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THE SENATE.- HATHAWAY-KINGMAN — BRADBURY.
franchise, we ought to have a provision in the Constitution appropriating houses for their special benefit when they come to vote, so that they should not be subjected to all the annoyances which generally attend our town meetings. I really hope, that on mature consideration, this Convention will not be in favor of incorporating the idea of giving women the right to vote into any basis of government which we may frame. I am very much of the opinion of gentlemen upon the other side, who tell us that such a course of procedure, instead of elevating, would lower them in the estimation of the community, and for one, I certainly hope that all this matter of woman's right to vote, will receive its quietus here.
the gentleman from Essex, (Mr. Bradford,) and
Mr. HATHAWAY, of Freetown. I would beg the attention of the Committee but for a few moments. I apprehend, from the remarks which have been made by the gentleman from Wilbra-reference to the question of Who are the people? ham (Mr. Hallett,) that I was misunderstood in the positions I assumed the other day. I by no means wish to be understood as being opposed to the principles that are laid down in the Report of this Committee. I mean prominent principles. I am in favor of the proposition that there should be forty districts, and I am in favor of the residence qualification. I am in favor of the resolutions as they stand, with an amendment, however, to the first one, basing representation in the Senate upon qualified voters instead of population. If I understood the gentleman from Wilbraham, (Mr. Hallett,) aright, he must have misunderstood me when he places me in the paradoxical position of "progressing backward." I am in favor of the proposition made by the Committee, with the exception I have named. Whether I am of that number who are progressing backwards, or the gentleman from Wilbraham, is not for me to judge, but the community. I suppose it was in consequence of this very provision in the Constitution, that was adopted in 1840, basing representation upon population, changing it from what it had been for sixty years previous, which induced, beyond all other considerations, the calling together of this Convention now assembled. It is in the rural districts, if I understand the matter correctly, where complaint is made in reference to representation being based upon population. The argument that I intended to present the other day, instead of going backwards, was, in fact, progressing with the people. When I say the people, I mean the substantial inhabitants of the Commonwealth. I would insert the words " legal voters where the word population" stands. That was my proposition. 1 do not know that the gentleman from Taunton, (Mr. Morton,) though he named no one particularly, except the gentleman from Worcester, (Mr. Earle,) referred to me in the course of his remarks. If he did, he was entirely mistaken if he understood me as maintaining, in the most distant degree, the position, that the representative in either branch of the legislature represented only that portion of the community that voted for him. I intended to take no such position, here or elsewhere.
Mr. MORTON. I did not intend to impute to the gentleman any such sentiment.
Mr. HATHAWAY. I did not know, after the gentleman from Worcester, (Mr. Earle,) disclaimed it, but that the gentleman referred to me, as the gentleman from Worcester, (Mr. Earle,)
I do not know that I was understood. The propo-
the Senate should be based upon population, when they come to the question of representation in the other branch, how are you to avoid the effect of the argument (that the House of Representatives should rest upon the same basis)? Will not the rope, with which you have endeavored to swing others, then swing you as high as Haman was of old? I hope that I am understood, and if so, it is all that I ask.
Mr. KINGMAN, of West Bridgewater. I wish to say a word in regard to the vote which I shall give upon this question. I have no objection to the principle laid down in these resolves, if it could be applied to the whole people. But it appears it cannot; and now to show exactly the operation of the principle laid down in that Report, I will suppose a case. I will suppose that when this State is districted, that there are 25,000 inhabitants in each district. In one of these districts there are 4000, in another district 6000 voters. I ask if the individual voters of these two districts have equal political power. It appears to me that one of them has one-third more power than the other. That is the operation of the principle, as I conceive. Now, if there are some of our large towns and cities which have a large foreign population, it will be giving the individual voters there more power than those who inhabit the rural districts; but if the gentlemen who are the delegates from the large cities and towns will, when we come to arrange representation for the other house, return the favor, I am ready to go with them.
