« ForrigeFortsett »
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. — GRAY.
tion they will have upon this floor, as compared Now, gentlemen have spoken of extreme cases. My friend and colleague, (Mr. Hale,) who moved with this highly favored county. Franklin, Why, Sir, these are all extreme cases. There is the adoption of the Minority Report, spoke of the then, has twenty-six representatives. The county nothing else but extreme cases. I have taken amount of taxes which these counties pay. Now of Hampden, with a population of 50,000, has, the counties as they stand. I have taken these let gentlemen understand what we ask—not that as gentlemen will see, three representatives less ancient districts, these ancient communities and we should have a House on the old basis of the than Franklin, that is, twenty-three. How many corporations, as I found them, I have not picked Senate, viz., on the amount of taxation. That ought she to have upon the same basis . Not them out here and there; I have taken them in basis was adopted by the fathers of the colony on less than forty. their order, and gentlemen see the result.
the ground that there should be a union of taxaThe county of Hampshire has a population of Now, gentlemen will observe one thing. I tion and representation ; but I have always said 34,000-nearly four thousand more than the have left out one county-the devoted and doomed that it was never a favorite system of mine. I county of Franklin, and how many representa- county of Suffolk. I have left that to the last, always preferred that the Senate should be based tives has that county? Not more than twenty- because I wished gentlemen to see how this plan upon population. four, two less than Franklin.
would operate elsewhere. I wished gentlemen But the gentleman thinks that there should be The county of Worcester has a population of from all the other counties to see how the matter a difference of basis in the formation of the two 126,000. By the same proportion which the stood with their constituents. I have not appealed houses. No man can go further than I do in the county of Franklin has, that county ought to to their sense of justice on behalf of Suffolk. I belief of the advantage of having two houses have a hundred and four representatives, for she wanted to appeal to their justice, or their interest, sitting in separate chambers. Simple as the exhas a population more than four times as large as if you please, in regard to their rights. The pedient seems, I am not sure that it has not been that of Franklin County, and how many repre- county of Suffolk has a population of 146,000, one of the chief pillars of free governments. But, sentatives has this county? Only sixty two. and, according to the ratio of Franklin, would be Sir, in most of the States both houses are essen
The county of Middlesex has a population of entitled to one hundred and twenty or one hun- tially popular. In most of the States there is no 156,000—five times the population of Franklin. dred and thirty representatives ; and how many
difference in the basis-unless it be the mere On the same ratio of representation as Franklin, will that county have? Thirty-one !
difference of numbers; but, Sir, in most, if not how many representatives ought that county to Now, if gentlemen from other counties can all of the States, the business is carried on in have? Not less than a hundred and thirty. overlook the unjust operation of this plan upon
separate chambers—the Senate in one apartment And how many does it get? Only sixty-two. themselves, perhaps all appeal, or the bare men- and the House in another, so that they operate
The county of Essex has a population of tion of the way in which the county of Suffolk is upon each other as a mutual check. I apprehend 127,000—four times the population of the county to be treated, may be in vain ; for I suppose we it would require a greater nicety of discrimination of Franklin. That amount of population, on the can hardly ask gentlemen to carry a good rule so than I possess to trace in what way the difference ratio of Franklin, would give to Essex a repre- far as to love their neighbors better than them- of basis has operated thus far to increase the sentation of a hundred and four members. How selves. Unless they have given up all self-love, necessary check. There is a difference of basis many members has it? Forty-three!
and all regard to the rights of their constituents, I that might increase it. The House of Lords in The county of Berkshire has a population of think there is but one answer they will give when England is formed on a basis essentially different 49,000-a population about the same as that of the question is taken upon the proposition of the from that of the House of Commons; and as a Hampden-eighteen thousand more than Frank- gentleman for Erving.
check on the action of the Commons it is perhaps lin. Yet it is proposed to give Berkshire only The gentleman has said that he supposes he is more effective there than our Senate is herethirty-three, or seven more than Franklin- none the worse for having been born in Franklin effective, I think, more in preventing good than 'whereas it ought to have half as many more, say County. Certainly not. That county is a highly evil; and I may safely say that nobody wishes to forty.
favored county in many respects. It is a county have such a House here. But if you look at the The county of Norfolk has a population of remarkably favored in its beautiful scenery, and Constitutions of the different States of the Union 77,000—twice and a half that of the county of for its fruitful soil; and I should say certainly you will find what I say to be confirmed. Franklin. How many representatives has it?
not otherwise than favored in its population. Now I do not deny that some additional check It has two more than that county-twenty-eight But why it should be favored in its representa- upon legislation might be desirable. Perhaps it against twenty-six.
tion above other counties of the State, is a might. I was in favor of two years as the limiThe county of Plymouth has a population of question I must leave my friend for Erying to tation of the term of senators. For this purpose 55,000 to 31,000 in Franklin, not quite double,
I was in favor of making double districts, each but not far from being double, and how many Now I will take another view of this subject. senator being elected for two years, and one-half representatives has it? Why, Sir, that county is Here is the county of Suffolk and the county of of them being elected every year. I mentioned entitled to have between forty and fifty repre- Essex, that have considerably more than twenty- this plan to some gentlemen with whom I hapsentatives. This plan gives to it twenty-five. One seven per cent of the population of the State. pened to differ upon political subjects; and by less than Franklin.
