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to that sliding scale in representation provided for under the existing system which would ultimately entirely destroy the representation of the small
Another reason for calling the Convention was because, under the present system of election by general ticket in the cities, the individual voters at the polls possessed a much greater power in the cities than in the small towns in the country. These were reasons at any rate sufficient to induce me to advocate the calling of a Convention, and to induce me to vote for it, whatever other reasons may have existed in the minds of others who were friends of this Convention.
I ask, then, Mr. President, whether it is reasonable, knowing as we do, the almost universal wish of the people to have the number of members of your House of Representatives diminished as much as possible; I say, is it reasonable, or was it expected beforehand that the small towns should come here and demand the right to send a representative every year from each town, however small in population? I certainly heard no such doctrine plainly and openly advocated before the election. But the Convention was called. These small towns came forward and demanded a full representation every year. That demand was acceded to by the majority of the Committee to whom the subject of representation was referred, and a Report was brought in by them, making such a provision.
But it has been stated that the amendment reported by the gentleman from Lowell, (Mr. Butler,) is a compromise, a kind of “ go between," a half-way plan between the Report of the minority of the Committee, which was the district system, founded solely upon population, and the Report of the majority, which was founded upon absolute and complete town representation. Now, Sir, I contend that there is no compromise in the proposition of the gentleman from Lowell, which has been presented here for our adoption. I will admit, that as far as the amendment goes, the doctrine of town representation has been abandoned. I do not mean abandoned, in the sense in which the gentleman from Northampton, (Mr. Huntington,) used the term in his remarks yesterday when he alluded to a certain decision of the supreme court, but I mean to say that the amendment of the gentleman from Lowell has abandoned the right-the absolute right-of the towns to yearly representation. And I mean to say upon the other side, what must be sufficiently apparent, that this Convention has decided, by a vote which cannot be mistaken, that no clean district system of representation founded upon population shall at this time be presented to the people of the Commonwealth.
Now, under these circumstances, what is just and reasonable for the small towns to ask at the hands of the Convention? If they get, by the action of this Constitutional Convention, or by the amendments which we shall propose for the adoption of the people, a division of the cities, or if they shall get what is to them still more important, an anchorage ground, a ground which will put an end to that sliding scale, resulting from the system under which we now exist; if they get ground upon which they may cast anchor, so that the towns having twelve, fifteen, or eighteen hundred inhabitants, are sure of sending a representative every year hereafter, as they do now; if they can have a provision about which there can be no misunderstanding, that shall forever destroy
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this sliding scale; if they can gain such a system as that, ought not the small towns of the Commonwealth to be satisfied? Is it reasonable that they should ask for more? To be sure, it does not assert the principle of absolute town representation but it secures to all the towns with that number of inhabitants, a yearly representation for all time to come. And while upon this point, let me say that I concur fully with the position of the gentleman from Boston, (Mr. Giles,) who spoke upon this subject yesterday from the other side of the House, that the people of these small towns are entitled to be represented every year. I admit the principle, but I believe this Convention has decided that the people of the towns do not want a district representation, and if the people of these towns prefer corporate representation a fractional part of the time, to representation by districts the whole time, why I should not object to their claiming it as their right, but they come forward and claim it as a right that they should be represented here as towns, every year, to the prejudice of all the larger towns, as well as the cities, and with the certainty of an unwieldy House staring them in the face. I admit that in proportion to their population they are justly and fairly entitled to representation all the time. But that is not what it is proposed to give them. If I understand this amendment, it proposes to give to all the small towns containing less than 1,000 inhabitants the right to send six representatives every ten years. Now, Sir, there is no principle in that.
But this Convention having decided that there is to be no district system founded on population submitted to the people, it seems to me proper that we should amend the amendment of the gentleman from Lowell before we proceed to vote upon such other propositions as may be offered as substitutes, and before we are compelled to vote against it as I should certainly do if driven to vote upon it in its present form. I prefer a district system founded upon voters, but will not vote for it until all hope of perfecting this amendment is gone. The system set forth, in that plan, I contend operates unjustly and unequally upon the different portions of the Commonwealth. I tell this Convention that no such system as that, even if it is received favorably by the people at present, can continue in favor, I care not upon what principle it is founded, for any length of time with the people. In this connection I care not what its effects are upon the county of Plymouth one way or the other. I, for one, would not return to my constituents and say to them we have adopted a system of representation in the House and the Senate which destroys, the power-not of any particular neighborhood, but of four or five of the counties of the Commonwealth and gives that power to the other portion of the Commonwealth, yet that is the practical effect of the system which is recommended by the gentleman from Lowell.
