« 이전계속 »
purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the president in office. No senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States, can be of the number of the electors. Thus, without corrupting the body of tbo people, tho immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task, free from any sinister bias. Their transient existence, and their detached situation, already noticed, afford a satisfactory prospect of their continuing so, to the conclusion of it. The business of corruption, when it is to embraco so considerable a number of men, requires time, as well as means. Nor would it be found easy suddenly to embark them, dispersed, as they would be over thirteen states, in any combinations founded upon motives which, though they could not properly be denominated corrupt, might yet be of a nature to mislead them from their duty.
Another, and no less important, desideratum was, that the executive should be independent for his continuance in office, on all, but the people themselves. He might otherwise be tempted to sacrifice his duty to his complaisance for those whose favour was necessary to the duration of his official cousequence. This advantage will also be secured, by making his re-election to depend on a special body of representatives, deputed by the society for the single purpose of making the important choice.
All these advantages will be happily combined in the plan devised by the convention, which is, that each state shall choose a number of porsons as electorg, equal to the number of senators and representatives of such state in the national government, who shall assemble within the state, and vote for some fit person as president. Their votes, thus given, are to be transmitted to the seat of the national government; and the person who may happen to have a majority of the whole number of votos, will be the president. But as a majority of
the votes might not always happen to centre in one man, and as it might be unsafe to permit less than a majority to be con clusive, it is provided, that, in such a contingency, the house of representatives shall select out of the candidates, who shall havo the five highest numbers of votes, the man who, in their opinion, may be best qualified for the office.
This process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of president will seldom fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honours of a single state; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole union, or of so considerable & portion of it, as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of president of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue. And this will be thought no inconsiderable recommendation of the constitution, by those who are able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration. Though we cannot acquiesce in the political heresy of the poet, who says: :
“For forms of government, let fools contest
- yet we may safely pronounco, that the true test of a good government is, its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.
The vice-president is to be chosen in the same manner with the president; with this difference, that the senate is to do, in respect to the former, what is to be done by the house of representatives, in respect to the latter.
The appointment of an extraordinary person, as vice-president, has been objected to as superfluous, if not mischievous. It has been alleged, tbat it would have been preferable to have
authorized the senate to elect out of their own body an officer, answering to that description. But two considerations seem to justify the ideas of the convention in this respect. One is, that to securo at all times the possibility of a dofinitivo resolution of the body, it is necessary that the president should bave only a casting vote. And to take the senator of any state from his seat as senator, to place him in that of president of the senate, would be to exchange, in regard to the state from which he came, a constant for a contingent vote. The other consideration is, that, as the vice-president may occasionally become a substitute for the president, in the supreme executive magistracy, all the reasons which recommend the mode of election prescribed for the one, apply with great, if not with equal, force to the manner of appointing the other. It is remarkable, that, in this, as in most other instances, the objection which is made, would lie against the constitution of this state. We have a lieutenant-governor, chosen by the people at large, who presides in the senate, and is the constitutional substitute for the governor in casualties similar to those, which would authorize the vice-president to exercise the authorities, and discharge the duties of the president.
NEW YORK, MARCH 14, 1788.
THE SAME VIEW CONTINUED, WITH A COMPARISON BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT AND THE KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, ON THE ONE HAND, AND THE GOVERNOR OF NEW - YORK, ON THE OTHER.
I PROCEED now to trace the real characters of the proposed executive, as they are marked out in the plan of the convention. Tbis will serve to place in a strong light the unfairness of the representations which have been made in regard to it.
The first thing which strikes our attention is, that the executive authority, with few exceptions, is to be vested in a single magistrate. This will scarcely, however, be considered as a point upon which any comparison can be grounded; for if, in this particular, there be a resemblance to the king of Great Britain, there is not less a resemblance to the Grand Seignor, to the Khan of Tartary, to the man of the seven mountains, or to the governor of New-York.
That magistrate is to be elected for four years; and is to be 'e-eligible as often as the people of the United States shall think him worthy of their confidence. In these circumstances, there is a total dissimilitude between him and a king of Great Britain; who is an hereditary monarch, possessing the crown as a patrimony descendible to his heirs for ever: but there is a close analogy between him and a governor of New-York, who
is elected for three years, and is re-eligible without limitation or intermission. If we consider how much less time would be requisito for establishing a dangerous influence in a single stato, than for establishing a like influence throughout the United States, we must conclude, that a duration of four years for the chief magistrate of the union, is a degree of permanency far less to be dreaded in that office, than a duration of three years for a correspondent office in a single state.
The president of the United States would be liablo to be impeached, tried, and, upon conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors, removed from office; and would afterwards be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law. The person of the king of Great Britain, is sacred and inviolable: There is no constitutional tribunal to which he is amenable; no punishment to which he can be subjected, without involving the crisis of a national revolution. In this delicate and important circumstance of personal responsibility, the president of confederated America would stand upon no better ground than a governor of NewYork, and upon worse ground than the governors of Virginia and Delaware.
The president of the United States is to have power to return a bill, which shall have passed the two branches of the legislature, for re-consideration; and the bill, so returned, is not to become a law, unless, upon that re-consideration, it be approved by two-thirds of both houses. The king of Great Britain, on his part, has an absolute negative upon the acts of the two houses of parliament. The disuse of that power for a considerable time past, does not affect the reality of its existence; and is to be ascribed wholly to the crown's having found the means of substituting influence to authority, or the art of gaining a majority in one or the other of the two houses, to the necessity of exerting a prerogative which could seldom be exerted with. out hazarding some degree of national agitation. The qualified negative of the president, diffors widely from this absolute negative of the British sovereign; and tallies exactly with tho