« AnteriorContinuar »
March 13, 1826.)
Amendment of the Constitution.
[H. of R.
and the gentlemen from Connecticut, (Mr. INGERSOLL) | change that opinion. I cannot subscribe to the doctrine suffer me to say a word or two in reply. When this of the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Archer) that there country became free and independent, this species of must be, in every State, soine leading politicians, who population was found amongst us. It had been entailed control and dictate, and give tone to public sentiment. I upon us by our ancestors, and was viewed as a common believe that the People, if left untrammelled by this comevil; not confined to the locality where it was, but affect. plicated machinery of a caucus, are competent to act for ing the whole Nation. Some of the States which then themselves ; but, at the same time that I entertain these possessed it have since gotten clear of it: they were a opinions, I do not proscribe others who entertain different species of property that differed from all other : they ones. But I shall not here be led into a general discuswere rational ; they were human beings. In fixing the sion of this subject. But, if the object of the gentleman principle of representation, it was thought right, by the from New York be really to put down caucusing, he framers of the Constitution, that they should at least be should remember that a caucus can only operate effiin part represented. And, accordingly, three-fifths of ciently in an extended sphere ; in the general ticket systhem are to be represented ; but, at the same time that tem, it can be used, and used to effect ; but civide the they are to be represented, this provision is incorporated State into districts, and district caucuses cannot exist, or, into the Constitution: “Representatives and direct taxes if they do, cannot produce effect; the body upon whom shall be apportioned amongst the several States which they are intended to operate is too much circumscribed, may be included within this Union, according to their re- and too few in numbers, to apprehend any danger from spective numbers.” If they are to be represented then, them. direct taxes are to be paid according to that representa- But, Sir, another objection, made not only by the gen. tion, whenever the emergencies of the Governinent re- tleman from New York, but by others who have engag. quire it. And when the dark cloud of war hovers in ed in this discussion, is one very important in its characyour horizon ; when a foreign foe invades your country ; ter, and should be maturely considered. It is, that the when your finances are deranged; when inoney, in the plan of amendment proposed, interferes with State rights, estimation of some the sinews of war, must be raised ; and tends to consolidation of the People of the Union. when, in order to raise it, direct taxation must be resort- Sir, no man deprecates more than I do, any violation of ed to ; and when, sir, conventions are held, in some sec- rights, secured to the States by the Federal Constitutions tions of the Union, to thwart the operations of the Go- no gentleman upon this floor will, upon all occasions, vernment, and for purposes best known to their mem- more pertinaciously guard against the yawning gulph of bers; when the militia, in other sections of the Union, consolidation : and, if I should foresee or apprehend that are withheld from the public service-do our neighbors the plan of amendment proposed, would have any such comuniserate our condition ; do they sympathize with us, tendency, with all my convictions of its importance, I and say, we are oppressed with unnecessary burdens be- should pause and hesitate before I acted. I would in no cause we are required to pay taxes for this species of po. instance, knowingly, have an agency in producing such pulation? No, sir, it is all right then. Do we complain, effects. But, Sir, I can see no such danger ; I can dissir, that we are thus required to pay taxes for them? No, cover no such tendency; and the arguments of the gena sir, we do it cheerfully, and without a murmur. I hope, tleman, to which I have attended with great interest, have therefore, that this unpleasant subject, not involved in not convinced me. Sir, I was so unfortunate as not to the remotest degree, in the great questions under con- comprehend the conclusiveness or force of the arguments sideration, may be suffered to rest. "I should not have of the gentleman from New York, when he said, that the noticed it, if it had not been frequently adverted to by district system would melt down the States into a common gentlemen who have preceded me. I hope, sir, I shall mass of fragments, and consolidate the People of the be pardoned for the digression.
