calm. If I thought that the a'loption of this system would encroach upon any Democratic principle, I would be the last man to support it. It would have suited me best to have adopted the plurality system after one trial; but rather than make no progress, I shall, for one, vote for the Report as it comes from the Committee,

Mr. HYDE, of Sturbridge. The only apology I have to offer for troubling the Convention at this late hour, is, that certain members have been called upon to explain the views of the Committee. I regret that the chairman of the Committee is not present. I do not intend to occupy the attention of the Convention long; but I can scarcely do less than give some of the reasons which actuated this Committee in making the Report which we have presented to the Coavention. The Committee were nearly unanimous in their Report, as has been before stated; and they thought that this Commonwealth would be better represented, and more directly represented under the plurality than under the majority system. There are several reasons which led them to that conclusion. It seems to have been taken for granted by gentlemen who have opposed the Report of the Committee, that, in all cases, if the plurality system were adopted, the minority would rule, and not the m dority. That seems to me to be a mistake altogether. If the plurality system is adopted, it does not follow as a natural consequence that the majority will not still rule; and I contend that they will in most cases. For instance, when there are but two candidates for the same office, the majority must prevail. It is impossible that the plurality principle should apply. That principle can only apply where it will relieve the people from the burdens and difficulties of the election where there are several candidates, or more than two. With the majority system, it is difficult in all cases, and in some impossible to secure the election of any candidate who is set up. Gentlemen will understand, in this Convention, that the majority system does not require a majority of all the qualified voters; it only requires a majority of those present and voting at any one election. Now, I contend, and this was the view of the Committee, that, as a whole, the officers elected will receive a greater number of votes, under the plurality system, than under the majority system. Where there are but two candidates, the majority will elect; and where there are more than two, they must have an election; and frequently, in order to obtain that election, it is necessary that the plurality system shall be applied. It is not often the case, and probably has never happened in this Commonwealth, that there are more than two large parties. The people in this State are ordinarily divided into two rival and opposing parties. Sometimes a third party is interposed. Those who form such a party have a perfect right to do it, and they are to be respected. They have the same right, in proportion to numbers, as any number of persons whatever, no matter on what principle the division may take place. But we have seen that where the third party is strenuous, the people come to the polls time after time, and, after all, there is no election. Look at the effect in the town elections, where we elect our representatives. The more trials there are to elect, the more divided they become, and the more firmly they adhere to their distinctive principles, and an election is almost entirely impossible. You may try it to almost any extent, as it

has been done for the clection of members of congress, and fail after all. I recollect, that where we have tried for a period of one whole congress, for two years, we failed to choose a representative. The people saw it, and they obviated it by making a law, that if there was no election at t se first trial, a plurality should elect. Was not that a wise law? Does it not work favorably? I have heard of no objection to it. If it works well in one instance, why will it not in others? I believe that, under the plurality system, the towns would be represented more perfectly than it is possible to have it done under te majority system.

I will refer to anot'.er principle which actuated the Committee. It may be thought a novel idea, but I have no doubt of its correctness; and that is, if the plurality system is adopted, we shall be represented by better men than if they are elected by the majority system. How is it now? Any man who can get a majority of the votes must be chosen. Why is he chosen? The question has not been for many years, who is the best man, who will most ably represent the people, and discharge his duties in the legislature of the Commonwealth; not who is most firm, bold and fearless in action, and honest in purpose. Such are not the men who are selected. If a man has been already in office, he has pretty likely given offence to somebody, and he will fail to secure all the votes, and of course he will not be selected as a candidate. A man suitable for office has not unfrequently warm friends, and sometimes bitter enemies. When the parties come to canvass for the election, they understand that they must get some man who will secure a majority of the votes, or he will not be made the candidate. The man who is the most popular must be the nominee. They frequently throw aside the man who is best qualified to represent them, and take a man who will command the greatest number of votes. Sometimes he is the best man, to be sure, but not always. The candidate in the small towns, is often a negative man, a man who has never done anything to make either friends or enemies; and 80 a man who will secure the votes becomes the candidate, and is elected, when, if the plurality system prevailed, a better man would have been the candidate, and filled the office.

Then, after the first trial, what is the consequence? If there are continued trials, as has been the case very frequently in this State, the people will not attend the polls fully after one or two of the first trials. After there have been various meetings on several days, and there has been no election, the people become disgusted with some of the proceedings and fall off in numbers; and the man who is finally elected by a majority, would not have received even a plurality on the first day of trial, if the plurality system had prevailed. The number of votes which constitute a majority at last, would not have made a plurality at first.

