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H. of R.]
Amendment of the Constitution.
[March 13, 1826.
subject. I have referred gentlemen to this part of our as it was to carry into effect that part of the Constitution history to show, that if, in that case, the contest was ren in relation to the election of a President, you provide that dered doubtful for a season, where the individual had not, the electors in each State shall be elected within the thirtyin contemplation of the People, received a single vote for four days immediately preceding the first Wednesday in the Presidency ; that it may occur, under the present pro- December, in every fourth year, the day upon which the visions of the Constitution, where an individual may have electors, throughout the Union, are required to give their received a very small number of Electoral votes, as in the votes? Why this short intervening period between the cases I have supposed.
choice of the electors, and the day upon which they shall It may happen, sir, that a minority may thus elect the give their votes? It was a wise provision, made to prePresident, when the election devolves upon this House, vent the possibility of tampering with them ; to prevent from personal partialities to the individual elected, and intrigue, corruption, bargaining, and sale ; to prevent the thus palm upon the Nation a President evidently not the interference of political jugglers ; and to keep pure the choice of a majority of the People of the United States ; stream as was the fountain, the People, from which it not the choice of the immediate constituents of those gen- flowed. So particular have you been upon this subject, tlemen, upon this floor, who may elect him ; and not the and so cautious to preserve the purity of the electors, tbat choice of a majority of the Representatives in Congress. you have given them but a short and transitory existence; It may happen, sir, that the first choice of the Represen- and if any one of them should be elected more than thirtytative here, holding in his hands the power of controlling four days before the day upon which he is required to the vote of his State, may not be returned to the House vote, the presumption of your law is against him, and his as one of the three highest upon the list. The second vote will not be received. But is not the House of Rechoice of the Representative may be essentially different presentatives likewise a pre-existing body of men ? Are from the second choice of his constituents, if the election they not collected together at one point for weeks togewere again referred back to them. The Representative ther, between the period when it is ascertained that the may be ignorant of the will of his constituents, or if he primary electors have failed to make a choice, and the know their will, he may affect ignorance of it. But the lay upon which they are called upon to vote? Is it not doctrine is maintained by some politicians in this country, as probable, 10 say the least of it, that they may be tamand I appeal to your experience to know, sir, whether it pered with to prostitute their votes, and that they may be has not been openly avowed upon this floor, that there is corrupted, as that twenty-four separate electoral colleges, no connexion between the Representative here, and his dispersed over the twenty-four States of the Union, might constituents at home ; that the Representative here is not be? In the one case you have been distrustful, and have bound to regard or obey the instructions of those who provided against the possibility of undue influence of any send him here; that, in the election of a President, when kind, so as to thwart the public will. In relation to the it shall devolve upon this House, he is, by the Constitu- electoral colleges, you have adopted, by your laws, the tion, made the umpire to decide it ; and though his con- salutary maxim, “ lead us not into temptation.” Would stituents might be in a body, knocking at the door of this it not be quite as safe to adopt it in relation to ourselves? Hall, and proclaiming to their Representative, upon this Is there any thing inauspicious to corruption, intrigue, floor, from the galleries, "our will is thus and thus ; and management, in your locality? Where are you situyou are our ageni, delegated by us to execute our will, ated ? Within the limits of the same city where the Preand it is our will that the vote of the State which you sident, in office, is, and who may be a candidate for rehold in your hand, should be given to the individual of election-where all the other candidates may be, and our choice ;" yet the Representative, entertaining the where their respective friends and partisans will be. opinion that his constituents have no right to interfere or Is your situation here less exposed than that of the electoinstruct him upon this subject, disregards their voice, and ral colleges ? exercises his own arbitrary will in disposing of the vote of But we are told by the honorable gentleman from New his State. I must confess, sir, that, for myself, I have York, (Mr. Storrs) that, for the honor of this House, a never entertained such opinions, but believe, upon all suspicion should not be indulged that its members could questions of expediency, that the Representative is bound be corrupted. Let it not be told, says he, at the court of to regard and obey the known will of his constituent. St. James, or upon the continent of Europe, that even Other gentlemen, however, entertain different opinions ; suspicion had been openly entertained upon the floor of and when such opinions are entertained and openly avoir- the American Congress, that any of its members were cored, what security have the People that their rights will ruptible. And the gentleman from Massachusetts, too, be preserved, when the preservation of them depends (Mr. EVERETT) denies in broad terms the corruptibility upon the accidental, interested, or capricious will of their of this House. Sir, it is a humiliating idea, a painful public servants? Thus the President may be elected by thought I admit, that the Representatives of freemen could, a minority of the Representatives in Congress, who may under any circumstances, barter away or disregard the be of opinion that they have conscientiously discharged rights of the People for their own individual aggrandizetheir public duty.
