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H. OF R.
Amendment to the Constitution.
able objections, I hoped they would not unite the provision discriminating between the Presitheir votes against the amendment-that one of dent and Vice President will be totally defeated, them would become a convert to the other, and since the Vice President, chosen either by the that we should derive some support from them Electors or the Senate, will succeed to the Presion the question. But there is one point on which dency. Is it not better that a person selected by they agree. They contend that it does not be- the Electors, who are apprized of the contingencome us to suppose that the House of Represent-cy, or by the Senate out of two presented to their atives can refuse to obey the imperative voice of choice, should succeed to the Presidency, than that the Constitution, which commands them to elect anarchy should ensue, or desperate measures be a President, and that the provision of the Senate resorted to for carrying on the Government? for such an emergency contains at once an unwar- Will it not serve to diminish the violence of the ranted imputation on that branch of the Legisla- conflict here, when this House is apprized that it ture, and an inducement to them to swerve from does not rest with a party within its walls to defeat their duty. The supposition that this House will the election of President altogether? But this we refuse to make an election when it is enjoined are told will give rise to endless intrigue. The upon them by the Constitution, is said to be de- Vice President, if any, or candidate for that ofgrading, and therefore inadmissible. We are ex-fice, will use every means to prevent an election, horted not to libel ourselves on our own statute in hopes of succeeding to the Executive power. book, and a late case is adduced to prove that all Do gentlemen reflect that this argument equally fears on that head are groundless. From that applies to every case of election by the House, as case I draw directly an opposite inference. Gen- the Constitution now stands? Is it not as easy tlemen then told us, we are highly averse to both for a candidate for the Presidency to intrigue, in the persons from whom we are to select a Presi- order to effect an election, as for a Vice President dent, but there are shades in our dislike; we con- to intrigue to defeat one? When two or more ceive that we have a right to be indulged with men come into this House as candidates for the the candidate whom we consider the least obnox-office of President, are not their inducements to ious to our principles and views. If a mere shade intrigue as strong as any which can exist under of dislike between two persons whom they highly the proposed amendment, and is not the event of disapproved would warrant such an opposition as an election by the House of Representatives much we then saw, what would have been the struggle more probable under the present than under the if the choice had been to be made between the proposed amendment? gentleman who succeeded to the Presidency, and either of those who were held up for that office from Massachusetts or South Carolina? Does any man believe that we should have succeeded | in an election under such circumstances? Would the gentleman from Connecticut have abandoned his principles in that case, or does he expect that we should have surrendered ours?
To vote for two persons, without designating which is intended for the President and which for Vice President, is, we are told by the gentleman from Connecticut, to insure the selection of the two most capable men in the United States for those offices, respectively; but if a discrimination be made, combinations will take place between the States, and the Vice President will become a I put it to the gentleman himself whether he weight to secure the election of President; that could under such circumstances have relinquished he will be selected rather with a view to the State his own judgment and principles. I ask if he of which he is a citizen, or to his influence with could have justified to himself the giving of such particular Electors, than his worth or abilities. a vote? I answer for him that he could not. I So far is this from being true, in my opinion, that take upon me to say so, because I could not have a designation is absolutely necessary to secure the justified it in myself. I never could have justified election of a fit person for the office of Vice Presimyself, because the House of Representatives are dent. When the Electors designate the offices directed to choose a President, in abandoning a and persons, respectively, for whom they vote, candidate for whom I had the highest confidence, after choosing the person highest in their confiand voting for one of whom I felt the greatest dence for President, they will naturally make diffidence. The Constitution enjoins it upon this choice of him who stands next in their esteem for House to make an election, but it cannot enjoin Vice President; but where they are not permitupon any man an abandonment of his judgment ted to make this discrimination, they will, to seand his principles. When we have conscien- cure the most important election, give all their tiously given our votes we have discharged our votes to him whom they wish to be President, duty. It is equally our business to pass laws and and scatter the other votes; thus leaving to chance to perform other important functions. But does to decide who shall be Vice President. Where a that imply an obligation on any man to vote for discrimination takes place, the Vice President will laws which he believes impolitic, oppressive, or necessarily be a man standing high in the public unjust? If the case which I have put had actu- confidence. Where it does not take place, it is ally occurred, I presume we should have broken more than probable that he will be a secondary up without an election. For one I do not hesitate character. But we are told that it is degrading in to say, that I would have continued balloting till the lowest degree to suppose that there is but one the 4th of March, and let things take their course. person in the United States equal to the PresiLet us suppose such a case to have happened.dency. Far be this idea from me. Were 1 of The gentleman from Massachusetts objects that this opinion, weak as I am, I should expect to sur
Amendment to the Constitution.
