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ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY, &c. - SCHOULER-DAVIS.
that the United States are not republican? Does he mean to say that the State of Virginia is not republican, and the State of New York, and Ohio, and Kentucky, and in fact, all the States except South Carolina and some of the New England States, who still retain the majority principle--are none of these republican? Sir, it is an absurdity. We do live under a republican government, and we live under a republican government which has this plurality principle applied to nearly all the offices. We must look at facts instead of theories; wemust look at principles and the actual workings of principles, instead of going back to abstract declarations of what democracy is, or of what republicanism is. regret exceedingly, Sir, that anything of a party nature should have been alluded to in this debate. I know, and others know, that the party to which I belong, and to which I presume I always shall belong, is in a minority in this body; but, Sir, nothing of a party character will deter me from voting in this Convention for any measure which I may deem to be a reform, and which I think is desired by the people. I voted for the amendment before us the other day, to cut up the State into forty senatorial districts; and I had hoped that the gentleman who was held up as the representative of “ Young America,” and the new ideas of the age, would have some better notions of progress than to be found still walking in the footsteps of the fathers of the republic, I thought he would try to adapt our Constitution to the wants of the present time. I know of no reason why we should not have this change as well as any other change which it is proposed to make.
One thing more, Sir, and then I have done. I cannot understand the logic of the gentleman from Satick, and others, who are continually talking about the minority ruling under the plurality system. I cannot understand it, and I have a better opinion of their good sense than to suppose they believe it themselves. They must know, if they know anything about the history of the country or the politics of the country—and the gentleman said that he had been a student of those subjects for fifteen years—that the majority principle provides that men may be elected by minorities. In those States where the majority principle prevails, men are elected in nine cases out of ten-yes, Sir, I venture to say, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred-by a minority. But on the other hand, when did you ever hear of a governor being elected in Kentucky, or Ohio, or Pennsylvania, or Virginia, or any one of those States where they elect under the plurality principle, who did not receive a majority of the votes. They almost invariably receive a majority of the votes; and in the election of members of congress the case is the same. The reason of this is, that men combine. The natural effect of the plurality system is to combine public sentiment and not to scatter it. If every man were to vote upon his own hook, there could be no government at all, the people would be so divided that there could be nobody elected ; hence it is desirable that some means should be devised of combining public sentiment and uniting it upon particular individuals, and this is just what the plurality system does. It thus gives tone and character to the legislation of the country. The gentleman says that we live under a democratic government—under a republican government, because we have this theory of majorities. But the gentleman knows just as
well as any one in the world knows, that we so, I say let the combination go to the sovereigns
On motion of Mr. MORTON, of Quincy, the
Leave was granted. we shall not have those combinations here which On motion of Mr. SHELDON, of Easton, the people outside condemn and consider wrong. I
Convention then, at 20 minutes to seven o'clock, only speak of this because the subject has been adjourned. brought up here, and not in any offensive sense; I allude to these things simply as historical facts, in order to illustrate the principle that if we wish to have a government free from all this mere
SATURDAY, May 28, 1853. machinery and trickery, we should leave this The Convention met pursuant to adjournment, question outside of the walls of the capitol, to be at 10 o'clock, A. M. decided by the people in their primary capacity; Prayer by the Chaplain. and as experience has shown it to be impossible, The Journal of yesterday was read and apto concentrate the voters upon two candidates so proved. long as this majority principle prevails, I wish to have the plurality system substituted for it.
Preliminary Motion. We have seen the workings of both systems. We Mr. DAVIS, of Worcester, moved that the have seen that in the first meeting for the election Convention resolve itself into a Committee of the of members of congress there has been a division Whole, for the purpose of taking into consideraof sentiment, and no choice could be effected; but tion the resolutions relative to the amendment of when the second trial came on, under the plurali- the Constitution, so far as regards the subject of ty law, there was a giving way in parties on each the governor of the Commonwealth. side--men came together to settle their differences, Mr. DAVIS said that he made this motion and I believe all were satisfied. Now what is at the request of a number of gentleman who there so outrageous in the idea of attempting, by were friends of the plurality law, and also at the the plurality system, to put down the third party? request of a number of gentlemen opposed to it. I speak of the third party without any particular It was a question of great interest, and they were reference, for it is very hard to tell which is the desirous of being qoshen the vote should be third party; and I ask if it is not just as bad to taken upon it. Severai of these gentlemen had have the representatives of the people combine returned home on account of sickness, and as it is to have the people themselves combine? inasmuch as these resolves relating to the I think it is a little worse. Now with regard to governor embraced questions upon which the what is said about third parties, let me remark Convention would not be much divided, they had that every one knows that there are three parties, desired him to make the motion he did, in order so that no election can be made by the majority that they might be here when the question upon principle. These three parties are represented in *the plurality system was to be taken. the House of Representatives in just about the Mr. SUMNER, for Otis, said he hoped this same proportion; and unless there is some sort of motion would not prevail. Although he was a combination, the result will be that there can aware that there was not at present a full attendbe no governor at all. There must be a combina- ance of gentlemen of the Convention, yet there tion in order to have a governor ; and as that is was a plurality, and let us, he observed, try the Saturday)
THE GOVERNOR. — IIALL – BUTLER – IIUBBARD – HOOPER – DAVIS.
