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ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY. – WALKER.
" Again, I'do not know as it will be said, but I
what other States have done, and adopt what people to go the polls as often as they please ; tion, that this result may not happen again. It is they have done as our rule of conductI ask they have a right to try to make an election by a unfortunately true, Sir, that the operation of the whether we are to determine for ourselves in majority, and not be compelled to do it by a plu- plurality system has not been fully analyzed and relation to the correctness of the course we intend rality.
weighed by the people of this Commonwealth, to pursue, or to look to other States for an exam- But it has been said, and it is one of the strong- and is therefore not well understood. Its ultiple? I think we ought to determine for our- est points made on the other side of the question, mate results are not generally comprehended, and selves; and hence the argument that other States that practically, after all, a plurality will some- consequently many now look with complacency have voted thus or so, has no weight-whatever times govern. It can never happen, however, on the system, who would repudiate it, if they with me. Fifteen States have sanctioned slavery, that a plurality will govern under a true major- fully perceived its ultimate effects. There are not but is that any reason why Massachusetts should ity system, because when we speak of the major- a few now who, seeing the great faults of our sanction it? Or if twenty or thirty of the States ity, we do not mean a majority of all who have a present Constitution, under which a minority can, had sanctioned it, would that be an argument why right to vote, but of all who do vote. Candidates and often does rule, are ready to say, “Let us Massachusetts should do it? None at all. In are seldom elected by a majority of those whose have a plurality system at once.” Such persons the second place, it is said that it will be more names are on the voting list. It is said that it do not consider that all the evils they now see convenient, that there will be fewer ballotings, if sometimes happens under the majority principle, and complain of will be removed when a new the plurality system be adopted. Why, Sir, as that in case of repeated trials, the candidate who Constitution shall restore a just representation ; to that, there would be fewer ballotings if we is finally elected receives less votes than he did on for, by such a representation, the rule of a minorwere to provide that officers-once elected shall hold the first ballot; that the people get tired of going ity will be forever prevented. The present diflion during life; and if we went farther, and to the polls, and the election is made at last by a culty will undoubtedly be obviated by the action provided that they might appoint their successors less number than the plurality at the first trial ; of this Convention, and then no one will feel any by will, we should never be troubled with any therefore we had better take the plurality system
occasion for the adoption of the plurality system more ballotings, and that would be better still. to begin with. No, Sir, let the grand principle in popular elections, since the majority will rule, That is the result to which the argument of con- of the majority system be preserved inviolate, and in fact, as well as in theory. venience leads. But, Sir, I believe the great if the people do not see fit, in a given case, to question is not what is most convenient, but what avail themselves of it, that is their own concern. am sure it will be felt or thought by some, that is most proper and just.
You take nothing from them. The difference by the proposed change we shall get rid of third But, again, it has been said, or may be said — between waiving our rights, and being debarred parties. Well, Mr. Chairman, and what shall we for I shall endeavor to anticipate the argument from them, is a very important one. By estab- get instead of third parties? Why, we shall get, likely to be advanced on the other side that the lishing the plurality system you debar the people instead of third parties, founded on principle, facplurality system is the most economical. I very from the right of deciding by a majority, which tions struggling for power. Is it not so ? Does much doubt that. I presume it will be the policy is a very different matter from their waiving the not the history of those States where the plurality of gentlemen on the other side to show that this right voluntarily at the polls ; because in the lat- governs, afford abundant evidence of this? Have system will be a great saving to the State, because ter case they can at any time come out and avail they not more parties than in those States where it will save time and expense in balloting. I themselves of that right, if they please.
the majority principle is maintained? We will think if we try it, experience will show that such I have heard it said, and it may be said here, not call names here, Sir, but I think we may find is very far from the truth. In my opinion, that that the people have got tired of having so many a State not far from Massachusetts where the system of government is most economical which
attempts to effect an election. I beg leave to say whole vocabulary has been ransacked to find makes the people most watchful and vigilant in that I do not think that is the case. It is the pol- epithets with which to designate the different the selection of their public officers; which brings iticians who have got tired of the majorities. temporary factions that have arisen from time to them the most frequently to the ballot-box to That is my conclusion in regard to the matter. time in rapid succession, after overturning the exercise the sacred right of suffrage. I deny the But if it has come to this, that the people have got government and obtaining for the time being the force of that argument in favor of plurality tired of voting, they would do well to call over power to rule. In that State, and in all States altogether.
