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QUALIFICATION OF VOTERS.-GRISWOLI) – WALKER — UPTON – EDWARDS.
Is there any more want of dignity in that defini- | these, because the scuse of right is so strong, as cerely hope and confidently expect the amendment tion of residence than in this of inhabitant. to a citizen not losing his vote. Now, I wish to I propose will be carried.
The gentleman suggests that if we undertake to save a man from such inconvenience, annoyance, Mr. UPTON, of Boston. I sincerely hope it incorporate these provisions into the Constitution expense and uncertainty. And this can be done will not be carried. I shall move another amendwe will have to determine the law as to whether by so providing that his name shall not be taken ment so as to include towns. It would be agreea man's actual presence is conclusive evidence of off the check list in the town where he has had a able to me to strike the whole matter out, but the his residence. But, the Constitution already has home and voted, until he has lived in some other word * towns," of all things, belongs there. The settled the difficulty in that respect, because it town (unless he has left the State) long enough | gentleman from North Brookfield has converted says that a man's residence (or inhabitaney, the to have a home there. The provision is a very me on this point. He stated that there was one same thing) shall be where he dwelleth, or hath proper one, because the Constitution, as now pro- individual--and he him zelf was the man--who his home. Therefore, the Constitution goes so far posed to be recommended to the people, will con-required that protection, not with reference to his as to declare that a man shall have a domicil in tinue to provide as heretofore that there shall be vote for governor, lieutenant-governor, senators, order to qualify him to vote. Now, it is proposed a residence of six months in the new place before or repre-entatives, but with reference to the good to make this a little more definite, so as to say he can put his name on the new check list. I people of his own town. that, by reason of presence or absence from or in say, then, with great deference to the opinions of Mr. WALKER. I beg to say to the gentlea particular place, a man shall neither acquire or the gentleman for Manchester, (Mr. Dana,) that man from Boston that I did not so state. lose inhabitancy. Thus, a student will not lose I think it is a sound principle and ought to be Mr. I'PTON. The gentleman stated that in his residence at home nor acquire one at college, put into tie organic law.
towns it was very hard to make a discrimination without clear and explicit acts other than being Mr. GRISWOLI), for Erving. It is very ap- between one's friends, as I understood him. present four or six years there. A gentleman, whose parent, from the course which the Convention Mr. WALKER. That did not apply to elecopinions upon this subject should be conclusive, has taken on this resolution, that we shall not tions of representatives. (Mr. Morton, of Taunton,) says, that this provi- come to a satisfactory conclusion with regard to Mr. U'PTOX. Will not the gentleman apply sion is in conformity with the present rules of it to-night; and as di-tinguished legal gentlemen it to selectmen: law. I have" no doubt that it is, and I have no have come to quite different opinions with regard Mr. WALKER. Yes, Sir. doubt that the supreme court, if they were called to its operation, it seems to me that it should be Mr. UPTOX. I am glad I have got the gentleupon to consider this question, would say, as they recommitted to the Committee for some further man to make that distinction. I thought it was have said, that actual presence was only one of modification. I therefore move that it be re- a nice discrimination, and difficult to distinguish the evidences of residence, but not conclusive evi- | committed to the Committee.
between friends. dence. Yet, while the court would so construe The motion was agreed to.
Another gentleman drew a very nice distinction. it, selectmen do not, or may not, and between the The PRESIDENT. The fourth resolution is He says clergymen, in the small towns, find it home of his birth and the place of his residence, now the next to be considered. The question is very difficult, having individuals belonging to the student, and others like him, lose their votes. on the adoption of that resolution.
their parishes of different political parties, to meet It would be well, therefore, to have all doubts re- The resolution is as follows:
these questions; and therefore, that was a good moved by a plain provision in the Constitution,
reason why they should be allowed to put their though it is not indispensable. I think it is wise,
Resolred, That all ballots required by law to be
votes in in an envelope. I do not want to give the on the whole, to incorporate such a provision into
given at any national, state, county, or municipal
power to the legislature that they may say to the the Constitution as is proposed.
uniform size and appearance, to be furnished by towns that, by a two-thirds vote, they shall On the other proposition, which is designed the Commonwealth.
be deprived of this privilege, if it is a privilege. to secure the voter's right in one town until
And I put another question to the gentleman he can acquire that right in another, I have Mr. BATES, of Plymouth. I move to strike from North Brookfield. If he thinks that, at the a much stronger conviction of its necessity, be- out the words “or municipal," and insert the next session of the legislature, they will pass a cause it affects the security you give to every
word “or” before the word "county," so that it law making it imperative that towns shall vote in voter who may be under the necessity of removwill read
their town elections with the sealed envelope, why ing his residence. I hope, therefore, that it will
Resolred, That all ballots required by law to be
not leave that same question with regard to the strike gentlemen favorably. It is very important given at any national, state, or county election, &c.