I say, it is a fact which I am obliged to look at as an honest man, as a friend of this Convention, and as a friend, I hope, of the Constitution which this Convention may frame. It is stated, and in this respect the statistics of the gentleman from Lowell are very ingenious, that if we found this system upon votes as they were given in 1850, these inequalities do not appear. I submit, that such statistics as these do not form a fair statement by which men of sense can judge of the
operation of this system. There are various causes which might operate. It might rain on election day in one part of the Commonwealth, while in another part of the State the weather might be fair and pleasant. Local interests might exercise an influence in one part of the State, and the passions of men be greatly excited in consequence, while such a state of feeling would not exist in another part of the State.
Now, I ask gentlemen of the Convention to look at another fact, and that is, that whether you take, in point of fact, the actual voters of the south-eastern counties, or take the population, according to the amendment of the gentleman from Lowell, (Mr. Butler,) there is a proportionate loss upon the present system as compared with the whole number of members, a loss upon the population by the district system as proposed by the gentleman from Boston, (Mr. Hale,) and a loss by any system which has yet been proposed, unless, perhaps, it be that of the gentleman from Charlestown, (Mr. Frothingham). I understand that some of the western counties, with a population of four thousand or five thousand less than, the south-eastern counties, are to have a represen tation of ninety, whereas these south-eastern counties are to have a representation of about seventy. I repeat it, that you must consider the fact that you cannot get this amendment ratified by the people, that the people, not only of these south-eastern counties, but of other counties of the State, have sense of justice enough not to ratify any such system. I find all around me, out of the Convention, gentlemen of my own party and gentlemen of other parties, who have looked into this system, who say uniformly that the plan offered by the gentleman from Lowell is unfair, although they don't take the trouble to say that they will not vote for it; that follows as a matter of course. Without intending to make a set speech upon this question, let me merely state, in this connection, with regard to the arguments used by the gentleman for Manchester, (Mr. Dana,) in his extemporaneous but very able speech, and those used by the gentleman for Berlin in his instructive speech upon the subject, I am not fully convinced that they prove an actual necessity exists for town corporate representation. I will say that the arguments, authorities and illustrations which they have adduced should be strictly investigated. What do they prove? I understood one or both of them to say that at one time in England, and at other times upon the continent, municipal corporations were the safeguards and the very citadels of liberty. I ask, Mr. President, if it proves anything if it does not prove too much, because the fact is that when liberty was protected on the continent and in England by these corporations, it was protected generally by the large cities and walled towns. I do not believe that any comparison can be made between the cities of Europe and the cities of this country, between the peasantry of Europe and the yeomanry of New England. And farther, I do not believe, because the municipalities on the continent or the provinces of France or the districts in England, have been of great assistance to liberty and republican institutions heretofore in cases where free principles were first introduced, that it follows, by any means, that in this Commonwealth, where republican institutions have been established for more than two hundred years, born with our birth, grown with our growth, where free princi
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ples have been imbibed with our mothers' milk, it is vital to our liberties or a republican form of government, that representatives should be sent from the towns. Neither do I believe it is a fact because you take away the right of a town, as a town, to send a representative, that you destroy municipal rights and privileges, or that you do anything necessarily to blot out that spirit of liberty which, I admit, is breathed more purely in the small towns over the hills and valleys of New England. I do believe that the argument adduced upon this floor, so far as it went to show that large cities should not be entitled to an amount of representatives proportionate to their population, was a sound one; but with regard to that I have nothing to say at this time. If the amendment is to be carried I merely wish to offer this amendment, to strike out the first paragraph of the amendment of the gentleman from Lowell, and insert the following, which will not greatly alter the result, but declares a rule which has more of reason to support it :
Each and every town having five hundred inhabitants or less shall be entitled to five representatives in ten years. Each town having between five hundred and fifteen hundred inhabitants shall be entitled to an additional representative in ten years for every two hundred additional inhabitants, and each town having less than fifteen hundred inhabitants shall have an additional representative in every ten years for valuation year: provided, that no more than one representative shall be sent in any one year.
I think it proper I should state, that the amendment I offer is strictly a portion of the amendment offered by the gentleman from Winchendon. If gentlemen will consider the effect of the amendment, they will perceive that it gives a town having 1,300 inhabitants a representative every year, and it gives a town with less than 500 inhabitants a representative six years in ten, by which they will have more representation than they have under the present system. It gives every town of 1,200 inhabitants a representative nine years in ten, by which they get more representation than they now have.
The PRESIDENT. Does the gentleman move this as a substitute for the amendment of the gentleman from Charlestown, (Mr. Thompson)? Mr. DAVIS. I understand the amendment of the gentleman from Charlestown to strike out the whole of the proposition of the gentleman from Lowell, and insert his amendment in the place thereof. I wish, at present, to strike out only the first clause of the amendment of the gentleman from Lowell, and insert what has been read by the Clerk.
