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OLIVER - DURGIN.
" Freedom's battle once begun,
by the people, it cannot abide. Socner or later its | inexpedient for the Convention so to amend the downfall must come. You cannot bind the peo- Constitution. ple many years by any such unjust and oppres
HENRY K. OLIVER, Chairman. sive system. We have seen the result in other States. No more here than in Rhode Island can
The Report was referred to the Commitee of the power be permanently retained in the hands of Whole, and ordered to be printed. one-third of the people. It cannot be done. The
On motion of Mr. BRIGGS, of Pittsfield, the great popular pulse will keep beating against Convention, at one o'clock, adjourned. these restraints, and by and by they will give
AFTERNOON SESSION. way and the people will rise in their might. It may become, in time, the rallying cry upon the
The Convention having re-assembled, Mr. soil of Massachusetts, when if the figures of my
MORTON, of Andover, moved that the Confriend for Berlin be true, one-fifth of the people vention resolve itself into Committee of the whole of Massachusetts may have the power, and twelve
on the unfinished businesss of the morning. cities of the Commonwealth having a majority of
The motion was agreed to, and the Convention the people, may be without any power at all in accordingly resolved itself into the House of Representatives. Then I ask you,
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE, Sir, if you think these green withes will hold; if you think that the gates of your Gaza will
Mr. Wilson, of Natick, in the Chair, and prostand, or the pillars of your temple keep their ceeded to consider the unfinished business, being foundation ? No, Sir! the watch word and rally- the resolves on the ing cry will go forth throughout the length and breadth of the old Commonwealth ; for you know,
Basis of Representation. Sir, that
The pending question being upon the amendment
moved by Mr. Hale, of Boston, to substitute the Bequeathed from dying sire to son,
Minority for the Majority Report.
Mr. DURGIN, of Wilmington. The subject
now before the Committee is one of fundamental With my thanks to the Convention for the patience and attention with which they have
and vital importance, and is, in fact, according to listened to my somewhat dull and tiresome re
admissions on all hands, and on all sides, the marks, this sultry morning, I yield the floor.
great question of this Convention. It is a subject
over which no individual in this body can sleep. Mr. DURGIN, of Wilmington, moved that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to
If we feel any interest at all in any one subject sit again.
that can come before this Convention, that interThe motion was agreed to, and
est is certainly involved in this question. Sir,
I come from a small town. The large towns have IN CONVENTION,
spoken and it might not be improper for some of Leave was granted to the Committee to sit again. the small towns to lisp forth a few feeble accents on
this great and important subject. Little children, Militia.
Sir, can sometimes tell what they want, and, not Mr. OLIVER, of Lawrence, submitted the unfrequently, can tell it as significantly as "chilfollowing Report from a Committee:
dren of a larger growth.”
In regard to this matter I think one great and COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS. important thing to be gained by the Convention
In Convention, June 21, 1853. is this-it is to ascertain, if possible, what is wantThe Committee on the Militia, to whom was ed. Something is wanted, and, Sir, the question referred the order of June 15th, instructing them is, “What is that something?” What is the “ to consider the expediency of so amending the great thing that we want to find out? and when Constitution as to strike out whatever relates to we find out what is really wanted, then it is my the Militia, and instead thereof provide for the impression that this Committee and this Convenregistration of all citizens between twenty-one tion will be ready and willing to act, and that, and fifty years of age, as a standing police of the too, without delay. It is quite true, Mr. ChairCommonwealth, to render such assistance as may man, that I may not be able to tell what is needed. be necessary for the preservation of the peace, and Many individuals have spoken here upon this the faithful and efficient execution of the laws of question and have tried to solve the mystery, the Commonwealth,” having had the subject un- with how much success it is not for me but for der consideration, beg leave to report that it is | the Convention to say, Some of them have Tuesday,)
spoken against the Majority Report very clearly, this nation and of this Commonwealth with those forcibly, and eloquently; and after having used of the nations of the old world ; and, in my estiup the Majority Report have turned round and mation, there was not a man here who did not devoured the Minority Report also. The gentle- feel and acknowledge to himself that there was man who spoke this morning, for example, re- something in what that gentleman said besides minded me forcibly of certain animals known by fiction; that power brought to a single point the name of “ Kilkenny Cats," which in a certain and made to bear upon a single locality was danquarrel ate up one another, so that there was
