The Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, 1789-1791

Gazette of the United States

Mr. BOUDINOT, who opened the business as mentioned in our last, made many observations upon the important subject of finance; and adverting to the present state of the funds, shewed the necessity of appointing an officer, or secretary for that department: After the committee had proceeded so far as to adopt the idea of three departments, agreeably to the resolution introduced by Mr. MADISON, the last clause in the preamble of which, subjected the head of each department to removal at the pleasure of THE PRESIDENT, this occasioned a debate. It was urged in objection to the clause, that it was unconstitutional, for it subjected an officer to lose his appointment without forfeiting it, or having any reason assigned: That giving the power to THE PRESIDENT without controul, rendered nugatory the article providing for impeachments: That it would delegate a dangerous authority to the supreme magistrate, and make him absolute: that it ought to be the same power that displaces from, which appoints to, an office: That no such power was specified in the constitution, on the contrary the powers of The President being therein defined, without designating that proposed, it was presumed, that this power could be lodged with safety only in those hands where the constitution had placed it, viz. THE PRESIDENT by and with the advice of the Senate: It was called a monarchical system, and would enable The President to effect arbitrarily, a change of ministry. Many other observations were made by several gentlemen who spake on this side of the question. In answer, it was said, that the mode of impeachment for crimes, by the Senate, had special reference to certain officers of government, the Judges: That to suppose it extended to all, indiscriminately, was absurd; this would oblige the Senate to be always sitting; this objection proved too much— as even waiters and inferior officers could not be removed on this principle: The clause it was urged, would create that just responsibility in THE PRESIDENT, and all under him, which never could be found in bodies of men: This responsibility would be mutual; The President would feel responsible for the fidelity of those appointed by him, and they would feel responsible to him, and to the public: This responsibility was of the utmost importance— it was expected by the people; and by concentering in one, this accountability for the faithful discharge of the duties of the subordinate departments, of the executive, it was the dictate of reason and experience, that the person thus responsible should have the appointment of the officers, on whose conduct the honor and safety of the government and the reputation of THE PRESIDENT were suspended.