Mr. HOOPER, of Fall River. I rise to a question of order in relation to that amendment. I would inquire of the Chair, if the question before the Convention is not the Majority Report, and whether, pending that, the gentleman from Lowell, (Mr. Butler,) has not offered an amendment, as a substitute for the Majority Report, and which the Convention has not as yet adopted? To that amendment the gentleman from Charlestown, (Mr. Thompson,) has offered an amendment, and now it seems that the gentleman from Plymouth offers an amendment to that of the gentleman from Charlestown.
The PRESIDENT. The gentleman from Fall River, (Mr. Hooper,) renews the question which was decided during the session of last evening.
The position of the question before the Convention is this. Resolves upon the basis of the House of Representatives, were reported by the Select Committee appointed to consider that matter. The resolves were referred to the Committee of the Whole, and were reported back to the Convention with an amendment, which stands in the nature of a substitute for the original resolves. The gentleman from Charlestown, (Mr. Thompson,) then moved an amendment to the amendment, which was in fact an entire substitute for the amendment reported by the Committee of the Whole. The Chair ruled the amendment out of order, upon the ground that a second substitute could not be admitted, as an amendment, pending the question upon the amendment reported by the Committee of the Whole, as a substitute for the original resolves. It could, at that time, be received only by unanimous consent. That consent was given, and the question upon the amendment to the amendment, was stated by the Chair. The proposition being admitted as an amendment, striking out the amendment of the Committee of the Whole, and inserting a substitute, it is in order for the gentleman from Plymouth, (Mr. Davis,) to move an amendment, in the way of perfecting the part proposed to be stricken out, or that proposed for insertion.
* Mr. BRIGGS, of Pittsfield. I have no wish to embarrass the Chair, or raise any nice question of order. As to the matter of parliamentary law upon this point, I really wish some little information. The Chair makes a distinction between a substitute and an amendment, and yet I observed, that before he gets through with his sentence he calls it an amendment.
Mr. BATES, of Plymouth. I would like to inquire, if it is in order to discuss a question of parliamentary law unless there is an appeal taken from the decision of the Chair?
The PRESIDENT, Strictly speaking, the Chair supposes that the gentleman from Pittsfield is not in order, objection being made.
Mr. BRIGGS. The Chair understood me, I presume, as respectfully making a suggestion for his consideration, and unless objected to, it is in order.
The PRESIDENT. It is in order, unless objection is made.
Mr. BRIGGS. If the gentleman objects, I will sit down.
The PRESIDENT. The Chair will state, that this amendment, proposed by the gentleman from Plymouth, (Mr. Davis,) is in order only upon the ground that the unanimous consent of the Convention was given, to the introduction of the amendment moved by the gentleman from Charlestown. In reply to the remark of the gentleman from Pittsfield, the Chair does not make a distinction between a substitute and an amendment, but, on the contrary, the Chair understands, that parliamentary law recognizes no proposition as a substitute, but every proposition which pertains to the original question, is in the nature of an amendment. That amendment, however, may take such a form as to be a substitute, in fact, for the whole proposition: as by striking out all that follows the enacting clause, and inserting an entire new proposition, as a substitute for the part stricken out, and the amendment taking that form, then it is a substitute for the entire proposition; and, upon every principle of parliamentary law, and by the prac
tice of all deliberative assemblies, it is in order to amend the original proposition in the way of perfecting it, before the Convention can be called upon to strike out or affirm it by a vote. The Convention will find itself in this position, if the proposition reported by the Committee of the Whole, be affirmed or rejected as a whole, without the privilege of amendment, that they must stand by that vote, and cannot improve or change that proposition in any way, at this stage of the question, and if, at the succeeding stage, the previous question should be moved immediately upon the second reading of the resolve, then the Convention would be obliged to pass upon it without being able to change or modify it in any manner whatever.
The Chair understands, according to the prac tice of all deliberative assemblies, when an amendment is reported as an amendment to the original proposition, which is in fact a substitute for the whole, that it is the right of any member of the Convention to propose to perfect that original proposition then to be stricken out or retained. Therefore, upon that principle, the Chair rules that the amendment of the gentleman from Plymouth, (Mr. Davis,) is in order.
