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confidence and fairly represent the will of the people. The framers of the constitution intended so to write the words, that the people themselves should have no more immediate concern in the nomination of the President than in that of the Senate. They intended to provide that the election should be made in a manner which may be described as thoroughly conservative. Those words, however, have been inefficient for their purpose. They have not been violated. But the spirit has been violated, while the words have been held sacred,-and the Presidential elections are now conducted on the widest principles of universal suffrage. They are essentially democratic.
The arrangement, as written in the constitution, is that each State shall appoint a body of electors equal in number to the senators and representatives sent by that State to Congress, and that thus a body or college of electors shall be formed equal in number to the two joint Houses of Congress, by which the President shall be elected. No member of Congress, however, can be appointed an elector. Thus New York, with thirty-three representatives in the Lower House, would name thirty-five electors; and Rhode Island, with two members in the Lower House, would name four electors;-in each case two being added for the two senators.
It may perhaps be doubted whether this theory of an election by electors has ever been truly carried out. It was probably the case, even at the election of the first Presidents after Washington, that the electors were pledged in some informal way as to the candidate for whom they should vote; but the very idea of an election by electors has been abandoned since the Presidency of General Jackson. According to the theory of the constitution the privilege and the duty of selecting a best man as President was to be delegated to certain best men chosen for that purpose. This was the intention of those who framed the constitution. It may, as I have said, be doubted whether this theory has ever availed for action; but since the days of Jackson it has been absolutely abandoned. The intention was sufficiently conservative. The electors to whom was to be confided this great trust were to be chosen in their own States as each State might think fit. The use of universal suffrage for this purpose was neither enjoined nor forbidden in the separate States,-was neither treated as desirable or undesirable by the constitution. Each State was left to judge how it would elect its own electors. But the President himself was to be chosen by those electors, and not by the people at large.
The intention is sufficiently conservative, but the intention is not carried out.
The electors are still chosen by the different States in conformity with the bidding of the constitution. The constitution is exactly followed in all its biddings, as far as the wording of it is concerned; but the whole spirit of the document has been evaded in the favour of democracy, and universal suffrage in the Presidential elections has been adopted. The electors are still chosen, it is true; but they are only chosen as the mouthpiece of the people's choice, and not as the mind by which that choice shall be made. We have all heard of Americans voting for a ticket,-for the democratic ticket, or the republican ticket. All political voting in the States is now managed by tickets. As regards these Presidential elections, each party decides on a candidate. Even this primary decision is a matter of voting among the party itself. When Mr. Lincoln was nominated as its candidate by the republican party, the names of no less than thirteen candidates were submitted to the delegates who were sent to a convention at Chicago, assembled for the purpose of fixing upon a candidate. At that convention Mr. Lincoln was chosen as the republican candidate; and in that convention was in fact fought the battle which was won in Mr. Lincoln's favour, although that convention was what we may call a private arrangement, wholly irrespective of any constitutional enactment. Mr. Lincoln was then proclaimed as the republican candidate, and all republicans were held as bound to support him. When the time came for the constitutional election of the electors, certain names were got together in each State as representing the republican interest. These names formed the republican ticket, and any man voting for them voted in fact for Lincoln. There were three other parties, each represented by a candidate, and each had its own ticket in the different States. It is not to be supposed that the supporters of Mr. Lincoln were very anxious about their ticket in Alabama, or those of Mr. Breckinridge as to theirs in Massachusetts. In Alabama a democratic slaveticket would of course prevail. In Massachusetts a republican free-soil ticket would do so. But it may, I think, be seen that in this way the electors have in reality ceased to have any weight in the elections,-have in very truth ceased to have the exercise of any will whatever. They are mere names, and no more. Stat nominis umbra. The election of the President is made by universal suffrage, and not by a college of electors. The words as they are written are still obeyed; but the consti
tution in fact has been violated, for the spirit of it has been changed in its very essence.
The President must have been born a citizen of the United States. This is not necessary for the holder of any other office, or for a senator or representative; he must be thirty-four years old at the time of his election.
His executive power is almost unbounded. He is much more powerful than any minister can be with us, and is subject to a much lighter responsibility. He may be impeached by the House of Representatives before the Senate, but that impeachment only goes to the removal from office and permanent disqualification for office. But in these days, as we all practically understand, responsibility does not mean the fear of any great punishment, but the necessity of accounting from day to day for public actions. A leading statesman has but slight dread of the axe, but is in hourly fear of his opponent's questions. The President of the United States is subject to no such questionings; and as he does not even require a majority in either House for the maintenance of his authority, his responsibility sits upon him very slightly. Seeing that Mr. Buchanan has escaped any punishment for maladministration, no President need fear the anger of the people.
