The First Federal Congress Project
Documentary History of the First Federal Congress
Privately owned; microfilm copy in Hayes Collection, Southern Historical Manuscripts, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

James Madison to Samuel Johnston (excerpt)

 21 June 1789 
Among other difficulties, the exposition of the Constitution is frequently a copious source, and must continue so until its meaning on all great points shall have been settled by precedents. The greatest part of the week past has been consumed in deciding a question as to the power of removal from offices held during pleasure. Four constructive doctrines have been maintained. 1. that the power is subject to the disposal of the Legislature— 2. that no removal can take place otherwise than by impeachment— 3 that the power is incident to that of appointment, and therefore belongs to the President & Senate— 4. that the Executive power being generally vested in the President every power of an Executive nature, not expressly excepted is to be referred thither, and consequently the power of removal, the power of appointment only being taken away.
In support of each of these constructions the argumenta ab inconvenientibus have been elaborately dealt out against the others. The decision in a Committee of the whole on the office of Foreign affairs has adopted the 4th. opinion, as most consonant to the frame of the Constitution, to the policy of mixing the Legislative & Executive powers as little as possible, and to the responsibility necessary in the head of the Executive Department.

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 XML version based on unpublished letters.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.