« ForrigeFortsett »
By the temporary use of that hall, we shall enable the legislature to mature its business; and if after a trial we find that we can discharge our duties there with more case and comfort to ourselves, we can continue there until our labors shall be completed.
Mr. WILSON, of Natick. I should be perfectly willing, if it were possible, that my friend from Braintree (Mr. Stetson,) and all others should have all the benefits of inspiration which can be derived from this place; but sir, we must take things as they are. In my opinion the legislature will not adjourn until after the 20th day of this month-I have no doubt whatever upon that point. Now sir, we must decide the question whether we shall appoint committees to sit during the recess, and adjourn for two or three weeks, or whether we shall accept the report of this Committee and engage the Lowell Institute and hold our sessions there. I am in favor of the acceptance of the Report of the Committee, and I believe sir, that if we were to proceed to draw for seats here, and should then adjourn to the Lowell Institute, no vote could ever be obtained to return to this house. After an examination of that place, I have become fully convinced that it is much better adapted to the purpose of this Convention than this hall can be, where we are forced to have a portion of our members seated in the galleries.
How can we best accomplish the work before us? It is to be done by organizing our committees as speedily as possible, meeting at an early hour and attending to our business, and acting with all the vigor and energy which we can bring to bear, so that we may be enabled to close the term of this Convention at the earliest possible day. We are now assembled here in the first week of May; if we adjourn for two or three weeks, we shall be carried into the middle of the summer month, when many of the members of this Convention wish to be at home, to attend to their own private affairs. It is one of the most important seasons of the year with them. On this account I hope that the recommendation of the Committee, to meet in the Lowell Institute, will receive the concurrence of the Convention. We can then organize our committees, who can meet at once to attend to the performance of their duties, and leave the legislature an opportunity to attend to its own proper functions without any hindrance upon our part. I will add that I am informed by the Sergeant-at-Arms that we can have the use of the committee rooms here without interfering with the legislature; and I believe we shall have no trouble whatever in carrying out the arrangement which has been recommended by our Committee.
Mr. HALLETT, of Wilbraham. I desire to submit a few considerations to this Convention, if I can have the honor of their attention for a few moments, in reference to what may seem at its first aspect, rather an unimportant matter, but which, to my mind, appears to be worthy of some consideration in making our preliminary arrangements; I mean, whether the frame of government which we now propose to reorganize, shall be concocted in this hall, or in some other place. Now, sir, in the consideration of a subject of that nature, I must say that I believe there is a genius of place, as properly as that term can be applied to any human action. There is a genius of deliberative assembly, and there is a genius of popular
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assembly; and in which capacity are we assembled here? Are we a deliberative body or a popular assembly? We are here, clearly, as the representatives of the whole people—a committee; appointed by them to prepare a frame of government to be submitted to them. And, Mr. President, we are not to prepare it in their presence, and discuss it before the whole people, but we are to consider and arrange the matter as a deliberative body, and act upon it according to our best judgment. We are precisely in the same situation, in the transaction of our duties here, with a committee of the legislature, who retire to one of the committee-rooms to deliberate upon a subject-to hear any suggestions that may be made, to consider them, and then to recommend a certain course of action to the body of which they are members. That is the manner in which we are to act; we are not to engage in public debate before a public assembly, but we are to deliberate as a Convention, and make our report to the people. If I am correct in these premises, Mr. Presdent, the deduction is obvious; for, upon our decision of the question, whether we shall remain in this hall, or whether we shall meet in some one of the lecture rooms of this city, depends the question whether we shall continue to be a deliberative assembly, or whether we shall resolve ourselves into a general and public meeting. Sir, I can appeal to you, as having long experience in matters of this kind; and I wish we could hear from you a statement of what I know to be your own private views in relation to this question of place. I have no doubt you would be of my opinion, that this is the only hall in the city of Boston which is at all adapted for debate and discussion, while all the other halls are more especially adapted for the purpose of lecturing. In the construction of those halls, it is designed that some individual shall occupy a place similar to that which you occupy, Mr. President, and shall from thence address an audience; while the object in the construction of this hall is, that each member of a deliberative body shall have a seat where he can be seen, and from which he may address the body, so that he may be heard by the presiding officer as well as by every other member. It is found that in this hall there are superior facilities for hearing. While the legislature is in session, the most ordinary voice can be heard, not merely on any part of this floor, but also in the galleries. Our conveniences here are greatly superior to what we should have in any other place. While we do not unnecessarily exclude the public, there is just sufficient room for those who belong here, without the admission of such a crowd of spectators as to create confusion; and, sir, our present efficient Sergeant-at-Arms, who I trust will continue to officiate for us during our session, would be compelled to have a corps of police to preserve order on the floor of any other hall in this city. It is exceedingly unpleasant to exclude any citizens from an enjoyment of their right to come here and hear the debates and discussions which may take place; but we must take into consideration the good of the community at large. And
I will remark further, that there is a sense of propriety in relation to the deliberations in this hall, which would not be felt to so great an extent in any other place. No matter how exciting might have been the topic under discussion here, I have scarcely ever known an occasion upon which a call to order of the citizens present was required;
and even then, the disturbance was but momentary. There is a propriety of place which is never forgotten here, but which you cannot attach to any other hall in this city where persons are accustomed to resort to hear lectures. There is a certain freedom from restraint in such places, which gives them an air entirely distinct from the halls of legislation.
