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THE SENATE. - HIATILAWAY— KINGMAN - BRADBURY.
franchise, we ought to have a provision in the the gentleman from Essex, (Mr. Bradford,) and the Senate should be based upon population, when Constitution appropriating houses for their special myself, were the only three who spoke in favor they come to the question of representation in the benefit when they come to vote, so that they of this particular amendment, on Thursday last. other branch, how are you to avoid the effect of should not be subjected to all the annoyances I disown maintaining any such proposition. The the argument (that the House of Representatives which generally attend our town meetings. I proposition which I intended to maintain the other should rest upon the same basis)? Will not really hope, that on mature consideration, this day, was this, that the sovereignty rested in the the rope, with which you have endeavored to Convention will not be in favor of incorporating people, and that that sovereignty was expressed swing others, then swing you as high as Haman the idea of giving women the right to vote into through the right of suffrage at the ballot-box, was of old ? I hope that I am understood, and if any basis of government which we may frame. I and which way soever the majority predominated, so, it is all that I ask. am very much of the opinion of gentlemen upon that way the sovereignty expressed its will, for I Mr. KINGMAX, of West Bridgewater. I wish the other side, who tell us that such a course of will venture to say, that no person ever heard of to say a word in regard to the vote which I shall procedure, instead of elevating, would lower a minority in this government, or any other, which give upon this question. I have no objection to them in the estimation of the community, and for was ruled by the sovereign, where that minority, the principle laid down in these resolves, if it could one, I certainly hope that all this matter of or the persons so ruled, were the sovereign power. be applied to the whole people. But it appears woman's right to vote, will receive its quietus That was the proposition which I intended to it cannot; and now to show exactly the operation here.
maintain; whether successfully or otherwise, it is of the principle laid down in that Report, I will Mr. HATHAWAY, of Freetown. I would not for me to say. I believe that this statement suppose a case. I will suppose that when this beg the attention of the Committee but for a few will put me “rectus in curiæ," so far as my State is districted, that there are 25,000 inhabitants moments. I apprehend, from the remarks which proposition, the other day, is concerned. With in each district. In one of these districts there have been made by the gentleman from Wilbra- . reference to the question of Who are the people are 4000, in another district 6000 voters. I ask ham (Mr. Hallett,) that I was misunderstood in I do not know that I was understood. The propo- if the individual voters of these two districts have the positions I assumed the other day. I by no sition which I maintained was this, that when equal political power. It appears to me that one means wish to be understood as being opposed to you speak of population, you mean everybody; of them has one-third more power than the other. the principles that are laid down in the Report of but when you speak of the people, and apply the That is the operation of the principle, as I conthis Committee. I mean prominent principles. term to legal voters, or electors, under your or- ceive. Now, if there are some of our large towns I am in favor of the proposition that there should organic law, then you are speaking of the body and cities which have a large foreign population, be forty districts, and I am in favor of the resi- politic, and the word people is entirely different it will be giving the individual voters there more dence qualification. I am in favor of the reso- in one sense from the other. I maintained, the power than those who inhabit the rural districts ; lutions as they stand, with an amendment, how- other day, that your representative here did rep- but if the gentlemen who are the delegates from ever, to the first one, basing representation in the resent the population, at any rate, I did not intend the large cities and towns will, when we come to Senate upon qualified voters instead of popu- to maintain any other doctrine, but when you arrange representation for the other house, return lation. If I understood the gentleman from come to the question, as to who should choose the the favor, I am ready to go with them. Wilbraham, (Mr. Hallett,) aright, he must have representative, he was then to be chosen by Mr. BRADBURY, of Newton. I do not know misunderstood me when he places me in the para- the political body, and that political body-to use that I can shed a ray of light upon this question ; doxical position of "progressing backward.” I the language that has been suggested to me by a but it seems to me that this Convention have not am in favor of the proposition made by the Com- very able and learned friend of mine, near me, had presented to them the exact bearing of the mittee, with the exception I have named. was but trustees, holding in their hands the power question as it came from the Select Committee. Whether I am of that number who are progress- conferred upon them by this very population. The Convention, as near as I can learn their sening backwards, or the gentleman from Wilbra- That is the doctrine which I meant to maintain, timents, desire that the State shall be equally disham, is not for me to judge, but the community. and there is no better language than his by which tricted and equally represented. The gentleman I suppose it was in consequence of this very I could express that idea. It is a doctrine which from Freetown, (Mr. Hathaway,) has undertaken provision in the Constitution, that was adopted in I am ready to maintain here or elsewhere. But to present to this House, for the first time, the 1840, basing representation upon population, to return to this question of whether we are retro- probable loss by representation of the rural dischanging it from what it had been for sixty years grading or progressing. I ask gentlemen how tricts ; but therein he has made a capital mistake, previous, which induced, beyond all other consid
