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SCHOULER - BISHOP.
of principal and interest upon her public debts. of their legislature, in the hazardous enterprises It cannot be otherwise.
of navigation, manufacturing, banking, &c., it is I had no intention of speaking upon this sub- wise to dispel it at once, by some decisive constiject, but I believe it to be a question of consider- tutional restriction. No danger of this sort, able public importance; and I believe if the however, is apprehended. The sole question is Constitution goes out to the people with this this, shall the State aid by its credit, those improvision in it, it falls dead. That, of itself, will provements of a public character, now made and engender such an opposition as to defeat it. The to be made by corporations for the benefit of the whole people on the line of the railroad for which people, and which can be authorized only by the this loan of the State credit is now asked, will go legislature. Improvements of this character, against it. In the northern part of Berkshire, in when too vast for individual capitalists, are, in the whole of Franklin, in parts of Hampshire, in other States, made, owned, and carried on, by the the city of Boston, and scattered here and there people themselves. It is thus, with the great all over the State, there is a class of men who are canals of New York and Pennsylvania. They determined that the credit of the State shall be are the work, and under the administration, of lent to that corporation, and if this Convention the State. This State has adopted a different undertakes to go out of its way to prevent it, they policy, whether safe and prudent, wise or unwill vote against the Constitution.
wise, is too late now for discussion. The policy Again, I ask the reform members of this con- is fixed and settled, and has now gone too far, vention if they are ready to put this lump of lead perhaps, to be arrested. Whether the people round the neck of your Constitution, which will should not have retained in their own hands sink it so deep that you will never be able to find those great and perilous powers which they have it again? I trust not. I go for the reconsidera- imparted to corporations, and have done on their tion of this vote, and for leaving the Constitution account and at their proper charges, precisely where it now stands in regard to this what they have employed these corporate bodies subject. I ask that the people in their representa- to do for them, is a subject past the period of tive capacity may decide the matter for them- debate and inquiry. The instrumentalities of selves, and that this Convention shall not under- effecting the great and necessary public facilities, take to do that for them.
which bring about the intercommunication of Mr. BISHOP, of Lenox. Mr. President: Massachusetts 'with the rest of the world, are On Saturday last, upon the motion of the dele- established. I can say with truth, to my much gate from Boston, (Mr. Giles,) this Convention respected friend from Taunton, (Governor Morresolved that the legislature shall not have power ton,) this was policy of yours or mine. That to grant the credit of the State to any individual day may yet turn out to be an evil day, when or corporation, without a two-thirds vote of the the legislature of this State carved, from the House of Representatives and the Senate in its sovereignty of the people, so much thereof, as favor.”
relates to railroads, and dished it out to corporaThe delegate from Charlestown, (Mr. Thomp- tions. This system of legislation, if pursued in son,) has moved a reconsideration of the vote relation to other matters, as it has been in relation adopting this resolution. To its general object to railroads, might, in time, and at some day not and policy, I have no disposition, and am not very far away in the future, strip the people called upon by the motion for reconsižleration, to entirely of that portion of their sovereign power object. The power of the legislature to pledge by which they may now plan and execute for the credit and good faith of the people, if not a themselves, and fatally weaken and abridge the questionable, is, in my opinion, a very limited means which they may be required to use hereone. I deny its power, to aid by this mode, after, by the frequently occurring and constantly enterprises of a merely private character. It has varying demands and exigencies arising from prono authority to sign and endorse negotiable notes, gressive changes and improvements. Such grants, or draw and accept bills of exchange, in the name fixed and rendered irrevocable by the doctrine of of the State, for the accommodation of individu- vested rights, as that doctrine has been expounded als, mercantile or manufacturing firms, or corpo- | and enforced, may leave the people mere spectarations, engaged in manufactures, navigation or tors of the achievements of their own delegated commerce, for their benefit solely, or to make the strength, and like Sampson, shorn and shaven, people their copartners in business. From this they may wake up and find their strength deproposition, no well-informed legal gentleman parted, and themselves bound down by Philiswould, I think, dissent. If there be danger of tines, which their own charters have made. the people's becoming involved, through the act The people demanded these improvements. Friday,]