experiment once, of settling a question by the Mr. BUTLER stated, in explanation, that he The question was then taken upon the motion plurality rule. He was opposed to the adoption intended to be understood as saying that ques- of Mr. Davis, of Worcester, that the Convenof the motion, because when questions had been tions of vast importance were not usually decided tion resolve itself into a Committee of the whole presented here and discussed, as had been the case on these two days, and not that no question shall for the consideration of the resolutions relating to in relation to the resolves proposing an amend- be taken on those days.
the subject of the governor, and it was, upon a ment to the Constitution, regarding the establish- Mr. STETSON said, that in making or altering division, agreed to: ayes, 162 ; noes, 133. ment of the plurality principle, gentlemen should organic laws, he did not consider one question be in attendance when the time for final action above another, and he thought it was just as
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE. arrived, and be prepared to vote. If this subject proper to take the vote upon the plurality ques
The Convention accordingly resolved itself into should be postponed on account of the absence of tion to-day as it would be upon any other
a Committee of the Whole, and proceeded to congentlemen, it would form a precedent to be fol- amendment of the Constitution which had been
sider the Report of the Committee on the subject lowed hereafter in regard to other subjects of brought before them. If the members intended of the governor. Mr. Ilooper, of Fall River, in equal importance. It was a practice which to close the session before September, he hoped
the Chair. ought not to prevail. And he was also reminded they would not consent to depart from the regular
The Governor. of the fact that the printed Report of the Committee routine of business, and the order of the Convenhad not been circulated among the members of
The resolves reported by the Committee were tion. the Convention, so that they had no opportunity Mr. EAMES, of Washington, said that when
read, as follows:-of examining the question which the gentleman the gentleman from Lowell, (Mr. Butler,) stated
Resored, That it is expedient to alter and from Worcester proposed to consider.
that no important question ought to be taken be- amend the Constitution, so as to provide that no Mr. DAVIS, of Worcester, observed that the cause members from the country desired to go person except a citizen of the United States shall Report had been printed and in the hands of the hyme, he was in error.
be eligible to the ottice of Governor, nor shall any members for more than ten days.
As far as he knew, the delegates from the
person be eligible to that office who shall not have
attained to the age of thirty years. Mr. WILSON, of Natick, said that many country were ready to do business every day in
Resu'rel, That it is expeclient to alter and members had on file the document in question, the week; and when the proper time came, he anvend the Constitution by abolishing the properand he saw three or four now who had files in should make a motion to meet at nine o'clock in- ty qualitication of Governor. their possession. He was not at all particular stead of ten, as they now did.
Resaleed, That it is expedient to alter and whether the Convention should consider this sub- Mr. DURGIX, of Wilmington, expressed the
amend the Constitution, so as to provide for the
election of Governor, on the Tuesday next after ject to-day, or postpone it and take up another hope that the motion of the gentleman from matter, but he thought it would be preferable, in Worce-ter would prevail. He could not see why nually.
the tir-t Monday in the month of November, antaking a vote upon a question of so great im- gentlemen were so tenacious of this specific point, Resolred, That it is expedient to alter and portance, that there should be a full house. and were not willing that the subject should be amend the 'onstitution, so as to provide that in Mr. HALL, of llaverhill, said he was opposed laid over until there was a full house. He would
case of the failure of an election of Governor by to the motion of the member from Worcester. not say that it would advance business ; but out
the people, he shall be elected by the Senate and He observed that it would have been very con
House of Representatives, by joint ballot. of courtesy to the gentlemen absent, he wished venient for him, had he known that the plurality that the subject of the governor might be taken Mr. DAVIS, of Worcester, said : It may be question was to be laid over for one or two days, up and discussed in the place of the plurality expected, perhaps, by the Committee, that the to be absent, but he thought it would be a bad
question, and the latter deferred until all the Committee who made this Report should give some precedent that when two or three gentlemen de- members were present.
