posted on Apr, 15 2013 @ 12:13 PM
Studying the Constitution and particularly the debates while it was being written you often run across some interesting things that were brought up
during the Convention and the discussions revolving around an issue.
On Friday, July 20 1787 the issue of impeaching the President was brought forward and opened for debate. I find it fascinating to read the input
different framers gave regarding different topics. I especially like how on this day that Mr. Franklin was arguing that if we do not put an
impeachment clause into the Constitution that it will leave us little choice but to conduct assassination to remove an unjust President from serving.
He argues that this could be a bad thing for the individual if the charges are later proven to be false.
I find it rather hilarious.
Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787
The postponed1 Ratio of Electors for appointing the Executive; to wit 1 for each State whose inhabitants do not exceed 100,000,2 &c. being taken up.
Mr. MADISON observed that this would make in time all or nearly all the States equal. Since there were few that would not in time contain the number
of inhabitants intitling them to 3 Electors: that this ratio ought either to be made temporary, or so varied as that it would adjust itself to the
growing population of the States.
Mr. GERRY moved that in the 1st. instance the Electors should be allotted to the States in the following ratio: to N. H. 1. Mas. 3. R. I. 1. Cont. 2.
N. Y. 2. N. J. 2. Pa. 3. Del. 1. Md. 2. Va. 3. N. C. 2. S. C. 2. Geo. 1.
On the question to postpone in order to take up this motion of Mr. Gerry. It passed in the affirmative. Mas. ay. Cont. no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. no.
Md. no. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay.3
Mr. ELSEWORTH moved that 2 Electors be allotted to N. H. Some rule ought to be pursued; and N. H. has more than 100,000 inhabitants. He thought it
would be proper also to allot 2. to Georgia
Mr. BROOM & Mr. MARTIN moved to postpone Mr. Gerry's allotment of Electors, leaving a fit ratio to be reported by the Committee to be appointed for
detailing the Resolutions.
On this motion. Mas. no. Ct. no. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no.4
Mr. HOUSTON 2ded. the motion of Mr. Elseworth to add another Elector to N. H. & Georgia. On the Question: Mas. no. Ct. ay. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no.
Md. no. Va. no. N. C. no. S. C. ay. Geo. ay.5
Mr. WILLIAMSON moved as an amendment to Mr. Gerry's allotment of Electors in the 1st. instance that in future elections of the Natl. Executive, the
number of Electors to be appointed by the several States shall be regulated by their respective numbers of Representatives in the 1st. branch pursuing
as nearly as may be the present proportions.
On question on Mr. Gerry's ratio of Electors Mas. ay. Ct. ay. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. no. Md. no. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. no.6 7"to be
removeable on impeachment and conviction for mal practice or neglect of duty." see Resol: 9.8
Mr. PINKNEY & Mr. Govr. MORRIS moved to strike out this part of the Resolution. Mr. P. observd. he ought not to be impeachable whilst in office
Mr. DAVIE. If he be not impeachable whilst in office, he will spare no efforts or means whatever to get himself re-elected. He considered this as an
essential security for the good behaviour of the Executive.
Mr. WILSON concurred in the necessity of making the Executive impeachable whilst in office.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS. He can do no criminal act without Coadjutors who may be punished. In case he should be re-elected, that will be9 sufficient proof of
his innocence. Besides who is to impeach? Is the impeachment to suspend his functions. If it is not the mischief will go on. If it is the impeachment
will be nearly equivalent to a displacement, and will render the Executive dependent on those who are to impeach
Col. MASON. No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued. Shall any man be above Justice? Above all shall
that man be above it, who can commit the most extensive injustice? When great crimes were committed he was for punishing the principal as well as the
Coadjutors. There had been much debate & difficulty as to the mode of chusing the Executive. He approved of that which had been adopted at first,
namely of referring the appointment to the Natl. Legislature. One objection agst. Electors was the danger of their being corrupted by the Candidates;
& this furnished a peculiar reason in favor of impeachments whilst in office. Shall the man who has practised corruption & by that means procured his
appointment in the first instance, be suffered to escape punishment, by repeating his guilt?
Docr. FRANKLIN was for retaining the clause as favorable to the Executive. History furnishes one example only of a first Magistrate being formally
brought to public Justice. Every body cried out agst. this as unconstitutional. What was the practice before this in cases where the chief Magistrate
rendered himself obnoxious? Why recourse was had to assassination in wch. he was not only deprived of his life but of the opportunity of vindicating
his character. It wd.. be the best way therefore to provide in the Constitution for the regular punishment of the Executive where his misconduct
should deserve it, and for his honorable acquittal when10 he should be unjustly accused.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS admits corruption & some few other offences to be such as ought to be impeachable; but thought the cases ought to be enumerated &
Mr. MADISON thought it indispensable that some provision should be made for defending the Community agst. the incapacity, negligence or perfidy of the
chief Magistrate. The limitation of the period of his service, was not a sufficient security. He might lose his capacity after his appointment. He
might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers. The case of the Executive
Magistracy was very distinguishable, from that of the Legislature or of any other public body, holding offices of limited duration. It could not be
presumed that all or even a majority of the members of an Assembly would either lose their capacity for discharging, or be bribed to betray, their
trust. Besides the restraints of their personal integrity & honor, the difficulty of acting in concert for purposes of corruption was a security to
the public. And if one or a few members only should be seduced, the soundness of the remaining members, would maintain the integrity and fidelity of
the body. In the case of the Executive Magistracy which was to be administered by a single man, loss of capacity or corruption was more within the
compass of probable events, and either of them might be fatal to the Republic.
Mr. PINKNEY did not see the necessity of impeachments. He was sure they ought not to issue from the Legislature who would in that case hold them as a
rod over the Executive and by that means effectually destroy his independence. His revisionary power in particular would be rendered altogether
Mr. GERRY urged the necessity of impeachments. A good magistrate will not fear them. A bad one ought to be kept in fear of them. He hoped the maxim
would never be adopted here that the chief magistrate could do no wrong.