But human nature is the same in all ages of the But is there no danger, sir, when the election of the world. All past history has shown that it is unsafe to rely first officer of the first Nation in the World is to be made by a upon virtue alone when strong temptations are presented. select and pre-existing body of men, that even the Repre. And what stronger temptation to corruption and the abansentatives of freemen may, in an evil hour, be tempted to donment of principle than the Presidency, can be held depart from the path of duty, receive the wages of iniqui- out to an ambitious man aspiring to that high office? The ty, and prostrate at the shrine of some ambitious aspirant President of the United States, when elected, has an imto the Presidency, the public will, and with it the best in- mense patronage to bestow ; has many honorable and luterests of the Country Shall we assume to ourselves the crative offices in his gift. And what stronger temptation high prerogative of being uncontaminated and incorrupti- than to receive the patronage in his power, can be held ble, when the same attributes are denied to all the rest of out to the few assembled here who have it in their power mankind? Is immaculate purity to be found within these to elect him? I apprehend, sir, if this election shall frewalls, and in no other corner of the earth? Have you quently devolve upon Congress, that a door will be opennot yourselves, sir, in your legislation in relation to this ed to corruption, intrigue, and to office hunters; and I apvery subject-the election of a President-given incon- prehend, further, that through that door the evil doer may testible evidence that you are distrustful of human nature one day enter, and sap the foundations of this happy ReWhy is it, that, by the act of Congress of 1792, designed public. Other countries have been revolutionized and inMARCH 13, 1826.]
Amendment of the Constitution.
(H. of R.
volved in anarchy and confusion, upon whose ruins despo- Sir, we should not be so sensitive upon this subject as to tism has erected her throne. I hope, sir, my apprehen- shut out from our eyes all past experience - "The pusions may be unfounded; but surely it is prudent in us to rest gold has some alloy ; the great Sun of day has his take warning from their example, and close the door spots ; and among the chosen disciples of our Lord there through which unprincipled men may enter, and obtain was a Judas.” And in pronouncing this judgment, coldan advantage. Surely there is as much virtue in the Peo- blooded as it may seem to the gentleman, we are only re. ple-surely it is as safe to permit them to be the electors cording the history of human nature as it is, and ever has of their Chief Magistrate as to arrogate it to ourselves. been, from that fatal hour when man came under the curse But, sir, as to the corruptibility of this House, which is de- of a violated law. Another argument, Mr. Chairman, of nied by the honorable member from Massachusetts, (Mr. the gentleman from N. Yurk, struck me with peculiar force. EVERETT.) That honorable gentleman not only denies If, says he, this Government is ever destroyed, it will not be the existence of corruption in this House, but he goes by men in power, but by men out of power. And the genfurther, and denies the corruptibility of its members. Will tleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. EVERETT) who succeeded that honorable gentleman tell me what charter of exemp- him, used a similar argument, and told us that, if the Gov. tion we have from the frailties of human nature? Will he ernment was ever destroyed, it would not be by a President tell me through what purifying crucible we have passed elected by a minority of the People, but by a President when we take our seats upon this floor! Until he shall elected by an overwhelming majority of the People : by do so, I shall believe that human nature is the same
military chieftain," that should arise in the land. here that it is elsewhere. And from my earliest infancy 1 Yes, sir, by some “ military chieftain," whose only crime have been taught to believe, that, from the fall of our first it was to have served his country faithfully at a period great parent until the present hour, man has been depra- when that country needed and realized the value of his red, frail, and impure. I do not contend that he is natu- services. I know, sir, there are some politicians in this rally more so here than he is in other situations ; but I con- country who are continually in alarm, or affect to be so, tend he is as much so, and that he is more exposed to lest the People should destroy the Government. And í temptation here than in ordinary situations. But, says the know, sir, there are others, and I am bold to say I am of gentleman from New York, (Nir. Stones) if men in pow. the