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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1

This note contained in document ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0001-0016
1. On 5 December 1823 George McDuffie, a Calhounite, had asked for the appointment of a special committee to consider amending the Constitution. The plan, presented on 22 December, proposed that: (1) each state should be divided into as many districts as would equal the number of Representatives to which the state was entitled, and each district would choose one elector to vote for the President and the Vice President, and that the electors thus appointed in each state would choose the two additional electors to which the state was entitled; (2) if no candidate won a majority on the first ballot, the electors should meet immediately in their respective states and vote for one of the two persons having the highest number of votes; (3) only in the unusual event that no candidate was then able to obtain a majority of votes (McDuffie explained in a supporting speech) would Congress, voting as one body with one vote for each member, choose a President.
Calhoun’s political prospects inspired McDuffie’s amendments. Calhoun’s friends knew that he was not likely to receive the votes of the large states (committed that year to JQA or to Crawford) or of a caucus (dominated by Crawfordites that session), so they planned for the future. The votes of the people, unobstructed by political mechanisms, could elect Calhoun, they hoped. Although discussed in Congress until 1827, the proposed amendment was never approved. See Annals of Congress, 18 Cong., 1 sess., p. 801, 1067–1082; U.S., House of Representatives, Report [of the Select Committee on Amending the Constitution], 18 Cong., 1 sess., Vol. I, No. 8; Herbert V. Ames, The Proposed Amendments to the Constitution of the United States (Amer. Hist. Assoc., Annual Report for 1896, Vol. II), p. 84, 89, 108, 338, 340, 342, which, however, does not accurately report McDuffie’s intentions as outlined in his speech of 16 Jan. 1824; and Bemis, JQA, 2:11–30.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.