James Madison Papers

James Madison to Charles Francis Adams, 12 October 1835

Montpellier Oct. 12. 1835.

Dear Sir


I have received your letter of Sepr. 30th. with a copy of "An Appeal from the new to the Old Whigs." The Pamphlet contains very able and interesting views of its subject.

The claims for the Senate of a share in the removal from Office; and for the legislature an authority to regulate its tenure, have had powerful advocates. I must still think however, that the text of the constitution is best interpreted by reference to the tripartite theory of Government; to which practice has conformed, and which so long and uniform a practice would seem to have established.

The face of the constitution and the journalized proceedings of the Convention, strongly indicate a partiality to that theory, then at its zenith of favor among the most distinguished comentators on the organizations of political power.

The right of suffrage, the rule of apportioning representation, and the mode of appointing to and removing from Office, are fundamentals in a free Government; and ought to be fixed by the Constitution; if alterable by the Legislature, the Government might become the creator of the Constitution, of which it is itself but the creature: and if the large states could be reconciled to an augmentation of power in the Senate, constructed and endowed, as that branch of the Government is, a veto on removals from Office would at all times be worse than inconvenient in its operation; and in party times might, by throwing the Executive machinery out of gear, produce a calamitous interregnum.

In making these remarks, I am not unaware that in a country wide and expanding as ours is, and in the anxiety to convey information to the door of every citizen, an unforseen multiplication of offices, may add a weight to the executive scale disturbing the Equilibrium of the Govt. I should therefore see with pleasure a guard against the evil by whatever regulations having that effect, may be within the scope of legislative power; or if necessary, even by an amendment to the Constitution when a lucid interval of party excitement, shall invite the experiment.

With thanks for your friendly communication; and for the interest you express in my health which is much broken by chronic complaints, added to my great age I pray you to accept the assurance of my respect and good wishes.

James Madison

RC and copy (MHi: Adams Papers); FC (DLC).

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