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Tuesday,]

ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY. – HYDE – WARI) — WILSON.

[May 24th.

calm. If I thought that the adoption of this system would encroach upon any Democratic principle, I would be the last man to support it. It would have suited me best to have adopted the plurality system after one trial; but rather than make no progress, I shall, for one, vote for the Report as it comes from the ('ommittee.

Mr. IIYDE, of Sturbridge. The only apology I have to offer for troubling the Convention at this late hour, is, that certain members have been called upon to explain the views of the ('ommittee. I regret that the chairman of the ('ommittee is not present. I do not intend to occupy the attention of the Convention long; but I can scarcely do less than give some of the reasons which actuated this Committee in making the Report which we have prosented to the Convention. The Committee were nearly unanimous in their Report, as has been before stated ; and they thought that this Commonwealth would be better represented, and more directly represented under the plurality than under the majority system. There are several reasons which led them to that conclusion. It seems to have been taken for granted by gentlemen who have oppo-ed the Report of the Committee, that, in all cases, if the plurality system were adopted, the minority would rule, and not the majority. That seems to me to be a mistake altogether. If the plurality system is adopted, it does not follow as a natural consequence that the majority will not still rule; and I contend that they will in most cases. For instance, when there are but two candidates for the same oitice, the majority must prevail. It is impossible that the plurality principle should apply. That principle can only apply where it will relieve the people from the burdens and difficulties of the election where there are several candidates, or more than two. With the majority system, it is difficult in all cases, and in some impossible to secure the election of any candidate who is set up Gentlemen will understand, in this ('onvention, that the majority system does not require a majority of all the qualified voters; it only requires a majority of those present and voting at any one clection. Now, I contend, and this was the view of the Committee, that, as a whole, the officers elected will receive a greater number of votes, under the plurality system, than under the majority system. Where there are but two candidates, the majority will elect; and where there are more than two, they must have an election ; and frequently, in order to obtain that election, it is necessary that the plurality system shall be applied. It is not often the case, and probably has never happened in this Commonwealth, that there are more than two large parties. The people in this State are ordinarily divided into two rival and opposing parties. Sometimes a third party is interposed. Those who form such a party have a perfect right to do it, and they are to be respected. They have the same right, in proportion to numbers, as any number of persons whatever, no matter on what principle the division may take place. “But we have seen that where the third party is strenuous, the people come to the polls time after time, and, after all, there is no election. Look at the effect in the town elections, where we elect our representatives. The more trials there are to elect, the more divided they become, and the more firmly they adhere to their distinctive principles, and an election is almost entirely impossible. You may try it to almost any extent, as it

has been done for the election of memulus of con- 1 tie, and that experting an election to take place, gress, and fail after all. I recollert, that where they would congregate in greater numbers at the we have tried for a period of one whole congress, polls. I think they would canvass the merits of for two years, we tailed to choose a representative. i their respective candidates more closely, and I The people saw it, and they obviated it by making believe they would press the election with more a law, that if there was no election at the first trial, vigor, and feel a depur interest. Knowing they a plurality should clert. Was not that a wise had to spend but one day, and that that day law ? Does it not work favorably: I have would sure to them an clution, they would be heard of no objection to it. If it works well in pretty anxious to get as many votes as they could one in-tance, why will it not in others? I be- , for their candidate. lieve that, under the plurality sy-tom, the towns The gentleman from North Brookfield, (Mr. would be represented more perfectly than it is Walker,) supposed an instance of a town having possible to have it done under the majority system. twenty voti Ds and nineteen candidates, where the

I will refer to another principle which artuated man who obtained two votes would be elected. the Coinmittee. It may be thought a novel idea, , That could never happen. It would be an exbut I have no doubt of its correr tress; and that treme case. What town, county, state, or nation is, if the plurality system is adopted, we shall be is there in which there could be nineteen parties represented by better men than if they are elected known. There could be no such thing. It is by the majority system. Ilow is it now: Any , impossible that there should be so many parties; man who can get a majority of the votes must be t'uere never could be more than three or four at choven. Why is he chosen? The question hadis the must. If any towns or counties, large or not been for many years, who is the best man, small, contained many more divisions of the who will most ably represent the people, and disa voters, they would not be parties; they would charge his duties in the legislature of the Com- not be entitled to the name or respect of parties, monwealth ; not who is most firm, bold and fear- they would be mere clans. Would they not, less in action, and honest in purpose. Such are when tus clividel into such a number of factions, not the men who are selected. If a man has bu inclined to settle down finally on the plurality been already in orlice, he has pretty likely given system. The ('ommittee were, after all, almost offence to somebody, and he will fail to secure unanimous in the opinion that the theory of maall the vote, and of course he will not be selected jorities ruling--a correct doctrine in a great deas a candidate. A man suitable for office has not gree-was more potent in theory than in practice. unfrequently warm friends, and sometimes bitter The Committee believed that, practically, the enemies. When the parties come to canvass for officers elected would get a greater number of the election, they understand that they must get votes at the polls, as a general rule, than if the some man who will secure a majority of the votes, majority system prevailed. I think if gentlemen or he will not be made the candidate. The man will retiect and consider how the majority system who is the most popular must be the nominee. has operated for a few years past, and even up to They frequently throw aside the man who is best the present time, they must necessarily be conqualified to represent them, and take a man who vinced that the officers elected will receive as will command the greatest number of votes. great, or even a greater number of votes from the Sometimes he is the best man, to be sure, but not application of the plurality system, than they do always. The candidate in the small towns, is now receive under the operation of the majority often a negative man, a man who has never done system. These are a few of the reasons which anything to make either friends or enemies; and actuated the Committee. As it is now late, I will so a man who will secure the votes becomes not occupy the time of the Convention any furthe candidate, and is elected, when, if the plural- ther. ity system prevailed, a better man would have Mr. WARD), of Newton. As I presume the been the candidate, and filled the office.

