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ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY. — SUMNER-BATES - BROWN - JAMES — WHITNEY,
and scorn of the people, instead of its votes. How can we expect them to indicate their real sentiments, if we stand here cowering before them, afraid to declare our own?
But I will not detain the Convention with anything of that sort; I wish to say, in sincerity, that the Committee was appointed to take up and consider the various views of this Convention. They have given the subject their careful attention, and have brought in a compromise plan, which has reason and common sense as its basis, and I trust it may be adopted.
Mr. SUMNER, of Otis. I move to reconsider the vote by which the Convention rejected the amendment, offered by the gentleman from Boston, (Mr. Schouler,) if such a motion is in order.
Mr. HOOPER, of Fall River. I should like to inquire of the Chair, whether the motion of the gentleman from Freetown, (Mr. Hathaway,) is not the first motion under consideration?
The PRESIDENT. That amendment is to the third resolve, but the gentleman from Otis, (Mr. Sumner,) moves to reconsider a vote already taken in reference thereto, and it is the subject first in order, under the rules.
Mr. SUMNER, of Otis. I have but few words to say, in reference to this subject. Aware that the Convention must be, to a very considerable extent, wearied with the debate which has been had upon this most important matter; yet from the consideration that in relation to it I have kept silence heretofore, I trust that a few suggestions from me, in support of the motion which I have made, will be entertained.
I make the motion, among other reasons, for this: that it is very apparent from the vote which has been taken, that there is a very strong disposition in this Convention, and out of it, to sustain the plurality principle; and if the votes which have just been given in favor of the affirmative of the proposition were canvassed, I apprehend they will be found to rest upon a large majority of the people of Massachusetts. Sir, I have no doubt of the fact, radical as the proposition may appear in the minds of some, that there is in this Commonwealth a very great majority of the people in favor of a change. I, as one of the friends of this Convention, supposed, from the way in which it was called, and in which the delegates were elected to it, that one of the prominent objects which would be carried into effect by its action, would be the adoption of the plurality system; and no one could have been so deaf as not to have heard, from every section of this Commonwealth, one complete chorus of voices proclaiming that the old majority principle, like many other matters of policy which had been used in this Commonwealth in times past, had become worn out. Once, it was required that our governor, lieutenant-governor, senators, and representatives, should have a property qualification. That requisition answered their day and generation perfectly well. But that has long since been worn out, and others, newer and fresher, have been adopted. And such has been the difference of opinion, so to speak, that the majority rule is now worn out; and I submit, that if the people have demanded any change in the fundamental law of the State, they have demanded a change in respect to the majority rule.
Sir, I do not propose to go into a discussion of this question at length, but I have very great doubt whether, upon a fuller consideration of this subject, this Convention will be content with the limited proposition which is now offered to the people in regard to this matter. I think it is worthy of fuller consideration, and reconsideration, also; and therefore I have made my motion. Mr. JAMES, of South Scituate. I hope the motion to reconsider will prevail.
Mr. BATES, of Plymouth. I rise to a question of order. I believe a motion to reconsider, must go into the Orders of the Day.
The PRESIDENT. Not upon a collateral question.
Mr. BATES. I also rise to a question of privilege. As appears by the yeas and nays called this morning, and recorded by the Secretary of the Convention, opposite the name of H. C. Brown is recorded the word "yes." To the call of that name the clerk says, there was an audible response, and he so recorded it. The gentleman says he was not in the hall, and did not vote upon the question. I should like to know how far that matter has been carried, and how many gentlemen have been recorded as voting who did not vote?
The PRESIDENT. It is competent for any member of the Convention who is recorded as having voted upon the question, to call the attention of the Convention to the subject, and have the record amended in that respect, if wrong.
Mr. H. C. BROWN, of Tolland. I was not present at the time the yeas and nays were called. Had I been present, I should have voted differently from what appears by the record.
The PRESIDENT. It is competent to have the record amended, inasmuch as the question immediately pending is on a reconsideration of the vote rejecting the amendment, and if it shall appear that the vote was improperly announced, then the action falls. By reference to the record, the Clerk informs the Chair that the word "yes" is placed opposite the name of H. C. Brown, and it is for the Convention to say, whether a deduction shall be made from the affirmative vote, and if the Chair hears no objection, the record will be amended according to the facts.
No objection was made, and the record was amended accordingly.
The PRESIDENT. The change does not affect the result, and therefore it is unnecessary for the Convention to pursue the matter farther.
Mr. ASPINWALL. It may be as well to suggest at this time, as there are several gentlemen in the Convention by the name of Brown, and a mistake has occurred, that some one of them may have answered to the wrong name. I therefore request that the record may be examined to ascertain whether all the gentlemen by that name are recorded as they answered.