Union. Sir, the district systein bas, to my mind, a directa Another argument of the gentleman from New York ly contrary, a diffusing tendency. Sir, the argument of is, that, in all elections, the minority have no rights, and the honorable gentleman from South Carolina, (Mr. must submit; that in an election by his favorite system- McDuffie) upon this part of the subject, has not been the general ticket--the minority of a State have no met in debate ; it has not been approached in a fair, open, rights, and must submit; and he instances the election of and statesmanlike manner; it has been evaded ; and I am a Governor of a State by the People of the State, in free to say that, to my mind, it is unanswerable. In what, which case, he says, the minority have no rights and Sir, does consolidation consist? In what does an inter must submit. Sir, the abstract proposition that a majo- ference with State rights consist? In the concentration of rity shall prevail
, and a minority submit, is not contro- power in the Federal Government. In taking power verted ; but the analogy of the gentleman is an unfortu- from the States, and assuming its exercise, or vesting it nate one ; all reasoning from analogy is dangerous, and in the Federal Government. Are these effects produced apt to lead into error. A case more analagous to the by the plan of amendment proposed ? No, Sir, the tena question we are now considering, would have been, that dency is directly the reverse. By this plan you propose the Governor of a State, elected by the People, does not not to take the power of electing the President from the receive the unanimous and undivided vote of every coun- States, and to rest it in the General Guverninent, but, on ty in which he happens to receive a majority.
the contrary, you propose to take the contingent power Another argument I shall briefly notice. The gentle of electing the President and Vice President from Con. man thinks that, by the general ticket system, his old gress, and to give it to the People of the States. Are friend in former days, the Caucus, would be much easier you producing consolidation, or interfering with State crushed and put down, at the centre of the State, than rights, when you do not propose to accumulate more thirty-six caucuses scattered over thirty-six districts, in the power to yourselves, but to divest yourselves of a part of State. Sir, upon the subject of Caucuses, I know, an the power which you possess, and to vest it in the People honest difference of opinion exists. For myself, I have of the States? Sir, when I speak of State rights, I mean, never entertained but one opinion upon this subject. I as I understand the Constitution to mean, not the rights had the honor, in the Legislature of my own State, to re- of the Executives of the States, not the rights of the cord my vote in support of those resolutions against a Representatives in Congress from the States, not the caucus, which produced so much excitement, and led to rights of the Legislatures of the States, but I mean the $0 much discussion, in the public journals of the country, rights of the People of the States. The Executives, and moze two or three years ago. I have seen no reason to Legislatures, and Representatives in Congress, of the
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Amendment of the Constitution.
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States, are the public servants and functionaries of the stitution and if we deem it necessary to propose People of the States, and can have no rights contradis- amendments, and do propose them, are we violating our tinguished from the rights of the People of the States. oaths ? If, on the contrary, we deem it necessary to
Does the plan of amendment proposed, take from the propose amendments, and fail or omit to do so, are we large States any of their rights ? No; on the contrary, not violating our oaths ? it gives to the People of every portion of such States, In the conclusion of the remarks made by the honora the power of being heard and felt in the election. It ble member from New York, (Mr. Storrs, to whom I takes from their servants in the Legislature, it is true, have had frequent occasion to refer, he appealed to the the power of suppressing the voice of the minority in the Committee in an emphatic and confident tone, to know State, by the operations of the general ticket system, if this was the propitious period to agitate this great or by the election of Electors by the Legislature ; but it question. This very discussion, said hie, may produce gives the power which it thus takes from their servants, mischief, unless the proposition is promptly voted down. which may be, and is often abused, not to the Federal I allude, Sir, to the speech delivered upon the door, and Government, but to the People of those States them- not to any other which may have made its appearance, selves. Does the plan of amendment take from the and in which the gentleman may have been misundersmall States any of their rights? No ; it is not conceir- stood or misrepresented. Sir, are we to be told, at this ed that the capricious, interested, or arbitrary opinion day, that it is dangerous, or will produce mischief, for of a single member of Congress on this floor, when the the Representatives of the People openly to discuss here election devolves upon the House, constitutes a State great political questions in which the People are sensiright, by which I mean the right of the People of the bly alive ; in which they feel that their rights are withSlate. The vote of the State may be given by the Re- held from them; and in which they feel much interest? presentative in direct opposition to the will of the Peo. I hope, sir, this discussion will go