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those states was provided for gross malversations and corruptions in office; and the only redress lay in the elective followed up power, up by prosecutions after the party had ceased to hold his office. Yet cases may be imagined, where a momentary delusion might induce a majority of the people to re-elect a corrupt chief magistrate; and thus the remedy would be at once distant and uncertain. The provision in the constitution of the United States, on the other hand, holds out a deep and immediate responsibility, as a check upon arbitrary power; and compels the chief magistrate, as well as the humblest citizen, to bend to the majesty of the laws.



§ 812. 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."

§ 813. This clause does not appear to have attracted much attention, or to have encountered much opposition in the convention, at least so 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

1 Journal of Convention, 218, 240; Id. 354, 374.

favourites from office. They might modify the right of election, as they please; they might regulate the number of votes by the quantity of property, without involving any repugnancy to the constitution.1 These, and other suggestions of a similar nature, calculated to spread terror and alarm among the people, were dwelt on with peculiar emphasis.

§ 814. 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

1 1 Elliot's Debates, 43 to 50; Id. 53 to 68; 2 Elliot's Debates, 38, 39 72, 149, 150; 3 Elliot's Debates, 57 to 74; 2 American Museum, 438; Id. 435; Id. 545; 3 American Museum, 423; 2 Elliot's Debates, 277.

2 The Federalist, No. 59; 2 Elliot's Debates, 276, 277.

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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.1 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.2

§ 815. Nothing can be more evident, than that an exclusive power in the state legislatures to regulate elections for the national government would leave the existence of the Union entirely at their mercy. They could, at any time, annihilate it, by neglecting to provide for the choice of persons to administer its affairs. It is no sufficient answer, that such an abuse of power is not probable. Its possibility is, in a constitutional view, decisive against taking such a risk; and there is no reason for taking it. The constitution ought to be safe against fears of this sort; and against temptations to undertake such a project. It is true, that the state legislatures may, by refusing to choose senators, interrupt the operations of the national government, and thus involve the country in general ruin. But, because, with a view to the establishment of the constitution, this risk was necessarily taken, when the appointment of senators was vested in the state legislatures; still it did not follow, that a power so dangerous ought to be conceded in cases, where the same necessity did not exist. On the contrary, it became the duty of the convention, on this very account, not to multiply the chances of mischievous attempts of this sort. The risk, too, would be

1 The Federalist, No. 59; 2 Elliot's Debates, 38, 39; Id. 276, 277. 21 Elliot's Debates, 44, 45; The Federalist, No. 22.

much greater in regard to an exclusive power over the elections of representatives, than over the appointment of senators. The latter are chosen for six years; the representatives for two years. There is a gradual rotation of office in the senate, every two years, of one third of the body; and a quorum is to consist of a mere majority. The result of these circumstances would naturally be, that a combination of a few states, for a short period, to intermit the appointment of senators would not interrupt the operations or annihilate the existence of that body. And it is not against permanent, but against temporary combinations of the states, that there is any necessity to provide. A temporary combination might proceed altogether from the sinister designs and intrigues of a few leading members of the state legislatures. A permanent combination could only arise from the deep-rooted disaffection of a great majority of the people; and, under such circumstances, the existence of such a national government would neither be desirable, nor practicable.1 The very shortness of the period of the elections of the house of representatives might, on the other hand, furnish means and motives to temporary combinations to destroy the national government; and every returning election might produce a delicate crisis in our national affairs, subversive of the public tranquillity, and encouraging to every sort of faction.

§ 816. There is a great distinction between the objects and interests of the people, and the political objects and interests of their rulers. The people may be warmly attached to the Union, and its powers, and its operations; while their representatives, stimulated by the natural rivalship of power, and the hopes of personal 1 The Federalist, No. 59.

2 ld.

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