Part 2 out of 4
Congressional district? Population?
8. Compare the area of your district with that of other districts in
your State; also with the population of other districts. Compare the
number of votes cast for representative in your district with the number
cast in districts of other States in different sections of the country.
How do you account for the variation? See New York World Almanac.
9. Some interesting facts connected with the apportionment of 1901 are
given in the Forum, 30:568-577.
10. For the Reapportionment Law of 1901, see Outlook, 67:136.
11. For accounts of the methods by which a census is taken, see American
Census Methods, Forum, 30:109-119. Census of 1910, Rev. of R's,
41:589-596; 404, 405.
12. Who are some of the best-known representatives and senators? For
what reasons are they noted?
13. Who are the senators from your State? When was each elected?
14. Give the names of the speaker and of the president _pro tempore_.
15. Would you have voted for the Seventeenth Amendment? See Outlook,
67:559-604; 73:277-285; 386-392. For other references, see James and
Sanford, Government in State and Nation, p. 137.
POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE SEPARATE HOUSES.
Article II, Section 4. _The President, Vice-President and all civil
officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on
impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high
crimes and misdemeanors._
Article I, Section 2, Clause 5. _The House of Representatives shall ...
have the sole power of impeachment._
Section 3, Clause 6. _The Senate shall have the sole power to try all
impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or
affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief
Justice shall preside; and no person shall be convicted without the
concurrence of two-thirds of the members present._
Section 3, Clause 7. _Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend
further than to removal from office and disqualification to hold and
enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States; but
the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to
indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment according to law._
There have been but seven impeachment trials in the history of our
government. Section 4 of Article II declares who may be impeached. The
expression "civil officer" does not include military and naval officers.
They are subject to trial by court-martial. Members of Congress may not
be impeached, since the Constitution authorizes each house to bring to
trial and punish its own members. Clause 5 of Section 2, and Clauses 6
and 7 of Section 3, Article I, give the method of procedure against an
officer who may be charged with "treason, bribery, or other high crimes
and misdemeanors." The articles of impeachment preferred by the House of
Representatives correspond to the indictment in a criminal trial. The
manner of conducting an impeachment trial, in the Senate, resembles also
a trial by jury. That the "Chief Justice shall preside" during the
trial of the President of the United States is a wise provision, because
it is easy to presume that a Vice-President might be personally
interested in the conviction of a President.
[Footnote 19: See "Government in State and Nation," p. 159.]
II. THE QUORUM, JOURNAL, AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
Determination of Membership and Quorums.--Section 5, Clause 1.
_Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and
qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall
constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn
from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of
absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each house
In 1900 the right of a senator to a seat in the Senate was challenged by
the citizens of his State on the ground that his election was secured
through bribery and corruption. In a memorial of the citizens forwarded
by the governor, the matter formally came before the Senate. The case
was referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections, which
unanimously reported, after careful deliberation, that the senator was
not duly and legally elected by the legislature of his State. The
committee found that he had obtained through illegal and corrupt
practices more than eight votes which would otherwise have been cast
against him and changed the result. Before a vote was taken in the
Senate on this resolution the senator resigned his seat.
In the House the name of the person possessing the certificate of
election signed by the governor of his State is entered on the roll of
the House, but the seat may still be contested. Many cases of contested
elections are considered by each new House. There were thirty-two seats
contested in the 54th Congress. Such cases are referred to the Committee
on Elections, which hears the testimony, and presents it to the House
for final decision. Each of the cases when presented to the House
consumes from two to five days which might otherwise be used for the
purposes of legislation. The law provides that no more than $2000 shall
be paid either of the contestants for expenses, but even then, it is
estimated, these contests cost the government, all told, $40,000
annually. When the decision is rendered by the House, the vote is, in
most cases, strictly on party lines, regardless of the testimony. In
view of these facts, it has been suggested that the Supreme Court decide
all contested elections.
How a Quorum is Secured.--If it appears, upon the count of the
speaker, or upon the roll-call of the House, that a majority is not
present, business must be suspended until a quorum is secured. Fifteen
members, including the speaker, may be authorized to compel the
attendance of absent members. This is accomplished as follows: the doors
of the House are closed, the roll is called, and absentees noted. The
sergeant-at-arms, when directed by the majority of those present, sends
for, arrests, and brings into the House those members who have not
sufficient excuse for absence. When a quorum is secured, business is
Rules and Discipline.--Section 5, Clause 2. _Each house may
determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for
disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a
The Journal.--Section 5, Clause 3. _Each house shall keep a journal
of its proceedings and from time to time publish the same, excepting
such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy; and the yeas and
nays of the members of either house on any question shall, at the desire
of one-fifth of those present, be entered on the journal._
Our Knowledge of Congressional Proceedings.--As citizens in a
republican government, it is our duty to keep informed on the problems
which our representatives are called upon to solve. Means of gaining
information are not wanting. The public galleries of both houses are
usually open to visitors. The official record of the proceedings of
Congress is made known to the public through the Journal, which is read
at the opening of each day's session. Reports of the debates do not
appear in the Journal, but are published each day in the _Congressional
Another means of keeping constituents informed on the position of their
representatives is through the recording in the Journal of the vote of
each member when demanded by one-fifth of those present. In voting by
the "yeas and nays," the clerk calls the roll of members and places
after each name, "yea," "nay," "not voting," or "absent." The Senate
rules specify this as the only method of voting. (Other methods of
voting in the House are indicated on page 77.)
Power to Adjourn.--Section 5, Clause 4. _Neither house, during the
session of Congress, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn
for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the
two houses shall be sitting._
If there is a disagreement between the two houses with respect to the
time of adjournment, the President may adjourn them to such a time as he
thinks proper. This right has never yet been exercised.
Compensation and Freedom from Arrest.--Section 6, Clause 1. _The
senators and representatives shall receive a compensation for their
services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the
United States. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony, and
breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance
at the sessions of their respective houses, and going to and returning
from the same; and for any speech or debate in either house, they shall
not be questioned in any other place._
Should the members of Congress be paid a salary, or should the office be
regarded as exclusively one of honor? These questions were discussed at
length in the Constitutional Convention. Some of the delegates favored
the English custom, by which members of Parliament receive no salary. It
was finally concluded to adopt the provisions as given, in order that
men of ability, though poor, might become members of the National
By a law of 1789 the compensation of senators and representatives
was fixed at six dollars per day and thirty cents for every mile
traveled, by the most direct route, in going to and returning from
the seat of government. Prior to 1873 this amount was changed
several times by act of Congress. The compensation then agreed upon
and until 1907 was $5000 per year, with mileage of twenty cents,
and $125 per annum for stationery. The speaker received $8000 a
year and mileage. The president _pro tempore_ received the same
amount while acting as president of the Senate.
To many people $5000 seemed a large salary, but the great expense
of living in Washington renders the salary quite inadequate.
Members have been known to pay more than their salaries for
house-rent alone. Accordingly, in 1907, the salary of senators and
representatives was increased to $7500 and that of the speaker and
president _pro tempore_ of the Senate to $12,000.
To Hold Other Offices. Disqualification.--Section 6, Clause 2. _No
senator or representative shall, during the time for which he is
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; and no person holding any
office under the United States shall be a member of either house during
his continuance in office._
The purpose of this provision seems to have been to remove the
temptation on the part of Congressmen to create offices, or to increase
the emoluments of those already existing, in order to profit by such
legislation. The exclusion of United States officials from seats in
Congress was due to the desire of appeasing State jealousy, which
asserted that the National government would in this way secure an undue
influence over the State governments. It is advocated, with good reason,
that members of the Cabinet should be privileged to take part in the
discussion of measures in Congress which pertain to their own
departments. Alexander Hamilton asked for this privilege. It was refused
because of the belief that he would exert too great influence over the
members. The precedent thus established has always been retained.
But since executive officers are often invited to present their views
before committees of Congress, they may, in this way, exert great
influence upon legislation.
HOW LAWS ARE MADE BY CONGRESS.
Methods of Procedure Developed by Custom.--Very little can be
learned directly from the Constitution concerning the actual methods
employed in the enactment of laws by Congress. In both houses the ways
in which business is conducted have been developed by custom; and they
have changed from time to time according to circumstances. These methods
of procedure are different from those in use when the government was
new. The principal reason for this is found in the growth of the amount
of business that Congress must consider; this, in turn, has been caused
by the growth of population and wealth, and by the expansion of business
relations throughout this country and with other nations.
I. _The Committee System._--An understanding of this system is necessary
in order that we may follow the steps taken in the making of laws. Two
facts made the committee system necessary in the houses of Congress. (1)
The number of members, especially in the House of Representatives, is so
large that business cannot be transacted quickly by the entire body. (2)
The number of bills introduced is so very great that it is impossible
for either house to consider all of them; hence it is necessary that
committees shall examine the bills and decide which are worthy of
In the long session of the 61st Congress more than 33,000 bills
were introduced into the House. The number of committees in the
House was 61, the membership varying from 5 to 19. The most
important House committees are those on Ways and Means (which has
charge of all bills for raising revenue), Appropriations, Banking
and Currency, Foreign Affairs, and Military Affairs. In the Senate
of the 61st Congress there were 72 standing committees. The number
of members on a committee was in most cases 9 or 11. A few of the
Senate committees are those on Finance (corresponding to the
Committee on Ways and Means in the House), Agriculture, Commerce,
and Foreign Relations.
