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title:“Rufus King in the Senate of the United States”
authors:Rufus King
date written:1824-3-18

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:30 a.m. UTC
retrieved:March 2, 2024, 1:11 a.m. UTC

King, Rufus. "Rufus King in the Senate of the United States." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

Rufus King in the Senate of the United States (March 18, 1824)

March 18, 1824.
The dangers to which experience had shown that the election of Executive Chiefs are liable; dangers which had led other nations to prefer hereditary to elective Executives, were, without doubt, well considered by the members of the General Convention, who, nevertheless, did indulge the hope, by apportioning, limiting, and confining the Electors within their respective States, and by the guarded manner of giving and transmitting the ballots of the Electors to the Seat of Government, that intrigue, combination, and corruption, would be effectually shut out, and a free and pure election of the President of the United States made perpetual. . . .
The House of Representatives is composed on the basis of the numbers of the respective States, the small States here yielding to the large ones, and the Senate is composed on the basis of the equality of the States, the larger States here, in turn, deferring to the small ones. The Executive is chosen by neither rule, but by the influence of both rules united; it is well known that the small States would not have consented to the choice by Electors, a mode favorable to the large States; but, upon the consent of the large States, on the failure of the choice of the President by the Electors on the first trial, that the House of Representatives voting by States, the representation from each State having one vote, shall choose the President, not from those they deem the most worthy, but from the persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three, on the list of those voted for by the Electors, thereby restricting the choice of the House of Representatives to the three highest candidates nominated by the large States. To this adjustment, which was brought about by compromise between the States, no objections were made at the period when the Constitution was afterwards under the discussion of the several States. Though great difficulties occurred in the debates of the State conventions on other portions of the Constitution of the United States, no opposition appeared to the provisions of the Constitution respecting the manner of electing the President, and no such objection occurred until the fourth election of the President, which was made by the House of Representatives; since that period, five Presidential elections have taken place, and, in eight of the nine elections, the President has been chosen by the Electors; the fourth election is the only instance in which the President, not being chosen by the Electors, the election devolved on the House of Representatives. The compromise, on the subject of the Presidential election, which has been always binding in honor and good faith, seems of late to have been forgotten; and dissatisfaction and complaint have appeared at the seat of government in Virginia, New York, and other States, that the influence of the great States was unreasonably impaired by the provision of the Constitution, that, after the failure to choose the President by the Electors, the election should devolve upon the House of Representatives, although the House of Representatives is restricted to the choice of the President from three candidates, nominated by the Electors, a majority of whom are appointed by the large States.2 Hence it has happened, from year to year, that attempts have been made by certain States, to alter the Constitution on the subject of the Presidential election, notwithstanding this election is matter of compromise and compact between the States, without which no Constitution or Union could have been formed.
. . . The power of choosing the President is given to the Colleges of Electors — the election, in the first instance, is in their hands; and, to prevent the possibility of combination, they are chosen only about thirty days before their office is to be performed. The election is directed to be made in all the different States on the same day, and the Electors are permitted to make but one attempt at a choice. These provisions of the Constitution were adopted for the express purpose of preventing combinations — an effect which, Mr. B. [K?] thought, was greatly to be dreaded from the practice of nomination by Congressional caucuses.

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