« ForrigeFortsett »
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, &c. – WILKINS - KEYES - XAYSOX.
42 12 34 35
to proceed with the discussion, I will not make
Reps formation presented by the gentleman from
61 towns, with less than 1.000 inbabitants, will send the motion.
with more than 1,000 and less than 2,000, will send 69 Lowell shall be placed before the Convention, and Mr. WILKINS, of Boston. I rise for the pur
then, if members have propositions which are
10.000 pose of making a few remarks upon the various
better than that now before us, they will know
20.000, plans which have been submitted to the Commit
20,000 with fractions,
what they are about when they come to offer tee, and also for the purpose of presenting one Total,
them. With the aim of giving an opportunity to the Committee myself. It seems to me, that
of having the tables, which we have ordered to be the people of the Commonwealth are expecting Now, Sir, that appears to me to be sufficiently
printed, come before the Convention, I move that of us some plan that shall materially diminish
large. Indeed, I should be glad if we could effect the Committee do now rise, report progress, and the House of Representatives. We have taken
a still further reduction, but at least this plan ask leave to sit again. one step towards diminishing the length of the
will obviate the difficulty to which the mhers are The motion was agreed to. sessions. We have, to all intents and purposes, subject, to some extent. It has the elements of
The Committee accordingly rose, and the Prediminished in future, the session of the legislajustice, and therefore, I hope, of popularity. I
sident having resumed the Chair of ture from five months to three. But I think, in
move it as an amendment to the proposition of the addition to this, our constituents are expecting gentleman from Lowell, now under consideration,
THE CONVENTIOX, some plan, some proposition by which we shall and ask that it be printed.
The Chairman, (Mr. Wilson, of Natiçk,) reportdiminish the number of members in your House
Mr. WILKINS subsequently withdrew his pro
ed progress, and asked that the Committee have of Representatives, in nearly the same proportion.
position, to be submitted at some future time, af- leave to sit again. There are none of the plans which have been ter it should have been laid before the members Leave was granted. proposed, which accomplish this result to any
of the Committee in a printed form. considerable degree, except that presented by the Mr. KEYES. We were engaged in some busi
General Laws for Corporations. minority of the Committee, and that has not been ness this morning, Mr. Chairman, which was
Mr. KEYES, for Abington. I move that the received with any degree of favor by the Com- broken off by an adjournment. I supposed when
Convention do now resolve itself into Committee mittee, although I think the expression of the the motion was made to go into Committee of the
of the Whole upon the Report on the subject of Committee upon it was not a fair one, and I hope Whole, this afternoon, that some gentleman was
General Laws for Corporations. the vote will be taken again. I say there are prepared to address the Committee, but, from what
Mr. WHIITNEY, of Conway. It will be renone of these plans which materially reduce the occurred after the subject came before us, I am
membered by the Convention, that in the mornHouse, and many do not reduce it at all; and, led to believe that such is not the case. I hope,
ing session many objections were presented therefore, upon this ground, if upon no other, I therefore, that the Committee will rise, report
against considering this subject at this time. The shall feel constrained to vote against them. I progress, and ask leave to sit again upon this sub
chairman of the Committee on Banking entered suppose we have come to the appreciation of a ject; and that we shall resume the consideration
his protest against its consideration at the present fact which appears to be a fixed one, that we must
time. of the subject which we had under consideration adopt some plan that will combine the principle at the time of adjournment.
The PRESIDENT. The Chair must remind of town representation with the basis of popula- I have another reason for making this motion,
the gentleman that the motion to go into Comtion. And, Sir, the various propositions sub- which I hope I may be allowed to state. It is
mittee of the Whole is not debatable. mitted to us, are, to a very considerable extent, this : as far as I can judge, there are no plans
Mr. WHITNEY. I merely wished to call the and, indeed, I think entirely, founded upon that which have yet been presented which seem to
attention of gentlemen to the objections which plan. combine the general assent either of any distinct
were urged against taking up the Report this Now I have drawn up a plan, which appears class of gentlemen, or of the whole Committee
morning, and to remind them that the same obto me to be preferable to any which I have yet itself, and it seems to me that these speeches,
jections were still existing. seen. It embraces the same general principles, which are being made upon the private plans
The question was put, and the motion agreed but it carries them so far into effect as to make a which are brought in, may be almost entirely
to. The Convention accordingly resolved itself
into substantial reduction in the House--a reduction wasted, because speeches made in support of a that will be worth having-a reduction worth plan which meets with no general favor, are en
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE, going before the people to advocate, which I tirely wasted. But if we had one general propo- Mr. Wilson, of Natick, in the Chair, and resumed think is not true of any of the other plans. sition before the Committee, which seemed in the the consideration of the Report of the Committee With the leave of the Chair, I will read my prop- minds of the members of the Committee liable to appointed to consider the expediency of making osition.