The PRESIDENT. Any gentleman who thinks that his vote is improperly recorded, can examine the journal at his pleasure. The gentleman from Scituate is entitled to the floor.
Mr. JAMES, of South Scituate. I was about to say, when I was interrupted, that I hoped that the motion to reconsider would prevail, and the amendment adopted, and then the Convention will have done one thing which the community desire. I can speak for my own constituents, and for those in the neighboring towns, that they consider this one of the most important matters before the Convention, and are almost unanimously
of the opinion that the plurality system should be adopted. We have met with a great deal of difficulty, not only in our elections of members of congress, but in our elections of members of the legislature. For five years the town of Scituate went unrepresented, because trial after trial could affect nothing. I would ask if that is not an evil? That is a sufficient answer to the gentleman from Freetown, (Mr. Hathaway,) who asks if any evil exists in the Commonwealth? That is an evil, and ought not we to lay our hands upon it, and reform the evil? I should be glad to see this matter reconsidered, and to see the plurality system adopted throughout, and I hope the motion will prevail.
Mr. WHITNEY, of Conway. The immediate question, I believe, is upon the motion to reconsider the vote by which the amendment of the gentleman from Boston, (Mr. Schouler,) was rejected. I wish to say a word in reply to the arguments urged in favor of a reconsideration. They are based upon the idea that the people desire the plurality rule, in order to get rid of the inconvenience of a second election. Now, Sir, if gentlemen will examine the Report of this Committee-which is the second Committee upon this subject, and appointed in full view of the votes previously taken upon the subject,-it will be found that they have carefully matured the system they present, so as to avoid a second election by the people. They simply leave the Constitution, in reference to the officers for whom the whole people of the State vote, where the Constitution now leaves it. They provide that the House of Representatives shall send the names of two out of three-instead of two out of fourto the Senate, and that the Senate, from the two thus sent, shall select one. Now, here is the principle of the present Constitution retained, which, so far as I know, is satisfactory to the people. What the people complain of, is the trouble, expense, and ill-feeling growing out of second elections. Now, your Committee have provided against this. They have reported that in the election to be held by the people, when they shall vote for members of the House, and for senators—after they have adopted the amendment-they will vote for those representatives with a full knowledge that they delegate to them the right to vote in the legislature for State officers not elected by a majority vote. Now, I take it, as I have before said-and I must, to some extent, repeat-that the people have no attachment to the plurality rule, as an abstract question. They have no attachment to the idea, theoretically, that a less number than the majority should rule. It is a necessity forced upon them by a division of the Commonwealth into more parties than two, that makes them desire some expedient to rid themselves of the trouble and expense attending repeated elections. The resolutions, as they now stand, meet the desires of the people here, and they will prefer to delegate to their representatives the right to vote in the legislature in case of failure to make a choice, to being called upon a second time to ballot. They will choose to provide against this in the manner here proposed. I undertake to say, in every town in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, when a representative is to be elected under your amended Constitution, he will be elected with a direct reference to some man standing before the people as candidate for governor. No candidate for election as a rep
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY. — WHITNEY - DANA.
resentative could be elected, unless it were understood by the constituency which is to elect him, that he would vote for the candidate for governor, which a major part of that constituency favor, in this House, in case of a failure upon the part of the people to elect their governor, and the election is thrown into the House of Representatives. In case there are three parties, and two unite in their preference for a particular candidate for governor still it is expected that the representatives will carry out the will of a majority of the people in that respect, and the people will take care of this matter when they elect representatives and
Now, Sir, the argument has been brought up, that our governors have been elected by a legislature in which all the people of the Commonwealth were not represented. It must be recollected that under the amended Constitution, if this compromise Report be adopted, we shall not assemble here with vacancies in half the towns in the Commonwealth. By the application of the plurality rule in your election of representatives, you will have filled your House, and there will stand here a representative for every town in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And those representatives will come here indoctrinated with the principles of the constituents they represent; they will bring with them the voice of a majority of the people in the towns from which they are elected, in reference to the man for whom they are to vote to fill the office of governor of the Commonwealth. They will come here, and vote, not by ballot, but vote viva voce, for there is to be no dodging hereafter in this matter. The men who are sent here must declare by the voice the will of their constituents; and I undertake to say, that men will come here virtually instructed by their constituents to vote one way, and there will be no danger that they will vote another, but they will meet the desires and will of the people who elected them.