on, and that we may ple of the State ; and entertain ng the opinion, as some settle this great question ; and that we may settle it to profess to do, that the Representative, when the elec- public satisfaction. tion comes here, is constituted an Elector, and an umpire But we are admonished by those who are opposed to by the Constitution, to act according to his own will, amendment, that we should be cautious in touching this regardless of the wishes of his constituents ; and, judg- charter of our liberties—the Constitution-lest, ing from past events, is it not most likely that the votes tempting to amend it, we should make it worse. Sir, of the sinail States will generally depend upon the acci- in the main, that valued instrument is without a parallel dental opinion of the Representative ? That opinion in the history of the world, and speaks its own eulogy ; may, and often will. misrepresent the wishes of the but it was made by men, and man and all bis works are People of the State, by giving the votes of the State imperfect. The wise framers of that instrument well against their will. This ideal and contingent right, then, knew, that, in forming a system of government under a supposed to be vested in the small States, is more in written constitution, in many of its features unlike any the name than in the substance. Does the proposed that had preceded it, in any age or in any country, that plan of amendment intertere with the two electoral difficulties, then unforeseen by them, might occur in the votes in each State, predicated upon the federative cha- future operations of the system. So sensible were they racter of the Senate, and the sovereignty of the State that it was not the work of inspiration, but of men, that Does it take from the States the power of prescribing it might be imperfect, and fail in some of its important the qualifications of voters in each State ? No ; nor operations, that they wisely incorporated into it the medoes it disturb or interfere with any other of the rights thod of its own amendment. And I appeal to the historeserved to the States. Another argument was used, ry of those times, to know whether the constitution sir, if argument it may be called, by the honorable mem- would ever have been ratified by the States, if it had not ber from Massachusetts, (Mr. EVERETT) which struck been for this very article that made provision for its own my mind, on account of its novelty, with peculiar sur- amendments; if it had not been for the hope and confiprise. That honorable gentleman, with all his classical dent expectation that future an endments would be and political learning, in his zeal to oppose all amend. made? In many of the States that did ratify it, declarament to the Constitution at this time, and search out all | atory amendments were recommended to be made a the possible reasons that could exist against it, insisted, part of the Constitution. Virginia, Massachusetts, New before the Committee, that any attempt to propose York, South Carolina, and some others that did ratify it, amendments to the Constitution was unconstitutional. at the time of ratification, proposed that amendments Was the gentleman serious in this peurile conception should be made. North Carolina, the State from which He told us we had taken an oath to support the Consti- my honorable friend before me Mr. SAUNDERS) comes, tution, and can we, said he, propose to amend or alter who has ably addressed the committet upon this subit without violating that oath ? And he amused us, too, ject, and the State of my nativity, was among the last to sir, in illustration of his views upon this part of the sub- come into the Union. She, too, paused, and hesitated, ject, with a hypothetical case, in which he figured to and doubted, but was ultimately induced, by this very us, that if he should meet my honorable friend from clause, to ratify it; and she, too, proposed amendments. South Carolina (Mr. McDUFFIE) in the gallery of the And have not salutary amendments been made to the House, and obtain his pledge to support, upon the floor, original constitution, is reported by the Convention, and a favorite measure of his which was unconstitutional, ratified by the States? At the first Congress held unwould he, (Mr McDUPFIE) said the honorable gentle- der the Constitution, twelve additional articles were prcman, do so, if, on reflection, he found it to be unconsti- posed to the States for ratification, in the manner pretutional ? Sir, I will not press upon the consideration of scribed by the Constitution. Ten of them were ratified the Committee this striking illustration, as the gentle by three-fourths of the States, and became a part of the man conceived it to be ; it is pertectly within their re. Constitution, and now constitute your Bill of Rights, and collection. Sir, does not that gentleman remember, secure to the citizen some of his most important privithat, in the 5th article of the Constitution it is expressly leges and rights. At the third Congress held under .be proviled that “the Congress, whenever two-thirds of Constitution, an additional article, in relation to the suaboth Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose bility of States by the citizens of another State, or the amendinents to this Constitution." Have we not sworn subjects of a foreign State or Power, was submitted by to support this, as well as every other part of the Con- the States for ratification, in the manner prescribed by
Manch 14, 1826.)
Amendment of the Constitution.
(H. of R.
the Constitution; it was subsequently ratified by three- the most required. The two gentlemen from Virginia do fourths of the States, and became a part of the Con- not agree, nor do the two gentlemen from North Carostitution.
