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Amendment to the Constitution.

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powerful. The minority in Virginia and Penn- and affecting in no wise the federative principle, sylvania alone were more than equal to counter- there was no ground for local jealousy. But, in vail the majorities of five or six of the smaller this case, for the first time, you are affecting the States; so that, if the vote had been taken by the owganization of the departments, and, of course, whole American people voting together, it is the federative principle; and the arguments used doubtful if it had ever been adopted.

in this discussion have but too well demonstrated When we view it in relation to the organiza- the State jealousies and inquietudes likely to result tion of the departments, they are equally mistaken. from every such amendment between the large

The House of Representatives, which partakes and smaller States. Representing a State which most of the popular or consolidated principle, is occupies and is likely to maintain, for a long time not chosen by the will of the people of the United to come, a middle position in the Union, I have States, but in different modes, by ihe people of the not critically examined whether the resolution respective States. The Senate partakes in its will operate for or against the one or the other; mode of appointment exclusively of the federative but I know that there are jealousies on this subprinciple, without regard to the number of indi-ject, and we ought to be cautious nut to fan the viduals contained in the several States.

flame. If there be individuals in this nation hosWhen we come to the organization of the Ex- tile to the Union, (and we have been admooished ecutive department, we find an intermixture of that such exist,) let us be cautious how we put federative and popular or consolidated principles, into their mouths the strongest arguments to efcombined and interwoven with so delicate a hand fectuate their designs; and, let me again repeat it, that it is impossible to strip it of the one without there must always exist inquietude both among destroying the other. The Electors who choose States and individuals wherever you attempt to the President are not chosen in a manner to ascer- change the mode of organizing a department, and tain the sense of the people of the United States, every amendment you make tends to weaken the but are chosen in some Siates by the Legislatures, bond of our Union. The idea of the friends of in others by the people voting in a general ticket, the resolution, on the subject of changes in the and smothering the voice of the minority; while, Constitution, therefore, is wholly erroneous, when in others, the choice is made by the people voting they suppose there is nothing to be considered but in districts, and giving the proportional weight to what they call the public will; and they have the minority. The number of Electors likewise made the mis!ake by regarding the Confederacy assigned to the different States depend on the as a consolidated Government. But it partakes of combined number of the Senators and Represent this equality in no instance, except in the operaatives of each State in the Congress of the United tion of its laws. Here it reaches our citizens as States; so that a State having one Representa- one people, regardless of State limits and State tive, has two votes on the federative principle, to inequalities. It is this property alone which one on the popular principle. The result of this forms the distinguisbing characteristic between , analysis of the Constitution will satisfy gentlemen that system and the Confederation. Here we that State interests are materially affected by this operate upon the people, and there they operated amendment; and that the public will, always on States through the medium of requisitions. I equivocal, is not the only thing to be considered am sensible I have availed myself to the full exin this particular. Indeed, sir, it proves to them tent of the patience of the Committee, and shall that, instead of giving complete effect to the pop- conclude with an exhortation that we do nothing ular' will, the choice of the Electors is made which may affect the harmony of our Union; and through the medium of so refined a process, and that we revise, and revise again, this resolution, in so artificial a manner, that it may happen that before we stamp it with our sanction. a majority of the Electors may be chosen and Mr. Jackson.-Mr. Speaker, when I came to the President elected by a minority of the people. the House this morning, nothing was more foreign I believe, sir, a President of the United States has to my intention than to trespass upon their inbe en elected' by a minority of the people of the dulgence, but the importance of the subject, and United States.

