Autobiography of Seventy Years - Vol. 1

By George F. Hoar | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XXVII
FOUR NATIONAL CONVENTIONS
1876

IT has been my fortune to be a delegate from Massachusetts in four National Conventions for the nomination of President and Vice-President -- those of 1876, 1880, 1884 and 1888. In the first I was a delegate from the Worcester district, which I then represented in Congress. In the other three I was at the head of the delegation at large. I presided over that of 1880.

The history of these conventions is of great interest. It shows the rudeness of the mechanism by which the Chief Executive of this country is selected, and what apparently slight and trivial matters frequently determine the choice. As is well known, the framers of the Constitution, after considering very seriously the question of entrusting the power of choosing the President to the Senate, determined to commit that function to electoral colleges, chosen in the several States in such manner as their legislatures should determine, all the electors to give their votes on the same day. It is generally stated that the President and Vice- President cannot be from the same State. That is not true. The Constitutional provision is that electors in their respective States shall vote by ballot for President and Vice- President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves.

It was intended that the choice of the President should not be a direct act of the people. It was to be committed to the discretion of men selected for patriotism, wisdom and sobriety, and removed as far as might be from all the excitements of popular passion.

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