« ForrigeFortsett »
BRIGGS - BRADBURY.
members who may have a principle of importance have had an opportunity of submitting his propto submit, which they feel ought to be incorpo-osition, and given his reasons why, in his opinion, rated in the Constitution as a guide to future it should be adopted. legislation, but which they cannot, because of the Mr. BRADBURY, of Newton. I have lisordering the previous question, have the privilege tened with pleasure to the remarks of the gentleof presenting to the Convention. Sir, an occur- man from Pittsfield, they so perfectly coincide rence which took place the other day will suffi- with my own views. But there is one considerciently illustrate the practical operation of this ation as to the course taken in discussion in Comkind of procedure in such cases, and although the mittee of the Whole, which I think he has omitgentleman to whom I refer is not present, I may zed. As I understand the ruling of the Chair, in take the liberty of alluding to it. The distin- regard to the proceedings in Committee of the guished member from Taunton, (Mr. Morton,) Whole, it is that every gentleman may have a gave notice that he intended to offer an important right to submit an important proposition, but amendment to a proposition which was pending; may keep it in his pocket until within five minbut the previous question was called for, and it utes of the time of closing debate, when he may was sustained, and he therefore lost the opportu- offer it, and thus compel the Convention to come nity of presenting what perhaps might have been to an issue upon a question which cannot be dea very important principle.
bated. It seems to me that we shall get on much Now, my impression upon this subject is this, faster in our consideration of all the subjects -and I entertain the same opinion as many other which may come before us, by pursuing a system gentlemen,--that as we have assembled here to of unrestricted debate in Committee of the Whole, alter, amend and modify the Constitution of the than where gentlemen undertake to apply the gag Commonwealth-one of the most sacred duties and stop debate in this manner. which we could be called upon to perform—the The PRESIDENT. The Chair would remind debate upon every question should be continued the gentleman that he cannot speak of the Conas long as any delegate upon this floor in honest, vention in that manner. good faith, may desire to address the Convention. Mr. BRADBURY. I allude to the rule Why, Sir, who will say that Mr. A. or Mr. B. The PRESIDENT. The gentleman cannot shall have an opportunity to speak, but that Mr. speak of the rule in that form. C. shall not have that right. When any one of Mr. BRADBURY. I speak of the tendency the majority of the Convention is satisfied that of the rule; not of the intention of those who any person present wishes to abuse the privilege made it, and I suppose it is perfectly competent of debate, or occupy one moment of time for any for every member to do so without necessarily other
purpose than fair and legitimate discussion, implicating the author of the rule. I refer to the let there be a restriction at once put upon him, power which every gentleman has of holding both in Committee and in Convention; but so back an issue, until the time arrives when there long as any member wishes to discuss any ques- can be no debate upon it, and to the impropriety tion honestly and fairly, it is my impression that and inconvenience of adhering to a rule which he ought to be allowed to do so. It may prolong shall compel us to vote upon certain issues withdebate, perhaps, it may prolong the session ; but out debate. what of that? Is it not of far more importance Sir, I know it has been said by gentlemen, that when we get through here, every member that we can take refuge under a negative, and should feel that he has had an opportunity for gentlemen of your profession know full well the expressing his views upon the various questions value of a negative answer in special pleading. which have come before the body, and that prop- I hope that time may be allowed for the proper ositions have not been voted down without due discussion of this subject. I recollect the occurconsideration? What is a few days in a session rence of a discussion in the legislature upon this of the character of this, or the few thousand dol- identical question, which took place more than lars which we may cause to be expended, by our forty times in this very house, and yet it was not sitting here, compared with the fair, full and then canvassed in the manner it should be. It open discussion which ought to be allowed ? was at a time, too, when there was more interest Entertaining these views upon the subject gener- felt by the community in that discussion than ally, I am led to doubt the wisdom and propriety there is at present felt in the proposition to change of the proposition of my friend from Natick; and the basis of the popular branch of your governI do hope that this question will not be interfered ment. We have here also all the projects and with in Committee of the Whole, at least not suggestions which were brought forward in the until every gentleman who desires to do so shall Convention of 1820, and in subsequent years,
though they have not been fully discussed and here, all contributed to strengthen my resolution to considered; I hope that sufficient time will be sit here in silence. And, Sir, when, a few days allowed for that purpose.
