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How George Washington was elected in his first Executive Functions? Part 3

By July 2, 1788, 9 States out of the 13 have ratified the Constitutional text.

On may 29, 1790, all the Stated signed on.

Between October 1787 and May 1788, Alexander Hamilton, James Mason and John Fray published 85 open letters in New York dailies to explain their conception of the executive federal function.

These letters are collected in The Federalist in the Spring of 1788 in order to interpret the Constitution of Federation.

For additional guarantees to individual freedom, 10 amendments are joined to the initial text, and by the end of 1791, the Federal Constitution goes into application.

It was George Washington that was in the mind of the delegates when they agreed on the presidential function and central power.

Born in 1732 in Virginia, Washington leads the local colony militia at the age of 22. He fought against the French during the European war of the 7 years.

The Continental Congress designate Washington as military chief as the battles with the British started.

With the aid of the French, the 13 colonies gained independence from England.

Washington was not famous as a military strategist but his competence was recognized.

At the end of the War for Independence, Washington put down the New-burgh mutiny and retired to his property in Mount Vernon.

Washington had already presided the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention and is highly qualified for the executive function.

The delegates had to work hard in order to convince Washington to accept to be a candidate.

The electoral process begins on the first Wednesday of January 1789. The legislature of each State designates its two candidates for the Presidency.

On the first Wednesday of the next month, the Grand Electors of each State select their choices. North Carolina, Rhode Island and New York didn’t participate in the election.

Among the 12 candidates are John Jay, John Adams and the governor of New York George Clinton.

The legislature election was done in January, but the voting on the President had to wait till April 6, 1789. Washington received 69 votes and in second place came John Adams with 34 and became the vice-president according to the Constitution.

Washington arrived to New York (the capital since 1785) on April 30, the Inauguration Day.

The ceremony of investiture is done in the Federal Hall at the angle of Wall Street and Broad street.

At noon, Robert Livingston, the chancellor of New York administers the Presidential oath.

This ceremony institutes two precedents that were not covered by the Constitution:

1. Washington swore with right hand on the Bible

2. And concludes “May God assists me

Washington’s inaugural speech was the shortest in history, and then they converge to St. Paul Church for mass.

Next post will cover how Washington transformed the executive functions and added by filling loopholes and gaps in the initial Constitution

Note 1: Read part 2 on power of Executive function https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/initial-constitutional-text-on-the-usa-presidential-institutionpart-2/

Note 2: Read “Les Presidents Americains” by Andre Kaspi and Helene Harter

History of the USA Presidential Institution… Part 2

Initial Constitutional text on the USA Presidential Institution.

Description of the articles in the initial Constitutional text related to Presidential power and the central executive institution

In August 1786, Daniel Shays, a retired officer, lead a revolt of the debtors in Massachusetts in order to block actions of the creditors in courts. The proprietors, rich elite classes and politicians who defended the concept of public order were terribly worried of this turn of events.

What to do in periods of crisis, economic and foreign wars on the US territory?

The “Founding Fathers” or the 55 delegates that met for weeks agreed on this Constitutional text:

1. The name of the Executive chief will be “Mr. President”. President means “the one sitting ahead’.  The Constitutional Congress, the Constitutional Convention, the heads of the States of New Hampshire, Delaware, and South Carolina had presidents.  You may call “Mr. President of the Federal Executive branch

2. Who can be candidate for the Federal Executive?

The candidate must be over 35 of age, born in the USA, and a citizen residing for the last 14 years. Many foreign revolutionaries were already citizens but didn’t reside that long such as the Prussian von Steuben.

Mind you that women, Indians and Black slaves were not considered citizens or eligible to vote.

3. Duration of the tenure?

It was decided to be 4 years. The Constitution didn’t mention for how many times a President could seek re-election.  The two strong Presidents, George Washington and the third president Thomas Jefferson were elected for another term, but their second terms were plagued with problems and they ended “lame ducks” and refrained from seeking a third term.  This implicit custom of not running for a third term was not in the Constitution.

4. The modality of the designation?

The option of a popular vote was discarded by the southern States on the ground that they were less populated in number of White eligible voters. And many delegates had strong reservation on the ability of non educated citizens to do the “right choices”.

The option that Congress should elect the president went contrary to the separation of powers: Legislative, Executive and Supreme Court.

It was agreed on an indirect ballot alternative: Each State designates a number of Grand Electors (equal to its senators and representative in the Federal Congress). These Grand Electors would constitute the Collegiate electorates.

The smaller States were favored since each State is attributed 2 senators. For the popular votes in each State, a White voter was valued as three fifth of a women or black person.

Each State had the autonomy for its designation process system for selecting candidates. Even the dates of the ballots were not initially uniform.

The Grand Electors served for a mandated single term in order to avoid the creation of a powerful political force.

Each State selects two candidates: One from the southern and one from the northern States and sends the results to the Senate.

The candidate who receive the absolute majority of vote is elected and the second in number of votes is appointed Vice-president. Otherwise, it is the Chamber of representatives that decides among the first 5 candidates.