question will not be taken now, I will move that Then, after the first trial, what is the conse- the Com nitee rise, report progress, and ask leave quence? If there are continued trials, as has to sit again. been the case very frequently in this State, the The motion was agreed to. people will not attend the polls fully after one or two of the first trials. After there have been

IN CONVENTION. various meetings on several days, and there has The PRESIDENT having resumed the Chair been no election, the people become disgusted with of the Convention, the Chairman reported that some of the proceedings and fall off in numbers ; the Committee of the Whole had had under conand the man who is finally elected by a majority, sideration the report and resolves on the subject would not have received even a plurality on the of clection by plurality, and had made some profirst day of trial, if the plurality system had pre- gress, but had not come to any conclusion thereon, vailed. The number of votes which constitute a and asked leave to sit again. majority at last, would not have made a plurality Leave was granted. at first.

Mr. WILSON, of Natick. I rise for the purAnother reason which operated upon the minds pose of moving that when this Convention adof the Committee was, that they believed the ten- journ, it adjourn to meet on Thursday morning dency of the plurality system would be to secure at ten o'clock. I make this motion at the request a larger vote, that it would extend the right of of some members of the House of Representatives suffrage. They viewed it in this light; they be- who assure me that the House will, to-morrow, lieved that if this principle were to become a part make their final adjournment, but it will be of the Constitution, the people would all know ressary for them to have the use of this IIall that every officer, State, Town, and County to-morrow in the afternoon. I hope, therefore, the officer, even all elected by ballot, would neces- Convention will agree to the motion which I now sarily be elected on the first trial, except in make, that when the Convention adjourn, it adextreme cases when there happened to be a journ to meet at ten o'clock, A. M., on Thursday.

1

Thursday,]

ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY, &c. – HOOPER — SUMNER — WARD — HALL.

(May 26th.

We shall then have quiet and undisturbed posses

Elections by Plurality. sion.

Mr. WARD, of Newton, addressed the ComThe motion was agreed to.

mittee. He said: When I made the motion, at On motion by Mr. TIIOMPSON, of Charles- the last sitting of the Convention, that the Comtown, the Convention, at five minutes to six mittee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit o'clock, adjourned.

again, I did not do it so much for the purpose of
availing myself of the privilege of occupying the
floor, as that the further consideration of the sub-

ject might be postponed, and the discussion con-
THURSDAY, May 26, 1853.

tinued at another time; but availing myself of The Convention met pursuant to adjournment, the privilege to which I am entitled, I shall now and was called to order at 10 o'clock, A. M. proceed to make some remarks in reference to the Prayer by the Cha; lain.

arguments that have been used by gentlemen who The Journal of Tuesday was read and ap- have participated in the debate in relation to this proved.

subject.

The question is, as reported by the Committee,
Order Concerning Books.

that it is expedient so to amend the Constitution, The order submitted on Tuesday, by Mr. that in all elections by the people of the officers Churchill, providing that no book or other printed named therein, the person having the highest matter, not strictly appertaining to the business of number of votes shall be deemed and declared to the session, thereafter to be transacted, shall be be duly elected. That is the question that is purchased or subscribed for, for the use of the presented to us by the Report of the Committee. members of the legislature, was adopted.