pass, the speeches would be mostly directed to a constitutional provision requiring that Corpora
that plan, and they would not be lost or thrown tions shall not be created by special act, except Resolved, That it is expedient so to amend the
away. Constitution, as to provide that every town con
for municipal purposes, and in cases where the taining less than 1,000 inhabitants may elect one
Now, Sir, it was stated by the gentleman for
objects of the corporations cannot be attained representative every third year, or be so grouped
Berlin, (Mr. Boutwell,)--and I suppose I have under general laws. The pending question being that three such towns may elect one representative the same reason to believe--that a substantial
upon the amendment offered by the gentleman annually; that every town having 1,000 inhabi- portion of the plan now before us would meet from Amesbury, (Mr. Nayson). tants and not more than 2,000 may elect one rep- the concurrence of a large portion of the Commitresentative every alternate year, or be so grouped
Mr. NAYSON. In offering that amendment, tee, but we have not been able yet to comprehend that two such towns may elect one representative
my object was, as I stated this morning, merely annually; that every town having 2,000 inhabi
what the whole of that plan is. Papers have just to embody, in a concise form, the declaration of tants and not more than 5,000, may elect one
been presented by the gentleman from Lowell, principle which I supposed the Committee were representative annually; that every town having showing what the effect of that plan will be upon desirous of engrafting upon the Constitution, a 5,000 inhabitants and not more than 10,000, may the various portions of the Commonwealth. So elect two representatives annually ; that every
principle conferring upon the legislature general far as I am able to understand it, I am perfectly town or city having 10,000 inhabitants and not
power to enact laws for the regulation of corpomore than 15,000, may elect three represent
satisfied with it so far as its application to the rations. That is the object, as I understand, of the atives annually ; that every city or town har
present census is concerned, but I am not satisfied resolve in question, and such I understand to be ing 15,000 inhabitants and not more than 20,- with what it may be hereafter, because I cannot the explanation of the chairman of the Committee 000, may elect four representatives annually ; see clearly what will be its effect. If, however, who reported that resolve. that cities and towns having 20,000 inhabi
the same amount of justice and equality can be tants and upwards, may elect one represent
amendment, I supposed I was doing what would ative annually for every 5,000 inhabitant: it con
provided as applied to the future censuses, as are receive the approbation of the chairman of the tains, and one for each fraction over 2,500 inhabi
provided in this plan for that of 1850, it is a prop- Committee. If I am mistaken in that suppositants : said cities and towns having 20,000 osition, I think, that will answer; at any rate, it
tion, and if the chairman of the Committee is deinhabitants and upwards to be districted by law, will get a large number of the votes of the Con
sirous of obtaining a vote upon the resolve as it and no one district to elect more than four repré- vention. If it can be shown that it will operate sentatives.
came from the Committee, I should feel it my as well for future, as it will for the present, I, at duty to withdraw the amendment I have proAccording to this plan
least, shall be satisfied. But I desire that the in- posed.
In offering that
GENERAL LAWS FOR CORPORATIONS. - UPTON - DAVIS-NAYSON - LORD.
Mr. DAVIS. I do not desire to have the gentleman make the motion he proposes.
The question was then taken on the adoption of the resolve, as amended, and it was decided in the affirmative.
On motion by Mr. WILSON, the Committee then rose, reported the resolve, as amended, to
Mr. WHITNEY, of Conway. I should like to have the sense of the Committee upon the gentleman's amendment.
Mr. UPTON, of Boston. I did not think of saying a word upon this question before I came in here, and now shall trouble the Committee but a moment. It seems to me, if we adopt any provision upon this subject, it must be the amendment proposed by the gentleman from Amesbury, (Mr. Nayson). I confess I was astonished, this morning, to hear the remarks of gentlemen upon this subject who are familiar with legislation and the manner in which legislation is effected. It is proposed by the Report of the Committee that you shall have special laws, and special laws only, excepting for certain cases, and those cases to be specified. Suppose you put upon your statute books these special laws. I ask gentlemen of this Committee if they intend to apply the provision of this Report to the special legislation which has already taken place in Massachusetts in certain cases, and put these cases under general laws ; because if you do, you not only array against them the whole of these corporations but every other corporation hereafter to be created; provided those laws are not liberal enough. It does seem to me, therefore, as a matter of safety, as they began under acts of incorporation, it is better to leave them as they are than to undertake to put a provision in your Constitution specifying and defining the acts which shall come under some general act. If we were about to commence de novo, it would be a very different question. Take, for instance, the railroad interest in this Commonwealth. You have established, and have already a number of special railroad acts incorporating private railroad companies. If you undertake to change the system of legislation in regard to them, of course you array all these companies against any good legislation. This rule will apply to the legislation which has taken place, and I think that there was wisdom and sagacity in the remark of the gentleman from Natick, (Mr. Wilson,) when he stated this morning, that this would be one of the most difficult questions to be considered by the people. As, for instance, in the case of the railroad act, if any existing arrangement with regard to railroads already established should be disturbed, it would produce very great difficulty indeed. We have railroads running from this city to Salem, to Lowell, and various other points. Do gentlemen propose to have any general act by which another railroad shall be established between this city and Lowell, or this city and Salem? All of these various questions may and will come up in a way in which you cannot meet them easily. If you insert in the Constitution a general provision, that no special act shall be granted where general acts do not apply, I confess, the question, to my miud, will go to the people of the Commonwealth in about as unsatisfactory shape as any questicn can be presented. I should say, that where general acts of incorporation would apply, that there should be no special acts, and if I understood the amendment of the gentleman from Amesbury, (Mr. Nayson) it provides that there shall be no special acts where the legislature has made provision for meeting the case by the passage of a general act. I hope, therefore, that the amendment proposed by the gentleman from Amesbury, as it is an important one, may meet the views of the Committee and be adopted.