cities? It seems to me that if any part of this that voters should know what their rights are,
proposition should be left to the legislature, the especially the working classes, whose employ- Mr. WALKER, of North Brookfield. I un- whole of it should be left to the legislature. I ments require them frequently to move. If a derstand the motion to be to strike out the word hope, Sir, there will be no discrimination in this man residing in one town goes into a neighboring “municipal.” If it is in order, I wish to move Convention, but that we shall either include both town, especially in cases where the change of an amendment to the amendment, which is to towns and cities, or that we shall strike both out. domicil is often matter of great doubt, let him stike out the word “municipal," and insert the I hope, therefore, that the amendment of the genknow how long a time it takes before he loses his word “city."
tleman from North Brookfield will not prevail, right to vote in one place and acquires it in an- The PRESIDENT. That motion is in or- and then I shall very cheerfully vote for the proother, and do not leave him in this position so der.
position of the gentleman from Plymouth, (Mr. that when he comes to the polls, where he Mr. WALKER. The meaning of the word Bates). always has voted, for the purpose of voting, they “municipal” is understood to be doubtful, some Mr. EDWARDS, of Southampton. I am in can say to him “You shall not vote here, although applying it to cities only, and some to towns and favor of the secret ballot for state officers, and I your name is on the list, because you moved out cities. Great objections have been made by some would argue that this ought not to be stricken of town the other day;" and then if he goes back of the delegates from the small towns against hav- out. If it is carried to towns in its present poto the other town that he shall be told that he ing towns included in this resolve. I have, there- sition, however, the people would almost univercannot vote there because he has not acquired a fore, moved that the word “city” be inserted so sally vote against the whole, and we should lose six months' residence. When such a case hap- that it may be understood to apply only to cities. the whole. If I wished that to take place I would pens, which is often, perhaps the man goes to a I think the objection is a sound one, inasmuch as make the argument which the gentleman from lawyer and gets Whig opinion or Democratic I know it might cause a great inconvenience, in Boston has just made. opinion, just as the case may be. They tell him small towns generally, to procure the envelopes The facts are, we wish it for the election of to vote, or not to vote. If he votes there, he is for the ordinary town elections. But the legi-la- state officers, senators and representatives--we prosecuted and must stand trial. I am proud to say ture will, I hope, next winter, apply the principle wish it for all the officers chosen at the Novemthat I have defended more than twenty cases of the to towns; provided, nevertheless, that the inhabi- ber election, so that we can put all our ballots kind, where men have gone out of the city of tants may vote to dispense with the secret ballot, into one envelope, and gentlemen will see that if Boston for a temporary or doubtful purpose, and by a vote of two-thirds, so far as the town elections it is not understood we can easily say to voters have voted under threats of prosecution, and I am are concerned. I believe that will obviate all the that we elect in the first place, in towns, a single able to say that no jury was found to convict any difficulty and leave the whole matter just pre- moderator, and we must have envelopes enough man in my hands under such a state of facts like cisely where it ought to be left. Therefore, I sin- to put one vote in each envelope. If there are Friday,)
QUALIFICATION OF VOTERS. — MOREY - STETSON - WALKER - HURLBUT.
three hundred voters, we shall want three hundred manner as in cases of voting for governor, lieu-
Mr. MOREY, of Boston. It has seemed to me, since this system of secret voting was intro
FRIDAY, June 10, 1853. duced, that there was more reason for applying it to the voting in towns than any other. When I The Convention assembled pursuant to adjournlived in the country it used to be the case, and I ment, and was called to order at 10 o'clock, A. M. presume the same is still true, that some gentle- Prayer by the Chaplain. man would acquire a great deal of influence in The Secretary read the Journal of yesterday. the town, e ther because he was a gentleman of
Certain Persons Ineligible to State Offices. property, or a captain of a militia company, or who kept a country store, to whom, in some way,
On motion of Mr. STETSON, of Braintree, it a great many persons in the town would become indebted, and would give to him mortgages upon
Ordered, That the Committee to whom was their farms. The consequence was, that he would
referred so much of the Constitution, included in become a sort of dictator in the town. And it is the first eight articles in chapter six, consider the very often the case that these persons are anxious expediency of providing in the Constitution, that to be moderators at the town meetings, or to be
no president, director, cashier, or other officer of on the board of assessors, so as to be able to learn
any banking institution of this State shall be eligi
ble to the office of governor, lieutenant-governor, how much property any person has, and to ascer
senator, or representative to the general court, so tain whether it will be safe to trust them longer; or long as he shall be such president, director, whether it is not time to take possession on the cashier, or other officer. mortgage. Now, persons standing in that position in relation to these property holders who have
Orders of the Day. mortgages on their farms, are very unwilling to dis- On motion of Mr. PHINNEY, for Chatham, oblige them, very unwilling to vote against them, the Convention proceeded to the consideration of and they become a sort of perpetual dictators in the Orders of the Day, being the resolves reported the towns; and I think if the secret ballot is used from the Committee on the Qualifications of Voters. anywhere, it ought to be used in such cases. Mr. BATES, of Plymouth, having moved to