Both in the House and in the Senate every member is on some
committee, and some members have places on several committees. In
both houses the committees are elected. The chairman and a majority
of the members of each committee are from the members of the party
that has a majority in the house.
Steps in the Progress of a Bill.--(1) The first step in the
progress of a bill is its _introduction_. This is done in the House by
merely placing the bill in a basket on the clerk's desk. In the Senate
the member introducing a bill rises and asks leave to introduce it.
(2) The bill is next _referred_ to a committee.
(3) If the committee decides that the bill should go further they
_report it_ back to the house.
The house will in a great majority of cases pass or reject it according
to the committee's recommendation. Few bills are debated in either
house, and in the most of these cases the discussion has no influence
upon the fate of the bill--it is meant merely to be heard or to be
printed. Hence, it is in that intermediate stage between the reference
of the bill to a committee and the report on it that the real work of
legislation is accomplished.
The Power of Committees over Bills.--A committee may exercise the
utmost freedom with respect to the bills referred to it. The greater
number of bills receive no consideration whatever from the committees;
these may never be reported if the committees see fit to ignore them.
Other bills are amended by the committees, or new bills are substituted
for them. Such is the power intrusted to Congressional committees.
However, if a majority of the house wishes, it may take up for
discussion a bill which one of its committees has decided not to report
Many of the important committees have separate rooms where their
meetings are held. Here the members may confer in secret, or they
may hold public hearings; i.e., persons are invited to give
testimony or to make arguments. Frequently the majority members of
a committee hold separate meetings, determine their policy, and
then adhere to it regardless of the wishes of the minority members.
The latter may present a separate report called the _minority
report_ of the committee.
Consideration of Bills.--(4) In the next step, the bill is brought
before the house for consideration. How is it determined which bills
shall be thus favored? In some measure this depends upon the importance
and the merits of the bill; but it depends more upon the skill and
influence of the member (generally the chairman of the committee
reporting the bill) who is particularly interested in seeing it enacted
into law. In the House of Representatives this important matter is most
often decided by the Committee on Rules, which is composed of ten
members, six being of the party that has a majority in the House. In
most cases this committee decides which bills shall be considered, and
how much time shall be given to the discussion of each one. So it is
necessary for the chairman of a committee to make a previous arrangement
with the speaker to be recognized before he can bring up his bill. But
on Wednesday of each week the chairmen of committees may call up their
bills in the order in which they secure recognition. And the Committee
on Rules does not control the bills which the House takes out of the
hands of committees.
II. _The Power of the Speaker._--The speaker is the executive officer
who sees that the decisions of the Committee on Rules are carried out.
In most important matters it is necessary for a member to make an
arrangement with the speaker in order to secure recognition when he
wishes to address the House.
In exercising the power of _recognition_, the speaker will, of course,
give both the sides a fair opportunity to debate upon important
measures. He will not permit members to make motions or lengthy speeches
merely for the sake of delaying some action to which they are opposed.
Such actions are called _obstructive tactics_, or _filibustering_.
The Lobby, Log-rolling, and Patronage.--Not all the bills that
come before Congress are passed or rejected because they are wise
or unwise. The influences that determine the course of legislation
at Washington are very numerous and complicated. Some of these
influences are to a greater or less extent legitimate, and others
are totally bad. The _lobby_, in its broadest sense, is composed of
all those persons who go to Washington in order to exert pressure
upon Congressmen in favor of or against certain measures. Some of
the best laws and some of the worst are enacted through the
influence of the lobbyist. _Log-rolling_ is an important influence
in determining legislation; a member votes for the pet measure of
his fellow Congressman on condition that the latter will vote for
the bill in which he is particularly interested. Political
_patronage_ is a great factor in determining votes in Congress; the
power of members to recommend appointments, and the influences
exerted in their favor by the appointees, often determine the
question of their continuance in office. Consequently, there is a
great temptation to use patronage in exchange for votes. The use of
money directly in _bribery_ is difficult of detection, but other
favors and privileges of money value are no less effective in the
purchase of the votes of those members who are so unscrupulous as
to be open to such influences.
Debate in Congress.--It is now apparent that many other things
besides the arguments used in debate determine which bills shall pass
and which shall fail. In the House the time for debate is strictly
limited, on account of the amount of business. The chairman of the
committee reporting a bill generally has one hour in which to urge the
passage of his measure; for a portion of the time he may _yield the
floor_ to other members, both friends and opponents of the bill. Of
course, much more than one hour is given to debate on important bills.
Many of the speeches which are printed in the _Congressional Record_
have not been delivered; but they are intended for circulation among the
constituents of representatives, and for use as campaign documents. Many
of the speeches that are actually delivered receive scant attention; the
lack of interest in them is made evident by the noise and confusion
that very often prevail during sessions of the House.
Senate Procedure.--In the Senate debate is not limited. Senators
are expected to regard each other's rights with respect to the amount of
time and attention they may demand; yet a bill may be "talked to death"
in the Senate. As a result, the Senate is less business-like in its
procedure than the House, and some means of checking unlimited
discussion have often been proposed for it.
Conference Committees.--A bill which has passed one house must be
sent to the other. Here it is introduced and goes through the stages
above described. If one house amends a bill which has already passed the
other, it must be returned for re-passage to the house where it
originated. This is a frequent cause of conflict between the two houses,
and each tries to insist on its rights.
When such a dispute cannot be easily adjusted, a _conference committee_
must be appointed. This is composed of members from each house, and they
endeavor to arrange a compromise which will be acceptable to both
houses. Generally their decision is ratified without question, but
sometimes even this method of settlement fails.
Methods of Voting.--There are three methods of voting in Congress.
(1) Members respond "aye" or "no" by acclamation. (2) If a _division_ is
called for, a rising vote is taken and the members are counted. In the
House the counting is done by two tellers, who stand near the speaker's
desk, while the members pass between them in single file, first those
voting in the affirmative, and afterward those opposing the motion. (3)
When the "yeas and nays" are called for, or whenever the rules of either
house require them, the roll is called and each member votes as he
responds to his name. This vote is entered on the Journal.
After the roll-call is completed, the presiding officer announces
the _pairs_. Members who belong to different political parties may
agree that they shall be recorded on opposite sides of party
questions, whether they are present or not. Or pairs may be
arranged for particular votes only. This device enables a member to
be absent from his seat without feeling that his vote is needed.
The President's Power in Law-Making.--A bill which has received a
majority vote in both houses is next sent to the President.
Article 1, Section 7, Clause 2. _Every bill which shall have passed the
House of Representatives and the Senate shall, before it become a law,
be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he
shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections, to
that house in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the
objections at large on their journal and proceed to reconsider it. If
after such reconsideration two-thirds of that house shall agree to pass
the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other
house, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by
two-thirds of that house it shall become a law. But in all such cases
the votes of both houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the
names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered
on the journal of each house respectively. If any bill shall not be
returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it
shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like
manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment
prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law._
There are then three ways in which a bill may become a law. (1) It may
pass by majority vote in both houses and be signed by the President. (2)
It may, after being vetoed by the President, be passed by two-thirds
vote in both houses. (3) It will become a law if the President neither
signs nor vetoes it within ten days, unless these are at the end of the
The framers of the Constitution intended that the veto power should be a
check, though not an absolute one, upon hasty or unwise legislation. The
President may cause a bill to fail by neither signing nor vetoing it
during the last ten days of a session. The term _pocket veto_ has been
applied to this method of defeating bills.
SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONS AND REFERENCES.
1. Copies of the Congressional Record and the Congressional Directory
furnish interesting illustrations of the topics treated in this chapter.
2. What difference is there in the granting of recognition in the Senate
and House? Harrison, This Country of Ours, 45-48.
3. How are obstructive tactics carried on? Alton, Among the Law-makers,
4. Reinsch, Young Citizen's Reader, 198-213. Marriott, Uncle Sam's
SOME IMPORTANT POWERS OF CONGRESS.
I. NATIONAL FINANCES.
The Power of Taxation.--When we speak of the finances of a country,
we mean its revenues and expenditures. Revenues have their origin
chiefly in taxation, and the power vested in Congress by virtue of
which taxes are imposed and collected is found in the following clause:
Article I, Section 8, Clause 1. _The Congress shall have power to lay
and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and
provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States;
but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the
[Footnote 20: Considerable sums are derived by our National government
from the sale of public lands. See Chapter on Territories and Public
Duties on Imports.--The two forms of taxes relied upon by the
United States for its revenues are (1) duties and (2) excises. A
duty is a tax levied upon goods that are imported into the United
States. The merchant doing business in New York, for example, cannot
obtain possession of the goods he has imported until the officers of the
custom-house at that port have examined the _invoice_, or the list of
articles in each package, with their prices; and the officers may
examine the goods, also, to see if they correspond in amount and quality
to the statements of the invoice. The importer then pays to the
collector of the port of New York the amount of the duty levied on his
[Footnote 21: The terms _duties_ and _imposts_ have nearly the same
[Footnote 22: Duties on exports are prohibited in Section 9, Clause 5,
of Article I: _No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from
Kinds of Duties.--These are of two kinds. (1) _Specific_
duties are fixed amounts levied on certain units of measurement of
commodities, as the pound, yard, or gallon. Under the tariff law of
1909 the duty on tin-plate was one and two-tenths cents for each
pound. (2) _Ad valorem_ duties are levied at a certain rate per
cent on the value of the articles taxed. The law of 1909 laid a
duty of 60 per cent on lace manufactures.
