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choice of President, the person having the greatest number of votes was to be Vice-President; and, if two or more remained with equal votes, the Senate was to choose the Vice-President from them by ballot.
The President was to have the power to return any bill to Congress, with his objections to the same; and it could only become law without his consent, if passed by a majority of two-thirds of both Houses. He was to take care that the laws were faithfully executed, to command the army, navy, and militia, to recommend such measures as he should judge necessary to Congress, to convene both Houses on extraordinary occasions, to receive ambassadors and other public ministers, to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, and, with the consent of the Senate, to make treaties with foreign powers. He was to nominate, and with the advice of the Senate appoint, all officers of the United States whose appointments should not be otherwise provided for by law. He was to be liable to removal from office, on impeachment by the House of Representatives, and conviction by the Senate, of high crimes and misdemeanours; and in case of his death, removal, resignation, or inability, the duties of his
office were to devolve on the Vice-President, who, until such event occurred, was to be President of the Senate.
The remaining articles provided, that there should be a Supreme Court of the United States, and such inferior courts as Congress might from time to time establish ; that the Judges should hold their offices
1 during good behaviour, and with a fixed compensation ; that the citizens of each State should be entitled to all the privileges of citizens in the several States ; that fugitives from justice, and persons held to service or labour in any State (meaning slaves), should be delivered up by any other State into which they might have escaped ; that new States might be admitted into the Union, but not to the prejudice of the rights of any existing State ; that the Union should guarantee a republican form of government to every State ; that the Constitution might be amended by a Convention called by two-thirds of both Houses of Congress, such amendments being ratified by the Legislatures or Conventions of three-fourths of the several States; that all debts and engagements previously contracted under the Confederation should be valid against the new government; that the Constitution should be the supreme law of the land, binding all judges and officers whatsoever; and that the ratification of the Conventions of pine States should be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same.
Such was the CONSTITUTION which the Convention proposed for the acceptance of the people of America. Its authors knew well, and none better than Hamilton, that it was in many respects imperfect. But, like wise and practical men, they were content to sink their differences, to moderate their wishes, and to take whatever good lay within their reach. Some of the delegates continued to protest against the plan, some had withdrawn from the Convention, and Luther Martin confidently predicted that his own Maryland would never accept the Constituion. But the document which embodied the scheme was ultimately signed by a majority of the delegates, and by one or more representatives of each of the twelve States present in the Convention. The first name on the list is that of George Washington, who is said to have paused a moment, with the pen in his hand, as he pronounced these words :“Should the States reject this excellent Constitution, the probability is that an opportunity will never again offer to cancel another in peace. The
next will be drawn in blood.” And in the last speech which Franklin delivered in the assembly, he thus expressed himself :-“I consent, sir, to this Constitution, because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that this is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us, in returning to our constituents, were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavour to gain partisans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects and great advantages, resulting naturally in our favour, among foreign nations as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength and efficiency of any government, in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends on opinion-on the general opinion of the goodness of that government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of the governors. I hope, therefore, that for our own sakes, as a part of the people, and for the sake of posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution, wherever our
influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts and endeavours to the means of having it well administered.” Then, while
Then. while the members were signing, he turned towards the image of a sun, painted at the back of the President's chair, and said: “Often and often, in the course of the session, I have looked at it without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting; but now, at length, I have the happiness to know, that it is a rising, and not a setting sun.”
Of the delegates from New York, the name of Hamilton is alone attached to the instrument. His two colleagues had withdrawn from the Convention, and left him all the honour and burthen of the day. There is abundant testimony as to how he discharged the duties of his position. “If,” said Dr. Johnson of Connecticut, “the Constitution did not succeed on trial, Hamilton was less responsible for it than any other member; for he fully and frankly pointed out to the Convention what he apprehended were the infirmities to which it was liable. And if it answered the fond expectations of the public, the community would be more indebted to Hamilton than to any other member; for, after its essential outlines were agreed to, he laboured most inde