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feel a due sense of national character, and can act with promptitude and firmness.
The question, whether a treaty constitutionally made, was obligatory upon Congress, equally as any other national engagement would be, if fairly made by the competent authority; or whether Congress had any discretionary power to carry into effect a treaty requiring the appropriation of money, or other act to be done on their part, or to refuse it their sanction, was greatly discussed in Congress, in the year 1806, and again in 1816. The house of representatives, at the former period, declared, by resolution, that when a treaty depended for the execution of any of its stipulations on an act of Congress, it was the right and duty of the house to deliberate on the expediency or inexpediency of carrying such treaty into effect. It cannot be mentioned, at this day, without equal regret and astonishment, that such a resolution passed the house of representatives on the 7th of April, 1796. But it was a naked abstract claim of right, never acted upon; and Congress shortly afterwards passed a law to carry into effect the very treaty with Great Britain, which gave rise to that resolution. President Washington, in his message to the house of representatives of the 30th of March, 1796, explicitly denied the existence of any such power in Congress; and he insisted, that every treaty duly made by the President and senate, and promulgated, thenceforward became the law of the land.
If a treaty be the law of the land, it is as much obligatory upon Congress as upon any other branch of the government, or upon the people at large, so long as it continues in force, and unrepealed. The house of representatives are not above the law, and they have no dispensing power. They have a right to make and repeal laws, provided the senate and President concur; but without such concurrence, a law in the shape of a treaty is as binding upon them as if it were in the shape of an act of Congress, or of an article of the constitution, or of a contract made by authority of law. The argument in favour of the binding and conclusive effi
power of nomination to office,
cacy of every treaty made by the President and senate, is so clear and palpable, that it has probably carried very general conviction throughout the community, and this may be now considered as the decided sense of public opinion. This was the sense of the house of representatives, in 1816, and the resolution of 1796 would not now be repeated.
The President is the efficient power in the appointment President's of the officers of government. He is to nominate, and, with the advice and consent of the senate, to appoint, ambassadors, or public ministers and consuls, the judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers whose appoint·ments are not otherwise provided for in the constitution ; but Congress may vest the appointment of inferior officers in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the beads of departments.
The appointment of the subordinate oflicers of government concerned in the administration of the law, belongs with great propriety to the President, who is bound to see that the laws are faithfully executed, and who is generally charged with the powers and responsibility of the executive department. The association of the senate with the President in the exercise of this power, is an exception to the general delegation of executive authority, and if he were not expressly invested with the exclusive right of nomination in the instances before us, the organization of this department would be very unskilful, and the government degenerate into a system of cabal, favouritism, and intrigue. But the power of nomination is, for all the useful purposes of restraint, equivalent to the power of appointment. It imposes upon the President the same lively sense of responsibility, and the same indispensable necessity of meeting the public approbation or censure. This, indeed, forms the ultimate security that men in public stations will dismiss in terested considerations, and act with a steady, zealous, and
Q Art. 2. see, 2.
undivided regard for the public welfare. The advice and consent of the senate, which are requisite to render the nomination effectual, cannot be attended, in the nature of the case, with very mischievous effects. Having no agency in the nomination, nothing but simply consent or refusal, the spirit of personal intrigue and personal attachment must be pretty much extinguished, from a want of means to gratify it. On the other hand, the advice of so respectable a body of men will add still further inducements to a coolly reflected conduct in the President, and will be at all times a check on his own misinformation or error.
The remaining duties of the President consist in giving information to Congress of the state of the Union, and in recommending to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary or expedient. He is to convene both houses of Congress, or either of them, on extraordinary occasions, and he may adjourn them in case of disagreement. He is to supply occasional vacancies that happen during the recess of the senate, by granting commissions, which shall expire at the end of their next session. He is to receive ambassadors and other public ministers, to commission all the officers of the United States, and take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
The propriety and simplicity of these duties speak for themselves. The power of receiving foreign ministers includes in it the power to dismiss them, since he alone is the organ of communication with them, the representative of the people in all diplomatic negotiations, and accountable to the community, not only for the execution of the law, but for the competent qualifications and conduct of foreign agents.
In addition to all the precautions which have been mentioned to prevent abuse of the executive trust, in the mode of the President's appointment, his term of office, and the
May be im
u Art. 2. sec. 2, 3.
precise and definite limitations imposed upon the exercise of his power, the constitution has also rendered him directly amenable by law for mal-administration. The inviolability of any officer of government is incompatible with the republican theory, as well as with the principles of retributive justice. The President, as well as all other officers of the United States, may be impeached by the house of representatives, for treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors, and, upon conviction by the senate, removed from office. If, then, neither the sense of duty, the force of public opinion, nor the transitory nature of the seat, are sufficient to secure a faithful discharge of the executive trust, but the President will use the authority of his station to violate the constitution or law of the land, the house of representatives can arrest him in his career, by resorting to the power of impeachment.
I have now finished a general survey of the office of President of the United States, and, considering the nature and extent of the powers necessarily incident to that station, it was difficult to constitute the office in such a manner as to render it equally safe and useful, by combining in the structure of its powers a due proportion of energy and responsibility. The first is necessary, to maintain a firm administration of the law; the second is equally requisite, to preserve inviolate the liberties of the people. The authors of the constitution appear to have surveyed the two objects with profound discernment, and to have organized the executive department with consummate skill.