gerous, not only now, but dangerous in the future. nothing left of them. That gentleman, Sir, spoke I said, therefore, in my own mind that we had eloquently against the Majority Report, and in better put on a restriction than that the whole terms almost as expressive and denunciatory of Commonwealth should perish. the Minority Report. I thought that this was Now, Sir, in offering some remarks on this ocsomewhat singular; and I wished while he thus casión, I wish to ask—and I would that I could spoke that he had pointed out something better put it not only to every individual present, but to than either of them, which, however, he did not every-body in this Commouwealth-what were attempt to do. Not many days ago we heard- the component parts of the Colony of Massachuas has been admitted time and again by all who setts when it was erected into a State as it is at have spoken of the effort-a very eloquent, present? And even, Sir, before the Revolution, very flowery and very wordy, and I may say a of what was it composed ? What were those truly argumentative speech from the gentleman localities, what those disintegrated masses, if you from Boston, (Mr. Choate). That speech was may so express it, which, when put together, remarkable, not only for its eloquence and scien- composed the Colony of Massachusetts Countific research as well as its keenness of logic, but ties? “No," says one, “not counties.” What, moreover it was adorned and beautified with then, was it? What were those little items flowers. I almost imagined to myself that the which, when coming together voluntarily, mutugentleman had completely gleaned the land of ally, and upon equal rights, each having an equal Bulah in search of flowers with which to adorn | voice, and each important to the whole, what it. And, Sir, in the course of his argument, he were they? Sir, the answer is one which I need came down upon the great principles of justice." not give. Mr. Chairman, what are now the comThat word "justice" came from his mouth bold- ponent parts of this Commonwealth ? What are ly; and when he brought forth that sentence in its elementary and primary parts. There is but which he spoke of “monstrous injustice” it one voice about it, and that is, that they consist seemed to be full of meaning; and when he of the towns. Take away your towns, and where wound it up by a sentiment higher than any hu- is your Commonwealth : Take them away, one man being can conceive of by the natural heart- after the other, take away all their powers and " Do unto others as ye would that others should functions, let them all die out, and where is your do unto you,” the Committee listened to him in Commonwealth? These, Sir,—the towns,—are breathless silence, indicating the close attention the component parts; these are the fundamentals. which the Committee bestowed on every word When these are brought together, here is, in fact, that fell from his lips. I thought of it then, and your Commonwealth. I have not forgotten it now. And, Sir, the other Mr. Chairman, I hold it that the Commonday when the gentleman from Cambridge, with wealth ought not to be viewed as an abstract matchless logic, descanted, as he is wont to do thing. What are the vitals of the Commonupon other subjects, upon the danger--the certain wealth? If it have any vitality, any power of danger, not the imaginary, or fabulous, or poetic action, in what does it consist? Where do you danger-but the certain danger of centralization, find its great arteries? Where is its pulse ? Why, I thought I also would quote a passage of Scrip- Sir, you find the body and the soul, the head and ture and it is this : “ If thy hand offend thee, cut it the heart, the flesh and the bones, and the sinews off; or if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out; for and the veins, and the blood and the nerves, and it is better to go into life having one eye or one the pulsation, all in the towns. They are emhand than that the whole body should perish.” phatically the Commonwealth. To a mathematical certainty-or at all events to Well, Sir, I want to ask one question more. what is tantamount to it-did he carry his reason- Who supports all the institutions of the Coming, and portray the danger of centralization, monwealth? There are certain burdens to be looking back upon the past, and judging of the borne, and who supports those burdens? Somefuture by the lessons of experience which the past body supports them ; who is it? “Why,” says has taught us, comparing the tendencies of one, “ the men, of course, support them - the Tuesday,]
folks; do n't you know that?" And how, do I think myself, that something like taxation the people give support to the Commonwealth : and representation ought to go together, at any Why, Sir, they give that support as towns. It is rate to come within speaking distance of each the towns from which the support comes. Yes, other. Why should you separate them ? Not Sir, even my little town does something towards representation because one man pays a little, the support of the great Commonwealth ; and while another pays much, not because one pays the towns adjoining my little town contribute their two or three dollars, while another pays a tax share of support also. Suppose that there should upon millions. I want to be represented though be an invasion or an insurrection,-and, from I pay but a small tax, yet I should like to pay a the speech of my very eloquent friend, I really large one, only let there be a foundation for it. thought there was some danger of something of It is not the simple' circumstance that a man puts the sort,—who is to repel or suppress it? He two or three dollars irto the public treasury that drew such a picture as might almost have led one gives him a right to vote. Then the sentiment to fancy that rebellion was rife in the land. If which my friend here seems to throw out that we centralization is to come, it will come, and it is should have representation in proportion to the not in the power of earth, heaven, or hell, to amount of taxation, will hardly do for this day, prevent it.
