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404. The Electoral System.--When the framers of the Constitution devised the method of election by means of Electoral colleges, they assumed that the Electors would be picked bodies of men, who would vote for the best men for President and Vice-President, regardless of popular feeling and private interest. be said that in the case of Washington the plan worked as they expected, but since his second administration it has never done so. No other part of the Constitution has proved so disappointing as the method of electing the President. In 1804 the Constitution was amended to correct evils that had declared themselves in the election of 1800; but the Twelfth Amendment, while accomplishing its immediate purpose, did not prevent the whole plan becoming a miserable failure. The men of 1787 did not foresee the part that politics and political parties would play in American affairs. have seen, the President and Vice-President are really named by one of the two great political conventions. The Electors are not chosen to exercise their own best judgment, but to cast their ballots for the party candidates. When once elected, the Electors are not legally bound to vote for these candidates, for the Constitution and laws make no mention of parties and conventions; but they are bound as party men and as men of honor, for they have consented to be elected on this understanding As the system works, they have no free will whatever, and practically the Electoral colleges are pieces of useless political machinery.
THE PRESIDENT'S QUALIFICATIONS, TERM, AND REMOVAL.
The American Government. Sections 450; 476-482. 405. Qualifications. The President must be a natural-born citizen of the United States. He must have attained the age of thirty-five years, and have been a resident of the country fourteen years at the time of his election. The Vice-President must have the same qualifications as the President.
406. Length of Term.—The term of office of both the President and the Vice-President is four years, and the two officers are eligible to successive re-elections. It has often been contended that it would be better to give the President a term of six or seven years, and then make him ineligible to a second election.
407. The President's Salary. This is fixed by Congress. From 1789 to 1873 it was $25,000 a year; since 1873 it has been $50,000. Congress also provides the President the furnished house known as the White House for an official residence. The President's salary can neither be increased nor diminished after he has entered on the duties of his office. The first of these two prohibitions makes it impossible for him to enter into bargains with members of Congress, whereby they shall receive something that they deem desirable, at the same time that his compensation is increased.
ion is increased. The second prohibition makes it impossible for Congress to reduce his compensation, and so to make the President its dependent or creature. All changes in the salary must therefore be prospective. Still further, the President cannot, during
his continuance in office, receive any other public emolument than his salary, such as a gift or present from the United States or from any State. The salary of the Vice-President is $8,000.
408. The President's Oath. – Before entering on the duties of his office, the President must take the following oath or affirmation: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.' This oath is in general a definition of the President's duties. He is exclusively an executive officer. The occasion on which the President takes this oath is popularly called his inauguration, and is marked by a good deal of parade and ceremony. The custom now is to conduct the inauguration on the East Front of the Capitol at Washington. The Chief Justice administers the oath, and the President delivers an address called his inaugural address. With the exception of the oath, none of these ceremonies are required by the Constitution or the laws, and they might be dispensed with. It is also customary for the VicePresident to take his oath in the Senate Chamber and to deliver a short speech to the Senators.
409. The Vice-President. The only reason for creating the office of Vice-President was to have a proper officer at hand who could succeed to the Presidency in the case of a vacancy. The Vice-President becomes President when the President is removed, dies, resigns, or is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. The President can be removed only by conviction on impeachment. If he resigns he must file his resignation in writing in the office of the Secretary of State. Just what inability to discharge the duties of his office is, has never
PRESIDENT'S QUALIFICATIONS, TERM, REMOVAL. 341
been settled. President Garfield performed but one executive act from July 2, 1881, to his death, which occurred September 19 following. It was much discussed at the time whether a case of inability had arisen, but with no practical results. Four Vice-Presidents have become Presidents by succeeding to the office. When the Vice-President becomes President, he succeeds to all the powers, dignities, responsibilities, and duties of the office for the unexpired portion of the term and ceases to be Vice-President. The Constitution provides that the Vice-President shall be the President of the Senate, but this is merely for the purpose of giving dignity and consequence to an officer who, for the most part, would otherwise have nothing to do.
410. The Presidential Succession. Who shall succeed to the Chief Executive office in case both the President and Vice-President die, resign, are removed, or are unable to perform the duties of the office ? The Constitution says that Congress shall by law provide for such a case, declaring what officer shall act as President until the disability be removed or a President be elected. The present law, which dates from 1886, declares that first the Secretary of State shall succeed, then the Secretary of the Treasury in case of his death, removal, etc.; afterwards the Secretary of War, the Attorney-General, the Postmaster-General, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Interior(American Government, p. 267), in this order. No one of these officers, however, can succeed unless he has been confirmed by the Senate and has all the qualifications that are required of the President. If one of them succeeds he fills the unexpired portion of the term the same as the Vice-President. However, a case of the removal, etc., of both the President and the Vice-President has never yet occurred.
THE PRESIDENT'S POWERS AND DUTIES.
The American Government. Sections 483-511. As is remarked in another place, the oath that the President takes on his inauguration is a general definition of his duties. Still the Constitution declares further that he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all officers of the United States. More than this, it describes his duties with more or less detail.
411. Army and Navy.—The President is commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the States also when they are called into the National service. The effective control of the National forces requires unity of judgment, decision, and responsibility. It is obvious that a congress or a cabinet would be a very poor body to place at the head of an army. The power entrusted to the President is a great one, but he cannot well abuse it so long as Congress alone can declare war, raise and support the army, provide the navy, make rules for the government of the military and naval forces, and provide by law under what conditions the President may call out the militia. The President delegates to chosen officers his authority to command the army and the navy in actual service.
412. The Pardoning Power.- Power to try,convict, and pass judgment upon persons charged with crimes and offenses under the laws of the United States is lodged in the courts alone. But courts sometimes commit mis