Louis Napoleon, who will let them vote as often where this principle obtains, politics becomes a As to our town meetings in the country, they as he pleases and no oftener. We deserve to be raffle, the contest of parties and factions a scrub are not so great a nuisance as some gentlemen deprived of the privilege of voting altogether, if we race, in which the one who gets the first start is seem to imagine. They are our great exchange are tired of voting on the principle that a major- likely to come out best. In my humble opinion, days. We have no 'change houses, no 'change ity shall rule. But I deny that it is so. The
Sir, Massachusetts stands in a much higher posihours; but at these country town meetings we people are not tired of voting in this manner, and tion in the eyes of the world, than those States, get together and make trades, the constables I have yet to learn that they are dissatisfied with where the majority of the people's vote is not collect their taxes, the farmers swap oxen, and our present majority system. Circumstances necessary to an election of rulers. She has more the people exchange sentiments upon the various which have transpired in this State have done self-respect and is more respected. subjects connected with their business. I believe, very much toward creating whatever sentiment But it may be said, and it has been said, that as a matter of economy, it would be well if the
there is in favor of the plurality system. A mi- we have already admitted the principle in our people were compelled to have town meetings nority has governed here several times, and does Congressional elections. It is true we have, and once a month. It would have a happy, socializing govern at this moment in this Commonwealth. we have seen its effects; and I am willing to subeffect.
That is the very thing that many of us object to, mit those effects to the consideration of the ConAgain, Sir, it will be said that these frequent that the minority is governing in Massachusetts vention, for its decision, whether they intend to elections tend to increase the asperity of party when the majority ought to govern. But it is recommend the adoption of the plurality system. spirit. I deny that too. I am quite sure that we said that this state of things has happened under Having noticed, as I suppose, most of the arguhave advanced so far in civilization, that in this a majority system. I deny it. It has happened ments which will be urged in favor of the plurality Commonwealth we are able to come together, and under a system which is virtually a plurality sys- system, its convenience, its economy, &c., I now that without getting angry and abusing each tem, and only nominally a majority system. propose to give a few reasons why I am strongly other, either with our tongues or our hands; that Owing to the peculiar manner in which we are in favor of the majority system. In the first we can meet as peaceable and good citizens. We represented in the House of Representatives, it place I prefer it, because it is already established do so meet, and I have always remarked one thing has happened that we have been governed by a in the Constitution of Massachusetts. I have no in particular, namely, that we have never had a plurality (a minority of the whole) several times, great veneration for the "rust" of which gentleprotracted contest—and we have sometimes had a and it is that fact which has brought this Conyen- men have spoken; I do not understand that most contest of eight or ten different trials-unless there tion together. The people feel that the majority things are made better by oxydation, but at the was a sufficient reason for it. If there was not a ought to govern, and when they have seen that same time, I lay down the rule, that no change sufficient reason for meeting so often, the people under the present system of representation a mere ought to be made in the Constitution, not dewould not go as they do, to the polls, time after plurality could govern, they became dissatisfied, manded by the people. I have made up my mind time. Should we be afraid to trust the people to and ordered this Convention; and they expect us that a few great and important alterations are meet at the polls ? No, Sir, we will trust the so to alter the Constitution in regard to representa- required, and these I am very anxious to make; Tuesday,]
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY.– WALKER-SCHOULER.
and that these may not be endangered, I am not all go to the coast of Africa, for a cargo of slaver, Mr. SCIIOU'LER. I have a very distinct willing to make any other changes, especially because the plurality have so decided! What recollection of what the gentleman said, and genthose I deem for the worse.
choice had the two men who dexired to proceed to tlemen who were in the House of Representatives My second reason for wishing to retain the their original destination? The glorious choice at the same time, will recollect the facts. Howmajority rule, is that it is a sound democratic doc- between two evils, to choose the least! Now is ever, as the gentleman disclaims it, of course I do trine. It gives every man his full power, so that not that an excellent position in which to place not desire to say anything that will give him any a man may be a man under any circumstances the voters of Massachusetts. Yet sich is the offence. The gentleman concluded his speech towhatever; so that at the ballot-box he may not be effect of the plurality system, undoubtedly. For day, by stating, that a great inany men had come less than a full man, and his vote have its full one, I do not believe that any body of men ought to this Convention who were in favor of the effect, either for a candidate or against him. How ever to place themselves in such a position. Af- plurality system, but had seen sufficient reason to is it under the other system: A man may be of ter what has been said, I think it will appear change their minds. I do not know what insome consequence by his vote, or he may not. It very clear that the majority principle is a good fluences have been brought to bear upon m mbers will depend upon circumstances. If he belongs to conservative principle in any popular government, to change their minds upon this question in so a third party, which is in the minority, then he and that a departure from it is a departure from a short a time, for the gentleman from Brookfield, comes up to the polls with the certainty that his just and correct principle, and as a consequence, (Mr. Walker,) tells us that he considers it one of vote has no weight whatever; that it can have no that mischief must follow. I believe if we were the most important que-tions which would come effect on the final result. He may vote according to examine the history of other States, we should before the Convention. I have in my possesto his convictions of right, in order to bear his find that political demoralization has always fol- sion a document which I find in the proceedtestimony against wrong, but so far as any politi- lowed the adoption of the plurality system. It ings of the Senate for 1852, and as the gentleman cal effect is concerned, he might just as well not must follow as a matter of course, if I understand has voted for and advocated the proposition that vote at all. He finds himself a political cipher, the matter, for it destroys the moral element of the people, by their vote in favor of calling this unless he will resign his honest convictions, and politics. That is my firm conviction, and the ('onvention, adopted the whole of the law under join one of the two great struggling parties. All reasons I have adduced in the support of my poxi- which it was called, I ask him whether they do that is left to him under the plurality system is tion, are to my mind entirely sufficient. I know not also adopt the Report of the Committee who the miserable alternative of "choosing between very well that many persons came to this ('on- reported the bill for calling this Convention. The two evils." Ought any man voluntarily to place vention under the impression that it was inevita- bill was accompanied by a very elaborate report himself in a position where he must choose one of bly fixed, that the plurality system must be and argument in favor of the Convention, and I two evils, or be politically annihilated ? Ought adopted, and, therefore, had made up their minds have no doubt the circulation of that document we to present a Constitution to the people, which to be resigned to it. Within my own knowledge, among the people had a great effect in inducing destroys individual independence and power, and many who came to this Convention expecting to thein to vote for calling the Convention. I find makes the people the tools of caucuses and con- vote for the plurality system, have made up their in this report the following. I read from the 7th ventions, bodies not known or acknowledged in minds to vote against it, under the conviction that
section of Senate Document. our state or national Constitutions ? it is impolitic and wrong.