In regard to its being more inconvenient to apply amend the last resolve, viz. : that relating to it in towns than in cities, I do not know that it secret ballot, by striking out the words “or is so. It is said that it is inconvenient in towns, municipal” in the second line, and inserting because they vote for town officers on separate after the word “State" the word “or,” and ballots, with the names on different ballots. I Mr. Walker having moved to amend this amendknow that in many towns they vote for nearly all ment by substituting for the word “municipal” upon the same ticket. But my belief is, that it is the word "city." very desirable that the system should be intro- The pending question was upon the amendment duced, and I think it would be desirable, that the to the amendment. legislature should pass a law providing for the Mr. WALKER, of North Brookfield. As I manner in which the voting should be done, and remarked yesterday, Mr. Chairman, it was the everything in relation to it; for it often happens, decision of a majority of the Committee who that different modes are observed in different reported these resolves, that the word municipal, towns, and in the same towns on different occa- which is employed in the resolve under considerasions. The voters, consequently, come prepared tion, should apply to all cities and towns of the to vote in a particular manner. And when they Commonwealth. Now, Sir, it has been said, come to the polls, they find that those who have though not in course of this debate, that the come earlier, have adopted some unexpected mode chairman of this Committee is desirous of forcing of voting, either to vote for each officer separately, this secret ballot upon the cities and towns of the or on a general ticket, as the case may be, and, of Commonwealth. In regard to this matter, I wish course they are surprised and unprepared to vote to say in the first place, that when the bill relating in that manner. I think it would be better to to the amendment of the secret ballot law was have the mode fixed by the legislature, so that it originally under consideration, I was asked to shall be uniform and all can understand it. This insert in it the words - cities and towns." I matter of secret balloting is of so much impor- replied no, that I would not consent to do so, as tance, that if it does cause some little expense and it would make the matter too complicated. If delay, I think that should not be regarded, in or- the experiment is tried at all, I said, it must be der to carry out the great principle, and be able tried in the most simple manner possible, otherto protect all the people of the town, so that they wise the whole thing will break down, and we may vote freely, and not be under any apprehen- shall fail in securing our object. Then, in 1851, sion that they shall be subjected to any trouble when the subject came before the next House of on account of having offended some leading man, Representatives, the bill was again brought to me, who wishes to have the power to regulate the af- and I was again asked to insert cities and towns. fairs of the town. I think the secret ballot should I still persisted that it must not be done, as it apply to all town elections, as well as others, and would endanger the experiment, and we should in the same manner as to cities, and in the same fail in our object, and it was not inserted.
In 1852, it was again brought to me to make some additions to the law; and I was then pressed very strongly by representatives from cities and towns to insert these words. I said no, for the same reason as at first, that the people must have a fair demonstration that this is the best mode of voting, before we could take any further steps in the matter, and then they might extend it as far as they pleased. When the subject was introduced in the Committee of this Convention, of which I have the honor to be chairman, I there also said, that I did not think it was best to extend the secret ballot to elections in towns, but it was so urged and pressed upon the Committee, that it should apply to cities and towns, that I finally withdrew my objections on that point, and assented to the proposition. The elections in cities for municipal officers, it will be borne in mind, are precisely like the elections in towns for State officers, that is to say, in the first place, they vote one ticket only, and but once in the course of the day; whereas, in towns they have sometimes twenty or thirty ballots in a single afternoon.
I am therefore decidedly in favor of applying this mode of voting to elections in the cities of our Commonwealth. I think it is right and proper, but I deem it inexpedient at the present time to apply the principle to towns generally throughout the State. They are not yet ready for it, but I venture what little reputation I have upon the prediction that the time will soon arrive when they will be prepared and when the secret ballot will be employed in every town. We propose now to apply it to cities, because we think that they need it; and I call upon any gentleman here representing a city to rise and state whether it is not a fact that the people of the cities do wish for the envelope system in their municipal elections. I do not refer to representatives from the city of Boston for an opinion upon this subject, because I know from their party interests that they are opposed to the use of the secret ballot any how, anywhere, and at any time; but I refer to those gentlemen who represent the other cities of the State ; and if there be one who is at variance with me on this point, I should like to hear him state his reasons. I do not expect to hear any such demonstration. But, on the other hand, if there be delegates in attendance here from any city who were in favor of this Convention, I think they will come forward and very strongly adyocate the insertion of this secret ballot into the Constitution.
