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caution to be omitted that might postpone the event as long as possible. Ineligibility a second time appeared to him to be the best precaution. With this precaution he had no objection to a longer term than seven years. He would go as far as ten or twelve years.
Mr. Gerry moved that the Legislatures of the States should vote by ballot for the Executive, in the same proportions as it had been proposed they should choose Electors; and that in case a majority of the votes should not centre on the same person, the first branch of the National Legislature should choose two out of the four candidates having most votes; and out of these two the second branch should choose the Executive.
Mr. King seconded the motion; and on the question to postpone, in order to take it into consideration, the noes were so predominant, that the States were not counted.
On the question on Mr. Houston's motion, that the Executive be appointed by the National Legislature, -New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye—7; Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, no—4.
Mr. L. MARTIN and Mr. GERRY moved to re-instate the ineligibility of the Executive a second time.
Mr. Ellsworth. With many this appears a natural consequence of his being elected by the Legislature. It was not the case with him. The Executive he thought should be re-elected if his conduct proved him worthy of it. And he will be more likely to render himself worthy of it if he be rewardable with it. The most eminent characters, also, will be more willing to accept the trust under this condition, than if they foresee a necessary degradation at a fixed period.
Mr. GERRY. That the Executive should be independent of the Legislature, is a clear point. The longer the duration of his appointment, the more will his dependence be diminished. It will be better, then, for him to continue ten, fifteen, or even twenty years, and be ineligible afterwards.
Mr. King was for making him re-eligible. This is too great an advantage to be given up, for the small effect it will have on his dependence, if impeachments are to lie. He considered these as rendering the tenure during pleasure.
Mr. L. Martin, suspending his motion as to the ineligibility, moved, “that the appointment of the Executive shall continue for eleven years.”
Mr. GERRY suggested fifteen years.
Mr. King twenty years.* This is the medium life of princes.
Mr. Davie eight years.
Mr. Wilson. The difficulties and perplexities into which the House is thrown, proceed from the election by the Legislature, which he was sorry had been re-instated. The inconvenience of this mode was such, that he would agree to almost any length of time in order to get rid of the dependence which must result from it. He was persuaded that the longest term would not be equivalent to a proper mode of election, unless indeed it should be during good behaviour. It seemed to be supposed that at a certain advance of life a continuance in office would cease to be agreeable to the officer, as well as desirable to the public. Experience had shown in a variety of instances, that both a capacity and inclination for public service existed in very advanced stages. He mentioned the instance of a Doge of Venice who was elected after he was eighty years of age. The Popes have generally been elected at very advanced periods, and yet in no case had a more steady or a better concerted policy been pursued than in the Court of Rome. If the Executive should come into office at thirty-five years of age, which he presumes may happen, and his continuance should be fixed at fifteen years, at the age of fifty, in the very prime of life, and with all the aid of experience, he must be cast aside like a useless hulk. What an irreparable loss would the British jurisprudence have sustained, had the age of fifty been fixed there as the ultimate limit of capacity or readiness to serve the public. The great luminary Lord Mansfield, held his seat for thirty years after his arrival at that age. Notwithstanding what had been done, he could not but hope that a better mode of election would yet be adopted; and one that would be more agreeable to the general sense of the House. That time might be given for further deliberation, he would move that the present question be postponed till to-morrow.
* This might possibly be meant as a caricature of the previous motions, in order to defeat the object of them.
Mr. Broom seconded the motion to postpone.
Mr. Gerry. We seem to be entirely at a loss on this head. He would suggest whether it would not
be advisable to refer the clause relating to the Executive to the committee of detail to be appointed. Perhaps they will be able to hit on something that may unite the various opinions which have been thrown out.
Mr. Wilson. As the great difficulty seems to spring from the mode of election, he would suggest a mode which had not been mentioned. It was, that the Executive be elected for six years by a small number, not more than fifteen of the National Legislature, to be drawn from it, not by ballot, but by lot, and who should retire immediately and make the election without separating. By this mode intrigue would be avoided in the first instance, and the dependence would be diminished. This was not, he said, a digested idea, and might be liable to strong objections.
Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS. Of all possible modes of appointment that by the Legislature is the worst. If the Legislature is to appoint, and to impeach, or to influence the impeachment, the Executive will be the mere creature of it. He had been opposed to the impeachment, but was now convinced that impeachments must be provided for, if the appointment was to be of any duration. No man would
that an Executive known to be in the pay of an enemy should not be removable in some way or other. He had been charged heretofore, (by Col. Mason), with inconsistency in pleading for confidence in the Legislature on some occasions, and urging a distrust on others. The charge was not well founded. The Legislature is worthy of unbounded confidence in some respects, and liable to equal distrust in others. When their interest coincides precisely with that of their constituents, as happens in many of their acts,
Vol. I.-75 *
, no abuse of trust is to be apprehended. When a strong personal interest happens to be opposed to the general interest, the Legislature cannot be too much distrusted. In all public bodies there are two parties. The Executive will necessarily be more connected with one than with the other. There will be a personal interest, therefore, in one of the parties, to oppose, as well as in the other to support, him. Much had been said of the intrigues that will be practised by the Executive to get into office. Nothing had been said on the other side, of the intrigues to get him out of office. Some leader of a party will always covet his seat, will perplex his administration, will cabal with the Legislature, till he succeeds in supplanting him. This was the way in which the King of England was got out, he meant the real king, the Minister. This was the way in which Pitt (Lord Chatham) forced himself into place. Fox was for pushing the matter still further. If he had carried his India bill, which he was very near doing, he would have made the Minister the king in form almost, as well as in substance. Our President will be the British Minister, yet we are about to make him appointable by the Legislature. Something has been said of the danger of monarchy. If a good government should not now be formed, if a good organization of the Executive should not be provided, he doubted whether we should not bave something worse than a limited monarchy. In order to get rid of the dependence of the Executive on the Legislature, the expedient of making him ineli