On some articles both kinds of duties are levied. Under the law
just mentioned, the duties on carpets and rugs were 10 cents per
square foot and 40 per cent _ad valorem_ in addition.
Passengers on steamships coming from foreign countries are required
to declare what dutiable goods they have among their baggage, each
person being allowed to enter $100 worth of goods free of duty.
Upon landing, their baggage is examined; trunks and valises are
opened, and in suspected cases the persons of travelers are
searched for concealed dutiable goods. The temptation to
undervaluation and to smuggling, in order to escape this form of
taxation, is so great that constant vigilance is necessary at
custom-houses and along the borders of the United States to prevent
these frauds. Special agents and revenue cutters are employed to
detect violations of the law.
Tariff Laws.--A _tariff_ is the list of the rates of duties fixed
by law. An importer of foreign goods must consider the amount of the
duties he has paid as part of the cost of the goods when he sells them.
If a higher price is caused in this way, less of such goods will be
imported and the production of the goods in this country will be
encouraged. Consequently, high rates of duties may have a decided
influence upon the industries of a country. When the rates of duties are
so fixed as to bring about this result, we have a _protective_ tariff;
i.e., one under which persons can produce in this country certain
articles which otherwise they could not produce, because of their
cheapness when imported from a foreign country. The duties are made so
high that it is not profitable to import the articles. When rates of
duties are fixed primarily with the object of raising revenue, and
without regard to their effect upon the industries of the country, we
have a _tariff for revenue_. This kind of tariff is generally meant when
the term _free trade_ is used. Articles on which no duties are imposed
are said to be on the _free list_. There is no country which fails to
collect duties on some of its importations.
Reciprocity Agreements.--The United States has entered into
_reciprocity treaties_ with various countries for securing the
reduction of tariff rates. Each country agrees to admit certain
products of the other country at reduced rates, or free of duty.
These are generally commodities in the production of which there is
little or no competition between the parties to the treaty.
Internal Revenue Taxes.--Excises are taxes laid upon the
manufacture and sale of certain products within the country. At the
present time these _internal revenue_ taxes are levied by the National
government upon liquors, tobacco, snuff, opium, oleomargarine,
filled cheese, mixed flour, and playing cards. The greater number of
these taxes are paid by the purchase of stamps, which must be affixed,
in the proper denominations, to the articles taxed. When the packages
are broken, the stamps must be destroyed so that they cannot be used
[Footnote 23: Taxes are levied, not only upon the liquors themselves,
but upon the business of brewing and rectifying; of selling by wholesale
and by retail; of manufacturing stills; and upon the stills themselves.
A list of these taxes may be obtained from the collector of any internal
War Taxes.--Because taxes of this kind are so easily
collected, the government has extended them to a great number of
articles when it suddenly needed a large revenue, as in the War of
1812, the Civil War, and the Spanish War of 1898. The law of 1898
increased the taxes on liquors and tobacco, and imposed new taxes
on (1) proprietary articles, and (2) documents. Under the first
heading fall patent medicines and compounds of various kinds.
Documentary taxes were imposed upon legal papers, such as
deeds, mortgages, etc., and also upon bank checks and drafts,
telegraph and telephone messages, and express receipts. Under this
law the internal revenue receipts rose from $170,000,000 in 1898,
to $273,000,000 in 1899. Congress has repealed these special war
[Footnote 24: These were exactly like those imposed by Parliament
in the Stamp Act of 1765.]
Corporation Tax.--In 1909 Congress levied a tax upon
corporations. Every corporation doing interstate business is
required to report its earnings and its expenses. The difference
between these amounts is its _net earnings_. The law requires the
payment of one per cent of the net earnings that are in excess of
Rules for Levying Taxes.--The Constitution contains three rules by
which Congress must be guided in the levying of taxes. We have seen,
Article I, Section 8, Clause 1, that _duties, imposts and excises must
be uniform throughout the United States_; that is, the same rates must
prevail everywhere. Another provision, Article I, Section 2, Clause 3,
is that _representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among
the several States ... according to their respective numbers_.
[Footnote 25: See also Article 1, Section 9, Clause 4: _No capitation,
or other direct, tax shall be laid unless in proportion to the census or
enumeration hereinbefore directed to be taken._]
The third provision is the Sixteenth Amendment, which became a part of
the Constitution in February, 1913: Article 16. _The Congress shall have
power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived,
without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to
any census or enumeration._
We have, therefore, the following classification:--
I. Direct | persons,| Must be apportioned among
taxes, | lands, | the States according to
levied on | | population.
II. Indirect | duties, | Must be uniform throughout
taxes | imposts, | the United States.
| excises, |
| income |
| taxes. |
[Footnote 26: These are _poll taxes_. Such a tax was levied on slaves in
1798 and 1813.]
So far, we have discussed the indirect taxes only, for at present the
United States levies no direct taxes. In our previous history, however,
the government has imposed all the kinds of taxes mentioned in the
outline above. In levying a direct tax, Congress must determine the
total amount to be raised (as $2,000,000 in 1798, and $20,000,000 in
1861), and then apportion this amount among the States, according to
The bills introduced into Congress which provide for taxation are
called "bills for raising revenue." They must originate in the House of
Representatives (Article I, Section 7, Clause 1). The Committee on Ways
and Means frames these bills. In the Senate such bills are referred to
the Committee on Finance, and here the bills may be amended.
The Appropriation of Money.--Appropriation bills are those which
provide for the expenditure of the government's funds, and these bills
are in charge of the committee on appropriations in each house.
Below is a list of the principal items in the revenues and
appropriations for the year ending June 30, 1910.
Internal revenue 290,000,000
War Department $156,000,000
Navy Department 123,000,000
Indian Bureau 18,000,000
Interest on public debt 21,000,000
Civil list and miscellaneous 180,000,000
The Power to Borrow Money.--We have now seen how money is provided
for the government under ordinary circumstances. In extraordinary cases
this revenue is not sufficient; accordingly, Congress has been given
power by Article 1, Section 8, Clause 2, _To borrow money on the credit
of the United States_.
Money is borrowed in most cases by the sale of bonds. These are of the
same nature as the promissory notes by which individuals obtain loans.
National bonds state the promise of the United States to pay a certain
amount, at a stated time, with interest. A "registered" bond contains
the name of the owner, and this is a matter of record at the Treasury
Department. When this bond is sold, the record must be changed. "Coupon"
bonds are usually payable to bearer; they have attached to them a number
of coupons equal to the number of interest payments due during the term
of the bond. Each of these is cut off as the payment becomes due, and
can be cashed at any bank.
Bonds are bought and sold on the market, and their prices are
quoted in the daily papers. When the bonds fall due, they are
_redeemed_ by the government at their face value, or "at par." On
the market all United States bonds are now selling "at a premium."
Issues of bonds were made in 1898, the rate of interest being 3 per
cent, and in 1900, the rate being 2 per cent. The Public Debt
Statement issued monthly by the Treasury Department gives the
divisions of the bonded debt and the amount outstanding. On
December 1, 1910, the amount of the interest-bearing debt was
II. THE POWER OF CONGRESS OVER COMMERCE.
The Control of Commerce.--The power over commerce, which we are
next to discuss, was given to Congress because the history of the
country under the Articles of Confederation showed clearly that State
control of commerce resulted in confusion and constant disputes. It is
necessary that merchants and ship-owners should conduct their business
under laws that are as _uniform_ as possible. It is also necessary that
they should be _certain_ as to the terms of the law. These conditions
could not exist if each State were to make laws controlling the commerce
going to other States and to foreign countries.
The Constitution gives Congress the power, in Article I, Section 8,
Clause 3, _To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the
several States, and with the Indian tribes_. Not all commerce that is
carried on by the citizens of this country is subject to control by
There is a vast amount of commerce that is carried on entirely within
the limits of the different States. Over this commerce Congress has no
power; it is regulated by State laws relating to trade and
Interstate Commerce.--The distinction between State and interstate
commerce is not readily seen in many cases; but in general it may be
said that if a commodity starts in one State destined for another, its
control throughout its course lies within the power of Congress. This
principle applies to both land and water transportation. So the coast
trade among the States lies within the jurisdiction of Congress; also,
commerce upon those rivers that form highways between different States.
The harbors and waterways of the United States have been improved by the
expenditure of many millions of dollars. This money has been
appropriated in the "River and Harbor Bills" that are passed by almost
The Interstate Commerce Law.--The importance of railroad
transportation led to the enactment, in 1887, of the "Interstate
Commerce Law," controlling this form of commerce. The law became
necessary because of certain abuses which had arisen. In many instances
the railroads gave lower freight rates to certain persons than to others
doing the same kind of business; again, the merchants or manufacturers
of certain cities were favored by more liberal rates than could be
obtained by those who were engaged in the same industries in other
cities. As a result, the business of many persons and places suffered
injury, while the business of their rivals prospered through the
advantages given to them by the railroads.
