Skip to comments.Journal of the Federal Convention July 26th 1787
Posted on 07/26/2011 2:56:53 AM PDT by Jacquerie
Seven Ways to Elect an Executive. Term Limits. Property Requirements. Appointment by National Legislature to Single Seven Year Term. Virtuous Voters. Landed Debt. Seat of Government. Resolutions Submitted to Committee of Detail.
Col. [FN1] MASON. In every Stage of the Question relative to the Executive, the difficulty of the subject and the diversity of the opinions concerning it have appeared. Nor have any of the modes of constituting that department been satisfactory.
1. [FN2] It has been proposed that the election should be made by the people at large; that is that an act which ought to be performed by those who know most of Eminent characters, & qualifications, should be performed by those who know least.
2. [FN2] that the election should be made by the Legislatures of the States.
3. [FN2] by the Executives of the States. Agst. these modes also strong objections have been urged.
4. [FN2] It has been proposed that the election should be made by Electors chosen by the people for that purpose. This was at first agreed to: But on further consideration has been rejected.
5. [FN2] Since which, the mode of Mr. Williamson, requiring each freeholder to vote for several candidates has been proposed. This seemed like many other propositions, to carry a plausible face, but on closer inspection is liable to fatal objections. A popular election in any form, as Mr. Gerry has observed, would throw the appointment into the hands of the Cincinnati, a Society for the members of which he had a great respect; but which he never wished to have a preponderating influence in the Govt.
6. [FN3] Another expedient was proposed by Mr. Dickenson, which is liable to so palpable & material an inconvenience that he had little doubt of its being by this time rejected by himself. It would exclude every man who happened not to be popular within his own State; tho' the causes of his local unpopularity might be of such a nature as to recommend him to the States at large.
7. [FN3] Among other expedients, a lottery has been introduced. But as the tickets do not appear to be in much demand, it will probably, not be carried on, and nothing therefore need be said on that subject.
After reviewing all these various modes, he was led to conclude, that an election by the Natl. Legislature as originally proposed, was the best. If it was liable to objections, it was liable to fewer than any other. He conceived at the same time that a second election ought to be absolutely prohibited. Having for his primary object, for the pole [FN4] -star of his political conduct, the preservation of the rights of the people, he held it as an essential point, as the very palladium of Civil liberty, that the great officers of State, and particularly the Executive should at fixed periods return to that mass from which they were at first taken, in order that they may feel & respect those rights & interests, which are again to be personally valuable to them. He concluded with moving that the constitution of the Executive as reported by the Come. of the whole be re-instated, viz. "that the Executive be appointed for seven years, & be ineligible a 2d. time"
Mr. DAVIE seconded the motion
Docr. FRANKLIN. It seems to have been imagined by some that the returning to the mass of the people was degrading the magistrate. This he thought was contrary to republican principles. In free Governments the rulers are the servants, and the people their superiors & sovereigns. For the former therefore to return among the latter was not to degrade but to promote them. And it would be imposing an unreasonable burden on them, to keep them always in a State of servitude, and not allow them to become again one of the Masters.
[FN5] Question on Col. Masons motion as above; which [FN6] passed in the affirmative
N. H. ay. Masts. not on floor. Ct. no. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [FN7]
Mr. Govr. MORRIS was now agst. 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 wd. 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 Docr. 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 burden 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 Natl. legislature-for the term of seven years-to be ineligible a 2d. time-with power to carry into execution the natl. laws-to appoint to offices in cases not otherwise provided for-to be removable on impeachment & conviction of malpractice or neglect of duty-to receive a fixt compensation for the devotion of his time to the public service, to be paid out of the Natl. treasury" -it passed in the affirmative N. H. ay. Mas. not on floor. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. divd. Mr. Blair & Col. Mason ay. Genl. Washington & Mr. Madison no. Mr. Randolph happened to be out of the House. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [FN8]
Mr. MASON moved "that the Committee of detail be instructed to receive a clause requiring certain qualifications of landed property & citizenship of the U. States in members of the [FN9] Legislature, and disqualifying persons having unsettled Accts. with or being indebted to the U. S. from being members of the Natl. 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 Congs. if Report was to be regarded.