number, who are of opinion that, if this happy Governer may, by wielding their patronage, by favoring and Hat- ment is ever destroyed, (which God forbid!) it will be by tering, bribe or corrupt us, may we not by the same means the encroachments and abuse of power, and by the allurbribe and corrupt the People ? How sophistical ! Corrupting and corrupting influence of Executive patronage. the People! No, sir; the great body of the People are of ne- Rely upon it, sir, that if you should ever see an Adminiscessity virtuous, because it is their interest to be so ; you tration of this country, whose elevation, whose measures, cannot extend patronage to all ; you cannot corrupt all ; a and whose policy, are not supported by the good feelings select body of men you may. But, says the gentleman from and opinions of the People, there will be more danger, New York, if the members of this House are corrupt, is infinitely more danger to be apprehended from them, than not the corrective at band? Do they not return to the all the ideal dangers which the gentlemen seem to apprebody of the People, in less than thirty days after a Presi- hend are covertly lurking among the great body of the dential election takes place in this House? And if they People of this Union. have acted incorrectly, or disobeyed the will of their con- To what inevitable conclusion does the argument of stituents, will not the People signify their disapprobation the gentleman from Massachusetts lead? If the Presiat the polls at the next election, and turn them out of dent, according to his argument, is elected by a majority their service ? Sir, the evil deed may be committed, and of the People, he is a dangerous President; if elected by the perpetrator of it may receive the reward for his perfidy a minority of the People, the irresistible inference is, and his crime, in being elevated to some high station, be that he will not be a dangerous President. And, accordyond the reach of an indignant, insulted, and an injured ing to his argument, I suppose it would be dangerous for community. Yes, sir, he may be elevated, too, by the indi- a majority of the People to elect the President. Sir, this .vidual whom he has assisted to place in the Presidential is a doctrine which may be congenial to the feelings and chair, and may never again return, or put himself in the opinions of some gentlemen; but I must confess, that I am power of his constituents, so as to receive the sovereign far, very far, from being prepared to adopt it as one of the remedy of the gentleman from New York at the polls of rules of my political faith. I hold the converse of the the next election. His constituents may frown upon his con- gentleman's propositions. We are at issue on these duct and reprobate his course : he is elevated above thenr; points, and the committee will decide between us. Ano. he looks down upon them with contempt, and sneers at ther reason why the election of President should not detheir discontent ; and yet this is the sovereign corrective volve upon this House, is, that members of Congress of the gentleman, and will, as he conceives, ensure puri- should not only be virtuous and pure, but, like Cæsar's ty in this Hall. That gentleman should remember, too, wife, above suspicion. Next to doing right, is to inspire that, in many of the States of the Union, the Congression public confidence, and give public satisfaction. Whenal elections, for the next Congress, have transpired some ever this election shall come here, are not the most virtutwelve or eighteen months before the Presidential elec- ous and correct, subject to dark suspicions and unkind retion; the member is either defeated by a more favored ci- ficctions? If some act incorrectly, or corruptly,is it not caltizen of his district, who is to supply the place here, and culated to affect the reputation of all who may necessarihis direct and immediate responsibility to the People is ly be associated with them, however correct their course destroyed; or he has been previously elected, and is as may be ? and is not the inevitable tendency to impair sured that he will at least hold his seat here, if he desire public confidence, and to destroy the harmonious operait, for another term. If he has been defeated at home, he tion of the Government ? seeks elevation and promotion elsewhere ; if he has been I shall not, said Mr. P. dwell upon another argument, successful at home, he hopes his good constituents may which has been very properly used by some gentlemen forget his political sin before the next election ; if he in the course of this debate-that when the election should still desire to hold the seat, he hopes, by the assist comes to this House, it is calculated to interfere with, and ance of Executive influence, he may effect some local impede the ordinary business of legislation: It has not measure that may reconcile his constituents, or balance in been my fortune to witness the effects of an election here; their estimation the evil deed he has committed. That this is the first time I have had the honor to be a humble gentleman, too, pronounces it a cold blooded judgment Representative of a portion of this people upon this floor. to entertain a suspicion that corruption can enter here. I could wish, upon this great occasion upon which we de