The House of Representatives, it is admitted, is them the proposition was not unfavorably reThe county of Barnstable, with a population
to consist of four hundred members. How many ceived; but knowing that it had been agitated in of nearly three thousand more than Franklin is to representatives would that give to these coun- this Committee, and supposing that it would not have about half the representation of Franklin. ti, on the basis of equal represention? It would find favor with such a portion of the Convention
The county of Nantucket has a population of give them one hundred and eight representatives. as to insure its success, although I am far from little more than a quarter of that of Franklin- How many have they by this plan? Only seventy- being alone in regard to this idea, I forbore to say 9,000 to 31,000, and it is to have representa- four. And one circumstance is to be remarked, trouble the Convention with what would perhaps tion in what proportion ? About a thirteenth of which I had almost forgotten, than when this only have been taking up their time. that of Franklin.
loss of representation, of thirty from the two Let me ask, Mr. Chairman, what is the ground And now we come to the little county of Dukes, counties, is taken from their scale, it is not thrown of all this disregard of population. I am not sure with its 4,500. Sir, I am glad to find a spot to away, but is cast into the opposite scale. If the but I have taken up the time of the Convention rest upon. I am glad to see one instance of counties of Suffolk and Essex have less than their too much in arguing that our present system, and something like equality-I mean equality with fair share by thirty-four representatives, where do the system proposed by the Committee, are both respect to population, which I hold to be the only the thirty-four go? They go into the opposite unequal, when I understand it to be conceded true and equal basis ; and that county has, to be scale, which every gentleman must see doubles that it is unequal if any regard is to be had to sure, a population, of four thousand, a little more the difference against them.
population. I think it has been shown by other than a seventh part of that of Franklin, yet it has Sir, I think gentlemen will have the candor to gentlemen that regard has been had to population not a seventh part or an eighth part of the repre- admit that I am not arguing for local rights in times past. I think the history of the Comsentation—it has three representatives. Stopping against the general interest; but there are local monwealth, as well as our own perceptions of the a moment, to compare Nantucket with Dukes. rights to be regarded which every system of reasonableness and justice of the thing, will inNantucket, with 9,000 population, is to have two just representation should recognize, and I ask duce us to sustain the ground taken the other representatives, and Dukes, with 4,500, is to have you what reason there is for cutting down these day by the gentleman from Taunton, (Mr. Morthree.
important counties below their just representation? ton) that no basis could be fair and just on which
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, -GRAY.
to form either branch of the legislature unless it learned, and forget what I have heard from all were a popular basis.
sides of the House in regard to men and popular But, Sir, why are we asked to sacrifice this: rights, and the freedom of every man, and their We are asked to sacrifice this in order to base our all standing like freemen upon equal ground with representation upon corporate rights. To be his neighbor, if this be true. I must unlearn all sure, there is a little modicum there of population. that. I had supposed that our constituents were, There is less than one hundred representatives to at least, human beings. But my friend for be doled out to the large towns, and this pittance Erving will not allow them to be beings at all. is to be continually lessened as the population in- He says that a man who represents a district repcreases. Every reduction is to be thrown upon resents a nonentity. Now I think it is enough to those towns which have more than two represen- state such an argument as that, in order to give it tatives. Why, this was astounding to me. I its full force with the Convention, and I shall be knew there had been much said here and else- the last man to take away from it what force it where of the benefits which we derive from these may be entitled to. municipal corporations; of their great impor- Now, Sir, I retu: n to the plan proposed by the tance, of their high powers, and yet, Sir, though majority. They start with a proposition to which we might, perhaps, make some abatement for I agree-if it does not carry me, and it need not rhetor cal expression, until now I have heard carry me, to the perpetration of injustice-and very little sa d to which I could not agree. But, that is that every man in the State ought to be I ask, if towns are nothing, if they have not this represented in both branches of the legislature. power, what can they do, even if represented as a To that they add the proposition that every town part of a district? What can your town and my should have a representative every year. I say town do: In many important cases they can tax that cannot be done. It is impossible. Why? us to the last dollar of our property. Their Because if you carry it through, and have regard only restriction is that they shall tax us within to the system of equality-and I should do the the circle of powers conferred by law upon Committee injustice to suppose they intend anythe municipal authorities. And what does this thing different—how, with the three hundred and circle embrace? It embraces the nearest and twenty towns, can you proceed to work out the dearest objects of expenditure. How do we edu- problem before us, if the small towns are not satcate our children? how keep our poor from starv- isfied with fractional representation ? I, Sir, was ing? how keep our highways in repair ? and how not one of those who wished to disturb the present protect the lives of peaceable citizens? It is al- system, though I do not like it, for I think it is a most all