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If our system of government is worthy of a fair trial, it must be an urgent duty on us to apply its fundamental powers so as to perform properly their several functions. The public will being the centre of motion, its influence must be properly imparted to the surrounding bodies, or the experiment will be unfair, and the system may become deranged; with this view the present amendment to the constitution has been offered.

Mr. Pickens said, the proposition now before the committee was so plain in itself, and had been so often brought into view in the different states, as well as before this body on several occasions, that he would only present a few leading ideas which induced him to hope for its adoption.

Steadiness and uniformity in the mode of election of either the representatives or the electors, is only attainable by a constitutional provision. While this is left to the varying views of congress, and the still more various and varying councils of the several states, such changes will be made by the prevailing parties, for the time being, as may answer their particular ends. Our own experience is ample to prove this: we have seen sometimes a general vote prescribed-districts of various sizes electing from one to three or four representatives or electors, and legislatures have taken upon themselves the appointment of electors. Thus have the people been kept in a state of fluctuation and uncertainty, about the most important right they possess, after enjoying it very equivocally and indirectly, if enjoyed at all. There have been exhibited between states and the parties in states, almost every four years, what might be called a political farce, but for the importance of the actors, and the weight of the results. The prevailing party in a state have generally been the advocates of state rights, and for giving a united suffrage, regardless of the sentiments of divisions forming a minority of the whole state. The minority in a state have contended for allowing to every section its proper and distinct weight, tending to divide the weight of suffrage. And this is the general character of the majority and minority, no matter of what political complexion.

We have seen the great state of Pennsylvania, though she generally acts with much regularity, at the point of losing her entire suffrage in the choice of electors; the choice was then in the legislature, and the two branches differing in political views, they were unable to agree on a ballot, until an actual compromise was effected, in which each side held out for the best terms it could procure. In this act the public voice was unheard.

About four years ago a similar case happened in Massachu. setts, in which a compromise was agreed to, after many vain attempts to effect the choice, the two branches being opposed to each other.

About the same time, in New-Jersey, a general vote of the people being the established mode for choosing electors, and no change in the number of electors, or other ostensible reason for an alteration, existing, the legislature convened a few days previous to the time of election, and finding a majority of that body of a different political complexion from what they supposed the majority of the qualified voters in the state to be, the election law was instantly repealed, and the right of appointing electors was assumed by the legislature, giving the electoral college their own political image.

Would it not conduce more to the dignity and stability of the government, to have its principal offices filled by a fair uniform procedure, which long habit would render venerable? Nothing tends more to give respect to any institution, than long unaltered custom. This renders a bad government more tolerable, and is the foundation of half the laws of every country in the world, our own not excepted. When, to this regularity of method, are added the qualities of being fair, pure, and congenial to our free institutions, we can at least promise ourselves a fair trial of the theory of our government.

These qualities all attend the mode proposed, in an eminent degree, with others which add to its worth. In elections by the people, in single districts, the candidates will be well known to the voters; they can best judge by their own knowledge, who may be entitled to their confidence. The choice flows most directly from the people, who need no dictation from a caucus. The voter is not hampered by a general ticket of many names, some of whom he may not know, and others he may not like. The operation being confined to narrow limits, and the result. being small, the public excitement cannot be great. The exercise of suffrage, originating with the people, it must be inaccessible to corruption. It is a maxim universally admitted, that the body of the people is honest, and free from intrigue. It would indeed be inconsistent to suppose that the people should feel an interest in injuring themselves; that they should be corruptible, would be absurd. Otherwise, in the case of a legislative choice, or caucus nomination. With all these properties, it has that of being perfectly convenient.

The states of Georgia, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont, all have chosen representatives by general vote: in each of these there may be a diversity of opinion and of interest; this appears obvious from the majority being so equivocal in some of them, as to make entire changes in their delegation. It is presumable, that by the district plan there might be districts, having decided majorities, differing from the prevailing sentiment of the state. And why should not these be heard in their due proportions? Difference of opinion is no crime. It arises mostly from difference of interest and

of associations. If there be a district in Connecticut, having a majority of what is called republican opinions; or a district in Georgia, of opposite sentiment, I should like, in either case, to see such districts represented here. Though there might be no great difference in the general momentum on either side, by this change; it would afford most happy consequences. Disappointment, in any measure, is then reconciled by the reflection that there was a fair trial. Kindred sympathies would be happily blended between distant climates, and geographical divisions avoided. The contrary is the consequence, in any larger mode of division, and especially in a general vote of states. Disappointment is then sharpened by considering that a fair trial was not had; that the sentiments of the minor divisions of the states were not heard. Antipathies would naturally become sectional between whole states and regions, being united in opposition to each other, respectively.

Of all species of divisiort, none is so truly to be deprecated, as that of a geographical character. And that the mode of general vote tends this way, is clear, and that in filling the electoral colleges, as well as this house: for the very appearance of this united opposition in colleges within whole states and regions, to other sections, equally united, and this frequently occurring, will naturally lead to the same kind of local feeling. And as certainly too in a federative system, where each state is left free to regulate its weight in the balance, does it tend toward the mode of entire suffragt; and our experience proves it. The evil, then, is a national one, and a growing one. Its only cute is by a constitutional provision.