The question was then taken on Mr. Nayson's amendment, and a count being had, there were ayes, 96 ; noes, 27.
So the amendment was agreed to.
Mr. MORTON, of Quincy. I move that the Committee rise and report to the Convention that the resolution ought not to pass.
The question was taken on Mr. Morton's motion and it was not agreed to—ayes, 61; noes, 119.
Mr. DAVIS, of Worcester. I do not understand precisely the condition of the question at this time. The amendment offered by the gentleman from Cheshire, (Mr. Cole,) being rejected by the Committee, I immediately arose, and, in my place, made a motion to substitute a new resolve in its place. That substitute was stated to the Committee of the Whole, but for some reason, another proposition is substituted in its place. I rise to ascertain how this matter stands.
The CHAIRMAN. All the various propositions offered have been considered in the light of independent propositions and not as amendments. The design was, to take the question upon each one in the order in which it was proposed. There was one failure to preserve that order. The gentleman from Walpole, (Mr. Bird,) introduced an amendment that the word “manufacturers” should be introduced in the proposition, and the question, by mistake, was taken upon it at the time, but in all other respects, the Chair, in taking the question, has followed the order in which the amendments were introduced. The gentleman from Cheshire, (Mr. Cole,) introduced the first amendment, which was rejected. The gentleman from Natick, (Mr. Wilson,) introduced the second, which was adopted. Then, before the gentleman from Worcester, (Mr. Davis,) presented this proposition, the gentleman from Amesbury, (Mr. Nayson,) introduced his amendment, and the question has now been taken upon it. Had that been rejected, then the proposition of the gentleman from Worcester, (Mr. Davis,) would have been considered. If the gentleman from Worcester wishes to offer his amendment as a substitute for that just adopted, he has opportunity now of doing so.
The resolve, as amended, is as follows:
The question on concurring in the amendment made in Committee, was decided in the affirmative.
The question then recurred on ordering the resolve to a second reading.
Mr. BUTLER. On that question I ask for the yeas and nays.
There being a division, on the question of granting the yeas and nays on the question of ordering the resolve to a second reading, there were-ayes, 46; noes, 152.
So the ayes and nay's were ordered, there being one-fifth voting in the affirmative.
Mr. LORD, of Salem. I do not precisely understand the phraseology of the amendment, whether the mover intended that if there should have been a general law passed, no special act shall be passed upon the subject. If that is not not what it means, then when there is a majority in favor of passing any special act, they must first repeal the general act. It does not seem to be worth while to put such a clause in the Constitution. That seems to me to be the whole of the proposition; that the same power that desires to create a special act shall not do it till they have repealed the general act. I do not know that I understand it.
Mr. NAYSON. I am not surprised that the gentleman from Salem does not understand the proposition, for those who know his course with regard to the general law on the subject of banking last winter, know that he is not in favor of such a law. But I suppose the gentleman will give me credit for understanding the amendment which I had the honor to submit to the Committee. As an illustration, take the general banking law of this State, and which the gentleman from Salem has had occasion to pass his opinion upon. We have had that law on our statute book for some time ; and until it is repealed, if this provision is put into the Constitution, it will not be competent for the legislature to grant any special act so long as that general banking law is retained. That principle may apply with regard to many corporations. I take it that the gentleman from Salem understands that principle so well that he will not consider me so stultified as not to know what this Committee have accepted and adopted. It seems to me to be a very plain matter, and the banking law is a good illustration in point; and I presume that the gentleman from Salem will admit that to be the operation of the principle generally.
Mr. LORD. I have learned from the gentleman just what I desired, simply to know what was his understanding of the proposition. Now the gentleman did not quite do me justice when he said I had repeatedly expressed an opinion against the banking law. I was a member of the legislature last winter, and I expressed no opinion against it at that time, for I had no such opinion that I desired to express, and I found no occasion when I felt called upon to express any opinion
Resolved, That it is expedient to incorporate into the Constitution the provision, that corporations may be formed under general laws, in all cases, where the object of such corporations is obtainable under the same; and where provision is thus made by general·laws no incorporation shall be formed by special act.