effected through the town police. All that very imperfect one. The only method which can the general law can do is to punish the criminal, work equally, unless you have a House of Repafter the committal of the offence, if he can be resentatives of six or seven hundred memdetected, and arrested, and even then he may es- bers, is the district system. To that gentlemen cape conviction. It is the town police that checks must come. Those who cling to corporate reprevice and discord at the fountain head and pre- sentation may rely upon it that they cannot find vents the commission of crime, that is, so far as any other way of getting around the difficulty. human institutions can operate effectually on If they will be represented all the time, and if human beings. Sir, these are important objects, every town, as such, must be represented, their and what power can carrry them into execution proposition will lead them to consequences from but the towns themselves? And I can tell gen- which, I think, they will shrink. tlemen that the reason why town organizations Now, as to this district system. The Minority have done so much for us, is because of the Report proposes large districts, but some gentleexistence of the power of taxation to the degree men are in favor of single districts. Now the which they can exercise, and do exercise it. The ohjection which I have heard to that is, that very taxes are brought home to the people, and likely a district may be composed of two towns ; they are voted by the people of towns in town- and one of the towns may say, with or without meetings, and by cities in their little municipal reason, we are the smaller of the two, and though senates, if I may so call them. The amount
we are neighbors and good friends in general, of taxation which they voluntarily impose upon still we have our collisions and antagonistic themselves would result in the disorganization of interests, and the larger town will overrule us. any State in the Union, if levied by the state pow- But if the districts are large, embracing five, sic,
The town of Boston itself levies from one to seven towns, and those towns of different one and a half million of dollars annually, and I populations, the smaller towns will take care that suppose the remaining towns not less in the the larger ones shall never have more than their whole, that is a tax of three millions. Would such proportionate influence in district affairs. a tax be voted by any legislature? It is this pow- In Maine they have something like the district er of making the property of the country protect system. I have a friend who represents a district itself, and protect the rights of all, that has done of that State, composed of five or six towns. I so much for us,-a power in its exercise, com- inquired how they arranged the matter, having pared to which all direct taxes imposed in this only one representative? He said the representacountry in other ways, are as nothing.
tive was taken from the different towns in turn. I have said thus much to meet the argument But I said there must be an inequality in the that, by placing the towns in districts, we are population of the different towns composing the depriving them of all their power and conse- district. He repeated that this made no differquence and utility.
ence with them, and they always agreed to take Now, Sir, the gentleman for Erving, (Mr. the representative from the towns in rotation. Griswold,) says that when you place these towns This leads me to the objection which we have in districts, the gentleman who represents a town heard urged with great force in times past, and represents an abstraction. Well, Sir, I must un- which has been alluded to in this Convention, learn a great deal of what I have heretofore that the minority in the city of Boston, and in
other large towns, were wholly unrepresented and distranchised. This proposition remedies that evil. I do not know that I ought to plead the cause of my own city. It seems to me, Sir, that the less we speak of city and country, of the sea-coast and the interior, of Boston and the smaller towns, the better.
But I pray gentlemen to ask themselves how it is that this city has the population and wealth which my friend for Erving, (Mr. Griswold,) said-and, I doubt not, most sincerely-he was rejoiced to see? Where does it come from? It comes from the country. We are one people, Sir; and the wealth, and the people who make the wealth of Boston, are, in a great measure, from the country. Why, Sir, the gentleman for Erving said that the future president of the United States might be some country boy with common school education, of honest but poor parents. But, to descend a little lower in the political scale, who are, and who are to be, the rich men of Boston? Why, Sir, if I were to set myself up for a prophet, I could make no surer prophecy than that the richest man of Boston, some thirty or forty years hence, will be some country boy, now not ten years old, who has never seen Boston twice in his life. Ask public opinion, or consult the assessors' list, to ascertain who are the richest men. You find they are those who have made their wealth by their own exertions. They are men, many of them, I venture to say, whose great wealth is their least claim to public regard and esteem ; and of itself no one holds it less of a claim than I do. Now, I beg gentlemen from the country to consider these facts before they decide.
Boston bears a great proportion, a just proportion I admit, a great proportion—of the public burdens, and she ought to be represented, not according to her amount of taxable property, but according to her population. A principle of representation which is based upon the fact that all men are free and equal, and I beg men to consider well before they adopt the Report of the majority of the Committee. One thing is pretty clear to my mind, and that is if Boston is to be bound and delivered up as a prey to the hunters, the county of Franklin will come in for the lion's share. But that I hold to be of little importance. If it be true that any community cannot prosper by acts of injustice—and I hold this principle as great a political as moral truthwe shall not suffer alone.