the bold and daring assertions made by gentlemen We have been told that numerous amendments in the opposition, will be my apology for the rehave been made to the Constitution, and it is there marks I shall make, and I promise the House as a fore proved by experience that those State jealous- remuneration for the attention they may honor ies and other dangers, which are represented as me with, to be as concise as possible. Sir, I must likely to arise from this amendment, have no call that a bold and daring assertion, made by the place except in the imagination of the opponents gentleman from North Carolina, (Mr. Purviance,) of the resolution. I think I shall not be consider that if the small States had contemplated a change ed as metaphysical, however, when I declare that, in the Constitution, and had not considered it as there occurs to my mind a material distinction inviolable and intangible, they would not have between an amendment which goes merely to en- come into the Union; when I look at the Constilarge or abridge the Legislative power, or the tution and see used not vague expressions or dupower of any given department, and one which bious language admitting of its amendment, but materially changes the manner in which one of an express article, to wit: the fifth, authorizing the departments itself is organized.

amendments and designating the mode by which All ihe amendments heretofore made are of the they may be obtained, which declares that first description; operating merely on the popular, “The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses

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Amendment to the Constitution.


shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to fate of other little Republics warranted the the Constitution, or, on the application of the Legisla- idea that the smaller members would be swallowtures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a

ed up by the larger ones, who would, in turn, Convention for proposing amendments, which, in eitlår attack each other; and that the liberty achieved case, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part by the blood of some of the bravest men that ever of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures lived would pass away without leaving a trace of three-fourths of the several States, or by Conven- behind it. They, therefore, yielded everything to tions in three-fourths thereof, as the one or the other the little States, knowing they were most numer: mode of ratification may be proposed by Congress :" And when I consider the perspicuous and em

ous, and naturally jealous of the large ones. If

we examine the Constitution, we shall fiod the phatical language used by its framers, that they whole of the great powers of the Government have not inserted a single clause not intended to concentred in the Senate. They have the sole have a full meaning, and that they were incapable power of trying impeachments, and of making of holding forth a feature in the Constitution treaties. Congress may declare war; but, once which should be construed contrary to the plain declared, they cannot make peace; that power as acceptation of it, I am induced to believe that the well as the boundless, undefined. treaty-making gentleman has not paid a proper attention to the power, generally, are exclusively, vested in the subject, or he would not have hazarded the Senate ; in the Legislative power they possess an observation.

absolute veto on ihe passage of every measure The same gentleman has said, we are about to sanctioned by the Representatives of the people; encourage fraud, intrigue, venality, and corrup- and how are they chosen? Two from each State; tion, by the passage of this resolution; my respect the smallest State has the same influence in that for decorum and the rules of this House prevents body with the largest. In the choice of Electors me from answering this assertion in the language of President the small States have this additional it deserves. I may, however, be permitted to say extraordinary privilege of choosing one Elector that the reverse will be the case; and I contend for each Senator, and if the election of President that there is more danger that fraud, intrigue, ve

comes into the House of Representatives each nality, and corruption, will be practised in cases

State has equal power. The small Slaies also resuliing from the Constitution as it now stands,

possess the power, under the Constitution, of rethan there will be under the amendnient before us, ducing the Representatives on this floor to one it adopted. To illustrate my position, I will sup- from each State, and in such event of completely pose an understanding and agreement among,


controlling the power States, (for without them no election for President

of the large States in every can take place.) that A shall be supported as Pre- I department of ihe Government, for the Constitu

tion, says: sident, and B as Vice President; will not the importance of the office, and the probability of suc- “ The number of Representatives shall not exceed cess, under the want of the discriminating princi- one for every thirty thousand, but each State shall have ple, warrant the assertion that there is great