Mr. President: I did not come here prepared to discuss this question; but in relation to this motion for a reconsideration, made by the gentleman for Otis, (Mr. Sumner,) I believe that any judicious mind who wishes for the adoption of the amendments which we shall recommend, by the people, would not think it wise or expedient to submit to the people an amendment making so important and radical a change as this makes, which was adopted in the Convention only by a bare majority of one or two votes; adopted by less than a majority of those who favored the calling of a Convention originally, who have the responsibility of calling the Convention, and who will have the responsibility of carrying these amendments before the people. I say, a majority of these men are against a reconsideration of this question, on the grounds proposed, to wit: in order to ingraft upon these resolutions an amendment to be carried by a bare majority. And, I repeat, it is these men who will have the responsibility of carrying the amended Constitution before the people, who object to the amendment proposed by the gentleman for Otis.
Now, Mr. President, I put it to you, I put it to the members of the Convention, whether it would be wise, expedient, or in any sense desirable, for us to go before the people upon any amendment to the Constitution, in relation to which we are about equally divided? There can be no doubt about it. The part of wisdom, then,
seems to be, to agree, as we have done, upon some medium ground upon this subject, and stand there. But, Sir, where is the necessity to alter the resolutions? As they now stand, we shall have filled our Senate by elections by the people, for a plurality elects there. We shall have filled the House of Representatives by plurality elections, so that there will be no vacancies there, and we shall thereby have, in the legislature, an expression of a majority-will of the people of the Commonwealth, elected with a direct reference to this question of State officers. A majority of the people will have delegated their power to their senators and representatives to elect their governor, in case they themselves fail in an election. So that, in the election of governor, and of your highest State officers, you will still recognize the great majority principle as the true principle. We shall still preserve that principle in the choice of our governor, lieutenant-governor, secretary, auditor, &c., and we shall keep embodied in our Constitution, permanently, the sacred principle, that, in the majority of the people alone, resides the sovereignty of this Commonwealth. We shall transmit that principle, sacred with our Constitution, to our posterity. Sir, let us not give up that principle. I would keep it in the Constitution, in some form. I would recognize that fundamental doctrine of all republican governments, somewhere in our amended Constitution.
Sir, gentlemen go for the plurality, not because it is right in principle, but because it is a políti cal necessity, forced upon them by circumstances now existing in the Commonwealth. This is the only avowed reason. Now, Sir, the Report of the Committee has adopted that principle so far as that necessity exists, but it does not exist in the election of governor, lieutenant-governor, and your other State officers, elected by general ticket. I therefore hope, that we shall stand by the Report of the Committee, and that we shall not vote to reconsider, for the purpose of farther alterations in the amendment proposed by these resolutions. Let us stand upon this ground, and I fear not the people; they will sustain us. I believe we can then go triumphantly before the people with this amendment as it is; and I repeat, I hope the Report will be adopted as it now stands, without any alteration.
Mr. WHEELER, of Lincoln, demanded the yeas and nays upon the motion to reconsider. The yeas and nays were ordered. (Cries of "question," "question.")
Mr. DANA, for Manchester. I am aware, by the call of" question," "question," which I have just heard, that the Convention wish to come to a vote upon this motion, and I will not, therefore, detain them but a moment. I had the privilege of addressing the Convention, on another occasion, upon the plurality side of this question. I then said all that I deemed it important to say; but, I now wish to call the attention of the Convention, for a moment, to the principles contained in the proposition before us, as it came from the Committee.
When this subject was before under consideration, the question was on the adoption of the plurality or the majority system absolutely; but it now comes before us in the form of a compromise, and to the merits of that compromise our attention is called. Now, Sir, the only distinction, which I can see, upon which a compromise of these two principles can properly be made, is this:
In deliberative assemblies, where there can be frequent ballotings taken without inconvenience, and where there is danger of being taken by surprise, the majority principle should be adopted. I would always require it in an assembly like this; I would always require it in your town affairs, and in the election of town officers. But where the people vote in large masses, where they cannot vote often, without very great inconvenience, and where, from the nature of the case, there is no danger of surprise, then, from the experience we have had for the last eight years, I would adopt the plurality rule. I can see no other distinction in principle, than that. It lies between deliberative assemblies which can vote often, and which are liable to be taken by some surprise, and between more large assemblies, which cannot resort to frequent voting without great inconvenience. I am willing to make that distinction. I am in favor of retaining the majority system in town meetings-in voting for town officers-in town affairs, and in the election of representatives to the general court. I would, at any rate, have that matter in the hands of the legislature; I would not tie the hands of the legislature, and if the towns found the majority principle to work too much inconvenience, I would allow the legislature to establish the plurality system for them.