Suppose that his imaginary idea hardly do for this Convention. should be realized, and that the people of Boston What good reason is there that towns should were to rise up and rebel; what is to be done? not be represented ? Is it money in itself? Does Or suppose that there is an invasion, on whom is any body pretend to that belief? Not at all. I the executive to call : He is to call upon every have not yet seen the first man that has dared to town in this Commonwealth. So many men will place himself upon that position, and if he should be demanded from this, that, and the other town he would find it utterly untenable. There is — the young and the middle-aged men —
then nothing wrong in it. I insist upon it that who are the strength, and bone, and sinew of the there is something right in it. I insist upon it Commonwealth. These little insignificant towns that there is something of privilege, and something are to be called upon, and they are to act; there of deserved and earned privilege in it, if we may is no alternative.
so speak. I insist upon it that every town has a Mr. Chairman, suppose a case-a case which it just claim to representation. This cannot be is true, is hardly supposable ; [laughter;] sup
denied. pose that a tax is to be assessed in the Common- Well, this being granted, here comes the diffiwealth of some two, three, four, or five hundred culty. We are perfectly willing that the towns thousand dollars ; whom do you assess the should be represented, say a great many, if you tax?
can only make its representation equal. Now A VOICE. Not on the towns.
that is fair, that is handsome, generous, demoMr. DURGIN. A gentleman near me says
cratic and noble. But, Sir, can you make it “not on the towns.” Very well, then ; if that equal ? I was almost tempted to appeal to Omis so, I will leave Wilmington out. If I thought niscience itself to devise any system of representthe gentleman spoke truly, I would give way and
ation that shall be equal precisely and at all times, not make any speech ; but I apprehend that Wil
and under all circumstances. That is the point. mington would be called upon to contribute her You cannot get it, and you never will get it. share of the burdens of the government.
Now the question in my mind is this: whether A MEMBER. I agree to that. *
the system of representation embraced in the MaMr. DURGIN. You agree to that, do you ? jority Report is to operate so unequally as to The MEMBER. Yes.
bring about the state of things predicted by my Mr. DURGIN. The gentleman says he agrees friend this morning. If it is really going to lead to that and that is what I want. I expect that to a revolution and civil war, I say by all means Burlington and Tewksbury, and every other town, do n't adopt it, because civil war is to be dreaded whether large or small, will be called upon to pay above all things under Heaven. We better go its share of tax ; that that tax being assessed upon without representation than to bring upon ourthem, they must pay it—that they cannot get rid selves the untold horrors of a civil war. But the of it any more than they can get rid of their question is, will this be the result of it? Will graves and their coffins. That is it. They might the people shoulder their muskets and roll the better attempt to circumvent the stream of death var cry throughout the land? than to get rid of paying their share of taxation. Equal representation! Dear me, Sir, what is Every man's property is sacredly held to meet his the number of the population of New York ? taxes.
