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H. OFR.

Amendment to the Constitution.

OCTOBER, 1803.

their hands every check which the nature of the of three things. They must either (in the hope case would admit of, against the preponderating of securing to themselves both the President and influence of the interest opposed to them; and I Vice President) give an equal number of votes to have ever understood, I have ever been taught to the two candidates whom they may agree upon, believe, by those few of the original framers of or at least a very large portion, if not exactly an the Constitution with whom I have had the hap- equal number of votes to them both; or, confining piness to be acquainted, or to converse on the sub- themselves to the securing the office of President ject, that this very provision which obliges the to the individual whom they prefer, they must be Electors in each State to vote indiscriminately satisfied to give one of the two votes to which for two persons to fill the offices of President and each of their Electors is entitled exclusively to Vice President, and which it is now proposed to him, and throw away the other. What follows do away, was regarded as the best, the most effec- in either case? In the first place, if iwo canditual means, and that which did in fact tend most dates have an equal vote, and at the same time a to sooth and quiet the fears of the smaller States, majority of the votes of the whole number of and was in this view, and for this very purpose, Electors appointed, it devolves on the House of adopted as a part of the Constitution. The more Representatives to select which of them they I turn the subject over in my mind, indeed, the please as President; and as the Constitution has more closely I endeavor to examine and investi- (in the spirit I have already described, and for the gate it, the more confirmed are my impressions purpose of affording every possible check and seand convictions, that this really was the case; that curity to the smaller States, which the nature of the proposition to alter or amend the Constitu- the thing would permis) provided, that in every tion in the manner proposed, is neither more nor instance in which the choice of the President deless than a State question; a question between volves on the House of Representatives, ihe votes the different States of the Union, regarded in shall be taken by States, and the whole representtheir original capacity as sovereign and indepen- ation of each Siate shall have one equal votedent States; a question which involves in it the it follows of course that in every case of this vital principle upon which the Federal compact kind, they are all, large and small

, placed prewas formed, viz: a compromise between the fears cisely upon an equal footing. But in the case of and jealousies, the jarring interests, and preten- two or more candidates having an equal vote, yet sions of the large and small States. I feel my- less than a majority of the votes of the whole self I confess, sir, unequal to this part of the sub- number of Electors appointed, a further advanject. I am sensible of my inability to calculate tage accrues to the smaller States, for then, acall the chances of influence and consequent pro- cording to the Constitution, they not only vote by tection which this, in my humble opinion, little States, the representation of each State having understood provision, affords to the small States, one vote, but they may choose the President from or to point out the various modes in which it was the five highest candidates on the list, and of anticipated, that it night and would, in various course have a wider field for choice, and a greater instances and on various occasions, operate in and even equal chance of making him President their favor. Waiving, however, one happy and whom their Electors perhaps had originally supmaterial effect which I think it must have in re- ported as such. gard to the Union at large, viz: that it tends to In order to avoid this, suppose the larger States create a moral necessity on the part of the Elect- support two candidates, giving to the one however ors to bring forward the most eminent characters, a few less votes than to ihe other. What advanas well to fill the office of Vice President as that tages in this instance are afforded to the smaller of President, waiving this certainly not unimpor- States? Why, in the firsi place it gives them a tant consideration, I think I can prove to demon- greater chance of bringing in their own candidate, stration that this indiscriminate mode of electing at least as Vice President-for their opponents, in the President and Vice President, affords to the order to secure to themselves the office of Presismaller States a degree of influence over the dent, and to avoid an ultimate election by the election, places an important barrier to the supe- House of Representatives, have not thought proriority which the large States possess in this per to give their full support to him whom they instance, and in every event, and at the worst, run as Vice President; but have thrown away insures to the former a safeguard and defence from him a part of their votes. In the next place, against the encroachments of the latter, which if it is discovered (and this will not always be as they would not otherwise possess, and of which, difficult a point to ascertain as might at first view if the proposed alteration takes place, they will be supposed) how many votes are to be thrown be absolutely deprived.