The world demanded them. In space, they are great facilities, now made necessary to all departlocal. In usefulness, however, as parts of a ments of industry. In short, upon this great great system, they are world-wide. The people subject, intimately interwoven with the leading have chosen to make them by chartered compa- interests and prosperity of the country, corporanies, giving to these companies, for their hazards tions virtually would legislate, and not the and investments, an equivalent in special benefits people, through their representatives. Is not and exclusive privileges. It is solely upon the this, by indirection, to be sure, but substantially ground of their having undertaken the State's and effectually, a grant by the people, through business, that they are entitled to the State's aid their legislature, of a part of their sovereign and favorable regard and care-upon the ground, power and right of eminent domain? The grant that having assumed the people's obligations, they may hereafter be revoked, if it does not get to be are entitled to their encouragement and support. too strong, but while in force, are not that power Now, Sir, I am opposed to the restriction of this and that right suspended. I am confident, that encouragement and aid, which the resolution such would be the effect of the proposed restricproposes. I regard it as thoroughly prohibitory; tion—that while it takes a measure of power from and, if not so, as partial, inequitable, unjust, the legislature, it imparts exactly the same measdefeating the reasonable expectations which have ure to existing corporations. Sir, I am not for been raised. No system of public improvements such a limitation of legislative action. I am not should be adopted by the State, which is not for a prohibition, which passes over all, which is general; and in considering the question before the prohibited to bodies which have had their full Convention, the relative claims and present con- share of legislative succor-which have had all dition of the several sections of the State, should they could ask—all, which is necessary to the be regarded. If the system, in order to its com- completion and success of their ent ses. I am pletion, ought to be farther extended, if certain for no such constitutional restriction upon the parts of the State are not provided with the rail-government, as shall operate as a grant of the road facilities accorded to others, whose claims patronage and aid left to it—to those, to whom are no better, some sound reason should be aid and patronage have been meted out in genadduced for withholding them. Impracticable erous and abundant measure. « To him that schemes and embarrassed finances would unques- hath shall be given," may be sound theology, tionably be good cause for prohibiting future, or but “from him, that hath not, shall be taken withholding present assistance. If the past away even that which he hath,” certainly requires shows recklessness, and improvidence, or waste- to be examined, before being adopted, as a rule fulness, limitations should be placed upon the exer- in the distribution of legislative favors. If the cise of legislative power. With the present influ- chartered powers and immunities, through which ence of railroad corporations over legislative we have chosen to construct our public works, proceedings—an influence, not peculiar, but com- operate safely and beneficially, make them genmon to them and all men, and bodies of men of eral, as the public good requires. If they prove great means and control, I regard the vote passed, productive of evil, should not that evil come to not as a restriction, not as a limitation, but as a us diluted by diffusion. I discuss this question full inhibition. It is proposed that the Senate by itself, disconnected entirely from any of the consist of forty members. Fourteen only are other modes proposed to abridge legislative authorrequired to stifle all action upon this subject. It ity over public credit. I look at it, as an abstract is the interest of existing railroads to prevent proposition, apart from any particular railroad, their multiplication—to monopolize, if I may use which now is, or is proposed to be made. the word, and secure to themselves the entire Much has been said about the Western Railroad, transportation of men and merchandise ; and can and the Hoosac Tunnel. They are entitled to no they not, with all convenient ease, without appar- specific consideration in the debate upon the proent activity, or semblance of trick or artifice, posed limitation. They may be parts of a whole, throw into that body, of those personally inter- which may have relation to it. I certainly enterested, enough to prevent competition by new tain no hostility to the first, and would not favor roads, and defeat every project, which, if carried the execution of the other, if it be impracticable, out, might diminish their profits? The answer or not called for by the general welfare, and is obvious. It would place the enlargement whether it be practicable, or would be of public and multiplication of this branch of public im- benefit, I certainly am not advised. These quesprovements, entirely under the control of existing tions require more close and accurate investigation corporations, and to them, in the first instance, than one not specially concerned is inclined to would the people have to apply, to extend these give, or can give. If those mountain barriers can Friday,]
be perforated, so as to admit to a passage through, they are jealous and watchful of their rights, a locomotive and its train, without great and dis- the corporate body, of which they are members, proportional expenditures, and the voice of the would hardly be obnoxious to censure. When people call for it, and they can be assured by the corporations shall appear voluntarily, as such, in severest inquiry which they may make, that no either department of the government, expending loss will be incurred, let the mountains be tun- their funds and using their powers to control its nelled. Pledges, as solid as the bonds of the “solid proceedings in matters not within their charters, men of Boston,” should be required, if the State, and attempt to arrest public improvements, cripby her credit, gives aid. It is right that such ple private enterprises, or get rid of lawful compledges be required, for although a public work, petition, the time will have come, either for their it is to be executed mainly upon the judgment of entire disfranchisement, or for severely stringent individuals, and largely by their capital, who circumscriptions, for the world is old enough to carefully compare and balance the privileges have learned, that if there be such a thing as a granted with the risks assumed, and should stand legal conscience, it has no sting to it. To those by them.