ago, I was drawn aside from this resolution into Mr. WILSON. I must say that I am not a the debate upon another subject, it was most unlittle disappointed at the remarks of the gentle- expectedly to me; and was brought about by man from Pittsfield, and I do not think that gen- causes which I thought surely would not arise tleman or any other member of this body can say sufficiently strong to induce me again to ask on his conscience, that there has been the slight- the privilege of this floor. But, Sir, I forgot est attempt to stifle the debate upon any question to preface my remarks upon that occasion with that is or has been before the Convention.
the usual proclamation, that I “know no party Mr. BRIGGS. I ask the gentleman if he un- in this Convention;" that in coming here I “had derstood me as saying any such thing? I merely laid aside all party feeling, and that I had disalluded to the course which has been taken here avowed all allegiance to the requirements or of arresting discussion by fixing the time for the exactions of any political party.” Perhaps, Sir, it closing of the debate in Committee, and by calling may be too late for me now to make that proclafor the previous question in the Convention. Imation ; and I think, upon the whole, that it had not the slightest intention to intimate that may be better to let it be until the close of our injustice had been intended.
labors here ; for I would rather be judged, on the Mr. WILSON. I am very glad to understand whole, by my course here; and when we have that the gentleman does not charge that there has done our work I will submit whether I have been any disposition of that kind in this Conven- worn a party color more or less closely than those pion, and I moreover doubt if there is a single around me, for I think it is good to follow the old man in this body who has ever been denied the maxim, which says—“Let not him that putteth on privilege of saying all that he desired to say. In the harness boast with him that taketh it off.” regard to the closing of the debate, I will remark And, Mr. Chairman, I must also be allowed to again that I think my proposition will allow say that I have not aspired to the floor on this ocample time for every one to discuss the subject, casion for the purpose of mingling in the discussion and I wish that it might be adopted. But there of one of the most important questions likely to are rumors about this house that the Conven
be considered by this Convention, for the rash tion will adjourn in a short time, to ineet again purpose of attempting to add to the strength or in September ; I think, Sir, it is a feeling that is the beauty of the arguments which have been quite prevalent, and unless we can finish the adduced from various sides of the House, in consideration of the various subjects which must support of the one proposition, and especially come before us, in a reasonable time, we shall be those brought here and moulded and beautified compelled to adopt that course. In order to by that genius of which it is true, as it was of satisfy my friends upon the other side of this another of old, question, however, I will withdraw my motion.
- Nil tetigit quod non ornavit;" On motion of Mr. SCHOULER, of Boston, the Convention resolved itself into
nor, on the other hand, would I rush rashly
among the ponderous blows which have been COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE,
dealt in opposition. But, Sir, the course which Upon the resolves on the
the argument—if it may be called argument
has taken in reply to the arguments which have Basis of Representation.
been adduced and brought forward in support of Mr. Wilson, of Natick, in the Chair. The ques- the principles of the Minority Report, has been tion being upon the motion of the member for of such a nature that it seems to me, considering Boston, (Mr. Hale,) to substitute the Minority the character of the Convention to whom it has for the Majority Report.