Now, Sir, one word more in conclusion. This Report came from an intelligent and respectable majority of the Committee. I could hardly believe my eyes, until I had read it thoroughly, and but for the high respectability of those gentlemen, I never could have supposed that it came from an honest source. But I am bound no less by parliamentary courtesy, than by my own feelings of respect, to acknowledge the high character of the gentlemen who compose that majority, and I close my remarks by addressing them, in the words of a writer in the Edinburgh Review, at the close of an article upon Catholic emancipation. After speaking of the various objectors to that object, he concludes thus :- To the honest opposers of Catholic emancipation, we have only to say, we respect your principles, but we wonder at your existence.”
Mr. KINSMAN, of Newburyport. The day has been warm and the House thin, and appar
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, &c. - DANA — ROCKWOOD- KINSMAN - CHOATE.
ently the material of discussion is exhausted, and I therefore move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.
The motion was agreed to, by a vote of 89 to 56.
The Committee accordingly rose and the President having resumed the chair of
THE CONVENTIOX, The Chairman, (Mr. Wilson, of Natick,) re- : ported progress and asked that the Committee have leave to sit again.
Leave was granted.
Orders of the Day. On motion of Mr. BIRD, of Walpole, the Convention then proceeded to the consideration of the Orders of the Day, the first question, being on the motion of the gentleman for Manchester, (Mr. Dana,) to reconsider the vote by which the resolve reported by the Committee on so much of the Constitution as relates to the Secretary, Treasurer, &c., was finally passed.
Mr. DANA, for Manchester, remarked that this subject was brought up by the gentleman from Plymouth, (Mr. Bates,) on Monday last, when he, Mr. (Dana,) was unfortunately absent. It so happened that the gentleman from Plymouth was now absent, and as neither would be likely to benefit much from remarks made by the other under such circumstances, he hoped the subject would be allowed to go over.
No objection was made and the subject was laid aside for the present.
On motion of Mr. THOMPSON, of Charlestown, the Convention then at ten minutes past five o'clock, adjourned.
at least seven thousand five hundred inhabitants. And all towns containing less than one thousand five hundred inhabitants, shall be formed into single representative districts, each district containing at least one thousand five hundred inhabitants.
If, at the close of any subsequent decennial period, it should appear that the number of representatives for the next decennial period, would, on this scale of apportionment, exceed four hundred, then the number of inhabitants which shall entitle a town to elect one representative, shall be two thousand. And all towns and cities containing, each, ten thousand inhabitants or upwards, shall be formed into single representative districts, each district containing at least ten thousand inhabitants. And all towns containing less than two thousand inhabitants, shall be formed into single representative districts, each district containing at least two thousand inhabitants.
And whenever, at the close of any decennial period, a continuance of the scale of apportionment which had been employed during that decennial period, would make the number of representatives more than four hundred, then the number of inhabitants which shall entitle a town to elect one representative, shall be increased just five hundred, and the number so increased, whatever it may be, shall express the number of inhabitants required for a single representative district for all towns having less than that number of inhabitants. And five times that number shall express the number of inhabitants required for a single representative district for all towns and cities having five times that number of inhabitants, or upwards.
On motion of Mr. BUCK, of Lanesborough, the order and accompanying plan were ordered to be printed.
On motion of Mr. HURLBUT, of Sudbury, the Convention resolved itself into
I have thought, Mr. Chairman, since my attention was first attracted to the subject of this Convention-to its business and its probable issues--that the happy adjustment of the basis of representation in the popular branch of the legislature, is the main achievement, in the way of positive reform, by which you can hope to signalize your labors. If this business shall be well done; if it shall result, not in perpetuating inequality, injustice, and heart-burning, by an attempt to patch up an old system which is—let us confess it at once--artificial and inconsistent with itself, as well as with right reason, but in the establishment of justice and equality on the basis of the closest practicable approximation to natural right—if you can effect this, and if in addition to it you will maintain unimpaired the independence of the judiciary as our fathers conceived it and transinitted it-I think it not extravagant to expect that whatever objections there may have originally been to the calling of this Convention, and whatever exception may lie to any particular act which it has yet done, they may all be merged and lost in a calm and general approbation. If you fail in these two, or either of them, it is not for me to say that the Convention will fail-but I will say, that in my judgment, we shall have squandered irretrievably such an opportunity of doing good as we can with reason never hope to enjoy again. It is with this deep impression of the importance of the subject, that I take leave to submit my opinions on it.
And how shall I state the question ? Technically, of course, it is on the motion of my colleague, (Mr. Hale,) involving a comparison of the Report of the Majority of the Committee of which the gentleman for Erving (Mr. Griswold) is chairman-in its general principles, not in its details—with the Report of the Minority-not in its details either, but in its general principles. A little more broadly stated, it is a question between equal representation by districts in some form, and unequal representation by towns; and to state it a little more broadly and exactly still, I present it as a question between artificial privilege and natural justice; between the advantages which history and accident have bestowed on mere place, on the one hand, and the rights of man on the other; between town lines and human beings. If you object that this is too argumentative an expression of the point at issue, at the outset, I hope that the course of my observations may show it to be a true expression of it.