Mr. PINCKNEY seconded the motion
Mr. Govr. MORRIS. If qualifications are proper, he wd. prefer them in the electors rather than the elected. As to debtors of the U. S. they are but few. As to persons having unsettled accounts he believed them to pretty many. He thought however that such a discrimination would be both odious & useless, and in many instances unjust & cruel. The delay of settlemt. 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. GHORUM was for leaving to the Legislature, the providing agst. 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 accts. with the public, to get into the Legislatures for sinister purposes. He thought however that if any precaution were to be [FN10] taken for excluding them, the one proposed, by Col. Mason ought to be new [FN11] modelled. It might be well to limit the exclusion to persons who had recd. money from the public, and had not accounted for it.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS. It was a precept of great antiquity as well as [FN12] high authority that we should not be righteous overmuch. He thought we ought to be equally on our guard agst. being wise over much. The proposed regulation would enable the Govent. 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 might he [FN13] have effected it, & how cruel wd. it be in such a case to keep a distinguished & meritorious Citizen under a temporary disability & 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 was but a scheme of the landed agst. the monied interest.
Mr. PINCKNEY & Genl. PINCKNEY moved to insert by way of amendmt. the words Judiciary & Executive so as to extend the qualifications to those departments which was agreed to nem. con.
Mr. GERRY thought the inconveniency [FN14] of excluding a few worthy individuals who might be public debtors or have unsettled accts. ought not to be put in the scale agst. 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 would [FN15] exclude the monied interest, whose aids may be essential in particular emergencies to the public safety.
Mr. DICKENSON, was agst. any recital of qualifications in the Constitution. It was impossible to make a compleat one, and a partial one wd. 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 Source [FN16] 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 & 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 & rewards.
Mr. GERRY if property be one object of Government. provisions for securing [FN17] it cannot be improper.
Mr. MADISON moved to strike out the word landed, before the word "qualifications." If the proposition sd. 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 agst. 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 & rights of every class should be duly represented & understood in the public Councils. It was a provision every where established that the Country should be divided into districts & representatives taken from each, in order that the Legislative Assembly might equally understand & sympathise, 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 be felt & understood in the public Councils.
The three principal classes into which our citizens were divisible, were the landed the commercial, & the manufacturing. The 2d. & 3d. class, bear as yet a small proportion to the first. The proportion however will daily increase. We see in the populous Countries in [FN18] Europe now, what we shall be hereafter. These classes understand much less of each others interests & affairs, than men of the same class inhabiting different districts. It is particularly requisite therefore that the interests of one or two of them should not be left entirely to the care, or the [FN19] impartiality of the third. This must be the case if landed qualifications should be required; few of the mercantile, & scarcely any of the manufacturing class, chusing whilst they continue in business to turn any part of their Stock into landed property. For these reasons he wished if it were possible that some other criterion than the mere possession of land should be devised. He concurred with Mr. Govr. MORRIS in thinking that qualifications in the Electors would be much more effectual than in the elected. The former would discriminate between real & ostensible property in the latter; But he was aware of the difficulty of forming any uniform standard that would suit the different circumstances & opinions prevailing in the different States.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS 2ded. the motion.
On the Question for striking out "landed" N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. no. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [FN20]
On [FN21] Question on [FN21] 1st. part of Col. Masons proposition as to qualification of property & citizenship," as so amended
N. H. ay. Masts. ay. Ct. no. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. [FN22]
"The 2d. part, for disqualifying debtors, and persons having unsettled accounts," being under consideration
Mr. CARROL moved to strike out "having unsettled accounts"
Mr. GHORUM seconded the motion; observing that it would put the commercial & manufacturing part of the people on a worse footing than others as they would be most likely to have dealings with the public.
Mr. L. MARTIN. if these words should be struck out, and the remaining words concerning debtors retained, it will be the interest of the latter class to keep their accounts unsettled as long as possible.