Now, my objection to this compromise system is this: it proposes to retain the majority principle where the reasons are the strongest against it. It proposes to retain the majority in cases where there can be no danger of surprise, and where, from the nature of the case, a second election cannot be held without great inconvenience. You propose, if you cannot get a majority upon the popular vote, to throw the election of your governor and of your high State officers into the legislature. Now, this very system constitutes the strongest objection to the whole majority principle. The result of the plan submitted by the Committee, will be that in your great offices, the people will not elect at all; but these officers will be elected by assemblies which meet in this Hall, and which were not chosen for that purpose at all. I repeat it, your compromise proposes to retain the majority system where the strongest reasons exist for adopting the plurality system, and the result of it will be to place it in the power of the Senate and House of Representatives to elect all the great officers of the Commonwealth.
Now, Mr. President, let we ask gentlemen who advocate this plan, if the most objectionable feature of the present system of election is not that the great officers of the State are elected by the legislature? And will it not be still more objectionable under the system which you propose to adopt, when a larger number of these officers are made elective? There are more officers to be elected by the popular vote now, by the system you have provided, than there were under the former Constitution. It increases the patronage of the people, and in case they fail to elect, will increase the patronage of your legislature; that is to say, we shall increase the evil which already exists under the present system. There is now nearly double the necessity for taking the power from the legislature that there was under the former Constitution.
For this reason, if for no other, I cannot support the proposition reported by your Committee, and throw into the hands of your legislature the election of all these officers, which you propose to
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY. — DANA-TRAIN-KEYES - WILSON - SCHOULER.
make elective. It is from this very system that this danger of corruption and perversion of the popular voice, from which we have suffered, has arisen. It seems to me that this proposition of compromise is not founded in principle, and that we ought not to support it. Let the people of the Commonwealth elect by one election, their governor, their lieutenant-governor, and all their State officers. I believe it is the will of the people of the State that they should be thus elected, and that the people should not be kept in suspense for four or five months after the election has taken place, before they can know who will be the officers of the State.
Mr. WHITNEY, of Conway, (interposing). I would suggest to the gentleman for Manchester, that the secretary of the Commonwealth, the treasurer, and those officers of which he speaks as having now been made elective, are now elected by the legislature under the present Constitution, so that in case of a failure to elect by the people, the legislature will have no more officers to elect than under the present Constitution.
Mr. DANA. The attorney-general is not. Mr. WHITNEY. True, the attorney-general is not, but the secretary, treasurer, and auditor, are, and the evil of which the gentleman speaks, therefore, at least, cannot be increased by the system which the Committee propose.
Mr. DANA. Well, Sir, the adoption of the provision, making these officers elective by the people, shows one thing. It shows that it is better that all these officers should be elected by the people rather than by the legislature, so that the gentleman's remark certainly does not affect my argument. I want that the election of these officers shall be taken out of the hands of the legislature and put into the hands of the people. We have taken the appointment of the attorneygeneral away from the governor and given it to the people. We have taken the appointment of the secretary and auditor out of the hands of the legislature, and yet, with the experience of the last eight years before us, you propose to give this appointing power back to the legislature, for that will be the result of it. No gentleman can be blind to the result. If you adopt this majority principle, it is verbally saying that four out of five times-I am not certain about my arithmetic, but it is somewhere about that-these officers shall be elected upon this floor.
Now, Mr. President, that is the first aristocratic feature of this government, to say that a small body of men-some four hundred or five hundred in number-shall elect the great officers of the State, and to say, that they shall not be elected by the people. Sir, I am opposed to the establishment or continuance of any such principle. It is not a question of electing those officers by a majority of the people. Your compromise plan does not provide for that in its practical effect. You provide, that four out of five shall be elected upon this floor, instead of being elected by the people at all. But, gentlemen should recollect, that if they elect these officers by plurality, they do not vote against electing by a majority. If a majority of the people of the Commonwealth are in favor of any one candidate for governor, a majority will elect, whether the rule be established, that the plurality or the majority shall elect. But, if you cannot get a majority, then the plurality rule provides the nearest approach to a majority, that you can get. For these rea
sons I cannot support that part of the first of the compromise resolutions.