H. of R. )
Amendment of the Constitution.
(March 13, 1826.
liberate, that they were more ably represented. But sistently with important rights reserved to the States, though, sir, I have not witnessed the scene, I have read which are not proposed to be disturbed, their equal relaof its effects upon two occasions, in the history of my live weight in the election. To do this, the public senticountry, and can well conceive that Members of Con- ment should be fairly ascertained—and in order to obgress will be too apt to neglect all the important subjects tain a fair expression of the popular will, it is a self-eviof legislation, in devising plans, intriguing, and manag: dent proposition to my mind, that some uniform mode of ing, to promote the success of their favorite candidate. collecting the public sentiment should be established If there should be no corruption, still it is calculated to throughout the Union. Under the present provisions distract their deliberations. It will produce excitement ; of the Constitution, and the practice under them, accordarouse all the angry feelings of our nature ; create heart- ing to the various and diversified modes of election, preburnings, party feelings, and sectional jealousies, detri- scribed by the respective State Legislatures, do the Peomental to the public welfare, and dangerous to the dura- ple, in every section of the Union, in fact, possess and tion and stability of the Government. The effects pro- exercise their equal relative weight in the election ? Is duced will 910t, probably, terminate with the election it- the public sentiment of the whole People of the Union self, but will mingle and be felt in your deliberations for correctly ascertained ? No, sir ! It is demonstrable, years afterwards.
if an election be made at all by the Electoral Colleges But, sir, after all that can be sai:] upon this subject, it without involving the national calamity (for such I view resolves itself into this at last ; and I wish gentlemen it) of a recurrence to the House of Representatives, a distinctly to answer me the question. Are we prepared little more than a fourth of the People of the United States to hold out to the People, the ignus fatuus of popular may choose the President. If I succeed in establishing elections ; to tell them they are sovereign, and shall elect' this fuct, the necessity for uniformity and amendment the President ; and, at the snme time, by the operations will
, as I conceive, be apparent, if we hold to the princiof your present Constitution, put it virtually out of their ple that a majority should rule. What are the various power to do so ; unless, indeed, by a combination of the modes of election at present established in the States ? large States, as I shall presently attempt to show, by li- In some, the district system prevails ; in others, the Leterally immolating large masses of their citizens, and de- gislatures have assumed to themselves the power of apstroying their weight in the election, and thereby ena- pointing electors ; and in one State of the Union (Kenbling an inconsiderable portion of the People of the Union, tucky) a compound of the district and general ticket' by presenting a solid front, and impressing into their ser- system is the mode prescribed by the Legislature. The vice their respective minorities, to elect the President in State being entitled to fourteen electors, is divided into the primary colleges and in this event, as I shall attempt three districts, in one of which four electors are chosen, to show, the remedy is almost as bad as the disease. and five in each of the other two districts. I shall not Shall we any longer hold out the delusion to the People, here stop to inquire why this artificial arrangement of disthat they are the electors of the President, when, in prac- tricts in that State was macle. Whether it was made upon tice, they have ordinarily only, the power of nomination ? an emergency, and designed to throw majorities in each They may, indeed, nominate three individuals to the district in favor of a particular party, or of particular men, House of Representatives, but they do not choose the is wholly immaterial to the present inquiry. In this state President. That important power devolves upon their Re- of things, a bare majority of the People of the six larger presentatives in Congress-a