The mode of constituting the Executive being resumed, Mr. RANDOLPH moved, to insert in the first Section of the report
made yesterday 2
"The Legislature may declare by law what officer of the U. S. shall act
as President in case of the death, resignation, or disability of the President
and Vice-President; and such officer shall act accordingly until the time of
electing a President shall arrive."
Mr. MADISON observed that this, as
worded, would prevent a supply of the vacancy by an intermediate election of the
President, and moved to substitute — "until such disability be
removed, or a President shall be elected. *3
Mr. GOVERNr. MORRIS 2ded. the motion, which was agreed to. It seemed to be
an objection to the provision with some, that according to the process
established for chusing the Executive there would be difficulty in effecting it
at other than the fixed periods; with others, that the Legislature was
restrained in the temporary appointment to "officers" of the
U. S: They wished it to be at liberty to appoint others than such.
On the Motion of Mr. Randolph as amended, it passed in the affirmative
N. H. divided. Mas. no. Ct. no. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. ay.
N. C. no. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. 4
Mr. GERRY moved "that in the
election of President by the House of Representatives, no State shall vote by
less than three members, and where that number may not be allotted to a State,
it shall be made up by its Senators; and a concurrence of a majority of all the
States shall be necessary to make such choice." Without some such provision
five individuals might possibly be competent to an election; these being a
majority of two thirds of the existing number of States; and two thirds being a
quorum for this business.
Mr. MADISON 2ded. the motion
Mr. READ observed that the States having
but one member only in the House of Reps. would be in danger of having no vote
at all in the election: the sickness or absence either of the Representative or
one of the Senators would have that effect.
Mr. MADISON replied that, if one member
of the House of Representatives should be left capable of voting for the State,
the states having one Representative only would still be subject to that danger.
He thought it an evil that so small a number at any rate should be authorized,
to elect. Corruption would be greatly facilitated by it. The mode itself was
liable to this further weighty objection that the representatives of a Minority
of the people, might reverse the choice of a majority of the States
and of the
people. He wished some cure for this inconveniency 5
might yet be provided.
Mr. GERRY withdrew the first part of his
motion; and on the, — Question on the 2d. part viz. "and a concurrence
of a majority of all the States shall be necessary to make such choice" to
follow the words "a member or members from two thirds of the States" —
It was agreed to nem: con:
The section 2 (see Sepr. 4) requiring that the President should be a
natural-born Citizen, &c & have been resident for fourteen years, &
be thirty five years of age, was agreed to nem: con:
6 Section 3. (see Sepr. 4). "The
vice President shall be ex-officio President of the Senate"
Mr. GERRY opposed this regulation. We
might as well put the President himself at the head of the Legislature. The
close intimacy that must subsist between the President & vice-president
makes it absolutely improper. He was agst. having any vice President.
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS.
The vice president then will be the first heir apparent that ever loved his
father. If there should be no vice president, the President of the Senate would
be temporary successor, which would amount to the same thing.
Mr. SHERMAN saw no danger in the case.
If the vice-President were not to be President of the Senate, he would be
without employment, and some member by being made President must be deprived of
his vote, unless when an equal division of votes might happen in the Senate,
which would be but seldom.
Mr. RANDOLPH concurred in the opposition
to the clause.
Mr. WILLIAMSON, observed that such an
officer as vice-President was not wanted. He was introduced only for the sake of
a valuable mode of election which required two to be chosen at the same time.
Col: MASON, thought the office of vice-President an
encroachment on the rights of the Senate; and that it mixed too much the
Legislative & Executive, which as well as the Judiciarydepartments,
7 ought to be kept as separate as
possible. He took occasion to express his dislike of any reference whatever of
the power to make appointments to either branch of the Legislature. On the other
hand he was averse to vest so dangerous a power in the President alone. As a
method for avoiding both, he suggested that a privy Council of six members to
the president should be established; to be chosen for six years by the Senate,
two out of the Eastern two out of the middle, and two out of the Southern
quarters of the Union, & to go out in rotation two every second year; the
concurrence of the Senate to be required only in the appointment of Ambassadors,
and in making treaties, which are more of a legislative nature. This would
prevent the constant sitting of the Senate which he thought dangerous, as well
as keep the departments separate & distinct. It would also save the expence
of constant sessions of the Senate. He had he said always considered the Senate
as too unwieldy & expensive for appointing officers, especially the
smallest, such as tide waiters &c. He had not reduced his idea to writing,
but it could be easily done if it should be found acceptable.