vive the Constitution-since I may reasonably expect to survive the term of the present Chief Magistrate. But whilst I admit that there are hundreds capable of filling the office, I do not believe it possible to present to the public, or to an individual, two candidates between whom there will not exist a preference. This is the nature of man, and it is the nature of free Governments to gratify this preference.
But the gentleman from Connecticut has gone into a wide field. He takes a view of the elementary principles of our Government, which he states to be consolidating and federal, and he declares that the discrimination attempted to be introduced will violate the last of those principles, to which he professes himself particularly attached. It is a matter of some surprise to me that, agreeing so nearly as we do in general principles, we should differ so widely in our conclusions. With some variation of expression, (perhaps of ideas,) I subscribe to his general doctrine. With him, I consider this a Government of States-as a Federal Government. Inasmuch as it tends to consolidation, by so much is it objectionable to me.With him, I prize the federal principles on which it is founded, and I will join that gentleman, or any other, in heightening every federal feature of the Constitution. I consider it, too, not only a Government of States, but as a compromise between States of various dimensions and interests. When embarked in one common bottom, with a common sword and common Treasury, it became necessary to give the large States a superior degree of influence, to induce them to put their superior wealth and population at the disposal of the Confederacy; whilst the small States were to be secured against encroachment. While, therefore, they are equal in the Senate, on this floor the States are represented in proportion to their population and wealth-their influence in the choice of President is compounded of their influence in both branches of the Legislature. This is the basis of the Constitution, and carries compromise in every feature. I will venture to say, that even this House is not organized on the principle of a consolidated Government, because the representation on this floor is not of the whole mass of the people of the United States, but it is a representation of each State. The United States are not divided into as many districts as there are members, nor is there a general election, but each State sends its own delegation; and the rule of apportionment of representatives is an additional proof that this is a federative Government and a Government of compromise. If I were to point out the part of this Constitution which tends most to consolidation, I should lay my hand on the Judiciary. The giving to that department jurisdiction not only under Federal laws, but in cases between man and man, arising under the laws of a State, where one of the parties is a foreigner, or citizen of another State, and even between citizens of the same State under the bankrupt system, is the strongest feature of consolidation in this Government. I will go all lengths with gentlemen in abrogating this jurisdictionSth CON.-25
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in restoring the federal principle to this department of Government. I wish to see the day when the jurisdiction of the Federal courts shall be confined to cases arising under the Federal laws.
Mr. R. apologized for the digression into which he had been carried by the view which the gentleman from Connecticut had taken of the principles of our Government. It is contended that the discriminating principle of this amendment goes to destroy the compromise between the States, since it will annihilate the power of the small States. To this I conceive it is an unanswerable reply that if such be its effect it can never become a part of the Constitution.
