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common understanding, without introducing some tabular statements, which the nature of this work seems absolutely to prohibit. But it may be stated, as an historical fact, that in every apportionment hitherto made of Representatives, whatever has been the number of inhabitants assumed as the ratio to govern the number of Representatives, whether thirty thousand or any higher number, there has always been a fraction in each State less than that number, and of course an unrepresented fraction. In some of the States, the fraction has been very small ; in others, very large ; and in others, intermediate numbers constantly varying from each other. So that, in fact, there never has been any representation of each State, apportioned in exact proportion to its numbers, as the Constitution requires. The rule adopted has been, to assume a particular number of inhabitants as the ratio to give a single Representative, and to give to each State as many Representatives, as its population contained of that ratio or particular number; and to disregard all fractions below that.
§ 86. There remained two important points to be settled in regard to representation. First, that each State should have at least one Representative; for otherwise, it might be excluded from any share of the legislative power in one branch; and secondly, that there should be some limitation of the number of Representatives ; for otherwise, Congress might increase the House to an unreasonable size. If Congress were left free to apportion the Representatives according to any basis of numbers they might select, half the States in the Union might be deprived of Representatives, if the whole number of their inhabitants fell below that basis. On the other hand, if the number selected for the basis were small, the House might become too unwieldy for business. There is, therefore, great wisdom in restricting the representation, so that there shall not be more than one Representative for every thirty thousand inhabitants in a State ; and on the other hand, by a positive provision, securing to each State a constitutional representation in the House, by at least one Representative, however small its own popu
lation may be. It is curious to remark, that it was originally thought a great objection to the Constitution, that the restriction of Representatives, to one for every thirty thousand, would give too small a House to be a safe depository of power; and that, now the fear is, that a restriction to double that number will hardly, in the future, restrain the size of the House within sufficiently moderate limits, for the purposes of an efficient and enlightened legislation. So much has the growth of the country, under the auspices of the national Constitution, outstripped the most sanguine expectations of its friends.
$ 87. The next clause is ; “. When vacancies happen in the representation of any State, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.” It is obvious, that such a power ought to reside in some public functionary. The only question is, in whom it can, with most safety and convenience, be lodged. If vested in the general government, or in any department of it, it was thought, that there might not be as strong motives for an immediate exercise of the power, or as thorough a knowledge of local circumstances, to guide the exercise of it wisely, as if vested in the State government. It is, therefore, left to the latter, and to that branch of it, the State Executive, which is best fitted to exercise it with promptitude and discretion. And thus, one source of State jealousy is effectually dried up.
$ 83. The next clause is; “ The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker, and other officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment.” Each of these privileges is of great practical importance. In Great Britain, the Speaker is elected by the House of Commons; but he must be approved by the King ; and a similar power of approval belonged to some of the Governors in the Colonies, before the Revolution. An independent and unlimited choice by the House of Representatives of all their officers is every way desirable. It secures, on the part of their officers, a more efficient responsibility, and gives to the House a more complete authority over them. It avoids all the dangers and in
conveniences, which may arise from differences of opinion between the House and the Executive, in periods of high party excitement. It relieves the Executive from all the embarrassments of opposing the popular will, and the House from all the irritations of not consulting the wishes of the Cabinet.
$ 89. Next, the Power of Impeachment. "The House of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment;" that is, the right to present a written accusation against persons in high offices and trusts, for the purpose of bringing them to trial and punishment for gross misconduct. The power, and the mode of proceeding, are borrowed from the practice of England. In that Kingdom, the House of Commons (which answers to our House of Representatives) has the right to present articles of impeachment against any person, for any gross misdemeanor, before the House of Lords, which is the court of the highest criminal jurisdiction in the realm. The articles of impeachment, are a sort of indictment; and the House, in presenting them, acts as a grand jury, and also as a public prosecutor. The great object of this power is, to bring persons to justice, who are so elevated in rank or influence, that there is danger, that they might escape punishment before the ordinary tribunals ; and the exercise of the power is usually confined to political or official offences. These prosecutions are, therefore, conducted by the Representatives of the nation, in their public capacity, in the face of the nation, and upon a responsibility, which is felt and reverenced by the whole community. We shall have occasion, hereafter, to consider the subject of impeachment more at large, in another place; and this may suffice here, as an explanation of the nature and objects of the power. No one can well doubt, that, if the power is to be exercised at all, by any popular body, it is most appropriately confided to the representatives of the people.
§ 90. We come next to the organization and powers of the Senate, which are provided for in the third section of the first article of the Constitution.
§ 91. We have already had occasion to refer, in a brief manner, to the general reasoning, by which the division of the legislative power between two distinct branches has been justified in the actual organization of free governments. And here seems the proper place to enter somewhat more at large, into the reasonings, by which the establishment of the Senate of the United States was supported as an independent branch of the national government. In order to justify the existence of a Senate with co-ordinate powers, it was said, first, that it was a misfortune incident to republican governments, though in a less degree than to other governments, that those, who administer it, may forget their obligations to their constituents, and prove unfaithful to their important trust. In this point of view, a Senate, as a second branch of the legislative assembly, distinct from, and dividing the power with a first, must be in all cases a salutary check on the government. It doubles the security to the people by requiring the concurrence of two distinct bodies, in schemes of usurpation or perfidy ; whereas the ambition or corruption of one would otherwise be sufficient. This precaution, it was added, was founded on such clear principles, and so well understood in the United States, that it was superfluous to enlarge on it. As the improbability of sinister combinations would be in proportion to the dissimilarity in the genius of the two bodies, it must be politic to distinguish them from each other by every circumstance, which would consist with a due harmony in all proper measures, and with the genuine principles of republican government.
$ 92. Secondly. The necessity of a Senate was not less indicated by the propensity of all single and numerous assemblies to yield to the impulse of sudden and violent passions, and to be seduced by factious leaders into intemperate and pernicious resolutions. Examples of this sort might be cited without number, and from proceedings in the United States, as well as from the history of other nations. A body, which is to correct this infirmity, ought to be free from it, and consequently ought to be less numerous, and to possess a due degree of firmness, and a proper tenure of office.
§ 93. Thirdly. Another defect, to be supplied by a Senate, lay in the want of a due acquaintance with the objects and principles of legislation. A good government implies two things; first, fidelity to the objects of the government ; secondly, a knowledge of the means, by which those objects can be best attained. It was suggested, that in the American governments too little attention had been paid to the last; and that the establishment of a Senate, upon a proper basis, would greatly increase the chances of fidelity, and of wise and safe legislation. What (it was asked) are all the repealing, explaining, and amending laws, which fill and disgrace our voluminous codes, but so many monuments of deficient wisdom; so many impeachments exhibited by each succeeding, against each preceding, session ; so many admonitions to the people of the value of those aids, which may be expected from a well-constituted Senate ?
§ 94. Fourthly. Such a body would prevent too great a mutability in the public councils, arising from a rapid succession of new members ; for, from a change of men, there must proceed a change of opinions, and from a change of opinions, a change of measures. Such instability in legislation has a tendency to diminish respect and confidence abroad, as well as safety and prosperity at home. It has a tendency to damp the ardor of industry and enterprise ; to diminish the security of property; and to impair the reverence and attachment, which are indispensable to the permanence of every political institution.