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title:“Gouverneur Morris to W. H. Wells”
authors:Gouverneur Morris
date written:1815-2-24

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:07 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Dec. 1, 2023, 1:55 p.m. UTC

Morris, Gouverneur. "Letter to W. H. Wells." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

Gouverneur Morris to W. H. Wells (February 24, 1815)

Morrisania, February 24th, 1815.
The Constitution, I think, intended that certain offices should be held at the President's pleasure. It is unquestionably an abuse to create a vacancy in the recess of the Senate, by turning a man out of office, and then filling it as a vacancy that has happened.1 . . . Shortly after the Convention met, there was a serious discussion on the importance of arranging a national system of sufficient strength to operate, in despite of State opposition, and yet not strong enough to break down State authority. I delivered on that occasion this short speech. 'Mr President; if the rod of Aaron do not swallow the rods of the Magicians, the rods of the Magicians will swallow the rod of Aaron.'
You will ask, perhaps, how, under such impressions, I could be an advocate of the Federal Constitution. To this I answer, first, that I was warmly pressed by Hamilton to assist in writing the FÅ“deralist, which I declined. Secondly, that nothing human can be perfect. Thirdly, that the obstacles to a less imperfect system were insurmountable. Fourthly, that the Old Confederation was worse. And, fifthly, that there was no reason, at that time, to suppose our public morals would be so soon and so entirely corrupted. Mr. Mason, a delegate from Virginia, constantly inveighing against Aristocracy, labored to introduce Aristocratice provisions. Some of them might have been wholesome, but they would have been rejected by public feeling, in the form proposed, and if modified to render them acceptable, by detracting proportionately from executive authority, which was his plan, we should have risked less indeed from the whelming flood of Democracy, but we should have had a President unable to perform the duties of his office. Surrounded by difficulties, we did the best we could; leaving it with those who should come after us to take counsel from experience, and exercise prudently the power of amendment, which we had provided.

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