Another reason which operated upon the minds of the Committee was, that they believed the tendency of the plurality system would be to secure a larger vote, that it would extend the right of suffrage. They viewed it in this light; they believed that if this principle were to become a part of the Constitution, the people would all know that every officer, State, Town, and County officer, even all elected by ballot, would necessarily be elected on the first trial, except in extreme cases when there happened to be a

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[May 24th.

tic, and tat expecting an election to take place,

| they would congregate in greater numbers at the polls. I think they would canvass the merits of their respective candidats more closely, and I believe they would press the clestion with more ; vigor, and feel a des per, interest. Knowing they had to spend but one day, and that that day would secure to them an election, they would be a pretty anxious to get as many votes as they could for their candidate.

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The gentleman from North Brookfield, (Mr. Walker,) supposed an instance of a town having twenty voters and nineteen candidates, where the man who obtained two votes would be elected. That could never happen. It would be an extreme ca¬6°. What town, county, state, or nation is there in which there could be nineteen parties known? There could be no such thing. It is impossible that there should be so many parties; there never could be more than three or four at t'e most. If any towas or counties, large or small, contained many more divisions of the voters, they would not be parties; they would not be entitled to the name or respect of parties, they would be mere clans. Would they not, when thus divided into such a number of factions, be inclined to settle down finally on the plurality system. The Committee were, after all, almost unanimous in the opinion that the theory of majorities ruling-a correct doctrine in a great degree-was more potent in theory than in practice. The Committee believed that, practically, the officers elected would get a greater number of votes at the polls, as a general rule, than if the majority system prevailed. I think if gentlemen will reflect and consider how the majority system has operated for a few years past, and even up to the present time, they must necessarily be convinced that the officers elected will receive as great, or even a greater number of votes from the application of the plurality system, than they do now receive under the operation of the majority system. These are a few of the reasons which actuated the Committee. As it is now late, I will not occupy the time of the Convention any further.

Mr. WARD, of Newton. As I presume the question will not be taken now, I will move that the Com nitee rise, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.

The motion was agreed to.


The PRESIDENT having resumed the Chair of the Convention, the Chairman reported that the Committee of the Whole had had under consideration the report and resolves on the subject of election by plurality, and had made some progress, but had not come to any conclusion thereon, and asked leave to sit again.

Leave was granted.

Mr. WILSON, of Natick. I rise for the purpose of moving that when this Convention adjourn, it adjourn to meet on Thursday morning at ten o'clock. I make this motion at the request of some members of the House of Representatives who assure me that the House will, to-morrow, make their final adjournment, but it will be

ressary for them to have the use of this Hall to-morrow in the afternoon. I hope, therefore, the Convention will agree to the motion which I now make, that when the Convention adjourn, it adjourn to meet at ten o'clock, A. M., on Thursday.



We shall then have quiet and undisturbed posses


The motion was agreed to.

On motion by Mr. THOMPSON, of Charlestown, the Convention, at five minutes to six o'clock, adjourned.

THURSDAY, May 26, 1853.

The Convention met pursuant to adjournment, and was called to order at 10 o'clock, A. M. Prayer by the Cha¡ lain.

The Journal of Tuesday was read and approved.

Order Concerning Books.

The order submitted on Tuesday, by Mr. Churchill, providing that no book or other printed matter, not strictly appertaining to the business of the session, thereafter to be transacted, shall be purchased or subscribed for, for the use of the members of the legislature, was adopted.

Mr. LELAND, of Holliston, moved to take up from the table the resolution heretofore offered by the gentleman from Otis, (Mr. Sumner,) concerning the printing of resolves and orders. The motion was agreed to.

The resolution having been read by the Secretary,

Mr. LELAND said he hoped the resolution would be agreed to by the Convention. At present, as it appeared to him, there was considerable confusion existing in respect to these orders and resolves.

Mr. HOOPER, of Fall River. I made a suggestion to the mover of this proposition at the time when it was offered, under the impression that these orders and resolves were not published in such a manner that members can readily refer to them. But I find that they are all printed in the official report of the proceedings and debates of the Convention, and every member, therefore, has ready access to them. I shall, therefore, be opposed to the adoption of this resolution, as incurring an unnecessary expense.

Mr. SUMNER, for Otis. It is true, probably, that these several orders and resolves are published in the official report of the proceedings of the Convention, but I apprehend it is not correct to suppose that these orders and resolves are therefore in the hands of each and all of the members of the Convention, for there is some delay in the publication of those reports. I think, Sir, that almost all gentlemen on the various Committees have experienced more or less inconvenience from not having before them, in a compact form, the several resolutions and orders that have from time to time been adopted. It is a matter of convenience, and to some extent, of necessity, in point of fact, that we should have these orders and resolves in a collective form.