came this Convention to be called? What was in my estimation. It is the rural districts who erations, the calling together of this Convention the exciting cause? How came we here-to use are to lose by the adoption of the amendment, now assembled. It is in the rural districts, if I language that is very fashionable in this hall- and for a very obvious reason. The rural districts understand the matter correctly, where complaint except that more or less towns in this Common- which lack enterprise, facilities natural and artiis made in reference to representation being based wealth were disfranchised ? I do not admit that ficial,--advantages that promote population and upon population. The argument that I intended there was any disfranchisement; but certain it is, business, and which confine themselves to agrito present the other day, instead of going back- under the amendment of 1840, that certain towns cultural pursuits, are the districts which send out . wards, was, in fact, progressing with the people. were not permitted, or constitutionally entitled, living men and voters. Where do they send When I say the people, I mean the substantial to send representatives annually. If that is the them? If there were several millions to be ininhabitants of the Commonwealth. I would in
sense in which gentleman intend to use it when vested in the great works on the Connecticut sert the words “legal voters” where the word they speak of disfranchisement, then I agree with River, they would pour them in there by thou“ population " stands. That was my proposition. them. In consequence of that, we were sum- sands, and your rural districts would be emptied 1 do not know that the gentleman from Taunton, moned here, and the necessity for it grew out of
of their voters. Suppose the basis of representa(Mr. Morton,) though he named no one particu- what was said to be the great centralization of tion was founded upon the population. Then larly, except the gentleman from Worcester, (Mr. power in your cities. I endeavored to show, the the town of Holyoke would be doubly representEarle,) referred to me in the course of his remarks. other day, when I had the honor of addressing the ed; and why? Because the voters have been If he did, he was entirely mistaken if he under- Convention, that, after all, the Committee by re- gleaned out of her population. If you take large stood me as maintaining, in the most distant taining the word “population ” in the first communities, either of these principles of repredegree, the position, that the representative in resolution, were carrying out this great centraliza- sentation is a matter of no importance, so far as either branch of the legislature represented only tion of power and taking it from the rural dis- relative strength is concerned ; but when you that portion of the community that voted for him. tricts. If this be so, then the rural districts of take districts emptied of voters, and other districts I intended to take no such position, here or else- Plymouth County, by the admission of your Com- full of voters, the principle that population shall where.
mittee, lose one senator, and the city of Boston be the basis of representation does not work well. Mr. MORTON. I did not intend to impute
gains one more than they should have upon the Suppose the gentleman from Worcester, (Mr. to the gentleman any such sentiment.
basis of legal voters. If that doctrine is to be Earle,) was to carry out his views, and every man Mr. HATHAWAY. I did not know, after the maintained in reference to the basis of your Sen- in Boston, born where he might be, should have gentleman from Worcester, (Mr. Earle,) dis- ate, permit me to ask, why it shall not be main- a vote. What would be the consequence? Bosclaimed it, but that the gentleman referred to me, tained as the basis of the House of Representatives? ton now gets as many representatives as she is as the gentleman from Worcester, (Mr. Earle,) I ask gentlemen, who maintain the doctrine that entitled to, and your Report shows it. Who are Monday,]
THE SENATE. — KEYES — BRADFORD - HATHAWAY - HOOD.
but it occurred to him that this mode of assigning a time for the taking of questions, one or two days in advance, was not the proper one, and he hoped it would not be adopted. Members of the Convention ought to understand, that if they wish to vote upon these questions, they must remain in their seats. A committee had been appointed to consider and regulate the order of business, so as, if possible, to enable the Convention to close its labors by the 1st of July.
Mr. HATHAWAY withdrew so much of his motion as related to fixing the time for taking the question.
The question being put on the remaining portion, it was decided in the negative.
The question was then taken on the adoption of the amendment, and it was, without a division, decided in the negative.
So the amendment was rejected.
The question then recurred upon ordering the Resolutions to a second reading.
Mr. LORD, of Salem. Is the question to be taken upon all the Resolutions at once, or, are they divisible :
The PRESIDENT. They may be divided.
