Article II – The Executive Branch

This Article establishes the Executive branch which includes the President and Vice President. There is much misinformation and confusion about this Branch of our government and the powers it has as established by the Constitution, NOT taken by the occupants of those offices.

Section 1

 [1] The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows.

 

[2] Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

 

[3] The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State have one Vote; a quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice-President.

 

[4] The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

This is one of the most important areas of this Article since it establishes how the President and Vice-President are elected.

I know it will come as a shock to most, if not all reading this, to find out the Founders did not intend for those persons to be elected by popular vote. They were to be elected by “electors” that were chosen by the method established by each State's legislature in the manner they deemed fit.

How can that be you say? The Founders in their wisdom and understanding of human nature establish this process to protect both the State control of the federal government AND to protect the highest offices in the land from being usurped by foreign powers. Let's look at how they meant to do that.

First, they understood that most average people are not involved in politics and government. We see that very vividly today. You are finding out how little is known about the Constitution while you are reading this book. Think of how little others know who are NOT reading this or something similar.

John Jay in Federalist 64, third and fourth paragraphs says:

“...This mode has, in such cases, vastly the advantage of elections by the people in their collective capacity, where the activity of party zeal, taking the advantage of the supineness, the ignorance, and the hopes and fears of the unwary and interested, often places men in office by the votes of a small proportion of the electors.

 

As the select assemblies for choosing the President, as well as the State legislatures who appoint the senators, will in general be composed of the most enlightened and respectable citizens, there is reason to presume that their attention and their votes will be directed to those men only who have become the most distinguished by their abilities and virtue, and in whom the people perceive just grounds for confidence. The Constitution manifests very particular attention to this object. By excluding men under thirty-five from the first office, and those under thirty from the second, it confines the electors to men of whom the people have had time to form a judgment, and with respect to whom they will not be liable to be deceived by those brilliant appearances of genius and patriotism, which, like transient meteors, sometimes mislead as well as dazzle. If the observation be well founded, that wise kings will always be served by able ministers, it is fair to argue, that as an assembly of select electors possess, in a greater degree than kings, the means of extensive and accurate information relative to men and characters, so will their appointments bear at least equal marks of discretion and discernment. The inference which naturally results from these considerations is this, that the President and senators so chosen will always be of the number of those who best understand our national interests, whether considered in relation to the several States or to foreign nations, who are best able to promote those interests, and whose reputation for integrity inspires and merits confidence. With such men the power of making treaties may be safely lodged...”

It is very evident from Jay's statements that he and other Founders understood that the average person is easily mislead, “dazzled”, by small groups seeking to gain power for their own purposes. We see this very evident in the election process we have allowed to be put in place. Through our ignorance we have allowed the election process to be subverted from the intentions of the Founders and we are now suffering the consequences they told us would happen.

Hamilton shows in Federalist 68, paragraph five, another reason they established this form of electing the President and Vice President. It was a form of protection:

“… the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? … “

With informed “electors” electing the persons for those offices, the Country was better protected from allowing foreign powers to gain access to or government offices and thereby gaining power over us. Again we see this in our government today and how there is much discussion about foreign powers having members at some of the highest positions in our government. This would not be possible or at least greatly minimized if we had continued to follow what the Founders originally established.

Ignorance is curable with knowledge. Armed with this knowledge alone we could make a significant impact on the unconstitutional powers the federal government now claims if we merely reverted to using the election process the Founders originally established for us.

To even better understand why they established this process, let's look at what form of national government they intended to establish?

The “federal” government was their intent. This is in reference to the “federation” of the independent and sovereign States that made up the alliance. This government was given authority over the States ONLY in specifically “delegated” areas. Those areas are national defense, international commerce and relations, and domestically, the creation of an uniform commercial system of weights & measures, patents and copyrights, a monetary system based on gold and silver, bankruptcy laws, and mail delivery.

Those areas are the “enumerated” powers of the federal government. Everything else is reserved to the States or We the People.

The purpose of all this was to ensure the the States and ultimately We the People would maintain control of the national government.

James Madison, considered the Father of the Constitution, states in Federalist 45 paragraph seven, what their intent was in setting things up in this manner:

“...The State governments may be regarded as constituent and essential parts of the federal government …Without the intervention of the State legislatures, the President of the United States cannot be elected at all. They must in all cases have a great share in his appointment, and will, perhaps, in most cases, of themselves determine it. The Senate will be elected absolutely and exclusively by the State legislatures. …Thus, each of the principal branches of the federal government will owe its existence more or less to the favor of the State governments, and must consequently feel a dependence, which is much more likely to beget a disposition too obsequious than too overbearing towards them…”

It's very evident the Founders intended the national government to be subordinate to the States. They knew and realized that if that were not the case, it would eventually lead to an out of control national government that would become overbearing to the States and We the People. This is exactly what we see today in our national government.