Mr. BRIGGS, of Pittsfield. I will take an appeal from the decision of the Chair, for the simple purpose of stating my views upon this subject. I understand the parliamentary law to be this: that when a proposition is pending, it is open to amendment; that it may be amended by striking out all parts of it, leaving nothing to which an amendment can be attached, and that when such proposition is made, it is an amendment-really, strictly, and technically an amendment-though it strikes at the whole body of the proposition. I agree with the Chair, that parliamentary law recognizes no such thing as a substitute. The proposition of the gentleman from Lowell, (Mr. Butler,) was this: to amend the original resolution by striking out all after the word "Resolved." Then what was it? It was an amendment, reported as such, and come up before the Convention as an amendment. That amendment was open to amendment, and the gentleman from Charlestown, (Mr. Thomp son,) proposed to amend it, as he might do, by striking but a part and leaving the residue; by striking out a part and substituting something, or by striking out the whole and substituting something in its place. That would be an ap propriate and ordinary motion, conforming to parliamentary law upon the subject of amendments. That would be an amendment to an amendment. Now, I understand the Chair, that if he rules so, and that this was properly and strictly an amendment, then the Convention have got to vote upon the entire proposition or on the question as between the two propositions, or if they adopt it they must take it as it is, and thus get something which they do not want; and therefore they have a right to perfect it before the vote is taken. I concur with the Chair, that in one stage of the proceeding this is so. When an amendment is offered to a bill, to strike out and insert, you have a right to make either part perfect. But that is an amendment to an amend
But when we have two amendments pending, the parliamentary law says you shall not move another amendment, or an amendment in the third degree. That is the law, and you must take the consequences of that law. Now,
to avoid that law, understand the Chair to say that this is to be regarded as a substitute, and being regarded as a substitute, it is open to amendment.
But I understood the Chair to say-and I agree with him-that parliamentary law recognizes no such thing as a substitute; it is an amendment. Then, by that parliamentary law, if two amendments are pending, a third amendment is not in order, because you cannot move an amendment in the third degree. Therefore, unless the Chair makes a distinction between an amendment and a substitute, I do not see how he is sustained by parliamentary law, in his decision in this case. If there is such a parliamentary law and usage as to recognize any distinction, I agree with the Chair.
Sir, I said I took the appeal for the purpose of expressing my views, and not for the purpose of embarrassing the Convention, and because I was not permitted to express my views otherwise. I withdraw the appeal.
The PRESIDENT. The Chair will suggest, that the gentleman from Pittsfield is right in one point of view: considering the substitute as an amendment to an amendment. But this is not the fact. The gentleman from Charlestown had no right to present his proposition to amend without the unanimous consent of the Convention. The Chair so ruled. The gentleman from Pittsfield assented to its reception. That being assented to, any member has a right, first, to perfect the proposition of the gentleman from Charlestown, which was introduced by unanimous consent; and secondly, he has a right to perfect the proposition adopted by the Committee of the Whole.
Otherwise the effect would be that it might be introduced without the possibility of amending it, or if it was affirmed, the Convention would be held to it without the possibility of amendment. The difficulty originated in admitting it. But if it is admitted without opposition, the Chair understands, by the uniform procedure, --both of this body and the House of Representatives of the United States, which is the leading authority, of course, upon American parliamentary law, any member of this Convention has the right to perfect the amendment introduced by the gentleman from Charlestown, although it stands, pro forma, as an amendment to an amendment. Being admitted, it must be treated as in order.
Mr. HOOPER, of Fall River. I understand that the proposition of the gentleman from Charlestown is before the Convention.
The PRESIDENT. It is. His motion is to strike out certain words and insert others; and now the gentleman from Plymouth moves an amendment to perfect the first proposition. The question is on the proposition of the gentleman from Plymouth.
Mr. GARDNER, of Seekonk. I do not know that the county which I have the honor to represent in part, will be affected one way or the other by this amendment; but I feel, at present, opposed to the amendment. It seems to me that the amendment offered by the gentleman from Lowell, is better, standing as it is, than it would be to insert the amendment proposed by the gentleman from Plymouth as a substitute. The gentleman from Plymouth says, that in his judgment, the small towns ask too much. Sir, from every side of this hall, almost every gentleman has spoken in favor of the rights of the small towns, and I
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have heard from various quarters that the most just and equitable system would be to have the small towns all represented. I concur in that opinion. I think these small municipalities should be preserved, if possible. But, Sir, we have a proposition to allow sixty-four towns to elect five representatives in every ten years. Now, the gentleman from Plymouth, notwithstanding all these eulogies, and all that has been said in favor of these small towns, and notwithstanding his love of the small towns, and his desire that they should have a due influence on this floor, says that they ask too much, and he is opposed to the proposition of the gentleman from Lowell on that ground. I feel as though the terms of the plan made with regard to the small towns, by giving them what is proposed by the gentleman from Lowell, are as near right as we can make them, unless we adopt the district system. If it is finally concluded by this Convention to go into the district system, and take the most just and equitable course for the whole Commonwealth, I, for one, will go for it. If we adopt any one of the systems which has been presented, it does seem to me that the proposition of the gentleman from Lowell, or at least the principle contained in the first paragraph of his proposition, ought to be accepted. It is the same which I have proposed in document No. 78. Therefore I wish to express my approbation of the proposition of the gentleman from Lowell, and my entire disapprobation of the proposition of the gentleman from Plymouth. As to the great disparity and discrepancy with regard to the large towns, and the fear that they will not have their full share of representation, I think that there is no danger but they will be satisfied. I hope the proposition of the gentleman from Plymouth will not prevail.