And, Sir, a question of greater nitude is not Mr. LELAND, of IIolliston, moved to take up likely to come before this body. It is a question from the table the resolution heretofore offered of the very highest import; it is whether elections by the gentleman from Otis, (Mr. Sumner,) con- by the people shall be governed by pluralities or cerning the printing of resolves and orders. by a majority of the votes. The Report proposes The motion was agreed to.

to alter the Constitution in this respect, and to The resolution having been read by the Secre- make a departure from long established usage. Sir, tary,

there is danger of our attempting too much; we Mr. LELAND said he hoped the resolution could not do a greater wrong, than to attempt to would be agreed to by the Convention. At pre- reform too much. It will have an injurious effect sent, as it appeared to him, there was considerable upon the minds of the people, when they come to confusion existing in respect to these orders and act upon the Constitution, which is to be subresolves.

mitted to them. I think the people do not desire Mr. HOOPER, of Fall River. I made a sug- that many amendments should be made. And, gestion to the mover of this proposition at the Sir, my belief is, that they do not desire this one. time when it was offered, under the impression And it seems to me that it is not consistent with that these orders and resolves were not published our duty here, that we should adopt this Report. in such a manner that members can readily refer I say we should not adopt it for this reason. We to them. But I find that they are all printed in have adopted the basis of population for representhe official report of the proceedings and debates tation. of the Convention, and every member, therefore, We have extended our basis of representation has ready access to them. I shall, therefore, be to the utmost length that is practicable, and now opposed to the adoption of this resolution, as in- shall we sanction a principle that abridges the curring an unnecessary expense.

freedom of elections, for I hold that it is the right Mr. SUMNER, for Otis. It is true, probably, of every voter to so cast his vote that it shall tell. that these several orders and resolves are pub- It has always been a fundamental principle of this lished in the official report of the proceedings of government, that elections shall be decided by a the Convention, but I apprehend it is not correct majority, and I hold that it is a just principle. to suppose that these orders and resolves are If, sometimes the minority rules, it should not therefore in the hands of each and all of the alter the principle. Principles are eternal, deviamembers of the Convention, for there is some tions from them are but temporary, and in an delay in the publication of those reports. I think, enlighted community, of but short duration. A Sir, that almost all gentlemen on the various Com- principle that is just in itself, should not be sacrimittees have experienced more or less inconven- ficed to expediency. I admit that the majority ience from not having before them, in a compact principle, carried out in practice, is not unfreform, the several resolutions and orders that have quently attended with much difficulty. It occafrom time to time been adopted. It is a matter of sions expense and loss of time, but I would ask convenience, and to some extent, of necessity, had we not better bear with that, than to sanction in point of fact, that we should have these orders a principle that deprives the voter of the power to and resolves in a collective form.

give effect to his vote. The question was then taken upon the adoption We will suppose a case, that the voter consciof the order, and it was, without a division, de- entiously believes that the leading prominent cancided in the affirmative.

didates are, none of them, suitable persons to be

elected ; that their nomination is a nomination COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE.

“not fit to be made." What can he do? What On motion of Mr. HALL, of Haverhill. The should he do: One of two things : he must Convention resolved itself into a Committee of either vote for a man who is unfit for the office, or the Whole, Mr. Sumner, for Marshfield, in the if he vote for the man of his choice, it must be Chair, and proceeded to consider the first subject without the least probability of his vote counting on the calendar, being the report and resolves on anything inore than a piece of blank paper. I the subject of

ask whether this is not virtually depriving the

voter of the right of suffrage? I say virtually, for, on the one hand, his vote is nothing if he votes according to his choice, and on the other, to make his vote available, he must cast it against his convictions of what duty requires.

We are, Sir, a people of progress, and it behooves us carefully to examine the ground before we make a change; before we take a step. I do not think that the Convention, or the people will deem it necessary, that this Report should be accepted, and the Constitution amended according to it. More especially am of that opinion, because the Report not only does not recognize in any event the majority principle, but it excludes it on the first trial to elect. Now I think to substitute the plurality principle for the majority vote, though it may affect the election on the first trial, it is equally true, that it will nevertheless not rid us of the evils of a minority government. But I do say, and I do conscientiously believe, that it will serve to perpetuate the evil of a minority government. I shall not at this time trouble the Convention further.

Mr. IIALL, of Haverhill. I desire to say a few words in justification of the vote I shall be called upon to give upon the question before the Committee. Upon that question I shall probably differ from some gentlemen in this Convention, of the party with which I usually vote, and I desire to say what I have to say at this time for the purpose of asking the Committee, in considering this question, to consider it in reference to another question which is directly connected with it-I mean the election of all or nearly all of the county and district officers by the direct voice of the people. I happened to be upon the committee that had this matter under consideration in relation to the election of the officers of the Commonwealth proper as well as the county and district officers. The committee had several sessions and debated this matter; several orders have been sent to that committee, one or two asking that additional officers be recognized in the Constitution; one, by the gentleman from Worcester, asking that all officers now named in the Constitution be elected by the people ; another, by the gentleman from Montague, asking the committee to add to these all district and county officers and elect them by districts; another, by the gentleman from Millbury, asking that the election of justices of the peace should also be added, which, in fact, covers the whole ground of recognized officers to be elected by the direct vote of the people. Now, I may be permitted, in this connection, to say, that I think, in debating this question of electing by plurality, it is proper to allude to these other questions, and that they should be debated in connection with it, so far as may be allowable under the rules of the Convention. Now, my vote would be affected upon this question-were I in favor of the majority principle—by the decision of the question as to the extent, if that could be ascertained, to which they would go in determining how many officers they would direct to be elected by the people. It may not be improper for me to make a general statement in regard to the action of the committee, that from the best information which they possessed in reference to this question, they determined that the election should be by the plurality direct upon the first ballot. lIow the majority of the committee would go provided there was no Thursday,)

ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY.-HALL-GRAY.

