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many hands; and how often, in the hands of one, or a few, or many,--of an hereditary monarch, or an elective chief, or a national council, the executive power has brought ruin upon the state, or sunk under the oppressive burden of ts own imbecility. Perhaps our own history has not, as yet, established, that we shall wholly escape all the dangers; and that here will not be found, as has been the case in other nations, the vulnerable part of the republic.
§ 253. The first clause of the first section is, "The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years; and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected as follows."
§ 254. In considering this clause, three practical questions may arise ; (1) whether there should be any executive department; (2) whether it should be composed of more than one person; (3) and what should be the duration of the term of office. Upon the first question, little need now be said, to establish the propriety of an executive department. It is founded upon a maxim admitted in all our State Constitutions, that the legislative, executive, and judicial departments ought to be kept separate, and the power of one ought not to be exercised by either of the others. The want of an executive department was felt as a great defect under the Confederation.
§ 255. In the next place, in what manner should the executive department be organized? It may, in general terms, be answered,-In such a manner as best to secure energy in the Executive, and safety to the people. A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the government; and a feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution. Unity in the Executive is favorable to energy, promptitude, and responsibility. A division of the power among several persons impairs each of these qualities; and introduces discord, intrigue, dilatoriness, and, not unfrequently, personal rivalries, incompatible with the public good. On the other hand, a single Executive is quite as safe for the people. His responsibility is mois
direct and efficient, as his measures cannot be disguised, or shifted upon others; and any abuse of authority car be more clearly seen, and carefully watched, than when it is shared by numbers.
§ 256. In the next place, the duration of the term of office of the Executive. It should be long enough to enable a chief magistrate to carry fairly through a system of government, according to the laws; and to stimulate him to personal firmness in the execution of his duties. If the term is very short, he will feel very little of the just pride of office, from the precariousness of its tenure. He will act more with reference to immediate and temporary popularity, than to permanent fame. His measures will tend to insure his own reelection, (if he desires 't,) rather than to promote the good of the country. He will bestow offices upon mean dependants, or fawning courtiers, rather than upon persons of solid honor and distinction. He will fear to encounter opposition by a lofty course; and his wishes for office, equally with his fears, will debase his fortitude, weaken his integrity, and enhance his irresolution.
§ 257. On the other hand, the period should not be so long, as to impair the proper dependence of the Executive upon the people for encouragement and support; or to enable him to persist in a course of measures, deeply injurious to the public interests, or subversive of the public faith. His administration should be known to come under the review of the people at short periods; so tha its merits may be decided, and its errors be corrected by the sober exercise of the electoral vote by the people.
§ 258. For all of these purposes, the period, actually assigned for the duration of office of the President, by the Constitution, seems adequate and satisfactory. It is four years, a period intermediate between the term of office of the Representatives, and that of the Senators. By this arrangement, too, the whole organization of the legis lative departments is not dissolved at the same moment A part of the functionaries are constantly going out of office, and as constantly renewed, while a sufficient num her remain, to carry on the same general system with in
telligence and steadiness. The President is not precluded from being reeligible to office; and thus with a just estimate of the true dignity and true duties of his office, he may confer lasting benefits on his country, as well as acquire for himself the enviable farne of a statesman and patriot.
§ 259. The like term of office is fixed for the Vice President; and in case of the vacancy of the office of President, he is to succeed to the same duties and pow ers. In the original scheme of the government, the Vice President was an equal candidate for the office of President. But that provision has been altered (as we shall presently see) by an amendment of the Constitution. As President of the Senate, it seems desirable, that the Vice President should have the experience of at least four years service, to perfect him in the forms of business, and secure to him due distinction, and weight of charac
§ 260. The next clause provides for the mode of choice of the President and Vice President. "Each State shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of Electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives, to which the State may be entitled in the Congress. But no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector."
§ 261. Various modes were suggested as to the choice of these high officers; first, the choice was proposed to be made by the National Legislature; secondly, by the State Legislatures; thirdly, by the people at large; fourthly, by the people in districts; and lastly, by ElectUpon consideration of the whole subject, the last was deemed the most eligible course, as it would secure the united action and wisdom of a select body of distinguished citizens in the choice, and would be attended with less excitement, and more deliberation, than a mere
popular election. Such a body would also have this preference over any mere Legislature, that it would not be chosen for the ordinary functions of legislation, but singly
and solely for this duty. It was supposed from these circumstances, that the choice would be more free and independent, more wise and cautious, more satisfactory, and more unbiased by party spirit, than in either of the other modes. The State Legislatures would still have an agency in the choice, by prescribing the mode, in which the Electors should be chosen, whether it should be by the people at large, or in districts, or by the Legislature itself. For the purpose of excluding all undue influence in the electoral colleges, the Senators and Representatives in Congress, and all officers under the National Government are disqualified from being Electors.
§ 262. The remaining clause regulates the conduct of the Electors, in giving and certifying their votes; the manner of ascertaining and counting the votes in Congress; and the mode of choice, in case there is no choice made by the Electors. The original clause was as follows :—
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit, sealed, to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President; and if no person have a majority, then, from the five highest on the list, the said House shall in like manner choose the President. But in choosing the Presi dent the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each State having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the States, and a majority of all the States shall
be necessary to a choice. In every case, after the choice of the President, the person having the greatest number of votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them by ballot the Vice President."
§ 263. This clause is now repealed, (whether wisely or not, has been a matter of grave question among statesmen,) and the following substituted in its stead: The Elec tors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot for President and Vice President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves. They shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice President. And they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice President, and of the number of votes for each; which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of government of the United States, directed to the President of the SenThe President of the Senate shall, in presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates; and the votes shall then be counted. The person, having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then, from the persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three, on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the States; and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a Presdent, whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice President shall act as President, as in the case of the death, or other constitutional disability of the