Mr. LORD. Then I desire that they should be divided, for I wish to vote against two or three of the Resolutions, and in favor of others; but, if the call for the yeas and nays will apply to each Resolution, I shall not feel at liberty to insist upon a division.
Mr. HUBBARD, of Boston, suggested that the Resolutions might be treated as the sections of a bill, and voted upon separately by a count, and afterwards be voted upon collectively, by yeas
the foreigners? Do not the old countries send Massachusetts is such, that at no future time will the bone, muscle, and sinew of the land, before this difference be so great that it would make any they send the women and children. It seems to serious difference. The laws of naturalization are me, that the rural districts are to lose by the for- liberal, and the interests of parties tend, to the mer proposition, but gain by the proposition just limitation of the class of non-voters. But I rose made. They have already a decided advantage ; to say, simply, that the system of qualified voters, and if they look to their own interests, they will unless you extend the right of suffrage to foreignsupport the proposition as now presented.
ers, women, and negroes, is the proper basis of Mr. KEYES, for Abington. As nearly the representation here in Massachusetts, and practiwhole session has been consumed in the discus- cally it amounts to the same thing under the exsion of this question, I now, at last, take the op- isting system. portunity of saying, that I was a member of the Mr. BRADFORD, of Essex. I do not rise Committee which made this Report, and I as- for the purpose of making an argument against sented generally to the propositions contained what appears to be so nearly unanimously the in it, although I am in favor of the basis of quali- sense of the Convention. I wish, however, to fied voters, and have not been convinced to the say a word in order to justify the vote which I contrary by any thing which I have yet heard. intend to give. I supposed it was obvious to The question of woman's right to representation every gentleman here without exception, that the has been introduced here, and the speed with amendment was proposed for the sake of making which the Report has been made upon that subject a more equal basis of representation; and I was -before the petitioners had had time to get in all surprised that any gentleman should now, at this their petitions-shows the spirit that will animate late stage of the discussion, hold that to be a new the Convention in driving them out, without al- idea in the argument. If the foreign population lowing them any share directly in the benefits of in this State is entitled to representation, and if the new Constitution; and yet we are quite anx- this Report will give it to them, then I am in ious to steal their power of numbers in order to in- favor of this Report. If the female portion of crease the power of our own votes. It strikes me this State is entitled to a part in this basis of that it is the same with regard to foreigners, and representation, and if this Report will give it to that there is no justice or right sense in such a them, then I am in favor of the Report. If the course. As to the idea of enlarging the basis of children are entitled to be represented, and if this representation by extending it upon population, you Report will give it to them, then I am in favor of might as well enlarge it by extending it upon any the Report. But, Sir, the whole argument of thing else. It seems to me, that if this is progress, every gentleman who has argued against the it is a queer sort of progress. Extend the right amendment and in favor of the Report, shows of voting to these people, and then indeed will that this Report does not give it to any of these you extend the basis of representation, and it can classes. It neither gives it to the foreigners, the be done in no other way. Suppose, for example, females, nor the children. The whole argument you divide Boston in such a manner, that out of a of gentlemen on that side is, that they are reprepopulation of 25,000 inhabitants in each district, sented, be the basis what it may, that the reprethere are 20,000 foreigners, and scarcely a voter tative represents the whole population. That is among them ; for, in considering this question, plain enough. It must be plain to every man you should look at what may occur under any cir- that the Report does not give any representation cumstances. It is possible that the bitterest en- to the foreign population, nor to women, nor emies of these foreigners may be among this 5000 children. I should like to see some gentlemen native population. They may be men who have here, who have taken the ground that the women studied the lessons of the Puritan fathers so of the Commonwealth are entitled to sovereignty, strongly, that Catholicism has become a frightful introduce this doctrine which is maintained here, thing to them, and they the mortal enemies of all and tell them as they tell us, that you are already Romanists. And it is just the very system of represented, you need not ask to vote therefore, representation which you propose which is taking for you are represented; we have made fine away the power, which of right belongs to these speeches in the State House, to show that you foreigners, and to nobody else, and giving it into are represented and you ought to be satisfied. the hands of their opponents. It strikes me, that Mr. HATHAWAY, of Freetown. I have not if a man is to be represented, he should represent à copy of the Rules and Orders of this Convenhimself, or else he should have the choice of his tion, and therefore it may be that I am not in representative in his own hands, and not be order. But if I am in order, I would move to obliged to give that right, which, if it belongs to amend the first Resolution by striking out the any one, certainly belongs to him, into the hands word “population,” in the last line, and inserting of those who show themselves to be the most hostile the words “a number of qualified voters as is to him, to be used against his interests. As I said practicable;" so that the last line would read, before, I assented to all these propositions upon “and as equal a number of qualified voters as is the ground, in the first instance, that if you were practicable.” And, as it has been suggested that to change the basis of representation, it would a more full house than we have now, would be produce but very little effect. I suppose if we desirable when that question is taken, I move that adopt “qualified voters as the basis, in the it be made the Order of the Day for four o'clock first instance it would take a senator from Suffolk, to-morrow, and that the question be taken by one from the Hampshire district, and one from yeas and nays, one or two other districts; but then when you Mr. CHURCHILL, of Milton, said the subject come to make a plan to distribute the lost, it had been elaborately discussed, and he hoped it would give Boston back her senator on her frac- would not be postponed ; but that the question tion, and also to all the others except Hampshire; would now be taken. so that the change would amount to very little Mr. HOOD, of Lynn, said he for one would be practically; and I take it that our condition in
happy to accommodate gentlemen who are absent,
The PRESIDENT. The Chair will put the question in that form if no objection is made.