away, the Electors of the smaller States may give By that article of the Constitution, to which I an equal number of votes, and thus, putting the have so often had occasion to allude, and in which two candidates on an equality, bring the final it is now the object to make so material an alter- election into the House of Representatives, where ation, it is provided " that two persons shall be in each State representation has an equal vote in discriminately voted for as President and Vice Pre- deciding the election. sident, by the Electors in the respective States, one Nor is this their only alternative, for although of whom at least shall not be of the same State with it is true that they will not, from their inferior themselves.” In carrying this provision into op- number of votes, have it in their power to select eration, the larger States must necessarily do one lirom all the citizens of the Union the individual

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OCTOBER, 1803.

Amendment to the Constitution.

H. OF R.

whom they might prefer, yet, in the case supposed, which they have shall be taken away, whilst to (of the larger States giving a considerable por- those who have, more shall be given ?'' Shall we tion, though not exactly an equal number of votes not by this alleration lessen the chances of the to the two candidates, whom they have deter- smaller States, and take from them one of the mined to support.) the smaller Staies will at least | most effectual checks, one of the most essential have it at their option to choose between the two safeguards, in respect to the election of the Execcandidates, and by giving him their votes, insure utive branch of the Government, which was sethe election of that one of them against whom cured to them by our national compact; and add, they have the fewest objections, and who sensible at the same time, to the preponderating and overthat the preference given him in the election ulti- weening influence which the larger States have mately turned on their votes, and possibly not be heretofore possessed, the evident means and moral ing taken from the very largest and most power- certainty of disposing at pleasure of the whole ful States, would probably feel less inimical to Executive department? These must necessarily their interests, and in fact have it less in his power be the consequences of the proposed alteration in to injure them.

the Constitution; and for my own part, I must The third and last case is that in which the say, that it appears to me to give a death-blow to, large States, in order to secure the election of the that portion of the State sovereignties which has individual they wish to the office of President, been reserved to the several States, and that we unite in giving one of the two votes to which thereby take a monstrous and more than a giganeach Elector is entitled exclusively to him, and tic stride, towards that very consolidation of the throw away the other. The obvious and neces- States against which gentlemen have been wont sary consequence is, that the Vice Presidency re- of yore so bitterly to exclaim. For we may boast mains completely at the disposal of the small as much as we please; we may say what we will States, and they make whom they please Vice of our moderation, sincerity, and political virtue; President-a point of far more importance than we may give every security which can be devised gentlemen seem to suppose, or are perhaps aware upon parchment or upon paper, and endeavor to of. It is in the first place to be recollected, that render it more sacred by seals, and even by oaths; as the person who will usually be thought most still, so long as human nature remains human worthy of being raised to the office of Chief Ma- nature-where power exists on the one side and gistrate will most probably be advanced in years, weakness on the other—there ever will arise amthere must be more than ihe common chances of bition, and the inclination to obtain additional his demise in the course of the term for which he power on the part of the most powerful; and conwas elected, and of the heir apparent, the Vice sequently, in proportion as you add to the means President, consequently succeeding to his station, of encroachment already possessed by the large, and becoming himself in fact the President. Ex- and lessen those of defence and self-protection clusively, however, and waiving this consideration, heretofore given to the small States, in the same let it be moreover recollected, that the Senate proportion do you throw the latter at the mercy, have a part of the treaty-making power, partici- and invite the aggression of the former, and therepate in the appointment of the Judiciary, and of by carry us further from a federative, and draw the other public officers, and form in short, to a us nearer to a consolidated government. certain degree, a portion of the Executive branch I am perfectly aware, Mr. Speaker, that the of the Government. Now all the States have an ground I take is not the popular one of the present equal vote in the Senate, and the Vice President day. I well know that the principles for which is ex officio President of the Senate. He enjoys I contend, and upon which our national compact therefore all the influence necessarily attached to was originally formed, have no longer the same such an office, and to the character of heir appa- influence on the public feelings, nor are they rerent ; and he has, in addition, the peculiarly im- garded in the smaller States with that degree of

