« ZurückWeiter »
and fairly developed ; the passions of youth have become moderated; and the faculties are fast advancing to their highest state of maturity. An earlier period could scarcely have afforded sufficient pledges of talents, wisdom, and virtue, adequate to the digrity and importance of the office.
$190. The other qualifications respect citizenship and inhabitancy. It is not too much to say, that no one, but a native citizen, ought ordinarily to be entrusted with an office so vital to the safety and liberties of the people. But an exception was, from a deep sense of gratitude, made in favor of those distinguished men, who, though not natives, had with such exalted patriotism, and such personal sacrifices, united their lives and fortunes with ours during the revolution. But even a native citizen might, from long absence, and voluntary residence abroad, become alienated from, or indifferent to his country; and, therefore, a residence for fourteen years within the United States is made indispensable, as a qualification to the office. This, of course, does not exclude persons, who are temporarily abroad in the public service, or on their private affairs, and who have not intentionally given up their domicile here.
$ 191. The next clause is. In case of the removal of *the President from office, or of his death, resignation or ina'bility to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the
same shall devolve on the Vice President. And the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resigna'tion or inability of the President and Vice President; declaring what officer shall then act as President; and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a President chosen. The propriety of this power is manifest. It provides for cases, which may occur in the progress of the Government; and it prevents in such cases a total suspension of the executive functions, which would be injurious, and might be fatal to the interests of the country.
§ 192. The next clause provides for the compensation of the President —' The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services a compensation, which shall neither 'be increased nor diminished during the period, for which he shall have been elected ; and he shall not receive within 'that period any other emolument from the United States, or 'any of them.'
$ 193. The propriety of granting to the President a suitable compensation cannot well be doubted. The Constitution would, otherwise, exclude all persons of moderate fortune from the office; or expose them to gross temptations, to sacrifices of duty, and perhaps to direct corruption. The compensation should be adequate to the just expenditures of the office. If the Legislature should possess a discretionary authority to increase or diminish it at their pleasure, the President would become a humble dependant upon their bounty, or a mean suppliant for their favor. It would give them a complete command of his independence, and perhaps of his integrity. And on the other hand, if the actual incumbent could procure an augmentation of it during his official term, to any extent he might desire, he might be induced from mere avarice to seek this as his highest reward, and undermine the virtue of Congress, in order to accomplish it. The prohibition equally forbids any increase or diminution. And, to exclude all exterior influences, it equally denies to him all emoluments arising from any other
State or National. He is thus secured in a great measure against all sinister foreign influences. And he must be lost to all just sense of the high duties of his station, if he does not conduct himself with an exclusive devotion to the good of the whole people, unmindful at once of the blandishments of courtiers, who seek to deceive him, and of partizans, who aim to govern him.
§ 194. The next clause is — Before he enters on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or
affirmation : I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect ' and defend the Constitution of the United States.' There is little need of commentary here. No man can doubt the propriety of placing the President under the sanction of an oath of office, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, who would require an oath or solemn affirmation on any other occasion. If a judge, a juryman, or a witness, ought to take a solemn oath or affirmation, to bind his conscience, surely a President, holding in his hands the destiny of the nation, ought so to do. Let it not be deemed a vain or idle form. In all these things God will bring us into judgment. A President, who shall dare to violate the obligations of his solemn oath or affirmation of office, may escape human censure, nay, may receive applause from the giddy multitude. But he will be compelled to learn, that there is a watchful Providence, that cannot be deceived ; and a righteous Being, the searcher of all hearts, who will render unto all men according to their deserts. Considerations of this sort will necessarily make a conscientious man more scrupulous in the discharge of his duty; and will even make a man of looser principles pause, when he is about to çnter upon a de: liberate violation of his official oath,
Powers and Duties of the President.
$195. We next come to the consideration of the powers and duties of the President. The first clause of the second section is-'The President shall be commander-in-chief of " the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia
of the severa! States, when called into the actual service of the United States. He may require the opinion in writ'ing of the principal officer in each of the executive depart'ments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices; and he shall have power to grant reprieves ‘and pardons for offences against the United States, except ‘in cases of impeachment.'
$ 196. The command and application of the public forces, to execute the laws, maintain peace, resist invasion, and carry on war, are powers obviously belonging to the executive department, and require the exercise of qualifications, which cannot properly be presumed to exist in any other. Promptitude of action, unity of design, and harmony of operations, are in such cases indispensable to success. Timidity, indecision, obstinacy, pride, and sluggishness, must mingle, in a greater or less degree, in all numerous bodies, and render their councils inert and imbecile, and their military operations slow and uncertain. . There is, then, true wisdom and policy in confiding the command of the Army and Navy to the President, since it will ensure activity, responsibility, and firmness in public emergencies.
§ 197. The President is also authorized to require the opinions of the Heads of Departments in writing, on subjects relative to their official duties. This might have been deemed an incidental right to his general authority. But it was desirable to make it a matter of constitutional right, so as to enforce responsibility in critical times.
$ 193. To the President, also, is confided the power 'to 'grant reprieves and pardons. Without this power, no Government could be deemed to be suitably organized for the purposes of administering human justice. The criminal Code of every country must necessarily partake of a high degree of severity; and it is not possible to fix the exact degree of punishment, for every kind of offence, under every variety of circumstances. There are so many things, which
tenuate, as well as inflame the atrocity of crimes, and so many infirmities, which belong to human nature in general, which may furnish excuses, or mitigations for the commission of them, that any Code, which did not provide for any pardoning or mitigating power, would be universally deemed cruel, unjust, and indefeasible. It would introduce the very evils, which it would seek to avoid, by inducing the community to connive at an escape from punishment, in all cases, where the latter would be disproportionate to the offence. The power of pardon and reprieve is better vested in a single person, than in a numerous body. It brings home a closer responsibility ; it can be more promptly applied; and, by cutting off delays, it will, on the one hand, conduce to certainty of punishment, and on the other hand, enable the Executive at critical moments to apply it as a means of detecting, or suppressing gross offences. But if the power of pardon extended to impeachments, it is obvious, that the latter might become wholly inefficient, as a protection against political offences. The party accused might be acting under the authority of the President, or be one of his corrupt favorites. It is, therefore, wisely excepted from his general authority.
$ 199. The next clause respects the power of appointment. • He (the President) shall have power, by and with 'the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties,
provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur. And 'he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent 'of the Senate, shall appoint, ambassadors, other public min'isters and consuls, jurigez if the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law. But the Cor vess may by law vest the ap
pointment of such inf rior officers, as they think proper in 'the Pre ident alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads . of Departments.'