Mr. DAVIS, of Plymouth. I rise to make an explanation. I did not say that, under the proposition of the gentleman from Lowell, the large towns would not have a sufficient representation. I am in favor of restricting the representation so far as the large towns are concerned, by increasing the ratio.
Mr. MARVIN, of Winchendon. I wish to say a single word, as gentlemen have an idea that the proposition which is offered will increase the representation from the small towns to a great extent. The difference is only one and a half. According to the plan of the gentleman from Lowell, the towns having less than fifteen hundred inhabitants will have ninety-nine representatives, and if this amendment is adopted, those towns will have one hundred and one-half. The advantage will be this; if you aggregate the small towns, according to this plan, a town which has nine hundred inhabitants will have no more representatives than a town which has only five hundred, and I offer this as an improvement, and not because it makes any difference in the aggregate.
Mr. BROWN, of Medway. I do not claim an hour, and will not occupy more than ten minutes. The proposition of taking representation from each town has been tried in other places, and I would draw the attention of the Convention to the State of Vermont, for a moment. long time they had been in the habit of electing one representative for each town, whether it be large or small. Recently, I believe, the law has been altered so that for a limited time the towns having a certain number of voters, may choose
two representatives, and after that limited time they choose only one, forever. This system, in the State of Vermont, has certainly operated well, for we all know that there is no State in the Union which has prospered better than Vermont, and especially since she has been brought nearer market by her railroads. There is a very great advantange in this system, it is so simple, so easily understood by every-body. Their statute laws, based upon this system, are so simple, so plain, so easily understood, that every man in Vermont knows the law and is a judge of the law. It is very different in this State. When you go to a lawyer in this State-and I would not speak disrespectfully of that honorable body, especially those with whom we a" associated in this Convention-and ask his opinion on a case which you have, he cannot tell you, he must go and search his books, and he must go and look up reports and decisions on similar cases, before he can give any opinion on the case. Now this is not the case in Vermont. Their laws are so simple to be understood, as I said before, that every individual, so far as my acquaintance extends, in Vermont, knows as much about her laws, as our lawyers know about our laws here. I think that we need not be afraid of the large towns and the cities. It is the glory of the country towns that they have such places as Boston, that they have such places as Charlestown. Mr. Webster said, in his great speech in answer to Mr. Hayne, in speaking of Massachusetts: "There is Concord, there is Lexington, there is Boston, and there is Bunker Hill; there they stand, and there they will stand forever." I hope that the system, whatever it is, that we adopt here, will be one which will give the most representatives, and the most power, if you may so call it, in our legislature. The country towns are certainly not enemies to the cities, or to the city of Boston and its vicinity. The city of Boston, and the circumstances connected with it, are the glory of the small towns, and it will be their pride and their glory to deal out justice to them.
Mr. KEYES, for Abington. I offered an amendment, yesterday, to the proposition of the gentleman from Charlestown, in order to find out a fact; and I think I did find it out-that is, Sir, that the proposition now before us, offered by the gentleman from Lowell, is the one upon which this Convention are to act. I did not offer it to the other proposition, however, because the Committee seemed to think that could not be amended, and I would not introduce it in opposition to that. Now, Sir, here is an amendment that, in my opinion, is directed to the right quarter, and what is it? The great argument has been constantly upon the ground of inequality; and the effect of this amendment, as I understand it, is, to destroy that inequality, and to establish equality, if it has not that effect, it has no effect at all. It does not add to or diminish from the number of representatives, to any appreciable degree whatever. The only operation of it, which I can perceive, is, to introduce the principle of equality. Now, if the proposition of the gentleman from Lowell is correct in all respects, I ask, why this amendment is not improving it, because the inequality between towns of five hundred inhabitants and those of fifteen hundred, is just as appalling and monstrous as any of these other inequalities which have been talked about so much. The effect of that amendment, if I understand it, is, to destroy
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that inequality; because, if the minimum is 1,500, then a town of fourteen hundred would have no more right of representation than a town of four hundred has. So, it is just as monstrous and just as unequal in one case as in the other-just as much so in the proposition of the gentleman from Lowell, as all these other things which have created such a furor about inequality here. Now, I ask, why you do not take this amendment, which only makes it as nearly equal as it can possibly be made, and allow towns of five hundred inhabitants to have a representative every year, and add another every ten years, for the increase in their population?