Then, ag in, Mr. President, with regard to committee rooms. What are we to do in relation to that matter? Are we to meet there and use the committee rooms of this house, or are we to have committee rooms there, and be subjected to the extreme inconvenience of being at a distance from the journals, public documents and records which we have occasion to use in our deliberations, and which are contained in our libraries here? Why, Mr. President, in leaving this hall, we should be leaving the only place where our duties could be transacted with comfort to ourselves, or with fidelity to our constituents. Allow me, also, to say one word, addressed more immediately to those gentlemen with whom I presume I shall act in this Convention, upon the subject of expense. This is a consideration well worthy of our attention, while engaged in forming a Constitution for the people. We know very well that the expenditures attendant upon this Convention have already required an increase of taxation; and now shall we make this an economical or an expensive Convention? Ought we not to make it as econimical as we can? But, sir, this resolution will add from $2,500 to $3,000 to the expense. Are gentlemen prepared to do that? We voted this morning an appropriation of books, in addition to the appropriation of yesterday for newspapers, for the use of members of the Convention. I think no man will suspect me of not being sufficiently liberal about such matters; but at the same time I want our liberality to produce appropriate results. Instead of appropriating this sum of money to change our location, I think it would be more profitably employed in obtaining an accurate report of our debates, or in some other useful mode. It seems to me that the item of expense alone should be sufficient to determine this question. But I will say a word with reference to health, personal accommodation and convenience, which are weighty considerations with some gentlemen. Where is it proposed that we shall go? We are asked to leave this elevated position where we have the finest and purest air in the city of Boston-to leave a room which is now so perfectly ventilated that it may be crowded to its utmost capacity without inconvenience to the health of members, and to go to a crowded portion of the city, where we shall be surrounded by hot rooms, and be annoyed by the odors arising from culinary operations, and other causes which I need not enumerate. Are we going to gain anything in point of health by such a change as this? I think not. I would much rather place myself in a position here as compact as might be necessary, than go to the hall which it is proposed to occupy. I will briefly allude to another item of economy, and that is, with regard to the time of the Convention. My friend from Natick (Mr. Wilson) suggests that we ought to be permitted to go on without any adjournment. Well, sir, I am as much disposed to go on as anybody, but we know that haste sometimes makes waste. The object which we should have in view is not so much haste as it is deliberation. We are convened for
the purpose of taking the whole frame of our Constitution down so that we may reconstruct it in a better manner. How can we do this to the best advantage? We must proceed in precisely the same manner that we should do if we were about to take the State House down and reconstruct it. If we should undertake that work, should we bring all the workmen here at the commencement, with their saws and hammers, to build the State House anew? Certainly not; but we should have our plans prepared; we should have a master workman, with his forces organized, so that everything might proceed in a systematic way, instead of all standing round and working at random, for it would be a curious building, indeed, that would be erected in that way. We must first pull down, and reduce the fragments to order before we begin to construct. This affords an illustration of what we have got to do in this Convention. I take it for granted that every delegate has come here with the intention of making such a Constitution as will, in his conscientious belief, best promote the interest of this Commonwealth; and how are we to do this? We must take the different subjects contained in the several chapters, and refer them to some eight or ten distinct committees, who will take them into consideration. If these committees should be appointed to-day, they ought to have some time to deliberate on the matters referred to them; you cannot expect them to be ready to go to the Lowell Institute to-morrow, or the next day, and report a frame of government immediately.
And what, I will ask, are we to do in the meantime? Do you propose that we shall continue to meet and deliberate and discuss these subjects before the committees are ready to report upon them? Surely not. Then how are we to spend our time, if we adjourn to another hall? Shall we spend it as I have seen it spent sometimes, when the House of Representatives was waiting for the Senate to adjourn, and they had a sort of mock Speaker in the Chair, and submitted all sorts of absurd propositions, merely to pass away the time-is it intended that we shall spend a fortnight here in this way? And if any man supposes that they can report in less than a fortnight, my opinion is that he is not fit to hold a place upon one of these committees. They must have time to deliberate; and will you spend this fortnight in scenes such as those to which I have alluded, or do you propose to discuss abstract questions? It seems to me that if we meet we shall be likely to involve ourselves in the discussion of questions of no sort of consequence.