Without further occupying the time of the Convention, I leave the matter in their hands. The subject is one of importance, and if the delegates from the country properly understand it, and if they fully appreciate the difference which exists between cities and towns, I am sure they will go heartily and unanimously in favor of giving this privilege—for it is a great privilege—to the cities. It will protect voters from all embarrassment, from any delay whatever in depositing their ballots, and secure to every one a full, free, and independent expression of his opinion, and that is what we desire, what all honest men must desire.
Mr. HURLBUT, of Sudbury. I desire to say a few words upon this subject, as I have not before had an opportunity of expressing my views upon the resolve now under consideration. I hope, Sir, that the amendment introduced by the gentleman from North Brookfield, (Mr. Walker,)
QUALIFICATION OF VOTERS. – MOREY.
will be adopted. I do not know whether it will ! ant principles of this resolve. Well, Sir, great shall be made assessors, so that their taxes shall affect the cities of the State favorably or unfavor- principles are to be extended and practiced at all be light; and those ar: induced to vote for them ably, but this much I do know, Sir, that if the ! timex. But, it is suid, not wit'standing the im- on account of considerations of this kinl, who towns are compelled to ballot in the manner that portance and the great benefit which would be otherwise would not. Now if the principle is a is proposed in the original resolution, it will not derived from the free use and praise of these sound one that the secret ballot should be used to only cause great inconvenience, but its effects principles, that they are to be limited in a certain proti et voters from dictation and coercion, why will be most pernicious. We are not yet prepared number of cases;--that is byond the few Caps should it not be applied in the case of town elecfor it, and until we are, it is worse than useless to enunerated in the resolve, the application of the tions, where tcre is just as much of this sort of force such a condition upon us. As the gentle- secret ballot is to be restricted. I contes, Sir, dictation as there is in cities. These elections in man said yesterday, our officers are at present that upon this point I had hoped to hear gentle- towns are of importance, as well as the other town chosen one at a time; and under these circum- men give some good reasons, for the coure pur- affairs upon which they have to vote, such as the stances it would be a long and toilsome process to sued, but to my mind they have been wholly un- raining of money and its application to particular elect them as is prescribed. Besides, Sir, I ap- satisfactory and ineffective. It has been a misty, purposes. I have no doubt it often happens that prehend that the people in the country towns inconclusive sort of reasoning, from beginning to persons are unwilling to vote against a neighbor are not desirous of electing their officers in this end.
of theirs who is a candidate for some town office, manner.
Gentlemen have thought that all we have to do although they know he is wholly unfit to disWhile I am up, allow me to say a few words is to establish a principle only because it is a great charge the duties of the station ; and the secret in regard to the resolve itself.
principle. They want to have it introduced, but ballot would relieve them of all this difficulty. Mr. Chairman, I look upon this secret ballot they think it is not worth while tor us to trouble The gentleman from Lawrence, (Mr. Oliver,) as the great, the only protection to the voter yet ourselves about any particular application of it to made the motion the other day that the word discovered, for state, county or l'nited States all the eaves which may hereafter arise. Only "shall" be stricken out, and the word “may” officers-the only protection which is perfectly once get it introduced-let every man have a taste inserted in lieu thereof; and there was great obsecure that has ever been found. So far as I have of it, if he can get no more; a- Doctor Johnson jection made to that amendment on the ground been able to hear, it has not been argued that it once said with regard to Scotchmen, that every that it would destroy all uniformity in the mode is unsafe. The only argument which has been man there can get a bite of learning, but nobody of voting--some persons would vote hy open balused, is, that it destroyed, in some measure, the can get a belly-full. Now if this is a good prin- i lot, while others would vote by secret ballot, and manliness of the voter. Gentlemen may enter- ciple and ought to be introduced, why should it we were warned of the monstrous injury which tain different views upon this point, but that it is not be applied to town elections and let its benefits this would produce. But, Sir, what is it now a complete and perfect security to the voter I con- be experienced there as well as in cities. These proposed that we shall have? Why, Sir, we tend, from what it has already accomplished. I elections in towns are by no means an unimpor- provide that no citizen shall be required to pay think, Sir, that the secret ballot, in its applica- tant matter. We have between three and four a tax in a limited number of cases of a political tion to these public officers I have enumerated, hundred towns in this ('ommonwealth, little re- character; while, in those cases of a municipal ought to be placed upon the topmost pinnacle of publics in themselves, and it is expected that all character, which apply to the wants, feelings, and our organic law, above and beyond the reach of the citizens will be required to pay taxes; but the interests of the whole community, a tax must subsequent legislation ; to this conclusion I am matter is not provided for. There is no security be paid. In these political elections the secret brought more particularly, from the consideration for the payment of taxes in these towns, provided ballot is to be used--every-body is to be obliged that the last legislature have repealed this law of in the Constitution--there is no security that the to use it; but, in voting in all town matters, they protection, and it is for this reason that I would secret ballot will be used; the matter is entirely. are to be exonerated from it, because it is conhave it placed above their power. Why, Sir, when unprovided for, and left to time and chance. The sidered something of a burden for them to use it the election of a l'nited States senator to represent gentleman from North Brookfield seems to desire in town