; portant right of giving the casting vote in all interest with which they were wont to be at the cases of an equality of votes in the Senate, an time the Convention met and the Constitution asse mbly composed of so very few members. Such was adopted. The prosperity we have enjoyed then is the importance of the Vice Presidency, and for fourteen years past, under the auspices of ihe such the influence and protection which in every General Government, has happily done away point of view the indiscriminate mode of electing State jealousies in a very considerable degree. the two first officers in our Government affords. The occurrences which have since intervened, the And is all this nothing, sir ? Does the alteration new interests which have sprung up, and the difproposed really constituie a proposition so plain, ferent shapes which parties have assumed, have so self-evident, so unencumbered with anything all contributed to lessen the impressions and oblike a difficulty or doubt, as not to require a mo- scure the grounds and basis upon which the great ment's thought, or be worthy of the least investi- bond of our Union was framed and bottomed. gation or discussion ? Is it possible that any one This happy and natural effect of the successful within or without these doors will deny, after experiment we have made in our political associawhat I have just stated, that we are about to tion, must give pleasure to every friend of his make a serious and important innovation in the country; and so long as the original compact vital principle, the very essence of the Constitu- which unites and forms us into a band of brothtion?' Are we not in fact and in truth acting upon ers continues to be held sacred, and no attempt is the maxim, "that from those who have not, that I made to innovate upon and alter the principles

H. of R.

Amendment to the Constitution.

OCTOBER, 1803.

upon which it was formed, I should rejoice as perfect conviction, that if the people had time much as any man at this union of sentiment- and could take a correct and temperate view of this mutual confidence among the members of the the real merits of the question, if the irritation of Confederacy; but when I see (it matters not whe- the moment, the party feelings of the day, could ther intentionally or from inadvertence) that ad- be laid aside, the small States in particular could vantage is about to be taken of this circumstance, never become so wantonly felo de se-to commit that in the moment of party irritation and party such evident self-murder-if I may be allowed zeal, and at a time when it may be truly stated the expression-nor could the Constitutional mathat the influence and interests of the larger States jority in the two Houses of Congress, still less the are completely triumphant, and many of the Constitutional number of States, ever be found to smaller States, unconscious of danger, are en- ratify so great, so all important an innovation and listed from various causes under their banners; change in the fundamental principles of the Fedthat at such a moment a proposition is brought eral compact. The chance of ultimate success forward to alter the Constitution in one of its depends, I am confident, even now, upon the party most important features, and, under the plausible feeling and party zeal of the times, and the irritapretext of giving effect to the will of the people, tion which was excited and has been so industrithe small States are at one blow to be deprived of ously kept up since the late contested election of the checks and safeguards secured to them by the the President. I was myself, as you know, sir, Federal compact in the election of the Executive, one of the actors in that scene, and 'I may venture and this important branch of the Government is to say, that, from the peculiar situation in which henceforward and forevermore to be put entirely I was placed, I had it in my power to judge more and exclusively into the hands of the larger cooly and dispassionately of the occurrences of States; when I see and behold all this, I acknowl- that day than almost any other individual in the edge that I do feel the most serious alarm, and United States. It is well known to every one feeble and unavailing as my voice may be, I still who knew anything of me at the time, that I was deem it a duty incumbent on me, as one of the a warm, sincere, and zealous advocate of the two immediate citizens of a small State, no less than gentlemen who were understood to be the Federal as a member of this House, and consequently a candidates. The majority of the Electors, howsworn guardian of the Constitution, to raise that ever, having given the votes to the two candivoice, and loudly to protest against the innovation dates who were brought forward and supported which it is contemplated to effect in the funda- in opposition to them, and they having been found mental and vital principles of the compact which to have equal votes, it devolved upon the House unites these States together.