explanation of the resolves which they have presired to be absent, a question of the magnitude Mr. HUBBARI), of Boston, said that he un- sented in reference to the subject of governor. and importance of this should be laid by for their derstood the reason assigned for the absence of I will say that this is a Report by the Commitaccommodation. He hoped the motion would not some of the members, was ill health ; but we tee but in part. The Report, so far as it goes, prevail.
were all liable to illness, and if questions were was agreed upon almost unanimously by the ComMr. BUTLER, of Lowell, remarked that it
to be put off until that time when all shall be ex- mittee. was not usual in legislative bodies to take a empt from such liabilities, the business of the
The first proposition, as to an alteration of the question upon a subject of any great magnitude Convention could not go on. If this subject was Constitution, is, that it shall be so altered as to on Saturday or on Monday, for the reason that in the last stage of action, there might be reason require that the governor shall be a citizen of the gentlemen from the western part of the State have for postponement and delay; but this was not United States. no other time for returning home, if they go at the case. lle thought that the discussion had By the terms of the present Constitution, the all. And it had been usually considered an act better be continued, and even if the Committee
governor is not directly required to be a citizen of of courtesy towards the absent members, not to were to rise and report, the question would then the United States. He was required to hold real take a vote upon a vital and important question have passed through only one stage of its consider- estate to the amount of $5,000, or one thousand upon this day; he had never known this custom ation, and would be assigned a place among the pounds. As long as that provision remained, it to be departed from but once in the legislature, Orders of the Day, upon the calendar of subjects had the effect to prevent any person being govand then he had sat here until twelve o'clock one before the Convention, when it could be consid- ernor of this Commonwealth who was not a citizen Saturday night. He thought the subject pro- ered more fully if necessary.
of the United States. But the law was altered a posed by the gentleman from Worcester was a fit Mr. HOOPER, of Fall River, stated that year or two since, so that foreigners can hold real one to discuss on a Saturday forenoon, whereas when he made the motion yesterday, that the fur- estate. The consequence of that change is, that the plurality question was one of great importance, ther consideration of the subject be postponed a foreigner is eligible to the office of governor. and would, if adopted, exert a great moral influ- until next week, he was aware there were several The Committee therefore recommend that the ence in the community.ninić way or the other, members of the Convention who desired to return governor shall be a citizen of the United States. and therefore ought not to be voted upon except to their homes, and who could not conveniently They also recommend that he shall have attainby a full house. He hoped the motion would be stay in the city. He believed it could be laid ed the age of thirty years. There is no provision agreed to.
over without detriment to the business of the in the Constitution that the governor may not be Mr. STETSON, of Braintree, observed that as body; and as it was generally admitted that it is elected at any age. The age of thirty was fixed he understood the gentleman from Lowell, no the most important question to be acted upon upon because it was thought that a man should question was to be taken except during four days during the session, why not let it be so disposed arrive at that age before he should be considered in the week, excluding Saturday and Monday. of until they could have a full expression in the capable of discharging the numerous and importIf that was proposed as a rule of the Convention Committee. There was other business which ant duties which necessarily must devolve upon he would vote for it ; but he would not vote for could occupy their time more advantageously. the governor of Massachusetts. The age required this motion to pass over the plurality question Mr. KINSMAN, of Newburyport, said that he for a member of congress is twenty-five, for a simply as a matter of convenience, as he did not merely rose to call upon the Chair to enforce the senator thirty, and for the president of the United deem it more important than many other ques- rule by which no debate can be held on ques- States, thirty-five. In most of the States of the tions. tions relating to priority of business.