elections. But, is there not as great a this Commonwealth was pending, some months that a law should be passed by which the secret want of uniformity in this case as in the other since, it then worked well. On the twenty-fifth ballot shall be applied in all towns, with a provi- proposed by the gentleman from Lawrence? This ballot of the House of Representatives on this sion that two-thirds of the citizens may dispense secret ballot is to be applied to something like a floor, it was discovered that there had been more with the use of it if they choose. But it is very dozen municipalities in the Commonwealth, while ballots deposited than there were members pres. remarkable, if this is such an excellent thing as in the other three hundred and over it is not to be ent. When the twenty-sixth ballot was taken gentlemen seem to suppose, that it should be con- applied. There is another diversity. Which is the secret ballot was introduced, and the result templated that it may perhaps be so unsatisfactory to be the exception I do not know; but I supwas, that many gentlemen then deposited their to the people of the towns that they may wish to pose the twelve are to be the general rule, and the votes in accordance with their honest convictions, dispense with it. These town elections are espe- three hundred and over are to be the exception ; whereas before they would not vote at all. Un- cially important; they give a direction and a tone but, at any rate, there is very little uniformity der these circumstances, Sir, I hope that this res- to the power of government, in an eminent de- about the matter. I should like to know upon olution will pass, and pass as amended by the gree. It is more important to the people who they what rule or what principle the inhabitants gentleman from North Brookfield.
shall have for their selectmen, assessors, overseers of New Bedford, who are engaged in the whaling Mr. MOREY, of Boston. I rose, last evening, of the poor, school committee, &c., than it is who business, are to use the secret ballot in their elecfor the purpose of maki a few remarks upon shall be governor of the Commonwealth, or their tions, while the inhabitants of Nantucket, who the subject now under consideration, but owing representative in congress-or, perhaps, than who live in the same vicinity, and who are engaged in to a motion to adjourn I gave way, intending to should be President of the l'nited States. They the same occupation, are not to use the secret balresume my address this morning, and I will now feel a deeper interest in these town matters--it is lot in their municipal elections. I have been enadd a few words in addition to the suggestions I something which comes home to their own fire- deavoring to ascertain if there was any rule about made at that time.
sides. As the gentleman from North Brookfield the matter; and it occurred to me that perhaps it It is said, Sir, that there are involved in these has said, when one of their neighbors is a candi- had some reference to the time or the season when resolves two great, important, and transcendent date for some town office, there is a good deal of the election was held, as to whether the ballot principles, one of which is, that every person interest taken in the matter by the people of a should be secret or not. I noticed that all the should have a right to vote, without being com- town, and those who are his friends do not like elections, where the officers are chosen who are to pelled to pay a tax; and that this is a natural to have it known that they vote against him, be elected by secret ballot, occur in the month of right which should be exercised, at all elections, although they may feel it to be their duty so to November; while the other elections—the town by every person, without restriction or obstruc- do. I know that this is so in country towns. and municipal elections, where the secret ballot tion. The other is, that the voting should be Sometimes there are particular persons there who is not to be used-occur in the months of March conducted in a secret manner, and that every exert a powerful influence, and endeavor to exer- and April ; and I looked over the almanae this voter should be obliged to make it a duty to insert cise dictation over those around them who are morning and noticed the signs of the zodiac to see his vote in an envelope, in such manner that no indebted to them, or whose farms are mortgaged whether it was not possible that this had someperson but himself shall know how he votes. to them. They may insist upon being put into thing to do with the matter. Well, Sir, I looked
These are said to be the two great and import- some office, or insist that some of their friends in the first place for Scorpio, or the secrets,"
QUALIFICATION OF VOTERS. -- MOREY - ABBOTT.
and I found that although that did not come ex- ask the reason of that. “Why does not the actly in November, it was not far from it-it was principle extend farther; if we can raise water ten in Oetober, which is about the time when the feet beeause nature abhors a vacuum, why can we secret envelopes are distributed. In the March not raise it one hundred feet, or ad infinitum” ? and April elections, the signs Aries and Taurus “0,” said the philosopher, “ nature does not are in the ascendant, and then the people can vote abhor a vacuum beyond thirty-two feet.” That without any secresy. I could not help thinking is just about as satisfactory a reason as we have that if some stranger or foreigner-some Catholic obtained in relation to the introduction of this or Mahometan—was to visit Massachusetts, and great principle in the first instance, and its being should be here in the month of November and confined to a few cases. Now, perhaps an visit the places where the elections are held, he amendment to the amendment might be desirable, would find that all the voters were not obliged to and if anybody will make the motion, I will vote pay taxes, but that all the voters were required to for it; that is, to have the resolution so extended use the secret envelopes; and if he should happen as to include the town of North Brookfield in to be here until the next spring, and should visit addition to the cities; this will only make a little the town meetings and see the people voting, in more diversity than it is now proposed to make; March and April, he would ascertain that on this and it might be a great relief to the gentleman occasion the voters were all obliged to pay taxes, from North Brookfield, who says he wants the but were not obliged to use the sealed en- secret ballot because he has oftentimes felt great velopes.