No objection being heard, the question was put, and the Resolutions were severally agreed to without a division.
The question then being upon adopting the Resolutions collectively, they having had their second reading,
The yeas and nays were taken, and resulted as follows:
PRINTING OF ORDERS, &c. - SUMNER -- EARLE – HOOPER.
Freeman, James M. Nute, Andrew T.
Paige, James W.
Parker, Samuel D.
Rockwood, Joseph M.
Tilton, Horatio W.
Ward, Andrew H.
The legislature, he said, had not asked the use of matter of any considerable importance, or to make the hall for Tuesday afternoon, and he under tood it necessary that any exception should be made in they would not, under any circumstances, be pre- reference to the orders and resolves which had pared to adjourn before Thursday.
been thus printed. After some remarks by Messrs. SPOONER, of Mr. EARLE, of Worcester, said he had not Warwick, SHELDON, of Easton, HALLETT, made the inquiry because he had any objection to for Wilbraham, and NAYSOX, of Amesbury, the order which the gentleman had offered; but
The question was taken, and it was, without merely in order that it might be distinctly underdivision, decided in the negative.
stood, and especially that the Secretary, in giving On motion of Mr. HALE, of Boston, the Reso- the work to the printer, might be under no mislution in relation to the House of Representatives, apprehension as to what was intended. He had offered by him this day, and adopted by the Con- no intention to propose any amendment. lle vention, was ordered to be printed.
approved of the order as it stood. The PRESIDENT laid before the Convention Mr. HOOPER said he would suggest to the a communication from the Secretary of State, con- gentleman the propriety of so shaping his propocerning the population of the State, which, on sition, as to require all the orders to be printed tomotion of Mr. GRISWOLI), for Erving, was gether and laid before the Convention in a conordered to be printed.
venient form for reference. He had hoped that On motion by Mr. BROWX, of Douglass, the Journal of the Convention, kept by the Secre
The Convention, at half-past five o'clock, ad- tary, would have been printed from day to day; journed.
but as it appeared that this was not to be done, he hoped at least the orders would be printed in a collective form and be laid before the Conven
tion for the inspection of members. Tuesday, May 24, 1853. Mr. WATERS, of Millbury, said he did not The Convention met pursuant to adjournment,
think that the Convention was quite prepared to and was called to order at three o'clock.
vote upon this proposition now. He would ask Prayer by the C'haplain.
that it be permitted to lie over. The Journal of yesterday was read and ap
The PRESIDENT. The opinion of the Chair proved.
is, that the request that an order lie over should
be made before it is debated. After debate, the The Printing of Orders.
privilege of a member to object to its immediate Mr. SU'UNER, for Otis, submitted the follow- consideration is lost. ing order :
Mr. KEYES, for Abington, opposed the adop
tion of the order. He considered it quite un Ordered, That all Resolves and Orders, refer- necessary to go to the expense of having all the ring subjects to the several Committees of this
orders and resolves re-printed. They were brief Convention, prior to and including this date, be printed for the use of this Convention.
and easily understood, and were simply directions
to the several committees to whom they were Mr. EARLE, of Worcester, inquired whether
addressed. this order would require the printing again of
Mr. SUMNER, for Otis, explained the advanthose which had been already printed.
tages which he believed would result from the Mr. SUMNER, for Otis, said he believed there
adoption of the order which he had presented. had not been a very great expenditure on the
Mr. HOOD, of Lynn, said he understood these score of printing the orders and resolves which
orders and resolves were to be printed in the had been heretofore presented to the Convention.