This may be met by saying that some of these committees may get ready to report sooner. I will answer that by a consideration, which is of some importance. We are not met here merely to make two or three individual amendments in the Constitution; but, I hope, to see our committees take up each subject in the whole instrument as it now stands. Let them consider each chapter and each section, and either report back the chapters and sections as they now stand, or report substitutes for them, making such changes and alterations as they think proper, and as the necessities of the case seem to require. Let us make a thorough revision of the whole instrument, so that we may be able to present it to the people of the Commonwealth in a shape suitable for their adoption. I do not desire to have our labors repudiated by the people, and our
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Constitution rejected, as was the case in New Hapshire, where they lost the whole. I want to have the distinct parts submitted to the people for their adoption or rejection; and I think it is due to them, when they are called upon to act, that they should have a chance to call for a division upon every matter susceptible of division. And in order to make the various parts harmonious, we must not take hold of individual matters, such as the organization of the General Court, what powers they shall have, how the Legislature shall be constituted, or how the Representatives shall be chosen-we must not consider these subjects without examining their connection with other parts of the Constitution. It is therefore evident that we ought to have reports from all these important committees before us, so that we can examine the subject in all its bearings, before we undertake to decide upon any material part of it.
And then again, these eight or ten committees will have occasion to confer with each other before making their reports. If we should adjourn for a fortnight, I understand that our committees could be accommodated with rooms here, because the legislature has now got through with the committee rooms, in consequence of their committees having finished reporting. Our committees could then meet here and confer with each other; for it might become a very material question with one committee, what action another committee proposed to take. One might be taking into consideration the Lieutenant Governor, and another might be considering the Council; and the action to be taken upon one of these subjects would depend very much upon the course which it might be thought best to adopt in reference to the other. In short, we must have a general idea of the whole as a unit, before we can be prepared to discuss it.
If I am right in these general views, let us look at the simple question as to what we shall do. We have from now until Saturday in which this Convention may occupy this hall without incommoding the legislature. During this time we can complete the preliminary organization, and we can appoint committees upon all the various subjects which it is desired to consider. And now, if gentlemen have got any constitutions, or parts of constitutions in their pockets, which they are desirous of having considered, I hope they will be placed in the hands of these committees. This may as well be done in the outset, since it is probable that all the various projects which may be devised will receive the action of the committees before they are taken into consideration by the Convention. It is evident, therefore, that for the next fortnight the Convention will have nothing to discuss; and if it be in order, I propose at the close of these remarks to submit a resolution, that when this Convention adjourns after this week's session, it adjourn to meet on Tuesday, the 24th day of May. That will give the legislature two weeks in which to finish their business, and if they are not adjourned by that time, I think they will find themselves dissolved, naturally and spontaneously. [Laughter.] During this fortnight our committees can be holding their sessions without interfering with the legislature; and when we come together again, we shall find the different subjects pertaining to the Constitution all arranged with deliberation and care. How long will it be necessary for us to debate after that? Gentlemen talk about sitting here two or three
months, and being here during the hot summer months, but I do not believe that there is going to be a great amount of discussion in the Convention., We can very soon ascertain what the sense of the Convention is with regard to important matters, after the details have been arranged by the committees; and then we can take a test vote.
There is a great difference, Mr. President, between the business which this Convention is to do, and the ordinary business of a legislature. There, various subjects accumulate upon their hands, and matters can be taken up and discussed singly; but in the revision of the Constitution, the alteration of any part brings the whole subject at once before us. I hope gentlemen will bear this in mind. It seems to me that we should lose no time by adjourning over; but if gentlemen object to that, let me ask, what shall be done with reference to the twenty-four or twenty-five members of the Convention, who are also members of the legislature? Have we a right to call upon them to decide which of the two constitutional duties they will perform-whether they will sit here and watch the interest of their constituents, or whether they will leave their posts here, and go to another hall to attend to the revision of the Constitution? It looks to me like expelling these gentlemen from the Convention, for us to sit while the legislature is in session. I think these considerations should be imperative in deciding our action on the question before us; but if gentlemen have the idea that hurry is always progress, and that if we sit here we must necessarily do something, I would suggest that we confer with a committee of the legislature upon the subject of alternate sessions. I believe we should effect a great deal more in that way, than by leaving this hall. I have no doubt that body would agree to a division of the day, so as to give us half of it. I earnestly entreat members of the Convention to take these things into consideration. It may be that I attach undue importance to them; but I think, that upon a proper decision of this question, depends, in a great measure, the fact, as to whether this Convention shall be productive of beneficial results to this ancient Commonwealth, or whether it shall prove inefficient, and thus disappoint the expectations of the people whom we represent.