That is the form in which the resolution now stands before the Committee.
Mr. DAVIS, of Worcester, I would rather prefer to have the phraseolgy a little altered, but carrying out precisely the same principle. I do not know that, inasmuch as it is simply a proposition to go to the Engrossing Committee, it would be worth while to propose any change.
Mr. NAYSON. I have no manner of objection that the gentleman from Worcester should have an opportunity to introduce his proposition, so that it may have the action of the Committee. Deferring to the superior judgment of the gentleman from Worcester, I am not tenacious at all about having my proposition retained ; and for the purpose of affording him an opportunity to introduce his, I will, if the gentleman desires it, move a reconsideration of the vote adopting my amendment. I think, however, they are very nearly precisely alike.
QUALIFICATION OF VOTERS, &c.— WHITNEY - BUTLER – HOOPER - ALDRICH – DURGIN.
on the subject. And let me tell him, that I do Mr. BUTLER. I will withdraw it to accom- matter what may be his business, with the intennot think that that banking law could have stood modate the gentleman.
tion of returning, I presume he would not lose with that legislature or any other legislature Mr. DAVIS. I then move the following sub- his residence. It seems to me, that the incorporaagainst any determination they might have had to stitute for the resolve.
tion into the Constitution of a provision, that if a make a special act; no, Sir, not for an hour.
man was absent from the Commonwealth upon Therefore, you put into the Constitution a provis
Resolved, That it is expedient to incorporate
business of the State or of the United States, he into the Constitution a provision, that corporations ion which the legislature could repeal at any shall not be created by special act, when the ob
should not be deemed to have lost his residence, moment. I think it is hardly worth while. Last ject of the corporation shall be attainable under
might leave some doubt whether it was not to year petitions came in for special acts in relation general laws.
be inferred that he should so lose his residence to banks, and the legislature were willing to
in case of absence upon other business ; but I grant them; but inasmuch as many desired the The question being then taken on the motion
suppose, as it now stands, it is perfectly clear. general law to stand, they were content that it to postpone until to-morrow, it was agreed to. Mr. MORTON, of Andover, moved that the should remain, in order that if any persons de
Committee rise and report to the Convention that sired to avail themselves of its provisions they
Qualifications of roters.
the resolves ought not to pass. might do so. But suppose this provision had Mr. WILSON, of Natick, moved that the Con- Mr. DURGIN, of Wilmington. Before the been in the Constitution, what must the legisla- ven ion resolve itself into Committee of the Whole, question is taken on the motion of my friend from ture have done? They must first have repealed upon the resolves in relation to the loss of resi- Andover, I would like to offer an amendment by the general banking law, before they could have dence in consequence of absence on the business adding a resolve, if this be the proper time and incorporated any bank under a special charter. of the State or of the United States, and also re
place to do it, in the following words :Now, when we have adopted this provision in the specting idiots, insane persons, and persons conConstitution, there will be nothing to prevent the vict d of infamous crimes, which had been report- Resolved, That no individual shall be deprived legislature from passing as many special charters ed by the Committee on the Qualifications of
of the privilege of voting for State or United
States officers in consequence of having changed as they choose. If the legislature desires to pass Voters.
his residence to any other portion of the State, or a special act they will use the means necessary to
The motion was agreed to.
shall lose his residence for the above purpose in accomplish their purpose ; and if it be necessary, The Convention accordingly resolved itself into one place until he shall gain it in another. in order to do so, to repeal a general law, then
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE. that general law will, of course, be repealed. I
The CHAIRMAN. The motion is in order. am very happy to understand the designed opera
Mr. Frothingham, of Charlestown, in the Chair, It takes precedence of the motion that the Comtion of this amendment. I supposed that the
and proceeded to consider the said resolves. They mittee rise.
Mr. BATES, of Plymouth. I rise for the purlegislature shall once have exercised the authority
pose of making an inquiry. It is my impression
Resolved, That the Constitution be so amended, and made the law, that that law should be irre
that a resolve embodying the same idea, or subas to provide that no person shall be deemed to pealable by the legislature for the purpose of
stantially the same, with that of the one now ofhave lost his residence in this Commonwealth by granting special charters ; but that not being his
fered by the gentleman from Wilmington, has reason of his absence while on the business of purpose, it seems to me, it only requires the legis- this State or of the United States.
been before submitted and disposed of, and is lature, if the amendment be adopted, to do cir
Resolved, That no idiot or insane person, or
now either in the hands of the Convention or the cuitously what they might otherwise do directly.