Mr. WALKER. Of what year? Why, Sir, gentlemen seem to lose sight of the For myself, I have no party feeling on the sub
Mr. SCHOULER. From the Senate Docutrue operation of the plurality system. Looking ject, and believe that any man who votes upon ment of 1852, and it is signed by some very reat some immediate conveniences, which it may this question under the influence of party consid- spectable members of this Convention, who were afford in particular cases, they seem blind to the eration is very unwise, to say the least. Who members of the Senate at that time. The followgreat fact that it impairs the true democratic prin- can tell which party is going to be benefited or ing are the names of those who signed this docuciple, and destroys all that is moral in political injured by its operations for the next two years ? ment : Whiting Griswold, Anson Burlingame, action. And it does more, it virtually limits the and who can judge what party will stand the best Moses Wood, Isaac Davis, R. C. Brown, Martin right of suffrage, since it compels every man to chance of success ? I beg leave to say that parties
Briant, John B. Nichols, Samuel C. Pomeroy, vote with some party that has a prospect of suc- are in a transition state, and it is quite impossible William W. Bacon, William Cleverly, John W. cess, or else neutralizes his political influence. for any but the Omniscient to foresee how they Simonds. I find in the report, which is very The majority principle on the other hand, gives a are to stand. We cannot tell even what parties will elaborate, that the seventh reason which they man his full power; under it his vote always tells, rise to plague us next fall. No man can do more give for calling this Convention, reads as follows: and he feels he has a voice in the government of than conjecture. I think no one should be ready the State. to make an important change in the Constitution
“ The present cumbersome, formal mode of orAllow me, Sir, still further to show the nature upon a mere conjecture. Besides, Sir, it is utterly
ganizing the government, we submit, should be of the plurality expedient, for it cannot be called wrong for us to be swayed by any party consid
abolished. Eight or ten days are now usually
occupied in this organization, which is nothing a principle. A simple illustration often deter- erations whatever. We ought to examine and less than an annnal waste of six or eight thousand mines or exhibits the operation of a great princi- see whether the majority principle is right, dollars of the people's money. The election of ple better than a labored argument. I will whether the great interests of Massachusetts are Secretary of the Commonwealth, Treasurer and suppose that nine persons form a copartnership for to be maintained by preserving it, and if so,
Receiver-General, Auditor of Accounts and Exthe purpose of making a trading voyage to Cali- then we should sustain it under all circumstances
ecutive Councillors, by the people, with an appli
cation of the plurality principle to these officers, fornia. They own the vessel, man and navigate and at all hazards.
as well as to the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, it themselves. Before sailing they agree that a Mr. SCHOULER, of Boston. I desire to say and State Senators, would do much to remedy plurality shall govern in case there is any differ- a few words in reply to the gentleman from North this evil. These changes, with a few other slight ence of opinion about the course of the voyage. Brookfield, (Mr. Walker,) who has discussed this
modifications of the Constitution in the same After they have been sailing a while, becoming question before. I recollect a remarkable speech
direction, especially the establishment of a Board
of men to count the votes, declare the result, and rather discouraged, perhaps, they begin to debate which he once made when this same subject was notify the persons elected, would enable the legiswhether they shall not change their direction. A under discussion in the House of Representatives. lature to organize the government, and be ready part of the company think that they will do well He began by making a speech in favor of the to proceed with the business of the session in two, to engage in the African slave trade. Another plurality system.
or at the longest, in three days. This change part think that they had better engage in smug- Mr. WALKER. I appeal to the Chair, be
alone, would, in the course of ten years, nearly gling, while a third part are disposed to proceed cause in the first place he is not telling the truth,
or quite defray the whole expense of the Conven
tion." on their voyage to California, according to the and in the second place he has no right to refer to original agreement, pursuing an honorable and my action in another body.