power which they are com- States in the Union may, by adopting the general ticket petent to exercise themselves. Judging from our past ex. system, the Gerrymandering system, or by assuming the perience upon this subject, what will probably be the rc- election to the Legislatures, elect the President, though sult of future elections of this distinguished officer ? a respectable minority, and very nearly half of the People Much of the larger portion of that long list of worthies of those six States, and the whole of the People of the who personated the drama of the American Revolution, eighteen remuining States, may be in favor of some other have past from the stage of action, and are numbered with candidate. For example : “the years beyond the flood.”
Electors. We can no longer, as our fathers did, contemplate the New York has 36, a majority is
19 immortal Father of his Country, upon whom all united in Pennsylvania,
15 elevating to this high station ; nor can we call into our Virginia,
13 service the immortal author of the Declaration of Inde- Ohio,
9 pendence. A new geperation are about to assume the Nassachusetts, 15
8 places of their fathers ; many are the aspirants to this Kentucky, 14
8 high station ; public opinion is divided, and cannot, in future, be often concentrated on any one individual.
72 Under these circumstances, it is idle to suppose that this
72 election can be prevented from terminating ultimately in the House of Representatives. That it will often devolve
61 here, cannot be doubted ; that it should not do so, I have Thus, sir, in these six States, there are 133 electoral attempted, and, I bope, satisfactorily, shown.
votes, a majority of the whole number in the Union, and These are some of the objections to the Constitution sufficient, if united, to elect the President in the primary in its present form, and some of the reasons which have colleges. presented themselves most forcibly to my mind, why the But the People in those six States are divided in opielection of President and Vice President should in no nion, and very nearly equipoised as to numbers, between event devolve upon Congress.
two contending candidates, A and B, for the Presidency. I come now, said Mr. Polk, briefly to consider the se. But A has small majorities over B, in each of those cond resolution, submitted to the consideration of the States. If the dis-rict system were established, the friends Committee, by the honorable gentleman from South of A could give him 72 electoral votes, and the friends of Carolina, (Mr. McDuffie) which proposes that each B could give him 61 electoral votes. B, too, in the case State in the Union shall be divided into as many districts supposed, might be supported by the remaining eighteen as there are Senators and Representatives in Congress States, or by such majorities of them as, when added to from such State.
his 61 votes, would be sufficient to elect him. But by The object of this proposition is to give to the People compressing the friends of B in those six States, into the of every section of the Union, as near as may be, con support of Ă by the effect of the general ticket system, or
March 13, 1826.
Amendment of the Constitution.
(H. of R.
by elections made by the Legislatures; by literally sup- States choose the electors, the larger States would still pressing the voice of the minorities, in each of those six retain their present power And, by either of these States favorable to the election of B; by denying to al modes, the predominant party or faction in power, in each most half the population of those States the right of suf State, by suppressing the voice of the minority, may move frage, or of being heard in the election—you, in truth, in a solid front, and elect the President. If it be conenable a minority of the People of this Union, amounting tended that this is an advantage which all the States would to but little more than the fourth of the whole population, equally possess, the idea is a mistaken one. Such is the to elect the President against the will of all the rest of the difference in the size, and quantum of population, in the People of the Union, amounting to almost three-fourths several States, that a majority, whose voice is totally supof our whole population. But will it be said, that this pressed in the election in one of the larger States, may likewise is an extreme case, and will probably never oc- be as great-nay, more than five times as great-as the cur? I answer it is possible it may occur, and cases ap- whole population of one of the smaller States. To illusproximating to it, and the same in principle, if the elec- trate this, take, for example, the States of New York and tion is kept from the House of Representatives, in all pro. Delaware, one of the largest and one of the smallest States bability will occur.
