Saturday June 2, 1787
IN COMMITTEE OF WHOLE
William Samuel Johnson from Connecticut, Daniel of St. Thomas Jennifer, from Maryland and John Lansing Jr. from New
York, took their seats.
It was moved and 2ded. to postpone the Resolution of Mr. Randolph respecting the Executive, in order to take up the 2d.
branch of the Legislature; which being negatived by Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Georgia against, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland for.
The mode of appointing the Executive was resumed.
Mr. WILSON made the following motion, to be substituted for the mode proposed by Mr. Randolph's resolution, "that the
Executive Magistracy shall be elected in the following manner: That the States be divided into _____ districts: and that the
persons qualified to vote in each district for members of the first branch of the national Legislature elect _____ members for
their respective districts to be electors of the Executive magistracy, that the said Electors of the Executive magistracy meet at
_____ and they or any _____ of them so met shall proceed to elect by ballot, but not out of their own body _____ person in
whom the Executive authority of the national Government shall be vested."
Mr. WILSON repeated his arguments in favor of an election without the intervention of the States. He supposed too that this
mode would produce more confidence among the people in the first magistrate, than an election by the national Legislature.
Mr. GERRY, opposed the election by the national legislature. There would be a constant intrigue kept up for the appointment.
The Legislature and the candidates would bargain and play into one another's hands, votes would be given by the former
under promises or expectations from the latter, of recompensing them by services to members of the Legislature or to their
friends. He liked the principle of Mr. Wilson's motion, but fears it would alarm and give a handle to the State partisans, as
tending to supersede altogether the State authorities. He thought the Community not yet ripe for stripping the States of their
powers, even such as might not be requisite for local purposes. He was for waiting till people should feel more the necessity
of it. He seemed to prefer the taking the suffrages of the States instead of Electors, or letting the Legislatures nominate, and
the electors appoint. He was not clear that the people ought to act directly even in the choice of electors, being too little
informed of personal characters in large districts, and liable to deceptions.
Mr. WILLIAMSON could see no advantage in the introduction of Electors chosen by the people who would stand in the
same relation to them as the State Legislatures, whilst the expedient would be attended with great trouble and expense. On the
question for agreeing to Mr. Wilson's substitute, it was negatived: Massachusetts, no. Connecticut, no. New York, no.
Pennsylvania, aye. Delaware, no. Maryland, aye. Virginia, no. North Carolina, no. South Carolina, no. Georgia, no.
On the question for electing the Executive by the national Legislature for the term of seven years, it was agreed to
Massachusetts, aye. Connecticut, aye. New York, aye. Pennsylvania, no. Delaware, aye. Maryland, no. Virginia, aye. North
Carolina, aye. South Carolina, aye. Georgia, aye.
Dr. FRANKLIN moved that what related to the compensation for the services of the Executive be postponed, in order to
substitute ---"whose necessary expenses shall be defrayed, but who shall receive no salary, stipend fee or reward whatsoever
for their services" --- He said that being very sensible of the effect of age on his memory, he had been unwilling to trust to
that for the observations which seemed to support his motion, and had reduced them to writing, that he might with the
permission of the Committee read instead of speaking them.
Mr. WILSON made an offer to read the paper, which was accepted --- The following is a literal copy of the paper.
It is with reluctance that I rise to express a disapprobation of any one article of the plan for which we are so much obliged to
the honorable gentleman who laid it before us. From its first reading I have borne a good will to it, and in general wished it
success. In this particular of salaries to the Executive branch I happen to differ; and as my opinion may appear new and
chimerical, it is only from a persuasion that it is right, and from a sense of duty that I hazard it. The Committee will judge of
my reasons when they have heard them, and their judgment may possibly change mine. ---I think I see inconveniences in the
appointment of salaries; I see none in refusing them, but on the contrary, great advantages.
Sir, there are two passions which have a powerful influence on the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice; the love of
power, and the love of money. Separately each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but when united in view
of the same object, they have in many minds the most violent effects. Place before the eyes of such men, a post of honor that
shall be at the same time a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it. The vast number of such places it
is that renders the British Government so tempestuous. The struggles for them are the true sources of all those factions which
are perpetually dividing the Nation, distracting its Councils, hurrying sometimes into fruitless and mischievous wars, and often
compelling a submission to dishonorable terms of peace. And of what kind are the men that will strive for this profitable pre-
eminence, through all the bustle of cabal, the heat of contention, the infinite mutual abuse of parties, tearing to pieces the best
of characters? It will not be the wise and moderate; the lovers of peace and good order, the men fittest for the trust. It will be
the bold and the violent, the men of strong passions and indefatigable activity in their selfish pursuits. These will thrust
themselves into your Government and be your rulers. ---And these too will be mistaken in the expected happiness of their
situation: For their vanquished competitors of the same spirit, and from the same motives will perpetually be endeavoring to
distress their administration, thwart their measures, and render them odious to the people.