person convicted of a felony, unless pardoned and Committee of the Whole. I wish to inquire if
restored to the right of suffrage, shall be entitled Mr. WHITNEY. I find that some gentlemen
this be not the case, for if so, there is no necessity to vote in any election. around me do not understand the resolution, as
for acting upon the same subject again. amended. We have ordered the yeas and nays
Mr. ALDRICH. I will state, for the informa
Mr. HOOPER, of Fall River. I wish to inon that resolution as amended, and as a friend of
tion of the gentlemen, that if they will turn to quire of the Committee who reported these rethat resolution, I fear that many gentlemen will solves, what effect this special provision, that per
document No. 55, they will find the resolve to not vote understandingly upon it at present. I sons shall not lose their residence by reason of
which the gentleman from Plymouth alludes, in therefore would move, as it is now on its second their absence on the business of the State or of
the following words :reading, that we reconsider the vote ordering the the United States, will have upon other cases of
Resolved, That no person removing his domicil yeas and nays, and order the resolve to be printed, absence. I believe that the general practice is from one town or city within this Commonwealth so that when the question is taken, we may act now, that persons absent from the State upon to another, shall, by reason of such removal, be understandingly. It seems to me, that there is an their own business do not lose their residence.
deemed to have lost his residence in the former for alteration of the language, which I must confess, There are citizens in the section from which I
the purpose of voting for national and State ofithat I do not fully comprehend myself. I would
cers, until six months after his removal. come, comprising quite a large class, who follow like to examine it in its printed form.
the sea, and they are gone for years sometimes Mr. DURGIN. I was not aware that the subMr. BUTLER. I would like to suggest in on fishing voyages. I wish to understand from stance of my resolve had been acted upon, and I some form, that the object sought to be obtained the Committee who reported this resolve, whether was anxious that it should be put into the Conby the gentleman from Conway, can be obtained this special provision, in regard to absence on stitution somewhere. As the matter has been if he will withdraw his motion.
public business, is intended to exclude those who already disposed of, I withdraw the amendment. Mr. WHITNEY. I will withdraw it.
may have been absent upon their own business, The question being then taken on the motion Mr. BUTLER. My object is, that when the contrary to what has been the practice heretofore. of Mr. Morton, it was agreed to. The Committee question shall be taken upon this resolution, it Mr. ALDRICH, of Barre. As I see that the accordingly rose, and the President having remay te taken by yeas and nays. Now, as I un- chairman of this Committee is not present, and no sumed the Chair of derstand, the resolve may be amended, altered other member of the Committee being disposed to or postponed; but that upon its final passage, answer the inquiry of the gentleman from Fall
THE CONVENTION, when it is put into the form in which the Conven- River, I will state what my views in regard to The Chairman, Mr. Frothingham, of Charlestion are desirous of having the question taken, this matter are. I think the resolve is entirely town, reported to the Convention that the rethen the yeas and nays are to be had. Therefore, unnecessary; for I suppose, that under the law as
solves ought not to pass. the gentleman from Conway can obtain his object it now stands, a man would not lose his residence Mr. HOOPER asked that the question might by moving to postpone the taking of the question by absence from the Commonwealth on business be taken separately upon the two resolves; and till to-morrow. With his consent, I will make for the State or for the United States, any more the question being taken on the first resolve, it that motion, that it be postponed till to-morrow than if he were absent on his own business. I was rejected. and that it be printed as amended. suppose it would be determined whether he would
The question then recurred upon the second Mr. DAVIS. Is it in order for me to offer an or would not lose his residence by finding out resolve. amendment.
what the intention was at the time of leaving his Mr. IIASKELL, of Ipswich. There is one The PRESIDENT. Not unless the pending residence-whether he went away with the inten- provision in the second resolve that I hope will motion is withdrawn.
tion of returning or not. If he goes away, no be adopted, for it is not covered by existing laws,
QUALIFICATION OF VOTERS. — HATHAWAY - BATES - HOOD-KEYES — MORTON.
as I understand the subject. That is, that no friends apply for pardon to the governor and counperson convicted of a felony, unless pardoned and cil, they can grant a pardon and restore all his rights restored to the right of suffrage, shall be permit- to the individual except his civil rights. By the ted to vote in any election. It appears desirable laws of Massachusetts, hitherto, he has been enthat there should be some such penalty annexed titled to vote, and' I have never learned that any to the commission of crime; and I hope that this, inconvenience has yet resulted from that vote; at least, will not be rejected.