Mr. WILSON was for striking them out. They put too much power in the hands of the Auditors, who might combine with rivals in delaying settlements in order to prolong the disqualifications of particular men. We should consider that we are providing a Constitution for future generations, and not merely for the peculiar circumstances of the moment. The time has been, and will again be, when the public safety may depend on the voluntary aids of individuals which will necessarily open accts. with the public, and when such accts. will be a characteristic of patriotism. Besides a partial enumeration of cases will disable the Legislature from disqualifying odious & dangerous characters.
Mr. LANGDON was for striking out the whole clause for the reasons given by Mr. Wilson. So many exclusions he thought too would render the system unacceptable to the people.
Mr. GERRY. If the argumts. used to day were to prevail, we might have a Legislature composed of public debtors, pensioners, placemen & contractors. He thought the proposed qualifications would be pleasing to the people. They will be considered as a security agst. unnecessary or undue burdens being imposed on them. He moved to add "pensioners" to the disqualified characters which was negatived.
N. H. no Mas. ay. Con. no. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Maryd. ay. Va. no. N. C. divided. S. C. no. Geo. ay. [FN23]
Mr. Govr. MORRIS. The last clause, relating to public debtors will exclude every importing merchant. Revenue will be drawn it is foreseen as much as possible, from trade. Duties of course will be bonded, and the Merchts. will remain debtors to the public. He repeated that it had not been so much the fault of individuals as of the public that transactions between them had not been more generally liquidated & adjusted. At all events to draw from our short & scanty experience rules that are to operate through succeeding ages, does not savour much of real wisdom.
On [FN24] question for striking out, "persons having unsettled accounts with the U. States."
N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. no. [FN25]
Mr. ELSEWORTH was for disagreeing to the remainder of the clause disqualifying public debtors; and for leaving to the wisdom of the Legislature and the virtue of the Citizens, the task of providing agst. such evils. Is the smallest as well [FN26] largest debtor to be excluded? Then every arrear of taxes will disqualify. Besides how is it to be known to the people when they elect who are or are not public debtors. The exclusion of pensioners & placemen in Engld. is founded on a consideration not existing here. As persons of that sort are dependent on the Crown, they tend to increase its influence.
Mr. PINKNEY sd. he was at first a friend to the proposition, for the sake of the clause relating to qualifications of property; but he disliked the exclusion of public debtors; it went too far. It wd. exclude persons who had purchased confiscated property or should purchase Western territory of the public, and might be some obstacle to the sale of the latter.
On the question for agreeing to the clause disqualifying public debtors
N. H. no. Mas. no. Ct. no. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. ay. S. C. no. Geo. ay. [FN27]
Col. MASON. observed that it would be proper, as he thought, that some provision should be made in the Constitution agst. choosing for the seat of the Genl. Govt. the City or place at which the seat of any State Govt. might be fixt. There were 2 objections agst. having them at the same place, which without mentioning others, required some precaution on the subject. The 1st. was that it tended to produce disputes concerning jurisdiction. The 2d. & principal one was that the intermixture of the two Legislatures tended to give a provincial tincture to ye. Natl. deliberations. He moved that the Come. be instructed to receive a clause to prevent the seat of the Natl. Govt. being in the same City or town with the Seat of the Govt. of any State longer than until the necessary public buildings could be erected.
Mr. ALEX. MARTIN 2ded. the motion.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS did not dislike the idea, but was apprehensive that such a clause might make enemies of Philda. & N. York which had expectations of becoming the Seat of the Genl. Govt.
Mr. LANGDON approved the idea also: but suggisted the case of a State moving its seat of Govt. to the natl. seat after the erection of the public buildings.
Mr. GHORUM. The precaution may be evaded by the Natl. Legislre. by delaying to erect the public buildings.
Mr. GERRY conceived it to be the genel. sense of America, that neither the Seat of a State Govt. nor any large commercial City should be the seat of the Genl. Govt.
Mr. WILLIAMSON liked the idea, but knowing how much the passions of men were agitated by this matter, was apprehensive of turning them agst. the System. He apprehended also that an evasion might be practiced in the way hinted by Mr. Ghorum.
Mr. PINKNEY thought the seat of a State Govt. ought to be avoided; but that a large town or its vicinity would be proper for the Seat of the Genl. Govt.