So we can see from this section how severely we have strayed from what the Founders originally intended for us. We will continue to see this pattern throughout the rest of the book.

Here are a couple of other points of interest pertaining to the election process.

The 12th Amendment established the procedures for voting by Electors. This is what is referred to today as the electoral college. It still exists today but the true process as it is designed is ignored. The electoral college ALONE elects the President and Vice President. There is no mention of a popular vote. The popular vote defeats the purpose intended by the Founders which was to vest that power in the States. The office of president is now up for sale to the highest bidder instead of being controlled by the individual States.

As was mentioned in the section pertaining to the Legislative Branch, the 17th Amendment took the election of Senators away from the States and now we see that the popular vote also takes away the election of the President and Vice President away from the States. This effectively has made the States powerless to control the national government. This is definitely against the intent of the Founders and gives the national government power that is is not given in the Constitution.

We need to repeal the 17th Amendment pertaining to the election of Senators and follow the 12th Amendment as written to return power where it should be, with the States and We the People and NOT the national government.

[5] No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

There is much discussion about this clause but if you look at the Websters 1828 for the meaning of the words used by the Founders you can easily understand what they meant.

Natural: Native; vernacular; as ones natural language

Born: To be born, is to be produced or brought into life

Citizen: In general sense, a native or permanent resident in a city or country

These three words also bring some other words into play to fully understand the Founders meaning. In particular the word native. Let's look at the definition of native.

Native: Conferred by birth; as native rights and privileges; Pertaining to the place of birth; as native soil; native country; native graves; as a noun, One born in any place is said to be a native of that place, whether country, city or town

So, with those definitions it is very apparent what was meant by the term “natural born citizen.” It meant natural (native, pertaining to the place of birth) born (brought into life) citizen (native or permanent resident.

That covers the actual definitions, now let's look at where the Founders got their understanding of what it meant to be a “natural born citizen”.

It is evident from multiple sources that the book The Law of Nations by Emer Vattel was used as a reference by the Founders in the writing of the Constitution.

Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to Charles Dumas in reference to Dumas' gift of three copies of Vattel's book. In the letter of December 9, 1775, Franklin says:

“… I am much obliged by the kind present you have made us of your edition of Vattel. It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising state make it necessary frequently to consult the law of nations. Accordingly that copy, which I kept, (after depositing one in our own public library here, and sending the other to the College of Massachusetts Bay, as you directed,) has been continually in the hands of the members of our Congress, now sitting, who are much pleased with your notes and preface, and have entertained a high and just esteem for their author…”

So as you see from this, Franklin knew the importance of getting this book into the hands of the writers of the Constitution.

Later in 1916, George Maurice Abbott wrote “A Short History of the Library Company of Philadelphia”. In the introduction, Albert de Lapradelle wrote of Vattel and the influence his book had on the Founders:

““In the United States, a Nation still more enamored of liberty, its success was even greater. From 1758 to 1776, Grotius, Pufendorf, and Bulamaqui were read, studied, and commented upon in the English colonies of America, but Vattel, at that time, seems to have been unknown to them. In 1773, the Law of Nations was taught at King's College (now Columbia University). In 1774, Adams, and in 1775, Hamilton, quote or praise Grotius, Pufendorf, and Locke; neither mentions Vattel. But the War of Independence gave the United Colonies the new name of States. A hard task engaged the American people, who, by the study of the Law of Nature and Nations, were preparing themselves for a great work of independence. Anxious to build upon solid foundations, the statesmen turned to European publicists. Charles W. F. Dumas, a Swiss living in Holland, and an ardent republican, reread Vattel with the United States in mind, brought out a new edition with notes inspired by recent events, and sent three copies of it to Franklin. Vattel, replied Franklin, came at the right time:

It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising state make it necessary frequently to consult the law of nations.” (Franklin to Dumas, Dec 1775)

The fathers of independence soon felt they were in accord with the ideas of Vattel. They were pleased with him for praising “the moderation of the English Puritans, who first established themselves in New England,” after buying from the Indians the land they wished to occupy. Although their liberalism progressively extended to included religious freedom, much exceeded that of England, and, consequently, that of Vattel, they found in the Swiss writer all their maxims of political liberty...

 

From 1776 to 1783, the more the United States progressed, the greater became Vattel's influence. In 1780, his Law of Nations was a classic, a text book in the universities.””