In entering on this discussion I begin, as others have begun, by assuming, for the sake of the argument, the existence of an evil in the present system of representation. I cannot go as far as others in this concession; certainly not as far as the gentleman for Erving. His plan seems to me out of all comparison more objectionable than the existing plan. Yet I will assume that there is an evil, for the purposes of the discussion, and because this Convention has been called to remedy it. But what is that evil : Sir, as I have always considered it-passing over, just now, two or three unimportant, or less important elements, on which the chairman insisted, and to which I will hereafter advert--the evil is this : that the people are not equally represented in the popular House. The evil is, that a person in one place—no more a man—no more a legal voter-than a person in another place, has more political power. He votes oftener; he votes for more representatives; he has
THURSDAY, June 16, 1853. The Convention assembled pursuant to adjournment, and was called to order by the President, at 10 o'clock, A. M.
Prayer by the Chaplain.
Basis of Representation. On motion by Mr. ROCKWOOD, of Belchertown, it was
Ordered, That the Committee of the Whole, having under consideration the Report of the Majority and the Minority on the subject of the House of Representatives, consider the propriety of reporting to this Convention the following basis of Representation :
Every town, containing one thousand inhabitants, and less than five thousand, may elect one representative annually. All towns and cities containing, each, five thousand inhabitants or upwards, shall be formed iuto single reprezentative districts, each district containing at least five thousand inhabitants. All towns containing less than one thousand inhabitants, shall be formed into single Representative Districts, each district containing at least one thousand inhabitants.
If at the close of any decennial period, it should appear that the number of representatives for the next decennial period would, on this scale of apportionment, exceed four hundred, then the number of inhabitants which shall entitle a town to elect one representative, shall be one thousand five hundred. And all towns and cities containing, each, seven thousand five hundred inhabitants or upwards, shall be formed into single representative districts, each district containing
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE, Mr. Wilson, of Natick, in the Chair, on the unfinished buiness of yesterday, being the Report on the subject of the House of Representatives.
The pending question being upon the motion of the gentleman from Boston, (Mr. Hale,) to substitute the Minority Report in place of the Report of the Majority.
Mr. KINSMAN, of Newburyport. I suppose, Sir, that according to the ordinary usage of this body, I am entitled to the floor; and it is my intention at some period to offer a few suggestions in reference to this subject; but I learn, with great satisfaction, that an able and talented friend of mine from Boston, has been solicited to speak upon the question that is now before the Committee, and I presume it will be as gratifying to the other members of this body as it will be to myself, to hear him, I will therefore, with great pleasure yield the floor.
Mr. CHOATE, of Boston. I would not avail myself at this moment of the kindness of my friend from Newburyport, (Mr. Kinsman,)—the friend of many years—if I were not in some sort compelled to do so. Many reasons would induce me to desire to postpone any share I might take in this discussion. Ably and instructively as the subject was opened by the chairman of the Committee, (Mr. Griswold,) on Tuesday, there would be great and obvious advantage in having the opportunity to be further instructed by that diversity of opinions and reasonings, to which, in the progress of the debate, we shall certainly listen. But personal considerations compel me, if I would say anything on this question, to do it
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. - CHOATE.
a larger share of representation. He has it-not long lived and prospered, and for which there unby election to office; not for services rendered or questionably still exists a strong attachment, it is to be rendered to the State ; not for public good;
not the province of the legislature to say. The
members of the Convention, fresh from the peonot-I beg to call your especial attention to this
ple, reflecting their wishes, and chosen with refnot for the protection of any individual interest of erence to this
among other important questions, and his own, in danger from other interests—for to any representing, as they will, every variety of intersuch end it is totally unnecessary, and totally est, and all shades of opinion, and especially, after unavailing—but he has it by the accident of place.
the discussion on this subject, which has already
taken place, and which will hereafter be had, in The rights of men are practically sacrificed, or
all the towns and cities, previous to the time of subordinated, to the accident of place. This, or
the Convention, will, we doubt not, be able to nothing, is the evil that has called us together. I perfect a system, which will remedy the monknow very well that the chairman, with a great strous evils which now exist, and be satisfactory deal of adroitness--for it did not exactly comport
to the great majority of the people of the Comwith the scope of his able speech to give much
monwealth." prominence to an evil which his plan only Certainly he does not commit himself on the aggravates—has made the most of certain other
mode of attaining it; but that equality of repreobjections to the existing system--such as its
sentation is the one great thing to be attained by complexity-which puzzles nobody, however,
the Convention which he would call together, is certainly not him; its large unrepresented frac
beyond all cavil. tional numbers ; the vote of the large cities and
Well, Sir, for the cure of this evil of inequality, towns by general ticket; neither of which, by the two plans are before you. And for the purpose way, does he attempt to cure—but permit me to
of comparing them, I put these two questions : remind you that by far the most forcible and most
first, does not the system of representation by telling passages, in that part of his address which
districts--in some form, and on some basis, for was directed to the display of existing evils, were
the chairman agrees that we are not now to be those which set forth how he who has the good
holden to precise details—seek and effect a far more fortune to live in one place, shall be represented at
perfect cure than his plan; and second, if it does all times, and by many representatives ; while he
so, then is there any difficulty, or any objection, who has the bad fortune to live in another, shall amounting to ciril necessity, in the way of adoptlong go unrepresented altogether. That was the
ing it? I repeat both questions, that you may evil he painted best ; for it was real and a great see from the first that I do not at all mean to evil. Why, who has forgotten into how many
evade what I feel to be the great obstacle to be hundreds of years-running up to the measure of
encountered. Is not the district system, beyond whole dynasties-he counted those dreary inter
all power of calculation, the completest remedy; vals of non-representation, to make out the general
and, if so, is it for any reason unattainable ? proposition of enormous existing inequality?
