Election of Executive – May 31

Mode of Appointing

On May 31 after the proposition of having a national legislature consisting of two branches was agreed to, the topic of discussion was the election of members to the House of Representatives. The debate centered around the novel idea that was contained in Resolution 4 of the Virginia Plan “that the members of the first branch of the National Legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several states”.

Although the election of the executive office was not discussed directly on this day there was a reference by James Madison to indirect elections in all but one national position—the House of Representatives.

Mr. Madison thought that in order to have a free government one house of the legislature ought to be elected by the people. If all departments of the government have indirect elections using electors “the people would be lost sight of altogether.” He was for “refining the popular appointments by successive filtrations,” but wanted the House of Representatives (but ONLY the House) represented by a direct vote. In this way the foundation of the nation would rest on the “foundation of the people themselves.”


– The debate begins