May 26th.

election by plurality, I cannot say; I can only But what is the result of the theory of the may have been said already, as I was unavoidably speak for myself, and as far as my vote is gentleman from North Brookfield ? It is that, absent when the debate on this suljert was opened; concerned, however the majority of the com- finally, an election is had by perhaps not more and for the same reason, I may answer very immittee may go, I cannot go for electing all these than one-tenth part of those who actually voted on j«rfirtly the arguments of thout gentlemen who various officers by a direct vote of the people. the first ballot; and in many cases a man is chosen have taken a po-ition opposite to that which I But, Sir, as a principle, I am in favor of electing who received less votes on the first ballot than skall tale', as I can only judge of them from the officers by the people ; as a principle, I desire to seviral of his competitors. Thus, while you replies to them to which I have listened. I am go as far as may be considered practical and preserve the majority principle, the practical very plud, Sir, that upon this occasion, and more practicable for the election of all state and county result is that a man is chos'ul who does not even especially upon the occasion when this question officers by the direct vote of the people. But it have a plurality at the time when you have the was brought up in the legislature, it has been appears to me that the majority of the Convention fullest expression of the will of the people. It brought up free from all party aspect; gentlemen

- I care not of what party, for I do not consider has been said that convenience should be thrown of oppurite political doctrines have considered and this a party question-cannot go for electing, in aside entirely; but here we see the result of that. discussed it without any reference to party lines. the manner proposed, tl.is long list of officers- The people become tired, and they stay home; Now it may be that in the coure of my remarks I Secretary of the State, Treasurer and Receiver- does the majority then govern ? No, Sir. A may use the word “purties," or may refer to General, State Auditor, Attorney-General, Sher- single handiul of voters govern, who have had parties; but I wish it to be understood, that if I iffs, Coroners, Register of Probate, Judges of Pro- more patience and perseverance than the others; do so, I refer to the political parties now existing bate, Commissioner of Insolvency, Regi-ter of and they thus gain the ascendancy because they merily in a historical sense, without passing any Deeds, County Treasurer, (ounty ('ommissioner, have tired out the majority of the voters of tie judgment as to the merits of the doctrines of any District Attorney, Clerk of the Court, Notaries Commonwealth. Gentlemen know very well of them. I suppose, Sir, that we shall all agree Public, and Justices of the Peace.

that this is the practical result of tl.is system. that it is desirable that in the election of officers Here is the whole catalogue of subjects which My friend from Lawrence says t'at after two by the people, there should be as much unanimity have been referred to the committee, for them to or three unsuccessful attempts to elect a man, it as posible. There have been countries, and I beconsider the expediency of having all these officers would be, perł aps, best to adopt the plurality lieve Poland was one of them, where entire unaelected by the people, and if I may be allowed system. But is not his principle worth anything, nimity was required upon the part of the electors, to express an opinion on that matter, in this that he propues to abandon it after two or three i and of course elections could never be fairly carconnection, I will say that I consider it a safe trials? If the principle is a good one, it should ried on with such a provision. There are public principle to adopt, that the elections of all state, be adhered to, no matter how many trials were bolies which require two-thirds of all the voters county, and district officers, so far as practicable, necessary in order to have an election ; but if not, in order to make an election, and I believe the should be left to the people of the Commonwealth. if it is worth so little that it may be abandoned | Pope holls his seat upon that principle. The Believing in that principle, and believing the after the first two or three trials, why shall we en- general principle is, however, that a majority of selection and election of public officers safe with cumber ourselves with it at all ?