and now it is proposed to deprive that man of his Mr. HATHAWAY, of Freetown. I move to right of suffrage until some future time when his amend the second resolve by striking out the civil rights shall be restored. words “idiot or insane person,” and inserting, Mr. HOOD, of Lynn. I hope the resolution instead thereof, the words “pauper, or person un- will not pass, and that we shall not incorporate der guardianship.” My difficulty in reference to into the Constitution a clause containing a provithis resolve is, that the only criterion that I know sion that a man who has been convicted of a State of, or that any one can know of, by which to prison offence, shall never be a voter, but that we settle this question of insanity or idocy, is the shall leave the law as it now is in that respect. judgment of a tribunal that is fit to pass upon A man who is in the State Prison and comes out, that matter. I would not, by any means, be wil- does not forfeit his civil rights as a citizen, and I ling to leave it to the selectmen, when the day for hope we shall not throw any obstacle in the voting comes, to pass upon the question whether way of the reformation of men who have been I was idiotic or insane. I should think that was so unfortunate as to serve a term in the State a miserable tribunal to judge of this question, as Prison. There are many of them upon whose regards myself, to say nothing about any other characters the punishment has had the effect gentleman in reference to this matter; and hence, which should be the end of all punishmentI would adopt the other provision which is con- reformation ; and many of them are just as well tained in the third article of the amendments to qualified to vote as the body of citizens with the Constitution, and then I hype that the resolve whom they live. will be agreed to retaining, to suit the views of I object to this provision for another reason. the gentleman from Ipswich, the provision in ref- This question must arise in town-meeting, and it erence to persons convicted of felony, and who will be a difficult matter to settle, to determine had not been restored to the right of suffrage by there whether a man has been convicted of a felvirtue of pardon.
ony, and should thereby not be permitted to vote ; Mr. BATES, of Plymouth. I would like to or if convicted of a felony, whether he has been inquire of the gentleman from Freetown in what pardoned and restored to the right of citizenship. manner the restoration to the right of suffrage How is it to be decided there? It places the offimay be supposed to be obtained. By the laws of cers in an embarrassing situation. It is hardly to Massachusetts, a man who has been convicted of be expected that any one will be there prepared to felony, and who has been punished in the State produce the record to prove that a man has been Prison, when he comes out of the State Prison, is convicted of a felony. And still, if the provision a voter. When his time of imprisonment has is to have any effect, the officers must receive the expired, there is no provision of law that prevents individual's vote, or else somebody must produce him from being a voter. Now it is proposed to the record of conviction, as the only satisfactory say in this resolve, that he shall not vote unless evidence of the commission of the crime. They he is restored to the right of suffrage: and my in- would not be justified in taking hearsay evidence, quiry is, in what manner is it proposed to restore which, besides its unreliable nature, would open him to the right of suffrage ?
the door to great difficulties in the discharge of Mr. HATIAWAY. I cannot, of course, be their duties. I hope we shall not adopt the reexpected to know what were the views of the solve. Committee who reported this resolve; I am not Mr. KEYES, for Abington. It seems to me, responsible for it, not having been a member of that the passage of this amendment would be that Committee. I suppose, however, that the somewhat inconsistent with votes already passed Committee had in view certain persons who had by the Convention. In the first place, in regard been, or who might be hereafter convicted of to the matter of the punishment of felony, it felony, and who had not been restored to their strikes me, that the purpose and intention of the civil rights by pardon. Now, a remission of the courts, is to make it severe enough to meet the penalty or the judgment of the Court, as I under- nature of the crime with which the criminal is stand it, is a very distinct matter from the res- charged, and therefore it appears to be rather out toration to civil rights; and I suppose that the of place for this Convention, or for the people, in Committee had in view the pardon of an individ- any other form, to add to the penalty already ual and his restoration to his civil rights, no mat- prescribed for the commission of crime. The ter where he should stay. I suppose it was their judges are not backward, as far as my observation intention, that a pardon should be necessary for a extends, in dealing out, within the limit of the restoration to civil rights after the termination of statute, as great a penalty in each case as the the sentence which has been inflicted upon a per
crime deserves. Therefore, I oppose that part. son for the commission of felony. That is my Then, in regard to that other part about pauidea with regard to the matter, although I have pers. It was said the other day, and the question no authority to speak for the Committee.
was decided on that ground, that the right to Mr. BATES. With that understanding, and vote was a natural and inalienable right. Now, that explanation on behalf of the Committee, or I take it that we are too democratic to take away rather, in the absence of the Committee, I cer- the inalienable rights of men because they haptainly hope this resolve will not pass. The ob- pen to be poor. I did not expect to see such a propject of the resolve appears to be simply this: that osition coming from such a quarter. The ground, when a man has been convicted of felony, and that the right to vote is a natural and inalienable has been sentenced to the State Prison, and his one, is not my faith, but it is the faith of this
Convention as expressed by their votes, a few days since. There we held out a temptation for persons to become public paupers in some respects, and now we propose to insert a provision, that if they do become paupers, they shall not vote.
It was maintained, that a man owes no particular duty to society in order to be entitled to claim the privilege of voting. That is a right which, it was argued, is forced upon man because he lives in society, and while he lives in society, it is not expected that he will forfeit his rights, because he fails to perform his duties. It was decided, also, that no man should be deprived, while he is permitted to live in society, of any of the rights and privileges which belong to all others. It seemed to me that it was settled in Convention, on that occasion, that a man's property was not the criterion of his rights, or the measure by which they were to be apportioned ; and if that principle is correct, I do not know why, we should not extend the right of voting to all paupers, because they have, I was going to say, more interest in the laws, and in the conduct of the administration of affairs, than any other class of persons, inasmuch as they are the children of the government, and affected in their food and their raiment by the laws which are passed, and therefore, of all people, they have the highest interest in voting.
