Election of Executive (July 24, 25)

. . . The election of the Executive Magistrate will be considered as of vast importance and will excite great earnest ness. The best men, the Governors of the States will not hold it derogatory from their character to be the electors. If the motion should be agreed to, it will be necessary to make the Executive ineligible a second time, in order to render him independent of the Legislature; which was an idea extremely repugnant to his way of thinking.
supposed that there would be no necessity, if the Executive should be appointed by the Legislature, to make him ineligible a second time; as new elections of the Legislature will have intervened; and he will not depend for his second appoint ment on the same set of men as his first was received from. It had been suggested that gratitude for his past appointment would produce the same effect as dependence for his future appointment. He thought very differently. Besides this objection would lie against the Electors who would be objects of gratitude as well as the Legislature. It was of great importance not to make the Government too complex which would be the case if a new set of men like the Electors should be introduced into it. He thought also that the first characters in the States would not feel sufficient motives to undertake the office of Electors.
was for going back to the original ground; to elect the Executive for 7 years and render him ineligible a second time. The proposed Electors would certainly not be men of the first nor even of the second grade in the States. These would all prefer a seat either in the Senate or the other branch of the Legislature. He did not like the Unity in the Executive. He had wished the Executive power to be lodged in three men taken from three districts into which the States should be divided. As the Executive is to have a kind of veto on the laws, and there is an essential difference of interests between the Northern and Southern States, particularly in the carrying trade, the power will be dangerous, if the Executive is to be taken from part of the Union, to the part from which he is not taken. The case is different here from what it is in England; where there is a same ness of interests throughout the Kingdom. Another objection against a single Magistrate is that he will be an elective King, and will feel the spirit of one. He will spare no pains to keep himself in for life, and will then lay a train for the succession of his children It was pretty certain he thought that we should at some time or other have a King; but he wished no precaution to be omitted that might postpone the event as long as possible. -Ineligibility a second time appeared to him to be the best precaution. With this precaution he had no objection to a longer term than 7 years. He would go as far as 10 or 12 years...
moved to re-instate the ineligibility of the Executive a second time.
With many this appears a natural conse quence of his being elected by the Legislature. It was not the case with him. The Executive he thought should be reelected if his conduct proved him worthy of it. And he will be more likely to render himself, worthy of it if he be rewardable with it. The most eminent characters also will be more willing to accept the trust under this condition, than if they foresee a necessary degradation at a fixed period.
The difficulties and perplexities into which the House is thrown proceed from the election by the Legislature which he was sorry had been reinstated. The inconveniency of this mode was such that he would agree to almost any length of time in order to get rid of the dependence which must result from it. He was persuaded that the longest term would not be equivalent to a proper mode of election, unless indeed it should be during good behavior. It seemed to be supposed that at a certain advance of life, a continuance in office would cease to be agreeable to the officer, as well as desireable to the public. Experience had shewn in a variety of instances that both a capacity and inclination for public service existed in very advanced stages. He mentioned the instance of a Doge of Venice who was elected after he was 8O years of age. The popes have generally been elected at very advanced periods, and yet in no case had a more steady or a better concerted policy been pursued than in the Court of Rome. If the Executive should come into office at 35 years of age, which he presumes may happen and his continuance should be fixed at l5 years, at the age of 50 in the very prime of life, and with all the aid of experience, he must be cast aside like a useless hulk. What an irreparable loss would the British Jurisprudence have sustained, had the age of 5O been fixed there as the ultimate limit of capacity or readiness to serve the public. The great luminary [Lord Mansfield] held his seat for thirty years after his arrival at that age. Notwithstanding what had been done he could not but hope that a better mode of election would yet be adopted, and one that would be more agreeable to the general sense of the House. . .
There are objections against every mode that has been, or perhaps can be proposed. The election must be made either by some existing authority under the National or State Constitutions-or by some special authority derived from the people-or by the people themselves.-The two Existing authorities under the National Constitution would be the Legislative and Judiciary. The latter he presumed was out of the ques tion. The former was in his Judgment liable to insuperable objections. Besides the general influence of that mode on the independence of the Executive:
  1. The election of the Chief Magistrate would agitate and divide the legislature so much that the public interest would materially suffer by it. Public bodies are always apt to be thrown into contentions, but into more violent ones by such occasions than by any others.
  2. The candidate would intrigue with the Legislature, would derive his ap pointment from the predominant faction, and be apt to render his administration subservient to its views.
  3. The Ministers of foreign powers would have and make use of, the opportunity to mix their intrigues and influence with the Election.
Limited as the powers of the Executive are, it will be an object of great moment with the great rival powers of Europe who have American possessions, to have at the head of our Government a man attached to their respective politics and interests. No pains, nor perhaps expence, will be spared, to gain from the Legislature an appointment favorable to their wishes. Germany and Poland are witnesses of this danger. In the former, the election of the Head of the Empire, till it became in a manner hereditary, interested all Europe, and was much influenced by foreign interference. In the latter, although the elective Magistrate has very little real power, his election has at all times produced the most eager interference of foreign princes, and has in fact at length slid entirely into foreign hands. The existing authorities in the States are the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary. The appointment of the National Executive by the first, was objectionable in many points of view, some of which had been already mentioned. He would mention one which of itself would decide his opinion. The Legislatures of the States had betrayed a strong propensity to a variety of pernicious measures. One object of the National Legis lature was to control this propensity. One object of the National Executive, so far as it would have a negative on the laws, was to control the National Legislature, so far as it might be infected with a similar propensity. Refer the appointment of the National Executive to the State Legislatures, and this controlling purpose may be defeated. The Legislatures can and will act with some kind of regular plan, and will promote the appointment of a man who will not oppose himself to a favorite object. Should a majority of the Legislatures at the time of election have the same object, or different objects of the same kind, The National Executive would be rendered subservient to them.-An appoint ment by the State Executives, was liable among other objections to this insuperable one, that being standing bodies, they could and would be courted, and intrigued with by the Candidates, by their partizans, and by the Ministers of foreign powers. The State Judiciarys had not and he presumed would not be proposed as a proper source of appointment. The option before us then lay between an appointment by Electors chosen by the people-and an immediate appointment by the people. He thought the former mode free from many of the objections which had been urged against it, and greatly preferable to an appointment by the National Legislature. As the electors would be chosen for the occasion, would meet at once, and proceed immediately to an appointment, there would be very little opportunity for cabal, or corruption. As a farther precaution, it might be required that they should meet at some place, distinct from the seat of Government and even that no person within a certain distance of the place at the time should be eligible. This Mode however had been re jected so recently and by so great a majority that it probably would not be proposed anew. The remaining mode was an election by the people or rather by the qualified part of them, at large: With all its imperfections he liked this best. He would not repeat either the general argument for or the objections against this mode. He would only take notice of two difficulties which he admitted to have weight. The first arose from the disposition in the people to prefer a Citizen of their own State, and the disadvantage this would throw on the smaller States. Great as this objection might be he did not think it equal to such as lay against every other mode which had been proposed. He thought too that some expedient might be hit upon that would obviate it. The second difficulty arose from the disproportion of qualified voters in the Northern and Southern States, and the disadvan tages which this mode would throw on the latter. The answer to this objection was:
  1. that this disproportion would be continually decreasing under the influence of the Republican laws introduced in the Southern States, and the more rapid increase of their population.
  2. That local considerations must give way to the general interest. As an individual from the S. States he was willing to make the sacrifice.