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On the question on Col. MASON's motion, as above, it passed in the affirmative,—
New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye-7; Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, no-3; Massachusetts, not on the floor.
Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS was now against the whole paragraph. In answer to Col. MASON's position, that a periodical return of the great officers of the state into the mass of the people was the palladium of civil liberty, he would observe, that on the same principle the Judiciary ought to be periodically degraded; certain it was, that the Legislature ought, on every principle, yet no one had proposed, or conceived that the members of it should not be re-eligible. In answer to Doctor FRANKLIN, that a return into the mass of the people would be a promotion, instead of a degradation, he had no doubt that our Executive, like most others, would have too much patriotism to shrink from the burthen of his office, and too much modesty not to be willing to decline the promotion.
On the question on the whole Resolution, as amended, in the words following: "that a National Executive be instituted, to consist of a single person, to be chosen by the National Legislature, for the term of seven years, to be ineligible a second time, with power to carry into execution the national laws, to appoint to offices in cases not otherwise provided for, to be removable on impeachment and conviction of mal-practice or neglect of duty, to receive a fixed compensation for the devotion of his time to
the public service, to be paid out of the national Treasury," it passed in the affirmative,
New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye-6; Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, no—3; Massachusetts, not on the floor; Virginia, divided-Mr. BLAIR and Col. MASON, aye; General WASHINGTON and Mr. MADISON,
Mr. RANDOLPH happened to be out of the House. Mr. MASON moved, "that the Committee of Detail be instructed to receive a clause requiring certain qualifications of landed property, and citizenship of the United States, in members of the National Legislature; and disqualifying persons having unsettled accounts with, or being indebted to, the United States, from being members of the National Legislature." He observed that persons of the latter descriptions had frequently got into the State Legislatures, in order to promote laws that might shelter their delinquencies; and that this evil had crept into Congress, if report was to be regarded.
Mr. PINCKNEY seconded the motion.
Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS. If qualifications are proper, he would prefer them in the electors, rather than the elected. As to debtors of the United States, they are but few. As to persons having unsettled accounts, he believed them to be pretty many. He thought, however, that such a discrimination to be both odious and useless, and in many instances, unjust and cruel. The delay of settlement had been more the fault of the public, than of the individuals. What will be done with those patriotic citizens who have lent money, or services, or property, to their country, without having been yet able
to obtain a liquidation of their claims? Are they to be excluded?
Mr. GORHAM was for leaving to the Legislature the providing against such abuses as had been mentioned.
Col. MASON mentioned the parliamentary qualifications adopted in the reign of Queen Anne, which he said had met with universal approbation.
Mr. MADISON had witnessed the zeal of men having accounts with the public, to get into the Legislatures for sinister purposes. He thought, however, that if any precaution were taken for excluding them, the one proposed by Col. MASON ought to be re-modelled. It might be well to limit the exclusion to persons who had received money from the public, and had not accounted for it.
Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS. It was a precept of great antiquity, as well as of high authority, that we should not be righteous overmuch. He thought we ought to be equally on our guard against being wise overmuch. The proposed regulation would enable the Government to exclude particular persons from office as long as they pleased. He mentioned the case of the Commander-in-Chief's presenting his account for secret services, which, he said, was so moderate that every one was astonished at it; and so simple that no doubt could arise on it. Yet, had the Auditor been disposed to delay the settlement, how easily he might have effected it, and how cruel would it be in such a case to keep a distinguished and meritorious citizen under a temporary disability and disfranchisement. He mentioned this case, merely to illustrate the objectionable nature of the proposition. He was opposed to
such minutious regulations in a Constitution. The parliamentary qualifications quoted by Col. MASON had been disregarded in practice; and were but a scheme of the landed against the monied interest.
Mr. PINCKNEY and General PINCKNEY moved to insert, by way of amendment, the words, "Judiciary and Executive," so as to extend the qualifications to those Departments; which was agreed to, nem. con.
Mr. GERRY thought the inconvenience of excluding a few worthy individuals, who might be public debtors, or have unsettled accounts, ought not to be put in the scale against the public advantages of the regulation, and that the motion did not go far enough.
Mr. KING observed, that there might be great danger in requiring landed property as a qualification; since it might exclude the moneyed interest, whose aids may be essential in particular emergencies to the public safety.
Mr. DICKINSON was against any recital of qualifications in the Constitution. It was impossible to make a complete one; and a partial one would, by implication, tie up the hands of the Legislature from supplying the omissions. The best defence lay in the freeholders who were to elect the Legislature. Whilst this resource should remain pure, the public interest would be safe. If it ever should be corrupt, no little expedients would repel the danger. He doubted the policy of interweaving into a republican Constitution a veneration for wealth. He had always understood that a veneration for poverty and virtue were the objects of republican encouragement. It seemed improper that any man of merit
should be subjected to disabilities in a republic, where merit was understood to form the great title to public trust, honors, and rewards.
Mr. GERRY. If property be one object of government, provisions to secure it cannot be improper.
Mr. MADISON moved to strike out the word "landed," before the word "qualifications." If the proposition should be agreed to, he wished the Committee to be at liberty to report the best criterion they could devise. Landed possessions were no certain evidence of real wealth. Many enjoyed them to a great extent who were more in debt than they were worth. The unjust laws of the States had proceeded more from this class of men, than any others. It had often happened that men who had acquired landed property on credit got into the Legislatures with a view of promoting an unjust protection against their creditors. In the next place, if a small quantity of land should be made the standard, it would be no security; if a large one, it would exclude the proper representatives of those classes of citizens, who were not landholders. It was politic as well as just, that the interests and rights of every class should be duly represented and understood in the public councils. It was a provision every where established, that the country should be divided into districts, and representatives taken from each, in order that the Legislative assembly might equally understand and sympathize with the rights of the people in every part of the community. It was not less proper, that every class of citizens should have an opportunity of making their rights