In consequence of these and other evils, various laws, beginning with
that of 1887, have been passed to control not only railroad and
steamboat lines, but also telegraph, telephone, express, and
sleeping-car companies in so far as they are engaged in interstate and
Some provisions of these laws will now be stated, (1) Charges must be
just and reasonable. The Interstate Commerce Commission has power to
decide what is reasonable, and to _fix rates,_ after an investigation.
(2) It is unlawful to give one person or corporation a better rate than
another for the same service. This is called "discrimination." Passes
cannot be granted, except to employees. (3) All rates must be posted
where they can be consulted by any person. (4) All companies engaged in
interstate commerce must open their books to inspection by the
commission and must make reports that they require. (5) If any person
objects to a decision of the commission, he may appeal to the Commerce
Court, which has been created to consider such cases.
The Control of Trusts.--Among the abuses arising in connection with
interstate commerce are those which result when persons enter into
agreements or combinations to prevent free competition; for under these
circumstances prices are raised, or certain persons are favored in
trade. In 1890, Congress passed a law prohibiting such combinations "in
restraint of trade or commerce among the several States or with foreign
nations." This is known as the Sherman Anti-trust Law.-Now, a trust is
simply a large corporation which has absorbed or killed off, more or
less completely, other establishments engaged in the same industry. The
trust may or may not have a monopoly, that is, complete control in that
line of business; and it may or may not be engaged in interstate
commerce. An agreement among certain, railroad companies to establish
and maintain freight rates was declared to be in violation of the law of
1890. Also, a combination, or "conspiracy," among railroad employees to
stop the running of trains was declared illegal.
The "trust problem," which is so prominent in current political
discussion, is the question of preventing the evils of combination
in industry. These evils become evident when excessive prices are
charged by persons who control certain lines of business; that is,
when free competition is prevented in the production,
transportation, or sale of commodities. If the business conducted
by a trust lies entirely within the limits of a single State's
boundaries, then it must be regulated by State law.
III. THE MONEY of THE UNITED STATES.
Our National Currency.--Another of the most important powers of
Congress is that granted in the following clause:--
Article I, Section 8, Clause 5. _To coin money, regulate the value
thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and
In civilized countries it is the practice of the government to furnish
the people a "circulating medium" for use in trade and commerce. Two
kinds of money are in use in the United States: (1) coin or specie; and
(2) paper money. The total amount of money in circulation in the United
States on November 1, 1910, was $3,124,679,057 or $35.01 _per capita_
for the whole population. We shall first consider the coins of the
How Coins Are Made.--The coinage of money takes place at the mints,
which are located at Philadelphia, Denver, New Orleans, and San
Francisco. Gold and silver come to the mints in the form of bricks, or
rough bars, to which the term _bullion_ is applied. Alloy must be added
to the pure metal for the purpose of rendering it of sufficient hardness
to withstand wear. In our gold and silver coins one-tenth of the weight
is an alloy composed of copper and nickel. A quantity of the bullion of
the required purity is first melted and then cast into ingots, or long
bars. Each bar is next run between heavy rollers until it takes the form
of a thin strip. From the strip are punched round pieces, called
"blanks," of the size and thickness of the coin that is being made. In
the next process the blank is weighed on a delicate balance; when found
to be of the correct weight, the coin is placed in a powerful press, and
from this it comes with its edge raised above the face and its edge
milled. In a similar press the designs are stamped upon the faces of the
Below is a list of the coins now being minted.
Double eagle Half-eagle
Standard dollar Quarter-dollar
Five-cent (nickel) One-cent (bronze)
The silver coins less in value than one dollar are called _subsidiary_
[Footnote 27: No gold one-dollar pieces have been coined since 1890.]
The Ratio of Gold and Silver Coins.--The law fixes the weight
of pure metal in a silver dollar at 371.25 grains, troy weight, and
that of the pure metal in a gold dollar at 23.22 grains. The _ratio
_ of these weights is 15.988+: 1, or nearly 16:1. This indicates
the origin of the famous expression, "sixteen to one."
Free Coinage.--By _free coinage _is meant a policy
established by law, under which any person may bring bullion to the
mint in any amount and have it coined; that is, the amount which
the government will coin is _unlimited_ by law. Our country has
always had the policy of free coinage with respect to gold. This
was also the policy in the coinage of our silver dollars until
1873. At that time the coinage of the silver dollar was
discontinued until a law was passed in 1878 (the Bland Act)
renewing its coinage, but in _limited_ quantities. The government
purchased silver bullion under this law, and under the Sherman Act
(1890), but since 1893 no silver bullion has been purchased for the
coinage of silver dollars, but the bullion already on hand has been
used for this purpose.
Paper Money.--We have in the United States five kinds of paper
money in general circulation:--
Kinds. Amounts in circulation, Nov. 1, 1910.
1. United States notes $341,000,000
2. Gold certificates 836,000,000
3. Silver certificates 483,000,000
4. National bank notes 706,000,000
5. Treasury notes of 1890 3,500,000
The History of United States Notes.--United States notes, or
"greenbacks," as they are commonly called, originated during the Civil
War. When the government was without specie (i.e., gold and silver
money) with which to purchase supplies for the army and pay other
expenses, it issued these notes. Each note says on its face, "The United
States will pay to bearer $----." Since no time was set for the
fulfillment of this promise, and since there was neither gold nor silver
in the Treasury with which to redeem the notes, people would naturally
hesitate to accept them in payment for goods or salaries. Consequently,
Congress made the notes "legal tender"; that is, the law compelled
creditors to receive this kind of money in payment for debts. The notes
passed into circulation, therefore, because people were forced to take
them; but their value depreciated greatly during the war. In 1879 the
government began the redemption of the notes in specie, and since that
time they have been worth their face value.
[Footnote 28: Our full legal-tender coins at present are the gold coins,
silver dollars, United States notes, and Treasury notes of 1890.
Subsidiary silver coins are legal tender in amounts not greater than
$10.00, and the minor coins are legal tender to the amount of
Gold and Silver Certificates.--It is much more convenient to handle
paper money than coins. When a person deposits gold or silver coin in
the Treasury, he may receive these certificates in exchange.
Consequently, the value of these certificates in circulation represents
an equal amount of gold coin and silver dollars stored in the United
States Treasury and ready for exchange for the certificates at any time.
National Bank Notes.--The fourth kind of paper money is issued by
National banks. These are organized under United States law and subject
to control by an officer of the Treasury Department. Like banks that are
organized under State law, National banks conduct the ordinary banking
operations. That is, they receive deposits, loan money, and buy and sell
drafts in the ordinary course of business. In addition, these banks are
given the right "to issue notes." In doing this, the bank first buys on
the market a certain amount of United States bonds; these it sends to
the Treasury at Washington and leaves there on deposit. The bank will
then receive from the Treasury "National bank notes" equal in amount to
the face value of the bonds deposited. These notes say that "The
National Bank of ---- will pay the bearer $----, on demand." Now, the
bank may fail, i.e., it may not be able to pay what it owes to its
depositors and other creditors. But the holders of National bank notes
will not suffer loss. For the Treasury will sell the bonds and thus
obtain cash with which it can redeem the notes held by individuals.
The amount of Treasury notes of 1890 is comparatively small, and this
kind of money is destined to disappear within a few years.
SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONS AND REFERENCES.
1. The tariff schedule in force at the present time may be found in
newspaper almanacs. Is this tariff high, low, or moderate in its rate?
2. The Statistical Abstract, published by the Bureau of Statistics of
the Treasury Department, gives the list of items upon which duties and
internal revenue taxes are collected, and the amounts yielded by each
for a series of years; the expenditures of the government, with the
chief items; a statement of the National debt; and statistics concerning
the money of the United States. See also any newspaper almanac.
3. Why do liquors and tobaccos bear the heaviest excise taxes? What
reasons can you give for taxing the other articles mentioned on pp.
4. Because our coins contain one-tenth alloy, they are said to be
nine-tenths fine. Calculate from the weights of pure metal, given on p.
91, the total weights of the gold and silver dollars.
5. For information concerning the Act of Congress fixing a "standard of
weights and measures," see Government in State and Nation, 188-189.
6. The depreciation of the United States notes, referred to on p. 92, is
shown graphically in Government in State and Nation, 185.
7. For our money, see Reinsch, Young Citizen's Reader, 101-103;
Marriott, Uncle Sam's Business, 97-119; 165-172; Century Book for Young
8. On commerce, read Harrison, This Country of Ours, 65-67.
9. Finances. Harrison, 59-65, and Chapter 12; Marriott, 109-127.
OTHER GENERAL POWERS OF CONGRESS.
I. POWER OF NATURALIZATION.
Who Are Citizens.--Who are citizens of the United States is always
a question of interest. We find it clearly answered in the first clause
of the Fourteenth Amendment as follows: _All persons born or naturalized
in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are
citizens of the United States, and of the States wherein they reside._
Thus there are two classes of citizens: (1) those who are citizens by
birth; (2) those who have been naturalized. Children born in this
country, though of foreign parentage, and residing here, may be
considered American citizens if they choose. According to an Act of
Congress, passed in 1882, Chinese aliens may not be naturalized; but our
Supreme Court has decided that a child born in the United States of
Chinese parents is a citizen, if he desires to be. Though born in a
foreign country, a child whose father is an American citizen may claim
the privilege of American citizenship. Indians who keep their tribal
relations are not included under the provisions of this section.