been addressed, and of the subject on which it Mr. DAWES, of Adams. When I first took has been indulged in,-I say, that considering the my seat in this Convention, I had little expecta- nature, the mode, and the circumstances contion that any circumstances would arise under nected with these arguments, it seems to me that which I should feel myself compelled, either from they are worthy of some passing notice. inclination or a sense of duty, to throw myself Gentlemen upon this floor, upon a subject acupon its indulgence in debate. The position of knowledged by every one to be surrounded with things here, the distinguished talent and wisdom difficulties, intrinsic and extrinsic, have addressed of years with which those have been clothed with the sober judgment of the Convention, have apwhom I have had the honor of being associated | pealed to its sense of justice, have invoked its Tuesday,]
serious deliberations; and, Sir, how have they to inquire how and why we are here? By what been answered ? In many instances, instead of sort of commission do we hold our places here ? weighing these arguments, attention has been | By what authority has any particular member of called to the quarter from which they came, this Convention a right to appropriate to himself rather than to the weight to which they were en
the title of “reformer?” Sir, do you hold your titled. Here in this Convention, composed of commission here differing in terms from the one more than four hundred men, commissioned by which I hold? Have you a work to do here the Commonwealth to the discharge of the high- differing from that which I am sent here to do? est and most solemn duty with which any of her Certainly not, Sir, except in so far as your expeagents were ever intrusted, I have heard it asked rience and ability may devolve upon you greater upon this floor, in answer to these arguments, and more responsible duties. Who sent us here? “From whom do we get these lessons of reform? Was I sent here for any other purpose than that Are not these new doctrines from Boston for which you and your friends were sent? And Whigs?” And, Sir, by another gentleman it are we not all here upon this floor alike about our was said in reply: “ Are not these the men who master's work? I pray to know, Sir, whence opposed the calling of this Convention? Did comes the authority-by what sort of religion we not these very men say, but a few days ago, or a are actuated when we come here into this temple few months ago, at the most, that the Constitu- of reform and stand up to say to our fellow tion did not need amending? Sir, I distrust laborers, "Stand off, for I am holier than thou! arguments from such a source.”
I thank God that I am not as other men, even Another says, “I belong to the reform party, as these poor publicans.” I claim to be a reper se, upon this floor, and with whom do they former, Sir, and shall not permit that name to be belong?" Sir, I hope the gentleman likes that filched from me on this floor by any one, however term " per se;" but, Sir, there is an odor about broad may be the phylacteries he wears. But, it that I disrelish ; it was born out of lawful Sir, if it is proper for gentlemen to indulge in this wedlock, and he who likes it, may cherish it. course of remark, it is also proper to endeavor to
And another upon this floor, commenting reply to it, and I would ask those who thus on a proposition made by himself, which he answer the arguments which have been made offered for introduction into the organic law
here from time to time upon matters before us, to of the Commonwealth, accompanied the moving judge us by the record before they bring these of it with the request that those who resided in accusations against us. By what sort of record, localities that voted what he called the reform Sir, is a man justified in saying, upon this floor, ticket, might be expected and desired to express that there is a portion of this Convention opposed their views on the subject, and not those who to reform? For one, Sir, I will stand by the come from Boston, or other localities that had not record from the beginning of the Convention to voted the reform ticket. Another gentleman, in its close; and in the end I will submit it to those answer to a most elaborate and powerful argu- who sent us here whether there is any justificament adduced in favor of the principle of the tion in this accusation. Take the several matters Minority Report, exclaims, in the language which passed upon finally by this Convention; take the was put into the mouth of an old Trojan, when basis of the Senate; take the removal of the tax he felt his cause giving way: “ Timeo Danæos et qualification for voters; take the question of the dona ferentes”-I fear these Greeks even when council; take, seriatim, everything which has they bring gifts. I distrust the sources from passed upon the records of the Convention, and as which these arguments come.
