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title:“James Madison to George Hay”
authors:James Madison
date written:1823-8-23

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:29 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Dec. 5, 2023, 5:48 p.m. UTC

Madison, James. "Letter to George Hay." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

James Madison to George Hay (August 23, 1823)

Montpellier Aug 23. 1823.
I have recd. your letter of the 11th with the Newspapers containing your remarks on the present mode of electing a President, and your proposed remedy for its defects. I am glad to find you have not abandoned your attention to great Constitutional topics.
The difficulty of finding an unexceptionable process for appointing the Executive Organ of a Government such as that of the U. S., was deeply felt by the Convention; and as the final arrangement of it took place in the latter stage of the Session, it was not exempt from a degree of the hurrying influence produced by fatigue and impatience in all such Bodies: tho' the degree was much less than usually prevails in them.
The part of the arrangement which casts the eventual appointment on the House of Reps. voting by States, was, as you presume, an accomodation to the anxiety of the smaller States for their sovereign equality, and to the jealousy of the larger towards the cumulative functions of the Senate. The Agency of the H. of Reps. was thought safer also than that of the Senate, on account of the greater number of its members. It might indeed happen that the event would turn on one or two States having one or two Reps. only; but even in that case, the Representations of most of the States being numerous, the House would present greater obstacles to corruption than the Senate with its paucity of Members. It may be observed also, that altho' for a certain period the evil of State votes given by one or two individuals, would be extended by the introduction of new States, it would be rapidly diminished by growing populations within extensive territories. At the present period, the evil is at its maximum. . . .
I agree entirely with you in thinking that the election of Presidential Electors by districts, is an amendment very proper to be brought forward at the same time with that relating to the eventual choice of President by the H. of Reps. The district mode was mostly, if not exclusively, in view when the Constitution was framed and adopted; & was exchanged for the general ticket & the legislative election, as the only expedient for baffling the policy of the particular States which had set the example.

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