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become an hereditary one. It would be a satisfactory answer to this objection, that, as onethird would go out triennially, there would be always three divisions holding places from unequal times, and consequently acting under the influence of different views and different impulses.
On the question for nine years, one-third to go out triennially,
Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia—aye, 3; Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia--no, 8.
On the question for six years, one-third to go out biennially,
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina-aye, 7; New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, Georgia—no, 4. 5 Elliott's Debates, 242.
Modern reform has not made as great an innovation upon the judicial tenure, as it has upon the mode and manner of choosing judges. In many of the States the judges of the Supreme court still hold their offices “during good behavior.” Such is the case in Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut, but not beyond the age of seventy years; in Massachusetts, Virginia, Delaware, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, and some other States, the judicial tenure still is “during good behavior.” In Rhode Island it is practically the same, the judges holding their offices until removed by a resolution of both houses of the Legislature. In Pennsylvania, the Supreme judges hold their offices for fifteen years, and those of the Common Pleas for ten years ; in Missouri and Tennessee, the Supreme judges have a tenure of twelve years; in Louisiana and Arkansas, eight years ; in Indiana and Michigan, seven years; in New Jersey, Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa and Texas, six years.; in Georgia, three years; and in Vermont, one year. In the six New England States, the executive and legislative branches are elected annu. ally. In New York, Ohio, Texas, Michigan, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and several other States, the executive term of office is two years; in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and some other States, three years; and in Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and some others, four years. In some of the States, the senators are chosen to serve four years, in some three, and in some two, and in a number of the States the senators and represene tatives are chosen biennially. The landmarks of the primary Constitutions of the old thirteen States are thus still preserved; and our State governments, formed by the public men of the present day, are republican in their structure, and not democracies, without qualifications and restrictions, in which the people rule without regard to form, law or order.
By the first regular Constitution of New Hampshire, the Governor and Senate were to be chosen annually, but judges were to hold their offices " during good behavior.” In Massachusetts just the same. In New York, the Governor's term was fixed at three years, that of senators at four, and the judicial tenure was by good behavior determinable at
the age of sixty. In New Jersey, the Governor and Senate were to be annually chosen, and the term of the judges was to be seven years. In Pennsylvania, the Governor's term was one year, senators were to hold for three years, judges for seven. In Delaware, the Governor's term was three years, that of senators three, and that of the judges during good behavior. In Maryland, the Governor held for one year only, senators for five, and judges (as also the attorney general) during good behavior. In Virginia, the Governor was chosen for three years, the Senate for one, and judges held for life or good behavior. In North Carolina, the terms of the Governor and senators were one year only, those of the judges during good behavior. In South Carolina, the Governor and both houses of the Legislature were appointed biennially, the judges during good behavior. By the Georgia Constitution, the Governor and Senate were to hold for one year, but the tenure of the judicial office was not specified in that instrument. In brief, three governors held for three years each, one for two and the rest for one; there was one senatorial term of five years, one of four, two of three, one of two, and six of but one; and of the eleven regularly formed States, eight put their judges upon a tenure of good behavior, two gave them terms of seven years, and as to the remaining one, the Constitution is inexplicit. So that we may fairly say the sentiment of the country was divided between one and three years, as regarded the proper term for a chief magistrate, between one and five for the senatorial office; while in reference to judges it was nearly unanimous in favor of life-terms, with a tenure of good behavior.
When the term for members of the House of Representatives came to be considered, Messrs. Sherman and Ellsworth moved to fill the blank with the words every year. Mr. Rutledge proposed every two years. Mr. Jenifer proposed every three years, "observing that the two great frequency of elections rendered the people indifferent to them, and made the best unwilling to engage in so precarious a service." The following discussion then followed between Messrs. Madison and Gerry :
Mr. Madison seconded the motion for three years. Instability is one of the great vices of our republics to be remedied. Three years will be necessary, in a government so extensive, for members to form any knowledge of the various interests of the States to which they do not belong, and of which they can know but little from the situation and affairs of their own. One year will be almost consumed in preparing for and travelling to and from the seat of national business.
Mr. Gerry. The people of New England will never give up the point of annual elections. They know of the transition made in England from triennial to septennial elections, and will consider such an innovation here as a prelude to a like usurpation. He considered annual elections as the only defence of the people against tyranny. He was as much against a triennial house as against an hereditary Executive.
Mr. Madison observed, that, if the opinions of the people were to be our guide, it
would be difficult to say what course we ought to take. No member of the Convention could say what the opinions of his constituents were at this time; much less could he say what they would think, if possessed of the information and light possessed by the members here ; and still less, what would be their way of thinking six or twelve months hence. We ought to consider what was right, and what was necessary in itself for the attainment of a proper government. A plan adjusted to this idea will recommend itself. The respectability of this Convention will give weight to their recommendation of it. Experience will be constantly urging the adoption of it; and all the most enlightened and respectable citizens will be its advocates. Should we fall short of the necessary and proper point, this influential class of citizens will be turned against the plan, and little support, in opposition to them, can be gained to it from the unreflecting multitude.
Mr. Gerry repeated his opinion, that it was necessary to consider what the people would approve. This had been the policy of all legislators. If the reasoning (of Mr. Madison) was just, and we supposed a limited monarchy the best form in itself, we ought to recommend it, though the genius of the people was decidedly adverse to it, and, hav. ing no hereditary distinctions among us, we were destitute of the essential materials for such an innovation.
On the question for the triennial election of the first branch,
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia—aye, 7; Massachusetts, (Mr. King, aye: Mr. Gorham, wavering) Connecticut, North Carolina, South Carolina-no, 4. 5 Elliott's Debates, 183.