The amendment could have no other possible effect than to establish an equality among the small towns; and if there is any serious objection to that, I should very much like to know what it is. Mr. CROWNINSHIELD, of Boston. I had not intended to address any remarks to the Convention upon this subject; but if any apology is necessary for my not adhering to that determination, it must be found in the great interest which my constituents have and feel in this important question. Here we are, in what we have so often been told, is "the middle of the nineteenth century;" and the people of Massachusetts have met in Convention, through their delegates, to effect great reforms in their fundamental law, and to cure sundry evils in the Constitution, which have pressed with heavy weight upon the people of the Commonwealth. The gentleman from Greenfield, who represents Erving in this Convention, (Mr. Griswold,) opened the debate upon this subject which is now before us; and allow me to say, that probably that gentleman had as large a hand in bringing together this assembly, and perhaps even greater, than any other individual in this Convention, or in this Commonwealth; for it is well known, that several years since, in the legislature, he first broached the subject of making an alteration in the basis of representation, which he pressed with zeal and pertinacity, but failing in his object there, turned his attention to a Convention, which, with a like zeal, he has, at last, brought to pass. From the length of time which has already been consumed upon it in this Convention, and from some other circumstances, we know that this was one of the great and important subjects that has brought us here. Now, the gentleman for Erving, in his opening remarks, stated that here was a great evil to be corrected-here was an important principle involved. What was the principle? It was, that during a considerable portion of the time, a large number of the inhabitants of the small towns of this Commonwealth were wholly unrepresented. This, it seems, was one of the great things that had led to the calling of this Convention, and this is one of the great evils that remains to be corrected here; and now, how does that gentleman, and how do those gentlemen who sustained him in calling this Convention, propose to remedy that evil? what is the effect of the amendment which they propose? I ask that gentleman, or I ask any other gentleman in this body, who is in favor of the proposition before us, to tell me wherein it differs, in principle, from the provision in the existing Constitution. Sir, by the amendment now before the Convention, are the small towns represented every year? Is it proposed that they shall be represented every year? Not at all, Sir. Is there any principle of equality about it? What
is the principle which is embraced in the amendment, that the Committee of the Whole have reported to this body, which differs in substance from the provision in the present Constitution? It differs only in this-that it takes away from my constituents a large portion of the equal and just rights which have been guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the Commonwealth, and by the Bill of Rights, and which are inherent in every man who is a freeman, and who lives under a republican government.
I had intended to say something in relation to the history of this question, and refer to times long gone by, for it is there gentlemen seem to look for the largest liberty and the greatest democracy. They base their arguments upon that which is ancient and venerable, and to sustain them in their reforms here. The gentleman for Erving, the other day, told us that this system of town representation was ancient and venerable, and that it forms no objection, in his mind, to anything, that it is ancient and venerable, provided it is good; and that is one argument in favor of town representation, because it is both ancient and good. The difficulty is, he gives us no standard by which we may judge and determine what is good, and he begs the question when he says it is good. I was somewhat astonished, Sir, by a remark which fell, the other day, from the gentleman from Natick, (Mr. Wilson,) in which he spoke of those who opposed this proposition, as being among those who were the opponents of the calling of this Convention. I suppose I may as well admit, that I am among that number, and we have had it flouted in our faces, that we were the opponents of the Convention, as though, for that reason, we were not entitled to any consideration. I think another statement, made by that gentleman, spoke volumes upon this subject; for he told us, that it was with the greatest difficulty that the people could be got to agree to the calling of a Convention; and he admitted that it required an amount of labor almost unheard of, to wake up the people of Massachusetts to the assertion of their rights, which had been trampled upon, and to redress the great grievances under which they had been suffering. And is it so, that in this boasted "nineteenth century," the people of this Commonwealth should be under such a necessity for a Convention to reform the Constitution, and yet should require so large an amount of labor and energy operating upon them, to induce them to call that Convention? We have been authoritatively told, again and again, that "the people would do this," and "would not do that,"—that "they wanted this," and "did not want that;" and the gentleman from North Brookfield has regaled our ears with the managements and arrangements of party-that it is the politicians who make all the trouble, and not the people. Now, Sir, if I may be permitted to express an opinion in this matter, the people do not need any great and essential changes in the Constitutionthey are very well satisfied with it, in general, as it is, and that accounts for the labor and effort required to call us together.
Mr. WALKER. Mr. President.
The PRESIDENT. Does the gentleman from Boston yield the floor?
Mr. CROWNINSHIELD. Yes, Sir; I will yield the floor for any purpose except for a motion for the previous question.
The PRESIDENT. The Chair will remark that the rule is positive, that no member shall interrupt another member speaking, except to raise a question of order; although the courtesy is usually extended to allow interruptions for the purpose of making explanations. The gentleman from North Brookfield will state for what purpose he rises.
