Election of Executive (July 24, 25)
- MR. GERRY
- . . . 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.
- MR. STRONG
- 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.
- MR. WILLIAMSON
- 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...
- MR. L. MARTIN and MR. GERRY
- moved to re-instate the
ineligibility of the Executive a second time.
- MR. ELLSWORTH.
- 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.
- MR. WILSON.
- 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. . .
- MR. MADISON.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- The Ministers of foreign powers would have and make use of, the opportunity to mix their intrigues and influence with the Election.
- 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.
- That local considerations must give way to the general interest. As an individual from the S. States he was willing to make the sacrifice.