who see imminent perils in the factitious powers It is said that the Western Railroad is not created by special legislation-powers which set at only an exhibition of the active, intelligent en- defiance individual competition, and are strong terprise, but a standing monument of the mu- and dangerous because they can do so, this connificent wisdom of the State. It has, indeed, solation, at least, is left: that thus far they have thus far accomplished all the purposes of its crea- been employed, with few exceptions, by honorable tion; all that it promised, it has doubly fulfilled, men, who know as well their obligations as their and more. Its security is pronounced ample, rights, and are willing to fulfil them. May a firm as “terra firma"-subject to diminution wholesome jealousy watch and guard them, till only by earthquakes or volcanoes. Stripped of men, single-handed, with private capital, shall be it, the State would be without one of its greatest able to cope with them, as I trust in the revolusources of prosperity, and, so long as it shall be tions of business they may be, or until a system administered as it has been, with reference to the of general laws, by their impartial operation, shall public accommodation and wants, and economi- have placed them upon common ground. cally and efficiently; so long as it shall, as it has That the inhibitory restriction proposed, should done, appoint for its conducting officers gentle- have found an advocate among the delegates from men, courteous, kind, and attentive, to whom we this city is most wonderful. That every one of can commit our wives, our children, ourselves, them should be found prudent, cautious, in favor assured of exposure to those casualties only, which of a reasonable, and even a stringent limitation, come in spite of human vigilance and forecast, is not surprising. They are “solid men,” so all it will retain, as it holds, the special favor and re- believe-so said the oracle. The industry and gards of the people, and their government. It has, prosperity of city and country are compactly inhowever, been created for special purposes. Its terwoven. The interest of mart and field are rights and its powers are limited and defined. almost identical. They should be brought, if Other rights, it cannot claim, other powers it can- possible, into close proximity. The heart beats, not exercise, without transcending and violating not for itself alone, but for the extremities, and its charter, and exposing it to forfeiture. It is their twenty terminals. Boston is not Boston, said that this corporation is here in the Conven- for her own sake only, but also for every mountion—that it sat with the last legislature, during tain, where the chopper builds his cabin-for its protracted session. It has no business here. every hoof-trod hill-side-for every corn-clad It had no business there. It has no power to make valley. Her citizens should coöperate with those constitutions or laws, except for “the orderly of the country, in all reasonable ways, to enable conducting of its own business.” It has a legal the latter to come here, at the least expense, and existence only-is a legal person, with specific in the shortest time. Fears are expressed of cenfunctions, created for determinate purposes, and tralization. Centralization of government is, inshould it assume other offices, or attempt other deed, to be feared, and stout resistance to it should purposes, its claim to exist would and should cease. be made. No man, unless it be constitutionally It is enough that its stockholders have and delegated, should have more political control, than retain their several individual rights, and can de- belongs to him individually. He is one only of fend and protect their interest, as others may, many equal parts, a unit in the whole number; whether that interest be in lands, chattels, or and no municipality or city should be suffered to stocks. Its officers, like other men, are eligible exercise any more of legislative or administrative as delegates and legislators, and if, like others, | influence, than its just popular dividend. Busi
ness centres, however, have been, and always will of