Col. MASON did not mean to press the motion at this time, nor to excite any hostile passions agst. the system. He was content to withdraw the motion for the present.
Mr. BUTLER was for fixing by the Constitution the place, & a central one, for the seat of the Natl. Govt.
The proceedings since Monday last were referred unanimously [FN28] to the Come. of detail, and the Convention then unanimously Adjourned till Monday, Augst. 6. that the Come. of detail might have time to prepare & report the Constitution. The whole proceedings [FN29] as referred are as follow: "[here copy them from the Journal p. 207 [FN30]
[June 20. [FN31] I. RESOLVED, That the Government of the United States ought to consist of a supreme legislative, judiciary, and executive.
II. RESOLVED, That the legislature consist of two branches.
III. RESOLVED, That the members of the first branch of the legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several states for the term of two years; to be paid out of the publick treasury; to receive an adequate compensation for their services; to be of the age of twenty-five years at least; to be ineligible [FN32] and incapable of holding any office under the authority of the United States (except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the first branch) during the term of service of the first branch.
IV. RESOLVED, That the members of the second branch of the legislature of the United States ought to be chosen by the individual legislatures; to be of the age of thirty years at least; to hold their offices for six years, one third to go out biennally; to receive a compensation for the devotion of their time to the publick service; to be ineligible to and incapable of holding any office, under the authority of the United States (except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the second branch) during the term for which they are elected, and for one year thereafter.
V. RESOLVED, That each branch ought to possess the right of originating acts.
VI. RESOLVED, That the national legislature ought to possess the legislative rights vested in Congress by the confederation; and moreover, to legislate in all cases for the general interests of the union, and also in those to which the states are separately incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation.
VII. RESOLVED, That the legislative acts of the United States, made by virtue and in pursuance of the articles of union, and all treaties made and ratified under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the respective states, as far as those acts or treaties shall relate to the said states, or their citizens and inhabitants; and that the judiciaries of the several states shall be bound thereby in their decisions, any thing in the respective laws of the individual states to the contrary, notwithstanding.
VIII. RESOLVED, That in the original formation of the legislature of the United States, the first branch thereof shall consist of sixty-five members; of which number
New Hampshire shall send three,
Massachusetts ...... eight,
Rhode Island ....... one,
Connecticut ........ five,
New York ........... six,
New Jersey ......... four,
Pennsylvania ....... eight,
Delaware ........... one,
Maryland ........... six,
Virginia ........... ten,
North Carolina ..... five,
South Carolina ..... five,
Georgia ............ three.
But as the present situation of the states may probably alter in the number of their inhabitants, the legislature of the United States shall be authorized, from time to time, to apportion the number of representatives; and in case any of the states shall hereafter be divided, or enlarged by addition of territory, or any two or more states united, or any new states created within the limits of the United States, the legislature of the United States shall possess authority to regulate the number of representatives, in any of the foregoing cases, upon the principle of their number of inhabitants according to the provisions hereafter mentioned, namely-Provided always, that representation ought to be proportioned according [FN33] to direct taxation. And in order to ascertain the alteration in the direct taxation, which may be required from time to time by the changes in the relative circumstances of the states-
IX. RESOLVED, That a census be taken within six years from the first meeting of the legislature of the United States, and once within the term of every ten years afterwards, of all the inhabitants of the United States, in the manner and according to the ratio recommended by Congress in their resolution of April 18, 1783; and that the legislature of the United States shall proportion the direct taxation accordingly.
X. RESOLVED, That all bills for raising or appropriating money, and for fixing the salaries of the officers of the government of the United States, shall originate in the first branch of the legislature of the United States, and shall not be altered or amended by the second branch; and that no money shall be drawn from the publick treasury, but in pursuance of appropriations to be originated by the first branch.
XI. RESOLVED, That in the second branch of the legislature of the United States, each state shall have an equal vote.
XII. RESOLVED, 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 malpractice or neglect of duty; to receive a fixed compensation for the devotion of his time to [FN34] publick service; to be paid out of the publick treasury.
XIII. RESOLVED, That the national executive shall have a right to negative any legislative act, which shall not be afterwards passed, unless by two third parts of each branch of the national legislature.
