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object was not to inform the absentees as to what | lived out one side by themselves, fenced in by had been said in their absence. But I soon hill or rivers or artificial lines, and fifty thousand learned that his object was quite different, for if in another place, would these ten or a dozen, or my recollection serves me rightly, that gentleman as many hundreds, come forward and claim that spent over an hour in defending the consistency they ought to have the right to elect as many of the Whig party, and maintaining its claims representatives as the fifty thousand in the other to be considered the party of reform. Now, place: Would any man think of making such a Sir, I would address to that gentleman and his suggestion in such an assembly? I believe not. friends the sentiment if not the language, ad- I believe it would not suggest itself to an individdressed to the Woman's Rights Convention a few ual of them. But what would be the principle years since by Sojourner Truth, that if he and which would govern them? They doubtless his friends are so much in favor of reforms, why would take into consideration all the circumdo they not act it out “and not make such a long stances of the case, and if the population is divided linkum about it?"
into towns, districts and neighborhoods, where Sir, what is the business before us! We are they could conveniently come together in their now assembled for the purpose of fixing the respective localities to elect their representatives, basis of representation for the people in the House they would endeavor to arrange the matter upon of Representatives of the Commonwealth. that convenient basis, and it is possible that they
Now what are the principles that should govern would not attempt the formation of a system of us on this occasion ? Let us suppose that the perfect equality. They would sacrifice something whole people of this Commonwealth could be of this to answer the purposes of convenience, assembled in one mass meeting, without previously and to render the plan feasible, at the same time existing institutions, for the purpose of transact- keeping in view a certain degree of practicable ing their business, and providing for its future equality. transaction. What would be the position of each
Now, Sir, it strikes me that we should follow person: Would not every individual stand upon
out some plan similar to that. I, for one, am no a perfect equality? Do not all your laws regard Utopian, I do not believe in carrying out the prinevery human individual as being upon a perfect ciple of perfect equality in all respects, and under equality? Is not the murder of the smallest all circumstances, though it should never be lost child, or of the greatest idiot punished with the sight of, and should have its weight in the formasame severity as the murder of the greatest states- tion of any system. man: Certainly, so your law regards it. They Now if we attempt to fix upon any unjust are each, as individuals, equally recognized and system in which equality is wholly disregarded, or protected so far as legal enactments go. But in greatly outraged, what will be the result? Will such an assembly as I have supposed what would it stand? I was pleased to hear the gentleman be the natural condition of things ? would not from Adams, the other day, allude to the case of the heads of familes, from the position in which Rhode Island, and approvingly too. It was somethey are placed by Providence, and indeed from thing new to hear it approved from that quarter, the very nature of things, be those who would as the party with which he acts took such strong speak for their families ? Most certainly; the ground against it. I happen to come from a secheads of families are the natural representatives tion of the Commonwealth which is near to one of those families.