at least one Representative.” danger of intrigue, to secure the election of B, I therefore think that, in the formation of this the ostensible candidate for the office of Vice Constitution, the accommodation was exclusively President to the Presidential chair, by reducing on the part of the large States, and that, of course, some of the Electors in one of the States to vio- it was not reciprocal. Though the large States late the agreement thus made with the sister have not their due share of power, I do not comStates, in voting for him only, whom none but plain. I only iofer that, as the small States have themselves and those active in the intrigue, con- almost all the power of the Government, or may template to be President, and thereby a President get it by amendments, and as they are vested with will be crammed upon us, whom nine-tenths of all this power, without an equivalent given to the the people never thought of ? Much has been large Siates, they are most interested in the existsaid by gentlemen respecting the spirit of compro. ence of the Constitution, and if most interested in mise and accommodation which governed the its preservation they are also most interested in framers of the Constitution, and it is contended the adoption of this amendment, because I have that this spirit of accommodation and compromise proven that intrigue and corruption are more will be materially affected, and one of the main likely to occur under the Constitution, wanting the principles of the Constitution violated by this discriminating principle, than under the amendamendment. I admit that a spirit of compromise ment now proposed ; and I ask gentlemen whether and accommodation influenced some of the fram- any engine that can be set in niotion will be more ers of that instrument, but I deny that it was mu- destructive 10 this Constitution than fraud, intual. There certainly was a noble magnanimity trigue, venality, and corruption ? Sir, the friends evinced in the accommodating spirit of the Rep- of republican Government have justly considered resentatives of the large States, to induce the that the great danger it has to dread is from oversmall States to come into the Union, but that grown Executive power, and from the desperate spirit was not reciprocal. I believe that those efforts of aspiring individuals to obtain it. “Renwho represented the large States justly estimated der the election a matter of chance, make the the danger and rivalries of neighboring States, if Electors vote blindfolded, as they now do, and not subject 10 one confederated Government, often indeed will the election come into the House competent to their individual protection. The of Representatives, where (I wish to be under


Amendment to the Constitution.

H. Of R.


stood, I speak not of the present time, I believe says the interests of the States are implicated by the present Representatives would spurn at every this amendment. Sir, I believe there are talents effort to influence them improperly.) intrigue, ve- and virtue sufficient in the State Legislatures to nality, and corruption will be brought to a focus discern the import of measures implicating their with wealth and all the allurements of office in interests, and to adopt or reject them as those inthe train, arrayed against virtue, and the wishes terests dictate; they will not be thankful to the of the nation. Willihere not be great danger that gentleman and his political friends for attempting corruption will be played off here in such a way upon this, as on a former, occasion, to guard the as to induce the members to disregard the voice of people against themselves as their worst enemies. the people, and elevate to supreme Executive Much has been said against the details of this power an aspiring individual ?' Sir, experience amendment. I acknowledge, sir, I am one of has borne testimony against the present mode of those who do not like them all, but I think the election. Let us not reject its admonitions. By cases in which inconvenience is apprehended, so recurring to the situation of this country, not long extreme and unlikely to occur, thai I am unwillsince, it will be recollected that there was serious ing to hazard the great principle of the amenddanger of a dissolution of the Government, and I ment on account of them. I am not disposed to believe it was felt in the most remote parts of the risk a certain good, by guarding against a visionUnited States. Under the discriminating princi- ary evil, which it may be supposed will result ple now contemplated, the election will not, prob- from it. I believe the guarding against the right ably in one case out of a hundred, be brought into of the Senate to elect a President would be prothe House of Representatives, and ihe awful crisis viding for an extreme case that will never happen. of alarm, to which I have alluded, never occur For, as I before observed, it is not likely that the again.