lina, in the amendments that ought to be made, or which After the celebrated contest of 1801, between Mr. it is now expedient to make. As vrt, the honorable mover Jefferson and Aaron Burr, to which I have alluded, had has received the support of but one honorable gentleman demonstrated the defective provisions of the then Con- from North Carolina, and one from Tennessee, (Mr. Polk), stitution, in relation to the election of President and who last addressed the committee. If we refer to the Vice President, another amendment was proposed by number of resolutions, and the variety of opinions, it is Congress to the States for ratification, to avoid the re- clear there is no unity of sentiment on the subject; and currence of a similar difficulty. The amendment thus if gentlemen bring here the sentiments of their constituproposed was promptly ratified, and became a part of ents, the People would appear to be as much divided as the Constitution. All these amendments have been made they are. If, under any circumstances, Mr. Chairman, to the original Constitution as framed by the Conven- amendments were, or would be necessary, (and I do not tion. From that period to the present, no other amend think they would be under any) I should contend, that ment has been made; but as we have grown older in the existing circumstances and the present time, would not knowledge of our Government; as we have witnessed justify any amendment whatever. It appears to me that its practical operations, we have learned from experience many of the propositions have grown out of the late Presiits defects. And, Sir, though I reverence its framers, dential election, and they are made in reference to another and thank my God that my destiny has been cast in a election, and, perhaps, to the election of a particular cancountry, governed under the mild, free, and happy aus- didate ; they are predicated upon the supposed existence pices of this Constitution ; though I rejoice that I live in of an evil, as to which there are, in the minds of many, a country where the trembling subject does not bow sub- very serious doubts, and, taking it for granted that the mssively at the throne of power, but in a country where evil has existed, nothing will satisfy gentlemen but an all are equal; yet I cannot be blind to its defects; I can. amendment to the Constitution. Propositions of this kind, not idolize it. I believe that it has wholly failed in this created or produced by these imaginary evils, are not new important particular—the election of a President; that in the history of our Government; they were anticipated an evil exists in this part of the system; and I believe by the framers of the Constitution, and were guarded that the plan of amendment proposed, affords the reme- against, as far as those venerable sages found it expedient dy, and, therefore, I have given it my feeble support. to guard against them.
On motion of Mr. PEARCE, the Committee then rose, Hence, that wise and salutary feature in the Constituand the House adjourned.
tion, requiring two-thirds of both llouses of Congress to propose amendments to the Constitution, and requiring
all amendments, thus proposed, to be ratified by the LegisTUESDAY, March 14, 1826.
latures of three-fourths of the several States, before such AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION.
amendments would become a part of the Constitution.
Sir, it was never intended that the Constitution should be The House then again resolved itself into a Committee affected by every wind ; that it should become the sport of the Whole, Mr. McLANE, of Del. in the Chair, on the of the whim, or caprice, or passion, of every discontented motion of Mr. McDUFFLE to amend the Constitution, in individual, or every man who fancied himself aggrieved relation to the election of President and Vice President for injured. There will be found men enough in every of the United States.
country, who will fancy themselves injured, and, to gratiMr. PEARCE rose, and addressed the Committee as fy them, the Constitution must be altered. At a critical follows:
period in the history of our country, when the late war Mr. CHAIRMAN: When the Committee consider the bore hard upon the People in that section of country situation in which I am placer!, in consequence of the from which I come, the Legislatures of several States apabsence of my friend and colleague, whose voice may pointed delegates to meet at a place in Connecticut, rennot be raised on this question, (I hope in this, however, dered memorable by their meeting. Those delegates I may be mistaken,) when they consider the necessity recommended to the several States the propriety of prowhich has devolved on me of sustaining alone the interest posing such amendments to the Constitution as would of the State I represent, protracted as this debate has prohibit Congress from passing any law laying an embargo been, and exhausted as their patience must be, may I not for any period longer than sixty days. Near this time, ask for a share of indulgence in the remarks I shall submit? the People of Kentucky, dissatisfied with the conduct of The question now under discussion I consider of great one of their Senators, who voted against the late war, the importance to the small States, and to none more than the Legislature of that State proposed such alterations in the small State I have the honor to represent; and if, conse- Constitution of the United States as would reduce the quently, I should ask for all the indulgence that has been term of a Senator in Congress to four years; and the given to others, would my request be an unreasonable People of Tennessee, who act with unusual despatch, in one? Pardon me, then, for the little time I shall consume peace and war, actuated, perhaps, by similar motives, the in contending, pro aris et focis, for the rights and interests, Legislature of that State proposed amendments to the political force and power, of the small States—for those constitation, which passed both branches, with only six rights, without the exercise and enjoyment of which, they dissenting voices, fixing the Senatorial term at three would become political cyphers, without weight, and years. Suppose these various propositions, had been atwithout influence.
