No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time…….no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office. – Article 1 Section 6
After their experience in the American revolution and years of watching Kings buy their way to policy, the Framers believed that a simple and even elegant solution was to simply ban the ability of a single person to hold Office both civilly and in the government. Makes sense, right?
So how did we get to the place where the Article is routinely “ignored” and senators become Secretaries?
Over the course of the Convention, Luther Martin (Maryland) had been a petulant opponent of the plan and an irritant to pretty much everybody there – even those who agreed with him. Now that his State, Maryland, is taking up ratification, he will continue to adamantly and vociferously oppose the Constitution. He is the very embodiment of the Anti-Federalists.
Pretty much nobody will listen to his ranting, and Maryland will easily vote to ratify.
It’s what happens after that is so fascinating to me. Because of our own historical myopia, we tend to only see the good and heroic sides of the Framers and Founders. We don’t relate to them as people just like us, facing difficulties and crises. Consequently we don’t learn from their example of how to deal with and even overcome those difficulties.
The rest of Luther Martins’ life will be spent in various pursuits as a lawyer – including defending Aaron Burr against charges of treason – and in the bottle. But by 1807, he will be called, “The Federalist Bulldog,” by no less than Thomas Jefferson. What drives a man who is virulently anti-Federalist to change his mind? Was it the ultimate “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?” Or did Luther Martin discover something about human nature in his later years?
The first State conventions in Pennsylvania and Delaware are called to debate the proposed Constitution. While Pennsylvania will actually debate, and question the wisdom of proceeding sans Bill of Rights, Delaware’s internal issues and her external debates with the other States, have put her in a unique position. Of the thirty delegates who will be elected to her Convention, all thirty will favor ratification, even those men from Sussex County, which polls show is adamantly against ratification.
For years, Delaware had led the fight for equal representation. Both in the Congress under the Articles of Confederation, and in the new Senate. And it is at Delaware’s insistence and with her support that the proposed Constitution offers that equal representation in the new Senate.
Internally, Delaware is racked by violence and constant bickering between the the Whigs and the Tories, but unlike her neighbor, Pennsylvania, both of Delaware’s political movements want the Constitution ratified. It’s more an argument of who will get credit for it, than it is whether or not they should ratify the Constitution.
As Pennsylvania hesitates, Delaware ratifies the Constitution and become “The First State” of the new Federal Republic.