The last portion of it, also seems to me to be somewhat objectionable. It says, that in the election of representatives to the legislature, a majority shall be required upon the first trial, but that a plurality shall prevail upon the second trial. Now, if the plurality is to prevail, why not adopt it at once? Why not let it prevail at the first trial? By your proposition, in many places, the first trial will be a mere tentative. The people will say, that the first trial will amount to nothing that they will vote for anybody just to try their hands. Then, upon the second trial, comes the real contest-and it is not apt to be near so fair a contest—not so fair an expression of the public opinion, as if the people knew beforehand, that the first trial would settle the whole matter. Now, Sir, I submit it to the judgment of gentlemen better acquainted with town affairs than I am, although I am somewhat acquainted with them. It is not true, as the gentleman from Boston remarked, that I have never been in a town meeting in all my life. I lived in the town of Cambridge, and attended their town meetings, until Cambridge became a city, and they would not give me any more town meetings to attend. I say, I appeal to gentlemen who are conversant with the proceedings of town affairs, if it is not true, that if the people know beforehand, that the first vote is to be decisive, they would not give a fuller vote, and whether we should not have more fully an expression of the popular voice, than upon any second trial? Why, after the first vote is taken, a few of the leading politicians in the towns will settle the matter among themselves. When the moderator announces the vote, that there is no choice, a majority being required upon the first ballot, and another ballot is immediately opened, what is the consequence? The consequence must be, that a few of the leading men will put their heads together, agree upon some candidate, and he will go right in. Will not that be the result? The second trial will follow so closely upon the first, that the people will not have time to consult together at all; no time for deliberation; and so the whole matter will be settled by a few of the leading politicians. It seems to me, therefore, that as to the towns, we had better not tie the hands of the legislature. I think we had better allow them to remain as they are, for the present, but to leave the matter in the hands of the legislature, so that, if in the course of time, they get tired of their majority elections, they can come to the legislature, and the legislature can release them, and give them the plurality system. I am willing that they should have the plurality rule, if it should be found expedient for them; but I think it would not be a wise course for us to tie their hands, and the hands of the legislature, in relation to the matter, by declaring in the Constitution, that they shall elect by plurality.
Now, I submit to the Convention, whether it would not be the simplest thing after all, and whether it would not be better to adopt the plurality system for everything except town affairs, and leave that matter in the hands of the legislature. I had prepared an amendment to this effect, but of course it is not in order to offer it now. I hope, however, that the motion to reconsider will prevail, and that something like that result will be reached-that we shall adopt the plurality plan throughout, except in regard to
the town elections, and that they may be left to the legislature to provide.
Mr. TRAIN, of Framingham. I move the previous question.
Mr. KEYES, for Abington. I hope the previous question will not be sustained. It is very easy as we have just heard, for gentlemen to adopt a principle and then to suit their plans to it. There is another principle which should be illustrated, if we had an opportunity, and it is a principle which happens to be in accordance with the whole scheme, as I said before
The PRESIDENT. The question is upon sustaining the previous question.
Mr. KEYES. I only want to say this, that this is not the time to take the vote; I think this is a very important question
Mr. TRAIN. I rise to a question of order, that the gentleman is not discussing the previous question.
The PRESIDENT. The Chair does not understand the gentleman as yet to be debating the main question.
Mr. KEYES. I believe that this Convention thoroughly understand this question, and the principles upon which this plan was adopted in Committee.
The PRESIDENT. It is not in order for the gentleman to discuss the merits of the question. Mr. KEYES. I am stating the reasons why discussion should be had, and why the previous question should not be sustained at this time. Drummers have been sent here to assist my friend for Manchester (Mr. Dana,) to help the Whig party to sustain its life; and the reason why I hope the previous question will not be sustained is, if the case was thoroughly understood, that the question would not be decided as it might be under other circumstances.
Mr. WILSON, of Natick. I wish to say a single word in relation to this motion for the previous question, which has been moved by my very adroit and skilful friend from Framingham, (Mr. Train). I wish to say nothing in regard to this matter which is not distinctly understood by the members of this Convention. The delegate for Abington has hinted at the matter. I wish to say that one of the reasons why the previous question should not be taken at this time, is this: we now see the advantage, to which allusion has so often been made, that the city of Boston has upon this floor. I wish simply
The PRESIDENT. The Chair would suggest to the gentleman from Natick, that he is entering upon a wider field of discussion than the motion for the previous question would warrant.
Mr. WILSON. I wish simply to say in relation to this matter, drummers have been out, and gentlemen from- sick beds are here; and we are to have the advantage of the votes of these gentleman, at this particular time, for the first time in the session; and we are to be cut off from the discussion of this question. Debate is to be stopped, and the previous question forced upon us at a particular time to serve a particular purpose.
Mr. SCHOULER, of Boston. I hope the previous question will be sustained. This is a question simply upon a reconsideration. If we vote in favor of a reconsideration, the whole question is open for discussion, and as much discussion as the gentleman for Abington and the gentleman from Natick could desire. It is a mere
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY. — ALLEN-LORD-WHITNEY-HILLARD-TRAIN-BRIGGS - GRAY.
matter of reconsideration, and I hope, therefore, that the motion will prevail.
