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toral college entrusted with the election of the President and the Vice-President of the United States.
But all these meetings of delegates were composed in an anything but regular way; too often the representation of different localities was neither complete nor direct. The decisions taken in them, however, were not binding, so to speak, on any one; at one time it was the leaders who, of their own authority, made modifications in the settled lists of candidates, according to the requirements of the electoral situation, at another the local voters recast the “ticket” as they thought proper; the distinction of parties was even not always observed, and mixed lists were made up. The candidates, in their turn, did not consider themselves bound by the nominations made, and often the competitors for elective offices who had not been accepted went on with their candidatures just the same; they offered themselves directly to the electorate. This method of “self-nomination,” very common in Pennsylvania down to the first years of this century, was still more so in other States. In Massachusetts, which, although it furnished the earliest political organizations during the revolutionary period, did not develop them for many years to come, the candidates were often proposed by means of letters sent to the newspapers by a friend or an admirer, who signed with a more or less expressive pseudonym: "An Elector, “Candidus," "The Whole Truth," "Fidelitas," etc. Still in the early years of the nineteenth century we find already in Massachusetts conventions of county or congressional district delegates, which are destined to grow here alongside or above the public meetings where candidates or delegates were directly nominated, and to which in New England the name of " caucus” begins to be given, accompanied sometimes with the epithet “general,” as if to distinguish it from the special caucuses of the electoral wire-pullers.?
1 F. W. Dallinger, Nomination for Elective Office in the United States, N.Y., 1897, p. 23.
2 In Massachusetts we come across the same name with a still more sonorous epithet—"grand" - applied even to free popular representative assemblies. See Proceedings of the Grand Caucus, composed of Delegates from the several towns in the county of N. Assembled ... February 9, 1809, Pro Bono Publico; and to examine into the present state of the Union whether the people of New England are ripe for rebellion, and whether means
While becoming customary with the parties, the conventions of delegates did not at once supply them with a fixed groove in their extra-constitutional existence, for as yet they had no permanent organization themselves. In fact, they were called into being in each particular case by the private initiative of a caucus, of a coterie of politicians who chose to issue summonses, or of a public town meeting which invited its neighbours to send delegates to a common rendezvous. The extra-constitutional organization of the American parties started by taking up its abode in a borrowed sphere, belonging to the constitutional structure in the State Legislatures and then the Congress of the United States.1
For the elective offices bestowed in each State by the whole body of its voters, such as the posts of Governor and Lieutenant-Governor or the functions of presidential electors, the necessity of a preliminary understanding as to the candidates was still greater than for the smaller territorial units, and it could only be suitably effected in a single meeting for the whole State. But to organize such general meetings of representatives of all the localities in a regular way was by no means easy in ordinary times, both on account of the means of communication in those days, which made a journey to the capital of the State a formidable and almost hazardous undertaking, and of the difficulty of finding men of leisure willing to leave their homes for the discharge of a temporary duty. However, men enjoying the confidence of the voters of the State were already assembled in the capital in pursuance of their functions of members of the Legislature. Were they are to be used to prevent their resistance to measures of government. Printed Mass. 1809. This pamphlet is also curious from another point of view, as showing the incredible amount of hatred which partisans contrived to excite in the popular mind against the Federalists.
1 It is needless to recall the main outline of the constitutional fabric of the American republic, the federalized form of which has led to the creation, in each of the States of the Union, of an independent legislative and executive power, of a legislature and a State Governor chosen by the people, while the Union has been provided with a special legislative body, the Congress of the United States, composed of a House of Representatives elected by the citizens of the States, on the basis of population, and of a Senate in which each State, whatever its population, is represented by two members chosen by the legislature of the State. At the head of the executive power of the Union are the President and the Vice-President, elected in the second instance by persons chosen for this purpose, in the present day, in all the States by the people.
not in the best position for bringing before their constituents the names of the candidates who could command the most votes in the State? This reflection occurred to the public, and in particular to the members of the State Legislatures themselves, and they laid hands on the nomination of the candidates to the State offices. The members of both Houses belonging to the same party met semi-officially, generally in the legislative building itself, made their selections and communicated them to the voters by means of a proclamation, which they signed individually. Sometimes other signatures of wellknown citizens who happened to be in the capital at that moment were added, to give more weight to the recommendation of the legislators. To make it more sure of prevailing, the latter soon adopted the system of corresponding committees, which devoted their energies throughout the State to the success of the list.
