University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Jensen, Merrill; Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Pennsylvania
2 (1976)

A. Public and private commentaries on the Constitution, 17 September-6 October 1787,   pp. 130-172

Page 165

tion 2 gives him "power, by and with the conseit 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 ministers and con-
suls, judges of 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, 8cc." And by another section
he has the absolute power of granting reprieves and pardons for trea-
son and all other high crimes and misdemeanors, except in case of
The foregoing are the outlines of the plan.
Thus we see, the House of Representatives are on the part of the
people to balance the Senate, who I suppose will be composed of the
better sort, the wellborn, etc. The number of the Representatives
(being only one for every 30,000 inhabitants) appears to be too few,
either to communicate the requisite information of the wants, local
circumstances and sentiments of so extensive an empire, or to pre-
vent corruption and undue influence, in the exercise of such great
powers; the term for which they are to be chosen, too long to pre-
serve a due dependence and accountability to their constituents; and
the mode and places of their election not sufficiently ascertained, for
as Congress have the control over both, they may govern the choice,
by ordering the Representatives of a whole state, to be elected in one
place, and that too may be the most inconvenient.
The Senate, the great efficient body in this plan of government, is
constituted on the most unequal principles. The smallest state in
the Union has equal weight with the great states of Virginia, Massa-
chusetts, or Pennsylvania. The Senate, besides its legislative functions,
has a very considerable share in the executive; none of the principal
appointments to office can be made without its advice and consent.
The term and mode of its appointment will lead to permanency; the
members are chosen for six years, the mode is under the control of
Congress, and as there is no exclusion by rotation, they may be con-
tinued for life, which, from their extensive means of influence, would
follow of course. The President, who would be a mere pageant of
state, unless he coincides with the views of the Senate, would either
become the- head of the aristocratic junto in that body, or its minion;
besides, their influence being the most predominant, could the best
secure his reelection to office. And from his power of granting par-
dons, he might screen from punishment the most treasonable attempts
on the liberties of the people, when instigated by the Senate.
From this investigation into the organization of this government, it
appears that it is devoid of all responsibility or accountability to the

Go up to Top of Page