The question was then taken upon the adoption of the order, and it was, without a division, decided in the affirmative.


On motion of Mr. HALL, of Haverhill. The Convention resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole, Mr. Sumner, for Marshfield, in the Chair, and proceeded to consider the first subject on the calendar, being the report and resolves on the subject of

Elections by Plurality.

Mr. WARD, of Newton, addressed the Committee. He said: When I made the motion, at the last sitting of the Convention, that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again, I did not do it so much for the purpose of availing myself of the privilege of occupying the floor, as that the further consideration of the subject might be postponed, and the discussion continued at another time; but availing myself of the privilege to which I am entitled, I shall now proceed to make some remarks in reference to the arguments that have been used by gentlemen who have participated in the debate in relation to this subject.

The question is, as reported by the Committee, that it is expedient so to amend the Constitution, that in all elections by the people of the officers named therein, the person having the highest number of votes shall be deemed and declared to be duly elected. That is the question that is presented to us by the Report of the Committee. And, Sir, a question of greater magnitude is not likely to come before this body. It is a question of the very highest import; it is whether elections by the people shall be governed by pluralities or by a majority of the votes. The Report proposes to alter the Constitution in this respect, and to make a departure from long established usage. Sir, there is danger of our attempting too much; we could not do a greater wrong, than to attempt to reform too much. It will have an injurious effect upon the minds of the people, when they come to act upon the Constitution, which is to be submitted to them. I think the people do not desire that many amendments should be made. And, Sir, my belief is, that they do not desire this one. And it seems to me that it is not consistent with our duty here, that we should adopt this Report. I say we should not adopt it for this reason. We have adopted the basis of population for representation.

We have extended our basis of representation to the utmost length that is practicable, and now shall we sanction a principle that abridges the freedom of elections, for I hold that it is the right of every voter to so cast his vote that it shall tell. It has always been a fundamental principle of this government, that elections shall be decided by a majority, and I hold that it is a just principle. If, sometimes the minority rules, it should not alter the principle. Principles are eternal, deviations from them are but temporary, and in an enlighted community, of but short duration. A principle that is just in itself, should not be sacrificed to expediency. I admit that the majority principle, carried out in practice, is not unfrequently attended with much difficulty. It occasions expense and loss of time, but I would ask had we not better bear with that, than to sanction a principle that deprives the voter of the power to give effect to his vote.

We will suppose a case, that the voter conscientiously believes that the leading prominent candidates are, none of them, suitable persons to be elected; that their nomination is a nomination "not fit to be made." What can he do? What should he do? One of two things: he must either vote for a man who is unfit for the office, or if he vote for the man of his choice, it must be without the least probability of his vote counting anything more than a piece of blank paper. I ask whether this is not virtually depriving the

[May 26th.

voter of the right of suffrage? I say virtually, for, on the one hand, his vote is nothing if he votes according to his choice, and on the other, to make his vote available, he must cast it against his convictions of what duty requires.

We are, Sir, a people of progres, and it behooves us carefully to examine the ground before we make a change; before we take a step. I do not think that the Convention, or the people will deem it necessary, that this Report should be accepted, and the Constitution amended according to it. More especially am I of that opinion, because the Report not only does not recognize in any event the majority principle, but it excludes it on the first trial to elect. Now I think to substitute the plurality principle for the majority vote, though it may affect the election on the first trial, it is equally true, that it will nevertheless not rid us of the evils of a minority government. But I do say, and I do conscientiously believe, that it will serve to perpetuate the evil of a minority govern


I shall not at this time trouble the Convention further.

Mr. HALL, of Haverhill. I desire to say a few words in justification of the vote I shall be called upon to give upon the question before the Committee. Upon that question I shall probably differ from some gentlemen in this Convention, of the party with which I usually vote, and I desire to say what I have to say at this time for the purpose of asking the Committee, in considering this question, to consider it in reference to another question which is directly connected with it-I mean the election of all or nearly all of the county and district officers by the direct voice of the people. I happened to be upon the committee that had this matter under consideration in relation to the election of the officers of the Commonwealth proper as well as the county and district officers. The committee had several sessions and debated this matter; several orders have been sent to that committee, one or two asking that additional officers be recognized in the Constitution; one, by the gentleman from Worcester, asking that all officers now named in the Constitution be elected by the people; another, by the gentleman from Montague, asking the committee to add to these all district and county officers and elect them by districts; another, by the gentleman from Millbury, asking that the election of justices of the peace should also be added, which, in fact, covers the whole ground of recognized officers to be elected by the direct vote of the people. Now, I may be permitted, in this connection, to say, that I think, in debating this question of electing by plurality, it is proper to allude to these other questions, and that they should be debated in connection with it, so far as may be allowable under the rules of the Convention. Now, my vote would be affected upon this question-were I in favor of the majority principle-by the decision of the question as to the extent, if that could be ascertained, to which they would go in determining how many officers they would direct to be elected by the people. It may not be improper for me to make a general statement in regard to the action of the committee, that from the best information which they possessed in reference to this question, they determined that the election should be by the plurality direct upon the first ballot. How the majority of the committee would go provided there was no