Mr. BRADBURY, of Newton. I do not know that I can shed a ray of light upon this question; but it seems to me that this Convention have not had presented to them the exact bearing of the question as it came from the Select Committee. The Convention, as near as I can learn their sentiments, desire that the State shall be equally districted and equally represented. The gentleman from Freetown, (Mr. Hathaway,) has undertaken to present to this House, for the first time, the probable loss by representation of the rural districts; but therein he has made a capital mistake, in my estimation. It is the rural districts who are to lose by the adoption of the amendment, and for a very obvious reason. The rural districts which lack enterprise, facilities natural and artificial,-advantages that promote population and business, and which confine themselves to agricultural pursuits, are the districts which send out living men and voters. Where do they send them? If there were several millions to be invested in the great works on the Connecticut River, they would pour them in there by thousands, and your rural districts would be emptied of their voters. Suppose the basis of representation was founded upon the population. Then the town of Holyoke would be doubly represented; and why? Because the voters have been gleaned out of her population. If you take large communities, either of these principles of representation is a matter of no importance, so far as relative strength is concerned; but when you take districts emptied of voters, and other districts full of voters, the principle that population shall be the basis of representation does not work well. Suppose the gentleman from Worcester, (Mr. Earle,) was to carry out his views, and every man in Boston, born where he might be, should have a vote. What would be the consequence ? Boston now gets as many representatives as she is entitled to, and your Report shows it. Who are
THE SENATE. - KEYES - BRADFORD-HATHAWAY - HOOD.
the foreigners? Do not the old countries send the bone, muscle, and sinew of the land, before they send the women and children. It seems to me, that the rural districts are to lose by the former proposition, but gain by the proposition just made. They have already a decided advantage; and if they look to their own interests, they will support the proposition as now presented.
Mr. KEYES, for Abington. As nearly the whole session has been consumed in the discussion of this question, I now, at last, take the opportunity of saying, that I was a member of the Committee which made this Report, and I assented generally to the propositions contained in it, although I am in favor of the basis of qualified voters, and have not been convinced to the contrary by any thing which I have yet heard. The question of woman's right to representation has been introduced here, and the speed with which the Report has been made upon that subject -before the petitioners had had time to get in all their petitions-shows the spirit that will animate the Convention in driving them out, without allowing them any share directly in the benefits of the new Constitution; and yet we are quite anxious to steal their power of numbers in order to increase the power of our own votes. It strikes me that it is the same with regard to foreigners, and that there is no justice or right sense in such a course. As to the idea of enlarging the basis of representation by extending it upon population, you might as well enlarge it by extending it upon any thing else. It seems to me, that if this is progress, it is a queer sort of progress. Extend the right of voting to these people, and then indeed will you extend the basis of representation, and it can be done in no other way. Suppose, for example, you divide Boston in such a manner, that out of a population of 25,000 inhabitants in each district, there are 20,000 foreigners, and scarcely a voter among them; for, in considering this question, you should look at what may occur under any circumstances. It is possible that the bitterest enemies of these foreigners may be among this 5000 native population. They may be men who have studied the lessons of the Puritan fathers so strongly, that Catholicism has become a frightful thing to them, and they the mortal enemies of all Romanists. And it is just the very system of representation which you propose which is taking away the power, which of right belongs to these foreigners, and to nobody else, and giving it into the hands of their opponents. It strikes me, that if a man is to be represented, he should represent himself, or else he should have the choice of his representative in his own hands, and not be obliged to give that right, which, if it belongs to any one, certainly belongs to him, into the hands of those who show themselves to be the most hostile to him, to be used against his interests. As I said before, I assented to all these propositions upon the ground, in the first instance, that if you were to change the basis of representation, it would produce but very little effect. I suppose if we adopt "qualified voters" as the basis, in the first instance it would take a senator from Suffolk, one from the Hampshire district, and one from one or two other districts; but then when you come to make a plan to distribute the lost, it would give Boston back her senator on her fraction, and also to all the others except Hampshire; so that the change would amount to very little practically; and I take it that our condition in
Massachusetts is such, that at no future time will this difference be so great that it would make any serious difference. The laws of naturalization are liberal, and the interests of parties tend, to the limitation of the class of non-voters. But I rose to say, simply, that the system of qualified voters, unless you extend the right of suffrage to foreigners, women, and negroes, is the proper basis of representation here in Massachusetts, and practically it amounts to the same thing under the existing system.