embarrassment about voting against some of his Now, Mr. President, what do you suppose neighbors when he thought he ought to do so. I would be the reasoning of these strangers ? Upon am inclined to favor such a measure for the purwhat principle would they account for this dif- pose of giving him relief, and I think that would ference? Perhaps the Roman Catholic would leave the resolution in a shape quite as good as it think that it was because the latter election oc- * stands in now. curred in the time of Lent; while the Mahom- Mr. ABBOTT, of Lowell. I desire to say a sinetan might account for it by thinking that in No- gle word in reference to this question of the secret vember it was Ramadan, while in March or ballot, and I should not have risen to address this April it was the holy month of Radjab, and that body, if I did not consider the amendment of my this had some mysterious effect upon the manner friend from North Brookfield, as of real imporof voting. Or, Sir, he might even go further. tance. As I understand it, his amendment is to Even in the manner of voting in relation to town insert "city," instead of “municipal.” Now it affairs, he would find the people in certain local- seems to me, that there is a very broad, plain and ities using the sealed envelopes, and in the same well-defined distinction between elections in towns kind of elections in other places, they would use and elections in cities; and I think there is a no envelopes, and it would be a very natural in- practical reason why we should apply the princiquiry, Why is this difference? And perhaps ple of the secret ballot to city elections, when the Mahometan might think the discrepency was there may be no controlling reason which would founded upon the same principle which governs require us to apply it to town elections. I am the different regulations between Medina and not in favor of extending this principle, however Mecca, according to the rules laid down in the good it may be, to those town elections where it Koran. Now, Sir, I am not at all satisfied with is not desired ; and if I understand the feeling the reasons which have been assigned here in re- which at present exists in the country, it is not lation to the adoption of what are called these great now desired that the secret ballot shall be exprinciples, and I am not satisfied with regard tended to all elections in the towns and to all to the principles themselves. The great objection town matters. I think it may be well enough for is, that those who advocate this thing are unwil- us to say that whenever it may be the sense of the ling to carry it out to its full extent. Gentlemen public—whenever the inhabitants of a town desay that it is a great principle, and it must be es- sire that they should have the same kind of voting tablished and introduced; but they think it is no which the cities have, in reference to their officers, matter about is application to the great mass of the legislature may provide for giving them their cases. They are willing to leave that to chance. wish in this matter. But, Sir, with regard to Only establish the principle, and the extension of this distinction between towns and cities, the it is an unimportant matter. Sir, this reasoning gentleman from Boston, who has just taken his with regard to the importance of the principle, seat, has favored us with the information that he and the reasons attempted to be given for a non- has been looking at the almanac to get some light extension of it, remind me of the answer given on this subject. It seems to me that, when he by a philosopher in relation to the rising of the looked at the almanac, instead of taking this year's water in a tube or pipe. One end of a pipe almanac, he must have got hold of an old almabeing inserted in water, and the air being ex
nac, many years gone by; it could not even tracted from it so as to form a vacuum, the water have been last year's almanac. [Laughter.] would rise to a considerable height; and some- But I would suggest to that gentleman, without body being curious to know the reason of it, went intending any disrespect to him, since he has fato a philosopher, and put the inquiry to him. vored us with his studies of the almanac in relaThe philosopher said : " The air being extracted tion to this matter, whether it would not have from the pipe, produces a vacuum, and the reason been quite as well for him to have looked at the why the water rises, is because nature abhors a laws of the land, the Constitution, and the wants vacuum.” This set the matter at rest for the of the people—whether that would not have been time; but at length it was desired to raise water quite as profitable as it would to go to the almanac one hundred feet, and a long pipe was pre- and get a lesson upon the signs of the zodiac, or pared for the purpose, and the air was ex- to introduce a dissertation upon hydraulics into tracted ; but the water would only rise thirty-two the consideration of this question. Well, Sir, I feet. So they went to the philosopher again to will tell that gentleman now, where I appre
hend he could have found the distinction established between towns and cities. It is the same distinction which the Constitution has considered important enough to provide for in reference to the institution of city governments. Our present Constitution says—and I believe we do not propose to alter it in that particular--that whenever twelve thousand inhabitants are congregated together in any town, the legislature may give them a city government if they desire it. Now, in a matter of this kind, you must have a certain number specified; you must have some place to leave off and somewhere to begin. The reason why this number is specified is, that it is supposed the wants of that number of people are such that they require an entirely different manner of government from that which would be suitable for a small number. The government of a town is a simple democracy; in fact the nearest approach to democraey is that simple form of government where the people meet together and choose their officers, and where the officers have very limited powers, because almost everything is voted for directly by the people themselves. If money is to be raised, who raise it? The people themselves. Now, how can you apply the secret ballot here? The most important questions that come before a town government are the election of town officers, votes for raising money, and a variety of other questions of this kind, to which you cannot very well apply the secret ballot.
