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satisfied, if an amendment in regard to the mode of choosing electors was necessary, that one greatly preferable to that now before the house might not be adopted. When the constitution had been originally framed, it had been supposed, he said, that the members of the electoral colleges would get together, and consult as to the best persons upon whom to bestow their votes; but the practice under the constitution had shown this expectation to be idle, and that the election did not in fact turn upon the principle on which the Convention had intended to fix it. On the contrary, the presidential candidates were fixed and announced before the election of electors. Mr. R. thought the mode of election ought to be changed, but doubted whether the mode proposed would be the best.

Mr. RANDOLPH, of Virginia. To this proposition, he was opposed in toto, and would deliver his principal reasons as succinctly as he could.

It was not necessary, he said, to remind the house, that from the commencement of the federal government, the people of the United States had been divided into two great hostile parties. Although individuals had changed, the presumption was, that the parties remained pretty much the same at the present dayalthough deserters came and went from the one to the other, as suited their interests or their views of political advancement, the principles of the parties were not much changed. One of the great leading causes of the division of the American people, was the greater or less regard they were disposed to show to the powers of the states. It had been often said before on this floor, but perhaps it might not be amiss again to state it, that the difference between the two great parties consisted, on the one hand, of a devotion to the general in opposition to the state governments, and, in the distribution of the powers of the government, of a leaning, a bias, an attachment to the executive branch of the government-to that branch more remote from, and apparently independent of, the people, than this house. I, said Mr. Randolph, was brought up in the school, and have never yet been expelled from it, which upheld the rights of the states in opposition to the rights of this masked monarchy-for such our government is; of the rights of the popular branch of the government, in opposition to the other branches of the government, in all cases (be it remarked) of doubtful construction.

Mr. Randolph said, then, he was opposed to this resolution for the simple reason that it contemplated an abridgment of the powers of the states that was enough for him. He was not one of those, who made new and great discoveries in politics -such as, that the powers of the states were too great and ought to be diminished. If there were no other objection to this proposition, it would be sufficient for him that it went to abridge the powers of the states.

He was against this proposition on another ground. Be. cause it went not merely to abridge the rights of the states, but because it did go to change the terms of the compromise upon which these states had come into the confederation; to diminish very much the power of the large states, without in the same ratio diminishing that of the smaller. This constitution might be, as the gentlemen had told the house, a popu. lar government; but, said Mr. Randolph, I deny the fact. It is not, it never was, a popular government.

If this were a popular government, why not introduce a resolution to this effect--That for every representative on this floor an elector should be chosen by the people? Why have we two additional electors in each state? Because of the compromise at the commencement of the government between the large and small states.

We must view this constitution as a compromise among the confederated states; which, he said, was the only principle on which a sound and practical statesman could find him, self justified in acting in regard to it. Whenever that com. promise was touched, if the balance was not nicely adjusted, if the centre of gravity was removed po matter how little, it would be impossible for any member of this house to divine the consequences.

This proposition, appeared to him to strike at the very root of the constitution of the United States. To that constitution many

of the ablest and best men in the country had been strongly opposed, on the ground that the powers of the states would be too feeble to cope with the powers of the general government.

As long as he had a seat on this foor, he should feel it his duty to oppose any proposition, which would in any degree tend, first, to diminish the actual powers of the states; and, secondly, any proposition which went in any degree to change the existing compromise of weight and influ. ence in this government, between the greater and smaller states. The truth was, if the large states had a proposition to make, affecting their weight in the government, so as to make it less in proportion to their wealth and population, it became the duty of the small states to enquire what they could give the large ones as an equivalent. In all public matters, where previous proportions have been settled, upon which the government of a country is to be carried on, any proposition going to change the fundamental state of the parties, is and ought to be met by a corresponding proposition of so much, by way of equivalent. He had a full, a firm persuasion, that this matter had not received the consideration to which it was entitled, and which he hoped it would receive before the house determined it.


Mr. Wright, of Maryland, said, the adoption of this resolution will produce uniformity in the mode, and stability in its duration, by being made an article of the constitution, so that every state will be represented, as it is by a member of the political character of the district, which by a general ticket would be taken away, and thereby the minority of the states would be wholly unrepresented, in the legislative council of the nation.

The question was now taken on the first member of Mr. Pickens' proposition, that relating to the election of representatives, and decided affirmatively, 86 votes to 38.

Mr. Jewett, of Vermont, proposed to strike out all the residue of the proposition (relating to the election of electors) and in lieu thereof to insert an amendment proposed by him, the object of which was, that the electors of each state should be chosen from the representative districts; the two extra electors to be chosen by the legislature of each state.