Naturalized Citizens.--The second class of citizens are those who
are naturalized. That the rules should be uniform by which aliens
become citizens, is self-evident. After a brief discussion, the
Constitutional Convention provided in Section 8, Clause 4, that
_Congress shall have the power to establish a uniform rule of
naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies
throughout the United States._
Process of Naturalization.--(1) The foreigner desiring to become a
citizen goes before the clerk of any court of record and declares, "upon
oath," that it is his intention to become a citizen of the United
States, and to renounce all allegiance to the government which has
jurisdiction over him. He then receives his "first papers." (2) After he
has resided in the United States for five years, providing two years
have elapsed since his "declaration of intention," he may secure his
certificate of naturalization. He must appear in open court and swear
that he will support the Constitution of the United States, and renounce
all allegiance to any foreign power. Two witnesses must testify to his
term of residence, and declare that he is a man of good moral character.
The applicant must be able to speak the English language. His wife, and
those of his children who are under twenty-one years of age, become
citizens at the same time. In certain cases Congress has, by a single
act, admitted large numbers of aliens to American citizenship, as it did
at the time of the purchase of Louisiana, the annexation of Texas, and
Bankrupt Laws.--It sometimes happens, because of general
depression in trade throughout the country, on account of losses,
or for other reasons, that business men become heavily involved in
debt. They are said to be insolvent. Now, it is but just that such
property as they have should be divided in some equitable way among
the creditors. A bankrupt law secures such a division, and the
debtor is, at the same time, freed from all legal obligation to pay
the debts which cannot be met in this way. The first law of
Congress on this subject was passed in 1802, and repealed in 1803.
Since that time there have been three other bankrupt laws, but the
total time during which they have been in force amounts only to
some twenty years. The last law, that of 1898, is still in
[Footnote 29: See "Government in State and Nation," p. 193, for a
further discussion of bankrupt laws--especially that of 1898.]
Some States have also passed insolvency laws. However, these must not in
any way conflict with the provisions of the National bankrupt laws.
II. THE POSTAL SYSTEM.
Organization of the Post-office Department.--We can appreciate
somewhat the advancement made in the postal service rendered by the
government when we read that an Act of Congress in 1782 directed that
mail should be carried "at least once in each week from one office to
another." Our well-organized postal system, declared recently by the
Postmaster-General to be the "greatest business concern" in the
world, has been evolved through laws made in carrying out the
provision of the Constitution that _Congress shall have power to
establish post-offices and post-roads._
[Footnote 30: The total receipts of the Post-office Department for 1910
As is well known, the Postmaster-General, a member of the President's
Cabinet, is at the head of this department of government. One of the
chief burdens of the Post-office Department was formerly the
appointment of the so-called fourth-class postmasters, intrusted to the
Fourth Assistant Postmaster-General. Executive orders of Presidents
Roosevelt and Taft placed 50,000, or about five-sevenths, of these
postmasters in the _classified_ service. An order of President Wilson,
in 1913, applied the _merit_ system to these offices, by which these
postmasters were compelled to demonstrate their fitness for these
appointments. This order included all fourth-class postmasters except
those paying less than $180 a year. The other three classes, in which
are included those postmasters whose salaries are not less than $1000,
are appointed by the President, with the consent of the Senate.
Classes of Mail.--Mail matter belongs to one of four classes.
In general, the classes and rates are as follows: First
class--letters, two cents an ounce; second class--newspapers and
periodicals, one cent a pound; third class--books, one cent for two
ounces; and fourth class--merchandise, limited to four-pound
packages, one cent an ounce.
Free Delivery.--Among the notable advances in the mail service was
the provision for the free distribution of mail in the cities of 10,000
inhabitants, or where the annual postal receipts are $10,000 and above.
Rural Free Delivery.--No innovation in postal methods has been more
successful than the free delivery of mails in the country districts. The
development of the system, since its establishment in 1897, has been
[Footnote 31: According to the report of the superintendent for the year
ending June 30, 1910, 41,079 routes had been established. The rural
population receiving daily mail service amounted to more than
18,000,000. Two thousand one hundred and twenty-four new rural routes
were authorized in 1911, aggregating 51,230 miles in length. President
Taft urged a further extension of the system.]
Among the good effects resulting from its extensive introduction may be
mentioned the following: (1) Correspondence in the communities affected
has increased. (2) The circulation of the daily newspaper and of
periodical literature has been greatly enlarged, and interest has grown
in public affairs. (3) Good roads have been multiplied, for they are
made one of the conditions for the introduction of the service. (4)
Because the country districts are brought into daily communication with
the centres of population, the tendency to quit the farm for the town
has been lessened and thus rural free delivery is helping, in some
degree, to solve one of the problems of our social and industrial life.
Postal Savings-Banks.--At various times bills have been before
Congress providing for the establishment of postal savings-banks in
connection with post-offices. It is proposed that they shall
receive small amounts on deposit, paying a low rate of interest,
and that the funds secured be invested in government bonds. A law
was passed in 1910 which provided for the establishment of postal
savings-banks. The plan has proved a success.
Some of the Defects in Our Postal System.--(1) For thirty
years prior to 1911 there has been an annual deficit of several
million dollars. This was caused largely through the transportation
of second-class matter, so-called periodical publications. But in
1911 there was a postal surplus of nearly $220,000, which was due
largely to more business-like methods in management. That this is
an unjust drain upon the public funds is clear, when we consider
that, in a recent year, the government expended $17,277,783 more
than it received for carrying second-class mail. (2) Another
serious defect has existed in the payment of exorbitant rates to
railroad companies for carrying the mails. (3) Some Congressmen
abuse the privilege granted them of sending government publications
free. (4) The postal system has offered one of the best fields for
the manipulation of the spoilsman. Postmasters have been usually
appointed on the recommendation of representatives, and, too
frequently, the one essential to securing an office is that the
applicant must be influential in politics.
Parcels Post.--On January 1, 1913, a far-reaching innovation
was put into operation by the Post-office Department. The
parcels-post system was used for the first time. Bills providing
for such a system had been introduced into Congress, but failed to
pass owing largely to the opposition of express companies and other
III. COPYRIGHTS AND PATENTS.
Copyrights and Patents.--Section 8, Clause 8. _To promote the
progress of science and useful arts, by securing, for limited times, to
authors and inventors, the exclusive right to their respective writings
The development of American literature has been greatly aided through
the operation of laws based on this clause. Copyrights are secured from
the Librarian of Congress. Any person obtaining a copyright has the sole
right to print, copy, or sell the book, chart, engraving, music, etc.,
for a period of twenty-eight years. A copyright may be renewed for
fourteen years longer. It may be sold or transferred providing a record
of the transfer be made in the office of the Librarian of Congress
within sixty days.
Patents.--Americans have been rightly named the great inventors of
the world. Not a little of our marvelous industrial progress has been
due to this inventive ability. The government has contributed to the
same end, through the enactment of laws protecting those inventors who
secure patents. A person desiring a patent must declare upon oath, in
his petition addressed to the Commissioner of Patents, that he believes
himself to be the first inventor of the article for which he solicits a
patent. The sum of fifteen dollars is charged for filing the
application, and twenty dollars for issuing the patent. A patent is
granted for seventeen years, but may be extended for seven years more.
During this period, the patentee has the exclusive right to manufacture,
sell, or transfer his invention.
[Footnote 32: In the year 1910, 37,421 patents were granted by our
IV. MILITARY POWERS IN CONGRESS.
Section 8, Clauses 11, 12, 13, 14. _To declare war, grant letters of
marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and
To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use
shall be for a longer term than two years.
To provide and maintain a navy.
To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval
The Army.--Americans are always impressed by the military spirit so
prevalent in European nations. Compared with the standing army of
Germany, which has some 700,000 men, and with that of Russia, containing
1,000,000 men, or with that of most European nations, our army is
insignificant in size. According to a law of 1901, the army of the
United States cannot contain more than 100,000 men.
[Footnote 33: The minimum number of men was fixed at 57,000. In 1908,
the number of officers and men in the army was 72,628.]
Fortunately, there has always existed in the United States the desire to
keep the standing army from becoming unduly large. The Constitution
itself indicates that appropriations for the army shall not be for a
longer time than two years. At the end of this period, the people may
check the growth of the army through the election of representatives
Officers and Classification of the Army.--The President is,
_ex officio_, commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United
States. The office of general was created, by Congress, March 3,
1799, but was not filled. It was revived in 1866 for General Grant,
General Sherman succeeding to the title in 1869. The same rank was
bestowed on General Sheridan in 1888. The lieutenant-general is
next in rank to the general. The army is distributed geographically
as follows: Division of the Philippines and the Departments of
California, of the Colorado, of the Columbia, of Dakota, of the
East, of the Lakes, of the Missouri, and of Texas. The division is
in charge of a major-general, and the departments are each in
charge of a major-general or of a brigadier-general. The commands
which correspond to each grade are: major-general, four regiments;
brigadier-general, two regiments; colonel, one regiment;
lieutenant-colonel or major, a battalion or squadron; captain, a
company. As now organized, infantry regiments consist of 12
companies, of 65 men each. Cavalry regiments contain 12 troops,
each having 65 enlisted men.
