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at play in society than to point out some of the surprising and unforeseen consequences of the
existing system of election of these officers. The | method of selecting the electors was soon changed to the popular election at the polls, and the entire number of electors, to which a State is entitled, are now voted for by the State at large. Consequently, when the popular decree in any State is delivered in favor of one party or of the other, all the chosen electors of that State will be cast for the presidential nominees of the succcessful party, it matters not how large or how small the majority may have been. In consequence of the variance in the size of the majorities of the different States, it has very frequently happened that the candidates who are elected received only a minority of the votes cast in the popular election. Thus has been prevented a full realization of the demand for a popular election of presidential candidates.
THE RE-ELIGIBILITY OF THE PRESIDENT.
THE written Constitution of the United States does not prescribe any limit to the re-eligibility of the President. But Washington in his Farewell Address at the close of his second term announced his determination to decline re-election, on the ground that the safety of republican institutions demanded the imposition of a limit to the President's re-eligibility ; and that in his judgment the limit ought to be placed at two terms of office. The popular regrets on his retirement from public life were mingled with hearty approval of the patriotic reasons he assigned for his action. Of the Presidents who were re-elected, down to General Grant, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson survived the expiration of their second term, and, in obedience to the exalted precedent of Washington, retired from the political field. Their names were not proposed for re-election even by their most enthusiastic friends and admirers. Mr. Lincoln was re-elected, but was assassinated during his second term.
General Grant was elected to the presidency in 1868, and again in 1872. His great personal popularity, notwithstanding the dissatisfaction with his executive career, created a demand on the part of his friends for a third election. Soundings were taken of public opinion on the subject, and the opposition to his re-election, on the general principle enunciated by Washington, was so manifest from the utterances of the press, that his candidacy was abandoned in 1876, and Mr. Hayes became the Republican nominee and ultimately the President. But in 1880, towards the close of Mr. Hayes' administration, the friends of General Grant pressed his claims for a re-nomination, and urged that the spirit of the precedent set by Washington would not be violated by the re-nomination of Grant in 1880, since he would not be succeeding himself. His supporters in the National Republican Convention numbered 306, while the remainder of the delegates, constituting the majority, were divided among a number of strong candidates. After a prolonged contest, Mr. Garfield was nominated, as the compromise candidate of those who opposed the re-nomination of General Grant. This second repulse of the attempt to re-nominate and re-elect Grant' is accepted as a final decision of the people that no man, however distinguished or popular, shall hold more than two terms of the presidency. For, although this condemnation was not received at
the polls, every one is satisfied that the opposition to a third term was stronger outside of the Republican party, than it was within that party; and even if Grant had received the third nomination at the hands of his party, he would have without doubt been overwhelmingly defeated at the polls.
Of course this popular decision cannot be taken as pronouncing the election to the presidency for a third term to be unconstitutional, in the sense that if one should be elected for a third term, he could be prevented from holding the office and exercising the duties thereof, on the ground that he was not lawfully elected to the office. For his election for a third term would have to be taken as a repeal of the constitutional rule previously enunciated. But if the object of constitutional law is to impose limitations upon the people and upon governmental agencies, surely the popular limitation upon the’re-eligibility of the President can be taken as a constitutional limitation; to be sure, not to be found in the written Constitution, but in that unwritten constitution, whose flexible rules reflect all the changes in public opinion. This is an example of a limitation of the unwritten constitution, which finds no authority whatever in the written Constitution, and yet as long as public opinion does not undergo a change, it is as binding as any written limitation, and even more binding than some of the plainest directions of the written Constitution.
THE INVIOLABILITY OF CORPORATE CHARTERS AND
OF CHARTER RIGHTS.
IN Art. I., sec. 10, of the Constitution, it is provided that “no State shall pass any law impairing the obligation of a contract.” VThe history of the times reveals a strong and very general disposition towards repudiation of debts, prompted without doubt by the sense of prostration under the heavy load of indebtedness fastened upon the people as a consequence of their contest with England. In order to prevent such repudiation, this clause was inserted in the Federal Constitution. I do not believe that any one would claim for this clause any other object than the prevention of repudiation of public and private debts by State legislation. Hence, if the intention of the framers of the Constitution is to furnish the true construction, we must conclude that nothing would be included within the operation of this prohibition but debts and other obligations issuing out of contracts,