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election by plurality, I cannot say; I can only speak for myself, and as far as my vote is concerned, however the majority of the committee may go, I cannot go for electing all these various officers by a direct vote of the people. But, Sir, as a principle, I am in favor of electing officers by the people; as a principle, I desire to go as far as may be considered practical and practicable for the election of all state and county officers by the direct vote of the people. But it appears to me that the majority of the Convention -I care not of what party, for I do not consider this a party question-cannot go for electing, in the manner proposed, this long list of officersSecretary of the State, Treasurer and ReceiverGeneral, State Auditor, Attorney-General, Sheriffs, Coroners, Register of Probate, Judges of Probate, Commissioner of Insolvency, Register of Deeds, County Treasurer, County Commissioner, District Attorney, Clerk of the Court, Notaries Public, and Justices of the Peace.


Here is the whole catalogue of subjects which have been referred to the committee, for them to consider the expediency of having all these officers elected by the people; and if I may be allowed to express an opinion on that matter, in this connection, I will say that I consider it a safe principle to adopt, that the elections of all state, county, and district officers, so far as practicable, should be left to the people of the Commonwealth. Believing in that principle, and believing the selection and election of public officers safe with the people, I desire to adopt some mode in which we can carry it out in practice for the election of these various officers. As was stated the other day, this is not entirely a matter of convenience. It is a question of time-it is a question of money, for time is money. People are unwilling to turn out day after day, and ballot over and over again, without any probability of an election; and this is found to be the practical result of the present system of voting in this Commonwealth. I hope, therefore, that gentlemen, in debating this question, will debate it in reference to the other question-of how many of these officers, if not all of them, should be elected by the people. Perhaps I should not go as far in this matter as some gentlemen with whom I am associated; but if the principle is a correct one, as advocated by some gentlemen on Tuesday last, it has an important bearing on the question immediately before us. Let us for a moment look at the manner in which our elections are now conducted. On the first day, as we all know, the various parties bring out their voters; they spend their time in rallying their friends, and not only that, but if all stories are true, they spend money, and sometimes a good deal of money. On the first ballot we have, in any general election, what may be said to be a fair and full expression of the wishes of the people; but it frequently happens that nobody is elected. Now, my friend from North Brookfield says that the majority principle is the best principle, because the great question with him is, Who shall govern? But the result is, that on the first ballot, when there is the fullest expression of the voice of the people, there is no election-there is nobody to govern. Then they proceed to ballot again and again, and after four or five trials there is still no election. Then the question may well be asked, who shall govern? I answer, Mr. Chairman, the greatest number voting for the same officer should govern.


But what is the result of the theory of the gentleman from North Brookfield? It is that, finally, an election is had by perhaps not more than one-tenth part of those who actually voted on the first ballot; and in many cases a man is chosen who received less votes on the first ballot than several of his competitors. Thus, while you preserve the majority principle, the practical result is that a man is chosen who does not even have a plurality at the time when you have the fullest expression of the will of the people. It has been said that convenience should be thrown aside entirely; but here we see the result of that. The people come tired, and they stay home; does the majority then govern? No, Sir. A single handful of voters govern, who have had more patience and perseverance than the others; and they thus gain the ascendancy because they have tired out the majority of the voters of t. e Commonwealth. Gentlemen know very well that this is the practical result of this system.

My friend from Lawrence says t'at after two or tl ree unsuccessful attempts to elect a man, it would be, perhaps, best to adopt the plurality system. But is not his principle worth anything, that he proposes to abandon it after two or three trials? If the principle is a good one, it should be adhered to, no matter how many trials were necessary in order to have an election; but if not, if it is worth so little that it may be abandoned after the first two or three trials, why shall we encumber our-clves with it at all?