Union, the age of thirty is required to make an Saturday,]
THE GOVERNOR. — WILSON - HATHAWAY - BRADBURY - MILLER.
individual eligible to the office of governor. ernor shall be commander-in-chief of the militia
inform me whether it is their intention to report
which I apprehended before this matter was taken The next resolve provides that the governor up. Before we went into Committee I foresaw shall be elected on the Tuesday next after the first the difficulty, but hoping and believing that the Monday in November, annually. This alters the subject would not be taken up, I did not choose time of our election a very few days, so as to to trouble the Convention with any remarks upon make it correspond with the time of the national it. If the Committee will look at the Report elections. Once in four years we are called to- they will see at once that it is only a partial one. gether on that day to elect electors of president The difficulty is that we do not know what the of the l'nited States. The result is, that on such Committee may report hereafter, they having years we have two elections taking place within said expressly that it is only a partial report. a few days of each other. The Committee there- They may change the very propositions they have fore recommend, in order to prevent the necessity already reported; they may report matters which of calling the people together twice every four I and other members may desire to have introyears, that the time of election be altered for a duced here, or they may not. When their report few days, and that the election for governor shall comes here as a whole, it may be such that every take place on the same day that electors of pres- member may be satisfied with it. ident of the United States are chosen. That day I would put the question to the respectable and is fixed by the statute law of the United States, honorable chairman, whether the Committee and it is uniform all over the United States, and intend to say that any citizen of the United will not probably be altered. This provision, if States without regard to his place of residenceadopted, will result in a great saving of time and whether in this State or in other States—is to be expense to the Commonwealth.
eligible to the office of governor? Whether a The next resolve provides that the Constitution gentleman from Virginia, or Ohio, or California, shall be so far altered that the governor, in case though he may never have seen the State of Masof a failure of election by the people, shall be sachusetts, shall be eligible to the office of the elected by the joint ballot of the Senate and House governor of this Commonwealth? I do not know of Representatives. By, that amendment the but that they may report hereafter that a residence machinery of electing a certain number of candi- of seven years, immediately preceding the election, dates, and sending them up to the Senate, is done within the State, shall be required as one of the away, and the House and Senate will come qualifications to that office. together and elect by joint ballot. If the plurali- Mr. DAVIS. We mean that the Constitution ty system prevails the result will be that the shall remain, as far as regards the office of goverHouse and Senate will elect from those having nor, just precisely as it now stands, with the exan equal number of votes. If the majority prin- ception of the amendments proposed by these ciple is to prevail, then they will elect from the resolves. two or three highest candidates.
Mr. HATHAWAY. Then the Committee These are in part the simple amendments should have negatived the first article by saying recommended by the Committee to that part of that no further amendments were necessary, the Constitution which relates to the governor. whereas it is now left, by the Report, further
Mr. WILSON, of Natick. I shold like to open to amendments by the Committee. ask the chairman of the Committee whether it is If the Committee intend to make no further the intention of the Committee to report resolu
alterations in reference to the office of governor, I tions upon any other provisions of the Constitu- have an amendment to propose, as far as relates tion in relation to the office of governor? I have to the subject of the first resolve. It is this : a couple of resolves which Lwish to propose for “ That no person except a citizen of the United the consideration of the Convention, if the Com- States, and who shall have been an inhabitant of mittee does not intend to report them. I will this Commonwealth for seven years next precedread them so that the Convention may know ing the election, shall be eligible to the office what they are, and that the gentleman may be of governor." But I do not know what the able to answer my inquiries.
Committee propose to do, and not having the The first is— Resolved, That it is proper and whole subject before me, I do not know how to expedient to alter and amend article first, section act in regard to the matter. The whole Report first, chapter second of the Constitution by strik- should be laid before the Convention before it is ing out the words " and whose title shall be His taken up for discussion. When the Committee Excellency."
shall say they are done with the whole subject, The second is— Resolved, That it is proper and then we can act understandingly upon the entire expedient to alter and amend article seventh of proposition they present. I do not propose to section first, chapter two of the Constitution, by submit my amendment at this time, because, for substituting therefor the following: “ The gov- aught I know, the Committee may change their
mind in reference to this very matter of the qualification for the office of chief magistrate. It would not be a very wonderful matter for the Committee to come to one conclusion this morning, and to-morrow morning change it, and report a different conclusion.
For these reasons and for the purpose of testing this question, I move that the Committee rise, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
Mr. MILLER. I rise merely for the purpose of making an explanation to the gentleman from Freetown, (Mr. Hathaway). I was upon the Committee which made this Report, and I do not know but we proceeded upon a wrong principle. I suppose that the whole Constitution is to remain as it is, in relation to governor, where we have not altered it.