XIV. RESOLVED, That a national judiciary be established, to consist of one supreme tribunal, the judges of which shall be appointed by the second branch of the national legislature; to hold their offices during good behaviour; to receive punctually, at stated times, a fixed compensation for their services, in which no diminution shall be made, so as to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such diminution.
XV. RESOLVED, That the national legislature be empowered to appoint inferior tribunals.
XVI. RESOLVED, That the jurisdiction of the national judiciary shall extend to cases arising under laws passed by the general legislature; and to such other questions as involve the national peace and harmony.
XVII. RESOLVED, That provision ought to be made for the admission of states lawfully arising within the limits of the United States, whether from a voluntary junction of government and territory, or otherwise, with the consent of a number of voices in the national legislature less than the whole.
XVIII. RESOLVED, That a republican form of government shall be guarantied to each state; and that each state shall be protected against foreign and domestick violence.
XIX. RESOLVED, That provision ought to be made for the amendment of the articles of union, whensoever it shall seem necessary.
XX. RESOLVED, That the legislative executive, and judiciary powers, within the several states, and of the national government, ought to be bound, by oath, to support the articles of union.
XXI. RESOLVED, That the amendments which shall be offered to the confederation by the convention ought, at a proper time or times after the approbation of Congress, to be submitted to an assembly or assemblies of representatives, recommended by the several legislatures, to be expressly chosen by the people to consider and decide thereon.
XXII. RESOLVED, That the representation in the second branch of the legislature of the United States [FN35] consist of two members from each state, who shall vote per capita.
XXIII. RESOLVED, That it be an instruction to the committee, to whom were referred the proceedings of the convention for the establishment of a national government, to receive a clause or clauses, requiring certain qualifications of property and citizenship, in the United States, for the executive, the judiciary, and the members of both branches of the legislature of the United States.
With the above resolutions were referred the propositions offered by Mr. C. Pinckney on the 29th. of May, & by Mr. Patterson on the 15th. of June. [FN36]
FN1 The word "Mr." is substituted in the transcript for "Col."
FN2 The figures "1." "2," "3," "4" and "5" are changed to "First," "Secondly," "Thirdly" etc. in the transcript.
FN3 The figures "6" and "7" are changed to "Sixthly" and "Seventhly" in the transcript.
FN4 The word "polar" is substituted in the transcript for the word "pole."
FN5 The words "On the" are here inserted in the transcript.
FN6 The word "which" is crossed out in the transcript and "it" is written above it.
FN7 In the transcript the vote reads: "New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina. South Carolina, Georgia, aye-7; Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, no-3; Massachusetts not on the floor."
FN8 In the transcript the vote reads: "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 no, Mr. Randolph happened to be out of the House.]"
FN9 The word "National" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN10 The words "to be" are omitted in the transcript.
FN11 The word "new" is crossed out and the syllable "re" is written above it.
FN12 The word "of" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN13 The words "might he" are transposed to read "he might" in the transcript.
FN14 The word "inconveniency" is changed to "inconvenience" in the transcript.
FN15 The word "might" is substituted in the transcript for the word "would."
FN16 The word "resource" is erroneously substituted in the transcript for the word "source."
FN17 The words "to secure" are substituted for "for securing," in the transcript.
FN18 The word "of" is substituted in the transcript for "in."
FN19 The word "the" is omitted in the transcript.
FN20 In the transcript the vote reads: "New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye-10; Maryland, no."
FN21 The word "the" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN22 In the transcript the vote reads: "New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye-8: Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, no-3."
FN23 In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts, Maryland, Georgia, aye- 3; New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, South Carolina, no-7; North Carolina, divided."
FN24 The word "the" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN25 In the transcript the vote reads: "New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, aye-9; New Jersey, Georgia, no-2."
FN26 The words "as the" are here inserted in the transcript.
FN27 In the transcript the vote reads: "North Carolina, Georgia, aye-2; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, no-9."
FN28 The words "referred unanimously" are transposed to read "unanimously referred" in the transcript.
FN29 The word "proceedings" is crossed out in the transcript and "Resolutions" is written above it.
