The First Federal Congress Project
Documentary History of the First Federal Congress
ALS, Sol Feinstone Collection, American Philosophical Society, Phildelphia

Peter Muhlenberg to Benjamin Rush (excerpt)

 25 June 1789 
The Bills for establishing The Foreign— Treasury, & War Departments, have occasioned a considerable ferment in The House; The Clause Removable by The President, has been strongly oppos'd— & The Constitution has been variously Commented on, to support different opinions.
[lined out] The House seem to agree pretty generally That the Power of removing an unworthy Officer is vested by The Constitution somewhere, but where is The Question— The Legislature— The Judiciary— The President & Senate and The President solely, have each been contended for and each have found Their Advocates— A Considerable Majority of The House have determin'd that the Power of removal is vested solely in The President as The Chief Executive Magistrate But the Majority have again divided having founded Their Opinion on different principles. One part found Their Opinion on this principle— That as it is generally agreed, The Power of removal is vested somewhere and as The Constitution has not made an express declaration it becomes The duty of the Legislature to declare by Law where this power is Lodg'd, in order to prevent Confusion hereafter— The others found their Opinion on this principle That by a fair construction of the Constitution, The power of removal is vested in The President— That the Legislative & Executive Powers ought not to be blended, but should allways remain seperite in every free Country— That the Constitution vested certain Executive Powers in The Senate but that these were strictly defind, & that the residuary Powers were without doubt vested in The Supreme Executive Magistrate— That to make a declaration by Law would imply a doubt, & that nothing more was necessary than something of the Declaratory kind expressive of the sense of The House on the subject.
Last Evening Messrs. Buttler & Huger from So. Carolina rode out in a Chaise— The Horse took fright and run off with them— Buttler is much hurt, & poor Huger had his Leg broke, & Shattred in a dreadfull manner, so that his life is despaird of.
If you have not been furnished with a sett of The Journals of The House— I have one to spare.
Mr. Leonard a Representative from Massachusetts will probably set out for Philadelphia in a few days, I shall take the Liberty to introduce Him to Mr. Coxe & Yourself— Mr Boudinott this Moment moves for an Amendment to the Amendment which implies That the Constitution vests The President with The power of removal— This amendment, if adopted will probably reconcile the two Parties, who have voted on the same side, tho' on different Principles General Hiester will perhaps be able to inform you of The issue, should it be decided before He leaves the House— Mr. McClay has lately spoke to me relative to The Money due him by The Trustees of Franklin College— it seems Mr. Bingham has not yet paid it— & therefore Mr. McClay will look to Dr. Helmuth[?] to you & myself.

I am Dear Sir Your Most Obedt. servant

P. Muhlenberg
[P.S.]
P.S. Mr. Boudinotts Motion is withdrawn

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 unpublished letters. http://adh.sc.edu [Accessed (supply date here)]

Copyright 1999. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress Project. All rights reserved.