Journal of Debates and Proceedings, and it seemThe intention was precisely as expressed in the
ed to him, therefore, it was not advisable that order which he had offered, that all the orders and
they should be printed again. He moved that resolves should be printed and collected so as to
the order be laid upon the table.
The motion was agreed to.
Mr. BUTLER, of Lowell, from the Committee lished in the journals of the day, from day to
to whom was referred so much of the Constituday, yet it had not been with that precision which
tion as is contained in the first eight articles of the was necessary in order to give members a right
sixth chapter thereof, reported the following understanding of the subject matter of such or
resolves :ders and resolves, and more especially the com- 1. Resolved, That it is expedient to amend and mittees who were to have the subjects in charge. alter the existing Constitution in this article, by It was certainly, he thought, a matter of some im- incorporating the oath of allegiance and the oath portance that the Convention should have before
of office into one formula. them, in a proper form-in the form of a single
2. Resolved, That it is expedient to alter and
amend this part of the Constitution, as follows, document-all the orders which had been pre
namely: Strike out the words, “So help me God," sented and adopted. It was for this purpose that where they first occur, and in lieu thereof insert this order had been presented.
the word "and.” Also, strike out, in the official Some confusion had already arisen from the
oath, the words, “I, A. B., do solemnly swear and want of systematic arrangement. If members of
affirm.” So that there shall be but one oath the Convention could have before them, in one
taken and subscribed, which, as amended, shall
read as follows: collective form, all the orders, all misunder- “I, A. B., do solemnly swear, that I will bear standing would be avoided. He did not know true faith and allegiance to the Commonwealth of that he should object to any modification of his Massachusetts, and will support the Constitution motion which the gentleman from Worcester
thereof; and that I will faithfully and impartially might propose, but it certainly seemed to him that
discharge and perform all the duties incumbent
on me as (here insert the office), according to the the printing of orders and resolves heretofore had
best of my abilities and understanding, agreeably not been done to so great extent as to make it a to the rules and regulations of the Constitution
Bradford, William J. A. Rawson, Silas
Total-Yeas, 166 ; nays, 4.
So the Resolutions were adopted.
Mr. CHURCHILL, of Milton, moved, that when the Convention adjourn to day, it adjourn to meet on Wednesday, at three o'clock, P. M. He made this motion, he said, in order that the House of Representatives might have the exclusive use of this hall on Tuesday, for the purpose of finishing the business of their session.
Mr. HOOD, of Lynn, opposed the motion.
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY, &c. - CHURCHILL - WALKER - HOOPER.
Ordered, That the Committee of Ways and Means, to expedite the business of the Convention, be instructed to report an order, that from and after the present week, the Convention hold two sessions per day, commencing at nine, A. M., and three, P. M.
Mr. TIIOMPSON, of Charlestown, suggested to the mover the propriety of modifying his proposition so as to direct the Committee to inquire into the expediency of reporting such an order.
Mr. COLE accepted the proposed modification, and the order being thus amended, was adopted.
Concorning Books. Mr. CIIURCHILL, of Milton, submitted the following order :
and the laws of the Commonwealth. So help me God."
3. Resolved, That it is expedient to amend and alter the proviso in this article as follows :
1. Strike out the words, “of the denomination of the people called Quakers,” and insert the words "conscientiously scrupulous of taking and subscribing an oath."
2. Strike out the letter "s" in the word "oaths," which follow the words "taking the said;" and strike out the words, “in the foregoing form."
3. Strike out the words “in the first oath." Also, the words "in the second oath,” and in each of them, the words-So help me God.
4. Strike out the words, "instead thereof," where it first occurs in said proviso, so that the proviso, as amended, shall read as follows:
“Prorided, ahoays, that when any person, chosen or appointed as aforesaid, shall be conscientiously scrupulous of taking and subscribing an oath, and shall decline taking the said oath, he shall make his affirmation, and subscribe the same, omitting the word "swear,' and inserting the word “affirm' instead thereof, and subjoining - This I do under the pains and penalties of perjury."