FN30 Madison's direction is omitted in the transcript.
FN31 The printed Journal says, page 11, that these 23 Resolutions are "collected from the proceedings of the convention, as they are spread over the journal from June 16th to July 26th." The dates in the margin show when the respective Resolutious were adopted. They are omitted in the transcript.
FN32 The word "to" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN33 The word "according" is omitted in the transcript.
FN34 The word "the" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN35 The word "shall" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN36 The word "Adjourned" is here inserted in the transcript.
Seconded by William Davy.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin (PA) quieted things down again. Returning politicians to the mass of the people was not degrading, but was actually a promotion. The people are superior and sovereign. It would be degrading to keep the politicians in servitude (in office) to their Masters, the people, for repetitive terms.
The motion to limit the Executive to a single seven year term passed 7-3.
Governeur Morris (PA) disagreed and would not support the final draft as is. If returning officers home was the sacred safeguard of liberty, then the same should be done for Judges. Finally, on the question of the whole Resolution as amended:
That a National Executive be instituted-to consist of a single person, to be chosen by the Natl. legislature for a term of seven years-to be ineligible a 2d. time-with power to carry into execution the natl. laws-to appoint to offices in cases not otherwise provided for-to be removable on impeachment & conviction of malpractice or neglect of duty-to receive a fixt compensation for the devotion of his time to the public service, to be paid out of the Natl. treasury, passed 6-3-1.
George Mason (VA) moved and Mr. Pinckney seconded, the Committee of Detail make space for a Property/Wealth clause for Legislators. He reminded delegates that people with debts to State governments would, upon election, attempt to shield themselves with protective laws.
Governeur Morris (PA) thought the idea odious and useless. Such problems were as much the fault of the Government as of individuals. What of the men who loaned money to their country who have yet been able to settle their claims? Should they be excluded?
Nathaniel Gorham (MA) would let the Legislature establish membership rules to address such matters.
George Mason (VA) spoke of Parliamentary qualifications from the reign of Queen Anne. (A long existence under Monarchy was still fresh in the Framers minds.)
James Madison (VA) witnessed men with public debt worm their way into State government in order to find relief. He would modify Mr. Masons model to preclude those who had not settled their public debt. (Our Framers were experienced men of government determined to minimize corruption in the new plan.)
Governeur Morris (PA) cautioned the Convention to not be too smart by half. The measures would allow the government to exclude particular individuals. General Washingtons account of money spent on secret services (I assume to mean for spies during the war) was minimal, yet the auditor delayed settlement. He opposed minute regulations in Constitutions.
(At this point the records of the day as published by Max Farrand and James Madison diverge somewhat. The following from the Pinckneys was not in Farrands The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 but in Madisons notes alone.)
Charles Pinckney (SC) and General Pinckney (SC) moved to apply the same property requirements to the Judiciary and Executive. It was agreed to without opposition.
Elbridge Gerry (MA) did not think the measure went far enough and was not concerned that a few individuals would be inconvenienced.
Rufus King (MA) noticed the money interests were excluded. Without elaboration he implied that bankers and merchants would be occasionally needed in emergencies (Absent a nationwide banking system I suspect he meant direct war loans to the government)
John Dickinson (DE) opposed itemization of such qualifications. The populace was the best defense. As long as they remained virtuous there was nothing to fear. Once they were corrupted, nothing would save us.
Elbridge Gerry (MA) saw nothing wrong with protecting property.
James Madison (VA) motioned and G. Morris seconded to strike landed before the word qualifications and let the Committee report the best criteria they could. Land was not necessarily a measure of wealth as it could be indebted for more than market value. Land speculators formed the class of men most responsible for unjust State laws. Purchased on borrowed funds, they got into Legislatures with intent to protect themselves from creditors. The interests and rights of all classes should be represented.
Americas three principal classes were landed, commercial and manufacturing. All expected commercial and manufacturing interests to quickly increase. It was important to not freeze them out of representation.
The motion to removed landed passed 10-1.
On the first part of the question as amended to require certain (un-landed) qualifications of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary Departments be addressed by the Committee of Detail, it passed 8-3.