to everything appertaining to just and important · Another appeals to the Convention, in alarm, to reforms those who are under this serious charge know whether they are going to follow the lead stand out upon the record up to the line—and as of the gentleman from Pittsfield. “ We must some gentlemen have said here, a little over the take our stand; we are responsible for this Con- line. Why, Sir, it seemed at one time here that vention, and we must do its work." I think that nothing did so offend as a proposition of reform these and similar sayings-sayings in substance coming from certain quarters; nothing would like these will occur to the minds of most of us put certain men so much out of temper as to have here as having been bandied about in this Con- propositions of reform brought forward from a cervention, from time to time, in answer to what tain quarter. Sir, what was the position in which has been addressed to us by members of the Con- we found ourselves here when the learned gentlevention, seriously, with candor, and with an man from Pittsfield sought to infuse a little Whig earnest desire to discharge faithfully and fully the reform (if I may use that phrase here,) into the duties incumbent upon us here. Permit me, Sir, I proposition for removing the tax qualification from
voters, viz., to remove it entirely? I have never proposition for single senatorial districts, for forty seen so much trouble manifested; I have never members. It was brought into the House under seen such distress evinced by gentlemen here, as the gallant lead of a distinguished gentleman of if it had been said most distinctly, “Stand aside; Boston, (Mr. Schouler). We were pledged to you do n't play this game.” It reminded me, Sir, the support of a proposition to base the House of of a gentleman on board a steamboat on the Mis- Representatives, of two or three hundred memsissippi river. Taking his breakfast one morning, bers, elected upon the principle of equality. the waiter brought him a liquid of which he Precisely where we stand now. We stood could not exactly tell the quality, and, after having pledged to apply the plurality system to all electasted it, he said to the waiter, “if this is coffee tions of state officers, and to provide for the bring me some tea, and if it is tea bring me coffee.” election of sheriffs, registers of probate and (Laughter.] If the Whigs are in favor of a meas- commissioners of insolvency by the voters of the ure we will oppose it—if they oppose it we are respective counties, and the justices of the peace in favor of it.
by the voters of their respective towns. To But, while they are not content with examin- these propositions, thus introduced, every meming us upon the record, and insist upon travelling ber of that party which has been denounced upon out of the record, and going beyond the Conven- this floor, as opposed to all reform in the present tion, I inquire again by what authority does any Constitution, stood pledged, and for which every man upon this floor say, that those who act with member of that party voted, both in the House us here have been opposed to any reform in the and the Senate. Constitution: When, Sir, was it? Where, and And, Sir, every member of that party which by whom? Acting for any portion of that party now bring these accusations against us, voted who are charged with being opposed to reform, them on to the table, and it would be just as fair speaking by authority and for any considerable for me to say that they are opposed to all reforms, number, by whom, when, and where was it said because they voted down these propositions, as it that the Constitution of Massachusetts did not would be for others to say that we were opposed need reform
to all reforms because we were not satisfied with A MEMBER, (in the eastern gallery). What the mode of bringing about those reforms, viz. : is the question before the Committee, Mr. Chair- by the means of a constitutional Convention. man ?
I know, Sir, that these matters are foreign, in Mr. DAWES, (continuing). We differed as to some degree, to the questions directly before us. the method of amending the Constitution, but I do not wonder that the gentleman in the gule not as to the Constitution itself except in some lery, who inquired a few moments since, what of its details. Why, Sir, we stood committed to the question was before the Committee, was lost propositions for the amendment of the Constitu
in this maze. I have not seen him here listening tion which have since been brought in here and to the debates which have taken place, and thereadopted.
fore I wonder the less that he should be bewilIn 1847, we stood upon the very first proposi- dered. tion which has been adopted here—I think it If it is not in order, to indulge in the course of was the first-which was attempted to be put remarks which I have pursued, I trust I have not through, but failed precisely in the same manner wandered beyond the beaten path, though I may that certain propositions offered by the gentle- have gone beyond the letter. man who represents Erving, (Mr. Griswold,) This is what has been brought against us here. failed in a House of his own friends.
