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The Senate and American Federalism Revisited: The Doctrine of Instruction before the Civil War Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference.

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Presentation on theme: "The Senate and American Federalism Revisited: The Doctrine of Instruction before the Civil War Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Senate and American Federalism Revisited: The Doctrine of Instruction before the Civil War Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference 2014 John Girdwood Jeff Grynaviski

2 Theory Gamm and Shepsle (1989) offer two theoretical approaches to the study of institutions' emergence and development: 1.From rational choice: human agency; especially thoughtful, purposeful action, plays in institutional development (the prism of one’s goals); 2.The environment in which institutions develop, especially macro-historical forces. 3 rd factor is ideological commitment to institutions: doctrine of instruction.

3 Literature Review Riker – The Right to Instruct / Recall in Articles – Convention rejected instruction (Circumstances) – 1 st Congress kept Instruction from 1 st Amendment Senate Rejected ROI: vote 2 to 14 (September 3, 1789). Tucker’s Amendment failed in House. – Instructions seemingly rare (20) – Concentrated in the 1830s – Predominantly originated in southern states. – Conclusion: Resolutions of Instruction were irrelevant b/c master-servant relationship absent.

4 Protecting the Republic: 1787 Madison keeps Instruction out, so Senate can debate openly, yet Instruction continues “Suppose they, the people, instruct a representative by his vote to violate the Constitution; is he at liberty to obey such instructions? Suppose he is instructed to patronize certain measures, and from circumstances known to him, but not to his constituents, he is convinced that they will endanger the public good; is he obliged to sacrifice his own judgment to them? Is he absolutely bound to perform what he is instructed to do? Suppose he refuses; will his vote be the less valid, or the community be disengaged from that obedience which is due, from the laws of the Union?

5 Overview Republican Ideology – Machiavelli (McCormick 2001; Maloy 2011) – The Right to Instruct Our focus: Resolutions of Instruction from State Legislatures to Senators Our focus: Our claim: Resolutions would only be common if they serve a purpose Purpose of paper: There was a republican duty of instructing delegates and protecting the Republic

6 Protecting the Republic: : Virginia “Resolution of Instruction” Resolutions Interposition Madison: “To procure a repeal of the acts of Congress commonly called the alien and sedition-acts… doth unequivocably [sic] express a firm resolution to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States…” Belief in instruction as a consequence of republicanism (expressing), even if not provided for in Constitution.

7 Research Design Search for evidence of Instruction activity as proof of commitment to the practice – Search of Senate Journal (n. 2,071) – keywords in the Senate Journal included: “resolution,” “instruct,” “request,” senator,” “legislature,” “assembly,” “senate and house,” “delegate,” and “council.” – Searched for these keywords session by session from the 1 st Congress through the 36th Congress – Not all resolutions use instruct or request, for instance. Search for emergence of Standing Committees Is there a “supply and demand” for reports of instruction?

8 Hypothesis Hypothesis 1. Resolutions of Instruction were commonly issued throughout the antebellum period. Hypothesis 2. Resolutions of Instruction concerned matters of both national and state concern. Hypothesis 3. Resolutions of Instruction were issued by state governments nationwide.

9 On Motion: To Committee! January 10, 1810 The ROI: Mr. Meigs presented the resolution of the Legislature of the state of Ohio, instructing their representation in Congress to use their endeavors to procure an extension of the time of payments for public lands in certain cases; which was read. The end: Whereupon, Mr. Meigs submitted the following motion for consideration: Resolved, That a committee be appointed to inquire into the expediency of extending by law the times of payment for public lands in certain cases. The Point: This ROI didn’t only show that a Senator could motion for a committee to move the ROI forward, but that the Senator could instruct the committee

10 To Select Committee! December 10, 1816 The ROI: Mr. Varnum communicated the instructions of the Legislature of the commonwealth of Massachusetts to their Senators in Congress … repeal of the act passed the nineteenth day of March last, changing the mode, and increasing the compensation of members of Congress ; which were read… The end: The resolution to amend the Constitution of the United States, relative to the compensation of members of Congress, was read a second time. On motion by Mr. Roberts, Resolved, That it be referred to a select committee, to consist of five members, to consider and report thereon. Ordered, That Mr. Barbour, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Daggett, Mr. Mason, of N. H. and Mr. Brown, be the committee. The Point: The former ROI demonstrates the process of an ROI being introduced, and on motion, being referred to a select committee, and on Order, the members of the committee. The ROI causes a new committee to be created, by five members, and the members are named in that very instant.