They are not views which I entertain which make these amendments improper in my estimation, especially the one in reference to State paupers, but it is because of the votes already given by the Convention that I think it would be improper to adopt them. I agree with the gentleman from Monroe, (Mr. Phelps,) that no difficulty on this matter has arisen heretofore. It has generally been believed, and such has been the practice, that when a man has been sent to the State Prison he must come back to the governor and council and be pardoned, and undergo the formality of being restored to his civil rights in order to become a voter. But I understand there is no necessity for that, as a man is entitled to vote the very next day after he comes out of prison, if he chooses to exercise the privilege.
Mr. MORTON, of Andover. I simply wish to say, that it seems to me to be entirely useless to insert the provision in this resolution, inasmuch as it already exists in our present Constitution. Article Third of the amendment says: “ Every male citizen of twenty-one years of age and upwards, (excepting paupers and persons under guardianship, &c.,) shall have the right to vote, &c," and I have yet to hear that there is any proposition before this Convention to alter or amend that portion of the Constitution. Therefore I submit that the amendment proposed by the gentleman from Freetown, (Mr. Hathaway,) is entirely useless.
Mr. HATHAWAY, of Freetown. I do not wish to be placed in an improper or false position, in reference to the amendment which I proposed, for be it kuown and understood that I am opposed to the resolution, even if the amendment shall be adopted. But I am disposed to make the original resolution as perfect as I can, and the gentleman over the way, (Mr. Haskell,) having expressed the wish to retain in it the class of persons who might be convicted of the crime of felony, I did not move to strike that out. But the Committee had reported that "insane persons” should not vote,
QUALIFICATION OF VOTERS. – IIATHAWAY - BUTLER – MORTON - HIASKELL- ALDRICH.
and the reason why I wished to substitute for it. If we continue to postpone matter after vote is questioned on that ground, can produce that "persons under guardianship" was, because matter, day after day, as we have done, we shall his papers, showing that he has been restored to I would not deprive any person of the right to not get through our labors until winter. I hope that right vote upon the judgment of the selectmen, and the Convention will pass upon the matter now. This question has arisen quite unexpectedly to because they might believe a person to be idiotic Mr. HATHAWAY. Will the gentleman from me, but I think much might be said, properly or insane who was not so, and the only evidence Lowell withdraw his motion for a moment ? and justly, of the reasonableness and propriety of that they should consider as sufficient to deprive Mr. BUTLER. I will.
including a disqualification to vote, as one of the any voter of his rights was a solemn adjudication, Mr. HATHAWAY. I perceive that the Con- punishments for the commission of a criminal by a competent tribunal of law or probate, that vention prefers to take the question upon the offence. Does it look reasonable, that a man the person was so, and that he was incompetent naked resolution as reported, and I therefore who has violated the law of his country, by the to vote. withdraw the amendment.
commission of a felony, will take that interest in In reference to paupers, I know there is a pro- Mr. BUTLER. I now renew my motion to placing the execution of those laws into the vision in regard to them in the Constitution at postpone.
hands of competent and proper persons, that all the present time. And I do not know but that The question was taken, and the motion was voters should take? We know that many men the Committee intended and meant to introduce not agreed to.
are restored to society, at the expiration of their the provision that persons who are paupers should The question then recurred upon rejecting the term of confinement, without any more moral have the right to vote. If such was the intention second resolve.
merits or qualifications, and with no more interof the Committee, I differ entirely with them, and Mr. HASKELL, of Ipswich. I desire to say est in the welfare of society, than they had at the also with the gentleman from Abington, (Mr. a word or two upon this subject. I think the time of their conviction for the offence, and yet Keyes,) in reference to the proposition that every question raised by the gentleman from Plymouth, you will let him exercise all the functions of an individual has the natural, essential, and inaliena- admits of another answer than that given by the independent freeman, knowing that he is no more ble right to vote. If that gentleman intends that gentleman from Freetown. He asks what the moral, and has no more interest in the welfare of proposition as broadly as he stated it, then I second resolution can mean, by requiring, that that society whose laws he has violated, and inquire why any individual should be naturalized a person convicted of a felony, should be restored whose interests he has sacrificed by the commisbefore he has the right to vote : I regard that to his right of suffrage before he can vote. I do sion of a criminal offence. It is well deserving matter in a very different light from what he does. not know what was the intention of the Com- of serious consideration by the Convention, whethLet me say, in reference to that matter, that mittee, or of its chairman, in the preparation of er it would not be reasonable and just to provide, foreign persons who come here, under our laws, this resolve, but I suppose and understand it to as an additional punishment for the commission if we choose so to provide by law, would have be this, that a party convicted of a felony shall of crime, the forfeiture of the elective franchise. the right to vote the very day after they came be deprived of the right of suffrage. That is the Of course such a provision would be made aphere. I do not regard that proposition as he import and effect of the resolution, as reported. plicable only to offences committed after the does.