the people—by which we all mean a majority of the people, I desire to adopt some mode in which I think, as was remarked the other day, that the voters who actually take a part in votingwe can carry it out in practice for the election of the adoption of the plurality system would give shall have power to elect public officers; and we these various officers. As was stated the other us the best men on the first trial, because on that would have that majority where it is practicable. day, this is not entirely a matter of convenience. system every man would know that on the first But, Sir, we all know that it is not always pracIt is a question of time—it is a question of money, trial somebody would be chosen. It would be an ticable to have a majority; and the question is, for time is money. People are unwilling to turn extreme case if two men should have precisely the how shall we approximate the nearest to it: The out day after day, and ballot over and over again, same number of votes. Then each voter will say people hold elections for governor; and the theory without any probability of an election; and this to himself, “I have my own choice about this of our Constitution always has been that the govis found to be the practical result of the present matter, but it is certain that one of these two ernor should be elected by the people and not by system of voting in this Commonwealth. I hope, will be chosen, and which of them is the best the representatives of the people; but we know therefore, that gentlemen, in debating this ques- man? I would rather have Mr. A. than Mr. B., that at the present day it is found that a majority tion, will debate it in reference to the other and would rather have Mr. B. than Mr. C."

of the people do not unite upon any one candiquestion-of how many of these officers, if not With this distinct understanding, I think the best date. What is the dictate of common sense in all of them, should be elected by the people. man would be pretty sure to be chosen ; while that state of things ? - If a majority of the people Perhaps I should not go as far in this matter as on the majority system, the votes would be divided cannot be obtained in favor of any individual, the some gentlemen with whom I am associated; but among some other parties and some other candi

next thing is to approximate the nearest we can if the principle is a correct one, as advocated by dates, because there would be some who did not to it. If we cannot have a majority, let us have some gentlemen on Tuesday last, it has an exactly like either of them.

that number of votes which best represents it? important bearing on the question immediately As I said just now, I desire to act upon this and what is that number ? I agree with the genbefore us. Let us for a moment look at the subject with reference to the other subject to tleman from Haverhill, in what seemed to be the manner in which our elections are now conducted. which I have referred, -that the elections of general tenor of his remarks; that number is the On the first day, as we all know, the various state, county and district officers should be by the largest number who vote for any one individual, parties bring out their voters; they spend their people. I would not, perhaps, go to that extent and, therefore, the only practical conclusion to time in rallying their friends, and not only that, which some would; I would not have our judges, which we can come will be the plurality principle. but if all stories are true, they spend money, and our justices of the peace, or our notaries public That principle has been adopted in the greater sometimes a good deal of money. On the first elected by the people; but I say that so far as part of the States, who are sufficiently republican ballot we have, in any general election, what may practicable, I desire it, and that all the voters of in every sense of the word, and I suppose all will be said to be a fair and full expression of the this Commonwealth shall be permitted to express admit that they are sufficiently democratic in their wishes of the people ; but it frequently happens one opinion in elections where there is a full ex- notions to satisfy even the strongest lover of dethat nobody is elected. Now, my friend from pression of the will of the people, as to those who

mocracy North Brookfield says that the majority principle shall take part in administering the affairs of the Now, Sir, as we are making a Constitution for is the best principle, because the great question Commonwealth, in order that we may elect our practice, in order to see the practical operation of with him is, Who shall govern ? But the result best men. I believe these two subjects are inti- the majority principle, let us revert to the teachis, that on the first ballot, when there is the mately connected, and I have, therefore, sought ings of our previous experience; and what do we fullest expression of the voice of the people, there this carly opportunity to submit these views to find? Until very lately, a majority has been reis no election—there is nobody to govern. Then the Convention, in order that our action upon the quired to determine all elections; and we will they proceed to ballot again and again, and after question before us may be influenced by a con- just look at its operation in the case of members four or five trials there is still no election. Then sideration of the whole matter depending upon it. of congress. After a violent struggle,-as I have the question may well be asked, who shall I hope the resolve on your table will pass. said before, not at all a party struggle,-after a govern? I answer, Mr. Chairman, the greatest Mr. GRAY, of Boston. I shall need the in- most earnest contest, the legislature were driven number voting for the same officer should govern. dulgence of the Committee if I should repeat what into the adoption of the plurality principle as deThursday,]

ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY.-GRAY.

[May 26th.