Mr. WALKER. I wish to ask if the gentleman from Boston alluded to me in his remarks. Mr. CROWNINSHIELD. I did. I know no other member from North Brookfield.
Mr. WALKER. I understood the gentleman to say that the gentleman from North Brookfield stated that it was the politicians, and not the people, who called this Convention. Did I understand the gentleman correctly?
Mr. CROWNINSHIELD. Not at all. I remarked that the gentleman from North Brookfield had repeatedly told us, in his usual emphatic and authoritative manner, what the people did or did not want, and what they would or would not approve, and what the politicians were always contriving against their interests. I believe that the people do not desire a large House of Representatives. So far as I understand what they do want, and I have taken some pains to find out, if the House is brought down to a convenient size, so as to conduct public affairs in the best manner, that will satisfy them.
Let us advert for a moment, if I may be pardoned for alluding to the matter after the able and extended remarks of the gentleman from Salem, (Mr. Upham,) to the historical view of the question. The country was settled under a Charter obtained from royal authority, which was granted to an association formed for that purpose. At length the Charter was brought over, and formed, as it were, the Constitution of Government. Every free man in the corporation had equal rights and equal power, and the elections of gov ernor and other officers, were made by the body of freemen assembled in Boston. It was as pure a democracy as, perhaps, ever existed, where every man was equal to every other man. Soon it was found inconvenient for all the inhabitants to assemble together for such purposes, and so they had representatives and districts established. The reason why this was done, has been stated by the gentleman from Salem; and the system of representation which then grew up was not a representation of towns in their corporate capacity, exercising a corporate right, but of freemen who were as equally represented as possible. So far as I know, there was no census of the inhabitants at that early day; but from each town was sent, as it was convenient, "two or three" representatives, who had powers delegated to them to act for the whole number of freemen. This state of things went on until the Restoration, when the republican government was overthrown, and royal authority was established in England. Presently the king of England found that he had too free a government existing in his colonies, and took away their Charter. After that great outrage, things went on for a time under Andros, until the Revolution in 1688, when our fathers hoped that the Charter of which they had been robbed would be restored to them, as many Charters of cities in England, which, in like manner had been taken away, had been. But they hoped in vain The Charter that they had at first, allowed them a too republican form of government for
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. — CROWNINSHIELD.
the time, and the best thing they could obtain was the Charter of William and Mary, or the Province Charter, which took away from them many of their rights, and deprived them of the right of choosing their own governor; and a royal governor was sent over here, and they lived under royal governors for nearly one hundred years, until the Revolution of 1776 established a different order of things. It was not a representation of towns even under the Royal Charter; but supposing it were, is that any authority for us? When the Revolution came, "old things passed away, and all things became new." The people of this Commonwealth, when they framed the first republican Constitution under which they have since lived so happily, well understood the fundamental principles of a republican government. Let me read to this Convention a few extracts from that Constitution as they established it. Those men who were then at the head of affairs, who took a leading part in forming the Constitution of Massachusetts-such men as John Adamsdid they know nothing about republicanism and the rights of the people? I fancy that this question needs no answer from me. Let us look at the Constitution which they established, and see what it says upon the subject of equal rights of members of the community. In the first place let me read the preamble:
"The end of the institution, maintenance, and administration of government, is to secure the existence of the body politic; to protect it; and to furnish the individuals who compose it with the power of enjoying with safety and tranquillity their natural rights and the blessings of life; and whenever these great objects are not obtained, the people-"
Not the towns, but the people.
"The people have a right to alter the government, and to take measures necessary for their safety, prosperity and happiness. The body politic is formed by a voluntary association
Of what? Of towns? No! but of people.
"The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals; it is a social compact."
The gentleman for Manchester, (Mr. Dana,) tells us that he does not believe in the doctrine of a social compact; and although I can very well understand upon what principles the gentleman for Manchester takes his position-and I respect him for uttering them boldly and manfully as he does-yet there are certain other gentlemen, in this Convention, who are very well known to entertain very different opinions from those of that gentleman, on all subjects connected with government; and I cannot easily conceive upon what ground they want the House of Representatives to cease to be a popular branch of the government, while the Senate, which we have always looked upon as an aristocratic feature in the Constitution, and the chief executive magistrate who has only the veto, are to be, par excellence, the representatives of the people. Why, Sir, if this provision should be adopted, as those gentlemen desire, in the Constitution, hereafter a member of the body which shall assemble within these walls cannot rise up and say without a. blush, "representatives of the people." Will they be in any sense representatives of the people? No, Sir! they will not; they will be representatives of the municipal corporations. They will cease to be the representatives of the people; and if we ever
wish to see the representatives of the people, we must go to the other end of this building, where we shall find forty gentlemen gathered around the Senate board-they are the representatives of the sovereign people. So we are informed by the gentlemen of the majority. But let me revert to this Constitution once more. It says:
"The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals; it is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and cach citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good."