The President is Commander-in-chief of the army and of the navy. He can grant pardons, as regards all offences committed against the United States. He has no power to pardon an offence committed against the laws of any State, and as to which the culprit has been tried before the tribunals of that State. He can make treaties; but such treaties are not valid till they have been confirmed by two-thirds of the senators present in executive session. He appoints all ambassadors and other public officers,-but subject to the confirmation of the Senate. He can convene either or both Houses of Congress at irregular times, and under certain circumstances can adjourn them. His executive power is in fact almost unlimited; and this power is solely in his own hands, as the constitution knows nothing of the President's ministers. According to the constitution these officers are merely the heads of his bureaux. An Englishman, however, in considering the executive power of the President, and in making any comparison between that and the executive power of any officer or officers attached to the Crown in England, should always bear in mind that the President's power, and even authority, is confined to the Federal Government, and that he has none with reference to the individual States. Religion, education, the administration of the
general laws which concern every man and woman, and the real de facto Government which comes home to every house;these things are not in any way subject to the President of the United States.
His legislative power is also great. He has a veto upon all acts of Congress. This veto is by no means a dead letter, as is the veto of the Crown with us; but it is not absolute. The President, if he refuses his sanction to a bill sent up to him from Congress, returns it to that House in which it originated, with his objections in writing. If, after that, such bill shall again pass through both the Senate and the House of Representatives, receiving in each House the approvals of two-thirds of those present, then such bill becomes law without the President's sanction. Unless this be done the President's veto stops the bill. This veto has been frequently used, but no bill has yet been passed in opposition to it.
The third article of the constitution treats of the judiciary of the United States, but as I purpose to write a chapter devoted to the law courts and lawyers of the States, I need not here describe at length the enactments of the constitution on this head. It is ordained that all criminal trials, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury.
There are after this certain miscellaneous articles, some of which belong to the constitution as it stood at first, and others of which have been since added as amendments. A citizen of one State is to be a citizen of every State. Criminals from one State shall not be free from pursuit in other States. Then comes a very material enactment:-"No person held to service or labour in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due." In speaking of a person held to labour the constitution intends to speak of a slave, and the article amounts to a fugitive slave law. If a slave run away out of South Carolina and find his way into Massachusetts, Massachusetts shall deliver him up when called upon to do so by South Carolina. The words certainly are clear enough. But Massachusetts strongly objects to the delivery of such men when so desired. Such men she has delivered up, with many groanings and much inward perturbation of spirit. But it is understood, not in Massachusetts only, but in the free-soil States generally, that fugitive slaves shall not be delivered up by the ordinary action of the laws. There is a feeling strong as that which we
entertain with reference to the rendition of slaves from Canada. With such a clause in the constitution as that, it is hardly too much to say that no free-soil State will consent to constitutional action. Were it expunged from the constitution, no slave State would consent to live under it. It is a point as to which the advocates of slavery and the enemies of slavery cannot be brought to act in union. But on this head I have already said what little I have to say.
New States may be admitted by Congress, but the bounds of no old State shall be altered without the consent of such State. Congress shall have power to rule and dispose of the territories and property of the United States. The United States guarantee every State a republican form of Government; but the constitution does not define that form of Government. An ordinary citizen of the United States, if asked, would probably say that it included that description of franchise which I have called universal suffrage. Such, however, was not the meaning of those who framed the constitution. The ordinary citizen would probably also say that it excluded the use of a king, though he would, I imagine, be able to give no good reason for saying so. I take a republican government to be that in which the care of the people is in the hands of the people. They may use an elected President, an hereditary king, or a chief magistrate called by any other name. But the magistrate, whatever be his name, must be the servant of the people and not their lord. He must act for them and at their bidding,not they at his. If he do so, he is the chief officer of a republic;-as is our Queen with us.
The United States' constitution also guarantees to each State protection against invasion, and, if necessary, against domestic violence, meaning, I presume, internal violence. The words domestic violence might seem to refer solely to slave insurrections; but such is not the meaning of the words. The free State of New York would be entitled to the assistance of the Federal Government in putting down internal violence, if unable to quell such violence by her own power.
This constitution, and the laws of the United States made in pursuance of it, are to be held as the supreme law of the land. The judges of every State are to be bound thereby, let the laws or separate constitution of such State say what they will to the contrary. Senators and others are to be bound by oath to support the constitution; but no religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office.
In the amendments to the constitution, it is enacted that