In conclusion, I wish to offer the following, as a substitute for the Report of the Committee:
Resolved, That it is expedient that this Convention should adjourn for the interval of a fortnight, in order to give its committees time to prepare its business, and in order that the Convention may hold its sessions in the legislative hall, after the adjournment of the legislature.
The PRESIDENT. The substitute, in the opinion of the Chair, is not in order, inasmuch as it provides for an adjournment, which is not within the subject before the Convention at the present time.
Mr. EAMES, of Washington. I coincide with the remarks made by the gentleman upon my left (Mr. Hallett). I am unwilling that we should go to the expense of fitting up a new place for the Convention. This is a matter in which I have had a little experience, for I was a member of the Convention of 1820. I am in favor of establishing all our committees; and then, if it is thought advisable, I am in favor of taking a recess of a fortnight or three weeks. I think there will be nothing done, should we continue in session. I
recollect perfectly well that in 1820, we were here three or four weeks, before we could commence upon business. As the gentleman has remarked, if the committees do their duty, they will not report in less than three or four weeks. Let us, therefore, do all that we can this week; let us appoint our committees; and then if we take a recess of three or four weeks, there will be nothing lost. On the contrary, I think we should be more likely to get a constitution by following that course; for when we meet, the committees, having been in session during the recess, will lay before us the different parts, in a matured form; and the work will go on rapidly. The gentleman on my left has gone over the remarks necessary to be made, and I will not take up the time of the Convention. hope that we shall do all that we can until Saturday, and then take a recess. My own plan would be, to take a recess until the first of September; but if the majority prefer a fortnight or three weeks, I have no objection to fixing that time.
Mr. GRISWOLD, of Erving. I do not propose to take up much of the time of the Convention, although perhaps it might take considerable time to answer in detail the remarks of the gentleman from Wilbraham. The subject seems to reduce itself to three points; first, which would better subserve the purposes of the Convention, to adjourn for two, three or four weeks, or to go on at this time; second, whether the convenience and the genius of this place are better adapted to business; third, the question of expense. I apprehend that there is not sufficient force in either of these objections to set aside the Report of the Committee.
In the first place, the legislature are in session, and as they will probably continue in session for several weeks, it will be out of the question to have this hall. It seems from the report of the Committee that a convenient hall can be had in this city. The members of this Convention have come here for a specific purpose. They have made their arrangements at home to attend to the business of the Convention at this time; and unless there is some very potent reason why we should not go on with the business before us, we ought to proceed with it at this time. It has been ingeniously argued that we should proceed faster and better by the appointment of committees, and giving them time to consider the matters referred to them. I do not concur precisely with that proposition. Nor do I think that the remark of the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Eames) that the Convention of 1820 waited some three or four weeks before they commenced business, was correct! That was a very hard working Convention. Business was brought before it upon the second or third day. Reports were made very carly, and discussion commenced at an early day, without any adjournment to give committees time to prepare reports.
I think that we should proceed better to have the Convention in session while the Committees are preparing their reports. Committees may wish, upon any of the important questions liable to come up, to consult members of the Convention from different parts of the Commonwealth. The question, for instance, of the Senate and the House of Representatives, as to what disposition shall be made of those two branches in the organic law of the State, is one of this character. Perhaps a committee of ten, fifteen or twenty, might prepare a plan that would not be satis
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factory to the majority of the Convention. They might wish to consult every day with members from different portions of the Commonwealth as to the wishes and the wants of the people of their respective sections.
Again, Sir, I apprehend that, upon many important questions which will come before the Convention, the trouble will not be so much in the committee room as in the Convention. Many of the subjects might be reported upon by the second, third or fourth day; so that we might commence our business in a few days. I see, therefore, not sufficient force in the objections made to induce the Convention to adjourn for that reason; but I think that the purposes of the Convention will be best subserved by proceeding at once to the business before us. What excuse can members give for returning to their constituents. They will be asked why they have come home. They will say that the legislature is in session. But was there no place in that great city of Boston, with convenient accommodations for the purposes of this Convention? The gentleman upon my right (Mr. Eames) has suggested that unless this matter is conducted prudently, we shall be in danger of losing the popular vote upon the Constitution submitted to the people. I think, sir, that one thing which will have a tendency to render the results of the Convention effective will be entering at once upon the discharge of the duties of the Convention, and dispatching the business as early as we can, without frittering away the first four weeks, or adjourning, perhaps, as the gentleman suggests, until the first of September. I think that there is danger in delay—not that I would wish to go too fast-not that I would wish to prevent proper investigation. But let us commence our investigations together and at once.
