The First Federal Congress Project
Documentary History of the First Federal Congress

The Notes of John Adams

 16 July 1789  
Mr. Lee. The Danger to liberty greater from the disunited opinions and jarring Plans of many, than from the energetic operations of one, Marius, Sylla, Caesar, Cromwell trampled on Liberty with Armies.
The Power of Pardon— of adjourning the Legislature.
Power of Revision, Sufficient to defend himself. he would be Supported by the People.
Patronage. gives great Influence. The Interference more nominal than real.
The greater Part of Power of making Treaties in the President.
The greatest Power is in the President. the less in the Senate.
cannot see Responsibility, in the President or the great officers of State.
a masqued Battery of constructive Powers would compleat the destruction of Liberty.
Can the Executive lay Embargoes, establish Fairs, Tolls & c.?
The foederal Government is limited. the Legislative Power of it is limited, and therefore the Executive and judicial must be limited.
The Executive not punishable but by universal Convulsion, as Charles 1st.
The Legislative in England not so corrupt as the Executive.
There is no Responsibility, in the President, or Ministry.
Blackstone. the Liberties of England owing to Juries. The greatness of England owing to the genius of that People.
The Crown of England can do what it pleases, nearly.
There is no ballance in America, to such an Executive as that in England.
does the Executive Arm, mean a standing Army?
Willing to make a Law, that the President, if he sees gross misconduct may Suspend pro tempore.
Mr. Patterson.
laments that We are obliged to discuss this question. of great Importance and much difficulty.
The Executive co extensive with the Legislative. had the Clause Stood alone, would not there have been a devolution of all Executive Power? Exceptions are to be construed strictly. This is an invariable Rule.
Mr. Grayson
The President has not a continental Interest, but is a Citizen of a particular State. a King. of England. otherwise. King of England counteracted by a large powerful rich and hereditary aristocracy. Hyperion to a satyr.1 Whenever there are not intermediate Powers, an alteration of the Government must be to despotism.
Powers ought not to be inconsiderately given to the Executive, without proper ballances.
triennial and septenial Parliaments made by Corruption of the Executive.
Bowstring. General Lally. Brutus's Power to put his sons to death.2
The Power creating shall have that of uncreating. The Minister is to hold at Pleasure of the appointor.
if it is in the Constitution, why insert it, in the Law? brought in by a Sidewind, inferentially.
There will be every endeavour to increase the consolidatory Powers. to weaken the Senate, and Strengthen the President.
No Evil in the Senates participating with the President in Removal.
Mr. Reed.
President is to take care that the Laws be faithfully executed. he is responsible. how can he do his duty or be responsible, if he cannot remove his Instruments.
it is not an equal sharing of the Power of Appointment between the President & senate.
The Senate are only a check to prevent Impositions of the President.
The Minister an Agent a Deputy to the great Executive.
difficult to bring great Character to Punishment or Tryal.
Power of Suspension.
Mr. Johnson. Gentlemen convince themselves that it is best the President Should have the Power, and then Study for Arguments.
Exceptions.
Not a Grant. Vested in the President, would be void for Uncertainty. Executive Power is uncertain. Powers are moral, mechanical natural. which of these Powers. what Executive Power? The Land— The Money. conveys nothing. what Land? what Money.
Unumquoque dissolvitur, eodem modo, quo ligatur.3
meddles not with the question of Expediency.
The Executive wants Power, by its duration and its want of a Negative, & Power to ballance.
Foederalist.
Mr.Elsworth. What is the difference between a Grant and a Partition.
Mr. Izard. Cujus est instituere ejus abrogare.4
    1. In Greek mythology, Hyperion was one of the giants or Titans, while satyrs were woodland deities fond of revelry.
    2. Thomas-Arthur Comte de Lally (1702-66), French general in the Seven Years War, was beheaded by order of the Parlement de Paris for treason and cowardice. Lucius Junius Brutus, Roman consul of the sixth century B.C., who, according to legend, took part in the expulsion of the Tarquins and sentenced his own two sons to death for conspiring to restore them.
    3. Every obligation is dissolved by the same method with which it is created.
    4. Whose right it is to institute, his right it is to abrogate.

Recommended citation: Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, ed. Charlene Bickford, et al. (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2002). XML version based on the Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, ed. Charlene Bickford, et al. (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1988) Vol. 9, pp. 104-117; 134-135; 445-449; 465-467; 483-489. http://adh.sc.edu [Accessed (supply date here)]

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