We have heard a good deal said here about the social compact, and the gentleman for Abington, (Mr. Keyes,) with whom I am happy to agree in many things, has commented upon it, and says that it is not so-that many people dissent entirely from it, and do not agree to its terms. Certainly it is a social compact-not that we have made a written compact with every individual-for gentlemen know that that is not true. When we say that it is a social compact, we mean that we agree to abide by it, and we yield our assent to it. All who live under this compact, give a silent assent to it, and the great mass of the people do heartily assent to it, as I believe, with the exception of some fanatics, as I must insist upon calling them, who deny the authority of government, and who petition the legislature for all sorts of strange and absurd things. The great mass of the people do give their hearty assent to it, and it is, in substance, a compact between every individual citizen, and the whole body of the people. But let us read on:
"It is the duty of the people, therefore, in framing a Constitution of government, to provide for an equitable mode of making laws, as well as for an impartial interpretation and faithful execution of them; that every man may, at all times, find his security in them. We, therefore, the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the great Legislator of the Universe, in affording us, in the course of his providence, an opportunity, deliberately and peaceably, without fraud, violence, or surprise, of entering into an original, explicit, and solemn compact with each other," &c.
This is the preamble to this great instrument, and now let us go on into the Bill of Rights. And I ask gentlemen if they purpose to strike out this provision from the Bill of Rights, which says in the first words of the first article, that "all men are born free and equal." Here is the great principle of the Declaration of Independence; and is it an idle form of words that is to be read over on Monday next to the people of this Commonwealth, when they come together to celebrate their emancipation from thraldom, and their entrance into liberty-the overthrow of the royal authority, and the formation of a republic? Are these words idle words, or are they the words of truth and soberness, that "all men are born free and equal?" And, Sir, if they are not equal they cannot be free. We read in section 4, of the Bill of Rights: "The people of this Commonwealth have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves, as a free, sovereign, and independent State." And we read in section 6: "No man, nor corporation, or association of men, have any other title to obtain advantages, or particular and exclusive privileges, distinct from those of the community, than what arises from the consideration of services
rendered to the public." Then what right have the individual small towns and corporations in this Commonwealth to a greater representation than I, a citizen of a large one, have? What services have they rendered to this Commonwealth, which entitle them to a greater right or a greater voice in this House of Representatives than I have, or than my constituents have?
Let that question be answered. I see gentlemen around me smiling because, as I know, they think that this provision was introduced into the Constitution for another purpose, and with another meaning. So it was, mainly; for it never was dreamed of that a Convention would meet in 1853, and that gentlemen would stand up here and astonish us with such doctrines as have been announced upon this question in this Convention. Again, the ninth article of the Bill of Rights says:
"All elections ought to be free; and all the inhabitants of this Commonwealth, having such qualifications as they shall establish by their frame of government, have an equal right to elect officers, and to be elected, for public employ
Will this Convention strike out that provision of the Constitution, or will they let it stand there? Will they let it remain there, in strange inconsistency with the provision which has been reported by the Committee of the Whole, and which a majority of this Convention seem about to adopt? A hundred and fifty or a thousand years hence, when we shall have passed away, and when many generations shall have passed away from all earthly scenes, and the memory of most of us shall have been forgotten, what will the future historian of Massachusetts say, when he looks at the provision of this Constitution which I have just read, and sees also in that same Constitution, a provision by which the city of Boston -of which I have the honor of being a humble representative-and the cities and large towns, were robbed of their equal rights? How will he be able to explain it? He can give no rational account of it.
When I go to my constituents, and they ask me what has been done here, and I tell them that a provision has been adopted whereby four or five men in this city are only worth as much, politically, as one man in the central part of the Commonwealth, or away upon Connecticut River or the Berkshire hills, what reason shall I assign for it? What answer can I make? I am dumb, and can make no answer.
There are many other passages of the Constitution, of the same import, which I might read, but I have read enough to satisfy gentlemen that we raise here, in one hand, in the Constitution, a declaration of liberty, equality, and equal rights, among all the inhabitants of the Commonwealth, and then present in the other a proposition for an amendment of it, which robs a large portion of the inhabitants of their just and equal right to participate in making the laws.
Now, it has been said by the gentleman for Erving, (Mr. Griswold,) and also by the gentle-" man who represents Manchester, (Mr. Dana,) that exact equality is impossible. I quite agree with them in that, and that government, of all things, is a practical subject, and we must deal with it practically, and not carry out any principle in reference to it to an extravagant extreme. But