Mr. BRADFORD, of Essex. I do not rise for the purpose of making an argument against what appears to be so nearly unanimously the sense of the Convention. I wish, however, to say a word in order to justify the vote which I intend to give. I supposed it was obvious to every gentleman here without exception, that the amendment was proposed for the sake of making a more equal basis of representation; and I was surprised that any gentleman should now, at this late stage of the discussion, hold that to be a new idea in the argument. If the foreign population in this State is entitled to representation, and if this Report will give it to them, then I am in favor of this Report. If the female portion of this State is entitled to a part in this basis of representation. and if this Report will give it to them, then I am in favor of the Report. If the children are entitled to be represented, and if this Report will give it to them, then I am in favor of the Report. But, Sir, the whole argument of every gentleman who has argued against the amendment and in favor of the Report, shows that this Report does not give it to any of these classes. It neither gives it to the foreigners, the females, nor the children. The whole argument of gentlemen on that side is, that they are represented, be the basis what it may, that the repretative represents the whole population. That is plain enough. It must be plain to every man that the Report does not give any representation to the foreign population, nor to women, nor children. I should like to see some gentlemen here, who have taken the ground that the women of the Commonwealth are entitled to sovereignty, introduce this doctrine which is maintained here, and tell them as they tell us, that you are already represented, you need not ask to vote therefore, for you are represented; we have made fine speeches in the State House, to show that you are represented and you ought to be satisfied.
Mr. HATHAWAY, of Freetown. I have not a copy of the Rules and Orders of this Convention, and therefore it may be that I am not in order. But if I am in order, I would move to amend the first Resolution by striking out the word "population," in the last line, and inserting the words "a number of qualified voters as is practicable;" so that the last line would read, "and as equal a number of qualified voters as is practicable." And, as it has been suggested that a more full house than we have now, would be desirable when that question is taken, I move that it be made the Order of the Day for four o'clock to-morrow, and that the question be taken by yeas and nays,
Mr. CHURCHILL, of Milton, said the subject had been elaborately discussed, and he hoped it would not be postponed; but that the question would now be taken.
Mr. HOOD, of Lynn, said he for one would be happy to accommodate gentlemen who are absent,
but it occurred to him that this mode of assigning a time for the taking of questions, one or two days in advance, was not the proper one, and he hoped it would not be adopted. Members of the Convention ought to understand, that if they wish to vote upon these questions, they must remain in their seats. A committee had been appointed to consider and regulate the order of business, so as, if possible, to enable the Convention to close its labors by the 1st of July.
Mr. HATHAWAY withdrew so much of his motion as related to fixing the time for taking the question.
The question being put on the remaining portion, it was decided in the negative.
The question was then taken on the adoption of the amendment, and it was, without a division, decided in the negative.
So the amendment was rejected.
The question then recurred upon ordering the Resolutions to a second reading.
Mr. LORD, of Salem. Is the question to be taken upon all the Resolutions at once, or, are they divisible?
The PRESIDENT. They may be divided.
Mr. LORD. Then I desire that they should be divided, for I wish to vote against two or three of the Resolutions, and in favor of others; but, if the call for the yeas and nays will apply to each Resolution, I shall not feel at liberty to insist upon a division.
Mr. HUBBARD, of Boston, suggested that the Resolutions might be treated as the sections of a bill, and voted upon separately by a count, and afterwards be voted upon collectively, by yeas and nays.
The PRESIDENT. The Chair will put the question in that form if no objection is made.
No objection being heard, the question was put, and the Resolutions were severally agreed to without a division.
The question then being upon adopting the Resolutions collectively, they having had their second reading,
The yeas and nays were taken, and resulted as follows:
Freeman, James M.
Gilbert, Wanton C.
Hallett, B. F.
Hapgood, Lyman W.
Hawkes, Stephen E.
PRINTING OF ORDERS, &c.—SUMNER-EARLE — HOOPER.
Nute, Andrew T.
Hathaway, Elnathan P. Richardson, Daniel
Huntington, Charles P.
Ide, Abijah M., Jr.
Marvin, Abijah P.
The legislature, he said, had not asked the use of
After some remarks by Messrs. SPOONER, of
The question was taken, and it was, without division, decided in the negative.
On motion of Mr. HALE, of Boston, the Resolution in relation to the House of Representatives, offered by him this day, and adopted by the Convention, was ordered to be printed.
The PRESIDENT laid before the Convention
On motion by Mr. BROWN, of Douglass,
TUESDAY, May 21, 1853.
The Convention met pursuant to adjournment,
The Journal of yesterday was read and ap-
The Printing of Orders.
Mr. SUMNER, for Otis, submitted the following order :
Ordered, That all Resolves and Orders, referring subjects to the several Committees of this Convention, prior to and including this date, be printed for the use of this Convention.