of Representatives to fix upon the one of the two I am not ignorant, however, that a very differ- characters who should fill ihe office of Chief Maent turn has been given to this business; that the gistrate. In this state of things, it is no secret, proposed alteration in the mode of electing the that although we afterwards voted by ballot, that President and Vice President has been presented I separated from my political friends, and those of under a very different aspect to the public view. my colleagues who were on the floor, and perA respectable member from Pennsylvania (Mr. formed the painful task of acting in direct opposiGrega) has indeed undertaken to give us the tion to them; I consequently voted invariably for whole history of the amendment, as he terms it, the candidate who ultimately prevailed, and now and infers from thence, that such an alteration in fills the office of Chief Magistrate of the United the Constitution has been long contemplated and States, until the last ballot, when I withdrew into wished for by all parts of the Union. He tells us an adjoining committee room, in order to facilithat a former member from South Carolina, the tate a decision of the contest. Situated as I was, State I have the honor at this time to represent, therefore, it may well be imagined that I could had brought forward a proposition to the same not be over zealous, or feel any very peculiar ineffect; that a similar one had once originated in terest in the success of either of the two candiNew Hampshire; that the State of New York dates who were opposed to each other. I had had two years ago submitted to the consideration acted according to the best of my judgment, and of Congress a resolution proposing in substance in compliance with the dictates of my conscience, the very alteration now about to be adopted, and in voting for the one; while my political friends that it had been before us during both of the last gave a preference to and supported the other. I sessions. All this, sir, is no doubt true, but I draw could consequently take a perfectly dispassionate a very contrary inference from it to that of the view of the subject, and must say that the zeal honorable gentleman. He has proved to be sure and violence of party appeared to me to give that certain individuals, some parts even of the much more importance to the contested election Union, have at different times, for party and local than it was intrinsically entitled to. I showed, by purposes, or from whatever cause, proposed and my vote, my own opinion and wishes to be in favor perhaps been desirous that an alteration of this of the person who was elected; and inasmuch as kind should be made in the Constitution. He bas I believed that he would be more acceptable to proved however at the same time, and not less the majority of our fellow.citizens out of doors, evidently, that the great body of the Union have and more especially to those in that portion of the always been opposed to any such change; that Union from whence I came, and of whose opinthe public mind has not heretofore been ripe for ions and feelings I could judge most correcily ; it: and even at this moment, sir, I feel the most insomuch, I acknowledge, ihat I should have re

October, 1803.

Amendment to the Constitution.

H. of R.

gretted and deemed it a misfortune if the election inconvenience, whilst we leave a most awful and had terminated differently.

very possible event unnoticed and unguarded But, sir, I could not then suppose, nor do I yet against. think, that the salvation and political happiness My further object has been, to recall to the reof the Republic depends so entirely on the election collection of this House, and, as far as my feeble of any one man as President, however great or voice avails, of the nation at large, that our Govgood he might be; nor could I persuade myself ernment is not only Republican but Federal; that that it would be so monstrous and ierrible an event, the provisions of the Constitution are of a very in an elective yet complicated government like complicated nature; that they have been formed ours, if, of two individuals brought forward by upon the general principles of free government, so precisely the same description of Electors, to fill modified as to comport with those of a federative the two first offices under the Government, that one alliance; and at the same time to quiet the fears, of them, whom they were supposed to hold up for jealousies, and apprehensions, and to compromise the second office, (and consequently in case of ac- the clashing interests and opposite pretensions of cident to the other to supply his place, and be to the respective States which compose this great and all intents and purposes Chief Magistrate,) should flourishing Union. I beg of gentlemen therefore to have been preferred by their political opponents, pause and reflect, and then decide, whether it be and through their means have in the first instance really correct and agreeable to the dictates of sound been consiitutionally elected to the highest office. sense and good policy to alter or rather totally anI well know that of the two federal gentlemen nihilate one of the great and leading features of an whom I had originally advocated, although I should original compact, in order to obviate, at the most, no doubt have given a preference myself to the a momentary inconvenience. For I trust I have one, yet I should have been perfectly satisfied to gone far enough to prove, whilst I venture to foresee either of them put at the head of the Govern- tell, without pretending to the gift of prophecy, that ment, had they had the majority and equal votes; a case similar to the one which has lately taken for, I repeat it again, I cannot persuade myself that place will never again happen ; yet that if such an the political salvation of the Republic depends event should again turn up, and of iwo individuals upon the election of any man as President. To who had an equal number of the votes of all the me indeed it appeared, during the whole course of Electors appointed, the one should be made Prethe election, that there was one result far more to sident, (by the selection of the House of Represenbe deprecated, and which might have given rise to tatives voting by States,) and in consequence of consequences beyond the ken of human foresight. the present indiscriminate mode of election, who I frequently shuddered at the idea, that it might might not perhaps be the most immediately acpossibly happec, from the enthusiasm of party zeal, ceptable to the majority of all the inhabitants of the violence of party prejudices, and the irritation the Union, taken in the aggregate, (and the inhabof the moment, that neither side would give way, itants of the large States must of necessity form and the country might be left in a sort of inter- such a majority,) yet I say, should such an event