Besides these evils, Sir, though we may set out in the beginning with moderate salaries, we shall find that such will not be of
long continuance. Reasons will never be wanting for proposed augmentations. And there will always be a party for giving
more to the rulers, that the rulers may be able in return to give more to them. ---Hence as all history informs us, there has
been in every State and Kingdom a constant kind of warfare between the governing and governed: the one striving to obtain
more for its support, and the other to pay less. And this has alone occasioned great convulsions, actual civil wars, ending
either in dethroning of the Princes, or enslaving of the people. Generally indeed the ruling power carries its point, the revenues
of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more.
The more the people are discontented with the oppression of taxes; the greater need the prince has of money to distribute
among his partisans and pay the troops that are to suppress all resistance, and enable him to plunder at pleasure. There is
scarce a king in a hundred who would not, if he could, follow the example of Pharaoh, get first all the peoples money, then all
their lands, and then make them and their children servants for ever. It will be said, that we don't propose to establish Kings. I
know it. But there is a natural inclination in mankind to Kingly Government. It sometimes relieves them from Aristocratic
domination. They had rather have one tyrant than five hundred. It gives more of the appearance of equality among Citizens,
and that they like.
I am apprehensive therefore, perhaps too apprehensive, that the Government of these States, may in future times, end in a
Monarchy. But this Catastrophe I think may be long delayed, if in our proposed System we do not sow the seeds of
contention, faction and tumult, by making our posts of honor, places of profit. If we do, I fear that though we do employ at
first a number, and not a single person, the number will in time be set aside, it will only nourish the fetus of a King, as the
honorable gentleman from Virginia very aptly expressed it, and a King will the sooner be set over us.
It may be imagined by some that this is an Utopian Idea, and that we can never find men to serve us in the Executive
department, without paying them well for their services. I conceive this to be a mistake. Some existing facts present
themselves to me, which incline me to a contrary opinion. The high Sheriff of a County in England is an honorable office, but
it is not a profitable one. It is rather expensive and therefore not sought for. But yet, it is executed and well executed, and
usually by some of the principal Gentlemen of the County. In France, the office of Counselor or Member of their Judiciary
Parliaments is more honorable. It is therefore purchased at a high price: There are indeed fees on the law proceedings, which
are divided among them, but these fees do not amount to more than three per Cent on the sum paid for the place. Therefore
as legal interest is there at five per Cent, they in fact pay two per Cent, for being allowed to do the Judiciary business of the
Nation, which is at the same time entirely exempt from the burden of paying them any salaries for their services. I do not
however mean to recommend this as an eligible mode for our Judiciary department. I only bring the instance to show that the
pleasure of doing good and serving their Country and the respect such conduct entitles them to, are sufficient motives with
some minds to give up a great portion of their time to the public, without the mean inducement of pecuniary satisfaction.
Another instance is that of a respectable Society who have made the experiment, and practiced it with success more than an
hundred years. I mean the Quakers. It is an established rule with them, that they are not to go to law; but in their
controversies they must apply to their monthly, quarterly and yearly meetings. Committees of these sit with patience to hear
the parties, and spend much time in composing their differences. In doing this, they are supported by a sense of duty, and the
respect paid to usefulness. It is honorable to be so employed, but it was never made profitable by salaries, fees, or perquisites.
And indeed in all cases of public service the less the profit the greater the honor.
To bring the matter nearer home, have we not seen, the great and most important of our offices, that of General of our armies
executed for eight years together without the smallest salary, by a Patriot whom I will not now offend by any other praise;
and this through fatigues and distresses in common with the other brave men his military friends and Companions, and the
constant anxieties peculiar to his station? And shall we doubt finding three or four men in all the United States, with public
spirit enough to bear sitting in peaceful Council for perhaps an equal term, merely to preside over our civil concerns, and see
that our laws are duly executed. Sir, I have a better opinion of our Country. I think we shall never be without a sufficient
number of wise and good men to undertake and execute well and faithfully the office in question.
Sir, The saving of the salaries that may at first be proposed is not an object with me. The subsequent mischiefs of proposing
them are what I apprehend. And therefore it is, that I move the amendment. If it is not seconded or accepted I must be
contented with the satisfaction of having delivered my opinion frankly and done my duty.
The motion was seconded by Col. Hamilton with the view he said merely of bringing so respectable a proposition before the
Committee, and which was besides enforced by arguments that had a certain degree of weight. No debate ensued, and the
proposition was postponed for the consideration of the members. It was treated with great respect, but rather for the author
of it, than from any apparent conviction of its expediency or practicability.
Mr. DICKENSON moved "that the Executive be made removable by the National Legislature on the request of a majority of
the Legislatures of individual States." It was necessary he said to place the power of removing somewhere. He did not like the
plan of impeaching the Great officers of State. He did not know how provision could be made for removal of them in a better
mode than that which he had proposed. He had no idea of abolishing the State Governments as some gentlemen seemed
inclined to do. The happiness of this Country in his opinion required considerable powers to be left in the hands of the States.
Mr. BEDFORD seconded the motion.
Mr. SHERMAN contended that the National Legislature should have power to remove the Executive at pleasure.
