Article II, ConstitutionArticle. II.
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:
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.
╣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 having 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.
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.
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.
▓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.
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.
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 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 Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
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 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.
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.
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.
--- end Constitution, as ratified. Italicized footnoted portions amended, below ---
╣The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists 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 for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having 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. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. --]*
The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.
Passed by Congress December 9, 1803. Ratified June 15, 1804.
*Superseded by section 3 of the 20th amendment.
Section 3, AMENDMENT XX
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
Passed by Congress July 6, 1965. Ratified February 10, 1967.
As Amendments become a part of the Constitution, all the above NON-italicized is the current Constitution of the USA.
The issue of a Chief Executive Officer, i.e. a President ("presider over the federal government") of the United States was the most contentious and most argued - in correspondence, in pamphlets and newspapers, and in Congress - from the first Congress beginning in 1774 through the Convention in 1787.
It must be remembered that all the free white propertied men who were the "movers and shakers" and delegates to Congress since 1774 had lived their lives under governments where power was concentrated in single individuals - kings and queens, popes, sheriffs, prime ministers, priest ministers - and they were very aware that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely in the majority of cases unless checked by other powers.
They had attempted a democratic republic with the Articles of Confederation; (1) the landed gentry in each Colony appointed or elected two or more representatives to Congress; (2) each State had one vote, with all the major decisions of government required 9 of 13 States' agreement, and (3) minor decisions required only a "majority of the Congress assembled."
For the day-to-day required actions when Congress was not in session, (1) a Committee of the States was formed with one representative from each of the 13 States, whose members (2) elected from the 13 a President (presiding executive) for one year, with no individual being President for more than 1 out of 3 consecutive years.
It didn't work very well.
Once the Constitutional Convention met the arguments resumed in earnest as the new Constitution was being written - every convened day from June 1 through June 9, July 17 through August 7, 1787 - you can read them all by clicking up each day here:
They were argued, and voted upon, and reconsidered, and postponed, and voted upon again, and argued and sent to committees again and again. The final wordings were a plethora of compromises, plus seemingly a bit of sneakiness between Washington and Jay (see below re "native born").
One executive, or three, or a committee? Appointed by the federal Senate, or by the House? Or by the States' legislatures? Elected by the Senate, or by the House? Or the States? Or by Electors chosen in some way? Elected directly by the voters certified by each State? Or by voters certified by the federal government?
And what powers would the Executive solely have? As balanced by the Judiciary and Legislature? War and Peace? Commander in Chief or CEO?
I note that the latter powers - and the alleged abuses of them - are still political and polemical issues today.
And the issue of "native-born" or "natural-born" citizenship eligibility is still exciting some "birthers" as the 2012 election draws near.
The phrase first appears in official documents in the 1774 declaration of inalienable human and civil rights when establishing the first American Congress (previously posted in this Forum):
"...ancestors, who first settled these colonies, were at the time of their emigration from the mother country, entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities of free and natural-born subjects, within the realm of England. [and] by such emigration they by no means forfeited, surrendered, or lost any of those rights, but that they were, and their descendants now are, entitled to the exercise and enjoyment of all such of them."
The key words are "free" (not slaves), "subjects" (sworn allegience to Crown - and in many Colonies to the Church of England), and "natural-born" (not adopted as a device for citizenship, as had been practiced for centuries). The intent in 1774 was to affirm that all the free legitimate descendents of the settlers of the Colonies through the years were entitled to the "rights" they named.
When Hamilton proposed his scheme in June 1787 at the Constitutional Convention he used the words regarding the Presidency "now be a Citizen of one of the States, or hereafter be born a Citizen of the United States."
On July 25, 1787, John Jay (whose fellow gentleman had not deemed to send him as a delegate to the Convention!) lobbied George Washington via written correspondence, he strongly pleaded that Washington insure that the Commander-in-Chief of the Army be restricted to "native-born" citizens only in the Constitution being written.
Later in August as the Committee on Detail fine-tuned the wording, they simply made the presidential requirement "...a Citizen of the United States."
But mysteriously (sort of like in today's Conferences between House and Senate staffs when earmarks get added) when the final printing came from the final Committee the phrase "native-born" had appeared, and was approved in the final draft of the Convention.
John Jay still wasn't satisfied however, and exactly a year after his letter to Washington, on July 25, 1788 when Jay was a delegate to the Poughkeepsie Ratifying Convention he proposed - and got passed at that Convention - an amendment as a condition of ratification:
"That no Persons except natural born Citizens, or such as were Citizens on or before the fourth day of July one thousand seven hundred and seventy six, or such as held Commissions under the United States during the War, and have at any time since the fourth day of July one thousand seven hundred and seventy six become Citizens of one or other of the United States, and who shall be Freeholders, shall be eligible to the Places of President, Vice President, or Members of either House of the Congress of the United States".
Luckily, his amendment was later discarded by the State, and the Constitution ratified (but at least he got his "natural born" in it for President).
As the 2012 Primary season will de facto be over after today's Texas GOP event - and as it is highly possible that the next president will be elected by the Electors with the loser receiving more popular votes - it is a propitious time to review the reasons for the Electors and Congress electing POTUS and the VP in lieu of the popular vote, the failure of the Founders' initial plan, the growth of factions into political Parties, and the 20th century solution to the flaws in the system.
The best summary I'm aware of is here:
THE VIRTUAL INAUGURAL 2013