4. Resolved, That the third article of the sixth chapter be stricken out of the Constitution.
5. Resoloed, That it is not expedient to alter, revise, or amend the fourth and sixth articles of the sixth chapter, but that the same stand as they and each of them now are.
6. Resolved, That it is expedient to alter and amend the fifth article of the sixth chapter, by striking out the words “they shall bear test of the first justice of the court to which they shall be returnable, who is not a party.” So that the article, as amended, shall read thus:
“ARTICLE 5. All writs issuing out of the clerk's office in any of the courts of law, shall be in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; they shall be under the seal of the court from whence they issue, and be signed by the clerk of such court."
Ordered, That the Committee to whom was referred so much of the Constitution as relates to the Legislative power and the General Court, be instructed to consider and report thereon, the expediency of providing that no book or other printed matter, not strictly appertaining to the bu-iness of the session, thereafter to be transacted, shall be purchased or subscribed for, for use of the members of the legislature, or be distributed 'among them at the public expense.
At the request of Mr. NAYSON, of Amesbury, the order was laid over, under the rule, for consideration.
Elections by Plurality of roles. Mr. WALKER, of North Brookfield, moved that the Report of the Committee on Elections by plurality of votes, be discharged from its place in the list of subjects committed to the Committee of the Whole, with a view to assigning a particular time for its consideration.
The motion was agreed to.
Mr. WALKER further moved to assign three o'clock on Thursday, as the time for the consideration of the subject in Committee of the Whole.
This motion, being about to give rise to debate, was subsequently withdrawn, and,
On motion by Mr. HOOPER, of Fall River, the said Report and Resolves were again referred to the Committee of the Whole, and made the first item on the calendar of subjects so referred.
most unanimously, there being but two dissenting voices. The principle upon which this Report is based, is mainly that of expediency. Our experience for the last ten years has shown us that we have had a minority government in Massachusetts for nearly the whole of that period. We have succeeded, in all that time, in but one or two instances, in electing the State officers by the people; and recently the very frequent elections have become só burdensome and embarrassing, that the subject has been pressed upon the minds of the people to that extent, that a change is now generally called for. I speak, it is true, more particularly of those with whose opinions I am best acquainted, my constituents, who last year spent seventeen days in electing a Board of Selectmen, and who went into fifteen ballotings this year, to effect the same object. But the same is true, I believe, with the great body of the people.
Although this is a principle somewhat new in New England, it is not a new principle in democratic States. I find, by a cursory review of the constitutions of several of the States, that it has been a settled a principle in most of them, from the commencement of their history. It was incorporated into the Constitution of the State of New York, in 1777, and it has applied to the election of all their officers, from that time down to the present; and so well satisfied have been the people of that State with its operation, that I am unable to find that it was called in question in their recent Convention to revise their State constitution.
I find by a reference to those constitutions, that twenty-four of the States of this Union elect their principal state officers by a plurality vote, and although all those constitutions do not state the manner of electing all their minor officers, yet from what I know of them personally, that practice generally prevails, and I believe it obtains throughout, wherever they elect their governor by a plurality vote.
The principle has always existed in New England, to some extent, and there are at present, as far as I know, but three States which have not adopted it to some extent, and those are Rhode Island, New IIampshire and Maine; and I am not certain that Maine has not adopted it in part, in the election of their representatives to Congress. In Connecticut senators are elected by plurality vote. In Rhode Island various officers such as coroners, judges of probate, and justices of the peace, are elected by plurality; and in Massachusetts, even, it has been adopted in electing the electors for president.
Having these precedents before us of other States in which the principle has operated to the entire satisfaction of their people, what reason is there why it should not be adopted in full ? If it has been found sufficiently convenient and important to induce those who have gone before us to adopt it in relation to those questions to which it has been applied, why not carry out the principle, and disembarrass all other elections of those difficulties to which they are now subjected ?
It will be said, I suppose, that the democratic doctrine is, that the majority shall govern, and that it lies at the foundation of our government. But suppose that a majority will not govern. Suppose you cannot get a majority to carry on the government. What then? You must of necessity have a minority government. That is what you have now. Although we profess to act
Credentials of a Member. CHARLES L. KNOWLTON, of Holden, presented credentials accrediting him a delegate to this Convention. They were received and the member from Holden took his seat.
Leave of Absence. A communication was received from ARNOLD TAFT, delegate for Mendon, asking leave of absence until Thursday, in consequence of the death of a son.