every mountain which can be brought down, be, so long as streams unite and form navigable that we may reach our own commercial capital, rivers, and there are found upon the shores of the transact business with our own citizens, and deocean, at wide intervals only, secure retreats from rive our full benefit from the fact that we have a its storms. Boston is one of these central points, great commercial city which we love, whose inwhere land meets sea, in safe and commodious terests we shall cultivate, and with which we harbor—where landsmen meet seamen, and will shall forever be connected. always meet them-where they interchange the Mr. SUMNER, for Marshfield. Mr. President: necessities, conveniencies, and luxuries of life, I have no desire to enter upon the broad discusand where, I hope, there will always be an inter- sion which has been opened by the question now change of material things not only, but of the before the Convention. There are considerations, sentiments of kindness, respect, confidence, and of clear and palpable force, which will determine hearty good-will. Conventionalities may obstruct my vote, and which are as simple as they ought the ease and frankness of intercourse, may gene- to be decisive. These, with your permission, Sir, rate castes and classes, may canker the hearts of I will briefly indicate. the exclusives with pride, and tincture the spirits It is proposed, by a permanent provision of the of the excluded with envy. Conventionality and Constitution, to tie the hands of the legislature, jealousy are everywhere. They are incident to so that it cannot hereafter, as in times past, lend humanity, and among the diversified forms in the credit of the State in aid of any private corpowhich human folly and human weakness show ration; and an amendment has been introduced themselves. Those who institute invidious com- by my friend from Boston, on the other side of parisons between city and country, claiming for the House, (Mr. Giles,) allowing such loan; but the one all the wealth and munificence, for the only on the difficult and almost impossible conother all the solid intelligence and stern virtue, do dition of a vote of two-thirds of the legislature. a positive evil, by postponing the day, when well- Both of these provisions—the original proposition bred intercourse and cordial good fellowship will and the amendment—though differing in form convict each of mistake, and lead to the mutual and degree, are identical in principle. They both correction of errors. Away with all factitious contemplate a restraint upon the existing powers social distinctions. There is no place for them of the legislature in this regard. among the serious actualities of life-no time for Now, Sir, waiving all question of the propriety them with those, who by steam and railroad of such restraint on grounds of abstract policy, or would bring the world into one neighborhood - on grounds suggested by the experience of other into one common feeling of mutual confidence States, I believe I may assume, without fear of and love. Leave such silly matters to brainless contradiction, that in times past no crying evil men and idle women. An avenue from every has occurred in Massachusetts from its absence. section and corner of the State, if it be called for, The credit of the Commonwealth has been rarely and will pay, should be opened to her great com- lent; and when lent, it has been on sufficient mercial capital ; and it should no longer be com- security, and for the general good. Witness the plained of by the dwellers on the western moun- instances which have been adduced in this debate. tains, that it costs double to reach their own cher- We are not, then, pressed to this measure by any ished commercial capital, to what it does to go to special experience of evil. We have in no respect that of a neighboring State, at a greater distance suffered from the want of it. No such urgency from them. Sir, what can be done, with full exists. This is something, and, of itself, in the assurance of no consequent loss to the State, in absence of any commanding principle, may well the way of reaching this city cheaply and quickly, make us hesitate to depart from the established should find no obstacles here or anywhere. policy of the Commonwealth. But there is an
Why, Sir, from the western part of Massachu- other consideration, to which reference has been setts, we come to Boston, thank Heaven, much already made by gentlemen who have preceded more readily than we did; but it is a fact, that me, which completely disposes of the whole quesin order to reach our own commercial capital, we tion. pay four hundred per cent. more than we are Sir, it is notorious that an application has been obliged to pay in order to reach a great commer- recently made to the legislature-in conformity cial capital of another State, at a greater distance with usage in similar cases—for aid in an imporfrom us.