Well, Sir, on the first question, the chairman Turn, too, to that Report of the Committee of
has not suggested and nobody will suggestthe Senate, under date of February 21, 1852, by that the method of districts does not afford a perwhich public opinion has been so much influenced,
fect remedy of the inequality which has brought and which conduced so largely to the call of this
you together. He tells us--and others will tell us Convention. See how the chairman there puts
—that it is a remedy beyond our reach; that this forward first in the series of grievance, this existing body is against it ; that the people will reject it; inequality! I read his words :
this he has said, and others will say, but nobody
will say that it does not perform its office of relief “ The first subject which would demand the
thoroughly and systematically. In its essence, it atention of the Convention, is a change in our
secures substantial equality of political right-so present system of representation. It is now agreed, on all hands, that some change in this
far as representation in the popular branch is conrespect is necessary. The present constitutional cerned-to every-body who “dwelleth and hath provisions on this subject, though complicated, his home" in Massachusetts. This it does, if, are ingenious, and though they have been the according to the actual form of my colleague's source of much complaint during the last few years, yet the practical working of the system has
motion, population is taken as the basis. been much better thus far, that it is likely to be,
Setting aside the accidents of place, it gives to if continued in future. But, however light, com
every human being, if he is of our "inhabitants," paratively speaking, may have been the evil his full, exact, and just share-at one time and at hitherto, or whatever doubts a portion of the one place, as much as another-of this privilege, people may have had about the expediency of any this enjoyment, this guaranty of all things elsematerial change in the present system, ten years' experience under it, coupled with a knowledge of
the being represented. How great a merit—if any its future operation, as now established by official
merit—this is ; how far the plan of the chairman facts and calculations, from the Secretary of the falls short of it-whether it is practicable or the Commonwealth, can, we think, leave no doubt in mere dream of visionaries-all this I will consider the mind of any reasonable man, that some change hereafter. But what I now say is, that, as and is absolutely necessary, to restore that equality of representation, which was contemplated by the
for a system of representation of every-body who
has selected his “home” in this Commonwealth, framers of the Constitution. “Of the particular mode of accomplishing this
it is absolutely perfect, because it is substantially important reform, we do not think it advisable to and uniformly equal. speak in detail. And whether this most desirable This it is, if, as my colleague has done in his result can be best accomplished by dividing the
motion, your basis is population. If you prefer State into single representative districts, based
ratable polls, or legal voters, why then it accomupon the number of people, of legal voters, or of ratable polls; or whether the numbers and ratios
plishes substantial equality among all of them. of the present system can be so changed as to secure Let me add, that beyond all this, it makes it a plan of reasonable equality, and preserve the certain that always the majority-whether of the principle of corporate, town representation, under
people told by the head, or of the legal voters of which the people of the Commonwealth have so
Massachusetts-shall govern Massachusetts. In
all vicissitudes, by the operation of this system, the will, the reason, the conscience, the interests, of nothing less than the majority shall give the law.
And finally, it enables you to reduce the House to the utmost extent of the public demand of reduction.
Sir, can gentleman say as much for the scheme of the chairman, or of any scheme resting on the same idea ? Does that cure the evil of unequal representation : Does that cure the evil of allowing a man in one place three times the right and power which his son or brother has in another place? Does that cure the evil of government by minority? On the contrary, does it not aggravate it all a hundred fold, and perpetuate it ; erecting in the Constitution a stupendous system of inequality, and of the rule of the minorityunprecedented in the theory or practice of republics?
Why, what is the central idea of that scheme? It is that the right of representation adheres to place and not to man. Place gives privilege. Do not deny or evade this. Stand right up to it. Places gives power. Every town shall have one representative; and no town with less than 5,000 inhabitants shall have more than one. That measure of right which I may constitutionally enjoy in one place, I may not constitutionally enjoy in another. Six hundred on one area-nay, nine on one area—shall possess the power of 4,999 on another area.