On the question shall the vice President be ex officio President of the
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del ay. Mas no. Va. ay. N. C.
abst. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. 8
The other parts of the same Section (3) 9
were then agreed to.
The Section 4. — to wit, "The President by & with the advice
and consent of the Senate shall have power to make Treaties &c"
Mr. WILSON moved to add, after the word "Senate"
the words, "and House of Representatives." As treaties he said are to
have the operation of laws, they ought to have the sanction of laws also. The
circumstance of secrecy in the business of treaties formed the only objection;
but this he thought, so far as it was inconsistent with obtaining the
Legislative sanction, was outweighed by the necessity of the latter.
Mr. SHERMAN thought the only question
that could be made was whether the power could be safely trusted to the Senate.
He thought it could; and that the necessity of secresy in the case of treaties
forbade a reference of them to the whole Legislature.
Mr. FITZIMMONS 2ded. the motion of Mr.
Wilson, & on the question N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del.
no. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. 11
The first sentence as to making treaties was then Agreed to: nem: con:
Mr. WILSON objected to the mode of
appointing, as blending a branch of the Legislature with the Executive. Good
laws are of no effect without a good Executive; and there can be no good
Executive without a responsible appointment of officers to execute.
Responsibility is in a manner destroyed by such an agency of the Senate. He
would prefer the council proposed by Col: Mason, provided its advice should not
be made obligatory on the President.
Mr. PINKNEY was against joining the
Senate in these appointments, except in the instance of Ambassadors whom
13 he thought ought not to be appointed
by the President.
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS
said that as the President was to nominate, there would be responsibility, and
as the Senate was to concur, there would be security. As Congress now make
appointments there is no responsibility.
Mr. GERRY. The idea of responsibility in
the nomination to offices is chimerical. The President can not know all
characters, and can therefore always plead ignorance.
Mr. KING. As the idea of a Council
proposed by Col. Mason has been supported by Mr. Wilson, he would remark that
most of the inconveniencies charged on the Senate are incident to a Council of
Advice. He differed from those who thought the Senate would sit constantly. He
did not suppose it was meant that all the minute officers were to be appointed
by the Senate, or any other original source, but by the higher officers of the
departments to which they belong. He was of opinion also that the people wold be
alarmed at an unnecessary creation of new Corps which must increase the expence
as well as influence of the Government.
On the question on these words in the clause viz — "He shall
nominate & by & with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint
ambassadors, and other public ministers (and Consuls) 14
Judges of the Supreme Court." 15
Agreed to nem: con: the insertion of "and consuls" having first taken
On the question on the following words "And all other officers of
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C.
ay. S. C. no. Geo. ay. 17
On motion of Mr. SPAIGHT — "that
the President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during
the recess of the Senate by granting Commissions which shall expire at the end
of the next Session of the Senate" It was agreed to nem: con:
16 Section 4. "The President by
and with the advice and consent of the Senate shall have power to make Treaties"
— "But no treaty shall be made without the consent of two thirds
of the members present" — this last 18
being before the House.
Mr. WILSON thought it objectionable to
require the concurrence of 2/3 which puts it in 19
the power of a minority to controul the will of a majority.
Mr. KING concurred in the objection;
remarking that as the Executive was here joined in the business, there was a
check which did not exist in Congress where The concurrence of 2/3 was required.
Mr. MADISON moved to insert after the
word "treaty" the words "except treaties of peace" allowing
these to be made with less difficulty than other treaties — It was agreed
to nem: con:
Mr. MADISON then moved to authorise a
concurrence of two thirds of the Senate to make treaties of peace, without the
concurrence of the President." — The President he said would
necessarily derive so much power and importance from a state of war that he
might be tempted, if authorised, to impede a treaty of peace.