election will come into the House of RepresentaI observed, upon a former occasion, when this tives for a century to come, if the discriminating subject was before us, that the polar star of re- principle be adopted; and when it does come into publicanism was, that the majority should govern; this House, it is not to be presumed they will neand that, so far as we have deviated from that glect to make a choice, when, in that case, they principle, our Constitution is anti-republican. know the Senate have the authority. I ask, if a Shall we reject the present favorable opportunity man would not be esteemed mad, who, having a to give efficacy to that principle in a most essen- ship and its cargo in the hands of an enemy, should tial branch of our Government? and, by adher- refuse to accept the restoration of the one withing to a mode which experience has proven is out the other? As the Constitution at present fraught with imminent danger, suffer the minority. stands it has, in a great measure, placed the elecof this nation to choose a President of the United tion (as I have attempted to show) in the hands States ? For, unless we sacrifice the election of of a minority-in the hands of political enemiesVice President, they may vote for him whom we and out of the control of the majority ? Shall we intend for that office, and thereby make him, con- suffer this to be ihe case, because we cannot make trary to the wishes of the majority, the President the resolution more perfect; although we acof the United States. If we desire to reward tal- knowledge it contains a most essential amendents and patriotism with the highest office in the ment, and almost all the States, before the prevapower of the nation to bestow, we shall be obliged lence of party spirit, declared an alteration necesto give up the Vice Presidency to the minority, sary? These are my reasons for voting for the and thereby set a price of $80,000 on the head of resolution, and I hope it will be agreed to. the President, with all the honors and offices of Mr. STANTON.- Mr. Speaker, I exceedingly rethe nation, to be given to a political enemy. I gret that I cannot forbear troubling the House hope, sir, as such a state of things may happen, we with a few remarks, in justification of the vote I shall take care to guard against it. The gentle- am about to give, on the all-important resolution man from Connecticut says this subject is not on your table, for amending the Constitution of understood by the American people, and, that it the United States. Sir, that venerable body, may be understood, he wishes it to be discussed were the framers of that valuable instrument, prehere, in the newspapers, and in the State Legisla- supposed that, after its merits had undergone the tures. Sir, it has been, long since, discussed here ordeal of experience, it would need amendment. and elsewhere, and is, in my opinion, well under- All intelligent, well-disposed men, of every destood. In several State Legislatures, whose poli- scription, agree that the main object of Governtics correspond with those of that gentleman, ment is, or ought to be, such as expressed in the (and which will, therefore, be allowed by him to language introductory to our Constitution : "to have been uninfluenced by party zeal,) as well as promote the general welfare and secure the blessin States which correspond in political opinion ings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity;" with the majority of this House, it has been re- that being the case, it strongly recommends the peatedly examined, and the States have almost adoption of the resolution in contemplation. invariably concurred in recommending the dis- That part of the national compact that relates to criminating principle, in the election of President the choice of President and Vice President, which and Vice President. Can there be a stronger does not permit the Electors to designate on their evidence of its justice than its being recommend- ballots who they vote for as President and Vice ed at a line when party views were out of the President, which envelopes the Electors in darkquestion? The gentleman is correct when he ness, and cannot be reconciled with the goud pur



H. OF R.

Amendment to the Constitution.

DecemBER, 1803.

pose of the Convention, but by their own senti- public mind was agitated and tossed to and fro on ments expressed in their letter to the President of the tempestuous sea of doubt, and forced to the Congress, signed by their illustrious President, the verge of despair ? Surely the honorable gentle words are emphatical:

man must have been out of the United States, or “ This important consideration, seriously and deeply out of his senses, or he must have lost his usual impressed on our minds, led each State in the Conven- sagacity, patriotism, and sound regard for the tion to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude honor of his country, or he musi have recollected than might have been otherwise expected, and thus the the alarming catastrophe. Even had he been Constitution, which we now present, is the result of a among the antipodes, who walk on the other side spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and cons of the globe, with their feet opposite to ours, he cession which the peculiarity of our situation rendered would almost have heard the destructive sound, indispensable."