I say that the people had read that argument lawful traffic. There is no way of deciding Mr.SCHOULER. I think the gentleman will in favor of the plurality system, when they voted but by a vote, and when this is taken, it is not forget the fact, that before he got through to call the Convention, and there is nothing in that found that four persons declare themselves in with the speech, he came out against the plurality report which is more true than the section which I favor of engaging in the African slave trade, three system.
have just read. We voted yesterday to divide for smuggling, and two for proceeding to Califor- Mr. WALKER. I wish to call the gentleman the State into forty Senatorial Districts. Suppose nia. What is the result: Why, that they must to order for stating that, which I say, is not true. that we keep in operation the majority system, Tuesday,
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY. - SCIOULER.
why, it may happen that we should not have a elected because they are on the party ticket, and single senator elected. This event is not improb- they come into the legislature and are made senaable, but very possible, and then what would tors. Now, I ask whether it would not be better follow. But the gentleman from Brookfield has to allow the people of the counties to elect their gone on to theorize against the principle of plural- own senators under the plurality system, than it ity, and he supposes a case, that in a town of is to throw the question into the House of Reptwenty-one voters nineteen of them should be resentatives, and let us elect them. That is the candidates, and the person getting two votes question now before the Committee, and I ask should be elected. What a beautiful republican gentlemen to give it their careful consideration. principle this would be, to have a man elected The principle is just the same with regard to who only received two votes. Now, I wish to the governor. Year before last, and last year, we apply the argument to the majority principle. had a governor who did not receive a plurality of Suppose there was a town of twenty-one inhabi- the votes of the people of the Commontants, and nineteen of them were candidates, and wealth. The gentleman who had a plurality no man should have more than two votes; and was not made governor, while the gentleman who suppose that that principle should be applied in had twenty thousand less votes was made goverall the towns of the Commonwealth, because the nor; and how was this effected. It was done by gentleman has put it forth as a general principle, a party vote in this hall. I do not say that this and we are to discuss general principles here. I was not constitutionally right, for in all probabilidesire to know, under the operation of the ma- ty I should have done the same thing if I had been jority principle, where your government is, and in similar circumstances; but I want to have the where your House of Representatives and Senate Constitution so amended that this matter shall be are? And, I ask, whether it is not better to have taken out of the hands of the legislature, and let these men elected by two votes, when the people the people decide at the polls who shall be goverby their votes have adopted this principle, than to nor, and who shall be senators, instead of placing have no government at all. The gentleman says the burden on the members of the legislature that my proposition is extravagant, but I can turn from the county of Suffolk to say who shall be around and say that his is equally so; for there is senators from the county of Berkshire, as is someno town in the Commonwealth of twenty-one times the case now. Sir, I think that from the voters that would have nineteen candidates, and present state of things in this respect arises a elect a man by two votes.
great evil, and one which we have met here for Now, Sir, I am not so much given to theorizing the purpose of remedying. It is my opinion that as the gentleman from North Brookfield is. I the people would be very much disappointed if know, Sir, that he looks at things very meta- we were to submit a new constitution to them physically, and sometimes argues very abstractly; without embodying in it the plurality principle ; but I am going to take things as they are, and I and I agree with the report of the committee last am going to show, if it is in my power, that the year in regard to the subject of expense. There plurality system is the best system which we can is no legislature in the whole country that is so adopt. As the gentleman from Fall River has long delayed in the early part of its session, about shown, this system represents the majority of the going to work, as the legislature of Massachusetts ; people more nearly, and has for the last ten years, and this delay all arises from the cumbrous mathan the majority system. Let us look, for in- chinery in the Constitution, with regard to the orinstance, at the Senate as now based. There are ganization of the government. In the first place, gentlemen in the Senate, and have been for the Mr. President, after we come here we have to aplast ten years, who do not even represent a plu- / point a committee to count the votes, and it takes rality of the county that voted for them. There them a good while to do that. Then in the other are and have been men there, and there always branch they have got to see who are senators, and will be so long as we keep up this majority sys- it takes them a good while to do that. After tem, who did not receive even a plurality of the having found out how many vacancies there are votes of that county which they are elected to the in the Senate, they are reported to the House, legislature to represent. I want to know whether and there is a day appointed when those members this is right, and I should like to hear the gentle- of the Senate who are elected shall come here and man from North Brookfield explain it. We will the vacancies in the Senate shall be filled. All take, for an example, the county of Middlesex, as it this time, Sir, we have no governor elected, and is now represented in the Senate ; and I beg after being in session