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cisive of the election of members of congress, after Well, Sir, for the first half century under the
a single trial; but to that point I will refer Constitution, that was generally, almost entirely,
presently. What was the state of things pre- the case. My own memory extends back for half
viously? Gentlemen may recollect that at one a century, and it was not until the year 1834 that
time three seats were vacant in our congressional we were ever obliged to choose a governor through
delegation; and this state of things lasted during the instrumentality of the legislature. The elec-
a whole congress, if I remember right. Suppose tions up to that time were decided by a very
that in the apportionment of representatives, that small majority. There always would be some
congress had said, “ The State of Massachusetts, scattering votes, but they were few. Governors
although numerically entitled to ten representa- have repeatedly been chosen by a plurality of less
tives, shall be cut down to seven,” what should we than one thousand over their respective political
have said to that? There could be but one an- opponents. But of late days things have altered,
swer; and yet, Sir, the legislature suffered this to and what is the state of those matters now? The
be done by our own people, and upon what prin- present governor was not clected by a simple ma-
ciple was it justified? I have heard gentlemen jority of the people. His predecessor for two
say upon this floor, that rather than have a rep- years was not so elected. The gentleman who
resentative whom they disliked, they preferred preceded him, and who is a member of this Con-
that their district should be unrepresented. Well, vention, was not so elected, for two years preced-
Sir, it was a consistent part of their doctrine ; it ing the election to which I have referred. Here
was where their argument led them, and it will then we go back for five years, in which period
lead us to that in any case if we adopt the ma- the people have not chosen a governor once. The
jority principle. Gentlemen say that the majority governor has been chosen by the action of the two
must rule; but the majority will pronounce in fa- branches of the legislature of this Commonwealth,
vor of no one--that is to say, the majority will have in the way provided in the Constitution.
nobody to rule. At this point, the people step Now, I ask, is a majority of the people better
in and say, “ We will have a magistrate—we want represented by the legislature—I do not say in
to be represented.” Some people may say that those particular instances, but in the long run-
if they cannot have the man of their choice, better represented by the legislature, than it would
rather than to have the opposing candidate be by a plurality of those who vote? I appre-
elected, they prefer that the State should have no hend not, Sir. The truth is, that if we go on as
governor. I have no doubt there are individuals we have done, in the main, for the last ten years,
who say this, and perhaps they say it more than I would suggest one provision, to be incorporated
they think it; but I do not suppose that we who into the Constitution, different from any which
propose this Constitution to the people, are of that has been proposed-a provision to carry out in
opinion, nor do I suppose that the people who are theory what will surely happen in practice—and
to ratify this Constitution before it goes into effect, that is, that the people shall nominate the two or
will agree to any such sentiment. Suppose the three highest candidates, and that the legislature
majority of the people of a district should say shall choose from those two or three. For thac is
that they would have no representative in con- virtually what we shall do. I therefore think,
gress, to what would that lead? If every district Sir, that in contending for the plurality principle,
should say so, it would stop the wheels of govern- We are contending for the voice of the people to

ment—it would be nullification. We are, there- be heard in the election of governor, and not for • fore, bound to start with the position, if we are the voice of the legislature. In some of the States

to have anything but anarchy, that we must have of the Union, in Virginia, I believe, the legislamagistrates; and it was upon this view of the ture elect the governor. By the present existing case that the plurality principle with regard to provision, for some years past, it has resulted, and members of congress was adopted.

for some years to come it will result, in causing Now, Sir, it is of no consequence-and I beg the governor to be chosen by the legislature, and gentlemen, if they have this idea in their minds, not by the people. Perhaps, Sir, I could narrow to dismiss it-what party would be benefited or my position still more, and should strictly say, injured by the adoption of the plurality principle; that the House will choose the governor, for the for the actual history of the matter will show that House will be a much larger body than the Senif the plurality law had been adopted two years ate. No one supposes, be the principle adopted before it was--which would not have been one what it may, that the House will be less than six day sooner than it ought to have been the polit- times as numerous as the Senate; and in practice ical effect of it on the parties as they then existed the House will settle the question in joint ballot. would have been just the reverse of what it was I contend, therefore, that the effect of the operwhen it was adopted. I hope we shall consent ation of the majority principle is to take the power to dismiss all considerations of that kind. The of election from the people, and give it to the theory of our government has been, from the be- legislature. If we throw such a power into the ginning down to the present time, that the gov- hands of the legislative body, what becomes of all ernor should be elected by the people; that is, to our system of checks and balances ? What beuse an expression which savors a little of Hiber- comes of the provisions in the Constitution which nicism, that the governor should be elected on are designed to effect a separation of action begeneral ticket at our elections of chief magistrate, tween the executive and legislative departınents, by the votes of our citizens, not counted as at and between each of them and, the judicial deother elections, where the votes of ten majority in partment? The truth is, you throw the power one district are of as much force and weight as of election into one branch of the legislature. the votes of one hundred majority in another dis- If I repeat this idea too often, it is because I trict, but that every citizen's vote should be think it of sufficient importance to be dwelt upon counted individually, and that the governor with emphasis. should be chosen by the votes of a majority of the We next come to the consideration of the Senpeople, and not of their representatives.

ats as affected by the prevailing system. What

is the effect of the existing provisions upon that body? It is that no senator shall be chosen by the people, but he who has a majority of all the ballots. If no person has a majority, then the senator is chosen by a joint ballot of the legislature. And what has been the result : Senators have frequently been elected, who had a less number of votes than their competitors. I have no doubt that the parties that have done that within the last ten years--I will not call nameshave acted as their competitors would have done, had they possessed the same powers, and as parties will act in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, where the community is nearly equally divided.

I say further that I have ever considered, and do now consider, that the provision for filling up the Senate by a joint ballot of the legislature, as the most defective and objectionable provision in the Constitution, and I hope, if the Convention reject the Report of the Committee, still that they will make the election of senators an exception to the general rule.

