Front Page Titles (by Subject) CCCXVII.: Gouverneur Morris to W. H. Wells. 2 - The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. 3
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CCCXVII.: Gouverneur Morris to W. H. Wells. 2 - Max Farrand, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. 3 
The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911). Vol. 3.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Gouverneur Morris to W. H. Wells.2
Morrisania, February 24th, 1815.
The Constitution, I think, intended that certain offices should be held at the President’s pleasure. It is unquestionably an abuse to create a vacancy in the recess of the Senate, by turning a man out of office, and then filling it as a vacancy that has happened. . . . Shortly after the Convention met, there was a serious discussion on the importance of arranging a national system of sufficient strength to operate, in despite of State opposition, and yet not strong enough to break down State authority. I delivered on that occasion this short speech. ‘Mr President; if the rod of Aaron do not swallow the rods of the Magicians, the rods of the Magicians will swallow the rod of Aaron.’
You will ask, perhaps, how, under such impressions, I could be an advocate of the Federal Constitution. To this I answer, first, that I was warmly pressed by Hamilton to assist in writing the Federalist, which I declined. Secondly, that nothing human can be perfect. Thirdly, that the obstacles to a less imperfect system were insurmountable. Fourthly, that the Old Confederation was worse. And, fifthly, that there was no reason, at that time, to suppose our public morals would be so soon and so entirely corrupted. Mr. Mason, a delegate from Virginia, constantly inveighing against Aristocracy, labored to introduce Aristocratice provisions. Some of them might have been wholesome, but they would have been rejected by public feeling, in the form proposed, and if modified to render them acceptable, by detracting proportionately from executive authority, which was his plan, we should have risked less indeed from the whelming flood of Democracy, but we should have had a President unable to perform the duties of his office. Surrounded by difficulties, we did the best we could; leaving it with those who should come after us to take counsel from experience, and exercise prudently the power of amendment, which we had provided.
[2 ]Jared Sparks, Life of Gouverneur Morris, III, 338-339.