The Navy.--We are told by competent authorities that one of our
best means of preserving peace with foreign powers is to maintain a
strong navy. This has become much more necessary since the United States
has begun to acquire insular possessions. Although the construction of
the modern American navy was not begun until 1883, there has been a
notable advance within the past few years. In 1910 it was estimated that
our navy is excelled in strength only by that of Great Britain.
Congress, in 1910, continued the policy of "adequate preparation" by
authorizing the construction of two battle-ships a year.
Names of Vessels.--A ship of the first class is given the name
of a State; one of the second class that of a principal city or
river, and the names for ships of the third class are selected by
the President. The navy now contains 312 vessels.
Officers in the Navy.--The titles admiral and vice-admiral,
corresponding to the grades of general and lieutenant-general in
the army, were created by act of Congress to be bestowed on the
following men as recognition for distinguished services during the
Civil War: Admirals Farragut and Porter; and Vice-Admirals
Farragut, Porter, and Rowan. Admiral Dewey was granted his title by
a special Act of Congress after the Battle of Manila. The officers
of the navy ranking with major-generals, brigadier-generals,
colonels, and so on, in the army, are rear-admirals, commodores,
captains, commanders, lieutenant-commanders, lieutenants, masters,
The Militia.--With but little opposition in the Constitutional
Convention, Congress was given the power to make provision for
citizen-soldiers as follows:--
Section 8, Clause 15. _To provide for calling forth the militia to
execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel
Clause 16. _To provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the
militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the
service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively the
appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia
according to the discipline prescribed by Congress._
Number of the Militia.--All able-bodied male citizens of the United
States and males between eighteen and forty-five years of age who have
declared their intention to become citizens are regarded as the militia
force of the country. As a matter of fact, there are at present only
about 100,000 men enrolled in this service. But in the case of an
emergency the President may compel the governors of the various States
to furnish the troops needed. The militia may thus be called into
service, under their own State officers, for a period of nine months.
The War of 1812 and the Civil War furnish the best illustrations of the
enforcement of this provision.
Volunteers of 1898.--We should note here the manner in which
men were secured for the war against Spain. We see, according to
Clause 15, that the militia may be called out only for the purposes
of executing the laws of the Union, suppressing insurrections, and
repelling invasions. Now, in the case given, the war was to be
conducted in foreign territory, and President McKinley called for
200,000 volunteers. It was understood, however, that preference
would be given to those volunteers who were already members of the
V. LOCATION OF THE CAPITAL.
Section 8, Clause 17. _Congress shall have the power to exercise
exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over such district (not
exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States and
the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the
United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased
by the consent of the legislature of the State in which the same shall
be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards and other
One of the most interesting contests in American history arose in the
selection of a site for the capital city. Congress finally accepted, for
this purpose, one hundred square miles of land on the Potomac River,
which was ceded by Maryland and Virginia. The thirty square miles given
by Virginia were afterward returned to that State. The capital was to be
in New York until 1790, then in Philadelphia until 1800. In 1800 it was
transferred to the new district, called the District of Columbia.
[Footnote 34: For the government of this district, see "Government in
State and Nation," p. 204.]
VI. IMPLIED POWERS.
Strict and Loose Construction.--Our national development has been,
in large measure, dependent on the interpretation of the next clause of
the Constitution. It is often called the elastic clause.
Section 8, Clause 18. _To make all laws which shall be necessary and
proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other
powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United
States or in any department or officer thereof._
Briefly stated, the problem has always been, Has Congress the right to
exercise powers not definitely granted by the Constitution? Alexander
Hamilton first set forth the doctrine of _implied_ powers. He urged that
Congress might, in carrying out specific powers, use methods not
_expressly_ provided for in the Constitution, as in the creation of a
bank or mint. Since the time of this interpretation, which, fortunately
for American interests, was sanctioned by Washington and later by the
Supreme Court through its great Chief-Justice John Marshall, the
advocates of the doctrines of strict and loose construction have
contended for their principles. Does the Constitution permit the
acquisition of territory? May Congress establish a protective tariff, or
a system of internal improvements? We have here but three of the great
questions which have led to a definition of these opposing views.
Speaking in general terms, the party in power has favored loose
construction, while the party out of power has advocated strict
construction. Said Mr. Bryce, "The Americans have more than once bent
their Constitution in order that they might not be forced to break
[Footnote 35: Bryce, "American Commonwealth," I, 390.]
SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONS AND REFERENCES.
1. What are some of the difficulties encountered in becoming a citizen?
2. Is there a postal savings-bank in your town? Is it successful?
3. Should there be a system of postal telegraphy? Cent. Mag.,
59:952-956; N. Am. Rev., 172:554-556.
4. Extent and advantages of rural free delivery, Rev. of R's, 27:55-60.
5. Perils of the postal service, N. Am. Rev., 172:420-430; 551-559.
6. Defects in the postal system, N. Am. Rev., 174:807-819; 175:115-127.
7. Privateers and privateering, Government in State and Nation, 204;
Walker, The Making of the Nation, 200.
8. For the methods employed in the patent office and a comparison
between our system and that of European nations, see Cent. Mag.,
9. A good account of the reorganization of the army of the United States
is given in the Atl. Mo., 89:437-451.
10. The development of the United States army, Scribner's Mag.,
30:286-311, 446-462, 593-613.
11. West Point after a century, World's Work, August, 1902, 2433-2451.
12. A hundred years of West Point, Outlook, 71:591-601.
13. Life at West Point, Rev. of R's, 26:45-53.
14. What was the character of our navy prior to 1883? Harrison, This
Country of Ours, 251-255.
15. The new American navy, Outlook, 73:323-337.
16. Comparison of the strength of our navy with that of other nations,
Rev. of R's, 25:561-570; 39:347.
17. What special problem was connected with the location of the capital?
How was it finally settled? Hart, Contemporaries, III, 269-272;
Schouler, I, 152-156; McMaster, I, 555-562; World's Work, 1:191-195.
18. The development of Washington during the past one hundred years is
discussed in Rev. of R's, 22:675-686; Forum, 30:545-554; Outlook,
70:310, 311, 817-829; Cent. Mag., 63:621-628, 724-756; Cosmop.,
19. Proposed improvements in Washington, Cent. Mag., 63:621-628,
20. For the influence of the doctrine of implied powers, see:--
(a) Internal improvements, Hart, Contemporaries, III, 436-440; Walker,
The Making of the Nation, 204, 205, 262, 363; Hart, Formation of the
Union, 227-229, 353-355.
(b) The United States Bank, Hart, Contemporaries, III, 446-450; Hart,
Formation of the Union, 150-151, 226-227; Walker, The Making of the
(c) The annexation of territory, Hart, Contemporaries, III, 373-376;
Walker, The Making of the Nation, 177-184; Hart, The Formation of the
(d) Legal-tender cases, Wilson, Division and Reunion, 280-281.
21. For further questions on this chapter, consult Government in State
and Nation, 206, 207.
POWERS DENIED THE UNITED STATES AND THE SEVERAL STATES.
While restrictions on Congressional powers are found elsewhere in the
Constitution, Section 9 of Article I seems to have been framed
especially for this purpose.
[Footnote 36: Clause 1 of this article formed an important part of the
third great compromise, which was discussed on p. 43.]
Writ of Habeas Corpus.--Clause 2 provides: _The privilege of the
writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of
rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it._
A writ of _habeas corpus_ is a writ granted by a court, commanding an
officer to produce before it a prisoner, in order that the court may
inquire into the cause of his imprisonment or detention. If, after such
inquiry, it is found that the person is detained for insufficient cause,
he is granted his freedom.
President Lincoln and the Writ of Habeas Corpus.--President
Lincoln, as a military necessity, in 1861, suspended the privilege
of the writ over a limited area, constituting a large part of the
State of Maryland. The Supreme Court, however, declared his order
non-effective, maintaining that the right of suspending the writ of
_habeas corpus_ lay with Congress, though it might be granted to
the President. This attempt on the part of the Supreme Court to
restrain Mr. Lincoln was a failure, and shows that even the highest
of our tribunals may not have its usual power in time of war. It
was not until March 3, 1863, that Congress made the decree of
President Lincoln legal by authorizing him to suspend the writ
whenever he believed the public safety demanded it. In September of
that year he declared the suspension general throughout the
Ex Post Facto Laws.--Clause 3. _No bill of attainder or ex post
facto laws shall be passed._
An ex post facto law, as defined by the Supreme Court, is a "law which
renders an act punishable in a manner in which it was not punishable
when it was committed." It applies to acts of a criminal nature
[Footnote 37: Clause 4 is discussed under National Finances, p. 84.]
Care of Public Money.--Clause 7. _No money shall be drawn from the
Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a
regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all
public money shall be published from time to time._
It is proper in a government such as ours that the control of the public
money should be lodged with the representatives of the people. Through
the annual report of the Secretary of the Treasury, the people may know
from what sources our revenues are derived and for what purposes the
money is expended.