In the second place, it is said that it is important, as to the convenience and genius of this place. Now, Sir, if I understand the Report of the Committee, they are unanimous upon the point that the Lowell Institute is a building better ventilated, larger, and more convenient in every way than this State House; and especially, when we take into consideration, that some eighty or one hundred of our members, if we remain here, must take seats in the galleries. Then as to the genius of this place, I am as great an admirer as any body of this old State House. I understand that it is the best piece of architecture, so far as proportion is concerned, in the United States. But if the Constitution is to depend upon the genius of the place, we ought not to be here. The Constitution of Massachusetts was not framed in this chamber. The Convention held its sessions in the old town of Cambridge, and finally met to count the votes in Brattle Street Church. So that, if we wish to invoke the genius of the place, we should go to Cambridge or meet in Brattle Street Church. But I do not imagine that our constituents, or that those who succeed us, go down as many generations as you please, will ever ask the question where the Constitution was formed. The question will be whether the Constitution is right-whether it is satisfactorywhether we have incorporated into it such amendments as the people of this Commonwealth, and those who shall succeed them want, and not whether it was framed in the State House, or in the Lowell Institute, or in Cambridge, or in the Church of the venerable and learned divine who officiates in Brattle street (Rev. Mr. Lothrop).
When the Constitution was formed, men looked more to the substance of the Constitution, and to the intellect of its powers of Adams and of Parsons than to the place where it was framed.
The only other question, Mr. President, is, as to the comparative expense, and I venture to say that it would be a saving in dollars and cents to go to the Lowell Institute upon the terms proposed, rather than to adjourn. If we adjourn, I suppose that 100 or 150 and perhaps 200 of our number will be appointed upon committees to sit during the recess. If the compensation of members of the Convention is to be the same with that of members of the legislature, it would amount to $100 per day for a month; and then the Convention, after they reassembled, would sit, I apprehend, about as long as they would, if they proceeded now. Then, Mr. President, there is the travel, which adds to the expense of an adjourument; for we should have two travels to pay for instead of one. So that, as a matter of mere dollars and cents I think it would be a great saving to proceed to business,
I dislike to allude to the opinions of the Chair, but perhaps it will not be improper to say that I think the member from Wilbraham (Mr. Hallet) is incorrect in his understanding of the opinion of the Chair upon this subject.
There was great doubt, when we first met, in my own mind, in reference to adjournment. We did not know what room could be obtained. The Music Hall had been said to be the only suitable place; and that is so large that the voice could not be heard in it. But I am free to confess that now, upon reflection,-and I believe that the opinion of the Chair is the same-I am in favor of proceeding to our business at this time; and I think it would be better to adopt the report of the Committee, to adjourn to the Lowell Institute as soon as it can be fitted up for our reception.
Mr. HOOPER. It will be observed, Mr. President, by referring to the Act under which we have organized, that we are authorized to meet in Convention in the State House in Boston, and to adjourn from time to time; but there is nothing said about adjourning to any other place. The people evidently intended, and the framers of the law evidently intended, that we should meet here, and hold our sessions here, and here do our work; and it may be a question how far we should be authorized to go beyond the words of the statute. We should incur an expense in removing to another place; and it strikes me that we would better keep within the words of the statute and remain and occupy the place the people assigned us.
It seems to me also a matter of considerable importance that the committees should have an opportunity to prepare their reports, that the whole may be a complete piece of work, each part fitting the others. But if we go on and have it reported piecemeal, day after day, without consultation between the committees, without knowing what will be reported in relation to other parts, we shall spend much time in useless discussion; and the reports will be so disjointed that it will be more difficult to put them together than to construct a new Constitution from the beginning. No man will question that the committees can arrange their several parts and make them fit betThen ter than the Convention can, in the outset. what the Convention do not like, they will strike out or amend.
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I think also that it would be a saving of time; for it gives the committees two weeks to sit uninterruptedly, by relieving them from the necessity of attending the Convention. They may be able to accomplish twice as much as they could if we should go on. What is the reason of the length of the sessions of the legislature? Is it not that the committees do not perform the duty assigned them of preparing work for the legislature? The railroad facilities are such that they go home each night, and thus they have little time besides that in which the legislature is in session to devote to the proper work of the committees. And this I believe will be the fact in relation to this Convention. A large proportion of the members will go home nightly, and very little time will be left for the duties of the committees, while the Convention is in session. But if a few men can devote their whole time, for a short period, they will be able to examine every proposition that may be presented, and to construct a work upon which we can immediately act upon our reassembling; and thus finish the business of the Convention in far less time than by continuing on at present.
If we are compelled to wait for a short time, we are not responsible for it. The legislature have not vacated the hall as we expected. Let them continue to occupy it, and let them take the responsibility. Let us act in accordance with the circumstances under which we are placed. If we should go to another hall, we should be constantly obliged to be running up to the State House, in order to have the means of investigation in the various stages of the work.