Five States may put their veto upon it. Rhode Island, Delaware, Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia, are five as small States as can be found in the Union. They belong to the great subdivisions of the country, Eastern, Middle, Western, and Southern. These five States, judging from their representation, contain less than one-twelfth of the population of the United States. Eleven-twelfths of the Union may be forbidden by these States from adding this amendment to the Constitution. An additional proof that this proposition is not injurious to the smaller States is, that the Representatives of those very States have expressed their approbation of it. If, on the contrary, as has been contended by other gentlemen, this amendment impairs the influence of the large States, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina, will reject it. But a strong proof that it neither affects the interest of the one nor the other is, that objections have been made to it on both these grounds. Whilst, however, the gentleman from Connecticut combats this discrimination as subversive of the rights of the small States his friend from Maryland (Mr. DENNIS) objects to it because the last provision renders nugatory the discriminating principle. Does the gentleman mean to disarm his friends of their objections to the amendments and induce them to support it; or does he, relying on their stability, expect to excite alarm in its friends and thereby defeat it? The gentleman and his friends have uniformly opposed all discrimination, and now it seems, he objects because that object is likely to be defeated. This objection the gentleman from Connecticut had, with his usual clear sightedness, cautiously avoided. He knew better the real bearing of the amendment, and if such had been the effect of the last provision, the amendment would never have received so strenuous an opposition from him. No sir, it is because he sees this principle, so obnoxious to him, existing unimpaired in this amendment, that he has thrown every obstacle in his power against it. He has indeed taken the objection that it will open the door to intrigue-for so soon as any man is put in reach of the Presidency you arm him with the power, whilst you give him the disposition to corrupt the Electors. It will therefore be the interest of the Vice President to defeat an election by this House. But will not the disposition and power to intrigue be equally brought into action as the Constitu
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Amendment to the Constitution.
tion now stands, when two or more candidates shall be presented to that House for their selection? And is not the probability of such an event diminished by discriminating between the officers? I conceive this provision, by lessening the chance of an election by this House, has done much. It will tend in a great degree to strengthen the union of these States, which never was more endangered than at the last election. The gentleman from Connecticut complains that the events of that period have been grossly misrepresented. Whether that be the case or not, I have no hesitation to state that it was, in my opinion, a period of imminent danger to this country. It was a crisis such as I hope we shall never again be exposed to, and to avoid its recurrence is my motive for advocating the amendment which has been sent to us, and which is as unexceptionable as any which I believe at this time attainable. The worst that can befall us will be the exercise of the duties of President by the same person who would be called upon to discharge them in case of his death, resignation, or removal from office.
Mr. EUSTIS.-If at this late hour I could expect the attention of this House, I should derive a peculiar satisfaction in replying to the observations of my friend from Virginia; and as from present indications I have a right to experience that indulgence, I shall proceed with the same candor which has distinguished the remarks of that gentleman, with whom it would be my pleasure to act on this as on other occasions.
voted for as Vice President, will be respectively designated in distinct ballots. This is the alteration contemplated in the resolution which passed the House-this embraces the whole of the change contemplated by the House and by the publicthis is the amendment which I continue to approve, and against which I have heard no substantial objection.
The second amendment proposed by the Senate, it may also be recollected, was objected to on two grounds: first, that it contemplated another important alteration in the Constitution in a point where no evil had resulted, and where no inconvenience had been experienced. Without any reason, it proposed to narrow the choice of the House from five to three. It has been contended and I hope the gentleman from North Carolina will take this as an answer to his observationsit has been contended by that gentleman, as well as others, and with some ingenuity, that the President and Vice President are to be chosen from the five highest candidates, by the Constitution; and as, by the resolution, the President is to be chosen from the three highest, and the Vice President from the two highest, that the three and the two make five, and of course there is no difference; and the gentleman, therefore, does not see how the resolution can be objected to on this ground. But it will be seen that at present, and under the Constitution, the President is chosen from five; if the proposed amendment be adopted, he must be chosen from three candidates; making a change, and narrowing the choice from among the candidates, from five to three. The election of Vice President, by this amendment, is totally changed; he is to be chosen at another time and in another place, and gentlemen must see that his election bears no relation to, and cannot be coupled with, that of the President.