something like eight or ten gentlemen to understand that I mean nothing days upon an average—I think it was ten days personal in this illustration. There are gentlemen this year-we finally find out who the governor in the Senate from the county of Middlesex, who is; and then we know also, in a great many cases; did not receive a plurality of votes ; and how did that the man who is governor has not received so they get into the Senate? They have got there by large a number of the votes of the people as the operation of what the gentleman calls the another man has who is not chosen. Now, Sir, beautiful system of the majority. I have assisted such being the effect of the old system, and seeing for several years in electing senators from the the evil of frequent elections in our congressional counties of Worcester, Bristol, and almost every districts, this legislature have applied a remedy so other county in the State except Barnstable county, far as they had the constitutional power to apply and she has always elected her own; and Sir, I have it-they have applied it to the election of memsometimes had some doubts or scruples whether bers of Congress; and I put the question to every I had a right to vote for senators from all these gentleman here, whether the operation of that counties. The operation of the thing has been law has not been satisfactory and salutary to the that instead of being elected by a majority of the people of the Commonwealth, and whether it be people of the counties where they reside, they are not better that our congressional delegation should elected by mere party votes, irrespective of their be full all the time, than that three-tenths of it, having had more or less, at home,—they are and sometimes four-tenths of it should be kept
out of congress for a whole session. The people saw that there was an evil, and they applied a remedy; and now we have our congressional delegation full. I believe, Sir, that there is no law which the legislature have passed for many years that is so satifactory to the people as the law with regard to the election of members of Congress by a plurality vote. If the principle is a good one for the election of members of Congress, it is equally good for the election of members of the HIouse of Representatives or of governor ; but they could not apply it in these cases because there was a constitutional difficulty in the way. We now have the question before us just as the legislature had it before them. That measure was passed by the popular branch of the legislature for six successive years, I believe, and it was not until the seventh that it was adopted by the other branch-showing that the popular will was in favor of it, and after a time the other branch had to yield to the popular will.
"The gentleman from North Brookfield attempted to illustrate his theory by a supposed case of a vessel sa ling from Boston to California ; and he said that they agreed in the outset that a plurality should decide disputed questions among them. But, Sir, how did they agree? Did they agree by a plurality or did they agree by a majority? I take it that a majority of them made this agreement, just the same as a majority of the people of this Commonwealth have agreed that a plurality of the Senate shall elect a governor when there is no choice by the people—no matter whether he has the highest or the lowest number of votes. And, Sir, if we adopt the plurality principle in our constitution and send it to the people, and a majority of the people agree to it, it will not then be a law of the minority or a law of the plurality, but it will be the will of the majority. It will be a part of the fundamental law, agreed to by the people just as they agreed to exclude minors, women and idiots from a participation in the elective franchise. If the question be proposed to them whether they will agree that the plurality shall decide these elections, and the majority agree to that, the decision of the plurality is the will of the majority. This is merely devising an expedient to relieve ourselves of a difficulty which has long perplexed us. Now, Sir, to return to the illustration of the gentleman, suppose that after the vessel of which he speaks had got outside, the crew or passengers had begun to quarrel, and they agree that the majority shall decide where they shall go; but after they get to sea there is a small party who want to have their way, and another small party who want to have their way, and a third party who want to have their way-making three nearly equal divisions. It is very evident that on the majority system neither party could do what they wished, and between them all they could not go anywhere, and the ship would in all probability be cast away. Or suppose that a majority agreed to go to the coast of Africa and catch slaves, and the minority disagreed to it. Would not the moral guilt rest upon the majority just as much as upon the plurality in the case to which the gentleman has referred ? It is merely adding one on one side and taking one off of another side. It is nothing after all but the morality of numbers, instead of the morality of morals. Now, Mr. President, I go for the morality of morals.
Among other things, the gentleman said, if I
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY. - BALL – FRENCII -- DAVIS — (HURCHILL – KEYES.
understood him, that he was in favor of having of this cumbersome government, and that if we 'thing which has been done by the previous frequent elections-he thought they added to the continue to adhere to the plan of requiring a , lezinature, and so we do not get ahead at all. morals of the people and did a great deal of good, majority to clect, by and by we may find I sincerely hope that the gooal sense of this inasmuch as they brought the farmers together, ourselves in that situation in which the slup of Convention will be sati tied that our fathers acted so that they could swap horses.
state will be foundleroil for want of a government winly wlen they adopted the principle that the Mr. WALKER, (in his seat.) I said, oxen. to rule. Is there even a di-tant probability of majority should rule. (Laughter.]