which seemed to be from the clouds, and penetrate For it evidently appears that the divided situa. the solid earth. Sir, I ought to apologize for this tion of the Convention was such, in consequence digression and detention of the House; but, while of the difference among the several States as to Iam up, I hope to be indulged to make a few retheir particular extent, habits, and particular in- marks on what dropped from an honorable genterests. This being the case, the Convention was tleman from Pennsylvania, who appeared an able obliged to submit to improprieties and imperfec- advocate for the discriminating part of the resolutions, and to wait the iest of experience on the tion, and opposed the 'clause relative to the ex. meriis of the compact. Sir, I am hostile to the President acting as President in the event of doctrine advanced on this floor, that the least in- certain contingencies. But, he suddenly seems to novation in this sacred charter would endanger change bis ground, and says, the most objectionathe tranquillity of the Union. At the same time, ble part of this amendment, in the opinion of many I admit that it should not be touched but for co- genilemen, and against which the gentleman irom gent reasons and emergencies like the present. Vermont in particular has levelled his keenest Sir, that Constitution which, in its operation, darts, is that which vests the Vice President with tends most to promote the happiness of the peo- power to discharge the duties of President in the ple, by rewarding intrinsic merit, defending the event of a President not being elected; and proinnocent, and affording speedy and effectual re- ceeds by saying, at first view it appears liable to dress of grievances, is the best. No doubt but the objections, but, on a candid and fair investigation, framers of the national compact, in all their de- the objections lose their weight and the principle liberations, kept in view the greatest good of the is found, in his opinion, correct. Sir, I beg leave people. And, while I am disposed to pay homage to differ with the honorable gentleman, not only to their superior talents and patriotism. I am un- in this, but also on another position, where he willing to pay them a compliment or encomium says, it will also operate as a stimulus to the that may, in the least degree, depreciate the good House of Represenlatives to make an election. sense of their creator, the people. I believe our I think, sir, it will produce a contrary effect; they Constitution is as free from imperfections as any will, I fear, consider themselves exonerated from on earth, yet it is, like all other human productions, the imperative language of the present Constitususceptible of improvement. Sir, the fifth article tion, that says: “ They shall immediately choose in the Constitution says:

a President." Sir, after viewing the whole ground, “ The Congress, when two-thirds of both Houses and notwithstanding the imperfections of ibe resshall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to olution in its present form, as it contains the disthis Constitution, or, on the application of the Legisla criminating principle, which alone was all I tures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a wished to obtain, I shall give it my feeble support. Convention for proposing amendments, which, in either Being fully impressed in my mind that, by adoptcase, shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of ing the designating principle contained in the this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of resolution, it will frustrate the machinations of three-fourths of the several States, or by Conventions factions, secure in future a fair expression of the in three-fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of public will, and tend to increase the domestic hapratification may be proposed by the Congress; and that piness, and national prosperity and glory. no State without its consent shall be deprived by its

Mr. Gregg said, he regretted the expression he equal suffrage in the Senate."

had made yesterday, as it appeared to have given This article, that forever keeps open the door dissatisfaction to some gentlemen. That expresfor amendment, and secures an equal suffrage in sion had, however, been misconceived. He bad the Senate, and gives an equal vote in the choice said, that the people were in favor of the discrimof a President, in the event of no choice by Elect- inating principle; he had said that this country ors, is the life, beauty, and quintessence of the was divided into iwo parties, and that an amendConstitution. Sir, I recollect that, yesterday, ment for the establishment of this principle had at when this subject was discussed, an honorable one time been brought forward by one party and member from Connecticut repeatedly called on then by the other; he had said that one of these the friends of the resolution to point out one evil parties was called republican, and the other fedethat had resulted to the people of the Union from ral. He did not consider this last term an imputhe existing Constitution. Sir, permit me to ask tation on any gentleman. Some gentlemen were the honorable gentleman where he was at the aw- called federalists; he was called a republican. ful crisis of the Presidential election, when the They differed, it was true, in political sentiment;


Amendment to the Constitution.

H. OF R.

but he had never understood that gentlemen contended had not taken place. From the promthought there was anything reproachful in being ise which was held out on that occasion, and from called federalists; on the contrary, he knew the the time which bad intervened, his expectations time when the epithet was deemed honorable. had been wound up to a very high piich; whe

Mr. Leib moved a postponement of the subject ther they had been gratified or not he would leave till Monday. Lost-ayes 41.

