice was postponed.

The next day-the twentieth of July, Mr. Gerry proposed that there should be twenty-five electors, who should be distributed among the States, in the first instance, in the proportions designated. Six States voted in favor of it; New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Georgia, no.

On the twenty-fourth of July, the mode of appointing

368

ELECTION OF THE CHIEF MAGISTRATE. [CHAP. IV.

the Executive was again reconsidered, on the ground of drawing together men from all the States, for the single purpose of electing the Chief Magistrate. He proposed that the National Legislature should appoint the Executive.

Mr. Gerry was opposed to that mode; if it prevailed, the Executive must be made ineligible a second time, to which he objected.

Mr. Strong thought there was no necessity of making the Executive not re-eligible, as he would not depend on the same set of men who gave him the first appointment.

Mr. Williamson was for making the Executive not reeligible. He declared a preference for a plural Executive. A single Magistrate will be an elective king, and will feel the spirit of one. He will spare no pains to keep himself in for life, and will then lay a train for the succession of his children. It was pretty certain, he thought, that we should, at some time or other, have a king; but he was for taking every precaution to postpone it.1

1

For the appointment by the National Legislature, seven ayes; Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, no.

The consideration of the re-eligibility of the Executive, and the term of his office, was then postponed.

This vacillation of the convention, as well as the tenor of the debates themselves, showed how perplexing a subject they found the Executive branch of the government.

Mr. Wilson had such objections to an election by the Legislature, that he would prolong the term of service to almost any length, to get rid of the dependence which If, as Burke says, the people of this country snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted gale, they sometimes allow their imaginations to perceive it in breezes that are perfectly innoxious.

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1787.]

ELECTION OF THE CHIEF MAGISTRATE.

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must result from that mode of election. He suggested a choice by a small number of the Legislature, say fifteen, to be drawn by lot.

Gouverneur Morris vehemently objected to an election by the Legislature. Some leader of a party will always covet his seat; will perplex his administration; will cabal with the Legislature, till he succeeds in supplanting him. He referred to the party intrigues in England to get rid of a minister. He considered that making that officer ineligible a doubtful and unsafe remedy. He will wish to continue in office, and if you close the road to his object, he will open it with the sword of which you put him in possession. He regarded this as the most difficult part of the Constitution. Make him too weak, and the Legislature will usurp his power; make him too strong, and he will usurp on the Legislature.

Mr. Ellsworth again proposed an election by the National Legislature, except when it was proposed to re-elect the former Executive, in which case there should be electors appointed by the State Legislatures.

In the course of the discussion, Mr. Madison remarked that there were objections against every mode that had been, or perhaps can be proposed. He reviewed the dif ferent modes, and stated the objections to each. He preferred an appointment by electors, as least exposed to cabal or corruption.

For Mr. Ellsworth's motion, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Maryland; the other States, no; New York, absent.

Mr. Butler was against a re-eligibility, and an election by the Legislature, and a ratio of votes in the States. In this case they should have equal votes.

Gouverneur Morris was against a rotation. It always produces instability of councils; it will not prevent inVOL. I.—24

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