Mr. HATHAWAY. Upon suggestion, Mr. Chairman, I will change the motion I made, and move that the Committee rise, report progress, and direct that this matter be referred to the Committee for further consideration.
Mr. BRADBURY, of Newton. I think the gentleman from Freetown, when he sees the effect of his motion, will withdraw it. The Committee undoubtedly have their reasons for making their Report as they have. They probably thought that this Convention would like to discuss distinct propositions, but the motion shuts out all debate.
Mr. HATHAWAY. At the suggestion of several gentlemen around me, I will withdraw the motion that the Committee rise.
The CHAIRMAN. Then the whole subject is again open to discussion.
Mr. MILLER, of Wareham. I did not suppose this Committee were necessarily bound to report upon the whole of that portion which was referred to them in one entire report. As I remarked before, I supposed we to state to the Convention, by our report, such alterations or changes as we thought ought to be made, but that there was no necessity of stating that entire opinion in one single report, upon every subject referred to us. We proceeded upon this principle ; when there was nothing in the present Constitution which we thought advisable to alter in reference to a particular subject, we said nothing about it. In this manner we have prosecuted our investigations, and have completed them in every branch of the subject upon which we have reported with one exception. For instance, in the second article it is provided that the governor shall be chosen annually. We have said nothing about that. It provides that the governor shall be a resident of the Commonwealth for seven years preceding his election. We have said nothing about that, and we suppose those provisions are understood to remain a part of the Constitution. We recommend the alterations which are recommended in this Report, and no others relative to this subject, and for my own part, I am unable to discover why the Report of the Committee is not complete so far as the subjects to which it refers are concerned. I was averse to going into Committee of the Whole this morning upon this Report, because the last resolve embraces subjects which are not definitively settled. That resolve embraces the subject of plurality. If the Convention should declare in favor of the plurality system, that last resolve must necessarily be materially altered. But that is the only substantial reason I can discover why we should not proceed with this Report now.
THE GOVERNOR. -HATILAWAY - BRADBURY – SUMNER – BRIGGS - WILSOX.
Every part of this Report-all the provisions of That question is enough for them to settle at one also an amendment which should commend itself the Constitution which relate to the choice of vote. It seems to me that the Convention has to the judgment and understanding of every one. Governor, have been considered, and the amend- enough and more than enough to occupy its time So far, then, as the amendments are proposed to ments proposed are contained in this Report, and for the present, and that the committees should this clause of the Constitution I see no possible can be now considered and decided as well as any not be required to determine questions which, at objection to them. Now when some committee time, with the single exception of the last resolve. this period of our proceedings, are so complex shall be appointed, as doul tless such a committee If new subjects should be referred to the Commit- and so intimately connected with the subjects will be appointed, to take into consideration the tee, or if they should see fit to report upon dis- committed to other committees, that their decis- arrangement of the amendments adopted, they tinct subjects, in future, they may report further, ions may at any inoment be reversed by the de- will arrange these amendments, and place each and they will report. But with the exceptian, cisions of those other committees, when they shall one in its proper position, and then present the as I have said, of the last resolve, the Report is come in with distinct propositions for the action Constitution as a whole for the action of the Concomplete upon the subject to which it refers of the Convention.
vention. Then when that committee come to This is all I propose to say at this time.
The subject of the council is also intimately con- these amendments they will engraft them upon Mr. HATILAWAY. I have listened with some nected with that of governor, and that may be the present article so as to make it perfect in its degree of care to the explanations of the gentle-decided by another committee, which must ne- arrangement and phraseology. I see no difficulty man from Wareham, (Mr. Miller,) but I beg to cessarily restrain the action of this. I think the in adopting all these amendments, and I entirely ask him whether he has answered the objections Convention will understand by this time that concur in the Report of the Committee. which I made? I will again state those objec- ours is not the only committee which must neces. Mr. SARGENT. Do I understand that only tions, and I ask his attention. I objected that sarily report in part.