As I understand it, the resolution simply pro- adoption of the principle. It seems to me, to be Mr. KEYES. I wish the gentleman would vides, that such a party, thus deprived of his neither just or right, to permit a person who has state my views upon the subject.
right of suffrage, by the commission of a felony, violated one of the most important and fundaMr. HATHAWAY. I stated simply what the shall not vote until he is restored to that right by mental laws of society, to come out of his congentleman said, and if he says his opinions are a pardon. It refers to the deprivation which a finement, and do, by his vote, perhaps as great a different from what his words warrant, I do not person is to suffer by his own act, and that he wrong as he has before done by violence, or in understand them.
shall not be restored to that condition he was for- some other way. Mr. KEYES. I intended to say that I did not merly in, until he has received a pardon. Such Mr. ALDRICH, of Barre. I am glad to be believe in the doctrine which I presumed the I apprehend to be the meaning of the resolution, able to state to the Convention that, although I Convention sanctioned the other day, that every- and it is perfectly proper to declare that fact. could not concur with the Committee which body had a natural and inalienable right to vote. One word in reference to the suggestions of reported these resolutions, in many respects, yet
Mr. HATHAWAY. Very well, I am happy the gentleman from Lynn, (Mr. Hood). None it was not the intention of that Committee-it to know that the gentleman and myself then of the difficulties to which he alludes, can pos- certainly was not my intention as a member of agree upon that matter. The reason, then, why I sibly arise. I infer, from the gentleman's con- that Committee—that the disqualification of a moved to amend, was to make the resolution, in nection with a town, that he must have observed felon' to vote, should be considered a part of his case it did pass, as perfect as I could, so that it the manner in which the voting list is prepared. punishment. That is, in my judgment, entirely should not be quite as bad as it was originally ; It is not prepared in town-meeting. The ques- an erroneous view of this subject. We have no but I intend to vote against the whole resolution, tion of one's qualifications to vote almost always right to punish a man for a crime after he has even if the amendment is adopted.
arises in the preliminary meeting of the selectmen, suffered the punishment which a court of justice, Mr. BUTLER, of Lowell. Here are some which takes place before the town meeting. It upon a full hearing of his case, has inflicted upon resolves reported by a Committee, the chairman is there that the subject of qualification is can- him. My idea of the reason for making such a of which, and I believe most of its other members vassed, and there that the right of the party to provision in relation to the disqualification of a are absent. They are are now about to be passed vote is denied, if denied at all, and determined felon, is this. When a man has committed felony finally upon, for if, as it seems to me to be the by the consultation and decision of the select- and has been convicted of the crime, he may be intention of the Convention, they reject them, that
considered so perfectly reckless - so utterly reis a final disposition of them. I would inquire There is, too, a mode of proof, in reference to gardless of the best interests of society, as to ren—without expression any opinion upon the re- the commissions of felony, than which nothing der himself entirely unworthy to take any part solves one way or the other-if some such courtesy can be more certain. The selectmen are not to in the administration of its affairs. We deprive is not due to the chairman of the Committee, by become the tryers of that fact, and I apprehend an insane person of the right of voting, not which at least we should postpone final action that there can be no uncertainty about ascertain- as a punishment, but because he is unfit to take . upon the matter, until he can be present here to ing the conviction. The record is open at all part in the affairs of government. He is intelexplain to the Convention the reasons which in- times, to the inspection of every one, and accés- lectually disqualified. And the Committee produced them, a very laborious Committee of the sible to all, and it is only necessary, in order to pose to deprive the felon of the right of suffrage Convention,-without intending to pay a compli- prevent a person from voting, who has been con- for the reason that he is morally disqualified, and ment where it is not needed, to report the re- victed of a felony, to obtain a copy of the record not as a part of the punishment due to his crime. solves ? I hope the Convention will give some and lay it before the selectmen. There are abun- Mr. Chairman, has just been said, by some time, and if it is in order, I would move to dant means of ascertaining by the record, wheth- member, who saw that the chairman of the postpone the further consideration and action er or not a party is disqualified to vote from such Committee that reported these resolves is absent, upon this subject until to-morrow.
If this provision is adopted, that any per- that the Committee is absent. Nor is this the first Mr. MORTON, of Quincy. I hope the con- son convicted of a felony, unless pardoned and time that such a declaration has been made with sideration of this matter will not be postponed, restored to the right of suffrage, shall not be en- relation to this and other Committees. but that we shall proceed with it now, and reject titled to vote in any election, the party whose Now, I beg leave to inform gentlemen, that,