Mr. ALLEN, of Worcester. I was gone out of the Convention a short time, and on returning, to my great surprise, I find this state of things existing. Before I went out, upon one side of the House there was an earnest desire that there might be free opportunity to discuss all important questions here, and that no limitation should be imposed upon debate. In accordance with the wish of gentlemen upon that side of the House, and expressed in various quarters by their leading men, I thought we were to have a free and full discussion. But, to my astonishment, I find those same gentlemen pressing, at this moment, the demand for the previous question. If they insist upon it, I trust that they will not complain hereafter, if the majority should adopt rules, such as may suit them, upon the subjects discussed, and rigidly adhere to them. I think that if members of this Convention have occasion to look back to the changes of opinion which have been expressed on other occasions, and manifested from time to time by that same minority, they will see, in the sudden change which has taken place in all their views this very morning, and this very hour, upon the subject of free discussion, that some motive, not quite so apparent to all, may exist, for pressing the previous question at this time. I hope it will not be urged, because upon the right decision of the question now under consideration, -I will not say how it should be decided,-may depend the whole result of this Convention; for gentlemen may rely upon it, that this is a question of vital importance to the business we have before us, and the adoption or rejection of our labors may depend upon our harmonious action in this matter. In a Convention so equally divided in regard to this subject, it seems to me the most unfitting time that has occurred, from the commencement of our deliberations, for the adoption of any rule which shall put an end to all debate.
Mr. LORD, of Salem. There is one consideration which influences me very strongly to desire a vote upon this question. I wish to see how gentlemen feel under it. That is the only consideration which induces me to vote for the previous question. When debate has been stopped, over and over again, upon a subject which had not been half discussed, gentlemen felt remarkably well, and I desire to see how they feel now, when there is a proposition to stop debate upon a subject which has been debated more than all others put together. The principle I hold to, in reregard to this matter, is, that debate, like trade, should regulate itself, and that when the subject is exhausted, debate will cease. That is the principle upon which I act. Now and then gentlemen will feel it necessary to talk a little against time. For example, if it should be deemed inexpedient to take the yeas and nays fifteen minutes before the hammer should come down for the hour of adjournment, it would be well enough to talk up to that time, because you cannot conveniently take the vote at that time. It has been suggested here that the House is fuller, and that there are more gentlemen to vote here now than there were before; but this fact, to my mind, is no argument against the previous question. If there were three hundred and twenty gentlemen present when the question was taken before, and there should happen to be three hundred and fifty
here now, I do not think that is any reason why we should not vote now in preference to voting in a thin House.
The PRESIDENT. The Chair would suggest to the gentleman from Salem, as he did to the gentleman from Natick, that he is entering upon a wider field of remark than the motion for the previous question would warrant.
Mr. LORD. I was not replying to what the gentleman from Natick said about drummers, but only speaking to what the gentleman said about there being more persons here now than there were before.
Mr. WHITNEY, of Conway. I think the previous question should not prevail at this time, because the main question is a reconsideration of the vote which we have just taken. We have had no time to review and reconsider the question, and we do need the time until to-morrow for the examination of this question. The previous question, if sustained, will precipitate this important question upon us now, at a time when we are unprepared for it. I think, after a tie vote upon this matter, and which has been decided by the vote of the President of the Convention, that we do need twenty-four hours for a consideration of the main question, and that gentlemen should not press a reconsideration of this matter upon the spur of the moment. I hope the previous question will not be sustained by the honest and fair-minded men of this Convention. I ask it as a privilege, so that I may reflect upon this question until to-morrow. I may change my vote upon this subject, upon farther consideration, and I not know what I may do to-morrow. I hope gentlemen will give us all an opportunity of getting more light upon this matter, and for that reason I hope the previous question will not be sustained.
Mr. HILLARD, of Boston. It occurs to me, if I understand the operation of the motion to reconsider, that the delegate from Conway will gain the very advantage which he desires. If the motion to reconsider prevails, the whole subject is open for discussion and consideration as it was in the early part of the day. I would suggest, by way of meeting the wishes of all, that we shall agree to take the question to reconsider by yeas and nays, and if that motion should prevail, that we assign some hour to-morrow for taking the question upon the amendment, so that there may be no surprise; for I take it, the difficulty in this matter is, that there is an uneasy feeling in the minds of those who were absent, that they had not voted, and all parties, whatever may be their opinions, will be content with the result, if they have as full expression of the sentiment of the Convention as it is possible to get.