On motion of Mr. EARLE, of Worcester, leave of absence was unanimously granted.
IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE.
On motion by Mr. WILSON, of Natick, the Convention then resolved itself into Committee of the Whole, Mr. Sumner, for Marshfield, in the chair, and proceeded to consider the Resolves reported by the Committee on Elections by
Plurality of votes. The Report of the Committee was read by the Secretary, as follows:
Resolved, That it is expedient so to revise the Constitution, that in all elections by the people of officers named in it, the person receiving the highest number of votes shall be deemed and declared to be elected.
Warren, “ Wrentham,
Two Daily Sessions. Mr. COLE, of Cheshire, introduced the following order :
Mr. HOOPER, of Fall River. I suppose that it may be expected that I should made some remarks in relation to the action of the Committee upon this subject, and to state, perhaps, some of the views which influenced the Committee to come to the conclusion at which they have arrived, as set forth in their Report.
The Committee held three sessions upon the subject, and discussed the questions relating thereto very fully, and came to a conclusion al
ELECTIONS BY PLI'RALITY. – PARSONS – WALKER.
upon the majority principle, yet, in fact, we have every member here if they can sanction such nothing more nor less than two. What is true a minority government, and that, too, under the a doctrine: Perhaps such a course may be of twenty purwons, is true of twenty thousand, or operation of the machinery of the majority prin- very judicious under certain circumstances, but twenty millions. The principle is the same; and ciple-a machinery which does not enable the those circumstances should be very strong before therefore I submit again whether this is not a very constituencies of the several counties to elect their a minority should be permitted to represent a grave question. own representatives, but permits the electors of majority. Perhaps after two or three elections, a Now, Sir, we profess, here in Massachusetts, to other counties to elect for them. It is better for majority not being able to agree, it might then be be a democratic republican State. We profess to the constituents to elect their own representatives. expedient that the candidate having the highest hare as much of the democratic element as is
If the majority principle results in the same end number of votes should be declared elected. consistent with a republican organization. We as the plurality, only under a far more cumber- l'pon the ground of expediency, why not have do not give up any part of the power of the some machinery, it is far better that we should the governor of the ('ommonwealth appoint more people which they can possibly retain under such save the unnecessary time, trouble and expense, officers: I hardly think the members of this an organization ; and hence we provide that all and at once make those who can agree elect the Convention would agree to extend the powers of our officers shall be chosen by a majority of all representative, if the majority cannot.
the governor to the appointment of officers which the votes. Then, although the whole people I will not detail the manner in which the ma- he does not have the power to appoint at the delegate the power to a part, they delegate it jority machinery results in a minority govern- present time, and still that would be more expe- to those elected by a majority of all who choose ment. The Report confines itself to the officers dient, and would save time and expense.
to vote. Is this democratie, or is it not? Is the named in the Constitution, yet it was the opinion But, Mr. Chairman, the great reason why I do principle a sound one, or is it not ? That is the of the Committee generally that it should extend not agree with the majority of the Committee is, question I think we should first determine. to all other officers, but as that is a matter upon that the great principles upon which we should be In our Bill of Rights we lay down the principle which the legislature can act, it was not thought ruled is that a majority shall govern ; and further, that all men have equal rights. If all have equal necessary to introduce it into this Report, but to that the necessity which has compelled the people rights, then, each one must have an equal right leave it for the legi-lature to act upon, after the to go to the polls so often as they have for the last with every other. Then, for illustration, if five Constitution should be adopted.
two or three years, has incited them to discuss men were associated together, and three of them Mr. PARSONS, of Lawrence. As a member the merits of the various candidates, and led the were in favor of one course, while two were in of the Committee which made this Report, I people to become better acquainted with our sys- favor of another, is it not clearly right that the wish to say a few words, and I will detain the tem of government, to understand upon what majority should decide the question ; since all Convention but a few moments.
