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Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, no -6.
On a motion that the members of the Committee be furnished with copies of the proceedings, it was so determined, South Carolina alone being in the negative.
It was then moved, that the members of the House might take copies of the Resolutions which had been agreed to; which passed in the negative, -Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, aye—5; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, no—6.
Mr. GERRY and Mr. BUTLER moved to refer the resolution relating to the Executive (except the clause making it consist of a single person) to the Committee of detail.
Mr. Wilson hoped that so important a branch of the system would not be committed, until a general principle should be fixed by a vote of the House.
Mr. LANGDON was for the commitment.
THURSDAY, JULY 26TH.
In Convention,-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. Fisthly, 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, but 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 taken, 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. DAVIe seconded the motion.
Doctor FRANKLIN. It seems to have been imagined by some, that the returning to the mass of the people was degrading the magistrate. This he thought was contrary to republican principles. In free governments the rulers are the servants, and the people their superiors and sovereigns. For the former, therefore, to return among the latter, was not to degrade, but to promote, them. And it would be imposing an unreasonable burden on them, to keep them always in a state of servitude, and not allow them to become again one of the masters.
On the question on Col. Mason's motion, as above, it passed in the affirmative,
New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye—7; Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, no—3; Massachusetts, not on the floor.
Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS was now against the whole paragraph. In answer to Col. Mason's position, that a periodical return of the great officers of the state into the mass of the people was the palladium of civil liberty, he would observe, that on the same principle the Judiciary ought to be periodically degraded; certain it was, that the Legislature ought, on every principle, yet no one had proposed, or conceived that the members of it should not be re-eligible. In answer to Doctor FRANKLIN, that a return into the mass of the people would be a promotion, instead of a degradation, he had no doubt that our Executive, like most others, would have too much patriotism to shrink from the burthen of his office, and too much modesty not to be willing to decline the promotion.
On the question on the whole Resolution, as amended, in the words following: “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 provided for, to be removable on impeachment and conviction of mal-practice or neglect of duty, to receive a fixed compensation for the devotion of his time to
the public service, to be paid out of the national Treasury,"—it passed in the affirmative,
New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye—6; Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, no—3; Massachusetts, not on the floor; Virginia, divided-Mr. Blair and Col. Mason, aye; General WASHINGTON and Mr. Madison,
Mr. RANDOLPH happened to be out of the House. Mr. Mason moved, “that the Committee of Detail be instructed to receive a clause requiring certain qualifications of landed property, and citizenship of the United States, in members of the National Legislature; and disqualifying persons having unsettled accounts with, or being indebted to, the United States, from being members of the National Legislature.” He observed that persons of the latter descriptions had frequently got into the State Legislatures, in order to promote laws that might shelter their delinquencies; and that this evil had crept into Congress, if report was to be regarded.
Mr. PINCKNEY seconded the motion.
Mr. GOUVERNEUR Morris. If qualifications are proper, he would prefer them in the electors, rather than the elected. As to debtors of the United States, they are but few. As to persons having unsettled accounts, he believed them to be pretty many. He thought, however, that such a discrimination to be both odious and useless, and in many instances, unjust and cruel. The delay of settlement had been more the fault of the public, than of the individuals. What will be done with those patriotic citizens who have lent money, or services, or property, to their country, without having been yet able