The term thus agreed upon was however subsequently reduced to two years, at which time the discussion was resumed, and continued as follows:
Mr. Randolph moved to strike out “ three years,” and insert stwo years.” He was sensible that annual elections were a source of great mischief in the States, yet it was the want of such checks against the popular intemperance as were now proposed that rendered them so mischievous. He would have preferred annual to biennial, but for the extent of the United States, and the inconvenience which would result from them to the representatives of the extreme parts of the empire. The people were attached to the frequency of elections. All the Constitutions of the States, except South Carolina, had established annual elections.
Mr. Dickinson. The idea of annual elections was borrowed from the ancient usage of England, a country much less extensive than ours. He supposed biennial would be inconvenient. He preferred triennial, and in order to prevent the inconvenience of an entire change of the whole number at the same moment, suggested a rotation by an annual election of one-third.
Mr. Ellsworth was opposed to three years, supposing that even one year was prefer. able to two years. The people were fond of frequent elections, and might be safely indulged in one branch of the Legislature. He moved for “ one year.”
Mr. Strong seconded and supported the motion.
Mr. Wilson, being for making the first branch an effectual representation of the people at large, preferred an annual election of it. This frequency was most familiar and pleasing to the people. It would not be more inconvenient to them than triennial elections, as the people in all the States have annual meetings, with which the electior of the national representatives might be made to coincide. He did not conceive that it would be necessary for the National Legislature to sit constantly ; perhaps not half, perhaps not one-fourth, of the year.
Mr. Madison was persuaded that annual elections would be extremely inconvenient, and apprehensive that biennial would be too much so; he did not mean inconvenient to the electors, but to the representatives. They would have to travel seven or eight hundred miles from the distant parts of the Union, and would probably not be allowed even a reimbursement of their expenses. Besides, none of those who wished to be re-elected would remain at the seat of government, confiding that their absence would not affect them. The members of Congress had done thts with few instances of disappointment. But as the choice was here to be made by the people themselves, who would be much less complaisant to individuals, and much more susceptible of impressions from the presence of a rival candidate, it must be supposed that the members from the most distant States would travel backwards and forwards at least as often as the elections should be repeated. Much was to be said also, on the time requisite for new members, (who would always form a large proportion,) to acquire that knowledge of the affairs of the States in general, without which their trust could not be usefully disa charged.
Mr. Sherman preferred annual elections, but would be content with biennial. He thought the representatives ought to return home and mix with the people. By remaining at the seat of government they would acquire the habits of the place, which might differ from those of their constituents.
Col. Mason observed, that the States being differently situated, such a rule ought to be formed as would put them as nearly as possible on a level. If elections were an. nual, the Middle States would have a great advantage over the extreme ones. He wished them to be biennial, and the rather as in that case they would coincide with the periodical elections of South Carolina, as well as of the other States.
Col. Hamilton urged the necessity of three years. There ought to be neither too much nor too little dependence on the popular sentiments. The checks in the other branches of the government would be but feeble, and would need every auxiliary principle that could be interwoven. The British House of Commons were eleeted septennially, yet the democratic spirit of the Constitution had not ceased. Frequency of elections tended to make the people listless to them, and to facilitate the success of little cabals. This evil was complained of in all the States. In Virginia, it had been Jately found necessary to force the attendance and voting of the people by severe regu. lations.
On the question for striking out “three years,”
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Caro. lina, Georgia--aye, 7; New York, Delaware, Maryland—no, 3; New Jersey, divided. The motion for “two years" was then inserted, nem. con. 5 Elliott's Debates, 224.
QUALIFICATION OF ELECTORS.
The qualification of electors was another subject of serious embarrassment to the framers of the Federal Constitution. In noticing this subject, Mr. Warner expresses himself as follows:
It is a naked act, which nothing but a Constitution of government can put in any man's power, and of which the power cannot even come from thence but upon a trust that does not permit it to rest in the receiver as his own. He is, therefore, a trusted agent in the whole matter. He fills an office which his country honors him with, not for his benefit in particular, but for hers in general. So that claims to the franchise are quite out of the question. And the pretence, so often and so childishly uttered in the progress of our history, that such and such a man was entitled to be a voter, or that he ought in justice to be one, though not legally qualified, is strangely futile.
Well, then, the fathers had a right to do as in their judgment the well-being of the country required. And aeting on this principle, they gave the franchise of the polls, not to everybody, nor to the half, or even a fourth part, of the popular multitude, but only to persons answering a particular description, which it was hoped might include the best informed and most virtuous and independent portion of society, while it would shut out persons of a less enlightened or less reliable character.
So thought and acted our revolutionary statesmen, whose republicanism no one can dispute. They were the champions of liberty, but knew that
. a democracy would not necessarily be a free government, and that political liberty can only be preserved by that government in which it is not abusėd. We accordingly find that when Mr. Randolph submitted his proposition, that the people should elect the members of the first branch of the National Legislature, a variety of opinions manifested themselves among the members who framed the Federal Constitution, as the following account of the debate will show:
Mr. Sherman opposed the election by the people, insisting that it ought to be by the State Legislatures. The people, he said, immediately, should have as little to do as may be about the government. They want information, and are constantly liable to be misled.
Mr. Gerry. The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want virtue, bu are the dupes of pretended patriots. In Massachusetts, it had been fully confirmed by experience, that they are daily misled into the most baneful measures and opinions, by the false reports circulated by designing men, and which no one on the spot can refute. One principal evil arises from the want of due provision for those employed in the administration of government. It would seem to be a maxim of democracy to starve the public servants. He mentioned the popular clamor in Massa