tended to; suppose all the propositions to amend the ConI will, in the first place, call the attention of the com- stitution that have been made, since its adoption, bad been mittee to the propositions that have been submitted, followed up with actual amendments, what would our Contwenty-one in number, all differing in some respects, to stitution now have been ? Cherish this spirit of innovashow that, if amendments are called for, there are but tion, this disposition to make the Constitution bend to all few in this House who can tell what they are, or how they the grievances that some men suppose exist, and what should be made. In discussing these resolutions, we find will our Constitution be, in a few years to come? A Mogentlemen from the same State disagree in relation to saic pavement, in truth; here a piece of white stone, them. The colleague of the honorable mover of these and there a piece of black. resolutions would not go with him but half his journey, So far as relates to the propositions now under discusand left him where his services, as I should suppose, were sion, I have not heard any call from the People, that ought,
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Amendment of the Constitulion.
(MARCH 14, 1826
to be heeded or regarded. The resolutions adopted by left. It will be conceded, that the small States have a the Legislature of Tennessee have not yet been concurred contingent power and political force, valuable to them as in by a single State. The New York Legislature, as well members of the Confederacy, whenever the election of as that of Massachusetts, bave reported against them. President devolves upon the House of Representatives ; Neither South Carolina nor Georgia has taken any order and any amendment of the Constitution which takes away upon them; and if any State has, it is unknown to me. this contingent power, or renders the exercise of it less Yet, from the tenor of the remarks of some gentlemen frequent, affects the rights of those States which are who have addressed the committee, one would be led to benefited by the exercise of it. Then the question re. believe that the People were ripe for revolt, or, to use the curs, was the election more liable to come to the House, quoted language of the gentleman from Tennessee, (Mr. previous to the amenlment of 1804, than it now is ? If Polk) were ready “to cry aloud, and spare not.” Yet the it was, then the alteration or amendment was one detri. People, who are able, through the Legislatures of the mental to the interests of the small States. But this is several States, to do, in effect, wbat we are called upon not all : that amendment took from the small States an to do for them, are peaceable, quiet, contented, and satis. influence in the primary election, which they might have fied. When they are dissatisfied, I have no doubt we exercised, and which they cannot now exercise. Prior to shall hear from them, and they will be listened to. I have that amendment, the State of Rhode Island, by her vote heard of three physicians, who, by concert, met the same alone in the primary election, might hare elected the Preman, at different places, within a given time, each telling sident, or might have determined which of the two canhim that he was unwell, that he was dangerously ill, and didates voted for, for the Presidency and Vice Presidency, who succeeded in persuading him, though in perfect should be the President, and in the election of 1800, if health, that he was, in fact, dangerously ill. Do gentle. the eight votes of South Carolina had been given to the men look for like success in their attempts to satisfy the federal candidates, Adams and Pinckney, (and it was supPeople their rights are sacrificed, and their liberties in posed they would have been,) Rhode Island would have danger? If they do, they will, as I apprehend, be disap- elected the President, inasmuch as Mr. Adams received pointed. There is yet left too much virtue, there is yet one more of the electoral votes of that State, than Generemaining too much intelligence. I am, Mr. Chairman, ral Pinckney. Consonant with my own views of the imalmost prepared to say, that all the amendments to the portance of this feature in the Constitution to the small Constitution, which have hitherto been made, were unne- States, and in making the amendment in 1804, they were cessary. Perhaps the 11th article, relating to the suabili deprived of one-half of their relative force and political ty of States, was necessary ; but the ten preceding ones importance, the committee will indulge me while I read are, as so many declaratory acts, a bill of rights, an enu- one or two extracts from the speech of the late Governor meration of rights reserved, but the reservation of which Griswold, of Connecticut, on the amendment of 1804: did not depend upon the enumeration of them. They are, “ The Constitution of the United States is a compact in fact, like the propositions of my honorable friend from formed by the several States, to and for the general good. Massachusetts, (Mr. Bailey) giving to Congress the pow. It is well known to have been produced by a spirit of comer to make roads, to cut and construct canals, when a large promise arnong the several States ; that much difficulty majority of this House have no doubt Congress has now arose in its formation ; and perhaps in no one article of this power, and when a large majority of the nation is as the Constitution could have arisen greater jealousies bewell satisfied as to the power of Congress, as this House is. tween the larger and smaller States, than that pointing out
I am not disposed to view superfluous legislation with the mode of electing the Chief Magistrate. The larger a more favorable eye than special legislation ; they are States, as is natural to suppose, would contend for an both, in my opinion, equally obnoxious; and we might as election according to the number of inhabitants in each well have the Constitution altered as often as persons sup- State, as they thereby would secure more votes ; the smallpose particular evils exist under it, as to amend it for the er States, on the principle that it was a confederation of purpose of making clear and explicit what the wisest men States, would contend for an equal vote ; that is, to vote in the nation are now well persuaded are sufficiently plain. by States, and not by population or numbers. To settle I come now, sir, to the amendment of the Constitution, the difficulty, the present article was agreed to, and therewhich was made in 1804, relative to the clection of Pre- by both of the above principles, as contended for by the sident and Vice President. This was the result