So we see from that passage that the influence of Vattel was great upon the Founders. It shaped their ideas about what a Nation was and how to establish it.

To begin understanding what Vattel wrote you need first to understand that the people of America had been “subjects” of the British Crown. With the War for Independence, the American then became “citizens” of the United States. The concept of citizen is one presented by Vattel in sections 212-217 as follows:

Section 212: Citizens and natives

 

The citizens are the members of the civil society: bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. As the society cannot exist and perpetuate itself otherwise than by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights. The society is supposed to desire this, in consequence of what it owes to its own preservation; and it is presumed, as matter of course, that each citizen, on entering into society, reserves to his children the right of becoming members of it. The country of the fathers is therefore that of the children; and these become true citizens merely by their tacit consent. We shall soon see, whether, on their coming to the years of discretion, they may renounce their right, and what they owe to the society in which they were born. I say, that, in order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.

 

Section 213: Inhabitants

 

The inhabitants, as distinguished from citizens, are foreigners, who are permitted to settle and stay in the country. Bound to the society by their residence, they are subject to the laws of the state, while they reside in it; and they are obliged to defend it, because it grants them protection, though they do not participate in all the rights of citizens. They enjoy only the advantages which the law or custom gives them. The perpetual inhabitants are those who have received the right of perpetual residence. These are a kind of citizens of an inferior order, and are united to the society, without participating in all its advantages. Their children follow the condition of their fathers; and as the state has given to these the right of perpetual residence, their right passes to their posterity.

Section 214: Naturalisation

 

A nation, or the sovereign who represents it, may grant to a foreigner the quality of citizen, by admitting him into the body of the political society. This is called naturalisation. There are some states in which the sovereign cannot grant to a foreigner all the rights of citizens,—for example, that of holding public offices,—and where, consequently, he has the power of granting only an imperfect naturalisation. It is here a regulation of the fundamental law, which limits the power of the prince. In other states, as in England and Poland, the prince cannot naturalise a single person, without the concurrence of the nation represented by its deputies. Finally, there are states, as, for instance, England, where the single circumstance of being born in the country naturalises the children of a foreigner.

Section 215: Children of citizens, born in a foreign country

It is asked, whether the children born of citizens in a foreign country are citizens? The laws have decided this question in several countries, and their regulations must be followed. By the law of nature alone, children follow the condition of their fathers, and enter into all their rights (§212); the place of birth produces no change in this particular, and cannot of itself furnish any reason for taking from a child what nature has given him; I say “of itself,” for civil or political laws may, for particular reasons, ordain otherwise. But I suppose that the father has not entirely quitted his country in order to settle elsewhere. If he has fixed his abode in a foreign country, he is become a member of another society, at least as a perpetual inhabitant; and his children will be members of it also.

Section 216: Children born at sea

As to children born at sea, if they are born in those parts of it that are possessed by their nation, they are born in the country: if it is on the open sea, there is no reason to make a distinction between them and those who are born in the country; for, naturally, it is our extraction, not the place of our birth, that gives us rights: and if the children are born in a vessel belonging to the nation, they may be reputed born in its territories; for it is natural to consider the vessels of a nation as parts of its territory, especially when they sail upon a free sea, since the state retains its jurisdiction over those vessels. And as, according to the commonly received custom, this jurisdiction is preserved over the vessels, even in parts of the sea subject to a foreign dominion, all the children born in the vessels of a nation are considered as born in its territory. For the same reason, those born in a foreign vessel are reputed born in a foreign country, unless their birth took place in a port belonging to their own nation: for the port is more particularly a part of the territory; and the mother, though at that moment on board a foreign vessel, is not on that account out of the country. I suppose that she and her husband have not quitted their native country to settle elsewhere.

Section 217: Children born in the armies of the state, or in the house of its minister at a foreign court

For the same reasons also, children born out of the country in the armies of the state, or in the house of its minister at a foreign court, are reputed born in the country; for a citizen, who is absent with his family on the service of the state, but still dependent on it, and subject to its jurisdiction, cannot be considered as having quitted its territory.”

So as you read above, the Founders had a very definite knowledge of what “natural born citizen” meant. In short, it meant a child born to a father that was a citizen of the United States. That meant the father would have to be born here also to be able to pass that on to the child.

Here again is the clause from Clause 5:

No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;”

We just answered the first part of that clause very well but what about the second part? Doesn't it cover all other bases? No, it does not.