It is said that by adopting this amendment in the case of electors, the federative principle in that particular will be decreased. What is that federative principle? It consists mostly in the two extra electors being allowed to the states without respect to their relative sizes; this was a concession to the small states. And this is still retained by the amendments as there is no alteration in the distribution or number of electors. The right of the states indeed to regulate the mode of appointment being of a federative character, may be an object with some. But when the state is so united in sentiment as to present an undivided front, it may still do so, and the object is retained. When this is not the case, the loss in any state will depend on the relative losses sustained by other states in the same way,

and the fraction of loss in any case is not worth the expense of the many evils resulting from the present unsettled course.

Mr. Root, of New York, said that changes in the constitutions of governments ought never to be made on slight motives.

The first proposition contained in the resolution before the house, was not, he said, to his mind, calculated to change the principles of the constitution, since it proposed nothing more than a modification of the manner in which a constitutional provision should be executed. That the people should elect their representatives in such a manner as to speak the voice of the nation most distinctly, was what the constitution intended.

But the other proposition, as now presented to us, contemplates an invasion of one of the great fundamental principles of our constitution. It was not so, as the honourable gentleman from North-Carolina seemed to suppose, that the great states had yielded to the smaller ones (at the formation of the constitution) two senators each. It was the small states that yielded a full representation to the large states in the popular branch according to their numbers. Before the adoption of the constitution, each state, large or small, had an equal voice in congress, as an independent state, confederated with others, on equal terms and with equal rights. But, the large states having to pay a share of the taxes in proportion to their numbers, the smaller states had conceded to the larger ones, that they should have a representation in one branch of the legislature in proportion to their numbers. One branch of the legislature, therefore, was representative-the other federative. The executive branch of the government was a compound of both; the people and the state sovereignties combining their powers to elect a President of the United States. Hence a small state containing sixty thousand souls, was entitled to four electors; while one of double the population had perhaps not five votes -because the electors are chosen on a principle which is a compound of the popular and federative principles, one of which this proposition proposes to invade. Those electors to be appointed to represent the people, Mr. Root said, he had no objection should be chosen by the people, and in the same districts as are laid out for the election of representatives; but the other two in each state, who were to represent the state sovereignties, ought to continue to be chosen as the legislature might direct.

Mr. HAMMOND, of New-York, said, that the resolution under consideration embraced two objects. The first part of it was intended to render the mode of electing the members of this house uniform throughout the United States; the other part was intended to produce a uniformity in the mode of choosing electors of the president and vice-president of the United States. He was in favour of both parts of the resolution.

The practice in many of the states under the constitution is, that the electors for president are chosen by the members of the state legislatures. This practice is, I think, inconsistent with the genius of our government. The American government is essentially a popular one. All power is declared to be derived from the people. The voice of the people constitutionally pro: nounced at the poll of an election, is the only sovereign and independent exercise of authority acknowledged in this nation.

I contend that it is not right that the legislatures of the respective states should have the power of determining the mode of choosing electors for the president. The danger of a combination of great states to the prejudice of small ones, furnishes to my mind a strong objection to allowing to the respective state legislatures the power of determining the mode of choosing electors-one hundred and eleven votes will elect your president. The states of Massachusetts, New-York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, give one hundred and one votes. These four states, therefore, connected with a comparatively small state, can elect a president. Thus a mere bald majority of one in the state legislatures of five states can impose a president on the fourteen states, even if the inhabitants of the remaining fourteen states were to a man opposed to him. It is unnecessary to pursue this part of the subject further, because it must appear evident that if the constitution is not altered the minority can and possibly, nay probably, will govern the majority. It may be objected against the proposed amendment, that if adopted it will diminish the influence of the great states. Be it so. I am willing, sir, that the influence of the great states in their corporate capacity in the election of a president should be diminished.

The President is an officer who exists for the benefit of the people of the United States, and not for any one state or any part of the states. He ought not, therefore, to be created by the states, but by the people. The personal merit and political principles of the candidate are the only proper objects to which the attention of the electors ought to be directed. A great state, therefore, can not claim because she is great that she should furnish a chief magistrate for the nation. But so long as the legislatures of the respective states choose or direct the mode of choosing the electors, so long state claims, as they are called, will enter more or less into consideration in the selection of a president. Mr. Hammond said he had another objection against the choice of electors being made by order of the state legislatures. It was the danger arising from the influence of the executive of the United States on the state legislatures exerted for the purpose of continuing himself in office or of selecting his successor. And, sir, can it for a moment be doubted but that the state legislatures present bodies of men on whom the executive influence can be brought to bear with more effect than on the whole mass of the American people? I think not.

Mr. Ross, of Pennsylvania, said, that, for his own part, he had not given to this subject that attention which it merited, and was not prepared to vote on it at this moment. He was not

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