of a sup- larger and smaller States, adopted to a certain extent; the posed evil manifested in the election of Mr. Jefferson, in mode being a mixture of both principles. First, it permits 1801. If numerous ballotings were evils, they were in the election of President to be by numbers ; that is, givdeed manifested ; but those kind of evils exist in all our ing each State votes in proportion to its population ; State Legislatures, in the election of Senators to Con. whereby the larger States, considered in their corporate gress, as well as in the election of other othcers. Similar capacity as States, have the advantage of the smaller evils exist in all the Eastern States, where, in questions States, in their corporate capacity as States. But, in case submitted to the People, majorities are necessary to a of a failure of choice in the first mode, then the second, choice; but, with a full knowledge of them, and the con- of choosing by States, is to be pursued, whereby the sequent inconvenience and delay growing out of them, smaller States have an equal vote with the larger States. the People of the New England States have always sub- “In no other place than on this floor, are the smaller mitted to them. In the Presidential election referred to, States on an equal footing with the larger States, in the no one will contend that the People's choice was not elect- choice of the President of the United States. ed by the House of Representatives, and that, if a mino- “It follows, then, of course, that the greater the chance rity President was subsequently elected, a majority Presi- of bringing the States to a vote on this floor, the more dent was at that period chosen Jut, sir, in regarding too advantageous it is to the smaller States ; as, here, the much the inconvenience of that election, and applying a smaller States are as powerful as the larger States. By remedy to itman alteration of the Constitution of the the Constitution, as it now stands, there are two chances United States-I am apprehensive the rights of the small for a choice of President on this floor : 1st, when there States were invaded, the effects of which were not fore- are more persons than one who have a Constitutional maseen, but will hereafter he seriously felt ; and that all the jority of votes, and are equal in number ; 2d, when there small States which voted for that amendment were guilty is no person who has a Constitutional majority: Only one of a suicidal act; an act which divested them of one-half of the above cases can happen at a time ; but there is of their force and political power; and, adopt the pro- always a chance for one of the two to bappen. But, by posed amendments, they will have but a very little, if any, the proposed amendment, the first beforementioned
March 14, 1826.]
Amendment of the Constitution.
(H. of R.
chance can never happen ; it is wholly taken away, and shown, that the amendment of 1804 was an invasion of only one possible chance of voting on this floor by States the rights of the small states : and if they are stripped is left : for, when your ballots designate who is voted for of one right, and divested of one power after another, the as President, it never can happen that more persons than time will soon arrive, when they will have nothing remainone can have a Constitutional majority of votes. One ing, nothing that is worth possessing. If the fundamenchance, then, of voting on this floor by States being taken tal principles of Government are to be changed for “light away, by the proposed amendment, it follows, irresistibly, and transient causes,” what guarantee have the small that the smaller States will be injured, and the larger States, that will secure to them their equal representation States benefited. I ask, then, sir, if gentlemen repre- in the other branch of the Legislature Already, we are senting the larger States can be sincere, when they de. threatened with a Convention of the People, in which clare that they mean not to infringe upon the rights of the every part of the Constitution can be altereid! smaller States as secured by this article of the Constitu- I will now, Mr. Chairman, examine the different modes tion, and still give their vote for the present resolution ? of appointing electors. “ Each State shall appoint, in The one, in my opinion, will contradict the other. such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a num
“The present mode for bringing forward candidates ber of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and for the office of President and Vice President is the least Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the liable to call forth art, intrigue, and corruption ; the un. Congress.” This is evidently, to my mind, a State right, certainty of the event, and the difficulty of making ar- and cannot be altered without impairing the rights of a rangements, are strong checks to the artful and designing. State. I will not say with the gentleman from Virginia, Bat, the noment the mole pointed out by this resolution (Mr. ARCFER) that no mode is best, and all are best, but is adopted, the door for intrigue and corruption is open; the States should be judges of what is best ; one may be the candidates and their friends can calculate with cer- the best at one time, and another mode at another time. tainty, and apply the means direct; the power of party, I would not restrict the largest State in the Union to any influence of office, art, cunning, intrigue, and corruption, particular mode, because in the largest, the will of the will all be used, and used to effect, because the object is People must be consulted, and will, eventually, govern : certain.”