I think, as was remarked the other day, that the adoption of the plurality system would give us the best men on the first trial, because on that system every man would know that on the first trial somebody would be chosen. It would be an extreme case if two men should have precisely the same number of votes. Then each voter will say to himself, "I have my own choice about this matter, but it is certain that one of these two will be chosen, and which of them is the best man? I would rather have Mr. A. than Mr. B., and would rather have Mr. B. than Mr. C." With this distinct understanding, I think the best man would be pretty sure to be chosen; while on the majority system, the votes would be divided among some other parties and some other candidates, because there would be some who did not exactly like either of them.

As I said just now, I desire to act upon this subject with reference to the other subject to which I have referred,-that the elections of state, county and district officers should be by the people. I would not, perhaps, go to that extent which some would; I would not have our judges, our justices of the peace, or our notaries public elected by the people; but I say that so far as practicable, I desire it, and that all the voters of this Commonwealth shall be permitted to express one opinion in elections where there is a full expression of the will of the people, as to those who shall take part in administering the affairs of the Commonwealth, in order that we may elect our best men. I believe these two subjects are intimately connected, and I have, therefore, sought this early opportunity to submit these views to the Convention, in order that our action upon the question before us may be influenced by a consideration of the whole matter depending upon it. I hope the resolve on your table will pass.

Mr. GRAY, of Boston. I shall need the indulgence of the Committee if I should repeat what

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(May 20th.

may have been said already, as I was unavoidably absent when the debate on this sul ject was opened; and for the same reason, I may answer very imperfectly the arguments of those gotlemen who have taken a po ition opposite to that which I shall take, as I can only judge of them from the replies to them to which I have listened. I am very glid, Sir, that upon this occasion, and more especially upon the occasion when this question was brought up in the legislature, it has been brought up free from all party aspect; gentlemen of opposite political doctrines have considered and discussed it without any reference to party lines. Now it may be that in the course of my remarks I may use the word "parties," or may refer to parties; but I wish it to be understood, that if I do so, I refer to the political partics now existing mercly in a historical sense, without passing any judgment as to the merits of the doctrines of any of them. I suppose, Sir, that we shall all agree that it is desirable that in the election of officers by the people, there should be as much unanimity as possible. There have been countries, and I believe Poland was one of them, where entire unanimity was required upon the part of the electors, and of course elections could never be fairly carried on with such a provision. There are public bodies which require two-thirds of all the voters in order to make an election, and I believe the Pope holds his seat upon that principle. The general principle is, however, that a majority of the people-by which we all mean a majority of the voters who actually take a part in votingshall have power to elect public officers; and we would have that majority where it is practicable. But, Sir, we all know that it is not always practicable to have a majority; and the question is, how shall we approximate the nearest to it? The people hold elections for governor; and the theory of our Constitution always has been that the governor should be elected by the people and not by the representatives of the people; but we know that at the present day it is found that a majority of the people do not unite upon any one candidate.

What is the dictate of common sense in that state of things? If a majority of the people cannot be obtained in favor of any individual, the next thing is to approximate the nearest we can to it. If we cannot have a majority, let us have that number of votes which best represents it? and what is that number? I agree with the gentleman from Haverhill, in what seemed to be the general tenor of his remarks; that number is the largest number who vote for any one individual, and, therefore, the only practical conclusion to which we can come will be the plurality principle. That principle has been adopted in the greater part of the States, who are sufficiently republican in every sense of the word, and I suppose all will admit that they are sufficiently democratic in their notions to satisfy even the strongest lover of democracy.

Now, Sir, as we are making a Constitution for practice, in order to see the practical operation of the majority principle, let us revert to the teachings of our previous experience; and what do we find? Until very lately, a majority has been required to determine all elections; and we will fast look at its operation in the case of members of congress. After a violent struggle,-as I have said before, not at all a party struggle,—after a most carnest contest, the legislature were driven into the adoption of the plurality principle as de


cisive of the election of members of congress, after a single trial; but to that point I will refer presently. What was the state of things previously? Gentlemen may recollect that at one time three seats were vacant in our congressional delegation; and this state of things lasted during a whole congress, if I remember right. Suppose that in the apportionment of representatives, that congress had said, "The State of Massachusetts, although numerically entitled to ten representatives, shall be cut down to seven," what should we have said to that? There could be but one answer; and yet, Sir, the legislature suffered this to be done by our own people, and upon what principle was it justified? I have heard gentlemen say upon this floor, that rather than have a representative whom they disliked, they preferred that their district should be unrepresented. Well, Sir, it was a consistent part of their doctrine; it was where their argument led them, and it will lead us to that in any case if we adopt the majority principle. Gentlemen say that the majority must rule; but the majority will pronounce in favor of no one-that is to say, the majority will have nobody to rule. At this point, the people step in and say, "We will have a magistrate-we want to be represented." Some people may say that if they cannot have the man of their choice, rather than to have the opposing candidate elected, they prefer that the State should have no governor. I have no doubt there are individuals who say this, and perhaps they say it more than they think it; but I do not suppose that we who propose this Constitution to the people, are of that opinion, nor do I suppose that the people who are to ratify this Constitution before it goes into effect, will agree to any such sentiment. Suppose the majority of the people of a district should say that they would have no representative in congress, to what would that lead? If every district should say so, it would stop the wheels of government-it would be nullification. We are, therefore, bound to start with the position, if we are to have anything but anarchy, that we must have magistrates; and it was upon this view of the case that the plurality principle with regard to members of congress was adopted.