portion of that State which participated to a large By our laws, and by common consent, male extent in that controversy, and I cannot forget the inhabitants of the age of twenty-one years are lesson then taught me, and which I promulgated; competent to act for themselves, and here you and I feel myself committed upon the doctrine give them, by common consent, a potential voice then put forward. in public affairs, and they speak for the rest. What were the circumstances which brought Now let us suppose that this class of persons come about the Rhode Island contest ? Under the old together, and they find their assembly too numer- Charter they had a town representation, which ous for the transaction of business with despatch, was fixed and unchangeable. That was well and it becomes necessary therefore to institute a enough in the first period of her existence. But representative system by which each can be in the process of time, manufacturing and comequally represented. What course would they mercial interests centered in one end of the State, then pursue? Of course they would hit upon and the towns there grew out of all proportion some plan or arrangement by which these repre- compared with those located in the other end of sentatives could be elected, and what would it be the State, and it finally resulted, this system of If ten or a dozen of them, or as many hundred, I town representation continuing, that less than oneThursday,]
third of the inhabitants of the State, those resid- arms of the State to put down the suffrage party, ing in the southern portion of it, held the whole The federal government was called in too, and it power of legislation in their hands. And the assumed to decide which was the true government people of the northern part of the State, who re- of the State, and it decided against the people and sided in towns newly built up by manufacturing the suffrage party was, for a time, put down, interests were nearly disfranchised. They had Notwithstanding they failed for the time being, not their legitimate share of voice and influence in they have at last triumphed, and now they have conducting the affairs of state. They had peti- the control of the State, and this very season they tioned their legislature again and again upon the are about to have another Convention to revise subject, but in that case, as in all others of a the imperfect Constitution extorted from their similar nature, those having the political power opponents, the legislature having already passed would not relinquish it. They called several a preliminary act for that purpose. conventions, but they were based upon the system Now, Sir, that case presents a striking lesson of representation contained in the old Charter, the
It shows that it will not answer to com. same system upon which their legislature was mit great injustice, and if you undertake to put based, and of course they failed of redress, because the political power into one part of the State, and those who composed the conventions held the into the hands of the minority in one section, you same opinions as the legislature which called them will find that trouble will ensue, because the matogether, and they always consisted of a majority jority in other parts of the State will not peaceably elected by a minority of the people. That ma- submit. jority never would yield anything. The towns in Now, what is the objection to the Report prethe south part of the State never would give up to sented by the majority of the Committee. It is the towns of the northern part of the State, any not, in my opinion, simply that it makes a disof the power which they held in their hands. tinction between the large and the small towns This was one of the prominent causes, and per- in favor of the latter, and not because there is an haps the strongest which lead to the trouble in inequality of political rights as between the inthat State.
habitants of the two, for that, under any system Another was that under the Charter the right of we can adopt, and especially if we preserve town suffrage was limited to those possessing a free lines, must exist; but it is because it takes the hold estate, and to the oldest sons of freeholders, political power from one section of the State, and and that comprised not more than one-fourth part puts it into another section. Let us look at its of those who, under the laws of Massachusetts operation. Take the five western counties of the would be entitled to yote.
State. They have a population of 292,904, and These were the two points of issue, on which under this majority system they would elect one the people of that State raised the cry of equal hundred and seventy representatives, which is suffrage and equal representation. They found one representative for about every 1,722 individthey could not achieve their objects through the
uals. Then take the six south-eastern counties, legislature, or through conventions called by the They have a population of 254,121. Under this legislature, and they put themselves upon the syitem they would elect only ninety-six repre. great American doctrine, which is expressed in sentatives, which is one for every 2,647 individthe seventh article of your Bill of Rights,-the uals. So that it takes about one and two-thirds right of the people to reform their government of a man in the south-eastern section to be equal when and how they choose. They called a mass
to one man in the western part of the State. meeting of the people and that sent out a call for Now, Sir, it seems to me that a system so una Convention. The towns sent in their delegates, just as this cannot be adopted, and that the peoand they proceeded to frame a Constitution of ple will not sanction it, not because there is a government, and a very good Constitution it was. difference between towns lying side by side It was submitted to the people, and nearly three- for that I consider of no great importance, for fourths of all the men in the State voted for it. their interests are usually nearly identical-but Even a majority of the landholders, and legal because you take from one section of the State voters under the old system voted for the new the political power which belongs to it, and carry Constitution. Yet that did not prevent those who it into another, creating thereby a sectional inebefore had the power, from holding on to it, and quality. I think that is unjust and I do not bethey did hold on. Both claimed the power, and lieve it will be assented to by a majority of the both elected their governor. What was the re- people of this Commonwealth. I do not doubt sult? Here was a conflict and your State was that the population of the western part of the called in to decide it. Your governor loaned the State is as safe a depository of power as any Thursday,]