How is it, Sir, in reference to cities? No such questions ever come before the inhabitants of cities. The Constitution has said, and the legislature acting under the Constitution has carried it out, that when people congregate to the number of twelve thousand persons in a municipal capacity in any place, which is according to the old simple democracy, they might have a representative government, and if gentlemen will look at the question for a moment they will see that each city corporation is a model representative government. You have your executive in your mayor, your senate in your aldermen, and your house of representatives in your common council, and all the municipal powers of the inhabitants are delegated by them to this legislative body. In the case of a town government it is a government of the people acting together in their primary capacity; in the other case it is a government by the representatives of the people. Now these representatives of the people as they act in your city corporations do precisely for their constituents what the people themselves do in your towns. They choose all those officers which the people themselves choose in the towns. They determine whether money shall be raised ; and how much and in what manner it shall be done ; and in fine they do all those things that the inhabitants of towns do before they change their township organization for that of a city government.
Now it may be asked why should not the wants of large towns be respected? Why should not towns containing a population of say ten thousand, have the privilege of the secret ballot as well as cities containing twelve thousand inhabitants? As I said before, there may perhaps appear to be some hardship in this, but the real fact is that you must have a starting point somewhere; you must have a place of beginning. One man cannot be a corporation ; a dozen may and so may Friday,]
QUALIFICATION OF VOTERS. - IIILLARD - THOMPSON.
five hundred or a thousand, or any number; man who represents Berlin (Mr. Boutwell) in gotten in the excitement of this contest. The and in reference to the wants of the people in this Convention. I thought there was great question is not whether we shall vote orally or by this respect the framers of the last Constitution weight in the distinction which he laid down, ballot, or whether we shall vote openly or seagreed upon the number of twelve thousand. between what was proper to go into this Consti- cretly, but whether we shall vote in a perfect or True, by fixing upon that number they have said tution and what was proper to be embodied in imperfect mode of secret balloting-because all that a town containing eleven thousand nine common legislation. It seems to me, Sir, that agree in the principle of secret voting. The very hundred and ninety-nine persons shall not be an that gentleman laid down a rule which should be design of balloting in its origin was that it might incorporated city, but by the addition of another a controlling principle in all our deliberations be secret. I would rather that the law should inhabitant so as to make the population twelve here-that the Constitution bears the same rela- remain as it is now than that there should be any thousand, they might obtain such benefit. And tion to a municipal law which an algebraic for- change. However, I care little about that. if why not apply the same rule here. The stand- mula does to the particular problem which it is the people of the Commonwealth really do think ard we all admit is a mere arbitrary standard, but intended to work out; and on all questions of that their voting privileges will be better secured you must have some standard ; and whatever doubt as to whether a thing should be in the Con- by a uniform rule of perfect secrecy, whether they standard you adopt it will still be arbitrary. stitution, or be left to the discretion of the legis- are right or not in that opinion, I am quite willing There is no reason in the nature of things why a lature, I would reverse the rule of a celebrated to give my hand to it; and I am not conscious of town having a population of eleven thousand writer on whist: where I doubted, I would not any degradation in going up to the poll and putnine hundred and ninety-nine persons should not take the trick-that is I would not put it into the ting a secret vote into the ballot-box; and I canpossess the same municipal rights as a town con- Constitution.