a regnum, without executive officers, or perhaps any take place in the course of things, I have I trust Constitutional means to obtain them; and it has gone far to prove that it is at worst, but a partial, often struck me as a peculiarly fortunate circum- temporary, and very restricted evil, arising necesstance that the contest was between two individ- sarily out of a peculiar form of government, the uals originally brought forward by Electors of the natural consequence of our territorial divisions and same political description, and not between the the political provisions and modifications advisedly favorite candidates of the two opposite parties, adopted to compromise our various interests, foreeach supported by his immediate party friends. seen at the time our national compact was formed, In my humble opinion, the great desideratum, the yet adopted as a minor and necessary sacrifice to only thing necessary to be done, is to make some prevent far greater evils; and as presenting the provision, which would insure, in such or any best, perhaps the only mode of compromising the other case in which the election of the Executive jarring interests, of satisfying the opposite pretendevolved on the House of Representatives, that a sions, and of quieting the jealousies, fears, and apselection of one or other of the candidates should prehensions of the various members, so unequal take place before the House separated, or its po- in size, power, population, and riches, who are at litical dissolution took place; or ihat, if an election this time so happily united in one great confeddid not take place, one of the candidates, in con- eracy. sequence of superior age or whatever other cause Such, Mr. Speaker, is, in my humble opinion, of preference might be deemed most eligible, should the true point of view in which this and every of course be the President. I have not however other proposition to alter our national compact touched upon the late contested election, in the ought ever to be considered-such is the point of intention of discussing the pro and con with re- view in which the subject now under consideraspect to the relative merits of it, neither is it my tion has presented itself to my mind. I have intention to deny the abstract proposition, that the therefore complied with my sense of duty and will and the wishes of the people ought to be con- obeyed the dictates of my conscience in opposing sulted in elections. I wish only to show that this the alteration to the Constitution, which it is now alteration-even allowing it for a moment to be proposed to make. I know full well the popular desirable, yields but a partial remedy, to a partial feelings and sentiments are against me on this and comparatively speaking trivial and temporary I question, and that what falls from a gentleman on

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H. of R.
Amendment to the Constitution.

OCTOBER, 1803. this side of the House, is, in the actual state of erating the rage and violence of party spirit, and things, not very favorably received out of doors, of controlling and putting down faction, by the and for the most part attributed merely to party election of a President who may be agreeable to feelings and party opposition. In the present in the wishes of the minority, and thereby produce stance, however, I can in honor and with truth an equilibrium of power between contending pardeclare that I act from no party motive or party lies. Besides, sir, I fear, if the amendment obtains, considerations whatever. My objections and op- that it may give a weight and influence to the position to the resolution on your table, are the large States in the Union, in the election of a result of a sincere conviction in my own mind, President and Vice President, that they ought not after the most dispassionate and attentive consid- to possess; and though I have the honor to be a eration I have been able to bestow on the subject; Representative from a State of some consequence and I most fervenily pray that whilst we are en- in ihe Union, on account of its population and deavoring to extricate ourselves from a dilemma resources, still I cannot wish that Massachusetts, of secondary importance, necessarily growing out in this or any other way, should acquire any unof our peculiar mode of government, and to pro- due advantage or improper influence over the vide a remedy against a partial inconvenience, we smaller States. may not inadvertently place ourselves in a laby- In fine, the reasons and arguments that I rinth of difficulties and expose our posterity to a have heard in this House in the course of the demultitude of evils, more fatal to the peace and bate, particularly those offered by the honorable happiness of this Union, than we are any of us at genileman from South Carolina, last up, (Mr. this time aware of.

