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LET us now take a brief survey of the details of the Republican system thus established by our forefathers, under so many embarrassing and perplexing difficulties-details material to their plan and policy, and anxiously and wisely adjusted by them. They belong mainly, though by no means altogether, to the State economies, and may be classed as relating, first, to the character and circumstances by which it was supposed that candidates for office ought to be distinguished ; secondly, to the mode of appointment deemed most likely to secure a fair result; thirdly, to the qualification of electors where the election was popular; fourthly, to the term and tenure of office when attained ; and finally, to some additional seven years. Mr. Sherman was for three years, and against the doctrine of rotation, as throwing out of office the men best qualified to execute its duties. Mr. Mason was for seven years at least, and for prohibiting a re-eligibility, as the best expedient, both for preventing the effect of a false complaisance on the side of the Legislature towards anfit characters, and a temptation on the side of the Executive to intrigue with the Legislature for a reappointment. Mr. Bedford was strongly opposed to so long a term as seven years. He begged the committee to consider what the situation of the country would be, in case the first magistrate should be saddled on it for such a period, and it should be found on trial that he did not possess the qualifications ascribed to him, or should lose them after his appointment. An impeachment, he said, would be no cure for this evil, as an impeachment would reach misfeasance only, not incapacity. He was for a triennial election, and for an ineligibility after a period of nine years. On the question for seven years—New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, aye, 5; Connecticut, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no, 4; Massachusetts, divided. 5 Elliott's Deb., 142.
Subsequently the following discussion took place Dr. McClurg moved to strike out “ seven years," and insert “ during good behavior." By striking out the words declaring him not re-eligible, he was put in a position that would keep him dependent forever on the Legislature ; and he conceived the independence of the Executive to be equally essential with that of the Judiciary department.
Mr. Gouverneur Morris seconded the motion. He expressed great pleasure in hearing it. This was the way to get a good government. His fear that so valuable an ingredient would not be attained had led him to take the part he had done. He was indifferent how the Executive should be chosen, provided he held his place by this tenure.
Mr. Broome highly approved the motion. It obviated all his difficulties.
Mr. Sherman considered such a tenure as by no means safe or admissible. As the Executive magistrate is not re-eligible, he will be on good behavior as far as will be necessary. If he behaves well, he will be continued ; if otherwise, displaced, on a succeeding election.
Mr. Madison. If it be essential to the preservation of liberty that the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers be separate, it is essential to a maintenance of the separation that they should be independent of each other. The Executive could not be independent of the Legislature, if dependent on the pleasure of that branch for a reappointment.
bu Whether the plan proposed by the motion was a proper one, was another question, as it depended on the practicability of instituting a tribunal for impeachments as certain and as adequate in the one case as in the other. On the other hand, respect for the mover entitled his proposition to a fair hearing and discussion, until a less objectionable expedient should be applied for guarding against a dangerous union of the legislative and executive departments.
Col. Mason. This motion was made some time ago, and negatived by a very large majority. He trusted that it would be again negatived. It would be impossible to
ticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia being in the negative, but the Convention re-opened the discussion of the subject the same day, and again receded from its decision. Ibid., 358. Various propositions followed, but none were adopted. Ibid., 359 to 368. These and the difficulties which environed the subject are clearly stated in the following remarks of Mr. 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. First, 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 and qualifications should be performed by those who know least ; secondly, that the election should be made by the Legislatures of the States; thirdly, by the executives of the States. Against these modes, also, strong objections have been urged. Fourthly, 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. Fifthly, 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, bụt 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 government. Sixthly, another expedient was proposed by Mr. Dickinson, which is liable to so palpable and 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 ; though the causes of his local unpopularity might be of such a nature as to recommend him to the States at large. Seventhly, 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 National 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 polar 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 laken, in order that they may feel and respect those rights and interests which are again to be personally valuable to them. He concluded with moving, that the constitution of the executive, as reported by the Committee of the Whole, be reinstated, viz. : “ that the executive be appointed for seven years, and be ineligible a second time.”
Mr. Mason's motion was agreed to by a vote of seven to three, and on the question to agree to the whole resolution as amended, relating to the Executive, namely: "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 pro