Mr. EARLE, of Worcester, inquired whether this order would require the printing again of those which had been already printed.
Mr. SUMNER, for Otis, said he believed there had not been a very great expenditure on the score of printing the orders and resolves which had been heretofore presented to the Convention. The intention was precisely as expressed in the order which he had offered, that all the orders and resolves should be printed and collected so as to form one document in a convenient form for reference. Although many of them had been published in the journals of the day, from day to day, yet it had not been with that precision which was necessary in order to give members a right understanding of the subject matter of such orders and resolves, and more especially the committees who were to have the subjects in charge. It was certainly, he thought, a matter of some importance that the Convention should have before them, in a proper form-in the form of a single document all the orders which had been presented and adopted. It was for this purpose that this order had been presented.
Some confusion had already arisen from the want of systematic arrangement. If members of the Convention could have before them, in one collective form, all the orders, all misunderstanding would be avoided. He did not know that he should object to any modification of his motion which the gentleman from Worcester might propose, but it certainly seemed to him that the printing of orders and resolves heretofore had not been done to so great extent as to make it a
matter of any considerable importance, or to make it necessary that any exception should be made in reference to the orders and resolves which had been thus printed.
Mr. EARLE, of Worcester, said he had not made the inquiry because he had any objection to the order which the gentleman had offered; but merely in order that it might be distinctly understood, and especially that the Secretary, in giving the work to the printer, might be under no misapprehension as to what was intended. He had no intention to propose any amendment. He approved of the order as it stood.
Mr. HOOPER said he would suggest to the gentleman the propriety of so shaping his proposition, as to require all the orders to be printed together and laid before the Convention in a convenient form for reference. He had hoped that the Journal of the Convention, kept by the Secretary, would have been printed from day to day; but as it appeared that this was not to be done, he hoped at least the orders would be printed in a collective form and be laid before the Convention for the inspection of members.
Mr. WATERS, of Millbury, said he did not think that the Convention was quite prepared to vote upon this proposition now. He would ask that it be permitted to lie over.
The PRESIDENT. The opinion of the Chair is, that the request that an order lie over should be made before it is debated. After debate, the privilege of a member to object to its immediate consideration is lost.
Mr. KEYES, for Abington, opposed the adoption of the order. He considered it quite unnecessary to go to the expense of having all the orders and resolves re-printed. They were brief and easily understood, and were simply directions to the several committees to whom they were addressed.
Mr. SUMNER, for Otis, explained the advantages which he believed would result from the adoption of the order which he had presented.
Mr. HOOD, of Lynn, said he understood these orders and resolves were to be printed in the Journal of Debates and Proceedings, and it seemed to him, therefore, it was not advisable that they should be printed again. He moved that the order be laid upon the table.
The motion was agreed to.
Mr. BUTLER, of Lowell, from the Committee to whom was referred so much of the Constitution as is contained in the first eight articles of the sixth chapter thereof, reported the following resolves :
1. Resolved, That it is expedient to amend and alter the existing Constitution in this article, by incorporating the oath of allegiance and the oath of office into one formula.
2. Resolved, That it is expedient to alter and amend this part of the Constitution, as follows, namely: Strike out the words, “So help me God,” where they first occur, and in lieu thereof insert the word "and." Also, strike out, in the official oath, the words, “I, A. B., do solemnly swear and affirm." So that there shall be but one oath taken and subscribed, which, as amended, shall
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY, &c. - CHURCHILL-WALKER-HOOPER.
and the laws of the Commonwealth. So help me God."
3. Resolved, That it is expedient to amend and alter the proviso in this article as follows:
1. Strike out the words, "of the denomination of the people called Quakers," and insert the words "conscientiously scrupulous of taking and subscribing an oath."
2. Strike out the letter "s" in the word "oaths," which follow the words "taking the said:" and strike out the words, "in the foregoing form."
3. Strike out the words "in the first oath." Also, the words "in the second oath," and in each of them, the words-So help me God.
4. Strike out the words, "instead thereof," where it first occurs in said proviso, so that the proviso, as amended, shall read as follows:-
"Provided, always, that when any person, chosen or appointed as aforesaid, shall be conscientiously scrupulous of taking and subscribing an oath, and shall decline taking the said oath, he shall make his affirmation, and subscribe the same, omitting the word 'swear,' and inserting the word 'affirm' instead thereof, and subjoining -This I do under the pains and penalties of perjury."
