Election and Term of Office of the National Executive (July 17, 19)

was pointedly against his being so chosen. He will be the mere creature of the Legislative: if appointed and impeachable by that body. He ought to be elected by the people at large, by the freeholders of the Country. That difficulties attend this mode, he admits. But they have been found superable in New York and in Connecticut and would he believed be found so, in the case of an Executive for the United States. If the people should elect, they will never fail to prefer some man of distinguished character, or services; some man, if he might so speak, of continental reputation.-If the Legislature elect, it will be the work of intrigue, of cabal, and of faction; it will be like the election of a pope by a conclave of cardinals; real merit will rarely be the title to the appointment He moved to strike out "National Legislature" and insert "citizens of United States."

thought that the sense of the Nation would be better expressed by the Legislature, than by the people at large. The latter will never be sufficiently informed of characters, and besides will never give a majority of votes to any one man. They will generally vote for some man in their own State, and the largest State will have the best chance for the appointment. If the choice be made by the Legislature, a majority of voices may be made necessary to constitute an election.

TWO arguments have been urged against an election of the Executive Magistrate by the people. l. The exam ple of Poland where an Election of the supreme Magistrate is attended with the most dangerous commotions. The cases he observed were totally dissimilar. The Polish nobles have re sources and dependents which enable them to appear in force, and to threaten the Republic as well as each other. In the next place the electors all assemble in one place, which would not be the case with us. The second argument is that a majority of the people would never concur. It might be answered that the concur rence of a majority of people is not a necessary principle of election, nor required as such in any of the States. But allowing the objection all its force, it may be obviated by the expedient used in Massachusetts where the Legislature by majority of voices, decide in case a majority of people do not concur in favor of one of the candidates. This would restrain the choice to a good nomination at least, and prevent in a great degree intrigue and cabal A particular objection with him against an absolute election by the Legislature was that the Executive in that case would be too dependent to stand the mediator between the intrigues and sinister views of the Representatives and the gen eral liberties and interests of the people.

did not expect this question would again have been brought forward. An Election by the people being liable to the most obvious and striking objections. They will be led by a few active and designing men. The most populous States by combining in favor of the same individual will be able to carry their points. The National Legislature being most immediately interested in the laws made by themselves, will be most attentive to the choice of a fit man to carry them properly into execution.

It is said that in case of an election by the people the populous States will combine and elect whom they please; Just the reverse. The people of such States cannot combine. If there be any combination it must be among their representatives in the Legislature. It is said the people will be led by a few designing men. This might happen in a small district. It can never happen throughout the continent. In the election of a Governor of New York, it sometimes is the case in particular spots, that the activity and intrigues of little partizans are suc cessful, but the general voice of the State is never influenced by such artifices. It is said the multitude will be uninformed. It is true they would be uninformed of what passed in the Legislative Conclave, if the election were to be made there, but they will not be uninformed of those great and illustrious characters which have merited their esteem and confidence. If the Executive be chosen by the National Legislature, he will not be independent of it, and if not independent, usurpation and tyranny on the part of the Legislature will be the consequence. This was the case in England in the last Century. It has been the case in Holland where their Senates have engrossed all power. It has been the case every where. He was surprised that an election by the people at large should ever have been likened to the Polish election of the first Magistrate. An election by the Legislature will bear a real likeness to the election by the Diet of Poland. The great must be the electors in both cases, and the corruption and cabal which are known to characterise the one would soon find their way into the other. Appointments made by numerous bodies, are always worse than those made by single responsible individuals, or by the people at large.

It is curious to remark the different language held at different times. At one moment we are told that the Legislature is entitled to thorough confidence, and to indefinite power. At another, that it will be governed by intrigue and corruption, and cannot be trusted at all But not to dwell on this inconsistency he would observe that a Government which is to last ought at least to be practicable. Would this be the case if the proposed election should be left to the people at large. He conceived it would be as unnatural to refer the choice of a proper character for chief Magistrate to the people, as it would, to refer a trial of colours to a blind man. The extent of the Country renders it impossible that the people can have the requisite capac ity to judge of the respective pretensions of the Candidates.

could not see the [contradiction] stated [by Colo nel Mason] The Legislature might deserve confidence in some respects, and distrust in others. In acts which were to affect them and their Constituents precisely alike confidence was due. In others jealousy was warranted. The appointment to great offices, where the Legislature might feel many motives not common to the public, confidence was surely misplaced. This branch of business it was notorious was most corruptly managed of any that had been committed to legislative bodies....