Mr. CHUKCHILL, of Milton. The question of removing to another place need not be connected with the question of the adjournment of the Convention. I believe that we may continue our deliberations forthwith in this place, meeting here in the morning, and letting the legislature occupy it in the afternoon. I understand that the committee rooms are at our disposal. So that the only question is as to the propriety of adjourning to another place for two or three weeks, until the close of the session of the legislature. For one, Sir, I prefer to remain here. It does not seem to me, considering the propriety of allowing members of the legislature to share in our deliberations and the convenience of access to books, documents, papers and records, that the little inconvenience of sitting here for one, two, or three weeks, alternately, in connection with the legislature, ought to induce us to remove to a different place. There are differences of opinion as to the duration of the session of the legislature; but at any rate, the inconvenience, if there is any, will be obviated within two or three weeks. During that time we can have the hall with them, dividing the hours. I think, therefore, that the question of adjournment should not be connected with that of changing our place of meeting; and I should be in favor of proceeding at once with our business, in this place in the manner I have proposed.
Mr. WALKER. Perhaps it may be proper for me to say a few words upon this subject. In the first place, what is the situation of the Convention? Why, we come here and find ourselves without a place to meet in, owing to the fact that the legislature has not adjourned. We do not know when the legislature will adjourn. Should we adjourn for a month, we might come back and find them still here. I was informed yesterday
by a gentleman belonging to the legislature, that there were three hundred debatable subjects upon the orders of the day. They had passed all the undebatable matters, and three hundred debatable subjects remained. Now, Sir, I do not think anything short of omniscience can tell when this legislature will adjourn. And yet, forsooth, we are to adjourn upon the contingency that this legislature may adjourn at some time or other. The very proposition is absurd upon the face of it.
Then, Sir, let us look around us and see how we are situated. Here are gentlemen sitting upon the steps-the first gentlemen in the Commonwealth sitting like children in a primary school! Is not this grand and befitting? The "genius of the place" must be exceedingly pleased, I am sure. Now, Sir, the Convention must adjourn within three days, or else we must have another place. Are we prepared to adjourn and go home, and impose upon our constituents the enormous expense of travelling up here again. It is a very great expense, for a large proportion of the Convention will have to return home if we adjourn. And now what do the Committee propose in the Report they have made. They propose that the hall of the Lowell Institute shall be occupied temporarily; that the Convention shall go there and stay as long as they please. The express condition was made with the proprietors that the Convention should hold it just so long as they pleased; and we are under no obligation, if we go, to stay more than one day.
Now, Sir, we see precisely the condition in which we stand. We cannot stay here. We are not compelled to stay here. I was very much amused, I must say, with the argument of the gentleman from Fall River; for if it amounts to anything, it would prove that if the house should be blown up or burnt down, the Convention would be blown away or consumed. Is not that a logical consequence? The absurdity of the thing is apparent to every body. We have a right to go where we please, beyond all question.
Then again, as has been very well said by the gentleman from Erving, (Mr. Griswold,) in his most admirable answer to the argument of the gentleman from Wilbraham, (Mr. Hallett,) that the prestige of the Convention would be greatly injured by our adjournment to another place, and that it would disappoint the people or disgust them, if we were to go home and leave committees to sit and make out the business of the Convention. We should gain nothing by it. The committees would not sit half the time. Then again, how absurd in this view of the subject, when some of the committees would have brains enough to report in three days,-with all deference to the opinion of the gentleman from Wilbraham,-to oblige them to occupy a month, when they might report in a few days, and we could go on at once with the propositions before us. Gentlemen can see that it must greatly delay the business of the Convention. By referring to the history of the last Convention, we shall find that measures were brought in immediately; and it will be so now if the majority of the Convention should decide to proceed to business forthwith, for many of the reports could be made at once as well as at any
Under these circumstances I cannot conceive that the Convention will hesitate to adopt the Report, nor to adjourn immediately to the place proposed. The expense of fitting it up will be
trifling, not more than $200; putting up a temporary railing to separate the members from the spectators, &c. If upon trial we are not satisfied, we can adjourn the very next day, and wait until the legislature adjourns, and then come here and invoke the "genius of the place."
Election of Chaplain.
Mr. THOMAS, of Weymouth, called for the special order for this day and hour (12 o'clock).
The PRESIDENT stated the special order to be the election of Chaplain, and appointed the following gentlemen to constitute a Committee to collect, sort and count the votes for the same, viz.:
Messrs. Cushman, of Bernardston, Brinley, of Boston, Graves, of Lowell, Walker, of Roxbury, Stacy, of Gloucester, and Mason, of Fitchburg.