Over three millions, leaving the fractions out. . Tuesday,]
And what is the population of Rhode Island ? Commonwealth to the Commonwealth. That is, Not one hundred and fifty thousand. How to disfranchise them. Towns hereafter are not to many senators are they entitled to in Congress ? be known in the Commonwealth at all, but only Can some gentleman of mathematical talent figure the districts. If it does not ask for that, human it out? Every State is entitled to two, I believe. induction cannot tell what it does ask for. New York is entitled to two, with her three mil- Let me ask gentlemen from the country how lions of people. Think of that. And then there they came to have seats here upon this floor? is little Rhode Island, a small point of territory, By the free suffrages and votes of whom? By and inconsiderable numerically, when compared the votes of your respective corporations, your with New York, and yet she has just as much respective towns. Now, do you propose to say power in the Senate of the United States as to your constituents, that "you have too much New York has, or the old State of Virginia. O! power; you have exercised more than your share Monstrous injustice. [Laughter.] 0! Mon- of influeuce in sending me here, and in sending strous injustice. (Renewed laughter.] “ What me to the legislature in former times, and it must ye would that others should do unto you, do ye be so no longer.” Will you say this to them? even so unto them.” Rebellion! Why not re- That, Sir, is what, and only what the Minority bellion in New York or Virginia ? Who thinks Report asks leave to do. It seeks to dry up, and of nullification? Who thinks of breaking away forever dry up, the only channel through which from the Union because Rhode Island, and thence- the towns may be felt as towns. That is the forth Massachusetts, and little New Hampshire, result of the district system, and I do not want and good old, moral and thriving Vermorft, all any such thing at all, nor do any of us. It asks small States both in numbers and territory, have leave to cut off the legitimate relations—and who just the same power, and sometimes more than would desire to say anything about illegitimate the larger States possess, in the Senate of the relations in this connection, [laughter.] I say it United States.
seeks to cut off the legitimate relations between Well, now, in this State, what do you purpose the towns and the Commonwealth. How do the to do? You are to have the State divided into towns connect themselves with the Commonsenatorial districts. That is a very fair, generous, wealth? Only through their representatives to wholesome kind of an offer ; and certainly it is not the popular branch of the legislature. In this a bad one if you carry out the principle, for it is my manner only do they speak and act, and through wish to make all things as equal as consistent this means they sometimes act a noble part, a with the safety and good of all concerned. This philanthropic part, and the part of reform. If we is the principle and the only principle upon which do anything at all we had better try to do somemen should act, and if equality is practicable I go thing that will be acceptable to, and sanctioned by for it.
the good, sober, practical common sense of the One word in regard to the district system. people. Eighty representative districts, entitled to three Now, Sir, I tell you that there is but one representatives each, are to be the maximum district system which the people will accept. The number, according to the Report of the Minority. people will never adopt such a measure as is now Now let us look at that. What does the Minority before you, that is, the Minority Report. You have Report ask leave to do? That is the question. not eloquence enough, you have not power Who was the father of that Report? Who do you enough, you have not common sense enough, suppose claims the paternity of it? The gentle- you have not enough of anything to make the man from Boston, (Mr. Choate,) doubtless, and he people of the Commonwealth take such a dose. will not deny it, and I would not deny it were I If you present such a system to them, you prein his place, for it involves a principle which he sent to them the sword of Solomon, ready to has stood by for a long time, and it is presumed, divide the living child, and the true mother, the honestly and conscientiously. I would impute good old Commonwealth, will cry out, “In no no impure motives to that gentleman. He has seen wise"-give her my child rather than take its too much of wrong in his day to imbibe it himself, I life. And as the child of old was returned to its believe. What then does this Minority Report ask true mother, so will the rightful representation of leave to do? I will tell you. It asks leave to towns continue to old Massachusetts. Should sunder the only link, to dissolve the only cement such a system be adopted, I do not know but it which binds the towns to the Commonwealth. will divide man and wife. (Laughter.] That is what it asks leave to do. It says, Let us As I have already said, there is but one system cut off the last golden link, let us dissolve the last of districting that the people of the Commonparticle of cement which connects the towns of the wealth will ever adopt,—and, in my opinion, they Tuesday)