the first resolve is under consideration ? this Committee had not reported in full. They Mr. SUMNER, for Otis. I do not perceive
The ('ILAIRMAX. That is the question under expressly say so in their Report. They only ask that there is any difficulty whatsoever in proceeding consideration. leave to report in part. Now how is this Con- in the discussion of the Report as presented by the
Mr. SARGENT. It strikes me that the two vention to know that they will not change these Committee. I think it is not only a very proper resolves are intimately connected, and unless we very resolves which we have before us when they mode, but in a great many instances a very judi- are to act absolutely upon each specific provision, come to make their report in full. The ('onsti- cious mode of presenting subjects to this Conven- separately and di-tinctly, I think it would be well tution now provides that the governor shall have tion, which this ('ommittee have adopted in refer- to act upon the two first resolves together. I had resided in the State seven years. The gentleman ence to this subject. And I would suggest, as the embodied them with the section of the present says the Committee have said nothing about that, best mode for the Committee to pursue in the
Constitution to which they relate. Should they and that it is therefore to remain. But suppose consideration of these resolves, that they take both be adopted the section would then read :they should in future change their decision upon them up and discuss them, seriatim-discuss each
« 'The governor shall be chosen annually, and no this subject, and say that instead of a residence of one of them in the order in which it is presented,
person shall be eligible to this office, unles at the seven years, a residence of seven days or one day or in any order they may see fit to prescribe, and time of his election he shall be a citizen of the should be the only qualification for governor of to dispose of them in the same order. With the United States, shall have been an inhabitant of the Commonwealth, have not they the right to purpose, therefore, of getting something directly this Commonwealth for seven years next precedmake such a report? I say, therefore, the gen- before the Committee for consideration, I will ing the time of his election, and shall have attleman from Wareham has not answered my ob- move that the Committee proceed to the consider
tained to the age of thirty years." jections. He may think that nothing further ation of the first resolve reported by this Com- I think that is precisely as this provision will will be reported upon this subject, and I presume mittee. I think we can settle everything in that read if these resolves are adopted. I think these they will report nothing further; but it is entirely resolve without danger of any disturbance which two may be considered as one, although I think within their scope and power to do so. I say, may arise from its connection with any other certainly they should be taken separately and therefore, that it is important for us to know subjects or any other resolves which may here- distinctly from the others, reported by the Comwhat to depend on before we proceed to the dis- after be reported by any other committee or by mittee. cussion of subjects contained in this Report. this Committee.
Mr. BRADFORD, of Essex. I move to amend Mr. BRADBURY, of Newton. As a member Mr. BRIGGS, of Pittsfield. Mr. Chairman, I the Report of the Committee by striking out all of the Committee who reported these resolves, I would inquire if there is any need of the motion
after the word, “Resolved," and inserting the desire to say a single word. I had supposed that made by the gentleman who has just taken his following: this Committee, as every other committee to which seat? If the Chair will allow me, I think that "Every legal voter in the Commonwealth shall the different subjects in the Constitution were re- resolve comes up for the consideration of the Com- be eligible to the office of Governor." ferred, had the right to report in full or in part, mittee as a matter of course.
Mr. WILSON, of Natick. Mr. Chairman, I as they might see fit, and the necessity of report- I entirely concur in the opinion of the gentle- do not know that I am prepared to vote for the ing in part in this case must be manifest to every man from Otis, (Mr. Sumner,) in all he has said amendment of the me.nber from Essex, (Mr. one, after a moment's reflection. If we had re- in relation to the Committee who reported these Bradford,) and at the same time I should hesitate ported in full, we should have had to decide resolves. But they have been reported to the in voting for this resolve as reported by the Comwhether the governor shall be elected by a major- Convention, and by the Convention referred to mittee. ity or by a plurality, and we should have been this Committee of the Whole. I therefore think, In the first place, I am not clear that a limitaobliged to decide in what manner the judiciary that, according to parliamentary usage, unless tion of thirty years of age should be placed upon shall be created. All this is in the hands of an- some motion intervenes to prevent, they come up the candidate for governor. I have no special other committee, and we must wait for them to as a matter of course, and a motion to take them objection to that however. But, I have an objecreport and for the Convention to act upon their up is unnecessary. I ask the Chair whether I am tion to another provision in the resolve, which, report before we can act definitely upon those correct?
unless it be properly and satisfactorily explained subjects. From the very nature of the case, The CHAIRMAN. The Chair thinks no mo- to the Committee by some one, I can hardly suptherefore, these committees must report in part. tion is necessary.
port. I refer to that which prescribes that the We must wait for the action of the Convention Mr. BRIGGS. This resolve relates to the governor shall be a citizen of the United States. and of the other committees, to guide us in finally qualification for governor. In the first place, it I maintain that a citizen of Massachusetts should settling all the matters referred to us.