In case of death, impeachment or incapacity of serving, the Vice-President takes over the Executive power, followed by the President of the Senate pro-tempore if the Vice also vacate the post in an untimely manner. Actually, the initial Constitutional text was not that explicit on who takes over, but it became a custom after the first Vice-President replaced the President.

5. Impeachment process is in the hand of Congress of representative and presided by the chief of Supreme Court.

6. What are the powers of the President?

The Constitutional text reserved only 5% to the executive compared to 25% for the legislative. Congress was to vote on laws, taxing, declaring wars, external commerce…

The President has the power to choose the department chiefs with the consent and counsel of the Senate and nominate the ambassadors to foreign countries and receives the foreign ambassadors.

He will commission all the Federal public employees and nominate the federal judges in the Supreme Court.

He will execute the laws that were voted by Congress.

He can participate in the legislative process, intervene and influence the program of the Congress.

All laws must be signed by the Presidents

The president had a veto power over the laws sent to him by Congress within 10 days. Congress will have to secure two third of the two assemblies in order to break the President veto.

He is the military chief of the armed forces and decided on the war strategy…

The President will inform Congress on the “State of the Union

The President has the power to convoke both legislative bodies when he deemed it a national crisis.

Congress has no power to force the a government to resign.

Congress fixed the sum of $25,000 as the yearly salary of the President.

The President has the power to conclude treaties with the consent of two third of the present senators.

The President can gratiate federal criminals…

Slowly but surely, strong president encroached on the power of the legislative when not in session, during war crisis, loopholes and all kinds of excuses.

The next posts will describe how the first strong Presidents modified the Executive rights and power

Note: Read Part 1  ttp://adonis49.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/history-of-the-usa-presidential-institution-part-1/

History of The USA Presidential Institution…

In August 1786, Daniel Shays, a retired officer, lead a revolt of the debtors in Massachusetts in order to block actions of the creditors in courts. The proprietors, rich elite classes and politicians who defended the concept of public order were terribly worried of this turn of events.

What to do in periods of crisis, economic and foreign wars on the US territory?

Since May 1775, before independence, delegates from the 13 colonies took residence in Philadelphia and voted for the Declaration of Independence.

In Nov. 15, 1777, the same delegates adopted the Articles of Confederation and the North-West ordinance of 1787 related to colonization of territories westwards. These articles were applied on March 1781.

During the Confederation status, the power resided in a unicameral legislative body (printing money, naming military chiefs, voting laws and regulating justice differences among the States…)

This legislative body Congress was assisted by 3 departments: Finance, war, and foreign affairs and presided by an honorific President. When not in session, a counsel of States took care of the general affairs of the Confederation.

With the exception of Rhode Island, all 12 States dispatched representatives to Philadelphia on May 25, 1787.

A third of the delegates have fought in the independence war. Most of them were educated, had experience public affairs and were financially comfortable (proprietors of vast land and slaves). These delegates were later named “The Founding Fathers

They discussed for weeks and reached an agreement on Sept. 17, 1787 on a project that replaced the Confederation with articles of Federation and a centralized power. The power resides in the people and includes 3 separate powers: Legislative, Executive and Judiciary.

The project for discussion was conceived by the delegates of Virginia and the notes taken by James Madison were published in 1840 after his death.

The hardest of issues was the level of power attributed to the President: The southern States wanted a weak executive in order to preserve “individual freedom” and keep at bay tyrannical and monarchic tendencies… Thomas Jefferson was leading this group who apprehended the encroachment of the central power on the Rights of the States.

Alexander Hamilton in daily The Federalist pressed for a strong Executive: “A powerful executive which is the essential condition for good governance with a substantial budget to run the interest of the country facing powerful European nations…”

A third group of delegates offered the alternative of Collegiate Executive, emulating the model in Switzerland, where the authority is diluted in the name of liberties.

Mind you that 25% of the Constitutional text were dedicated to the Congress for just 5% to the executive. This means, the Founding Father gave Congress priority in the Constitution which initially had the power to vote on laws, taxing, declaring war, external commerce…

Slowly but surely, the first strong presidents (mainly George Washington and the third president Thomas Jefferson) implicitly encroached on the power of Congress when not in session under various excuses related to “time of crisis” and many loopholes not covered in the initial Constitutional text.

During a full century, most Presidents were of the weaker kinds in exercising their power because Congress took over the selection of the candidates.

The next post will discuss the power of the executive and the selection process as defined by the first Constitutional text

Note 1: Story taken from the French book “Les Presidents Americains” by Andre Kaspi and Helene Harter

Note 2: At the time of independence in July 4, 1776, the colonies had barely 4 million. Virginia was the most populous and richest of the 13 colonies. Massachusetts  was the second most influential in political clout and followed by New York. The other colonies were: Delaware, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Connecticut, Rhode Island.

Note 3: By 1800, the 13 States had 300 dailies that constituted the main media to promote ideas, programs, political positions and candidates for the presidency and Senate. A little over 67,000 popular votes were expressed during the election of the Grand Electors.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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