Mr. ALLEN, of Worcester. I move that when the vote is taken on the motion for the previous question, it be taken by yeas and
Mr. TRAIN, of Framingham. I merely wish to set myself right upon this matter of the previous question. I am not aware that I ever moved the previous question before in my life, although I have had a little legislative experience, not enough, however, to acquire the reputation for adroitness which my friend from Natick, (Mr. Wilson,) would give to me; but then it is a habit in our country, to pat each other upon the shoulders, and call each other good fellows. [Laughter.] I rose to address the Convention amid cries
all over the House, for the question, and like an adroit lawyer, I covered my retreat by saying that I rose to move the previous question, which I thought would come from me with exceeding good grace under the circumstances. [Laughter.] Then my friend for Abington, (Mr. Keyes,) rose, under some degree of excitement, proper excitement I will admit, and desired to make a speech upon this question. With the utmost degree of fairness, I then offered to withdraw my motion, if, after he had made his speech, which I wanted to hear, he would renew the motion; but he would not do that. When you cannot suit others, it is the best way to suit yourself; and, therefore, although I have been interceded with to withdraw the motion, I shall persist in adhering to it, because I think the motion was made fairly and properly. If the Convention choose to reconsider, the whole discussson will be then opened, and those gentlemen who have not spoken, or who wish to repeat their old speeches, can have the opportunity of so doing. Having stated the reasons which induced me to make the motion I did, and having, I trust, set myself right before the Convention, and thanking the gentleman from Natick, (Mr. Wilson,) for the compliment which he has bestowed upon me, I have said all that I desire to say.
Mr. BRIGGS, of Pittsfield. I would like to know, if we commence calling the yeas and Lays, we lose our dinner? [Laughter.] Mr. President: I shall most certainly vote against the previous question, whether the yeas and nays are taken upon it or not. I feel a little as my friend from Salem, (Mr. Lord,) does. Our friends must feel what it is to be skinned themselves. We have got used to it, so that it hardly makes us smart when the skin is peeled off. But I do not believe in the previous question except upon extraordinary occasions, and I do not think this is one. We have a full house now, and I hope we shall have a vote this afternoon. If we take the question now and should happen to succeed in it, it settles nothing. Sir, no snap judgment here, is worth anything, and it should not be sought by any party or the friends of any measure. On all important questions, I hold that we should let debate run its course. It is very important that it should, and more important that questions should be settled right, than it is that we should settle them before dinner, or to-day, or to-morrow. I wish we could agree upon some time to take this question, and then upon some time to take the main question, if it is reconsidered, and then see that our friends in the city are all here, for I do not think it would be unconstitutional to have them all here once to vote, and I do not think it would be an alarming concentration of power for them all to be here once during this Convention. I wish, for these reasons, and others which might be stated, that we might, by common consent, fix upon some time, either this afternoon or some other, when we will take the vote on this question on the motion, so that we may have a full Convention and a fair vote, and one which will settle the question satisfactorily.
Mr. GRAY, of Boston. I do not feel disposed to vote for the previous question, and I need not travel over the reasons which have been generally given by other gentlemen; Sir, I have been against limiting debate in any way, either by the previous question or by fixing an hour for taking the question, because I have yet to see a single in
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY, &c.-LORD-HOOPER-BIRD-WILSON.
stance in which there has been any speaking, to to any extent, against time. But I cannot agree with the suggestion of my colleague, to take the question without the yeas and nays, because he will recollect that if the motion for reconsideration succeeds, it is very well. The whole question will be open; but suppose, in taking the question upon the motion for reconsideration by yeas and nays, it is rejected; that vote is final. Now, what I suggest is this: that, under the circumstances, the motion for the previous question should be withdrawn. Then I am ready to go with my friend from Pittsfield and fix some time to take the question, which will give gentlemen an opportunity to debate it to the fullest extent; and when that time comes, if farther debate is really wished, I hope farther time will be given. I should be very glad to see every one of my colleagues, as well as both of the intelligent and respectable members from Pittsfield, and every member of this Convention, present, when the vote is taken; and if I knew of any drum to be beaten which would bring them all in, for the first time in my life, I would lend a hand at the work.
Mr. LORD, of Salem. It is my impression, that a motion for the previous question, cannot survive an adjournment. If I am right, inasmuch as we have ordered the yeas and nays on the motion to take the previous question, I will, for the first time in my life, move an adjournment. I ask, if the motion for the previous question lives over an adjournment?
The PRESIDENT. It does not.
Mr. LORD. Then I move that the Convention adjourn.
The motion was agreed to, and the Convention adjourned until three o'clock, P. M.
The Convention reassembled at three o'clock.
Mr. HOOPER, of Fall River, moved a reconsideration of the vote, by which the resolves relating to the limitation of the incorporation of towns, was indefinitely postponed.