It is per- is provided in the present Constitution that the be eligible to any office in the gift of the people of fectly manifest, that in order for our committee or governor shall have resided in the Commonwealth Massachusetts. Besides, there is considerable any other Committee, to come to any clear and in- for seven years prior to his election. This, it is doubt among different authorities, as to what contelligible understanding upon the subjects com- proposed to leave as it is, and I can see no ob- stitutes a man a citizen of the United States. I mitted to us, we must take one thing at a time; jection. Next, this resolve proposes that he shall do not believe any member of this Convention if we undertake to do otherwise, we shall find our- be a citizen of the United States. It seems to me can tell us precisely what constitutes citizenship. selves in inextricable confusion. It is enough that is an extremely proper amendment. Then That question has never to my knowledge been for this Convention to consider whether the gov- it is provided that the governor shall have attained definitively settled. Now, I undertake to say, that ernor shall be chosen for two or three years. the age of thirty years. It seems to me that is if a citizen of Massachusetts, or one of a certain THE GOVERNOR. — BRADFORD- DAVIS - ASPINWALL,
class of the citizens of Massachusetts should be created governor of the Commonwealth, and should wish to visit Europe while holding the office of governor, he could not obtain a passport of the national government to protect him while abroad. Now, Sir, is a citizen of Massachusetts necessarily a citizen of the United States ? And, is he to be protected and considered everywhere as a citizen of the United States by the national government: Or, if we should happen to elect some one of our citizens governor of Massachusetts, and he should desire to go abroad, must he be compelled to go abroad without carrying a passport from the national government for his protection ? Or, if he wishes to travel in some of the States of this Union, can he travel as governor of Massachusetts without incurring the risk of being locked up in the State of South Carolina ? No, Sir, I see no necessity of putting these words "i citizens of the United States" into the Constitution. I am content that a citizen of Massachusetts shall be the governor of Massachusetts if the people choose to make him such. I do not say that I shall vote against the resolve as it now stands, though I shall hesitate very much to do it, unless some one learned in the law can show to this Committee that every citizen of Massachusetts is a citizen of the United States. But, if that thing is not settled to my satisfaction, I shall vote against the resolution, as I will vote against every proposition in this Convention, which shall in any way compromise the rights of any citizen of the Commonwealth.
Mr. BRADFORD, of Essex. The object of the amendment is expressed in as plain language as I could express it, and it is, that all distinction whatever, of any sort between the citizen and an office holder in the Commonwealth, should be abolished. Our fathers, who framed the present Constitution, which has been in existence over seventy years, were men strongly imbued with the feeling and spirit of liberty, and with the idea of making this Commonwealth a good and republican government. They, were men born one hundred years before our day; and they were raised under a government very different from our own, and from that which they intended to establish here. They had, in their idea in forming a government here, reference constantly to the government of the mother country, for which, they had yet great respect and reverence. There was a great fear prevalent at that time—it may have been a very prudent and proper fear-that the people were incapable of self-government. The government they were about to establish was one of experiment altogether, and they feared they might establish a government that could not stand. The experience of this last generation, has shown that those fears with another population than our own, might have been very resonably indulged. We have seen in attempts to establish republics in other countries, that the people in all parts of the world are not fitted for self-government. That was the prevailing idea here when this Constitution was established. And, beside, that there was a great restraint upon the gentlemen who formed the Constitution, by the strong opinions of another party in the Commonwealth, who, were still more favorably inclined to the government existing at that time in England. The idea which they made to prevail in the Constitution was, that as small a number of persons as possible should participate in the government, and in order to carry out their
principles and prevent any danger to the Commonwealth, to restrict the government to as few hands as it was in England. They looked to the wisdom of eminent men to sustain this Commonwealth. Various restrictions were made to carry out this idea. There was a restriction upon the legal voters in the shape of a money qualification, and there was a qualification for each office holder, from the governor and senators, down to the members of the House of Representatives. There were restrictions of age and residence required, and various other restrictions of that kind, all tending to one thing, all parts of one system, to confine the government of this State to as few hands as possible. Is there a man in this house, who believes if the original Convention of 1780, were now sitting in this place, instead of the gentlemen who are now sitting here, that there would be one vote in favor of adopting such a system at the present day. If the question were now originally to come up of forming a new constitution, who would propose or vote for, or in any manner sanction, this system. It seems to me, if there is any one just and proper reform which this Convention is called upon to undertake, it is to abolish all distinction whatever between the office holder and the voter. I do not care how much jealousy is exhibited towards the rulers or the existing government. You may make as many restrictions in this respect as you please, and I will vote for them, but I will vote for no restrictions whatever upon the people, or for anything that carries an intimation that the people of the Commonwealth are not capable of self-government to the fullest extent. I suppose that a majority of the gentlemen of this Convention will agree in the propriety of the amendment, and will think with myself, that there ought not to be any limit whatever to the election of any officer whatever, except that of the distinction of voters. I believe myself, that the distinction of voters is a perfect safeguard in the election of officers without any restriction whatever, and I wish that every man of twenty-one years of age, who is a voter in the Commonwealth may be made eligible to any office without any restrictions or limitations whatever, but the distinction of being a voter.
