Слике страница

of August preceding the expira- vention of corruption ; and the re: tion of the presidential term, in moving from the house of repretheir respective districts, to vote sentatives all probable necessity of for two persons as president and electing a president. The greater vice-president of the United States. part of the report, however, was The persons receiving in each dis- taken up in answering the objec. trict the greatest number of votes tions made to the amendment, for those offices, were to be certified arising from the confederated by the governor of the state to the character of the union, and the president of the senate, and each delay of the second election. of the state senators, as being en. Great ability was displayed in titled to the vote of that district. drawing up the report ; but the The year of the election, congress subject was not taken up in the were to assemble on the second senate, and was finally lost sight Monday of October; and the first day of in the more interesting topics, of the session, the votes were to be which were soon made the object counted in the present manner. If of its attention: no person should receive a majority Other amendments to the con. of the whole number of votes; a se stitution were afterwards introducond election was to be ordered in ced in that body, and one of them, the first week of December, to de- prohibiting the re-election of a cide between the two candidates President beyond two terms, was having the highest number of votes: carried, by a vote of 32 to 7, almost the result of which election was to without discussion. This amendbe certified in the same manner; ment was not regarded as imporand the person having the greatest tant ; as the practice of declining a number was to be elected. If a tie re-election, after the second term, should take place on the second had been so uniform, and sanctionballot; then the house of repre- ed by such high examples, that it sentatives was to decide in the pre- seemed to supercede the necessity sent mode. This proposition was of any provision on the subject. accompanied with a long and ar- Some, however, were opposed to gumentative report, setting forth any limitation to the power of the the advantages of the contem- people on this point, as nugatory ; plated amendments. These were, and thought that amendments not the greater simplicity of the first called for by existing evils, if lightly election, by taking away the inter- adopted, would lead to a tampering vening electoral body between the with the constitution, destructive candidate and the people ; the pre- to the stability of that instrument. The other amendment, introduced after supporting that opinion by the by Mr. Benton, was not called up authority of the Federalist, he profor discussion; and according to ceeded to state his objections to the rule of the senate, expired with the general ticket system. the other unfinished business of the The most obvious objection was, session.

that it destroyed the voice of the In the house of representatives, minority. He did not mean to the subject met with a different fate. contend, that the minority must not After several notices and conversa. submit to the majority. They must tions, relating to his amendment, submit; but they were not to be Mr. M'Duffie, on the 15th of Feb- struck out, as numbers of no imruary, commenced the debate with portance in political equations. As an elaborate argument in favor of if New York were divided between his resolution. Mr. M'Duffie ob two candidates, in the proportion jected to the present system, that of 19 to 17; her vote by districts it wanted uniformity, and perma- would count, but two for the cannency, and was, in fact, no fixed didate having the largest number. rule. The legislatures of 24 states Upon the general ticket system made the rule, and altered it, each her vote would be unanimous. To at its pleasure. While it continued this he objected. He was of opiin that unsettled state, it would be nion, that the majority should deoften productive of injustice. He termine who should be president ; instanced the Gerry-mandering of but he was not willing to destroy Massachusetts as one example all minorities. By the general which operated most unjustly, and ticket system, the power of the caused great excitement through state was raised, to destroy the out the country. It also placed in proper influence of the people. the hands of political leaders, great It might also put the minority in temptation to abolish the existing the power of the majority; as if mode for another, more suitable to Pennsylvania was unanimous for their views, and thus increased the one candidate, and New York instability of the present system. In nearly divided. By the voice of his argument he examined the three the people, Pennsylvania would methods presented for appointing give 28 votes for her favorite, and electors, viz Ist. The mode hi- New York a divided vote, or neartherto adopted by the state legisla- ly so, between him and his oppotures. 2d. By general ticket. 3d. nent; but with a general ticket, By districts. The first method he New York would give 36 votes for considered unconstitutional; and a candidate, who would be preferred by a bare majority of her this were true, the district system electors.

should be altogether abolished. But Another palpable objection was, he would as soon hold out a de. that it arrayed states against each spotic system under the cloak of other, and promoted geographical an amendment, as the idea of madistinctions. It put down all oppo- king a general ticket uniform. The sition to this influence, and destroy- whole system had been established ed the authority of all wise and for a particular purpose. Such virtuous minorities, not under the was the case in North Carolina influence of sectional feeling and in Virginia. Suppose that in