Now, Sir, it is of no consequence--and I beg gentlemen, if they have this idea in their minds, to dismiss it-what party would be benefited or injured by the adoption of the plurality principle; for the actual history of the matter will show that if the plurality law had been adopted two years before it was-which would not have been one day sooner than it ought to have been the political effect of it on the parties as they then existed would have been just the reverse of what it was when it was adopted. I hope we shall consent to dismiss all considerations of that kind. The theory of our government has been, from the beginning down to the present time, that the governor should be elected by the people; that is, to use an expression which savors a little of Hibernicism, that the governor should be elected on general ticket at our elections of chief magistrate, by the votes of our citizens, not counted as at other elections, where the votes of ten majority in one district are of as much force and weight as the votes of one hundred majority in another district, but that every citizen's vote should be counted individually, and that the governor should be chosen by the votes of a majority of the people, and not of their representatives.


Well, Sir, for the first half century under the Constitution, that was generally, almost entirely, the case. My own memory extends back for half a century, and it was not until the year 1834 that we were ever obliged to choose a governor through the instrumentality of the legislature. The elections up to that time were decided by a very small majority. There always would be some scattering votes, but they were few. Governors have repeatedly been chosen by a plurality of less than one thousand over their respective political opponents. But of late days things have altered, and what is the state of those matters now? The present governor was not elected by a simple majority of the people. His predecessor for two years was not so elected. The gentleman who preceded him, and who is a member of this Convention, was not so elected, for two years preceding the election to which I have referred. Here then we go back for five years, in which period the people have not chosen a governor once. The governor has been chosen by the action of the two branches of the legislature of this Commonwealth, in the way provided in the Constitution.

Now, I ask, is a majority of the people better represented by the legislature-I do not say in those particular instances, but in the long runbetter represented by the legislature, than it would be by a plurality of those who vote? I apprehend not, Sir. The truth is, that if we go on as we have done, in the main, for the last ten years, I would suggest one provision, to be incorporated into the Constitution, different from any which has been proposed-a provision to carry out in theory what will surely happen in practice-and that is, that the people shall nominate the two or three highest candidates, and that the legislature shall choose from those two or three. For that is virtually what we shall do. I therefore think, Sir, that in contending for the plurality principle, we are contending for the voice of the people to be heard in the election of governor, and not for the voice of the legislature. In some of the States of the Union, in Virginia, I believe, the legislature elect the governor. By the present existing provision, for some years past, it has resulted, and for some years to come it will result, in causing the governor to be chosen by the legislature, and not by the people. Perhaps, Sir, I could narrow my position still more, and should strictly say, that the House will choose the governor, for the House will be a much larger body than the Senate. No one supposes, be the principle adopted what it may, that the House will be less than six times as numerous as the Senate; and in practice the House will settle the question in joint ballot. I contend, therefore, that the effect of the operation of the majority principle is to take the power of election from the people, and give it to the legislature. If we throw such a power into the hands of the legislative body, what becomes of all our system of checks and balances? What becomes of the provisions in the Constitution which are designed to effect a separation of action between the executive and legislative departments, and between cach of them and, the judicial department? The truth is, you throw the power of election into one branch of the legislature.

If I repeat this idea too often, it is because I think it of sufficient importance to be dwelt upon with emphasis.

We next come to the consideration of the Senat as affected by the prevailing system. What

[May 26th.

is the effect of the existing provisions upon that body? It is that no senator shall be chosen by the people, but he who has a majority of all the ballots. If no person has a majority, then the senator is chosen by a joint ballot of the legislature. And what has been the result? Senators have frequently been elected, who had a less number of votes than their competitors. I have no doubt that the parties that have done that within the last ten years-I will not call names— have acted as their competitors would have done, had they possessed the same powers, and as parties will act in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, where the community is nearly equally divided.

I say further that I have ever considered, and do now consider, that the provision for filling up the Senate by a joint ballot of the legislature, as the most defective and objectionable provision in the Constitution, and I hope, if the Convention reject the Report of the Committee, still that they will make the election of senators an exception to the general rule.