4. Resolved, That the third article of the sixth chapter be stricken out of the Constitution.
5. Resolved, That it is not expedient to alter, revise, or amend the fourth and sixth articles of the sixth chapter, but that the same stand as they and each of them now are.
6. Resolved, That it is expedient to alter and amend the fifth article of the sixth chapter, by striking out the words "they shall bear test of the first justice of the court to which they shall be returnable, who is not a party." So that the article, as amended, shall read thus:"ARTICLE 5. All writs issuing out of the clerk's office in any of the courts of law, shall be in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; they shall be under the seal of the court from whence they issue, and be signed by the clerk of such court."
Ordered, That the Committee of Ways and Means, to expedite the business of the Convention, be instructed to report an order, that from and after the present week, the Convention hold two sessions per day, commencing at nine, A. M., and three, P. M.
Mr. THOMPSON, of Charlestown, suggested to the mover the propriety of modifying his proposition so as to direct the Committee to inquire into the expediency of reporting such an order.
Mr. COLE accepted the proposed modification, and the order being thus amended, was adopted.
Mr. CHURCHILL, of Milton, submitted the following order :—
Ordered, That the Committee to whom was referred so much of the Constitution as relates to the Legislative power and the General Court, be instructed to consider and report thereon, the expediency of providing that no book or other printed matter, not strictly appertaining to the bu-iness of the session, thereafter to be transacted, shall be purchased or subscribed for, for use of the members of the legislature, or be distributed among them at the public expense.
At the request of Mr. NAYSON, of Amesbury, the order was laid over, under the rule, for consideration.
Elections by Plurality of Votes.
Mr. WALKER, of North Brookfield, moved that the Report of the Committee on Elections by plurality of votes, be discharged from its place in the list of subjects committed to the Committee of the Whole, with a view to assigning a particular time for its consideration.
The motion was agreed to.
Mr. WALKER further moved to assign three o'clock on Thursday, as the time for the consideration of the subject in Committee of the Whole. This motion, being about to give rise to debate, was subsequently withdrawn, and,
On motion by Mr. HOOPER, of Fall River, the said Report and Resolves were again referred to the Committee of the Whole, and made the first item on the calendar of subjects so referred.
IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE.
On motion by Mr. WILSON, of Natick, the Convention then resolved itself into Committee of the Whole, Mr. Sumner, for Marshfield, in the chair, and proceeded to consider the Resolves reported by the Committee on Elections by
Plurality of Votes.
The Report of the Committee was read by the Secretary, as follows:
Resolved, That it is expedient so to revise the Constitution, that in all elections by the people of officers named in it, the person receiving the highest number of votes shall be deemed and declared to be elected.
Mr. HOOPER, of Fall River. I suppose that it may be expected that I should made some remarks in relation to the action of the Committee upon this subject, and to state, perhaps, some of the views which influenced the Committee to come to the conclusion at which they have arrived, as set forth in their Report.
The Committee held three sessions upon the subject, and discussed the questions relating thereto very fully, and came to a conclusion al
most unanimously, there being but two dissenting voices. The principle upon which this Report is based, is mainly that of expediency. Our experience for the last ten years has shown us that we have had a minority government in Massachusetts for nearly the whole of that period. We have succeeded, in all that time, in but one or two instances, in electing the State officers by the people; and recently the very frequent elections have become so burdensome and embarrassing, that the subject has been pressed upon the minds of the people to that extent, that a change is now generally called for. I speak, it is true, more particularly of those with whose opinions I am best acquainted, my constituents, who last year spent seventeen days in electing a Board of Selectmen, and who went into fifteen ballotings this year, to effect the same object. But the same is true, I believe, with the great body of the people.
Although this is a principle somewhat new in New England, it is not a new principle in democratic States. I find, by a cursory review of the constitutions of several of the States, that it has been a settled a principle in most of them, from the commencement of their history. It was incorporated into the Constitution of the State of New York, in 1777, and it has applied to the election of all their officers, from that time down to the present; and so well satisfied have been the people of that State with its operation, that I am unable to find that it was called in question in their recent Convention to revise their State constitution.