Consider this, prior to the Declaration of Independence and the War for Independence, there were no American citizens, they were British subjects. Therefore, NO ONE could have been a “natural born citizen”. So the Founders in their wisdom included this “grandfather” clause to allow the “new” citizens to serve as president. However, once the following generations of children grew to that age of thirty five required to be President, then the first part of that clause became applicable to them. They had to be “natural born citizens”.

To show the Founders intended this in the way I have stated, here is a quote from 1779 by David Ramsay, a historian, Founding Father, and member of the Continental Congress (the same Congress who used Vattel's book as a reference). He wrote this in his Dissertation on the Manner of Acquiring the Character and Privileges Of a Citizen of the United States:

“The citizenship of no man could be previous to the declaration of independence, and, as a natural right,belongs to none but those who have been born of citizens since the 4th of July, 1776.”

So based on the Founders own words and definitions of the words at the time, the term “natural born citizen” is extremely easy to understand and it is NOT the interpretation currently in use by most, especially those in politics.

[6] In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law, provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

This clause was changed through the 25th Amendment. We will discus amendments separately.

[7] The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

[8] Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: —“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The oath of office is something that is totally ignored today. As you have already seen, many areas of the Constitution and other Founding Documents are being twisted, misused, or just plain violated. If even a handful of the ones that take this oath made the choice to truly abide by it, the difference it would make would be astounding.

SECTION 2

[1] The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

[2] He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President makes the recommendations and the Senate approves or disapproves, PERIOD. No silly games. No tricks. If the Senate says NO it means NO. This is part of the checks and balances built into our government system.

[3] The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

We have seen in the current administration the attempt to bypass the Senate by twisting the meaning of this clause or in reality just ignoring it. It is straight forward and in plain language as is all of the Founding Documents. If the vacancies happen DURING a recess, the President has the power to fill the vacancy until the end of the next session. If the vacancy happens at any other time, it goes through the Senate as prescribed in the previous clause. Again, part of the checks and balances but allowing for the filling of vacancies during a period of recess.

 

SECTION 3

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

SECTION 4

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

There is much confusion about this clause so let's look again at the Founders words.

Hamilton says in Federalist 77, last paragraph:

“...The answer to this question has been anticipated in the investigation of its other characteristics, and is satisfactorily deducible from these circumstances; from the election of the President once in four years by persons immediately chosen by the people for that purpose; and from his being at all times liable to impeachment, trial, dismission from office, incapacity to serve in any other, and to forfeiture of life and estate by subsequent prosecution in the common course of law. But these precautions, great as they are, are not the only ones which the plan of the convention has provided in favor of the public security. In the only instances in which the abuse of the executive authority was materially to be feared, the Chief Magistrate of the United States would, by that plan, be subjected to the control of a branch of the legislative body. What more could be desired by an enlightened and reasonable people?”

Hamilton also dealt with the concept of impeachment of judges in Federalist 81:

“It may in the last place be observed that the supposed danger of judiciary encroachments on the legislative authority, which has been upon many occasions reiterated, is in reality a phantom. Particular misconstructions and contraventions of the will of the legislature may now and then happen; but they can never be so extensive as to amount to an inconvenience, or in any sensible degree to affect the order of the political system. This may be inferred with certainty, from the general nature of the judicial power, from the objects to which it relates, from the manner in which it is exercised, from its comparative weakness, and from its total incapacity to support its usurpations by force. And the inference is greatly fortified by the consideration of the important constitutional check which the power of instituting impeachments in one part of the legislative body, and of determining upon them in the other, would give to that body upon the members of the judicial department. This is alone a complete security. There never can be danger that the judges, by a series of deliberate usurpations on the authority of the legislature, would hazard the united resentment of the body intrusted with it, while this body was possessed of the means of punishing their presumption, by degrading them from their stations. While this ought to remove all apprehensions on the subject, it affords, at the same time, a cogent argument for constituting the Senate a court for the trial of impeachments.”

Modern thought seems to deal only with impeachment for treason and high crimes. We seem to forget that the word misdemeanor is also in the list. Websters 1828 defines misdemeanor as:

misdemeanor: Ill behavior; evil conduct; fault; mismanagement

That opens up a very large base of reasons to impeach a President or other impeachable official. It shows that again, the Founders wanted We the People to have total control over the federal government to the extent of removing officials on the grounds we decided were important to us, ill behavior, evil conduct, fault and mismanagement come in many forms.

Impeachment IS a useful and valid tool for maintaining control of the government. With Representatives and Senators abiding by their oaths, it becomes a tool that could easily clean house of many Constitution violating judges and Executive branch officials. The Founders knew this which is why they provided for it in the Constitution. They also intended for it to be used, otherwise, why even include it?