principles they are governed, and I hope we shall being equal, and three being more than two, the It is true that the Committee were nearly never take any course which will tend to create majority, of right, must be on the side of the unanimous in coming to the conclusion to recom- an apathy in the people of this state in regard to three. Is not this a fair statement of the case ? mend the plurality system. I believe there the election of their officers, but on the contrary Is not the reasoning sound? If so, then the were only two dissenting voices, and I am so u
un- that we shall adopt that course which will preserve principle must be a sound one, that the majority fortunate, perhaps, as to be one of those. I, for and foster the good sense which characterizes the should rule. And farther, do we not feel within one, saw no reason in the arguments offered be- voters of this state. I believe the voters of this our own breasts a conviction that this principle is fore the ('ommittee, why I, as one of the State do now take a high stand, not only in regard right? Is it not an instinct of our natures? Do Committee, should recommend that the Constitu- to their manner of government, but in education, we not admit the principle almost every day of tion be so altered that those persons who are now and, in fact, in everything which goes to make up our lives, in our business affairs? In all emerrequired to be elected by a majority should here- the elements of a free government.
gencies, where we have any occasion to confer after be elected by a plurality vote, and I must say, These are my reasons for non-concurring in with any body of men, do we not always say, that the only argument, in my opinion, in fact the the Report of a majority of the Committee. “ let the majority rule"? And why do we say great argument, with those of the Committee who Mr. WALKER, of North Brookfield. I con- that? It is because we feel that it is morally were in favor of the plurality system-and which cur with the gentleman who has preceded me, in right. There is something within us which says has been offered here by the chairman of that Com- saying that this is an important measure. It the majority ought to rule. Now, if this be so, mittee-is, that it is expedient, that it would save proposes a change, a very great change, in the ought we to depart from the majority principle ? time, that it would save trouble, and that it would Constitution of Massachusetts. It is not a ques- A principle is defined to be “a general law for save expense to the voters of this Commonwealth, tion of organization simply, or into how many the guidance of human conduct.” If the right should we elect by plurality votes. Now I do not different departments the government shall be of the majority to rule be a fixed principle then, agree with the opinion that it would save either divided, whether into executive, legislative and a law of our natures, ought we to violate it? time or expense. I do not agree with the chair-judicial, or what other or different divisions That is a question on which we ought to act with man of the Committee, and I say, that in my opin- shall be made; but a question, who shall govern- great deliberation. If we decide that the princiion, it is better to preserve to this Commonwealth where the sovereignty shall reside? It strikes at ple of majority rule is a sound one, then, like the principle that a majority shall rule; and even the very foundation of our whole superstructure, every other great principle or law, it should be if it takes six months to elect an officer, that we and hence it is a question of transcendent im- obeyed-like the law of truth, justice, honesty, or shall not change the Constitution in reference to portance; altogether surpassing any other which any law which we are accustomed to honor. those officers who are now elected by the major- will or can be brought before us.
Mr. Chairman, I lay it down as a truth, that ity. If we cannot elect in one week, let us try The resolutions of the Committee propose that we are never safe in violating any well established until we can elect, so that a majority shall rule a plurality instead of the majority shall govern. principle, however expedient or convenient it in this Commonwealth instead of a minority. What, then, is a plurality? The word, now, has may seem to be for the time being. If we do so,
I agree with gentlemen that this is a very an important meaning. What is the definition of we shall find in the end that we have made a important matter, and to my mind it is one of it? Why, Sir, by referring to Webster's Dic- mistake--that we have done wrong. Is it not so? the most important questions to be considered in tionary--and it is very good authority-I find Does not all experience show that when we have this Convention, and I therefore hope that it will that the word means “two or more.” And that violated a great natural law or principle, panishbe carefully considered by every member, and is a correct definition. The effect of plurality ment will follow as a necessary consequence? I that each will put the question to himself in refer- then, is, as applied to our elections, that “two or think so. Yet we are now asked to depart from ence to his own town. How often would it hap- ” shall govern the State of Massachusetts. this great principle of majority rule, and why? pen in our towns, parties are so split up, that a
My friend, the chairman of the Committee, (Mr. man, whom the majority of voters in his town
Hooper,) gives, as one of his first reasons, that would not think of voting for, may by some ma- principle, that twenty individuals, acting together, other States have departed from it, and therefore næuvring succeed in obtaining the nomination in should agree that the plurality should rule. we should do the same. Now, I ask if that is caucus, and, there being three, four, or five can- Suppose there were nineteen candidates before any reason why we should do it, if it is not right? didates in the field, may, on the first trial, have them, the man who received two votes would be I ask if it is worthy of the Convention of delegates a plurality vote, and thus represent his town con- elected. That would be the effect, and it proves assembled in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts trary to the wishes of a majority. I wish to ask incontestibly that an absolute plurality is two, to revise the Constitution of the State, to inquire
, now, for illustration of this plurality