11 To Standing Committee! The ROI: On an amendment on presidential and legislative elections (January 19, 1817), “The President communicated a memorial of the legislature of the Mississippi Territory… and the memorial was read.” The end: On motion by Mr. Tait, Ordered, That it be referred to the committee on the Judiciary, to consider and report thereon by bill or otherwise. The point: ROIs were an important part of committee formation, because committees were directly assigned as a response to an ROI.

12 The Lower Sandusky Impasse February 6, 1817 The ROI: Mr. Ruggles offered instructions from the legislature of the State of Ohio to the Senators…the preemption right to such part or portion of said reservation as will secure to said inhabitants their improvements… and moved that they be received and read: And It was determined in the negative. The end: Whereupon, Mr. Wilson submitted the following motion for consideration: Resolved, That the Senate deem it inexpedient that instructions from a State legislature to the Senators from such State, should be received and filed in the Senate. On motion by Mr. Daggett, Ordered, That the committee appointed to inquire into the expediency of repealing or modifying the law entitled, "An act to change the mode of compensation to the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, and delegates from Territories," be discharged from the further consideration thereof.

13 Onward! Sandusky Impasse was not an impediment to ROI equilibrium. The majority continued ROI. On March 3, 1818, we see: The ROI: Mr. Williams, of Mississippi, communicated a resolution of the legislature of the state of Mississippi, requesting… procure the extinguishment of Indian title… resolution was read. It ends: Ordered, That Mr. Talbot, Mr. King, Mr. Morrow, Mr. Campbell, and Mr. Macon, be the committee. On motion by Mr. Williams, of Mississippi, Ordered, That the resolution of the legislature of the state of Mississippi, this day communicated to the Senate, be referred to the same committee, to consider and report thereon.

14 Brief History: After 1828 Under Andrew Jackson, “The doctrine of legislative instruction developed virtually into a form of recall of senators, anticipating the Progressive Movement for the recall in the early twentieth century” (Eaton 1952, 317). Right of Instruction gave Jackson “an incentive to intervene in state politics and by using the patronage to secure the removal of his opponents in the Senate. Leigh realized that it would be expedient for him to resign since most Virginians believed in the right of instruction” (Eaton 1952, 315, italics ours). Riker’s Centralizing Focus versus commitment to republicanism

15 20 Versus 2,072 We find 2,072 Resolutions of Instruction. ROIs: 926 deal with National Issues 14 address State and National Issues 1,128 address Parochial / State issues Incomplete List

16 Table 1

17 Jackson’s Presidency

18

19

20

21

22

23 Does the Research Suggest? 1.Petitions were and are an institutional bulwark of republican government and prevalent. 2.Circa 1800, the civil list at virtually all levels of government was vanishingly small and inter- governmental relationships weak and ROIs solved the two former points and were consequential. All Hypothesis Affirmed (no significance attainable yet)

24 Conclusion Instructions were a familiar element of Senate proceedings in the years between the War of 1812 and the American Civil War. The evidence suggests that a commitment to republicanism was a determinant of institutional development. Resolutions of Instructions played an important role in the development of federalism.

25 Conclusion To what degree was Madison at the center of institutionalizing republican thought? – Instruction in 1787 – Interposition in 1798 To what degree was Jackson at the center of institutionalizing republican thought? To what degree did the republican practice of Instruction expand until the Civil War?

26 Resolutions of Instruction (ROI) National Senator Resolution of Instruction READ to Senate… People in Convention State Legislature


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