such an occurrence? You may make extravagant ! Jr. DAVIS, of Plymouth. I was in hopes Mr. SCHOULER. Well, Sir, it does not suppositions against the workings of any system, ' that this question would not be taken before make much difference whether it be horses or and if you argue against its safety or expuliency pune member of the Committee that reported the oxen. Now if this is a correct view of the sub- upon those suppositions, you may aryue down ! amendment, had explained more fully to the ject, we might hold our clections once a month, any principles, either in morals or in politics. Convention the reasons which induced them to and instead of having a market day, we could llas the practical working of the present syutem recommend so great a change in the Constitution. have an election day. Instead of having an an- ever resulted in that has there ever læen a I do not rise for the purpose of expressing my nual fair in the fall for the exhibition of cattle, time when we have been left without a govern- views, at this time, upon the question before the we might have all this on election «ays, and per- ment: So far from it, there has never been a Convention, but, as a member of it, to call upon haps this would accommodate our farming friends time when any trouble in regard to the govern- tiat (ommittee, or soinc one of them, to give to very well. IIe thought, as I understood him, ment has arisin froin that source. To be sure', it this convention, fully and fairly, the reasons that it would be an advantage to have clections has sometimes been necesary to hold a number which inlued them to adopt and recommend once a month. Now, Sir, I do not think so-I of elections, but that matter re-ts with the people that Report. think it would be a great disadvantage. I think themselves, and I have never known of an instance Mr. CHIURCHILI, of Milton. As no other if we have yearly elections, that is sufficiently in the rural di-tricts where the people have found gentleman seems to be prepared to present his often for the people to come together to vote, and fault because tiey were obliged to go to the polls views to the Convention, and as the question is they ouz'it then to decide the question without from time to time in order to give expression to about to be taken, I will occupy a few minutes in bringing it into the halls of the capitol. their will.
stating my reasons for opposing the adoption of It is for the people to decide whom they shall I am opposed to the proposition before the this Report. It appears to me, that the etfect of have for governors, who shall be their senators Convention, and I hope and tru-t that gentlemen adopting tie plurality system will be, virtually, to and representatives; and t:100 questions should are willing, as they professed themselves to be disfranchise all third and small parties. Suppose be kept outside of this hall.
yesterday, to advance rather than go backward. a town in t.is ('ommonwealth is divided into The gentlemin speaks about the immoralities of And if we do not advance by adoj ting this three parties, one of which casts fifty-one votes, ot'rer Stites were the plurality system prevails. change, why alter the ('onstitution ? Shall we another titty, and the other forty-nine. Now, He might also speak of the immoralities of his be advancing by a lopting this course: Gentle- the adoption of the plurality principle, not only own State under the majority system. I have men have talked here about extending the basis throws out of consideration this smaller party, seen some things in this capitol, to which I doubt of representation as to the Senate, and they and renders their appearance at the polls utterly whether he can find a parallel in any State where wanted it to include the whole people, and give and entirely useless, but it says to them that, as the plurality system is adopted. But I do not them all a voice, and shall we to-day say that the the questions at the polls are to be settled by a wish to bring into this Convention any of those minority instead of the majority shall rule? I small plurality, your vote can have no effect, and matters in reference to other States. I believe was in favor of extending the basis of the Senate, you must be driven into the ranks of one or the that all these difficulties have arisen from the fact and I am to-day in favor of having the majority, other great parties, for if you adhere to your inthat the election of all the great officers of our and not the minority, rule.
dependent organization, your votes will have no government--the governor, treasurer, and others Mr. FRENCII, of Stoughton. Before I am influence upon the final result. I say it tends to -is virtually taken out of the hands of the people called upon to vote upon this question, I have one disfranchise all those small parties which do not and thrown into the hands of the small body of word to say. I have listened to the arguments give up their organization, and join themselves to men who annually assemble here. I wish in our thus far advanced, and have endeavored, as far as the two leading parties of the Commonwealth. new Constitution to provide that all these great I could, to weigh them. I have heard nothing as Has this ('onvention a right to say, by their matters shall be settled by the people, and outside yet to convince me that so great a change as is action, that forever hereafter, the parties of this of the walls of this capitol, and I believe that now proposed, should be made in reference to the Commonwealth shall embody themselves under object can only be accomplished by adopting, in fundamental principle of our government. Was two standards, and under only two, and thus all elections, the plurality system.