Mr. GASTON, of North Carolina, said, that the amendment proposed by the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Jewett) ought not to be acted on without some consideration. The plan of his honourable colleague was to divide each state into as many districts as the state had electors, and in each of these districts to have an elector chosen by the qualified voters among the people. The plan of the gentleman from Vermont, was to divide each state into congressional districts only, from each of which an elector was to be chosen by the people, and to vest the legislature of the state with the power of appointing the other two electors. This latter proposition was supported by some considerations not to be disregarded. In the first place, it seemed more to consist with the theory of our federal constitution, which, in regard to the choice of a president, kept in view as well the federative as the popular principle. It would be recollected that in apportioning electors to the states, the constitution had regard to their population, by assigning to them as many electors as they respectively had representatives; and had also regard to their federative capacity, by assigning to each, without distinction, two electors, as it had assigned to each of them two senators. Now, there would be an obvious congruity in giving the appointment of the two electors to which each state was entitled, as a member of the confederacy, to the legislature of the state which represents its independent sovereignty; while the electors who represented the population of the state, should be chosen by the people, in proportion to their numbers. It was probable, too, that some inconvenience might result from the double division which it would be necessary to make of each state, upon the plan of his colleague; a division into districts, for the choice of representatives, and another division into districts, a little more numerous, for the choice of electors. On the VOL. II.


other hand, there was a simplicity in the original plan, which could not fail to recommend it, and a complexity in that suggested by the amendment, which perhaps more than overbalanced its advantages.

To the principle of the proposed amendment of the constitution, I am, indeed, said Mr. Gaston, a most zealous friend; and instead of feeling either astonishment or regret at the vote which has just past, I hail it as a happy augury of that which will obtain on the remaining branch of the proposition. No man more reverences the constitution than myself. No man would dread more any rash innovation on its principles. But this is not such an innovation. It alters not the fundamental terms of the contract-it merely regulates in detail, in conformity to these fundamental principles, a subject which had been left for regulation to the different state legislatures, and which experience has shown ought to be regulated in the charter itself. And are we, in respect to the constitution, to renounce the benefits of experience? Shall the lessons of practical wisdom, which are taught in that school, be received in vain? Such was not the design of the framers of the constitution. They were aware that time would make manifest defects in that instrument, which no political sagacity could foresee, and they therefore provided, by the instrument itself, a process for its amendment. Surely, if experience has taught us any thing in relation to our form of government, it has shown that there ought to be an uniform and permanent mode of appointing electors. It is demanded by the honour of our country, that some remedy should be devised to cure the shameful disorders which are obtruded upon our view, on the approach of every presidential election. I speak without particular reference to parties, when I say the mode is every where made subsidiary to the immediate views and interests of the dominant faction. 'Nor do I think that we subject ourselves to the censure which the honourable gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Randolph) bestows on those who claim, as a part of the federal government, the right of arraigning the conduct of the state legislatures. We do not now act in our ordinary capacity, as a branch of the federal legislature; we act in that peculiar character which has been imparted to us by the constitution, of initiating amendments which are to be submitted to the confederation of the states. And it would be strange, indeed, if those to whom the people have granted this power, were chargeable with arrogance when they enquire into the existing defects, and point out a suitable remedy; whether those defects are found to be inherent in the instrument itself, or to arise from the maladministration of those whom that instrument has made the depositories of confidence.

Surely there has been no precipitance in congress; certainly the subject is now understood, if it ever can be understood. Nor can I think that the legislatures of New York, Pennsylvania, North-Carolina, Massachusetts, and Virginia, large states too, supposed they were seeking to break down state power, when they sanctioned and recommended such an amendment. It is true, that such an amendment, in form, abridges the power of the state legislatures--for it narrows their discretion as to the mode of appointing electors. But let it be shown, (and if any gentleman can show it, it will be the gentleman from Virginia) that it deprives them of any beneficial power, of any power which can be available to them, by way of securing an equilibrium against federal authority. The fact is, that it only takes away from them a matter of detail and regulation, onerous in itself, furnishing the materials for factious intrigue and manæuvre, and productive of no advantage to the states.

He would notice another remark of the gentleman from Virginia. It had been said, district elections of electors would dimi. nish the relative strength which the great states had in this confederacy; and that whether this strength was disproportionate or not, they were entitled to it by the original terms of the association, and ought not to be deprived of it. To this' argument, it might be answered that it was the great states themselves which had requested this change, and surely it was not for them to complain of the alteration. But even if such complaint could be made, he begged that it might be remembered that their present disproportionate power arose not from the original terms of the confederacy, but from an alteration which had been made in those terms. It was to the amendment of the constitution, directing that the electors should designate, by their votes, between the president and vice-president, that the great states now owed their exclusive claim to these offices. And if the effect of the proposed amendment should be to communicate some additional power to the smaller states, it would be but to restore the ratio fixed by the original compact.

MR. GROSVENOR of New York, said, there could be no doubt that the constitution was founded on a compromise of the interests, principles, and prejudices of the various states; and it was as little to be doubted, that in that instrument were to be found a combination of two distinct principles, the federative and the popular. In some parts the people were recognized as citizens of the union, and were empowered to exercise their rights without the control or check of the state governments. In other parts they were recognized as citizens of distinct sovereign states, and empowered to exercise their rights as members of the union, only through state organs. The framers of the constitution deemed this combination of distinct principles and distinct sovereignties in our government, as essential to its success and duration; so essential had the full support of the federal principle in the government been deem

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