not understand why any person can imagine that taining twelve thousand persons. There can be I think that the length to which this debate is there is anything like debasement or degradation none in the nature of things; and the only rea- running, and the desultory character which it is in an act of that kind, because if any man wishes son that can be adduced is that it is necessary to assuming, prove conclusively the wisdom of the to have it known how he votes he can easily tell fix a number as a starting point. If you object observations of the gentleman for Berlin. The it to those who desire to know. to this you might as well object to a thousand resolve of the Committee, as it appears to me, wan- Again, I think the act of voting is but the exother practices which have their origin in the ders from that principle. So far from being the pression of the tenor of a man's political life. A same principle. If you ask why a town having embodiment of a simple principle, it contains five poor man's vote, as well as that of a rich man, is the smallest possible fraction of population less points of detail—first, that the ballot should be but the expression of his political opinion, and than sufficient to constitute it a city should not enclosed in an envelope ; second, that the enve- when you undertake to make a rule which is to have the privileges of a city government, you lope shall be sealed; third, that they shall be secure the independence of the ballot-box, which might as well ask why a man should not be of uniform size; fourth, that they shall be of has sole reference to the act of voting, it seems to allowed to vote the day before he is twenty-one uniform appearance; and fifth, that they shall be me like attempting to change the wind by altering years of age as well as the day after. The only furnished by the Commonwealth. There is the direction of the weathercock; because, I conanswer is that you must take some point to start hardly a word in this resolution the meaning of tend, that whenever it is an object to ascertain from; and in this case we propose to take the which may not hereafter have to be settled by a how a man has voted, or what his political same starting point which is taken by our pres- judicial construction. With all submission to the opinions are, they will be inevitably discovered, ent Constitution. That Constitution says that majority of this Convention, I must say that I unless he covers himself up all over from top to when the population of any place shall have regret that they did not adopt the proposition of toe with a robe of falsehood, which will require reached twelve thousand, a charter for a city gov- my colleague, (Mr. Schouler,) simply adopting not only a corrupt will, but an exceedingly acute ernment may be required; and then we see, the principle that all voting shall be by secret understanding, and therefore if it be any object to when a city government has been obtained, the ballot, leaving details to the legislature. I admit ascertain how a poor man has voted, it will be people change their manner of acting and voting. that there is force in the remarks of the gentlemen found out ; because, as it will be next to imposWe see them divesting themselves of many pow- from North Brookfield and Lowell; for, perhaps, sible for him to succeed in keeping his secret, iners which they formerly exercised, and vesting so far as convenience is concerned, there is some asmuch as it will be concluded that he has voted them in their representative government; and difference between city and town elections. But according to the political principles which he may then, and not till then, it is that the secret ballot do not gentlemen see that we are discussing mat- at times have expressed. It will be utterly imshould apply.
ters of detail-matters resting upon a purely possible for him to conceal them in a community I might suggest here, without going into detail, arbitrary distinction between towns and cities in which there is such universal ventilation of that in large cities generally, there are causes in that we are wasting our precious time in discuss- opinion as in ours. Every man expresses these operation which require the application of the ing propositions which more properly belong to a opinions at some time or other. secret ballot, far more than any that are to be legislature, or even a committee of the legislature. But, as I said before, I do not feel my sensibilfound in regard to towns throughout the Com- What will be the result? If every detail is to be ities in the least degree lacerated by having this monwealth. I apprehend that I address myself here discussed and party excitement on every rule made rigid and uniform ; but I do think that to the comm
ommon sense of every gentleman in this little point permitted to run high in debate, we we are wasting our precious time, and are likely Convention, when I make this statement, for it shall be here until Thanksgiving day. I submit to continue to do so in future, by the discussion must be obvious to all that because the secret whether it would not be better to recommit this of these minor principles and details. I therefore ballot would operate favorably in large cities, it resolution so that it might come before us just in submit to the consideration of the Convention, does not follow that it would operate with equal the way that I suggest.
whether it would not be better to have the resoluforce and value in those places where there are And now, Mr. President, although it perhaps tion confined simply to an expression of the no corporate organizations. It seems to me that is not strictly proper to speak of the general pro- general principle, the details of which could afterthere is no difficulty in seeing a plain and distinct visions of the resolution under a motion to amend, wards be carried out by other authority. difference between cities and towns, in this respect, I beg to be permitted to say a single word in rela- Mr. THOMPSON, of Charlestown. It occurs and that the reasons are equally plain and clear tion to it. In regard to this whole question of to me that some amendment is necessary, in order why one rule of voting, according to the rules secret ballot I must confess that I have not been to make this matter more plain and decisive than of common sense, might be required for cities, able to work myself up into anything like the it is now, and I think that the amendment of my and another and totally different mode for towns. excitement which has been manifested by gentle- friend from North Brookfield will fully attain But I will not further detain the Convention
men of various political parties. Amid all the that object. The resolution, as proposed to be than by repeating what I have already said, flashing and the curling of the flames of declama- amended, provides that this matter shall apply to namely—that we must in this, as in all other tion which this question has created, I have re- “national, state, county and municipal elections.". things, have a starting point somewhere, and we mained impassive, indifferent and cold. Never The latter word is admitted on all hands to be of may as well make this that point as endeavor to in the whole course of my political experience doubtful meaning. I have, myself, always been fix upon any other.
has any subject come up which it seems to me has accustomed to regard the word “ municipal” as Mr. HILLARD, of Boston. I listened with been blown up so much beyond all natural pro- relating to towns as well as to cities, and such, I great pleasure, Mr. President, yesterday, and portions by the hot breath of party zeal as this believe, is the prevailing opinion throughout the with entire assent, to the remarks of the gentle- question. Indeed the very issue seems to be for- Commonwealth. The Constitution itself, how