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The Constitutional Convention, Debate Over the Election of the President, 1787

Mr. Morris [of Pennsylvania started an argument by suggesting that all eligible voters in the United States should elect the president.

Mr. Sherman [of Connecticut] disagreed. He wanted the Congress or national legislature to choose the President.

Mr. Morris said, "If the people should elect, they will never fail to prefer some man of distinguished character, or services... If the legislature elect, it will be the work of intrigue, of cabal, and of faction..."

Mr. Mason replied that "it would be as unnatural to permit the people to elect a President as it would be to refer a trial of colors to a blind man."

Mr. Morris responded, "If the legislature elect... it will be like the election of a pope by a conclave of cardinals."

Mr. Sherman rebutted that "the sense of the nation would be better expressed by the Legislature than by the people at large. The people will never be sufficiently informed about the candidates and beside will never give the majority of votes to any one man. They will generally vote for some man in their own state, and the largest state will have the best chance for appointment.... Furthermore, the Congress should be able to control the President. The power of Congress to elect the President would establish conditions for making him absolutely dependent on that body."

Mr. Wilson and Mr. Madison feared giving the Congress too much power over the President. They argued that such an arrangement would render the chief executive unable to act forcefully and independently as a national leader. The President should be free from dependence on Congress. Mr. Madison said, "If it be a fundamental principle of free government that Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary powers should be separately exercised, it is equally so that they be independently exercised."

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