The States may now severally direct the manner of choosing their own Electors; it is proposed that the manner shall be prescribed by the Constitution. This, Mr. K[ing] thought would be an important change, and the only change suggested in the Constitution which he deemed an improvement. He thought he might venture to say, that if there was any part of the Constitution deemed by its framers and advocates to be better secured than any other against the enterprises which have since occurred, it was the very provision on the subject of elections to the Presidency.1
The idea was, that the action of that particular agency which has since controlled it, was as much displaced by the Constitutional plan of election of President and Vice President, as could possibly be devised. The opinion had been that all undue agency or influence was entirely guarded against; that the men selected by the people from their own body would give their votes in such a manner as that no opportunity would be afforded for a combination, to change the freedom and popular character which naturally belonged to the electoral bodies. Such had been the idea of the nation at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. We all know, said he, the course which this thing has taken. The election of a President of the United States is no longer that process which the Constitution contemplated. In conformity with the original view of the authors of that instrument, I would restore, as thoroughly as possible, the freedom of election to the people . . . It was with the people the Constitution meant to place the election of the Chief Magistrate, that being the source least liable to be corrupt.