not this government originally based upon the drive the people to the choice between two evils ? Mr. BALL, of L'pton. I am not disposed to principle that a majority should govern? I know The only argument I have heard advanced in intrude my opinions upon the Convention, but I we have been progressing in our ideas of govern- its favor, is that of expediency. have one or two thoughts in reference to this ment, and probably we are a great deal wiser than The system of the majority seems to rest upon matter, which I desire to express. As far as I our predecessors; but if I understand the argu- principle-upon the fullest expression of the sen have listened to the discussion, I have heard no ments which have been advanced, the adoption timents and opinions of all the people of the Comattempt made to prove that the system of majority of the plurality system will not obviate the monwealth ; but the plurality system goes upon elections is not democratic, and that it is not the difficulties under which we are now laboring, and expediency-upon saving time and money. Now, true system. Nor have I heard any attempt to will not prevent the minority from ruling. I as the question has narrowed itself down to that prove that the plurality system was more nearly never expected to see the time when an attempt of principle or expediency, with the light I have in accordance with the true principles of democ- would be made in Massachusetts to change the heretofore been able to obtain, so far as I now racy. Here, then, is the proper starting point- basis of representation in the Constitution, so that can judge, I shall go in favor of the majority, to ascertain which is the true principle. We the minority should rule. But it is said by the which is founded upon principle, and against the believe that elections by a majority of the voters, gentleman upon my left, (Mr. Schouler,) that the plurality system contained in the Report before as now established, is that true principle, and it Legislature, Senate, Governor and other officers us, which is based upon the ground of expediency. has not been denied. Now, gentlemen propose to cannot be elected by a majority. Well, Sir, if Mr. KEYES, for Abington. Mr. Chairman, I make a change, on some certain suppositions in they cannot be elected by a majority, let them intimated when before up, in reference to this regard to the action of the plurality principle. not be elected by a minority; and if nobody can question, that I thought this discussion would And what is it? It is that the officers who shall be elected by a majority, perhaps it will be well last for several days, and I certainly hoped it be elected under the plurality system, will, on for the State, for one year, that nobody should be would last a little longer than it is now likely to. the whole, have as many votes as they now have elected. (Laughter.] I am not sure that we do I recollect some three years ago, when this prinunder the majority principle. Then what is not have much more legislation than the State ciple was alluded to, and when attempts were gained: There is nothing gained; and if so, needs, for I find that when the political tables are made in some cases to adopt the plurality system, is it well to alter the Constitution without changed, when one party is turned out of power, that it awoke a very strong feeling among the gaining something? What is to be gained : and another party comes in, that the first thing people, all over the State, and that the newspaper We are told that we shall thereby rid ourselves which the in-coming party does is to upset every- press, and, especially that in the city--with one
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY.— KEYES - HOLDER.
exception perhaps--were aroused with fear, by this infancy. But, Sir, although this Convention is strange and extraordinary innovation. Ai ng composed of men of all parties, yet I trust, that all the precedents which we have been called on for the moment, they have forgotten all party disto follow, or to which we have been referred, in tinctions. I certainly know of no party man to the Convention of 1820, not one has been brought oppose. I think nothing of party, and care not a forward to support the plurality system. Such a fig for the might of any party opposed to me, nor thing was not then thought of at all. It was of any hostility which they may manifest, towards supposed that the majority system was the system the party to which I belong, in consequence of of the Revolution; and it may have been con- any supposed strength which they possess. I do quered, for ought I know, in the battles of the not think there has been a period for half a ce Revolution. It was then held to be somewhat tury, when party animosity has so died out for sacred.
But it shows the downward tendency of want of material to feed upon, as at this very day opinion, and the rapidity with which we move; in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. But, if when we, in a Convention like this, composed of we will step out of the circle in which we exist, it men of all political parties, with every shade of po- will be found that in times past, these small litical opinion, without having given even one day's minority parties, struggling on for a time, as if discussion to it, will sit with so much apparent under a cloud, side by side with the great parties indifference, and allow such a subject to be dis- of the day, and afterwards triumphing upon their posed of. It is possible, however, that all minds own hooks, or infusing themselves into the other are made up upon it; that the opinions of all parties, have been the life-giving and controlling have been perfected ; that it is unnecessary to dis- spirit of the people of Massachusetts. And, Sir, cuss it further, and that we are ready to take the if Massachusetts is different from the other States final vote upon it.
of the Union, this has made her different. Now, Sir, as a member of the Senate of this Now, these examples which have been brought Commonwealth, when the subject was before forward from the other States, instead of inducing that body, I constantly opposed this innovation, me to adopt the system which they recommend, although, many of those with whom I usually are the strongest possible arguments, to my mind, acted in reference to most questions, went in why we should not adopt it. Whatever may have favor of it. But, nevertheless, the plurality sys- been the cry in relation to the politics of Massatem was, at that time, to some extent adopted. chusetts; and, however much we may have Of its consequences, I am not the judge. Indeed, abused each other at home, we all know that the I care nothing about the consequences. I think, history of Massachusetts gives abundant testiif it be right that the majority shall rule, we ought mony to the whole country, that the politics and to stand by that principle and not allow it to be the politicians of our State are far superior to winked out of sight in this Convention altogether. those of any other State in the Union. We have A question upon which so much depends, should a government which has commanded the respect not, at least, be passed silently by as a matter of and esteem of every other State. All this grows no consequence.