The second objection to this amendment was grounded on the indefinite mode of expressionfrom the persons having the highest numbers,
That gentleman expresses his hope, as the resolution under consideration embraces the great object had in view, that those who are desirous of attaining this object will not refuse their assent to it because the resolution contains other provisions which he terms of an inferior or secondary nature. It is necessary to review the resolution, and I must repeat the objections which were made when it first came under consideration. I stated at that time that it differed widely and materially from the resolution sent up by this House to the Sen-not exceeding three, on the list of those voted for ate, and on which it does not appear that the Senate have acted. That resolution contemplated a single object, viz: a designation of the persons voted for as President and Vice President. The resolution of the Senate I also stated to consist of three distinct and separate propositions: the first containing what has been termed the designating principle; the second reducing the Constitutional number of candidates from whom the House of Representatives are to choose, in case there be no choice by the Electors, from five to three; the third providing in case there shall be no choice by the House of Representatives, that the Vice President' shall be President of the United States. The first provision, that of designating, appears to me, and the House will recollect, and the gentleman from Virginia will also recollect, that I then stated this to be a modification rather than a change of a Constitutional rule or principle, by which the votes of the Electors, given in that case as they are now given under the Constitution, will be subject only to this alteration, that the person voted for as President, and the person
as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately by ballot." "There is a want of precision in these words. Some gentlemen understand it as limiting the choice to the three highest candidates, while others suppose them intended to embrace five, ten, or fifteen, if there be so many having an equal number of votes in the three highest grades; and, if gentlemen on this floor differ in their construction, is it not to be expected that the State Legislatures. when they come to consider, and the House of Representatives of the United States, when they come to act under it, will also differ?
The third proposition provides that, if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President before the fourth of March following, the Vice President shall act as President, as in case of his resignation or death-another and a still more important change in the Constitution. To this I did object, and I do still object, because it is predicated on a concession which I am not willing to have ingrafted in that instrument. It is predicated on a presumption that the House of Representa
tives may refuse to carry into effect the public will-that they will refuse to obey the imperative language of the Constitution, which ordains that, in case there be no choice by the Electors, they shall immediately proceed to a choice; because it assails a first and fundamental principle-it presumes on a privation or absence of political morality, on which all our institutions rest. The Constitution cannot exist if this principle become extinct.
The formation of this House-which is the democratic branch of the Government-how is it effected? In apportioning the representation of the several States, the words of the Constitution are "The State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to three Representatives." Suppose the people of the State of New Hampshire had declined to choose their Representatives, has this House the power to compel that State to exercise this right? They have not; and if other States had, from whatever motives, pursued a similar course, this House could not have been formed, and the Constitution must have been defeated.
A sense of interest and of political obligation are the basis and the security of the Constitution, and distinguish the people and Government of this from those of other countries; if you presume on its absence, you discourage, you diminish, you destroy it. "If the House of Representatives shall not choose." The House of Representatives will not refuse. they will not dare to refuse; the transaction which is passed proves they dare not defeat the will of the people. But if you make this amendment you furnish them with an apology, with an excuse, with a justification for refusing; and, what is worse, you tempt them to refuse; you presume, at least, that they may refuse. The high responsibility imposed on the House by the Constitution is destroyed. This provision will be pleaded in justification of their refusal to make a choice; and when they shall refuse what is to be the consequence? The officer whom it is intended to be defeated, by the first resolution, is promoted; the man whom the people never intended should be President, the Vice President, becomes President of the United States. The Vice Presidency will thenceforth become the office of importance to be secured in the Government, and by the means, and with the temptation, which will be in his power to offer and to use, he will finally become President.
I am sensible this is a provision in a last resort, and which cannot take effect excepting in case of a failure of two other processes: that of the Electors first, and that of the House in the second instance; and I am also sensible that the three provisions for securing a President stand separate from each other; but it is true, and it will be found in practice, that they have each a relation to, and bearing on the other. The responsibility of the Electors will be diminished, the House of Representatives will feel less responsibility, encouragement will be given to intrigue, and the means which have been, perhaps, too often alluded to on this floor, will receive a facility in the hands of the person who shall be chosen Vice President, which
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may become dangerous to the public peace and destructive to the public happiness.