Then, as to the House of Representatives—how has this plurality system operated upon that body? We have heard a great deal said about a constant and full representation of every part of the people. That is a theory which I should think would command entire unanimity of opinion in this body. I believe there is not a man in this Convention but will agree that every portion of the State ought to be constantly represented in the legislature; yet to accomplish that end, no unjust course should be pursucd. As to the merits of the different courses which might be adopted, that is not a point to be discussed now, as it is not directly before us. Why I adduce this point at this time is to say that if we agree that the whole people should be represented, why should we agree to keep in existence a system which, year after year, has by some sort of accident, deprived a large number of the towns of this State from any representation whatever in the Ilouse :

Something has been said of repeated elections. In the elections for members of congress we allow the people the first trial; if no one of the candidates receives a majority, then a plurality vote elects on the second trial. Does any gentleman propose to allow such a trial in the election of state officers ? Does any gentleman propose, if on the return of the votes for governor no one shall be found to have a majority, that the people shall have another election: Why, Sir, if any regard is had to the convenience of the people, I think we will not take that course.

Does any gentleman propose that there shall be two trials for the election of senators: That would be equally inconvenient and impracticable. In regard to elections for members of the House of Representatives, it is true you may allow towns more than one trial ; but I apprehend, if you consult the wishes of the people, they will be found much to prefer that a plurality vote should settle the matter in the first instance,

Something has been said as to the encouragement or discouragement of the existence of third parties, or of any more than two parties. I really think that has nothing to do with the question. But I will say that I believe any portion of the people who are in favor of any great object can generally effect it through the agency of two parties, as well as they can through the agency of Thursday,

ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY. – DIRGIN.

(May 26th.

any other number. I do not mean to say that it is stractly considered, right. It is as evident to my governor or without a Senate or House, elected by wrong to form third parties. I might refer to mind as that ten is more than seven.

the majority; then I will consent to adopt the movements in this State which operated effectually Again, the two systems, the majority system plurality system, and not before. Till then I upon the state government without the formation and the plurality system being so diverse, there must hold on to the old majority system. of any new parties. At this day there is a party being such a disparity between the two funda- My friend from Ilaverhill (Mr. Hall) remarked, carrying on a great moral reform-I refer to the mentals, they cannot both be right. At least it that this was a matter of time and money, but he did temperance party—and we find that they can make appears so to me. We might just as well say not once say that the majority principle was themselves felt in this hall without forming any that ten is seven and that seven is ten, as to say wrong. IIe did not say that it was at all a mathird political party. At this moment there are

that two principles, lying at the very foundation lum in se. No, it was a mere matter of time and laws upon our statute book-respecting the wis- of government and so different, should both in money. That was all. But did he say that to dom of which I say not'uing-the very existence themselves be right.

accomplish this advantage in respect to time and of which proves that the people who procured Well, Sir, if the majority system be right, then money we were sucrificing a great principle-a their passage formed a strong body, and yet they to justify a change of that system, there should be principle high as truth and lofty as justice ? He did not find it necessary to form a third political some very strong and urgent necessity, some very did not say it; but I inferred it from what he did party to accomplish their purposes.

strong circumstances existing which demand it. say, whether the inference was a just one or not. But really I do not think that this has anything What circumstances are there to justify this But, again, the gentleman alludes to the matter to do with the question before us. If those who change? This is the question. Novelty? No, of limiting the majority elections to the first, are in favor of this reform or that reform, cannot that is not a sufficient reason for this change. second, or third trial. Now, if the principle of the act with any of the existing parties, but choose to That old chart and compass under which the majority be worth anything, why abandon it at all? form new ones, that is nothing to me. In either Commonwealth has sailed so prosperously and Mr. (Chairman, I would rather-I would infinitely case they exercise a right under our constitution gloriously through all the conflicts of this govern

rather-fail in attempting to carry out right prinand laws; and in the manner of exercising that ment, ought not to be hastily abandoned. I can ciples; righteous principles; principles as true as right they will most likely take counsel of their conceive circumstances, which I pray heaven

God is truc; than to abandon them altogether ; own consciences rather than of me. may never exist-under which it might be proper

but when I see that we must fail; that we cannot The gentleman who just preceded me has said

to have a plurality system rather than none, and carry out right principles ; then, as the only hope, that his vote would be governed by the considerathat is when the majority system fails to secure

I will take hold of the next best which we can tion whether or not the ('onvention shall choose the peace of the ('ommonwealth.

succeed in carrying out; and so would any man. to provide that the large number of officers, now