Titles of Nobility and Gifts.--Clause 8. _No title of nobility
shall be granted by the United States; and no person holding any office
of profit or trust under them shall, without the consent of the
Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title of any kind
whatever from any king, prince, or foreign state._
According to the wording of the clause, Congress may allow gifts, of the
kind mentioned, to be accepted by our National officials. Usually,
however, such gifts pass into the keeping of government.
Powers Denied the States.--We recall the power of the States and
weakness of the general government under the Articles of Confederation.
It was plain to the members of the Constitutional Convention that
hopeless confusion would arise if the States should also be given the
right to coin money, pass ex post facto laws, etc. Therefore, certain
prohibitions were made on the powers of the States. In Section 10,
Clause 1, we note that these prohibitions are absolute, as:--
_No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance or confederation; grant
letters of marque and reprisal, coin money, emit bills of credit; make
anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any
bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of
contracts, or grant any title of nobility._
[Footnote 38: In the celebrated Dartmouth College case, it was finally
determined that a State legislature may not modify the terms of a
contract. See Life of John Marshall, by Magruder, "American Statesmen,"
new ed., 188-190.]
In Section 10, Clauses 2 and 3, the prohibitions are only conditional;
_No State shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any impost or
duties on imports or exports except what may be absolutely necessary
for executing its inspection laws; and the net produce of all duties and
imposts laid by any State on imports or exports, shall be for the use of
the Treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to
the revision and control of the Congress.
No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of
tonnage, keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any
agreement or compact with another State or with a foreign power, or
engage in war, unless actually invaded or in such imminent danger as
will not admit of delay._
More Complete Protection of Personal Rights.--By a careful reading
of Sections 9 and 10, it is seen that some of the rights of the
individual are guarded against encroachment on the part of government,
either National or State. But the people felt that there were other
personal rights which needed protection. They were familiar with the
bills of rights in their own State constitutions. That the National
Constitution did not also contain a bill of rights was, as we have seen,
one of the chief arguments made against its adoption in the State
The First Ten Amendments.--A large number of propositions,
therefore, were submitted to the first Congress by the States. Seventeen
of these were selected by the House of Representatives, and proposed as
amendments to the Constitution. Twelve of these were acceptable to the
Senate also, and ten were ratified by the required three-fourths of the
State legislatures. We call them the first ten amendments to the
Constitution. If we read these amendments, we shall find that really
they are a bill of rights, for the preservation or protection of rights
of the people is expressed in all.
[Footnote 39: See Appendix A.]
THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT.
The President and His Election.--We have seen that the one great
weakness of the government under the confederation was that there
existed no adequate executive. After much discussion in the convention,
the fear of a despot at the head of affairs gave place to the desire to
secure executive energy and responsibility. To-day the President is the
most notable personage among all our officials. Mr. Bryce calls the
Presidential office the greatest office in the world unless we except
the papacy. In the Executive Department the President's power is
practically absolute. He may appoint and remove, either directly or
indirectly, all officials of the department, and they are finally
responsible to him in the performance of their duties. His control of
international relations and his influence on legislation are, as we
shall see, extensive.
Length of Term.--Article II, Section 1, Clause 1. _The executive
power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He
shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with
the Vice-President, chosen for the same term, be elected as follows:_--
Method of Election.--How shall the President be chosen? This
problem is said to have taken one-seventh of the entire time of the
convention. While there were those who believed that election by the
people would be wise, still this sentiment was not general. It was
thought that a choice in this way would cause great "tumult and
disorder." Besides, it was urged that the people would not be
sufficiently acquainted with the men who have the necessary
qualifications for such high office. For a special investigation of this
sort, they agreed that it would be best to select a small number of
persons who would be most likely to possess the required information and
discernment. The appointment of these independent electors was provided
for as follows:--
Appointment of Electors.--Section 1, Clause 2. _Each State shall
appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number
of electors equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to
which the State may be entitled in the Congress; but no senator or
representative or person holding an office of trust or profit under the
United States, shall be appointed an elector._
Article II, Section 1, Clause 3. _The Congress may determine the time of
choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes,
which day shall be the same throughout the United States._
At present, the appointment of electors is a necessary but a
comparatively unimportant step in the election of a President.
The real power exists in the National conventions of the great political
parties. Instead of exercising the right of free choice, as they were
originally expected to do, the electors are really bound to vote for
candidates nominated in these conventions. Let us consider, then, some
of the chief points in the history and practical working of National
Early Methods of Nominating.--Like the development of other
political usages, the method of nominating a President passed
through several stages before the present plan of nominating
conventions was reached. No nominations were made in the first two
Presidential elections. In 1796, Washington having refused to be a
candidate for a third term, party managers in Congress agreed
informally on Adams and Jefferson as the candidates of the
Federalist and the Republican parties respectively. A caucus of
Federalist Congressmen, in 1800, nominated Adams and Pinckney, and
a caucus of Republican Congressmen nominated Jefferson and Burr,
for the offices of President and Vice-President. The Republican
members of Congress continued to hold a regular caucus and thus to
direct the votes of the party electors until 1824. In that year
William H. Crawford, the last Congressional nominee, was defeated.
There was opposition to the Congressional caucus from the
beginning, for such a method was regarded as undemocratic. In 1824
and 1828 the several State legislatures put forward their favorites
for the office of President.
Development of National Conventions.--As early as 1812, De
Witt Clinton was nominated as the candidate of the Federalists in a
convention held in New York City, made up of seventy delegates, who
represented eleven States. But the National nominating convention,
as we know it, was used for the first time by the Anti-Masonic
party, which selected William Wirt for its candidate in 1831. This
method was followed in the same year by the National Republican
party, which nominated Henry Clay. The National convention of the
Democratic party in 1832 nominated Andrew Jackson, who had already
been nominated by many local conventions and State legislatures.
Many years elapsed before the present complex organization was
reached, but since 1836, with the single exception of the Whig
party in that year, parties have regarded the National convention
as an essential factor in electing President and Vice-President.
Prior to the nominations for the Presidency in 1912, the usual plan
was to select two delegates to the National convention from each of
the Congressional districts, and also four delegates at large. The
district delegates were chosen in the district conventions of the
different parties, and the delegates at large in State conventions.
In some of the States all of the delegates were selected in the
It now seems probable before another Presidential election that
some form of the _direct primary_ will be in use in all of the
States. The growth of sentiment in favor of the selection of
delegates to the National convention by the direct primary has been
most remarkable. Oregon, California, Nebraska, New Jersey, North
Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and
Michigan passed such primary laws prior to the election of 1912.
Pennsylvania had a modified primary law, and in a number of other
States there were voluntary primaries.
Election of Delegates to the National Conventions.--The
National conventions of the Republican and the Democratic parties
are made up of twice as many delegates from the different States as
these States have representatives and senators in Congress.
The National Convention.--The National convention is held in
some leading city during the month of June or July of the year in
which a President is to be elected. A few days before the time set
for the convention, the delegates, together with many thousands of
politicians and sight-seers, flock to that city. Headquarters are
established and delegates are interviewed on behalf of the
different candidates. On the day appointed, the convention is
called to order by the chairman of the National committee, under
whose auspices the convention is to be held. A temporary chairman
is elected, and clerks and secretaries are appointed. Committees
are also appointed, the most important being those on credentials
and on resolutions. Each State delegation selects one of its
members for each of the committees. In the next session, a
permanent chairman is usually selected, and the committee on
resolutions presents its report, which sets forth the platform
embodying party doctrines and principles. Nominations are then in
order. The roll of States is called, and the various delegations
place before the convention the favorite of their State. A State
often waives its privilege in behalf of some other State which has
a candidate to present. Again the clerk calls the roll of the
States, and each chairman of a delegation announces the votes from
his State. In the Republican convention a majority of the number of
delegates voting is sufficient to nominate; but no nomination is
possible in the Democratic convention except by a vote of
two-thirds of the delegates. Then follows the selection of a
candidate for Vice-President. In this choice the attempt is made to
secure some man who will add strength to the party, and who comes
from a different section of the country from that represented by
the candidate for the Presidency. He may, as in the cases of Tyler
and Johnson, represent a faction of the party that is not in entire
agreement with the majority.
The National Committee.--A National committee is also
appointed, made up of one member from each State, who is nominated
by the State delegation. The wishes of the Presidential candidate
are of influence in the choice of the chairman, who need not be a
member of the convention. The committee occupies a position of
great importance, for by it the platform of the party is largely
determined. We have here a body of men not mentioned by the
Constitution, but exerting vastly greater influence upon the
election of President than does the electoral college itself. It
organizes the campaign, secures money, selects speakers, and sends
out party literature. The committee looks after the interests of
the party during the ensuing four years and issues the call for the
next National convention.
Election of Electors.--We are now ready to consider the place of
the electors in the choice of a President. The nominations of candidates
for the office of elector are usually made at the State conventions of
the different parties when State tickets are nominated. These occur,
ordinarily, in August or September preceding the November election.
Each political party nominates as many electors as the State has
senators and representatives in Congress. The names of the electors are
then placed on the general party ticket, on which appear also the names
of the candidates for President and Vice-President; each person then
votes for the entire number of electors to which his State is entitled,
and will naturally vote for all the electors on his party ticket. The
political party, therefore, which receives the majority of votes in a
State secures all the electoral votes of that State.