The question was then taken upon the adoption of the amendment, and it was not agreed to.
Mr. DAVIS, of Plymouth. I move to strike out the words, “except a citizen of the United States," and add at the end of the resolve, the words, “and no person of foreign birth shall be eligible to the office of governor, unless he is a naturalized citizen."
I suppose the Committee intended that such should be the effect of the resolve. I have not time to put the amendment in writing, but it will be seen by the Committee what my object is. There may be some misapprehension as to what was intended by the words, “except a citizen of the United States.” Members of the Committee differ, as I understand, upon this question, as to whether a person can be a citizen of Massachusetts, and not a citizen of the United States. It seems to me, reference to foreigners, or persons who have been foreigners, in the way I have mentioned, would obviate the difficulty and be as explicit as the state of the case requires.
Mr. WILSON, of Natick. I do not understand what my friend from Plymouth, (Mr. Davis,) is to gain by his amendment. I hope he will explain it to the Committee, so that they may see
the necessity for its adoption. I understand the resolution before the Committee settles this matter, and if so, I see no necessity for bringing in this provision. I wish the gentleman would give us his reason for adopting such an amendment.
Mr. DAVIS, of Plymouth. I supposed I made myself sufficiently understood. My object was to remove the doubt or misapprehension which seemed to exist in the minds of many members of the Committee, and the very doubt which was suggested by the gentleman from Natick, (Mr. Wilson). As the resolution reported by the Committee now reads, it seems to me, that it is subject to this doubt. If a colored person, for instance, is deemed or has been, by the laws of this State, a citizen of this State,-inasmuch as he has been deemed a citizen of this State, it becomes a matter of doubt in the minds of many, whether he can be deemed by the United States, under any circumstances, as a citizen of the United States. If, therefore, the Committee intended, as I do not believe they did, that no colored person should be eligible to office in the government, because he is not a citizen of the United States,-and it is a mere matter of construction, as you will perceive, Mr. Chairman. I say that that misapprehension may be cured by the amendment which I have stated. I suppose it was the intention of the Committee, when they added the provision that no person should be eligible to office but a man who is a citizen of the United States, to refer especially to those persons who. have been foreigners, but who afterwards reside in this country and become naturalized. suppose in adding those words they merely intended that the foreigner should become naturalized before he should be eligible to offices in the government. If I understood the gentleman from Natick, (Mr. Wilson,) correctly, it was his own suggestion, and my amendment was intended merely to cure the difficulty which suggests itself to my mind. If gentlemen will refer to the Report of the Committee, and if they will suppose for a moment that a colored person is not a citizen of the United States, they will see the difficulty in which this matter appears under the phraseology adopted by the Committee. I think that all danger of misapprehension may be cured by the adoption of the amendment which I have offered.
Mr. ASPINWALL, of Brookline. I should like to ask the gentleman what he means by the words “foreign birth.” Does he mean persons born in a foreign land: I am sure he does not wish to cut off my hopes of being elected governor myself, and I hope that he will modify his amendment in such a manner as to place me among the persons eligible. (Laughter.] It unfortunately happens that I was not born in the United States, but yet was born a citizen of the United States, and I suppose that there is a very large class of persons at all times in the United States, who are not born within the limits of the United States, but yet born citizens of the United States. I refer to persons born abroad, the children of persons holding office under the United States government. I happen to be among that class, and was born in England, my father being a resident there holding office under the United States government, and by the rules of the common and civil law as recognized in this country, I became a citizen of the United States, without any process of naturalization. I would, therefore, suggest to the gentleman that he should make some alteration in