in the Union. Suppose New York to be divided in opinThis, then, is our dilemma. Under the present pro- ion between two candidates, in an impending Presidential visions of the Constitution, either a minority of the whole election, in the proportion of 19 to 17 of her 36 electors. people of the Union, by a combination of the large States, if the district system prevailed, one of the candidates must eleet the President, or we must submit to the nation would receive 19 electoral votes, and the other the real calamity of an election in the House of Representa- maining 17 electoral votes. But, by establishing the ge. tives. Which shall we choose? Neither is compatible neral ticket system in New York, a large minority, and with the genius of our free institutions, or the sovereignty very nearly half of her citizens, who would be entitled by of the People. And here will the larger States object to the district system to give 17 electoral votes, are literally the district system, and say, we cannot part with the ad- destroyed, and impressed into the service of the majority. vantage which we now have, of moving in a solid, un. In Delaware, the whole population can give only three broken phalans, and giving to our favorite candidate an electoral votes. Thus, the minority in New York, whose undivided electoral vote, by suppressing the voice of the voice is totally suppressed in the election, would be more minority in the State, by means of the general ticket sys- than five times as great as the whole population of Delatem, or elections by the Legislaturs? I answer that the ware. But suppose Delaware likewise to be divided in larger States will receive an ample equivalent for this sur- opinion in the proportion of one to two of her three elecrender, in the certainty that the election can never devolve tors. By the district system, Delaware would give two upon the House of Representatives, where, voting by votes to one candidate for the Presidency, and one to the States, a minority, as I have attempted to show, and 1 other. Establish the general ticket systein in Delaware, hope successfully, may elect.
and her three votes will be given to one candidate, thereWill the smaller States object to that part of the reso- by suppressing the voice of a minority of that State, who, lutions now under consideration, which proposes so to by the district system, would be entitled to give one vote, amend the Constitution as that the election shall in no One vote of the minority, then, by the general ticket sysevent devolve upon Congress, and say, we cannot part tem, is suppressed in Delaware. But in New York, by with the advantage which we have of voting by States, the saine system, seventeen votes are suppressed. Thus when the election shall devolve upon the House of Re- the minority in New York, whose voice is suppressed by presentatives, and whereby we, though a minority, may the general ticket system, is seventeen times as great as have it in our power to elect a President? I answer, the minority in Delaware, whose voice is suppressed by that the smaller States will receive an ample equivalent the same system. Thus, sir, it is seen what great inequalifor this surrender, in the certainty that the larger States ty would be produced in the election of a President hy cannot combine and move in an unbroken body in the establishing the general ticket system as the uniform mode electoral colleges, and thereby enable a minority of the in all the States. The same result would happen by esPeople of the Union, by suppressing the voice of their tablishing the mode of electing by the Legislatures as the respective minorities in the large States, to elect the Pre-uniform mode in all the States. The great excellence of sident, as I have attempted to show, and I hope success the district system is, that each district throughout the fully, they might do. The resulutions, then, viewed to- Union would contain very nearly the same quantum of gether, and not as substantive and distinct propositions, population, would be composed of contiguous territory, in relation to their effects and operations, propose a com- and would be very nearly of the same size; and each disproinise to the larger and smaller States, that they should trict would be entitled to give one vote. And if, sir, meet upon middle ground, and surrender the advantages minorities should be found to exist, in a Presidential elecwhich the one or the other might possess in certain con- tion, in each district, as they may, is it probable that there tingencies, each receiving a mutual consideration from the will be such a disparity, such a disproportion between the other for the surrender thus marle. It is a surrender of respective minorities of adjoining or different districts, addrantages, too, which neither should wish to retain ; a where all are of the same size, as would exist between surrender made not to each other, but to principle, upon the minorities of different States, differing as they do in the altar of their common country.