Then, as to the House of Representatives-how has this plurality system operated upon that body? We have heard a great deal said about a constant and full representation of every part of the people. That is a theory which I should think would command entire unanimity of opinion in this body. I believe there is not a man in this Convention but will agree that every portion of the State ought to be constantly represented in the legislature; yet to accomplish that end, no unjust course should be pursued. As to the merits of the different courses which might be adopted, that is not a point to be discussed now, as it is not directly before us. Why I adduce this point at this time is to say that if we agree that the whole people should be represented, why should we agree to keep in existence a system which, year after year, has by some sort of accident, deprived a large number of the towns of this State from any representation whatever in the House?

Something has been said of repeated elections. In the elections for members of congress we allow the people the first trial; if no one of the candidates receives a majority, then a plurality vote elects on the second trial. Does any gentleman propose to allow such a trial in the election of state officers? Does any gentleman propose, if on the return of the votes for governor no one shall be found to have a majority, that the people shall have another election? Why, Sir, if any regard is had to the convenience of the people, I think we will not take that course.

Does any gentleman propose that there shall be two trials for the election of senators? That would be equally inconvenient and impracticable. In regard to elections for members of the House of Representatives, it is true you may allow towns more than one trial; but I apprehend, if you consult the wishes of the people, they will be found much to prefer that a plurality vote should settle the matter in the first instance.

Something has been said as to the encouragement or discouragement of the existence of third parties, or of any more than two parties. I really think that has nothing to do with the question. But I will say that I believe any portion of the people who are in favor of any great object can generally effect it through the agency of two parties, as well as they can through the agency of


any other number. I do not mean to say that it is wrong to form third parties. I might refer to movements in this State which operated effectually upon the state government without the formation of any new parties. At this day there is a party carrying on a great moral reform-I refer to the temperance party-and we find that they can make themselves felt in this hall without forming any third political party. At this moment there are laws upon our statute book-respecting the wisdom of which I say nothing-the very existence of which proves that the people who procured their passage formed a strong body, and yet they did not find it necessary to form a third political party to accomplish their purposes.

But really I do not think that this has anything to do with the question before us. If those who are in favor of this reform or that reform, cannot act with any of the existing parties, but choose to form new ones, that is nothing to me. In either case they exercise a right under our constitution and laws; and in the manner of exercising that right they will most likely take counsel of their own consciences rather than of me.

The gentleman who just preceded me has said that his vote would be governed by the consideration whether or not the Convention shall choose to provide that the large number of officers, now appointed otherwise, shall be elected by the people. I do not exactly agree with him. I think with the present number of popular elections, the case is a very clear one. But I do agree with him in this, that the greater the number of popular elections the stronger will be his argu


I do not know, Sir, that I could have done better, when I arose, than simply to have referred gentlemen to the history of the Commonwealth for the last few years, and to their own sound judgment of what may be fairly anticipated for several years to come. Patrick Henry said that the only lamp by which his feet were guided was the lamp of experience. I do not go so far as that, but I suppose every convention of practical men will allow that he who disregards that light entirely, must be wiser than the generality of men, if he entirely escapes the commission of great errors.

I have not done full justice to this subject, and I may not have done justice to the arguments of But this is gentlemen who have preceded me. not the first time that this subject has been brought up for the consideration of many gentlemen here. I have heard it agitated legislature after legislature. This principle has been adopted It has been in more than one important case. applied to the election of electors for president and vice-president, and to the election of members of congress, and I trust that the circumstances which surround this subject will induce gentlemen to weigh their reasons well and carefully before they decide to reject this Report.

Mr. DURGIN, of Wilmington. I do not propose at this time to inflict a speech upon the Convention, and yet I have a few ideas and thoughts upon this subject which I beg leave to present. In the first place, to my own mind, it is clear and evident, nay, it is self-evident, that the majority system is in itself right; and, Sir, in saying that, I think I utter the sentiments of every gentleman in this Convention. Were a vote on that point to be taken now, every voice in this body would respond in the affirmative. It is in itself, ab


stractly considered, right. It is as evident to my mind as that ten is more than seven.

Again, the two systems, the majority system and the plurality system being so diverse, there being such a disparity between the two fundamentals, they cannot both be right. At least it appears so to me. We might just as well say that ten is seven and that seven is ten, as to say that two principles, lying at the very foundation of government and so different, should both in themselves be right.

Well, Sir, if the majority system be right, then to justify a change of that system, there should be some very strong and urgent necessity, some very strong circumstances existing which demand it.