But has it: I remain to be convinced that it Parties! Why, some gentlemen are afraid of appointed otherwise, shall be elected by the peo

will endanger the prosperity or the safety of parties. I am not. I love parties. I am glad ple. I do not exactly agree with him. I think

the ('ommonwealth. But again, if this majority we have different parties in the Commonwealth. with the present number of popular elections, the

system fails to develop the resources of the State ; Sir, we want all these parties to develop the recase is a very clear one. But I do agree with if it fails to insure the highest prosperity and hap

sources of the Commonwealth. [Laughter.] We him in this, that the greater the number of popu- piness of the people, then reject it. But has it want the loosac party, we want the Western lar elections the stronger will be his argu- failed ? Sir, with all our bleakness of climate; Road party, and a thousand other parties. We ment.

with all our sterility of soil; with all the hard- want the Free Soil party ; (and we have got one, I do not know, Sir, that I could have done

ships with which we have had to contend; with whether we want it or not;) we want the Dembetter, when I arose, than simply to have referred

all these difficulties, still old Massachusetts re- ocratic party; and there are, I think, some gengentlemen to the history of the Commonwealth mains what she always has been--the Banner | tlemen here, who would be very loth to give up for the last few years, and to their own sound State, the Pioneer State. Ilas she ever failed to the Whig party. They would not give it up judgment of what may be fairly anticipated for develop her resources, or to mete out to her citi- without a struggle. These different parties serve several years to come. Patrick IIenry said that

zens what their wants required? Where can to maintain the purity of the government. Let the only lamp by which his feet were guided was you find one instance in which any State, politi- any member of the legislature undertake to carry the lamp of experience. I do not go so far as cally, morally, or intellectually, under a plurality into effect any oppressive or corrupt measure, that, but I suppose every convention of practical

system, has gone in advance of old Massachu- there are men with Argus eyes who will watch men will allow that he who disregards that light setts, with her majority system?

him ; who will check him, and tell him of his entirely, must be wiser than the generality of But, again, I grant that almost any government faults just when he needs it. I am glad that not men, if he entirely escapes the commission of is better than no government. Even a bad gov- only the eyes of the Almighty are upon us, but that great errors.

ernment, poorly administered, is better than no the eyes of men are also upon us. If we do not I have not done full justice to this subject, and government. A monarchy is better than anarchy do right, let them tell us of it. These parties I may not have done justice to the arguments of and confusion. Now, the question is, whether have the effect, certainly, to produce, if nothing gentlemen who have preceded me. But this is

the majority system, under any circumstances, is else, a development of talent among us. not the first time that this subject has been likely to or can fail? That is the most important But again, if we are to have a plurality system brought up for the consideration of many gentle-question to my mind. Will that system of gov

- and for mercy's sake, I hope we are not; I men here. I have heard it agitated legislature ernment fail to secure to the Commonwealth a good mean to go against the plurality and in favor of after legislature. This principle has been adopted and efficient government ? If we are going to be the majority system to the last — but if we are to in more than one important case. It has been

without a government, by adopting the majority have a plurality system, let us have at least, two applied to the election of electors for president system, then we ought to give it up, and adopt the or three trials of the majority before we try it, and vice-president, and to the election of members

plurality or some other system, which shall in- even though it does cost some time and some of congress, and I trust that the circumstances

sure us a government. But does past experience money. I very freely admit, that it will cost both which surround this subject will induce gentle- show, that under the majority system, Massachu- time and money. The gentleman shall have the men to weigh their reasons well and carefully setts has ever failed to elect all her officers? Hlas full benefit of his argument, for it is his argument before they decide to reject this Report.

her government ever been numerically deficient? and not mine ; I am not only willing to admit that Mr. DURGIN, of Wilmington. I do not pro- IIas she ever failed to elect a governor or lieuten

it will cost time and money, but I am also willing pose at this time to inflict a speech upon the Con- ant-governor ? Has she ever failed to provide

to admit that time and money are valuable in their vention, and yet I have a few ideas and thoughts herself with a full Senate or House of Represent- places. They will do great things and work wonupon this subject which I beg leave to present. atives? Why, men from other States coming to

ders in the world, but they are of little conseIn the first place, to my own mind, it is clear and this capitol and beholding our legislative body, quence to me when brought in opposition to prinevident, nay, it is self-evident, that the majority exclaim, “What a body of men old Massachu- ciple. If, therefore, after two or three trials it is system is in itself right; and, Sir, in saying that, setts produces”! Yet this is all under--what! found that the majority cannot elect, that the cirI think I utter the sentiments of every gentleman Under the plurality system? No, Sir, under the cumstances are such that right principles, if you in this Convention. Were a vote on that point to majority system. Now, Sir, when we cannot will, cannot prevail, even then, it is better that be taken now, every voice in this body would elect our government officers with any tolerable there should be an exhibition of them, and that respond in the affirmative. It is in itself, ab- certainty; when we are likely to be without a there should be a manly effort made to carry them

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