The motion was placed upon the Orders of the Day, to be considered to-morrow.
Mr. HOOPER. I move that the rule be suspended, so that the motion to reconsider may be considered at this time.
Mr. ASPINWALL, of Brookline. that the rule will not be suspended, but that we shall go on with the unfinished business of the morning.
Mr. LORD, of Salem. I think it is hardly worth while to change the order of business, unless there be some special reason for doing so. If the order is to be changed, it ought to be known beforehand. I therefore ask, or shall, before I sit down, that the question be taken by yeas and nays.
The PRESIDENT. The motion to suspend the rule, is not debatable.
Mr. LORD. Then, inasmuch as we have, at present, rather a thin House, if the gentleman does not withdraw his motion, I must ask for the yeas and nays.
Mr. HOOPER. I supposed there would be no objection, and that the matter would not give
rise to debate; but, as objection is made, I will withdraw my motion.
The motion was accordingly withdrawn.
Perpetuation of the Records.
Mr. BIRD, of Walpole, from the Committee appointed under an order of May 5th, to consider and report what measures were necessary for the Convention to adopt, to continue and perpetuate its records, made the following Report :
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS.
In Convention, July 19, 1853. The Committee appointed under the order of the Convention of May 5th, viz.: "Ordered, That a Committee of five be appointed, to consider and report what measures it is desirable for the Convention to adopt, to preserve and perpetuate its Records," have attended to that duty, and submit the following resolves.
For the Committee,
F. W. BIRD, Chairman.
Resolved, That at the close of the session, the Secretaries of the Convention deposit the original Journals, together with the papers of the Convention, in the office of the Secretary of State.
Resolved, That William S. Robinson prepare an Index to the Journal, and procure two thousand copies of the Journal and Index to be printed and bound, on such terms and in such manner as shall be approved by the Committee on the Preservation of the Records, and that he be paid four dollars a day for his services therein.
Resolved, That his Excellency the Governor be requested to draw his warrant on the treasury for such expenses incurred in the execution of the preceding Resolves, as shall be approved by the Committee on the Preservation of the Records.
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Commonwealth be requested to distribute copies of the Journal to each member of the Convention, and to all persons and public bodies mentioned in chapter 2, section 2, of the Revised Statutes, excepting members of the Legislature.
The Report having been read, Mr. BIRD moved that it be considered now.
The motion was agreed to.
The question being taken on the adoption of the Report of the Committee, it was decided in the affirmative.
Assignment of time for taking the Question.
Mr. WILSON, of Natick, moved that ten o'clock, to-morrow, be assigned for taking the question on the resolves on the subject of Elections by Plurality.
Pending which motion, Mr. LORD, of Salem, moved that the Convention proceed to the consideration of the Orders of the Day, which being a privileged motion, had precedence over the motion of the gentleman from Natick. And the question being taken, it was decided in the affirmative. And the Convention thereupon proceeded to consider the
Orders of the Day,
The first item being the resolves on the subject of
Elections by Plurality.
The pending question being on the motion of the gentleman from Otis, Mr. Sumner, to reconsider the vote by which the amendment offered by the gentleman from Boston, (Mr. Schouler,) had been rejected.
Upon this motion the yeas and nays, having been previously ordered, were taken, with the following result-yeas, 146; nays, 188:
Jackson, Samuel James, William Jenkins, John Jenks, Samuel H. Johnson, John Kellogg, Giles C. Kingman, Joseph Kinsman, Henry W. Knight, Hiram Knight, Jefferson Knight, Joseph Kuhn, George, H. Ladd, John S. Leland, Alden Lincoln, Frederic W., Jr. Littlefield, Tristram Livermore, Isaac Lord, Otis P. Lothrop, Samuel K. Loud, Samuel P. Miller, Seth, Jr. Mixter, Samuel Morey, George Morss, Joseph B. Morton, Marcus Morton, Marcus, Jr. Noyes, Daniel Oliver, Henry K. Orcutt, Nathan Paige, James W. Park, John G. Parker, Adolphus G. Peabody, George Pomroy, Jeremiah Powers, Peter Putnam, John A. Rantoul, Robert Read, James Reed, Sampson Sargent, John Schouler, William Sikes, Chester Sleeper, John S. Souther, John Jr. Stetson, Caleb
Adams, Benjamin P.
Abbott, Josiah G. Adams, Shubael P. Allen, Charles Allen, James B. Allen, Joel C.
Stevens, Charles G.
Walcott, Samuel B.
Allen, Parsons Alley, John B.
Alvord, D. W. Baker, Hillel Ballard, Alvah