These are the objections which I made to the resolution under consideration: a review of the subject has not diminished them. We continue to approve the designating principle-we approve the number five of candidates from which the House is to make a choice when the election shall be brought there. My friend from Virginia was with us in opinion on these points; our affirmative vote is on the Journals; if there be any change of opinion, that change is not with us, it is the majority of the House who have changed. And what reason is assigned for the change? What is the reason assigned by the gentleman from Virginia? That this is the best or the most he can attain, or that, as he gains the discriminating principle, he is willing to take the two other amendments which the Senate have added. We ask to be satisfied that we are reduced to this alternative. It is not satisfactory to be told that the Senate will not recede when they shall be made acquainted with the objections of the House; we ask for an intercourse with them-we desire that the rules of procedure in ordinary business be observed in this. With this view, I moved yesterday that the resolution might be committed; that we might send a message to the Senate, asking an answer to the proposal made to them for their concurrence in the resolution which passed the House, or to propose a committee of conference. The motion was negatived-it was said not to have been a custom in this Government to send such an order or message. Without pretensions to much experience, I know it must be in order. I know it must be consistent with parliamentary rule to send messages of this nature. In what other manner is the sense of one House to be made known to the other? On a subject of this importance, where there appears a difference of sentiment in the two Houses, some intercourse ought to be had, and some explanation is required. Perhaps the Senate, when they shall become possessed of the objections of the House, will be willing to recede from one or both the alterations which they have made in our resolution. When we ask them to institute this inquiry, gentlemen rise in their places and tell us, the Senate will not recede; and this is all we can have-this is not satisfactory.
By what means can gentlemen know this? It is due to those who object, and it is due to the House, that the inquiry should be made, that the ordinary course should be pursued. The resolu tion in the meantime will remain in custody of the House, and if there shall be a conviction that the Senate will give up nothing for the sake of accommodation, it may finally be adopted; until this course shall have been pursued it is unreasonable to press a decision. Many gentlemen who approve of the designating principle are opposed to the amendments proposed by the Senate. Some of those gentlemen have expressed their disapprobation; some of them will be compelled to vote against the resolution if insisted on at this time.
On the subject of amendments generally, two
H. OF R.
Amendment to the Constitution.
and Mr. SPEAKER declaring himself with the yeas.
of my colleagues have expressed sentiments not founded in a knowledge of the letter or spirit of the Constitution. One of them, a reverend genYEAS-Nathaniel Macon, (Speaker,) Willis Alston, tleman, (Mr. TAGGART,) speaking of the consti- jun., Nathaniel Alexander, Isaac Anderson, John Artution of Massachusetts, ascribed great wisdom to cher, David Bard, George Michael Bedinger, William the framers of that instrument, because they had Blackledge, John Boyle, Robert Brown, Joseph Bryan, provided that it should not be amended until after William Butler, George W. Campbell, Levi Casey, the expiration of fifteen years; that within that Thomas Claiborne, Joseph Clay, John Clopton, Fredterm an insurrection had prevailed in the State, erick Conrad, Jacob Crowninshield, Richard Cutts, Jno. and if the constitution had admitted of being Dawson, William Dickson, John B. Earle, Peter Early, amended or altered at that time, the temper and John W. Eppes, William Findley, John Fowler, Jas. disposition of what he has called the public mind Gillespie, Peterson Goodwyn, Edwin Gray, Andrew were such as would have cast the State afloat Gregg, Samuel Hammond, John A. Hanna, Josiah on the ocean of anarchy. Sir, that worthy gen- Hasbrouck, Daniel Heister, Joseph Heister, James Holtleman is not acquainted with the constitution of land, David Holmes, John G. Jackson, Walter Jones, his own State. That constitution is bottomed on John B. C. Lucas, Matthew Lyon, Andrew McCord, William Kennedy, Nehemiah Knight, Michael Leib, the principle that the people have at all times a right to alter, to amend, and change their form of William McCreery, David Meriwether, Samuel L. MitGovernment, whenever their own interest or their Morrow, Anthony New, Thomas Newton, jun., Gideon own happiness shall in their opinion require it. Olin, Beriah Palmer, John Patterson, John Randolph, Impressed with this principle, the framers of jun., Thomas M. Randolph, John Rea of Pennsylvania, that constitution provided by an express article John Rhea of Tennessee, Jacob Richards, Cæsar A. that the General Court which should be in session Rodney, Erastus Root, Thomas Sammons, Thomas fifteen years after the adoption, "shall issue pre- Sandford, Tompson J. Skinner, John Smilie, John cepts to the several towns and plantations, calling Smith of New York, Richard Stanford, Joseph Stana convention in order to take the sense of the ton, John Stewart, David Thomas, Philip R. Thomppeople, whether they wished for any alteration." son, Abram Trigg, John Trigg, Isaac Van Horne, DanUnderstanding their own constitution, and know-iel C. Verplanck, Matthew Walton, John Whitehill,
ing that they have at all times the right to alter and amend it, the people of the State have rested easy under it without alteration.
