Taking Up a Presidency

Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris
Edward Dalton Marchant,  1873-1874

Independence National Historical Park

Taking Up a Presidency

Mr. Gouverneur Morris opposed the election of the President by the Legislature…. as leading to Legislative tyranny….If the legislature have the Executive dependent on them, they can perpetuate…their usurpations by the influence of tax-gatherers…by fleets, armies, etc…. To guard against all these evils he moved that the President shall be chosen by electors to be chosen by the people of the several states.

-James Madison in his Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention

The convention voted to delay a discussion on the report of the Committee on the Slave Trade. It left disputes between the states to the new Federal judiciary and moved on to Article X of the Detail Committee report dealing with the Executive.

Four methods for electing the President were considered and each was defeated.

The least acceptable were direct election by the people (three states yes; 10 states no) and election by a joint ballot of the House and Senate.

Election by the Legislature with each state having one vote, and election by electors chosen by the people were both narrowly defeated. The delegates would have to return to this difficult question.

The delegates then took up Article X, Section 2 on Executive powers, and passed several amendments, including making it the duty of the President to recommend legislation to the Congress.

It was then "ordered, unanimously that the rule respecting adjournment at 4 o'clock be repealed, & that in future the house assemble at l0 o'clock & adjourn at 3 o'clock."

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Saturday, August 25, 1787
Debt and Moral Responsibility

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Last updated: February 26, 2015

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