the House to determine. Since the gentleman A motion to adjourn was then made, and lost. had expressed a desire, and the House had affirmMr. Elliot.-There are two or three remarks, ed it, that this discussion should be protracted, which fell from me in the animation of debate, I Mr. R. hoped that he, on this subject, (whatever wish to explain. I used the observation of rash might be the case on others, where he was comprecipitancy as applicable to the majority in this pelled to defend what it was his duty to originate,) business; of personal indecorum, imperious ne. had occupied as little of their time as most of cessity, and Senatorial authority, as applicable to those who had discussed it, and might be permitted particular members. I also observed that there to make a few remarks in reply to those which were men of both parties, who, in my opinion, had fallen from gentlemen. were aspiring and unprincipled. I beg leave ex- He would begin with those of the worthy memplicitly to state that I did not, at the time I made ber from Massachusetts, (Mr. Eustis.) He has this remark, entertain an idea of any individual stated that this amendment embraces three obcitizen. I alluded to no particular person. The jects: The designation of the persons voted for remark was general, and I believe it to have been as President and Vice President; the mode in just. As to the charge of rash precipitancy, I did which the choice of President should be made by not mean to apply it to the majority. Perhaps I that House, in case of no election by the Electors, was wrong in making it; I hope I was. : When, in the first instance; and the provision that the at an advanced stage of the debate, I intimated a duties of President should be exercised by the wish to be heard, when no more than one day had Vice President, if the House of Representatives been spent on the subject, and when I declared should also fail to make an election. To the first myself too much exhausted and indisposed to of these provisions, the gentleman from Massadeclare my opinions at that late hour, the House, chusetts felt himself warmly attached, but could by a great majority, deprived me of the time ne- not be brought to adopt it, when combined with cessary to do justice to my ideas. For a moment, the other two. On the first objection which he I felt myself placed in a humiliating and degrad- had taken, the gentleman had dwelt so short a ed situation ; in such a situation as I thought no time, and with so little force, and the difference Representative, and particularly a Representative between electing out of the five highest," or out of one of the largest districts in the Union, con of those“ having the highest numbers not exceedtaining a population of between fifty and sixty ing three," was, in itself, so trivial, that little rethousand souls, ought to be placed. If there was liance seemed placed upon it. The possible sucin this procedure anything of rash precipitancy, cession of the Vice President to the Presidency, it was, perhaps, the error of the moment; and appeared to form the chief obstacle, and because what I considered at the time as the offspring of he conceived it calculated to defeai the discrimtemper and passion, may have been nothing more inating principle he could not be prevailed upon than an evidenee of that disposition to which the to assent to any amendment into which it was ingreatest men have told us the first bodies in the corporated. And yet against this very principle world are sometimes exposed. If the body did. of designation, the genileman from Connecticut for a moment, yield to this disposition, I am ready (Mr. R. Griswold) has made his utmost exerto acknowledge that it has amply atoned for it by lions, as subversive of the original ground of comthe magnanimity and patience it has since exbib-pact between the States. Let me ask, said Mr. ited. I also made the charge of personal indeco- R., upon what ground these gentlemen will vote rum. I thought that it really existed. I thought together against this amendment when their it indecorous for any gentleman to tell other gen- views of its tendency are so entirely opposite, and tlemen that they had personal knowledge of dis- when they are equally opposed in opinion as to honorable intrigue prac ised on a late important what ought to be effected by us.

I beg, sir, this occasion. As to the imputation of Senatorial au- inquiry may be understood to proceed from the thority, I am still of opinion that this charge is high respect in which I hold the gentleman from merited by gentlemen who say we must take this Massachusetts, and from the regret which I must resolution precisely as it came from the Senate, or always feel in being compelled to act against lose everything. I conclude what I have to say him.' It is dictated only by my anxiety to add on this subject, by declaring that, whatever the sanction of his character and his talents to warmth I may have exhibited in this debate, the every measure in which I may be concerned. vote which I am now about to give is the result The gentleman from Massachusetts advocates the of the coolest deliberation, and in conformity to discriminating between the persons voted for as the most sincere dictates of conscience.

President and Vice President;

the gentleman from Mr. J. RANDOLPH said, that they had been told Connecticut deprecates it. The first gentleman the other night, by the gentleman from Connec- is opposed to the amendment because it is calcuticut, (Mr. GRISWOLD,) that it was necessary to lated to defeat this principle of discrimination ; procrastinate this decision in order to give time the second because it contains it. When these for that thorough investigation which it was then I gentlemen assigned such opposite and irreconcil

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