[Footnote 40: It has sometimes happened, however, when the election in a
State has been close, that one or more of the electors on a minority
ticket have run ahead of the other candidates on that ticket, and have
secured a larger number of votes than candidates on the majority ticket,
thus obtaining an election. California, in 1892, gave one electoral vote
to Mr. Harrison and eight to Mr. Cleveland, and again, in 1896, gave
eight votes to Mr. McKinley and one to Mr. Bryan. Kentucky, in 1896, cast
twelve votes for Mr. McKinley and one for Mr. Bryan.]
Vacancies in the Offices of Electors.--Congress enacted in
1845 that each State might provide, by law, for the filling of
vacancies in the electoral college, and that if any State failed to
choose electors on the regular day, that they might be appointed on
a later day in such manner as the State might, by law, direct.
Nearly all of the State legislatures have conferred on the college
itself the power of filling vacancies.
Function of Electors.--The steps prescribed by the Constitution
must still be followed, although we know, long before the electors cast
their votes, who the next President will be. The actual function of the
electors is given in Amendment XII, as follows:--
_The electors shall meet in their respective States and vote by ballot
for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an
inhabitant of the same State with themselves; they shall name in their
ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the
person voted for as Vice-President; and they shall make distinct lists
of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as
Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they
shall sign, and certify, and transmit, sealed, to the seat of government
of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;--the
President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House
of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then
be counted;--the person having the greatest number of votes for
President shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the
whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority,
then, from the persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three,
on the list of those voted for as President, the House of
Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But
in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the
representation from each State having one vote; a quorum for this
purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the
States, and a majority of the States shall be necessary to a choice. And
if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President, whenever
the right to choose shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of
March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as
in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the
President.--The person having the greatest number of votes as
Vice-President shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority
of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have a
majority, then, from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate
shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist
of two-thirds of the whole number of senators, and a majority of the
whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person
constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible
to that of Vice-President of the United States._
Voting of the Electors.--The formal election of President takes
place on the second Monday in January, when the electors meet at their
various State capitals and cast their votes. Separate ballots are given
for Vice-President. Three separate sealed lists of the results are then
prepared. Two of these are sent to the President of the Senate, one by
mail and the other by special messenger. The third is deposited with the
United States district judge of the district in which the electors meet.
On the second Wednesday in February the votes are opened by the
President of the Senate, in the presence of the Senate and House of
Representatives, and counted. That person having a majority of the
electoral votes case for President is declared to be duly elected. The
one who has a majority of the electoral votes cast for Vice-President is
also elected to that office.
Election of President by the House of Representatives.--In
case no Presidential candidate receives a majority of the electoral
votes, the election goes to the House of Representatives, as is
provided in the amendment we are considering. Here the three
candidates having the highest number of votes are alone considered.
The voting is by States. In 1825 John Quincy Adams was elected
President in this way. He had fewer popular and fewer electoral
votes than Andrew Jackson, but he received the votes of thirteen
out of twenty-four States in the House.
Choice of Vice-President by the Senate.--The Senate is called
on to select the Vice-President in case no candidate has received a
majority of the electoral votes. The two candidates having the
highest number of votes are considered. The only instance of the
election of a Vice-President in this way occurred in 1837.
Disputed Returns, Election of 1876.--Disputes have arisen,
from time to time, over some of the returns of the electoral votes.
The most notable contest was that over the returns from Florida,
Louisiana, South Carolina, and Oregon, in 1877. If the twenty-one
electoral votes from these States should be counted for the
Republican candidates, they would be elected. Should just one of
those votes be given to the Democratic nominees, the Republicans
would lose the election. Now the Senate at this time was
Republican, and the House Democratic, and therefore no
satisfactory adjustment could be reached, because of party
prejudices. The excitement throughout the country was finally
relieved by the agreement on the part of both houses to refer the
decision to an "Electoral Commission."
This commission consisted of five judges of the Supreme Court, five
representatives, and five senators. After examining the returns,
the commission decided, March 2, 1877, by a vote of eight to seven,
that Hayes and Wheeler, the Republican candidates, had received the
twenty-one votes in dispute, thus giving them one hundred and
eighty-five electoral votes, and that Tilden and Hendricks, the
Democratic candidates, had received one hundred and eighty-four
In consequence of the grave problem which arose in 1877, Congress
passed an act February 3, 1887, which provides that any contest in
the choice of electors in a State must be decided by the State
authorities under the laws of the State.
The Original Method of Choosing the President.--Because
Presidents Washington, Adams, and Jefferson for his first term,
were chosen by the plan given in the original clause, let us
notice, briefly, the method used at that time, and especially the
reasons for the change to the present plan.
Section 1, Clause 2. _The electors shall meet in their respective
States, and vote by ballot for two persons, one of whom, at least,
shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And
they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the
number of votes for each; which list they sign and certify, and
transmit, sealed, to the seat of the government of the United
States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of
the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of
Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall
then be counted. The person then having the greatest number of
votes shall be President, if such number be a majority of the whole
number of electors appointed; and if there be more than one who
have such a majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the
House of Representatives shall immediately choose, by ballot, one
of them for President; and if no person have a majority, then, from
the five highest on the list, the said House shall, in like manner,
choose the President. But in choosing the President, the votes
shall be taken by States, the representation from each State having
one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or
members from two-thirds of the States, and a majority of all the
States be necessary to a choice. In every case, after the choice of
the President, the person having the greatest number of votes of
the electors shall be the Vice-President. But if there should
remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose
from them, by ballot, the Vice-President._
According to this clause, we note that the electors voted for two
persons without stating which was to be President and which
Vice-President. In the official count, the candidate receiving the
highest number of votes, provided it was a majority of the whole
number of the electoral votes, became President, and the one
receiving the next highest became Vice-President.
Election of 1796.--In the election of 1796, John Adams, who
received the highest number, seventy-one, out of one hundred and
thirty-two electoral votes, was elected President. Thomas
Jefferson, his opponent, became Vice-President, having received
sixty-eight votes, or the next highest number. Thus there were
elected a President of one party and a Vice-President of the
Election of 1800.--The election of 1800 also showed the plan
to be impracticable. At this time, the Democratic-Republican party
was determined to have Mr. Jefferson for President and Aaron Burr
for Vice-President. They both received seventy-three votes, a
majority of all the votes. But since the number was equal, it
devolved upon the House of Representatives to determine whether
Jefferson or Burr should be President. For seven days the House was
in continuous session, and civil war threatened. On the
thirty-sixth ballot, however, Jefferson received the votes of ten
States out of sixteen, and was elected.
In order to prevent a recurrence of the conditions which obtained
in 1796, or of the dangers incident to a contest like that of 1800,
the Twelfth Amendment was proposed by Congress, and, after
ratification, was declared in force September 25, 1804. This
provides, as we have seen, that the electoral votes must be cast
separately for President and Vice-President.
The Presidential Term.--Shall the President hold office for a
term of three years, of seven years, or during good behavior? These
were questions of great interest in the Constitutional Convention.
A term of seven years with no re-election was agreed upon, but
toward the end of the convention the clause as given was adopted.
Re-election of a President.--The Constitution does not limit
the number of terms for which a President may be chosen, but the
"third-term tradition" has now made it practically impossible for
the same man to be elected for more than two terms. This custom was
inaugurated by the refusal of President Washington to accept a
third term. President Jefferson was also urged to stand for a third
term, but he, too, preferred to retire to private life as
Washington had done. The adherents of General Grant strove to break
down this precedent in 1880 but were defeated. Although President
Roosevelt had served a part of a term and one full term the
argument of a third term was brought against him.
A Longer Term.--It is frequently urged that the Constitution
should be amended in such a manner as to provide for a term of six
or seven years for the President, with no re-election. Among the
reasons for this change are the following: (1) a new President has
most of his time, for months, at the beginning of his term,
consumed in hearing the claims of applicants for office, and in
making appointments; (2) there is danger that he may be influenced
in his official actions through desire to secure a second term; (3)
the commercial depression that usually exists during a campaign
would thus come less frequently. These arguments may be used in
opposition to such a change: (1) in the case of an inefficient
President, the short term is to be preferred; (2) the Presidential
campaign is of value, in that the attention of Americans generally
is for a time fixed on the problems connected with the conduct of
our government. It furnishes the opportunity for imparting to our
citizens many lessons in their political education.
Qualifications for President and Vice-President.--The
qualifications for President and Vice-President are naturally the same,
and are as follows:--
Section 1, Clause 4. _No person, except a natural-born citizen, or a
citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this
Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither
shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained
to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident
within the United States._
Vacancies.--The chief reason for creating the office of
Vice-President seems to have been to provide for the emergency of a
vacancy in the Presidency.
Section 1, Clause 5. _In case of the removal of the President from
office or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the
powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the
Vice-President, and the Congress may, by law, provide for the case of
removal, death, resignation, or inability both of the President and
Vice-President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and
such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or
a President shall be elected._
Presidential Succession.--In 1886 Congress provided that in case of the
death, resignation, or disability of both President and
Vice-President, the succession should be in the following order:
Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War,
Attorney-General, Postmaster-General, Secretary of the Navy, Secretary
of the Interior. The Secretary of Agriculture was added in 1889.