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and private faith; loss of consideration and credit with foreign nations; and at length discontents, animosities, combinations, partial conventions, and insurrections, threatening some great national calamity."*
The extent and magnitude of this evil were such that it could neither be mistaken nor denied; and the impossibility of longer pursuing the erroneous path hitherto trodden, created additional confidence in the noble men who wished to give to their country a new and more suitable constitution. Washington was placed at their head; and the services which he rendered in This difficult task, by his mildness, prudence, moderation, firmness, and wisdom, were by no means inferior to his former warlike exploits. Indeed the American statesmen of that period have raised to themselves in the new Constitution, adopted March, 1787, a monument of imperishable renown. This Constitution has endured and stood its ground through circumstances the most varied, perplexing, and dangerous, and has wonderfully aided and prospered a great people in its rapid development; while numberless other constitutions, projected in empty pride, have perished after a brief existence, hurling with them the mistaken nations and statesmen to destruction.
Washington was unanimously chosen president of the new and renovated republic. His journey from Mount Vernon to Philadelphia was an unbroken triumphal procession, prepared for him not by vanity, compulsion, or fear, but by sincere gratitude, profound respect, and ardent love. This second founding of the state, this call to the head of a people recent in origin but sensible of true greatness, the modest and unsurpassed merit of Washington, and his solemn oath to support and maintain the Constitution, form one of the brightest and most truly delightful pictures in modern history. “ The propitious smiles of heaven," said Washington in his inaugural address, “ can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” To this, Ramsay, the worthy historian of those times, adds: “ The most enlarged happiness of one people by no means requires the degradation or destruction of another. There can be no political happiness without liberty ; there can be no liberty without morality; and there can be no morality without religion.”+
* Messages of the Presidents, p. 66. For similar complaints on the part of Randolph, see the Madison Papers, ii. 730.
† Ramsay, iii. 383.
THE NEW CONSTITUTION OF 1787.
Representatives and Senators-Rights of Congress—The President-The Judicial
ALTHOUGH the Constitution of the United States of America, of the year 1787, is a well known document, it is requisite that I should here state the essence of what it contains, in order to render my subsequent observations concerning it more intelligible.
The legislative power is vested in two chambers or houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The representatives for Congress are chosen by the several states every second year. The electors must possess the qualifications established by each state for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature. Every representative must be at least twenty-five years of age, seven years a citizen of the United States, and an inhabitant of the state for which he is chosen. On the other hand, no proof of a given amount of property or of a particular religious creed is required. The representatives are elected by districts according to the population (at first one for every 30,000, at present one for every 70,680); and this population is determined by adding to the whole number of free people, three fifths of all other persons (meaning slaves). The enumeration is repeated every ten years, and the number of representatives determined accordingly. Each state sends at least one representative to Congress. The House of Representatives chooses its speaker and other officers by a simple vote.* It also has the sole power of impeachment.
Each state chooses through its legislature two senators for six years. Every two years one third of the senators vacate their seats. Each of them has one vote. A senator must be an inhabitant of the state for which he is chosen, nine years a citizen of the United States, and at least thirty years of age.
He is not bound to prove any qualification as to property or religion. Each representative and senator has an allowance of eight dollars a day; the speaker of the House and the president of the Senate receive double that sum. The vice-president of the United States is always president of the Senate; but he has no right of voting and deciding, except when the other votes are equally divided. The Senate tries all impeachments: the concurrence of two thirds of the members present is requisite to a conviction. Judgment in such cases extends only to removal from and disqualification for office; but it does not exclude a further prosecution according to law.
* Mason, p. 81.
The legislature of each separate state prescribes the times, places, and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives; but Congress has the right to alter these regulations, except as to the places of choosing senators. Congress assembles at least once in every year, and usually on the first Monday in December. A majority of each house constitutes a quorum for the transaction of business. No person holding a public office can be either a senator or representative.
None of them are to be responsible elsewhere for speeches made in either house; and they are exempt from arrest except for treason, felony, and breach of the peace. For the preparation of business, committees are to be chosen in both houses or appointed by the vicepresident and speaker. The committees of the Senate number from three to five, and those of the House of Representatives from five to nine members. All bills for raising revenue originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur in amendments, as on other bills. Every bill which has been read three times and has passed through both houses, is presented to the president for his approval. But if he does not approve it, it is sent back with his objections to the house in which it originated, where it is reconsidered. If two thirds of that house still agree to pass the bill, it is sent, together with the objections, to the other house, and if likewise approved by two thirds of that house, it becomes a law, even without the president's assent; but the names of the persons voting for or against the bill are entered on the journals of each house. If the president does not return a bill within ten days, it becomes a law, unless its return has been prevented by the adjournment of Congress.
