Now, sir, what is the result? Judging by the actual votes polled at that congressional election, there should have been an equal division of Representatives in the House, standing 12 to 12; or, if a Representative should be assigned to the majority interest on account of the excess of its vote, the numbers would stand 13 to 11. But in point of fact, under your single district system, the result in that State is that the delegation stands 18 to 6, instead of being equally divided between parties according to the actual votes which were polled at the election. But under this plan of cumulative voting, what would take place ? As each political interest in the State knows that its vote is .about the same as that of the opposing one, and that if it attempt to obtain more than its fair share of representation, it may actually lose instead of gaining, it will be forced to concentrate its votes upon twelve candidates, or upon thirteen at the most, and it is impossible that by any ingenuity or device whatever it can increase its representation in Congress above about what its actual numbers entitle it to. If it should make the attempt, the opposite party would gain an advantage as the result of the sharp practice attempted upon them.

I have taken Vermont and Pennsylvania. Now take the case of Kentucky. There are nine members of the House elected from Kentucky, all of one political complexion. They are now demanding membership in the House, and they are met by a refusal for reasons which I need not discuss, and which it would be, perhaps, improper to discuss here. Suppose a just system of election had prevailed in Kentucky, would the whole nine have been Democratic-a clean delegation of one political opinion? No such thing would have been possible. At that election the majority was about forty thousand for the party that prevailed.

Mr. Davis. Larger than that.

Mr. BUCKALEW. I thought it was about forty thousand. As I make the number of voters required for the election of a member of Congress, that would represent nearly two members. Therefore the preponderance of one political interest in Kentucky over the other would represent two members. That would leave seven members of Congress to be equally divided between the two political interests; one party having four and the other three, and the result would be that the representation in the House would have been divided, more unequally, to be sure, than in most cases, but still not with gross inequality between the two parties that contend for mastery in this country.

Take the case of Maryland at the last election. You find that representation in the House of Representatives is not just, considering the men who gave the votes by which those Representatives were elected; that instead of there being but one Republican Representative from Maryland there should be two on account of the actual votes polled in that State. Then, sir, take the case of Connecticut, an election recently held, and a most notable trial of political strength in the North. There, where the vote was a tie substantially, where the preponderance of one side over the other was very slight, not more than about a thousand or twelve hundred, perhaps,

[ocr errors]

the delegation stands three to one, whereas it should be equally divided according to the actual votes polled and returned according to law.

I cite these cases of recent State elections, and elections which on the whole have been favorable to that interest in the country which when the votes are taken in the aggregate is in the minority, and I cite the other two cases of Vermont and Pennsylvania as other illustrations. But nearly every State might be mentioned in illustration of the argument.

Thus, sir, whether you go to the North or to the West, or confine your researches to the central portions of the country, you find gross misrepresenta tion of the people of the United States in that House which was peculiarly intended to represent them, and to represent them completely, year byl year. The Senate was intended to be a more permanent body, and to possess somewhat of a different character. What I propose, then, is the correction of this injustice, whether it exist in the States I have mentioned or in any other States represented in Congress, and to guard against its extension to the States which you are about to restore under your legislation to their former places in the Union, and with regard to which a reform of this kind is more important than it is to the States of the North, the centre, or the West.


Mr. President, I will now proceed briefly to state in succession, not to elaborate, several distinct arguments by which cumulative voting can be sustained, vindicated, and made good as I think against all objection. In the first place, this plan is one of justice; it is recognized as just by every one who hears me upon its mere statement; it will be recognized as just by any man in the country to whom you carry the proposition and submit it for his judgment. It will deal equal, even-handed justice among political interests in the country, whether they exist now or are created by the exigencies of our affairs hereafter.

In the next place, this plan would bring into public life and keep in public life many able men who are now excluded under your single district system. A man of ability in a State can never reach the Hall of the House of Representatives as a Representative of the people unless there be a majority in his district to send him; and if he commence a career in public life, with high ambition before him, and devote himself zealously to the service of the people, and so qualify himself for high statesmanship, and to take rank in Congress as men take rank in the Parliament of Great Britain, he knows that a little shifting of the political scale in his district will leave him out. Those who agree with him in opinion cannot continue him in the public service. The result is that you have no twenty, thirty, or forty-year men in Congress. They are mostly men of the moment; they are two and four-year men in the House, and the example extends even here. If a member of this body gets re-elected his friends think it is a subject for warm congratulation, regard it as a wonderful result to be wrung from a caucus and from managers at home. But, sir, I insist that in this country, as abroad, the House of Representatives ought to be the great House of our Legislature; its Hall should be resorted to for words of eloquence, for profound logic, and for the exhibition of the highest traits of American statesmanship. How is it and how must it be as long as you keep members there two, four, and six years only? They have no opportunity to grow up into distinction; they have no opportunity to mature their abilities and become able statesmen.

The result is that the weight of that House in the Government is far below what it should be. This may increase the relative importance of the Senate; but upon the whole it is not a desirable condition of things, and the continuance of this system of rapid rotation in the membership of the House of Representatives bids fair to be one of those injurious influences which will bring republican institutions into contempt.

I say then, sir, that this plan of election by cumulative voting will allow electors of a particular party in a State to continue their favorites in Congress, and will result in improved statesmanship in the House of Representatives, elevating that branch of the national Legislature, and, of consequence, promoting the public interests.

Again, sir, one great advantage of this plan is that it abolishes gerrymandering in the States, cuts it

up by the roots, ends it forever. That is one of the most crying evils of the time. Now, sir, I venture to say that from Maine westward to the Pacific Ocean, in the last ten years, in no State whatever, has there been an honest and fair district apportionment bill passed for the selection of members of


« ForrigeFortsett »