will never adopt that, slaughter,]-and that, Sir, spoke wisely; but before he had finished his is the single district system. Such are my honest speech, I thought I saw the “ears sticking out." convictions. Now, Mr. Chairman, the reasons (Laughter.] Of course I mean nothing disrefor entertaining these views are simply these : spectful to that gentleman; I mean simply that First, the single districting will, of necessity, divide I discovered that there was something of the polthe towns in a majority of cases, which is a thing itician left about him after all. It seems to me so impracticable that there can be no hope of suc- that he exhibited about as much of it as any man cess if such a proposition be made to the people. upon this floor has done. He brought in a quoAgain, for a number of years many of the towns, tation from somebody else, that they were not under the present Constitution, have had full going to follow the lead of the gentleman from powers to district, if they chose so to do. And Pittsfield, in relation to matters before the Conwhat has been the result? Why, Sir, not a single ve on. Well, Sir, I will not follow the lead of instance, to my knowlege, is to be found, where that gentleman or of any one else, merely as a a thing so palpably repugnant to the good sense gentleman, upɔn questions which are brought and better feeling of the people has taken place. before us for our deliberation. I presume my “ Actions sometimes speak louder than words." friend from Adams would not follow the lead of
I have talked upon this subject for the last the gentleman for Wilbraham, nor of any gentlethree or four weeks with very many, and I find man belonging to the party with whom the gennine-tenths of the honest, sober, intelligent, and
tleman for Wilbraham is associated. I think that influential men in the community cry out, “For is a perfectly correct principle for us to adopt. I Mercy's sake, preserve the town representation." think it would be well for all of us to adopt the Sir, that principle of town representation is to the motto of Davy Crocket, “First know you are people of this Commonwealth as sacred as their right, and then go ahead.” No matter who comes existence. It was here where the fires of liberty after. I would not want to see how the gentlewere first kindled, and the people of these towns man from Pittsfield or the gentleman for Wilbrawould as soon give up their vital breath as to ham, or any other gentleman went; I think, upon give up their representation. Sir, I never will these great political matters, we should all act for give it up, if I can help it.
ourselves. But, Sir, these cities would like to be districted, Well, Sir, I did get off a little joke the other would n't they? That question was put fairly by morning, which I do not often do. My military the gentleman from Cambridge, (Mr. Dana,) who
friend from Lawrence, (Mr. Oliver,) asked me represents some little town in Essex County_I how I was going to vote. I said, “I am going to think it is Manchester, and for aught I know, he vote right against you, and then I think I shall was born there. Well, Sir, I do not know how be right.” That passed off as a joke, but in less many inhabitants that town may have, but than eight-and-forty hours I found that I was whether many or few, they may be proud of such very glad to vote with him. Sir, what are the a representative. Sir, he has not forgotten the rules which should govern our action here: I place where he was born, the place where he was
came to this Convention with the determination conceived, [laughter,) and the place where he to carry out my own conscientious convictions of was brought up. He has not forgotten the place duty, and I considered that tantamount to any where he first drew his vital breath. But I wish oaths that I can take. I am for treating all men I could say as much for my friend from Adams. as friends, as citizens, as neighbors, but when we He said he was born in a small town. But he come to the matter of political action, I think now represents in this Convention a large town, every man should take an independent course, which can boast of its thousands of inhabitants. and act for himself. Yet he seemed to have forgotten those hills, those But my friend from Adams spoke very disdales, those running streams, and I should almost paragingly of the great centralizing power which think he had forgotten the mother who bore him; the cities exercise. Now that gentleman knows, that he had lost all sympathies for the small if he knows anything, and he does know a great towns, that his feelings towards them were cold deal, that the great ingathering, and the great and dead, and that even his relations to them accumulation of the population is to the great were entirely forgotten.
manufacturing and commercial cities rather than The gentleman who addressed the Committee to the country towns. Every man knows that. this morning, (Mr. Dawes,) said that he came Look at the comparative owth of the large here not as a politician, that he was actuated by manufacturing and commercial cities and towns no political or partizan motive. Well, Sir, I for the last twenty or thirty years, compared with could but approve that sentiment. I thought he that of the agricultural towns. Think of the