population of the State. I have the highest | instance, the present system is very equal, taking opinion of the character of the rural population one year after another for a period of ten years. of the western counties, but at the same time I But why take ten years together? Why not take do not think they ought to have this dispropor- fifty years or a hundred years? Why let a por. tionate share of influence and voice in the affairs tion of the towns exhaust the right of representof the State. What is the duty of your legisla- ation in the two or three first years of the decenture? It is to legislate for the whole State. Now nial period, and be debarred from all representation is it to be presumed that the rural population of thereafter ? That system is not just. You have the western counties can legislate better than the one hundred and twenty-seven towns which can mechanics, the artizans and the tradesmen of the send representatives during the first portion of the eastern portion of the State ? I think not. I decennial period, and then cannot send any durthink that that portion of the State is the least ing the remainder of the time. Now suppose the affected by the laws of the State, and whose in- section of the State, sending those representatives, terests demand the least legislation. The farmers have the majority, and with it the power, at the working upon their farms think little about the commencement of that decennial period, before laws, and, indeed, hardly need them. They wish the end comes round, the power has passed into to violate no other man's right. They live and another portion of the State, and the majority is labor in simplicity and happiness in their domes- in another quarter. Now this thing does and tic homes, and do not come in contact with the must work evil, and nothing but evil. rights and interests of others, as much as men Another great evil of the present system is the do in large towns and cities, where there is a general ticket system in large towns and cities, beconstant jostling and clashing of rights and inter- cause it gives to them disproportionate influence ests, and where individual rights are constantly and power. Now, I am in favor of districting liable to be trampled upon. Nor are they able your cities, all of them. They have no claim to to comprehend as well, what the rights and inter- corporate representation, because they were broken ests of the population of the eastern part of the up as towns the moment they adopted a city govState are, as those who immediately represent those ernment. In the outset, then, I go for districting rights and interests. There are great questions all cities, coming up which affect the rights of labor in par- Then, as a matter of convenience, I would take ticular, and which will constitute the great mass a portion of the towns sufficiently large to work a of legislation in the future, and which can only practical degree of equality, and make districts of be understood by those immediately interested them also ; and those below that size I would such as the rights and interests of labor in our group into districts. What may be the precise manufacturing establishments, our banking insti- number to work out that plan I am unable to tutions, and the like. These questions hardly say. I have been in hopes of seeing some gentouch the farmers, while they interest every one tleman bring forward a scheme which would anof the large towns to a greater or less extent. swer that purpose.
It seems to me that we should adopt a system Again, there is a general expectation that we which should be, as far as it can be without in- should somewhat reduce the number of the House, convenience, practically equal ; and I think our and I, for one, am in favor of such reduction. I western friends will not demand more of us, as a would not have a small House, for I do not bematter of justice. What reason can they present, lieve anything would be gained by it, and too why they should have more? The idea that they large a number renders it inconvenient to transshould have it because they live in small towns, is act business. I am ready to approve of a plan for wholly untenable. I cannot see that any right a House which shall contain from three hundred grows out of that. The right belongs not to the to three hundred and fifty members, more or less, locality but to the man, as such.
and I think we should reduce it to about that Now, Sir, I for one, am willing to concede number. I have been endeavoring for a day or something for the matter of convenience, and I two past to hit upon some plan, and I have finally am in favor of adopting a plan which shall in fact adopted as a basis, eighteen hundred as the minigive to those very people more than they can justly mum number of inhabitants which should entitle elaim upon the score of equality. I will adopt a a town to one representative. Taking that as the system which shall be different from the present basis, and four thousand as the mean increasing one, and better, if possible--otherwise it strikes ratio, and I believe we shall arrive at a House me we had better not touch the subject at all. But of from three hundred to three hundred and fifty, what is the objection to the present system? It I have not carried it out to ascertain exactly how has been shown here, that between counties, for the fractional towns will stand. But upon that Thursday,]
HOOPER — BRADFORD.
