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states have the right to raise troops without the consent of Congress, and provide for their own safety.
Implied Prohibition as to Taxation.
246. In addition to the express prohibitions upon the states, which we have mentioned in the preceding sections, there is an important implied one, namely, that the states shall not tax any of the instruments employed by the government in the execution of its powers. They cannot tax the mail, nor the mint, nor patent rights, nor the papers of the customhouse, nor judicial process, nor stock issued for loans to the United States, nor the salaries of officers of the United States, nor ships, nor munitions of war, nor, in a word, any of the means or agencies employed to carry into effect the objects of the government.
247. The vigor and efficiency of every government essentially depend upon its executive authority. Hence all lawgivers have bestowed great attention upon its constitution. If too much power is confided to this department, it may be employed to overthrow the other departments, and concentrate all the powers of government in its own hands; if too little, then its action is languid, and imbecility marks all its movements. Various expedients have been resorted to in order to guard against abuse on the one hand, and weakness on the other. In some cases the executive power has been divided among several persons; in others concentrated in a single hand. In some cases it has been declared hereditary; in others elective, while again there has been no distinct executive department—all the powers of government being united in a single assembly. This was the case under the Confederation, the whole power of the government being vested in Congress.
248. The evils of this latter system had been too clearly demonstrated to admit of any division of opinion in the Convention, as to the necessity of separating the executive from the legislative and judicial departments, and giving it a distinct sphere. The general sentiment too was in favor of confiding it to the hands of a single officer, though there were voices who advocated a plural executive. It was said that an executive composed of three persons, chosen from the three great divisions of the country, would prevent any one division from prejudicing the interests of the other divisions. But the dissensions and factious consequences which had always arisen in governments where the executive authority was
divided among several persons, were sufficient to
restrain the Convention from repeating that error.
Unity of the Executive.
249. The nature of man and the lessons of history conspired to show the importance of unity in the executive department of the government. Hence the executive power was vested in a President of the United States of America. He holds his office during the term of four years, and, together with the VicePresident, chosen for the same term, is elected in the mode described in a succeeding section.
Term of Office.
250. Though the President is re-eligible for successive terms, yet, in practice, he never has been a candidate for a third election. It was the opinion of many enlightened statesmen that he should be elected for seven years, and be ineligible afterwards. “But the practice adopted,” says Mr. Jefferson, “I think is better, allowing his continuance for eight years, with a liability to be dropped at half way of the term, making that a period of probation.”
251. Doubtless the frequent election of an executive magistrate for a great country is attended with evils; it creates great excitement, involves much expense and loss of time on the part of the electors, and renders the policy of the government in a measure uncertain. But, on the other hand, were he to hold office for life or a long term of years, the struggle to obtain possession of so splendid a prize might break out in dissensions, tumults, and civil war. Besides, such an executive would not have that sense of dependence on the public approbation which is an essential check on his conduct.
Mode of Election.
252. Each state appoints, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors
equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the state may be entitled in the Congress; but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, can be appointed an elector. 258. The legislature of each state may directly choose the electors itself, or refer the choice to the people. All the state legislatures, it is believed, have adopted the latter course, which is thought to be preferable to the former, as giving less opportunity for
corrupt combinations or coalitions. 254. That the electors may be impartial persons,
and unbiassed by their connection with or dependence on the President in office, who might desire a re-election, it is provided that no member of Congress, nor any person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be an elector. Each state has the same number of electors as Senators and Representatives, which gives to the several states in the choice of President the same relative weight that they possess in Congress. 255. When chosen, the electors meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, must not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. They must name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and, in distinct ballots, the person