This practice of recommending candidates for the State, which rapidly became general in the whole Union, began very early. The first instance of it is found in the State of Rhode Island in 1790, when the Governor and the LieutenantGovernor were recommended in this way. In the same year the rival parties nominated in a similar manner their candidates to the post of Governor in Pennsylvania, in joint meetings of the members of parties in the Legislature and the constitutional convention, which was convoked at that time to give a new Constitution to the State. In 1793 we find the members of the Legislature making the nomination of the Governor by themselves.” In 1795 the State of New York adopts this method to propose John Jay as Governor. After 1796 it appears as a settled practice in all the States. And in this way is introduced, for the first time, a permanent party organization, nestling under the wing of the Legislatures and composed of their very elements. It rises above the more or less fortuitous town and county meetings, in which choice is made, either directly or in the second instance, of candidates
1 The Development of the Nominating Convention in Rhode Island, by Neil Andrews, Jr., Publications of the Rhode Island Historical Society, Vol. I, Providence, 1893.
2 J. S. Walton, Nominating Conventions in Pennsylvania.
3 J. G. Hammond, The History of Political Parties in the State of New York, Albany, 1842, Vol. I, p. 90.
for local elective offices, and in this respect it presents a somewhat striking analogy with the incipient organization of the revolutionary epoch, in which side by side with the corresponding committees of towns formed by the people, on the model of Boston, there were established in the various colonies, on the more aristocratic plan of Virginia, corresponding committees appointed by the colonial assembly. The semi-official control of the selection of candidates for the higher offices assumed by the members of the State Legislatures, was undoubtedly also tainted with "aristocratism," but the electoral body acquiesced in it with a fairly good grace. The Legislature, after all, represented the most important elements of that body; it had a plentiful share of the men of the old "ruling class” who were still regarded as the natural leaders of society, and by the side of them an ever-growing proportion of young politicians thrown up by the democratic leaven which was continuously agitating the country. The action of these men seemed to offer more guarantees for a satisfactory choice and to present more respectability than the mass-meetings, or, as some thought, mob-meetings, in which candidates were selected for the other offices. The private character of the semi-official meetings in question held by the members of Legislatures got them the nickname of Caucus, by analogy with the secret gatherings of the Caucus started at Boston before the Revolution. The name of “legislative caucus” became their formal title in all the States. Besides the candidates for the offices of Governor and Lieutenant-Governor, i.e. the heads of the executive power of the State, the legislative caucus also nominated the Electors, in cases where they were appointed by the people, the members of the electoral college which chose the heads of the executive power of the Union. But the nomination of candidates for the functions of Electors soon lost its importance, for in the meanwhile there had arisen within the Federal Congress a Caucus which, like the legislative caucuses of the States, took in hand the nomination of
1 The federal Constitution, in entrusting the election of the President and the Vice-President to a college of Electors chosen in the States in number equal to that of their representatives in Congress, has left the mode of selection of the Electors to be settled by the States. In several of them the Legislatures assumed the right to appoint the Electors in legislative session, while in other States they gave it to the people.
candidates for the Presidency and the Vice-Presidency and entered on a course in which the power conferred on the Electors was destined to disappear.
In the first two presidential elections the choice of the candidates took place of itself, so to speak: Washington was marked out on all sides for the chief magistracy of the new republic; he was elected and re-elected by acclamation to the Presidency, and with him John Adams to the Vice-Presidency. But after Washington's imminent retirement, in 1796, the struggle began. About the anti-Federalist candidate there were no differences of opinion; he was, of course, Thomas Jefferson, while on the Federalist side there was not the same unanimity in favour of John Adams, whose occupancy of the dignity of Vice-President for eight years, by the side of Washington, pointed him out as the latter's successor. In spite of some intrigues against him within the ranks of the Federalists, he was nevertheless elected. But the antipathy with which he inspired several Federalist leaders, and especially Hamilton, broke out with renewed vigour at the approach of the election of 1800. The want of unanimity in the Federalist camp was aggravated by the confusion caused by the death of Washington, whose great prestige alone still shielded the Federalist party, which was daily losing ground in the country although it had a majority in Congress. The imminent danger of the success of Jefferson and of the triumph of radicalism in the government appeared to the Federalists of the Congress to demand their intervention in the presidential election, from which the Constitution had carefully banished them. For some time past the Federalist members of Congress, and the Senators in the first place, had been in the habit of holding semi-official meetings, to which the familiar name of caucus was applied, to settle their line of conduct beforehand on the most important questions coming before Congress. The decisions arrived at by the majority of the members present were considered as in honour
1 The Constitution prohibits the appointment of members of Congress and office-holders of the United States as Electors, in order to protect the executive from the influence of the Legislature and generally to ensure its independence.