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The most influential delegate, Madison argued that “the people at large” were “the fittest” to choose the president. But “one difficulty . . . of a serious nature” made election by the people impossible. Madison noted that the “right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of the Negroes.” In order to guarantee that the nonvoting slaves could nevertheless influence the presidential election, Madison favored the creation of the electoral college.
Hugh Williamson of North Carolina was more open about the reasons for southern opposition to a popular election of the president. He noted that under a direct election of the president, Virginia would not be able to elect her leaders president because “[h]er slaves will have no suffrage.” The same of course would be true for the rest of the South.
None of the records we have indicate that the framers even discussed protecting the interests of small states when electing the President. As far as anyone can tell, that wasn’t a consideration.
Drawingwise, the fun part of this cartoon was drawing Madison’s outfit, which is pretty much one of the outfits worn in the musical Hamilton. At least to my eyes, Madison really did have a sharp pointy nose, although of course I’ve exaggerated it by a thousand. I could have drawn several delegates to be Madison’s straight man here, but I chose Rutledge because I wanted to draw his huge puff hairdo.
Thanks, as always, to my patrons; this is a slightly bizarre subject for a political cartoonist to take. The support I get from you folks is what allows me to take my own path, and I really appreciate it.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This panel has a big caption labeling the scene “1787.” Two white men in Colonial-style clothing are speaking; one of them, who is labeled “James Madison,” is smiling and holding up a sheet of paper. The other man, listening, is labeled “John Rutledge.”
MADISON: I’ve figured out how we will elect Presidents!
RUTLEDGE: What’s the plan, Mr. Madison?
Madison presses a hand to his chest, looking reverent. Rutledge cheerfully offers his idea.
MADISON: My Virginia is the largest state in the Union! And I want to protect Virginia’s interests.
RUTLEDGE: So we’ll have people vote directly for the president, to take advantage of Virginia’s large population?
Closer shot of Madison, who is angrily shooting Rutledge’s idea down.
MADISON: Are you on crack? 40% of Virginia is slaves. Salves can’t vote. Direct democracy would be a disaster for us!
A shot of Madison, spreading his arms and smiling as he explains.
MADISON: In my plan, we’ll have “electors” who vote based on the total population, including slaves! That’ll make Virginia the biggest, most powerful state!
Madison is still grinning, but his expression looks a bit evil now. He’s clutching one fist in the air.
MADISON: In fact, all the slave-owning states will get a boost! Which we’ll use to protect slavery! I call it “The Electoral College.”
A large caption says “TODAY.” The image shows a hand holding a smart phone; on the smart phone’s screen, a pundit-type white lady is talking directly to the camera.
PUNDIT: …and then James Madison created the Electoral College to protect small states!