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Now as to the
. firirness of the constitutional
method. It has happened that the President
selected by the electors of the different States
received the support of the minority in the
popular vote, without going into a minute ac
count of this historically. The possibility of
its occurring may be illustrated clearly by tak
ing two States as examples. For instance, the
last Republican plurality in the popular vote
for President in Pennsylvania was 81,019. The
number of presidential votes thus secured was
thirty, that being all Pennsylvania is entitled to
have. In New York the same year the Demo
cratic majority, popular vote, was 1047, which
small majority secured to the Democratic party
the thirty-six electors to which New York is
entitled. Suppose now these had been the
only States concerned in the election, the De
mocratic party would have named the Presi
dent by a majority of six votes in the electoral
college, but the Republican majority in the two
States would have reached several thousands.
Our method does not, therefore, always elect
by a majority of the popular vote and is not
therefore, choosing a President by the great
est body of the people.
This could be further established by taking a
case of failure on the part of the electoral college
to choose a President, as in iBOO and 1824. It
then becomes the duty of the House of Represen
tatives to select the President, and the Constitution
gives to each State, however large, but one vote in
the balloting. Still other difficulties have been
encountered by our present method, such as the
counting of the votes by the President of the
Senate, but these would occupy too much space to
explain in a satisfactory manner.
From these defects, facts thus briefly noticed, we
see how far our present method is from being con
sistent with the true Democratic spirit of the times.
There are two political rights which should be
guaranteed to all under a Republican form of Gov
ernment They are the right every man has to
assist in establishing a government, if that has not
already been done, and after that to share in it by
voting for those who shall enact and execute the
THE FREE LANCE.
laws. The closer we come in our practice to this
idea the more fully will we secure a universal inte
rest in the government, and with it individual
responsibility for the common weal.
By our nominating conventions we are able to
modify to some extent the operation of the Con
stitution, this is due to two facts, first, the people
have a direct voice in selecting the delegates who
compose the convention, and second, it has be
come practically understood that the electors
chosen in November will cast their ballot for the
candidate of the party to which they belong.
Yet with all this effort to secure a verdict of the
popular will we fail, and it remains a fact that
our mode of choosing a President is the weakest
point in our plan of government.
There seems no excuse for its existence any lon
ger. It is condemned by the press at home irre
spective of party, and referred to by foreign critics
as a good illustration of the defects of a "theoret
ical paper constitution." We should secure a
constitutional amendment, and this at no distant
day The founders of our Republic framed the
Constitution "during the dark and, humiliating; days
of the Confederation." They were influenced by a
fear of centralized power on the one hand and by
a distrust of popular intelligence on the other.
They therefore adopted a method of choosing a
chief executive which would secure his election by
a select body of men. In this they followed both
English and European precedent and avoided the
danger of riots and tumults which they knew had
followed popular elections in the ancient republics
of Greece and Rome.
Their plan was probably the safest for the times
in which it was introduced, but we have advanced
many degrees during the century of our national
life just passed, and with our enlightened public
sentiment and the experience of so many years it
would certainly be safe now and in every way
more consistent with our Republican principles to
elect our President by a direct popular vote and
perhaps to extend his term of service from four
to six years.
Mr. H. V. Holmes of class '9l, delivered a
sound and elaborate speech to the Republicans
at Elk Run. Holmes is an energetic and live
worker in the interest of protection.