basis the twenty-five large towns and cities, with longing to the corporate and municipal towns a population of 407,045, would have one hundred in the Commonwealth ; and second, the stateand five representatives, being one for every 3,877 ment that the usage and the history of the State individuals. One hundred and twenty-five towns, show that this right has been recognized in the with a population of 371,549 inhabitants, would Colony and State. I deny both. I can see nothhave one hundred and twenty-five representatives, ing but error running through the whole curse being one to every 2,972 individuals. One hun- of remarks which have been made upon this hundred and seventy-two towns, and the seven subject. Corporations—municipal corporationsnew towns which have been formed since 1850, have not, as a characteristic of their constitutions, with a population of 195,121, would have to be any right to repesentation. A municipal corpogrouped into districts. If you make those frac- ration is to have the right to make its own bytional towns about the same that they are now, laws, to raise and manage its own revenue, to they would have about seventy representatives, elect its own officers whose jurisdiction is conbeing one for every 2,787 individuals. That fined within its corporate limits. All this, which would make a House of about three hundred. is done by the corporation itself without reference But if you can group them together so as to save to any body outside of that corporation, and which the fractions, you can give that number of towns cannot be controlled by any other power-these one hundred representatives, and in that case are the corporate powers; these are the powers have a House of three hundred and thirty mem- from which the corporation derives its strength, bers, averaging one representative to every 2,981 and not from the right of representation. individuals.
I agree to all that was said by the gentleman It seems to me that that would form a House for Erving, (Mr. Griswold,) that towns are the not greatly disproportioned, and that it would be bulwark of liberty. I agree to all his quotations fair and just. At all events it strikes me it would from De Tocqueville, from Jefferson, from the be fair towards the small towns.
gentleman from Boston, and from all the other I merely throw out this as the basis upon which writers which he quoted, from any source and I make my calculation. If any gentleman has from every source, to show the power and strength anything which will come nearer to a just rep
of these corporations in sustaining liberty. I beresentation for all parts of the State, that will lieve they are at once the source and security of answer the purpose better, I hope to see it pro- our liberty. But I think it is very plain that this duced.
does not depend in any degree upon representaWith these remarks I shall take my seat, in
tion. hopes of hearing from some other member a bet- The gentleman for Erving has said, and so has ter plan. I do not propose to offer this as an the gentleman for Berlin, (Mr. Boutwell,) subamendment, but merely to throw out the sugges- stantially in the same words, that this right of tion for the consideration of the members of the representation confers the whole strength upon Committee.
municipal corporations. One gentleman said here Mr. BRADFORD, of Essex. I designed to that representation was the only element of politihave given upon this question, as upon most cal strength. And the gentleman for Berlin, too, others which have come before the Corvention, or says that the right of representation in a corporawhich may come before it, a silent vote. It is a tion is the only element of political strength. The question of more interest and importance than gentleman for Erving said substantially the same any which will come before the Convention. It thing, and it has been repeated by other gentlemen is the question which has brought the Convention in the course of the discussion. together. If it had not been for the question now Now, Sir, the gentleman for Berlin introduces before us the people would never have voted to some illustrations to prove this principle. He call the Convention which is now assembled in says that the English nation afforded the greatest this hall. I should, however, have overlooked all resistance to their Norman conquerors on account this, and should not have spoken upon it, if it had of their municipal corporations. Now, at the not been for the fact that some errors, even greater time of William the Conqueror, England had no and more transcendent in their importance than town representation at all. There was no such the question itself, as it seems to me, have been right belonging to her towns, and no such right propounded in the this course of debate. Two was exercised by them, nor was any such right of these errors, in particular, I wish to notice in accorded to them for centuries afterwards. The the course of my remarks. They are in relation illustration, therefore, entirely fails to show the to corporate rights, the rights which belong to point. It was not until the middle of the fourmunicipalities, the right of representation as be- teenth century, in the time of Edward the Third,
(I think,) that any actual representation existed was a representation also of property, of freein the boroughs or towns of England. The holders, and confined to the church. same gentleman also told us that for three hun- But without dwelling upon this matter longer, dred years the municipalities and towns of Hun- I wish to show something in relation to the first gary enabled that nation to withstand the power Constitution of the State in 1780, which the genof the House of Austria. Now, the towns of tleman for Berlin did not state. The idea that Hungary were never represented, as such, in their reference is made to town representation in that national diet or general assembly at all. That Constitution is entirely a fallacy; it is all a misbody was composed of representatives from the take. The gentleman for Wilbraham, after attemptcounties and not from the towns. Both of the ing to show from history and usage, that we have illustrations which the gentleman has drawn to always had town representation, after showing, as show the strength of corporations from the inci- he said, that corporations have always had the right dent of representation therefore, entirely fail. of representation, comes to our State Constitution,
The gentleman for Erving has said that you and undertakes to prove from that the same right. would destroy the corporations by taking away Now, Sir, the Constitution of 1780 is as plain as from them the right of representation. Well, words can make it, that there is no right of corSir, of course if the preceding part of my remarks porate representation, nor anything of that kind, be true, this position cannot be correct.
