Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

for electors of the most numerous branch of the state Legislature.

$ 38. About the frequency of elections there has been much dispute. In England, the period for which a representative is chosen is seven years; in some of the states it is two, and in some only six months. In the Constitution it is fixed at two years, as being a period sufficiently long to give the people some time for reflection, and yet sufficiently short to secure the responsibility of the representative.

As the electors of the different state Legislatures varied materially, it was thought proper that the representatives from each state should be chosen by the people, in the manner they had appointed for the choice of their own legislature.

$ 39. 2d clause. No person shall be a representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, AND who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.

$ 40. The propriety of requiring a seven years'citizenship cannot be doubted; aliens cannot be regarded as a part of the nation; and length of time, as well as naturalization is required, to make them acquainted with the interests of the country.

$ 41. A representative must be an inhabitant of the state from which he is chosen. In respect to this provision, a question has arisen, whether a man residing at the seat of government in his official capacity ceases to be a legal inhabitant of the state of which he was a citizen? It was decided in the case of Mr. John Bailey,' a representative from Norfolk district, Massachusetts, who had for several years been a clerk in the department of State, that an official residence in the District of Columbia did not take away any of his qualifications as a citizen of the state whence he came. This decision will probably be

i See Journals of Congress.

adhered to, as a contrary one would at once destroy all the political privileges of those who become members of the government, and therefore would not have been within the spirit of the Constitution.

$ 42. 3d clause. Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons.

The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such a manner as they shall by law direct. The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of New-Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three; Massachusetts, eight; Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, one; Connecticut, five; New-York, six; New Jersey, four; Pennsylvania, eight; Delaware, one; Maryland, six; Virginia, ten; North Carolina, five; South Carolina, five; and Georgia, three.

$ 43. It is to be observed, that the representative population is not the whole population of the United States; after including “all free persons," "excluding Indians not taxed,” it includes 6 three-fifths of all other persons.' The other persons here mentioned are slaves, and consequently the states holding slaves have a representation for three-fifths of the whole number: thus, in some of the states, the slaves exceed the whites in number, and as these slaves exercise no political privileges themselves, it follows that their masters hold double the political power held by the citizens of the non-slave-holding states. Of this, however, they do not, and ought not to complain, as it was the necessary result of the compromise, without

which it is probable the Union could never have been formed.

$ 44. It is said that the electors must be the same as those for 6 the most numerous branch of the state Legislature.” Some of these electors, as in New-Jersey, North and South Carolinas, must have a property qualification, and others again come in under universal suffrage; hence the qualifications for electors are not uniform.

45. The mode of electing representatives to Congress is not the same in the several states. Thus, in some, it is by general ticket, as in Connecticut' and New Jersey: in others, by the district system, as in NewYork and Pennsylvania.

$ 46. Under this section has arisen a question in respect to the mode of apportioning representatives. Congress passed a law, giving a number of representatives equal to the whole population of the United States, divided by 30,000. This gave a larger number than would arise by dividing the population of the respective states by the same number, and adding together the quotients. The additional members were given to the states having the largest fractions. This principle was objected to by General Washington, who was then President, and the bill returned with his reasons. The objection was, that the Constitution required that the representation should be apportioned among the several states, and not according to the whole population of the Union. The bill was returned to Congress, the matter again discussed, and the objectionable feature struck out. The same principle came up under the census of 1830.3 The House of Representatives passed the apportionment bill in the usual form, and the Senate inserted a provision, making the number for a single representative a divisor of the whole representative population of the United States,

i Connecticut is now Districted. 2 Pitkin's Civil Hist. 351. 3 Journals of Congress, 1832.

and giving a representative to the largest fraction. The House would not agree to the principle, and the Senate finally receded from their ground. It may therefore be now considered as a settled construction of the Constitution, that the ratio of representation must be a common divisor of the numbers in the several states, and not in the whole Union.

$ 47. This section likewise requires, that an enumeration should be taken every ten years of the inhabitants of the United States. This commenced in 1790, by Act of Congress, and has been continued ever since. The ratio of representation has been altered at each census. The ratio, that is, the common divisor, or number which is entitled to a representative, has been constantly increasing, but the increase being in a less proportion than that of the population, the number of representatives has likewise increased.

$ 48. Clause 4th. When vacancies happen in the representation from any state, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill up such vacancies.

| 49. The necessity for this clause frequently arises, by virtue of the death or resignation of members of Congress. In some states, as in Massachusetts and Vermont, repeated elections have to be held before a choice can be made, in consequence of a majority of the votes being required to elect.

$ 50. 5th clause. The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker, and other officers, and shall have the sole power of impeachment.

$ 51. The power of impeachment is one of the most important under the Constitution. It is the only mode in which the Judiciary is made responsible, and it is a

1 In 1790, the ratio was 33,000, and the number of Representatives 106. In 1800, the same ratio, but 140 members. In 1810, ratio 35,000, members 181. In 1820, ratio 40,000, members 210. In 1830, ratio 47,700, members 240.

salutary and necessary check upon the President and his officers.

52. The most prominent examples of impeachment under the Constitution are those of Judges Chase and Peck. In March, 1804, the House of Representatives, by resolution, impeached Samuel Chase, one of the Judges of the Supreme Court,—of malversation, improper and arbitrary conduct in office. In 1830, they did the same in relation to James H. Peck, District Judge for the state of Missouri. They were both acquitted.

8 53. The mode of impeachment is this: the House pass a resolution to impeach, and then appoint a committee to manage the impeachment, and prepare the articles; articles making a plain statement of the case, in the manner, but with less formality than an indictment, are then adopted by the House. The Senate are then officially informed that such charges are preferred by the House, and resolve, that on a given day the Senate will sit as a Court of Impeachment. In the meantime, a summons to appear and answer is served upon the party, and as many subpoenas for witnesses are issued as the managers or the party accused may direct. On the day appointed for trial, the appearance or nonappearance of the party is recorded, and at twelve o'clock, the Secretary of the Senate administers an oath to the President of the Senate, that “he will do impartial justice, according to the Constitution and laws of the United States." The same oath is then administered by the President to each senator present. ?Council are then heard for the respective parties; all motions are addressed to the President, and decisions are made by ayes and nays without debate. Witnesses are examined and cross-examined, in the usual manner. Questions put by senators are reduced to writing, and put by the

1 See Journal of the 8th Congress.
2 Rules adopted by the Senate on the trial of S. Chase.

« ZurückWeiter »