Thursday, April 05, 2007

April 5, 1792:

Washington Exercises the Veto for the First Time

The power of the veto is a cornerstone of the executive branch of the federal government. In fact, it would be fair to say that an executive without a veto -- such as the President of the United States of America in Congress Assembled, the Articles of Confederation "president" -- would hardly be an executive, just a kind of legislative clerk.

Washington's first term was nearly over when he exercised the very first veto on April 5, 1792. The entire text of his message to Congress is as follows:

"I have maturely considered the act passed by the two Houses entitled 'An act for an apportionment of Representatives among the several States according to the first enumeration,' and I return it to your House, wherein it originated, with the following objections:

"First. The Constitution has prescribed that Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, and there is no one proportion or divisor which, applied to the respective numbers of the States, will yield the number and allotment of Representatives proposed by the bill.

"Second. The Constitution has also provided that the number of Representatives shall not exceed 1 for every 30,000, which restriction is by the context and by fair and obvious construction to be applied to the separate and respective numbers of the States; and the bill has allotted to eight of the States more than 1 for every 30,000."

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