That is the central idea. But after you ascend to towns of 5,000 inhabitants, then the scheme attempts to compromise between place and population ; and then it declares that every town of 5,000 inhabitants shall have two representatives; and for every additional 5,000 an additional representative ; provided, that none shall have over thirty.
Well, what is the result? Why, Sir, a variety and an aggregate of inequality ; a general and a sectional injustice, which the searching statistics of the gentleman from Cambridge, (Mr. Sargent,) and of my colleague, (Mr. Schouler,) and of the venerable member from Beverly, (Mr. Rantoul,) have scarcely exhausted; and which I am enabled a little farther to illustrate by the aid of calcula-' tions furnished to me by the kindness of my colleague, (Mr. Hale,) of whose thorough and trustworthy investigations the public has so long and largely profited.
And the first and comprehensive fact-not denied by the chairman, admitted indeed and justified by him in advance, and verified by all the members of the Committee to whom I have referred-is this: that his plan gives to about one-third of the people-one-third of the inhabitants, onethird of the legal voters of Massachusetts—the power to elect a majority of the House of Representatives--that House which, so many times in the future, as it has done so many times in the past, will make the whole government. Or, to
state it in other words, it gives to those who live |* in the small towns-comparatively so called—a
share of political power greater than that of those who live in larger towns—comparatively so called -in the proportion of almost three to one.
I have said that the chairman has admitted and nobody will deny—this. But verify it yourselves, by throwing all the three hundred and twenty-nine towns and cities of the Commonwealth into two classes, one made up of the
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. - CHOATE.
larger, and the other of the smaller, and drawing a State which might well “know no East, no the line between the larger and the smaller where West;" a foundation fitted—if any spot of earth
is so—for a temple of realized and perfected liberty 1st. Take all that portion of the people who and equality to be reared on; in such a State, live in towns which contain less than 5,000 in- this scheme denies to the farmers and fishermen habitants, and which, of course, are to have, by of Essex, the tradesmen and mechanics of Suffolk, this plan, one representative for each town. Of to Barnstable, to Bristol, the same measure of these, there are 518,900 ; and these have one rep- right which it lavishes on Worcester, and Frankresentative for every 1,753. Take, now, those who lin, and Berkshire, or anything in any substantial live in towns of more than 5,000. Of these, there degree resembling it. are 454,000, and these have one representative for Franklin, happy, as my colleague (Mr. Gray)
every 4,060. That is, of the 518,900, as a mass, said last evening, in her hills and valleys, and .. or group, each individual has nearly three times falls of water, and balmy air; happier in the mo
as much power, or right, as any individual in the rality and industry of her people; happier still in other mass of 454,000.
being all composed of small towns—all but one of 2d. But classify the larger and smaller towns them of less than 2,500 inhabitants--will have differently. Let all those of 2,100 inhabitants and twenty-six representatives, or one to every 1,180. less compose one class. There are 201 such Barnstable, so eloquently characterized by my towns, containing an aggregate of 251,800 inhab- other colleague, (Mr. Schouler,) whose sands urge itants, and they will send 201 representatives. its children to seek their bread in the solitary and Let all containing over 2,100 inhabitants compose distant ways of the sea, but whose pursuits and another class. They have an aggregate of 721,900, habits gather their residences on shore into someand will send 199 representatives. That is, a little what larger clusters-none, however, above 5,000 over one-quarter of the inhabitants of the State - will have thirteen, or one to every 2,615; and will send two more representatives than the other Bristol will have one to every 3,259. Worcester, three-quarters.
the large heart of the Commonwealth, will have 3d. Again. Let the towns of 2,500 inhabitants, sixty-one representatives for a population of and under, form one class, and those above 2,500 126,560; and Essex, on the sea, with a populaanother. Of those under, and of 2,500, there are tion of 127,000, will have thirty-four. Berk226. They contain 306,900 inhabitants, and will shire, at one extremity, has one representative for send 226 representatives. They are less than one- every 1,442; and Essex, at the other, has one for third of the State; they ought to elect about 126 every 3,437. Boston, with 139,000 inhabitants, representatives, and they elect 226. All the other will have twenty-eight; and Franklin, Hampinhabitants, amounting to 666,750, or more than shire, and Berkshire, with 114,000—less by two-thirds, who ought to elect 274, elect, in fact, 25,000—will have eighty-three, a power nearly as 175. That is to say, less than one-third of the four to one. There are twenty-eight towns, with people elect a majority of 51 in the House.
an aggregate population of 14,984, which elect • 4th. Take yet another view. The towns and one representative for every 535. Boston elects cities containing each 4,410 inhabitants have an one for every 4,956—about as nine to one against aggregate of 486,900, and should elect 201 repre- her ! sentatives. They elect, in fact, under this plan, Sir, how unintelligible is such discrimination as 119. The other half elect 283, a majority of more this! If the centre and west of Massachusetts than 60 in the House.