size, some containing more than thirty times as great a But, will the larger States object, and say, though uni-population as others; and, when, by the general system, formity in the mode of election be important and desirable, each State would compose one district ? I was amused, in order to obtain a fair expression of the public will, yet sir, but not convinced, by the argument of the gentleman ve cannot agree that that mode shall be the district sys- from Virginia, (Mr. Stevensos) the object of which was tem? We prefer that the general ticket system should to show the superiority of the general ticket system over be the mode established in all the States, or we prefer all others, and that minorities in the district system would that the choice of electors should be made by the Legisla- prevail
. That honorasle gentleman adduced, as an apt tures in all the States, and that the one or the other of example, in illustration of his argument, an occurrence, these modes should be uniform throughout the Union which he says took place in one of the districts of MaryI answer, by neither of these modes can the evil complain- land, in the late Presidential election. In one of the dised of be remedied. If the general ticket system be the tricts in that State, he says there were a majority of the uniform mode established, the larger States would still People in favor of the election of Mr, Adams; that there retain their present power. If the Legislatures in all the were two candidates for elector favorable to that gentle
H. of R.)
Amendment of the Constitution.
(March 13, 1826.
man, and one in favor of General Jackson ; that, in conse- tives in Congress from that State. The People of each quence of a division of the friends of the former, between district shall vote directly for the President and Vice Prethe two candidates for elector, neither of whom would sident, without the intervention of Electors. The person, decline in favor of the other, the elector, friendly to the in each district, who may have received the highest numlatter, received a plurality of votes of the district, and ber of votes for President, shall be holden to have rewas elected. Now, sir, what the facts were, in relation ceived one vote ; and the person who may have received to that particular district, adduced as an example, I am the highest number of votes for Vice President, shall be not particularly informed ; but, I understand it became holden to have received one vote. And if it shall be asmore a contest between distinguished individuals, who certained that no person has received a majority of the were opposing candidates for elector, and who had, re- whole number of districts in the Union, let the election spectively, many personal friends, than a contest between be referred back to the People, who, upon the second the candidates for the Presidency themselves, and is, balloting, shall, in like manner, vote for one of the two therefore, no test of the real sentiments of the People of highest upon the list of the former balloting for Presi. that district, and no conclusive illustration of the gentle. dent, and so of the Vice President. The details of this man's argument. But, sir, if it were, I have it in my general outline of a system, to embrace the objects conpower to furnish that honorable gentleman with a fair re- templated by the resolutions, can be easily drawn, so as butter, which occurred in that election, by the operations to render it practicable, and easy to effect the choice in of his favorite the gener ticket systein. The State of this way. But, if other gentlemen can suggest a more Ohio voted by general ticket. Did the gentleman who acceptable plan, in its details, not varying the general received the undivided electoral vote of that State, in fact principles, I am not wedded to this, and have merely sugreceive the support, even of the majority of the People gested it, lest it might be said, by some, that, however of Ohio? No sir ; supported as he was, by a very small great the objections may be, to the present provision of number of votes over one of his competitors, and if all the the Constitution, it would be impracticable to adopt any returns had been correctly received, it is very doubtful mode by which the evil could be remedied. Neither shall whether he obtained even a plurality over him. Yet, sir, !, Mr. Chairman, detain the Committee by enumerating, he received, in the electoral colleges, the whole vote of in addition to those I have mentioned, many other objecthe State of Ohio, against the sentiments of a considerable tions to the general ticket system, or to the appointment majority of the People of that State ; and yet, sir, this, I of electors by the Legislatures. It would be unnecessasuppose, constitutes the excellence of the general ticket ry for me to do so, after the able exposition of the honorsystem, in the estimation of the gentleman from Virginia. able mover of these resolutions, (nr. McDUFFIE) in the The individual, too, whom the gentleman conceives was, opening of this debate, upon this part of the subject. by the operation of the district system, deprived of an Some other objections, however, have been made to the electoral vote in one of the districts of Maryland—yes, sir, plan of amendment proposed, in the course of the discusthe same individual who had received the smallest num. sion, which demand to be noticed. ber of the votes of the People of Ohio, when the election The honorable gentleman from New York (Mr. Storrs) ultimately devolved upon this House, received the vote has been more abundant in objections to the proposed plan of that State.