recognized by that Constitution. If it had been But the gentleman for Erving, the gentleman in these words : "there shall be no right of corfor Wilbraham, (Mr. Hallett,) and several other porate representation or representation by towns" gentlemen have attempted to show that the right it could not have been more explicit than it is of representation has always existed in the towns now to my mind. This view of the subject was of this Commonwealth. Now, it seems to me referred to by the gentleman from Cambridge, that this is equally an error as to the matter of (Mr. Sargent,) in part, but he did not quote quite fact. For several years after the settlement of far enough to give its full force. The chapter upon the State there was no representation by towns at this subject commences :all. At first it was a representation by a body of freemen comprising only a small portion of the
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
“ Article 1. There shall be in the legislature of population, and which had no reference whatever to towns. Afterwards it was a representation by PLE, annually elected, and founded upon the prin
the Commonwealth, a representation of the Peoplantations or settlements, without any reference ciple of equality: to corporate rights. In fact, the whole argument « Art. 2. And in order to provide for a represenof the gentleman for Erving, (Mr. Griswold,) | tation of the CITIZENS of this Commonwealth, seems more in point to prove that we should have founded upon the principle of equality, every cor
porate town containing one hundred and fifty a representation of freeholders, or a representa
Tatable polls, may elect one representative," &c. tion by churches, than it is to prove that we should have a representation by towns. There is This representation by towns is here adopted, certainly no argument to be drawn in favor of
as a means merely, as a convenient mode of prorepresentation by towns, from any usage of the ducing an "equal representation of the PEOPLE Colony or Province of Massachusetts Bay. The of the Commonwealth.” That is what the reprepresentation in this province was always limited resentation is. It is a representation of the citito the freeholders, and the right of voting and the ZENS of the Commonwealth, and the representation right of representation was confined to the church by towns is only a mode for accomplishing that members. I repeat, the whole argument to be end. It might as well have said that in order to drawn from the history and usage of this Com- | bring about a “representation of the citizens of monwealth is much stronger in favor of adopting the Commonwealth, founded upon the principle a basis of representation founded upon church of equality,” there should be a representation membership and upon freehold than it is in favor from districts, or from counties, or from churches, of adopting town representation. But the gen- or from any other association of men; yet if it had tleman might as well undertake to argue that been so, no man would have supposed that gave a because a child went upon all fours when it left particular district or church, the right to have a its mother's arms, it should go upon all-fours representative here. And no such meaning can after it has grown up to be a man, as to argue that possibly attach to the expression here used, as to we should adopt any system because it was prac- | make it give the right of representation to the tised in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, two towns. hundred years ago. Afterwards, in 1692, there Representation of corporations is not a right was a representation of towns, it is true, but it inherent in them. It does not belong to them in