With respect to the Federal Constitution, are gentlemen ignorant of the difficulty with which the convention of Massachusetts finally adopted it? Do they recollect that amendments were for a long time insisted on as a condition of the ratification; that the people of that State having gone through the war under a federative Government very different from this, were afraid of the powers granted by the new Constitution; that their fears were extensive and influential; and that this Constitution was finally adopted, because it carried with it the means of being altered and amended as time and experience should suggest, and because the State Legislatures as well as Congress had a right to institute amendments?
One of the gentlemen (Mr. THATCHER) has quoted an authority to which every member of this House will bend with respect and attention. But the passage he has quoted, makes directly against him. Whilst we are cautioned against alterations under the garb of amendments, we are invited to adopt such as "experience" shall recommend, and the object of this amendment so far as it respects the designating principle is suggested by experience; that the true way to preserve the affections of the people for this Constitution is, to recur to the principles and conditions with which it was adopted, and instead of objecting, to give facility to such amendments as experience shall suggest.
chill, Nicholas R. Moore, Thomas Moore, Jeremiah
Marmaduke Williams, Richard Winn, Joseph Winston, and Thomas Wynns.
NAYS-Simeon Baldwin, Silas Betton, Phan. Bishop, John Campbell, William Chamberlin, Martin Chittenden, Clifton Claggett, Matthew Clay, Manasseh Cutler, Samuel W. Dana, John Davenport, John Dennis, Thomas Dwight, James Elliot, William Eustis, Seth Hastings, William Hoge, David Hough, BenjaCalvin Goddard, Gaylord Griswold, Roger Griswold, min Huger, Samuel Hunt, Joseph Lewis, jun., Thos. Lewis, Henry W. Livingston, Thomas Lowndes, Nahum Mitchell, Thomas Plater, Samuel D. Purviance, Ebenezer Seaver, John Cotton Smith, William Stedman, James Stephenson, Samuel Taggart, Benjamin Tallmadge, Samuel Tenney, Samuel Thatcher, George Tibbits, Joseph B. Varnum, Peleg Wadsworth, and Lemuel Williams.
MONDAY, December 12.
The House resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole on the bill for the relief of the officers of Government, and other citizens, who suffered in their property by the insurgents in the western counties of Pennsylvania; and, after some time, spent therein, the Committee rose and reported the bill without amendment.
Ordered, That the said bill be engrossed, and read the third time to-morrow.
On motion, it was Resolved, That a committee be appointed to inquire whether any, and if any, what alteration is necessary to be made in the law regulating the mode of selecting jurors to serve in the courts of the United States.
When Mr. EUSTIS had concluded, the ques- Ordered, That Messrs. EARLY, GEORGE W. tion was taken, and decided in the affirmative, CAMPBELL, DENNIS, EPPES, and HASTINGS, be by yeas and nays, two-thirds of the members pres- appointed a committee pursuant to the said resoent concurring in their agreement to the said res-lution.
olution of the Senate, to wit-yeas 83, nays 42- Mr. JOHN RANDOLPH, jun., from the Commit