Mr. BUTLER 2ded. the motion
Mr. GORHAM thought the precaution
20 unnecessary as the means of carrying
on the war would not be in the hands of the President, but of the Legislature.
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS
thought the power of the President in this case harmless; and that no peace
ought to be made without the concurrence of the President, who was the general
Guardian of the National interests.
Mr. BUTLER was strenuous for the motion,
as a necessary security against ambitious & corrupt Presidents. He mentioned
the late perfidious policy of the Statholder in Holland; and the artifices of
the Duke of Marlbro' to prolong the war of which he had the management.
Mr. GERRY was of opinion that in
treaties of peace a greater rather than less proportion of votes was necessary,
than in other treaties. In Treaties of peace the dearest interests will be at
stake, as the fisheries, territory &c. In treaties of peace also there is
more dander to the extremities of the Continent, of being sacrificed, than on
any other occasions.
Mr. WILLIAMSON thought that Treaties of
peace should be guarded at least by requiring the same concurrence as in other
On the motion of Mr. Madison & Mr. Butler
N.H. no. Mas. no. Ct. no. N.J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. no. N. C.
no. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. 21
On the part of the clause concerning treaties amended by the exception as to
Treaties of peace,
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N.C.
ay. S.C. ay. Geo. no. 22
23 "and may require the opinion
in writing of the principal officer in each of the Executive Departments, upon
any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices," being
before the House
Col: MASON *24
said that in rejecting a Council to the President we were about to try an
experiment on which the most despotic Governments had never ventured. The Grand
Signor himself had his Divan. He moved to postpone the consideration of the
clause in order to take up the following
"That it be an instruction to the Committee of the States to prepare a
clause or clauses for establishing an Executive Council, as a Council of State,
for the President of the U. States, to consist of six members, two of which from
the Eastern, two from the middle, and two from the Southern States, with a
Rotation and duration of office similar to those of the Senate; such Council to
be appointed by the Legislature or by the Senate."
Doctor FRANKLIN 2ded. the motion. We seemed he said
too much to fear cabals in appointments by a number, and to have too much
confidence in those of single persons. Experience shewed that caprice, the
intrigues of favorites & mistresses, &c 25
were nevertheless the means most prevalent in monarchies. Among instances of
abuse in such modes of appointment, he mentioned the many bad Governors
appointed in G. B. for the Colonies. He thought a Council would not only be a
check on a bad President but be a relief to a good one.
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS.
The question of a Council was considered in the Committee, where it was judged
that the Presidt. by persuading his Council, to concur in his wrong measures,
would acquire their protection for them.
Mr. WILSON approved of a Council in
preference to making the Senate a party to appointmts.
Mr. DICKENSON was for a Council. It wd.
be a singular thing if the measures of the Executive were not to undergo some
previous discussion before the President.
Mr. MADISON was in favor of the
instruction to the Committee proposed by Col: Mason.
The motion of Mr. 26 Mason was
negatived. Maryd. ay. S.C. ay. Geo. ay — N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. no. N. J.
no Pa. no. Del. no. Va. no. N C no. 27
On the question, 28 "authorising
the President to call for the opinions of the Heads of Departments, in writing":
it passed in the affirmative, N. H. only being no. *29
The clause was then unanimously agreed to —
Mr. WILLIAMSON & Mr. SPAIGHT moved "that no Treaty of Peace affecting
Territorial rights shd.; be made without the concurrence of two thirds of the
members of the Senate present.
Mr. KING. It will be necessary to look
out for securities for some other rights, if this principle be established; he
moved to extend the motion — "to all present rights of the U. States."
2. The words "the following" are
here inserted in the transcript.
*3. In the printed Journal this amendment
is put into the original Motion.
4. In the transcript the vote reads: "New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, aye — 6;
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, North Carolina, no — 4; New
5. The word "inconveniency" is
changed to "inconvenience" in the transcript.
6. This paragraph is changed in the
transcript to read as follows: "The third section, 'The Vice-President
shall be ex-officio President of the Senate' being then considered."
7. The letter "s" is stricken
from the word "departments" in the transcript.
8. In the transcript the vote reads: "New
Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, South
Carolina, Georgia, aye — 8; New Jersey, Maryland, no — 2; North