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When One Man Speaks Up

August 5, 2014

The convention was supposed to convene the second Monday in May, but it took until Friday May 25, 1787 for a quorum to assemble.  By August 31 the delegates still had not decided how the President of the United States would be selected.

When the matter was referred to the Committee on Postponed Parts, the leading idea was selection by the national legislature.  Then John Dickinson returned.  He had been absent due to illness, so the Committee had the minutes read to him.  When he heard the President was to be selected by the legislature, he spoke out:

“I observed that the powers which we had agreed to vest in the President were so many and so great that I did not think the people would be willing to deposit them with him unless they themselves would be more immediately concerned in his election.”

This comment changed the direction of the proceedings and eventually gave the United States a much different pool of chief executives than otherwise might have been.

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