Subsequently, Mr. CUSHMAN, on the part of said committee, stated that he had been instructed to report that the Committee had discharged the duty assigned them, and the following was the result of the ballot for Chaplain.
Whole number of votes cast,
Rev. Warren Burton, of Boston,
Rev. Lyman Beecher, of Boston,
Rev. James B. Farnsworth, of
The PRESIDENT thereupon declared the Rev. Warren Burton duly elected Chaplain of the Convention.
On motion of Mr. MORTON, of Fairhaven,
Ordered, That the Secretary of the Convention be directed to inform the Rev. Warren Burton of his election as Chaplain of this Convention.
Place of Meeting.
The Convention then resumed the consideration of the report of the Committee on the subject of the place of holding the sessions of the body.
Mr. WOOD, of Fitchburg. Mr. President, I have a word to say upon this matter before the vote is taken. When I came here yesterday, I was obliged to sit upon the steps by the side of the Speaker's desk; to-day I have been obliged to be crowded up here in a corner, upon a little stool, and I am not at all satisfied with this state of things. There are many other members who have been equally unfortunate with myself, in this respect. I think it must be evident that this place is not suitable for the accommodation of a Convention of four hundred and thirty persons, notwithstanding all that can be said with regard to the inspiration of the place. To be sure, it may be very well for those gentlemen who are fortunate about drawing good scats; but about a hundred members will have to go up into the galleries, at any rate, and this is to be their position during the hot summer months. I admit that there is very good ventilation here now; but when we are all crowded up in the summer months, this place cannot be sufficiently ventilated for comfort or health, and on that account we should go to a larger hall. It is hardly large enough to accommodate the House of Representatives, and it has been suggested that the number of representatives should be diminished in order to afford them better facilities for the transaction of business. I believe, however, that an appropriation of sev
PLACE OF MEETING. — BRAMAN — SPOONER — HALLETT — WILSON — MORTON.
enty-five thousand dollars has been made to have this hall enlarged, simply because it did not afford suitable accommodations for the House of Representatives. There is no place here to write, whereas every member ought to have a desk. Now, under these circumstances, I ask the members of this Convention if it is not our duty, whether the legislature adjourns or not, to provide some more suitable place for holding our deliberations.
Mr. BRAMAN, of Danvers. After hearing the Report of the Committee to whom was assigned the duty of examining the public halls in this city, I am fully convinced that it will be the wisest course for this Convention to resort to another location; and the experience which we have had here strengthens that conviction. I never had the honor of a seat with an assembly in this room before, but I suffered exceedingly yesterday, on account of the state of the atmosphere; I have suffered from the same cause today, and if we remain here I shall expect to suffer from it. I have no doubt many other members have experienced the same inconvenience.
Something has been said about the genius of the place. I do not know precisely in what sense that phrase is used, but if I can judge of the genius of the place from the doings of the House of Representatives and its influence upon that body, I should regard it as not the sort of influence most favorable to a wise reconstruction of the organic laws of this government. I do not deny that many associations are connected with the room in which wise and patriotic men have been engaged from year to year in deliberations respecting the interests of this Commonwealth. I think something is due to such considerations; but after all they operate in a very slight degree. It is only upon individuals of a mercurial and imaginative state of mind that such considerations have much influence, while the greater portion of this assembly-those in whom sober common sense predominates over imagination-will not be influenced in that way at all. And I will ask how much the genius of the place will elevate the faculties of those individuals who are doomed to sit upon the steps or upon the floor. I think the present state of the atmosphere and the crowded state of the room are inconveniences which entirely outweigh all the fancied inspiration connected with this hall. The hall which our Committee have recommended is not liable to these objections. It is well ventilated, and it is large enough to give us ample accommodation. Something has been said also with regard to the more favorable construction of this room for the purpose of public speaking, but I think no difficulty will be experienced on that score; and I earnestly hope that the recommendation of the Committee will be adopted.
Mr. SPOONER, of Warwick. I will suggest, Mr. President, that in order to obviate the inconvenience arising from the crowded state of this room, something like one hundred pegs be driven into the wall, where members can be hung upwhich will not only add to our convenience, but also serve for a decoration. [Laughter.] Mr. President, I am surprised at the remarks of the gentleman from Wilbraham (Mr. Hallett.) never heard, nor did I expect when I came here that I should hear, such an expression of jealous mistrust of the public as that gentleman has utter
ed. He wants us to adjourn for two weeks and leave our business to be done in secret by committees; and who are to compose those committees? Now, Sir, as I understand it, the Convention is to deliberate as a body, and not leave everything to be arranged by committees. We are to settle general principles, and leave our committees to grapple with the details. The committees are generally composed of men with pens behind their ears, who delight in revelling in details, but who are utterly incompetent to grapple with general principles. I would no more leave those gentlemen to attend to such matters in our absence than I would leave a hungry dog to watch my dinner. [Laughter.] If we should leave them here without the presence of the Convention to overlook them, they would feel their importance far more than they do now, and that is enough in all conscience.