What circumstances are there to justify this change? This is the question. Novelty? No, that is not a sufficient reason for this change. That old chart and compass under which the Commonwealth Fas sailed so prosperously and gloriously through all the conflicts of this government, ought not to be hastily abandoned. I can conceive circumstances-which I pray heaven may never exist-under which it might be proper to have a plurality system rather than none, and that is when the majority system fails to secure the peace of the Commonwealth.

But bas it? I remain to be convinced that it will endanger the prosperity or the safety of the Commonwealth. But again, if this majority system fails to develop the resources of the State; if it fails to insure the highest prosperity and happiness of the people, then reject it. But has it failed? Sir, with all our bleakness of climate; with all our sterility of soil; with all the hardships with which we have had to contend; with all these difficulties, still old Massachusetts remains what she always has been-the Banner State, the Pioneer State. Has she ever failed to develop her resources, or to mete out to her citizens what their wants required? Where can you find one instance in which any State, politically, morally, or intellectually, under a plurality system, has gone in advance of old Massachusetts, with her majority system?

But, again, I grant that almost any government is better than no government. Even a bad government, poorly administered, is better than no government. A monarchy is better than anarchy and confusion. Now, the question is, whether the majority system, under any circumstances, is likely to or can fail? That is the most important question to my mind. Will that system of government fail to secure to the Commonwealth a good and efficient government? If we are going to be without a government, by adopting the majority system, then we ought to give it up, and adopt the plurality or some other system, which shall insure us a government. But does past experience show, that under the majority system, Massachusetts has ever failed to elect all her officers? Has her government ever been numerically deficient? Has she ever failed to elect a governor or lieutenant-governor? Has she ever failed to provide herself with a full Senate or House of Representatives? Why, men from other States coming to this capitol and beholding our legislative body, exclaim, "What a body of men old Massachusetts produces"! Yet this is all under-what! Under the plurality system? No, Sir, under the majority system. Now, Sir, when we cannot elect our government officers with any tolerable certainty; when we are likely to be without a

[May 26th.

governor or without a Senate or House, elected by the majority; then I will ement to adopt the plurality system, and not before. Till then I must hold on to the old majority system.

My friend from Haverhill (Mr. Hall› remarked, that this was a matter of time and money, but he did not once say that the majority principle was wrong. He did not say that it was at all a malum in se. No, it was a mere matter of time and money. That was all. But did he say that to accomplish this advantage in respect to time and money we were sacrificing a great principle—a principle high as truth and lofty as justice? He did not say it; but I inferred it from what he did say, whether the inference was a just one or not.

But, again, the gentleman alludes to the matter of limiting the majority elections to the first, second, or third trial. Now, if the principle of the majority be worth anything, why abandon it at all? Mr. Chairman, I would rather-I would infinitely rather-fail in attempting to carry out right principles; righteous principles; principles as true as God is true; than to abandon them altogether; but when I see that we must fail; that we cannot carry out right princip les; then, as the only hope, I will take hold of the next best which we can succeed in carrying out; and so would any man.

Parties! Why, some gentlemen are afraid of parties. I am not. I love parties. I am glad we have different parties in the Commonwealth. Sir, we want all these parties to develop the resources of the Commonwealth. [Laughter.] We want the Hoosae party, we want the Western Road party, and a thousand other parties. We want the Free Soil party; (and we have got one, whether we want it or not;) we want the Democratic party; and there are, I think, some gentlemen here, who would be very loth to give up the Whig party. They would not give it up without a struggle. These different parties serve to maintain the purity of the government. Let any member of the legislature undertake to carry into effect any oppressive or corrupt measure, there are men with Argus eyes who will watch him; who will check him, and tell him of his faults just when he needs it. I am glad that not only the eyes of the Almighty are upon us, but that the eyes of men are also upon us. If we do not do right, let them tell us of it. These parties have the effect, certainly, to produce, if nothing else, a development of talent among us.

But again, if we are to have a plurality system -and for mercy's sake, I hope we are not; I mean to go against the plurality and in favor of the majority system to the last-but if we are to have a plurality system, let us have at least, two or three trials of the majority before we try it, even though it does cost some time and some money. I very freely admit, that it will cost both time and money. The gentleman shall have the full benefit of his argument, for it is his argument and not mine; I am not only willing to admit that it will cost time and money, but I am also willing to admit that time and money are valuable in their places. They will do great things and work wonders in the world, but they are of little consequence to me when brought in opposition to principle. If, therefore, after two or three trials it is found that the majority cannot elect, that the circumstances are such that right principles, if you will, cannot prevail, even then, it is better that there should be an exhibition of them, and that there should be a manly effort made to carry them

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