were a sparse, half-reclaimed back-woods ; if the Once more. Divide the whole population of forester's axe was just letting in the sun upon Massachusetts into four classes. Of the House Williamstown and Amherst-seats, both of them, contemplated by this plan, of 400 members, or and noble ones, of the higher learning; if Pittsthereabouts, one of these classes, consisting of field, and Lenox, and Stockbridge, and Spring85,667, will elect 100, which is one representative field, and Northampton, and Greenfield, and for every 856; a second class, consisting of Worcester, were not residences of wealth, taste, 163,418, will elect another hundred, which is one and refinement; if that whole central and western for every 1,634; a third class, consisting of 295,900, region, instead of being covered with busy and will elect another hundred, which is one for every beautiful villages, enriched by a scientific agricul2,959; and the fourth class, consisting of 423,900, ture, musical with the voices of all labor, thickly will elect another hundred, which is one for every settled by an educated and rapidly-improving 4,239.
people; were such a country as the wilds of the Surely, this is the “sovereignest remedy" of Upper Ammonoosuc or the Madawaska were one that inequality which this Convention meets to hundred years ago, we could comprehend it, but cure.
how unintelligible now! And then why do you It is not worth while, after this, to follow the discriminate against the farmers, and shoe manuoperation of this scheme into all its particular facturers, and leather dressers, and fishermen of injustice. Look a little, however at its aspect of such a county as Essex : Why against Barnssectional inequality. See how it takes from the table and against Bristol ? eastern group of counties, and from the general Sir, in view of all this, is it not a good deal as sea-coast, their just measure of right, and bestows my colleague (Mr. Schouler) yesterday declared it, as privilege, on the centre and west. Yes, it to be; like that extraordinary system in England here in Massachusetts, where commerce, naviga- -the result and product of historical causes or tion, and the fisheries, have been thought to have accidents, not of philosophy, swept away partially done the State some service; distinguished felici- by the Reform Bill-in which Gatton and Old tously by similarity of character, sentiments, Sarum, and all the rest of schedule A, with nohabits, occupations, everywhere ; a brotherhood, body in them, or next to nobody, sent members more than a Commonwealth; no institutions of to parliament, while vast accumulations of human slavery on one side of a range of mountains beings and living interests, in which the pulses of dreading an irruption of freedom from the other ; Young England were beating with lusty life, sent
no more, if they sent any? Is it not a most elaborate and bold recognition of the supremacy of the “ accidents over the man?"
But whatever it is, or is like, or whatever its merit or its necessity, I say that this scheme, compared with that of districts, effects no equal representation of the people, whether inhabitants or voters. The evil which has assembled you together, this scheme does not cure, and that of my colleague does cure.
And now, if this be so, why should you hesitate to adopt the system which accomplishes the equality you desire ?
But before I advance to that question, I must pause a little, to consider somewhat more closely how much political merit really belongs to equality of representation? What does it amount to, after all ? In the opinions of this Convention, already expressed by what it has done in regard to the Senate; in the eye and consideration of American liberty in its most approved type; in the estimate of a safe reform and a moral progress; how far is a Constitution, by which all the inhabitants of the Commonwealth are represented with substantial equality-as nearly an exact equality as is p'acticable—in the popular branch of the legislature; how far is such a Constitution desirable? How far is this enormous and multiform inequality which has been exposed, an evil at last? How much of evil is it, that, when the children of this political family come around the board to receive their due portion of the bread of political life, one should have nine parts, another five, another three, another one; that this inequality, existing everywhere, should assume the offensiveness and senselessness of a sectional preference, giving to Dan one share, to Ephraim another, to Judah another--making distinctionsthough our hearts, our reason, our theories of politics, make no distinction—between him who swings the scythe in Berkshire, and him who toils over the forge-fires of the machine shop in Low
and him who draws out hemp into standing and running rigging for merchant ships and menof-war in Suffolk, and him who puts forth from Essex, and Plymouth, and Bristol, and Barnstable, to find his means of living, and of educating his children, on the sea ? If this is no considerable evil, why say so; and then we will spend no time in inquiring whether it can be avoided. But if it is immoral and unchristian—just so far as it is unnecessary—if the State " as a moral being " is bound in conscience to relieve against it, provided that, consistently with a true prudence, it can ; if that sentiment, or that duty, which commands to love others as ourselves, to do equity, to diffuse to the utmost possible extent, over the whole surface of society, all the enjoyment, all the security against wrong, all the gratifications, all the civil good, which are the ends of society; if this sentiment, or duty-call it humanity, or benevolence, or what you will—takes cognizance of this, or such inequality, and pronounces it wicked if it is needless ; then we shall the more seriously set ourselves to ask, if any political necessity compels us to inflict it.
Is equality of representation then, good; and inequality bad? You will often have observed, Sir, as you live in the world, that when persons can no longer deny a particular merit to a man or a thing, that they take refuge and comfort in the exclamation that it is no such great merit after all. Did not the able chairman deal a little in