The main objection to this sys- New York it should be suggested tem, however, was, that it concen- on the eve of an election ; that the trated power in the hands of a few electoral vote should be concentrapolitical leaders without responsi- ted, in order to counteract the influbility. He did not blame large ence of other states. The legislastates for obtaining power, and he ture meet and appoint electors. could not expect their citizens to The people also meet, and insist act without a central power. The upon their right, and actually choose voice of the electors could not be an electoral college. You have two concentrated without such a power; pretenders. Who would decide and that is the controlling power, between them? A civil war, in which decides all. Political disci- such a case, could be scarcely pline is equally necessary, and avoided. On one side, they would equally formidable with military, in appeal to the practice of the state operating upon large masses. The legislatures: On the other, to the consequence is, the establishment constitution. It could only be setof the most odious aristocracy-oftled by an appeal to arms, to pasa political oligarchy of intriguers, sion, discord and blood. invested with dictatorial power. One of the objections urged The power of appointing is, in against his amendment was, that fact, in the hands of a few political it tended to consolidation. If this jugglers, who, behind the curtain, were the case he was willing to move the wires ; and who, affect- give it up. What was the power ing to be the people themselves, he proposed to take away. 1st. govern them with absolute autho- The power of the state legislatures

to appoint electors. To that all The general ticket was some- agree. The power was an usurped times defended, because it pre- one. 2d. He substituted the disserved the power of the states. If trict system for the general ticket.

[ocr errors]

Does that injure the state ? It is important consideration of all; for only a change. It does not give unless the power of electing a power to the general government, president be taken from the house, nor take it from the states. It in fifty years, we shall be as coronly takes it from the legislature rupt as any government upon earth. and gives it to the people. In The next amendment consists one instance the states act through in referring the two highest canditheir legislatures; and in the other, dates to the people, instead of through the people. It takes from sending the three highest to the the majority its tendency to abuse house of representatives. The issue its power, and preserves to the presented is between the people minority its just influence. Instead and congress ; and in this amendof consolidating power here; the ment is contained the fundamental effect of the amendment was, to principle of the change. In this distribute it among 261 indepen- republic the great sustaining and dent districts. The state govern- pervading principle is, the responments he regarded as sentinels to sibility of the public functionaries guard the rights of the people; and to the people. This sublime printhe way to preserve the dignity of ciple, which is analagous to the the local legislatures, was, not to harmony of the material universe, bring them into the business of may be termed the gravitation of elections. This was to corrupt our political system, distinguishing and contaminate them. They it from all the governments which should stand unconnected, and have ever existed upon earth. It guard the rights of their constitu- is exclusively ours. It is establishents.

ed in the very nature of our system, On this branch of the subject he that in proportion to power conferwould conclude, by suggesting to red, must be responsibility required. the representatives of the large They are antagonist principles, and states, that the small states would its perfection consists in their equinever give up their relative weight; poise. Unless they are brought to until the large states surrender the this equipoise ; unless, as power is power of combining their force by increased, responsibility is rendered a general ticket. This must be more efficient, the system is dethe consideration of the compro- stroyed as effectually as the equili-mise ; and all the arguments brium of the universe by the deagainst bringing the election to struction of the centripetal and centhe house, are in favor of the dis- trifugal powers. This end is attrict system. This is the most tained by making the president directly responsible to the people. and I will idolize it, for I love The great problem is solved and power." two elements combined, which ne. It is essential to freedom itself; ver before existed together; liberty for no system can long maintain and power.

itself that has not all the active The power of the president, he and defensive powers of sovestated to be equal to that of the reignty. king of England ; and so satisfied He agreed with the idea in the were the framers of the constitu- president's message, that liberty is tion that it would be exercised with power ; and this principle was the integrity, that while they restricted one by which the despotisms of the the other branches of the govern- world would be finally effaced. ment, they conferred almost un. But this power must be accomlimited power' upon the president. panied by responsibility. Extend

He regarded this with some it through our system, and it is alarm. To congress was given formed for endless duration. power to raise armies, appropriate This he proposed to do by this money, &c.: but to the president amendment. The people were inall executive power. What is this? telligent and virtuous, and to them All the power vested in any other might safely be confided the corexecutive. He cannot, indeed, de rection of the evils he apprehended clare war; and this is the only pow- from executive power. er which the king of England has, The press had given them a that the president has not ; and means of intelligence not possessthis he never exercises upon his ed by the republics of Greece and own unadvised opinion.

Rome, and the extension of the The president may, under the territories through which power treaty making power, add empires was diffused, exempted them from to the country ; and all that the the violence and tumult which dehouse has to do, is to make appro- stroyed those petty states. priations to carry the treaty into He did not fear any violence effect.

from referring the election back to The strongest barriers against the people. We had just had an power, without responsibility, he election, in which the popular canregarded as contemptible. Pow- didate was not chosen, yet we witer is the means of conferring nessed no violence among the peoblessing. “Bring me power,” ple. They submitted with the digsaid he, " which cannot be abused, nity of freemen to the constitu

« ПретходнаНастави »