Mr. HALLETT. Allow me to say, Mr. President, that I am greatly indebted to the gentleman from—, (for I have not the honor of knowing what town he comes from,) for adding to the force of my argument, and showing the neces sity of this Convention's remaining in this hall where we can attend to the high duties before us in a calm and deliberate manner, instead of resorting to those appeals to the passions and prejudices of men, which it seems the gentleman from is so fond of using.
Mr. SPOONER. If my remarks were not in order, the President had a right to call me to order. It may be a question of taste with the gentleman from Wilbraham, but with me it is a question of principle. I am not at all afraid of the influence of the public-I am willing that the people should see and hear what we are doing. In my remarks I intended no disrespect to the gentleman from Wilbraham; I make no insinuations against him as wanting in integrity. He has his principles and his opinions, and he has a perfect right to act according to them; but I will say that if the committees are constituted of gentlemen of that class, entertaining sentiments and opinions like those which he has expressed, I do not think the amendments which they may recommend in the Constitution will be accepted either by this Convention or by the people of the State of Massachusetts. But, Sir, my business is to hold the plough, and I will now hold my tongue. [Laughter.]
Mr. WILSON, of Natick. It seems to me that in discussing the organization of our committees we are rather departing from the question before us. The question is on the acceptance of the Report of the Committee, and I hope that before we adjourn we shall have a vote upon that question. I am one of those who believe that we should obtain the hall recommended by the Committee, and I have the fullest conviction that if we should go to that hall, under no circumstances could ten votes be obtained for returning to this place. As
a place for deliberation and discussion it is far superior to this, and gentlemen who have visited it will so decide. If we could have this hall, however, during a portion of the day while the House of Representatives was not in session, I should be willing to go on here; for my main objection is to adjourning over. I believe our true policy is to go on with our business, and I am of the opinion that adjourning over will cost at least fifteen thousand dollars more than going on. But so far as the difference in the halls is concerned, if
the legislature were not here, and the hall to which it is proposed to go was fitted up, I would vote to adjourn at once to that hall as being a far better place than this for the purposes of the Con
Mr. MORTON, of Fairhaven. I have listened with attention to the remarks which have been submitted in favor of going on uninterruptedly with our deliberations, but I must say, that they have not yet convinced me. If the proposition to go on with this Convention prevails, what will be the practical effect? I am informed, Mr. President, that there are about twenty-five gentlemen who are members of this Convention, and also members of the present legislature. We will suppose that the Convention goes on with its business; on Saturday next the legislature resumes its business; and what are these twenty-five gentlemen to do? Their constituents have sent them to take part in the legislature, and also in the Convention; and their constituents have a right to their services in both these bodies. I happen to be one of these individuals. I was directed, by my credentials, to appear here at a certain time, for a certain purpose; that purpose has not yet been accomplished, and the time necessary for the accomplishment of that purpose has not yet elapsed. I was directed, by another set of credentials, to appear at the Convention, for the revision of the Constitution, and I have obeyed that call also. But on Saturday next, when the House of Representatives shall again meet, if this Convention is in session, I shall be unable to attend in both bodies; and I ask you, do you intend to deprive my constituents of my humble services? That is the point to which I wish to call the attention of the Convention. It is a matter of the most perfect indifference to me in which body I shall act; but, Sir, I look beyond my humble self; I look to my constituents, and claim that they have a right to my services in both bodies to which I have been elected. And if they have that right, ought this Convention deliberately to decide to go on, as is proposed? To come to that decision, would be virtually saying to my constituents, "Your rights in this Convention are of no importance." The Convention turns to these twenty-five members of the House of Representatives, (which, in my opinion, has been rather freely alluded to this morning,) and says to them, "Your presence in this body is of no sort of consequence, and we have decided, after protracted deliberation and debate, which has been participated in by gentlemen of distinguished ability, that the towns which you represent shall be disfranchised and deprived of their representation." Now I submit it to this Convention, whether sufficient importance has been attached to this consideration. As I said before, it is my fortune or misfortune to be a member of the present House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. During the time I have served in that capacity, I have endeavored, as well as I might, to observe the oaths by which I was inducted into office; and leave it to the good sense of this Convention to judge, after the House yesterday morning voted to adjourn over until Saturday, (the longest time to which they were allowed to adjourn by the Constitution,) for the express purpose of avoiding any collision with this Convention, how far it comports with good taste and with propriety and courtesy, for gentlemen to rise in this body and indulge in strictures, as they frequently have done, about that House.