Very weighty powers are vested in Congress, of which I shall enumerate only the most important. It can lay and collect taxes, but only for the purpose of paying the debts and providing for the common defence and general welfare of the country. All taxes of this kind must be uniform throughout the United States. It can effect loans, regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several states, and establish laws respecting naturalization, bankruptcies, coinage, and weights and measures. It provides post-roads and post-offices, secures to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their productions for limited times, constitutes tribunals inferior to the supreme court, and punishes piracies and other crimes against the law of nations. It has the power to declare war, to raise armies and fleets, and to call out the militia in order to suppress insurrections and execute the laws of the Union. It has the exclusive control and management of all sorts, arsenals, and dock-yards, belonging to the United States; and makes all laws necessary for carrying these powers into execution.
* Mason, p. 84.
Congress can grant no title of nobility, and no person in office can hold any foreign title or dignity.
No individual state can make treaties, grant letters of marque and reprisal, coin money, emit bills of credit, make any thing but gold and silver a tender in payment of debts, grant titles of nobility, lay duties on imports or exports, introduce any duty of tonnage, keep troops in time of peace, &c.
The executive power is in the hands of the president of the United States. He is chosen for four years, and is always reeligible without any legal restriction.* 'He must be a naturalborn citizen, at least thirty-five years of age, and fourteen years a resident of the United States. The day for choosing the president is determined by Congress, and is the same throughout the Union. Each state appoints, according to the forms prescribed by its legislature, a number of electors equal to the whole number of senators and representatives which the state is entitled to send to Congress. This choice is made within thirty-four days before the first Wednesday of December, f in most states by the entire body of qualified voters (by a general ticket), in some by the legislatures, and in two by districts. No person holding office under the United States, and no member of Congress can be an elector. The electors chosen in the above-mentioned manner from all the states now vote by ballot, usually on the first Wednesday of December. With respect to property and religion, no qualifications are demanded or conditions prescribed. The names of the persons voted for, with the number of votes for each, are transmitted to the president of the Senate, who opens the certificates in the presence of both houses, and counts the votes. If any person has a majority of all the votes, no matter how small, he is president; but if no one has such a majority, the House of Representatives chooses the president out of the three that have the greatest number of votes. But here the representation from each state has only one vote, and a majority of all the states is necessary to a choice.
* Of the first eight presidents, five were chosen a second time. None laid claim to a third election.
† According to new regulations, on the same day.
The election of vice-president is conducted in precisely the same manner; only in the last case of doubt, an absolute majority of the Senate decides between the two that have the most votes. In case the president's office becomes vacant, its duties devolve on the vice-president, and after him on the speaker of the House of Representatives. The president receives $25,000 a year, and the vice-president $5,000, by way of salary or compensation; which however is scarcely sufficient to meet their unavoidable expenses. The president has the following powers : he is commander-in-chief of the army and navy, and also of the militia when called into the actual service of the United States. He assembles Congress on extraordinary occasions, requires and receives reports from all the departments, appoints (under certain regulations, most of the officers of the United States,* makes treaties with the concurrence of the Senate, receives ambassadors and other public ministers, submits to Congress surveys of the state of the Union, and recommends such measures as he judges necessary. He can grant pardons for public offences except in cases of impeachment, and sees in general that the laws are faithfully executed. He loses his office, like all other civil officers of the United States, on conviction of treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.
The judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court for the whole United States, and such inferior courts as Congress may from time to time establish. The president nominates the judges of this court by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. They hold their offices during good behavior, and their compensation must not be diminished during their continuance in office.
The judicial power of the Supreme Court extends to controversies between citizens of different states, between a state and citizens of another state, and between two or more states; this jurisdiction is partly original and partly appellate, but does not extend to criminal cases. It decides in general all controversies relating to or arising under the laws of the United States, disputes of ambassadors and consuls, and cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction. It has the right to interpret the Constitution so far as it has reference to legal relations, and the authority to overrule such decisions of individual states as may be contrary to the Constitution.
The trial of all criminal prosecutions, and all civil suits where the value in dispute exceeds twenty dollars, is by jury. The citizens of one state are entitled to all the privileges of citizens in the other states. New states may be admitted by Congress into
* The Senate can reject nominations, but cannot appoint officers itself.