Up next, the second part, for disqualifying debtors, and persons having unsettled accounts.
Daniel Carroll (MD) motioned and Nathaniel Gorham (MA) seconded to remove unsettled accounts.
Luther Martin (MD) disagreed. Those with unsettled accounts would be encouraged to let them remain open.
James Wilson (PA) supported removal as it gave too much power to auditors who would delay in order to keep certain men out of office. Remember we are making a Constitution for the ages and not for today. The nation will likely need the service of such men.
John Langdon (NH) would also remove them for the reasons given by Mr. Wilson.
Elbridge Gerry (MA) would not only leave the clause intact, he would add pensioners to the list of the unqualified. (It was negatived 7-3-1.)
Governeur Morris (PA) said the rule would preclude successful merchants who must post bonds and will be thus indebted to the public. Since imposts are intended, he did not see the wisdom of the clause.
The clause, "persons having unsettled accounts with the U. States, was struck by a vote of 9-2.
Judge Oliver Ellsworth (CN) would leave such matters to the Legislature and the people to judge. Every arrear of taxes would keep such men away. (It appears the sanction against pensioners was borrowed from Great Britain. If I understand, people receiving government pensions were not allowed to hold office. I would still like to see an 18th century definition of pensioner.)
Charles Pinckney (SC) disliked the clause against public debtors. (Interesting follow-up comment here regarding property confiscated from loyalists and Western lands. Some Framers were heavily invested in Western lands. Every VA planter had to increase his landed estate as tobacco and later, cotton were tough on the soil. Others were just big time land speculators like Robert Morris. James Wilson controlled four million acres and lost it all in the mid 1790s.)
The motion to disqualify public debtors was defeated 9-2.
George Mason (VA) motioned and Alexander Martin (NC) seconded the need for a seat of National Government distinct from any state capital.
Governeur Morris (PA) only concern was making enemies of both Philadelphia and New York City.
Nathaniel Gorham (MA), Elbridge Gerry (MA), Hugh Williamson, Charles Pinckney (SC) briefly discussed the issue. (Boy, were they concerned with political ramifications!)
George Mason (VA) offered to withdraw the motion. (It appears he did.)
Pierce Butler (SC) suggested a central location for the seat of government.
Recent additional Proceedings were referred unanimously to the Committee of Detail. The Convention adjourned until August 6th to provide necessary time for the Committee to prepare its report.
The logic around the resolution for legislative appointment of a one term, seven year president was that popular election was risky and some filter in Presidential selection was prudent. Most State Governors were appointed by, and were subservient to their legislatures, so why not the President? Weak State executives were a response to our revolt against England, where a powerful King made war on his subjects. While the legislative mode of selection was acceptable at the National level, an executive as weak as most State Governors was not. The answer at this point was to retain legislative election, but isolate his performance from the influence and machinations of Congress. That is why the Framers went for a single term of reasonable length. With a single term, the President would not have to constantly look over his shoulder at Congress or allow it to influence his decisions.
Notice also the power to impeach, convict and remove the President from office. That peaceful avenue to seek relief from oppression, to impeach and remove the King of England was not available to the American Colonists. It just did not exist in a legal system that was designed to secure the prerogatives of the Crown. So, our Framers provided nonviolent means of relief. Instead of revolt, instead of storming the White House to behead the President and his family, we expected to peacefully remove criminal Presidents.
Unfortunately that route, the nonviolent removal of felonious Presidents, as a practical matter, no longer exists.
Wilson said it well when he spoke of them making a Constitution for the ages — not for the moment.Now we have a power in Washington D.C.removed form the people it purports to represent and give voice to -where deals are done in secret -and laws passed just so we can find out what’s in them and an executive who has held our Constitution,Laws, and way of life in contempt since the first day he spent in public office.Yet the Congress purporting to maintain power of Impeachment is rushing about watching the brush fires set by the domestic terrorist and not deploying any to catch and stop the firebug.
I fear we will just bounce from one crisis to another in the way CA has been doing these past few years. When it all comes crashing down, when the people demand the government “do something,” we will wake up in a totalitarian state. Scotus of course, will find it all to be Constitutional.
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