There may be physical difficulties in tant, and, as I believe, practicable work of Internal the way, which cannot be removed ; and all that Improvement, which, when completed, will be a we ask is the removal of every obstacle, the filling glory to the Commonwealth, and a mighty chanup of every valley that can be filled, the lowering nel of trade and travel. This application, after Friday,]
SUMNER — GILES.
ample discussion, found favor in the House of of the Senate agree to it; and it so stands, that if Representatives, but was rejected, on a very close any gentleman wishes to strike out the provision division, in the Senate -I think by a single vote. requiring a two-thirds vote of the Senate, and But the parties having this grand enterprise at insert one requiring a majority only, or to strike heart, avow their determination to renew it at out the provision requiring a two-thirds vote of another session. It is, therefore, at this moment, the House, and insert a majority, it may be easily in the nature of a Pending Question of Internal | done. Improvement, of which the legislature, under the I wish now to suggest some reasons upon which existing Constitution, has jurisdiction. But this I found the expediency of some limitation, and is not all. At the very time honorable members make a few remarks with reference to the points were chosen to this Convention, it was then a which have been started this morning, in the Pending Question before the legislature. Under debate. Mr. President, what is the foundation of these circumstances, and in the absence of any this resolution ? Is it baseless as a vision or a besetting evil, or controlling principle, it seems to dream in the night; or has it a foundation in me highly impolitic and meddlesome for the Con- reason? If so, what is it? I say it does stand vention to undertake, directly or indirectly, to on a foundation; and that foundation is, first, deal with it. Directly, you would not; indirectly, that the granting of the State credit is no part of you should not. On a question thus peculiarly governmental action; it is an exception, an excircumstanced-standing by itself, and unlike any traordinary act, and it is no part of ordinary other now before the Convention-Public Opin- governmental action to grant the credit of the ion should be left to operate in its customary State to private corporations. channel, without any impediment or breakwater That being one corner-stone of the resolve, I from us.
say that the act of granting the State credit, Sir, I am against the proposition on two should be guarded farther than the ordinary acts grounds; first, because it is not vindicated by of the legislature, which simply require a majorany obvious principle, or by any ruling necessity, ity. The other foundation is, that the history of or even expediency, founded upon the experience these grants of the State credit to individuals and of our Commonwealth ; and, secondly and chiefly, corporations in this country, including the govbecause, notwithstanding its generality of form, it ernment of the Union, and the government of is practically an offensive interference with a each State in the Union, shows that there is danPending Question of Internal Improvement, ger of abuse. I am not going into any particwhich we were not summoned to determine. ulars; I am not going to assert that any particular
Mr GILES, of Boston. I ask the indulgence | instance is an abuse; but I do say that it is the of the Convention for a few moments, to express conviction of the public mind in this country, some of the sentiments which I have in relation and not only in this country, but in other counto the resolution now before the Convention. It | tries, that there is danger of abuse from this so happened, the other day, that I found this power of the legislature. question up and under discussion. The general Then, this being an extraordinary act, and one drift of the motions before the Convention, was which is in danger of being abused, it does call to place a limit upon the legislative power to grant for more guards than ordinary legislation, to wit : the credit of the State. With that intention I the majority vote. concurred, but I did not assent to the various pro- The proposition the other day, was to put the positions to obtain that object. During the vote question to the people. I opposed it; not upon upon one of them, I framed the amendment which the ground of any distrust of the people. I said is now before the Convention, and with reference then, and I say now, that if I thought there was to which, as I understand, a motion has been not sufficient intelligence in the people to enable made, and is now the immediate question before them to pass upon any proposition which this us, to reconsider, and which was offered by my Convention should put to them, I would vote to friend from Charlestown, (Mr. Thompson). The double the school fund again and again till there object which I had in view in framing that reso- But the reason why I would not put it to lution, which was done on the spur of the mo- the people, was this. I am in favor of internal ment, was two-fold; first, to make it intelligible, improvements, as well as my friend for Erving, and second, to make it in a form which would ad- (Mr. Griswold); I go for them, heart and hand. mit of being easily amended. It therefore provides I always have and always will. I wish these imthat the legislature shall not have power to grant provements to have the good will of every man in the credit of the State, to any private corporation the Commonwealth; and that is the reason why without two-thirds of the House, and two-thirds I would never put one of these great enterprises