I find by a reference to those constitutions, that twenty-four of the States of this Union elect their principal state officers by a plurality vote, and although all those constitutions do not state the manner of electing all their minor officers, yet from what I know of them personally, that practice generally prevails, and I believe it obtains throughout, wherever they elect their governor by a plurality vote.
The principle has always existed in New England, to some extent, and there are at present, as far as I know, but three States which have not adopted it to some extent, and those are Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine; and I am not certain that Maine has not adopted it in part, in the election of their representatives to Congress. In Connecticut senators are elected by plurality vote. In Rhode Island various officers such as coroners, judges of probate, and justices of the peace, are elected by plurality; and in Massachusetts, even, it has been adopted in electing the electors for president.
Having these precedents before us of other States in which the principle has operated to the entire satisfaction of their people, what reason is there why it should not be adopted in full? If it has been found sufficiently convenient and important to induce those who have gone before us to adopt it in relation to those questions to which it has been applied, why not carry out the principle, and disembarrass all other clections of those difficulties to which they are now subjected?
It will be said, I suppose, that the democratic doctrine is, that the majority shall govern, and that it lies at the foundation of our government. But suppose that a majority will not govern. Suppose you cannot get a majority to carry on the government. What then? You must of necessity have a minority government. That is what you have now. Although we profess to act
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY. — PARSONS — WALKER.
upon the majority principle, yet, in fact, we have a minority government, and that, too, under the operation of the machinery of the majority principle-a machinery which does not enable the constituencies of the several counties to elect their own representatives, but permits the electors of other counties to elect for them. It is better for the constituents to elect their own representatives. If the majority principle results in the same end as the plurality, only under a far more cumbersome machinery, it is far better that we should save the unnecessary time, trouble and expense, and at once make those who can agree elect the representative, if the majority cannot.
I will not detail the manner in which the majority machinery results in a minority government. The Report confines itself to the officers named in the Constitution, yet it was the opinion of the Committee generally that it should extend to all other officers, but as that is a matter upon which the legislature can act, it was not thought necessary to introduce it into this Report, but to leave it for the legislature to act upon, after the Constitution should be adopted.
Mr. PARSONS, of Lawrence. As a member of the Committee which made this Report, I wish to say a few words, and I will detain the Convention but a few moments.
It is true that the Committee were nearly unanimous in coming to the conclusion to recommend the plurality system. I believe there were only two dissenting voices, and I am so unfortunate, perhaps, as to be one of those. I, for one, saw no reason in the arguments offered before the Committee, why I, as one of the Committee, should recommend that the Constitution be so altered that those persons who are now required to be elected by a majority should hereafter be elected by a plurality vote, and I must say, that the only argument, in my opinion, in fact the great argument, with those of the Committee who were in favor of the plurality system—and which has been offered here by the chairman of that Committee-is, that it is expedient, that it would save time, that it would save trouble, and that it would save expense to the voters of this Commonwealth, should we elect by plurality votes. Now I do not agree with the opinion that it would save either time or expense. I do not agree with the chairman of the Committee, and I say, that in my opinion, it is better to preserve to this Commonwealth the principle that a majority shall rule; and even if it takes six months to elect an officer, that we shall not change the Constitution in reference to those officers who are now elected by the majority. If we cannot elect in one week, let us try until we can elect, so that a majority shall rule in this Commonwealth instead of a minority.
I agree with gentlemen that this is a very important matter, and to my mind it is one of the most important questions to be considered in this Convention, and I therefore hope that it will be carefully considered by every member, and that each will put the question to himself in reference to his own town. How often would it hapin our towns, parties are so split up, that a pen man, whom the majority of voters in his town would not think of voting for, may by some manoeuvring succeed in obtaining the nomination in caucus, and, there being three, four, or five candidates in the field, may, on the first trial, have a plurality vote, and thus represent his town contrary to the wishes of a majority. I wish to ask
every member here if they can sanction such a doctrine? Perhaps such a course may be very judicious under certain circumstances, but those circumstances should be very strong before a minority should be permitted to represent a majority. Perhaps after two or three elections, a majority not being able to agree, it might then be expedient that the candidate having the highest number of votes should be declared elected.
Upon the ground of expediency, why not have the governor of the Commonwealth appoint more officers? I hardly think the members of this Convention would agree to extend the powers of the governor to the appointment of officers which he does not have the power to appoint at the present time, and still that would be more expedient, and would save time and expense.