out of these very difficulties in our elections, of Mr. Chairman, the sụbject of party influence which gentlemen so much complain. It has is a somewhat delicate one to allude to in this grown in part, out of our corporate representaconnection, but as it has been mentioned by tion, which has made even the smallest town in others, I trust I shall be excused for alluding to the State feel an interest in our public affairs. It it. It is a fact well known, that all reforms pro- has kept them acquainted with the action of the ceed from small beginnings. The idea may, legislature, and with the laws adopted. It has perhaps, originate in the mind of a single man, in kept even, every man in every school district his closet, dreaming over what another man has acquainted with the progress of the government said a thousand years before; there, the thought and of the legislature, all the time. But, if you has arisen in his mind to make some great and diminish or take away this interest in their annual important steps in advance; to make some im
elections, you will render them careless, heedless, portant reform in science, politics or religion. and indifferent, and finally ignorant as to the Himself, as well as his doctrine, has been received conduct of their government. But I am travelby the world with sneers, with insolence and ling out of the range of my subject, for I did not derision; but, with the true spirit of martyrdom intend to allude to this matter on this occasion. and heroism, he continues undaunted, till at last I think these difficulties and inconveniences must the world adopts his reforms. All the inventions be borne with. and reforms in the arts and sciences, as well as in Now, Sir, in reference to what has been said of politics and religion, have been founded, and have a plurality electing the officers under the majority proceeded in this manner. I look upon these system, I do not hold it to be the fact. A man third parties, therefore, as something not to be expresses his opinion just as much by staying disregarded; composed, perhaps, originally of a away from the polls as by going there. If the single man, around this small nucleus, a few of election becomes of so little importance as not to his comrades and sympathizing friends will clus- induce him to go to the polls, he expresses his ter, increasing till the little band organize and go to opinion by staying away, and if for the same the polls amid the derisive sneers of the crowd ; reason, a portion of the inhabitants of a town stay and they go on increasing till at last, like heroes, at home, the candidate who is elected, is elected they lead the world to triumph and victory. by the will of the majority, just as much as if
Well, Sir, our majority system has been the every man went to the polls and cast his vote; patron of this class of men. It may be that we do for every man who stays at home, stays, because not all think that these third parties are for til the question at issue is not of sufficient imporbenefit of the Commonwealth. It may be that tance, or, because the difference in the candidates some of us think, they deserve the treatment they is not of sufficient importance to bring him out; have at first received; that the world would have therefore, the majority principle is maintained been better off if they had been crushed in their precisely as much as if every man were at the polls.
Now, one word, in reference to the idea that these
elections cause unnecessary trouble. Sir, there is no law sending men to the polls, which causes unnecessary trouble. Men are well paid for such trouble, and if they are not, it certainly is no trouble for them to stay at home. Suppose they do stay at home, the election finally takes place, and it is a majority election. Those who are elected will not be taunted with being minority candidates; they carry with them the majority principle, and the majority respectability. It cannot be thrown in their faces that they are the representatives of a small minority, chosen perhaps, by accident, and that whatever they utter may be directly contrary to the wishes of the people they represent.
But, Sir, I did not come here to make a speech upon this subject. I have thought nothing of it, until I saw it in these rules this afternoon; but I should not think I had wasted the afternoon, if, without enlightening the mind of any one in reference to this subject, I had served to postpone a little longer the decision. I should like to hear further upon this subject before I am called upon to give my vote in relation to it. I think our fellow-citizens will desire that we should consider this subject more maturely before we make so important an interpolation into the system adopted by our fathers. I should like to hear whether there are arguments which can be advanced which should induce me to change my opinion in this matter, for I hold myself in reference to this as in reference to all other subjects-open to conviction. And I am ready to change my opinion forty times a-day, if necessary, to come to what I believe a correct conclusion.
Mr. HOLDER, of Lynn. I have listened to the various arguments which have been made upon this question with great attention, and it is with some little reluctance that I rise to make a very few remarks at this time. I was in hopes that the question would not have been taken for a few days; but as I perceive that gentlemen are already beginning to manifest an anxiety to vote upon this subject, I wish to say a few words. The great argument that has been advanced against the Report of the Committee is, that a part of the people would be disfranchised—the third party or some other. I do not believe in that doctrine. In this Yankee land, when we find any obstacle in our way, we are always ready to overcome it, and adapt ourselves to the exigencies of the case. If the plurality system is an obstacle in the way of those who vote with the third party, I venture to say that they will overcome it. I am anxious, for one, to preserve every democratic sentiment which is contained in the Constitution, and I believe the people of this State expect that we shall make progress in the facilities for carrying on the right kind of a government. Progress and Democracy are one. I do not believe that the people desire to go to the polls so often as seven or eight times a year, as may often happen, and has occurred within the present and former years. I think that such frequent elections rather have a tendency to array men against men in bitter enmity; and the great political and true feeling of Democracy loses its value in consequence. By the incorporation of the plurality system into our Constitution, I have no doubt that we shall dispense with these frequent elections, which produce so much bitter and exasperated feeling, and that our elections will be rendered, in consequence, comparatively quiet and