Mr. MASON. Some mode of displacing an unfit magistrate is rendered indispensable by the fallibility of those who choose, as
well as by the corruptibility of the man chosen. He opposed decidedly the making the Executive the mere creature of the
Legislature as a violation of the fundamental principle of good Government.
Mr. MADISON and Mr. WILSON observed that it would leave an equality of agency in the small with the great States; that it
would enable a minority of the people to prevent the removal of an officer who had rendered himself justly criminal in the
eyes of a majority; that it would open a door for intrigues against him in States where his administration though just might be
unpopular, and might tempt him to pay court to particular States whose leading partisans he might fear, or wish to engage as
his partisans. They both thought it bad policy to introduce such a mixture of the State authorities, where their agency could be
Mr. DICKENSON considered the business as so important that no man ought to be silent or reserved. He went into a
discourse of some length, the sum of which was, that the Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary departments ought to be made
as independent. as possible; but that such an Executive as some seemed to have in contemplation was not consistent with a
republic: that a firm Executive could only exist in a limited monarchy. In the British Govt. itself the weight of the Executive
arises from the attachments which the Crown draws to itself, and not merely from the force of its prerogatives. In place of
these attachments we must look out for something else. One source of stability is the double branch of the Legislature. The
division of the Country into distinct States formed the other principal source of stability.
This division ought therefore to be maintained, and considerable powers to be left with the States. This was the ground of his
consolation for the future fate of his Country. Without this, and in case of a consolidation of the States into one great
Republic, we might read its fate in the history of smaller ones. A limited Monarchy he considered as one of the best
Governments in the world. It was not certain that the same blessings were derivable from any other form. It was certain that
equal blessings had never yet been derived from any of the republican form.
A limited Monarchy however was out of the question. The spirit of the times ---the state of our affairs, forbade the
experiment, if it were desirable. Was it possible moreover in the nature of things to introduce it even if these obstacles were
less insuperable. A House of Nobles was essential to such a Government. Could these be created by a breath, or by a stroke
of the pen? No. They were the growth of ages, and could only arise under a complication of circumstances none of which
existed in this Country. But though a form the most perfect perhaps in itself be unattainable, we must not despair. If ancient
republics have been found to flourish for a moment only and then vanish for ever, it only proves that they were badly
constituted; and that we ought to seek for every remedy for their diseases.
One of these remedies he conceived to be the accidental lucky division of this Country into distinct States; a division which
some seemed desirous to abolish altogether. As to the point of representation in the national Legislature as it might affect
States of different sizes, he said it must probably end in mutual concession. He hoped that each State would retain an equal
voice at least in one branch of the National Legislature, and supposed the sums paid within each State would form a better
ratio for the other branch than either the number of inhabitants or the quantum of property.
A motion being made to strike out "on request by a majority of the Legislatures of the individual States" and rejected,
Connecticut, South. Carolina, and Georgia being aye, the rest, no: the question was taken-
On Mr. DICKENSON'S motion for making Executive removable by National Legislature at request of majority of State
Legislatures was also rejected ---all the States being in the negative Except Delaware which gave an affirmative vote.
The Question for making the Executive ineligible after seven years, was next taken, and agreed to:
Massachusetts, aye. Connecticut, no. New York, aye. Pennsylvania, divided. Delaware, aye. Maryland, aye. Virginia, aye.
North Carolina, aye. South Carolina, aye. Georgia, no:
Mr. WILLIAMSON 2ded. by Mr. DAVIE moved to add to the last Clause, the words- "and to be removable on impeachment
and conviction of mal-practice or neglect of duty"-which was agreed to.
Mr. RUTLIDGE and Mr. C. PINKNEY moved that the blank for the number of persons in the Executive be filled with the
words "one person." He supposed the reasons to be so obvious and conclusive in favor of one that no member would oppose
Mr. RANDOLPH opposed it with great earnestness, declaring that he should not do justice to the Country which sent him if
he were silently to suffer the establishment of a Unity in the Executive department. He felt an opposition to it which he
believed he should continue to feel as long as he lived. He urged 1. that the permanent temper of the people was adverse to the
very semblance of Monarchy. 2. That a unity was unnecessary a plurality being equally competent to all the objects of the
department. 3. That the necessary confidence would never be reposed in a single Magistrate. 4. That the appointments would
generally be in favor of some inhabitant near the center of the Community, and consequently the remote parts would not be
on an equal footing. He was in favor of three members of the Executive to be drawn from different portions of the Country.
Mr. BUTLER contended strongly for a single magistrate as most likely to answer the purpose of the remote parts. If one man
should be appointed he would be responsible to the whole, and would be impartial to its interests. If three or more should be
taken from as many districts, there would be a constant struggle for local advantages. In Military matters this would be
particularly mischievous. He said his opinion on this point had been formed under the opportunity he had had of seeing the
manner in which a plurality of military heads distracted Holland when threatened with invasion by the imperial troops. One
man was for directing the force to the defense of this part, another to that part of the Country, just as he happened to be
swayed by prejudice or interest.
The motion was then postponed.
The Committee rose and the House Adjourned.
|Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention
By James Madison
June 2, 1787
|The Illinois Conservative