of amendment than any other gentleman who has address. But, sir, I concur in opinion with the gentleman from ed the Committee; and though I am aware, sir, when I Louisiana, (Mr. LiviNGSTON) who, a few days ago, sub- approach an argument of that gentleman, I encounter an mitted a resolution, proposing to dispense with the elect- old and experienced politician, hackneyed in debate, yet, ors altogether. The People require no such agency. I differing with him in opinion, as it is my misfortune to do, believe them to be wholly unnecessary. Dispense with in almost every view he has taken of this subject, I will them altogether : let the People vote directly for the boldly meet him, and avow the reasons of that difference. President, without their intervention, and the objection to That gentleman tells us, with a warning voice, that when the district system, as in the case in Maryland, which has we approach this Constitution, we stand upon holy ground; presented itself so forcibly to the mind of the gentleman that when we attempt to amend it, we lay violent hands from Virginia, will be removed. When the People vote upon this mmortal work of our ancestors. He tells us directly for the President, there can be no division be. he entertains great reverence for that instrument ; that tween contending candidates for elector, in favor of the he would not disturb one principle which it contains ; same candidate, and the majority of the People of each and, in the same strain in which he thus addresses us, he district can control and give the vote of that district. informs us that there is an insuperable objection to the Another advantage of the district system is, that the sen- plan of amendment proposed, because a portion of a timent of each mass of the community throughout the certain description of population, negro slaves, in the Union, composing a district, is fairly elicited, and made to Southern and Western States, will be represented in this have its due and proportional weight in the general collect election. Now, sir, by the present Constitution, for ed sentiment of all the districts in the Union. The senti- which the gentleman professes such great reverence, and ment of no portion of the Union is suppressed. All are would not alter or amend it in any particular, three-tifths heard, and have their proper weight in determining the of this population are represented in the election. By election. I do not design, Mr. Chairman, (said Mr. P.) the proposed amendment, they are only represented. to embarrass this discussion, by entering into details. If the amendment does not propose to disturb this princithe great principles contemplated by the resolutions on ple, but leaves it precisely upon the ground where it is the table, are retained, details are comparatively unim- placed by the present Constitution. so that it was wholportant, and a spirit of compromise and accommodation ly unavailable, and I must say, unnecessary, to bring up of opinion should prevail, in relation to them. I shall, this question in order to ascertain the comparative merits therefore, merely suggest to the consideration of the of the present Constitution, and the proposed amendCommittee, the plan which has presented itself to my ment. I have regretted exceedingly, sir, that scarcely mind, as preferable to any other, and leave it to them to any subject of general concern can be agitated here, determine how far it will afford a remedy for existing without having this unfortunate subject of slavery, either evils. It is in substance this: Each State shall be divided, collaterally, or incidentally, brought into view, and made by the Legislature thereof, into as many districts, com- to mingle in our deliberations. It is a subject of peculiar posed of contiguous territory, and containing, as near as delicacy; but, as it has been noticed upon this occasion, may be, an equal quantum of population, as shall be not only by the gentleman from New York, but likewise equal to the whole number of Senators and Representa- by the gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. Everett)