June 23, 1787: Eligibility for Other Federal Offices

Color image of the top half of the handwritten U.S. Constitution.
Detail, the U.S. Constitution, page 1

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"No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time;..."

- -U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 6

Saturday, June 23, 1787: The Convention Today

Madison (VA), seconded by Alexander Martin (NC), moved to make members of the House ineligible for other federal office during their term and for one year after. Butler (SC) said the motion didn't go far enough. Mason (VA) agreed, and appealed to Madison as a witness to the shameful partiality of the Legislature of Virginia for its own members. Rutledge (SC) supported the motion as did Wilson (PA). Madison defended his motion as a middle ground between encouraging corruption and excluding the most qualified appointees. Jennifer (MD) remarked that the Maryland Senate was excluded from holding other offices for their five-year term and that this had gained them the confidence of the people. Madison's motion lost, Connecticut and New Jersey for, Massachusetts divided, 8 opposed.

Spaight (NC) moved to divide the issue into two parts, which was done. Ineligibility during the term for which they were elected passed 8 for, Pennsylvania and Georgia opposed, and Massachusetts divided. Extending eligibility for a year after the term was urged by Mason, Gerry and Rutledge, and deprecated by Hamilton as easily evaded. It lost, New York, Delaware, Maryland, South Carolina for, Pennsylvania divided, 6 opposed.

The debate on eligibility for members of the lower house to hold other federal offices took most of the day. This is not the most controversial part of the Constitution; however, delegates were familiar with the English practice of buying off key legislators by appointing them to high-paying government jobs. The delegates regarded time spent in safeguarding against corruption as time well spent.


  • Defeated (2 – 8 – 1) a motion by Madison to make members of the lower house ineligible for other federal office during their term and for one year after

Delegates Today

  • New Hampshire was still trying to find delegates who would serve. The state Senate considered a House resolution for a joint session to "chuse four persons either two of whom to represent this state in the Grand Convention now sitting a (sic) Philadelphia", agreed, and then reconsidered its agreement.

Philadelphia Today

  • The day was clear and warm.

Part of a series of articles titled The Constitutional Convention: A Day by Day Account for June 1787.

Independence National Historical Park

Last updated: November 16, 2019