Huger,) have convinced me that the proposed Mr. Hastings.-Mr. Speaker, I do not rise for amendment ought not to made. I will not say, the purpose of going into an elaborate discussion Mr. Speaker, that the Constitution is perfect in upon the subject of the proposed amendment to all its provisions; there is a particular part of it, the Constitution, (for that has been already very in article first, section second, and third paragraph, fully debated,) but merely to state some of the rea that fixes the rule of representation, which I wish sons which will influence me in voting against to see altered in due time. I wish to see this it. I have always believed, sir, that the Federal part of the Constitution altered, because I wish Constitution was as much the result of compro- to see upon the floor of this House an equal repremise and mutual concession, as of great delib-sentation of free citizens, and of free citizens only. eration and wisdom; and that alterations in this As the Constitutional rule now is, the representacharter of our national union ought to be made tion is made unequal. But this it will be said was with extreme caution. In respect to the amend- also the effect of a spirit of accommodation and ment proposed, I have understood that in the compromise. It was a compromise, however, by Convention of delegates that framed the Consti- which one part of the Union has obtained a great, tution, variety of ways for electing President and and in my opinion, unjust advantage over other Vice President were proposed and all rejected, parts of the Union.' A compromise, sir, by which until the new Constitutional one was offered, the Southern States have gained a very considerwhich was agreed to; with this mode of electing able increase of Representatatives and Electors, a President and Vice President, I am satisfied. founded solely upon their numerous black popuI believe many advantages result from it; by the lation. I hope, sir, that in the year 1808, an alierpresent mode, the Electors in giving their votes ation will be made in this part of the Constitution, for two persons to be President and Vice Presi- and that the representation, by being proportioned dent, will be induced (from the uncertainty which only to the number of free persons, will be renof the two voted for will be elected President) 10 dered equal and just. I hope, also, that those gengive their ballots for two persons, either of whom tlemen who now advocate the proposed amendshall be well qualified to discharge the important ment to the Constitution, will then, if members powers or duties of First Magistrate of the nation. of this House, be also the advocates for altering But, if the proposed amendment prevails, will not and amending this part of the Constitution—the the office of Vice President, in all future elections, friends and advocates of an equal representation, be considered as a mere sinecure? And though founded upon the population of free persons only the person voted for to fill the office may be well I will not occupy the attention of the House qualified to perform the duties incumbent upon with further observations, or repeat what has alhim as President of the Senate, yet he may be ready been said by gentlemen against the amendwholly unqualified to fill the office of President of ment: I will only say that, in my opinion, it is the United States, and a person in whom the Ame- neither necessary nor expedient to make the prorican people would have no confidence as such: posed alteration in the Constitution, and that I but by the proposed amendment, upon such unfit hope it will not be made. person-in the event of the removal of the Presi. Mr. Thatcher.-Having waited in expectation dent from office, death, resignation, or his inability of hearing the arguments of gentlemen in favor of to discharge the duties and powers of the office the resolution, I feel great regret at the silence will devolve all the duties and powers of First which they have thought proper on this occasion Magistrate. Another advantage that I conceive to observe. This course, ihough not entirely nomay be the effect of the existing Constitutional vel, was not anticipated upon a question of great mode of electing a President and Vice President, national importance; a subject which invites, is, that it may be the means of checking and mod, which demands investigation.

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