But, Mr. Chairman, the great reason why I do not agree with the majority of the Committee is, that the great principles upon which we should be ruled is that a majority shall govern; and further, that the necessity which has compelled the people to go to the polls so often as they have for the last two or three years, has incited them to discuss the merits of the various candidates, and led the people to become better acquainted with our system of government, to understand upon what principles they are governed, and I hope we shall never take any course which will tend to create an apathy in the people of this State in regard to the election of their officers, but on the contrary that we shall adopt that course which will preserve and foster the good sense which characterizes the voters of this State. I believe the voters of this State do now take a high stand, not only in regard to their manner of government, but in education, and, in fact, in everything which goes to make up the elements of a free government.
These are my reasons for non-concurring in the Report of a majority of the Committee.
Mr. WALKER, of North Brookfield. I concur with the gentleman who has preceded me, in saying that this is an important measure, It proposes a change, a very great change, in the Constitution of Massachusetts. It is not a question of organization simply, or into how many different departments the government shall be divided, whether into executive, legislative and judicial, or what other or different divisions shall be made; but a question, who shall govern— where the sovereignty shall reside? It strikes at the very foundation of our whole superstructure, and hence it is a question of transcendent importance; altogether surpassing any other which will or can be brought before us.
The resolutions of the Committee propose that a plurality instead of the majority shall govern. What, then, is a plurality? The word, now, has an important meaning. What is the definition of it? Why, Sir, by referring to Webster's Dictionary-and it is very good authority-I find that the word means "two or more." And that is a correct definition. The effect of plurality then, is, as applied to our elections, that "two or more" shall govern the State of Massachusetts. [Laughter.]
Suppose, now, for illustration of this plurality principle, that twenty individuals, acting together, should agree that the plurality should rule. Suppose there were nineteen candidates before them, the man who received two votes would be elected. That would be the effect, and it proves incontestibly that an absolute plurality is two,
nothing more nor less than two. What is true of twenty persons, is true of twenty thousand, or twenty millions. The principle is the same; and therefore I submit again whether this is not a very grave question.
Now, Sir, we profess, here in Massachusetts, to be a democratic republican State. We profess to have as much of the democratic element as is consistent with a republican organization. We do not give up any part of the power of the people which they can possibly retain under such an organization; and hence we provide that all our officers shall be chosen by a majority of all the votes. Then, although the whole people delegate the power to a part, they delegate it to those elected by a majority of all who choose to vote. Is this democratic, or is it not? Is the principle a sound one, or is it not? That is the question I think we should first determine.
In our Bill of Rights we lay down the principle that all men have equal rights. If all have equal rights, then, each one must have an equal right with every other. Then, for illustration, if five men were associated together, and three of them were in favor of one cour-e, while two were in favor of another, is it not clearly right that the majority should decide the question; since all being equal, and three being more than two, the majority, of right, must be on the side of the three. Is not this a fair statement of the case? Is not the reasoning sound? If so, then the principle must be a sound one, that the majority should rule. And farther, do we not feel within our own breasts a conviction that this principle is right? Is it not an instinct of our natures? Do we not admit the principle almost every day of our lives, in our business affairs? In all emergencies, where we have any occasion to confer with any body of men, do we not always say, "let the majority rule"? And why do we say that? It is because we feel that it is morally right. There is something within us which says the majority ought to rule. Now, if this be so, ought we to depart from the majority principle? A principle is defined to be "a general law for the guidance of human conduct." If the right of the majority to rule be a fixed principle then, a law of our natures, ought we to violate it? That is a question on which we ought to act with great deliberation. If we decide that the principle of majority rule is a sound one, then, like every other great principle or law, it should be obeyed-like the law of truth, justice, honesty, or any law which we are accustomed to honor.
Mr. Chairman, I lay it down as a truth, that we are never safe in violating any well established principle, however expedient or convenient it may seem to be for the time being. If we do so, we shall find in the end that we have made a mistake-that we have done wrong. Is it not so? Does not all experience show that when we have violated a great natural law or principle, punishment will follow as a necessary consequence? I think so. Yet we are now asked to depart from this great principle of majority rule, and why? My friend, the chairman of the Committee, (Mr. Hooper,) gives, as one of his first reasons, that other States have departed from it, and therefore we should do the same. Now, I ask if that is any reason why we should do it, if it is not right? I ask if it is worthy of the Convention of delegates assembled in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to revise the Constitution of the State, to inquire