nor would I do any act that would take from the larger And now, Mr. Chairman, permit me, in this stage of my States any of those powers, rights, or prerogatives, which, argument, to notice one remark of the honorable gentle under the Constitution, they are fairly entitled to. Nor man from Virginia, who first addressed the committee, will I surrender a single right belonging to, or a single (Mr. ARCHER) that the election of President by the benefit conferred upon, by the Constitution of the United House of Representatives was considered, by the framers States, the smallest State in the Union. Many have conof the Constitution, as a mere dernier resort, and one tended that the State Legislatures have no right whatever which it was calculated would geldom occur. As the to appoint the electors, and that the framers of the ConConstitution stood before 1804, this House was the most stitution never intended, never contemplated, such an approbable resort of election, and the framers of the Con- pointment, when, at the first election of President, the stitution intended it should be: for more than three electors were appointed in every State in the Union, with months and a half, out of the four the Convention were in the exception of three, by the State Legislatures. These session, they steadily and uniformly adhered to an election appointments were made when the People could, and no by Congress, and voted down every form of proposition doubt did, avail themselves of the aid, counsel, and servi. which served to take it from Congress and give it to the ces, of the framers of the Constitution themselves. The People. I will not read the whole of the proceedings of Federalist has been frequently resorted to, as a contemthe Convention of 1787, inasmiich as they have been re- poraneous exposition of the Constitution. It has been peatedly referred to; one or two of these extracts will read to warrant, to illustrate, and to enforce, every argusuffice :
ment that has been made. To shew that the State Le. "JUSE 2.-In Committee of the Whole, Mr. Wilson, gislatures could appoint the electors, in the opinion of of Pennsylvania, moved to postpone Mr. RANDOLPH's Mr. Madison, although this mode is not with me a favorite motion, in relation to the Executive, in order to take up one, I hope to be indulged with one extract from No. 45, his motion, to divide the States into districts, for the page 355. choice of electors; this motion was negatived; Yeas, * The State Governments may be regarded as constiPennsylvania and Maryland, New York divided. Nays, tuent and essential parts of the Federal Government, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Virginia, North whilst the latter is in no wise essential to the operation or Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
organization of the former. Without the intervention of "It was then voted, that the President should be chosen the State Legislatures, the President of the United States by Congress for seven years ; Yeas, Massachusetts, Con cannot be elected at all; they must, in all cases, have a necticut, New York, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, great share in his appointment, and perhaps, in most South Carolina, Georgia. Nays, Pennsylvania, Maryland. cases, of themselves, determine it.”
“JUNE 19.-The Committee of the Whole reported to In many cases the State Legislatures may appoint the the House the resolutions as agreed to that the Presi- electors with the fullest approbation on the part of the dent should be appointed by Congress, for seven years, People : in some they would be warranted in making the and be ineligible a second time.
appointments from expediency, policy, and from necessity. "July 17.-The ninth resolution from the Committee of Let us advert to the election of Washington to the Presi. the Whole being under consideration, it was moved that dency, when there was scarcely a dissenting voice, or one the President should be appointed by the People, and not raised in opposition to him. In his election, was the apby Congress ; Yea, Pennsylvania. Nays, 9. It was then pointment of electors by the State Legislatures an en. mored that he be chosen by electors appointed by the croachment upon the rights of the People? When Mr. State Legislatures ; Yeas, Delaware and Maryland. Nays, Jefferson was, for the second time, a candidate for the 8. It was then voted, unanimously, that the President Presidency, there was hardly an organized opposition to should be chosen by Congress.”.
him, and in many States in the Union there was no oppo. I will not, Mr. Chairman, detain the committee by sition. Under such circumstances, was the exercise of further reading of the proceedings of the Convention. I this appointing power by those State Legislatures who have gone far enough to show, that an election by the thought proper to exercise it, an invasion of the People's House was not to the framers of the Constitution, by any rights ? There are cases, I repeat, in which the exercise means, an unexpected event. And I think I have now of this power by the State Legislatures may be justified