It is necessary to take into one view all that relates to the establishment of the Executive; on the due formation of which must depend the efficacy and utility of the Union among the present and future States. It has been a maxim in Political Science that Republican Government is not adapted to a large extent of Country, because the energy of the Executive Magistracy can not reach the extreme parts of it. Our Country is an extensive one. We must either then renounce the blessings of the Union, or provide an Executive with sufficient vigor to pervade every part of it. This subject was of so much importance that he hoped to be indulged in an extensive view of it. One great object of the Executive is to control the Legisla ture. The Legislature will continually seek to aggrandize and perpetuate themselves; and will seize those critical moments produced by war, invasion or convulsion for that purpose. It is necessary then that the Executive Magistrate should be the guard ian of the people, even of the lower classes, against Legislative tyranny, against the Great and the wealthy who in the course of things will necessarily compose the Legislative body. Wealth tends to corrupt the mind and to nourish its love of power, and to stimulate it to oppression. History proves this to be the spirit of the opulent. The check provided in the second branch was not meant as a check on Legislative usurpations of power, but on the abuse of lawful powers, on the propensity in the first branch to legislate too much to run into projects of paper money and similar expedients. It is no check on Legislative tyranny. On the contrary it may favor it, and if the first branch can be seduced may find the means of success. The Executive therefore ought to be so constituted as to be the great protector of the Mass of the people.-It is the duty of the Executive to appoint the officers and to command the forces of the Republic: to appoint
  1. ministerial officers for the administration of public affairs
  2. officers for the dispensation of Justice.
Who will be the best Judges whether these appointments be well made? The people at large, who will know, will see, will feel the effects of them. Again who can judge so well of the discharge of military duties for the protection and security of the people, as the people themselves who are to be protected and secured?-He finds too that the Executive is not to be re-eligible. What effect will this have?
  1. It will destroy the great incitement to merit public esteem by taking away the hope of being rewarded with a reappointment. It may give a dangerous turn to one of the strongest passions in the human breast. The love of fame is the great spring to noble and illustrious actions. Shut the Civil road to Glory and he may be compelled to seek it by the sword.
  2. It will tempt him to make the most of the short space of time allotted him, to accumulate wealth and provide for his friends.
  3. It will produce violations of the very constitution it is meant to secure.
In moments of pressing danger the tried abilities and established character of a favorite Magistrate will prevail over respect for the forms of the Constitution The Executive is also to be impeachable. This is a dangerous part of the plan It will hold him in such dependence that he will be no check on the Legislature, will not be a firm guardian of the people and of the public interest. He will be the tool of a faction, of some leading demagogue in the Legislature. These then are the faults of the Executive establishment as now proposed. Can no better establishment be devised? If he is to be the Guardian of the people let him be appointed by the people. If he is to be a check on the Legislature let him not be impeacha ble. Let him be of short duration. that he may with propriety be re-eligible. It has been said that the candidates for this office will not be known to me people. If they be known to the Legislature, they must have such a notoriety and eminence of Character, that they cannot possibly be unknown to the people at large. It cannot be possible that a man shall have sufficiently distinguished him self to merit this high trust without having his character pro claimed by fame throughout the Empire. As to the danger from an unimpeachable magistrate he could not regard it as formida ble. There must be certain great officers of State; a minister of finance, of war, of foreign affairs etc. These he presumes will exercise their functions in subordination to the Executive, and will be amenable by impeachment to the public Justice. Without these ministers the Executive can do nothing of consequence. He suggested a biennial election of the Executive at the time of electing the first branch, and the Executive to hold over, so as to prevent any interregnum in the administration. An election by the people at large throughout so great an extent of country could not be influenced, by those little combinations and those momen tary lies which often decide popular elections within a narrow sphere. It will probably be objected that the election will be influenced by the members of the Legislature; particularly of the first branch, and that it will be nearly the same thing with an election by the Legislature itself. It could not be denied that such an influence would exist. But it might be answered that as the Legislature or the candidates for it would be divided, the enmity of one part would counteract the friendship of another: that if the administration of the Executive were good, it would be unpopu lar to oppose his re-election, if bad it ought to be opposed and a reappointment prevented; and lastly that in every view this indi rect dependence on the favor of the Legislature could not be so mischievous as a direct dependence for his appointment. He saw no alternative for making the Executive independent of the Leg islature but either to give him his office for life, or make him eligible by the people-Again, it might be objected that two years would be too short a duration. But he believes that as long as he should behave himself well, he would be continued in his place. The extent of the Country would secure his re-election against the factions and discontents of particular States. It de served consideration also that such an ingredient in the plan would render it extremely palatable to the people. These were the general ideas which occurred to him on the subject, and which led him to wish and move that the whole constitution of the Executive might undergo reconsideration....

If it be a fundamental principle of free Govern ment that the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary powers should be separately exercised, it is equally so that they be independently exercised. There is the same and perhaps greater reason why the Executive should be independent of the Legislature, than why the Judiciary should: A coalition of the two former powers would be more immediately and certainly dangerous to public liberty. It is essential then that the appointment of the Executive should either be drawn from some source, or held by some tenure, that will give him a free agency with regard to the Legislature. This could not be if he was to be appointable from time to time by the Legislature. It was not clear that an appointment in the first instance even with an ineligibility afterwards would not establish an improper connection between the two departments. Certain it was that the appointment would be attended with intrigues and contentions that ought not to be unnecessarily admitted. He was disposed for these reasons to refer the appointment to some other source. The people at large was in his opinion the fittest in itself It would be as likely as any that could be devised to produce an Executive Magistrate of distinguished Character. The people gen erally could only know and vote for some Citizen whose merits had rendered him an object of general attention and esteem. There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of the Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to fewest objections.

If the Executive is to be elected by the Legisla ture he certainly ought not to be re-eligible. This would make him absolutely dependent. He was against a popular election. The people are uninformed, and would be misled by a few designing men. He urged the expediency of an appointment of the Executive by Electors to be chosen by the State Executives. The people of the States will then choose the first branch: The legislatures of the States the second branch of the National Legislature, and the Executives of the States, the National Exec utive. This he thought would form a strong attachment in the States to the National System. The popular mode of electing the chief Magistrate would certainly be the worst of all. If he should be so elected and should do his duty, he will be turned out for it like Governor Bowdoin in Massachusetts and President Sullivan in New Hampshire.