We are charged with inconsistency, and with In 1850, we stood committed upon propositions shifting about—that we are a party of shifts and which have come up here and been adopted, one changes. Well, Sir, I ask for the record and the after another. In 1850, we stood committed to proof. On what point have we changed our the propositions which the gentleman who repre- ground? We proposed, in 1850, a board of cansents Wilbraham, (Mr. Hallett,) brought in here, vassers to count the votes cast for state officers, to abolish the executive council, and to establish and we have voted for that proposition in this cona board of canvassers, and that, too, almost invention. In 1847, we proposed to change the time the very words in which the gentleman for Wil- of holding elections to the first Tuesday in Novembraham proposes to amend the Constitution in ber, and here in this Convention we have voted those respects. Sir, that was a Whig measure, for the same proposition. In 1861, we proposed and the Whigs advocated it—and as here in this a Senate of forty members, with single senatorial Convention, some went for retaining it.
districts, and we, every one of us, have voted for Then, Sir, in 1851, we stood pledged to the that proposition in this Convention. In 1850,
we proposed, some of us, to abolish the executive | bear a strong resemblance to what I find put council, and some of us disagreed to that propo- forth two or three years ago, and then presented sition. In 1853, upon this floor, the gentleman to the consideration of the people of the Comwho represents Wilbraham, (Mr. Hallett,) pro- monwealth. And I submit they had as much to poses to abolish the executive council. Some of do with the forming of that public sentiment us have gone with him, and some against him. which called this Convention as any other docuWe proposed, in 1851, Sir, the district system for ment that issued at the time. representatives. We have been charged, upon this And Sir, after the proposition of the gentleman floor, that upon this subject of the district system, who here represents Erving, (Mr. Griswold,) we have made sudden and mysterious changes. failed in a House of his own, he proposed a conWe have been charged with introducing something stitutional Convention similar, though I do not new—something, as my friend upon my left, (Mr. know thatit was precisely like that under which we Boutwell,) said, new and unheard of before. I here hold our seats. This gentleman, from whom submit, Sir, that it was a question to which we I have read extracts, again, in reference to that invited the attention of our friends long ago, and Convention, and to the question of calling a Conto which we committed ourselves before this Con- vention, and the purposes for which it was called, vention was thought of. Before my learned and put himself and put us in a position, such that esteemed friend who represents Erving, (Mr. while we keep it, no man, I submit, who cares to be Griswold,) proposed his amendment to the Con- candid and fair in bringing charges against us, if stitution, in the Senate, before he had matured, he has posted himself upon the subject, will bring and I presume before he held it necessary to ma- the charge which has been brought against us ture his ideas of a Convention to revise the Con- upon this floor. In viewing the several reasons stitution, one of the prominent members of the adduced by the chairman of the Committee which party against whom this charge is made, addressed introduced that bill, and who is the same gentlethe Senate upon that question. He then put men who has the honor of being the chairman of himself and put us, precisely where we now the Committee which reported the resolves under stand, where we have stood before, and where we consideration, he said :hope and believe we shall stand when the Constitution shall be finally ratified by the people of
“Next, the Committee cautiously propose to this Commonwealth. I will read a few words, adopt the plurality system in more of our elecin order to see whether this is so new, and strange subject. How much of doubt, if any, in regard
tions. The Committee speak hesitatingly on this and startling a proposition.
to it has been infused into their minds, by the These remarks were offered by the Hon. law of last year as to presidential electors, they Charles Theodore Russell, a member of the Sen
do not tell us. But I am free to say, I go for this ate from Suffolk. He says:
principle in all elections, as the lesser of two evils although I have had doubts in regard to it. I
voted for the Act of last year, and would vote for “ If, therefore, any change is to be made, we may as well meet the matter boldly on its merits, islative control. Settle once the principle, and two
one this, as to all remaining elections within legand not by a temporary compromise to expedi
or three lines introduced into the Constitution, ency. I would, as the chairman of the Commit
will cover all the cases there." tee on Agriculture, in the House, now a member of this body, (Honorable Mr. Buckingham,) said, Then in reference to the immediate question a few years ago, when the subject of retrench
now before the Committee, the gentleman put ment was referred to that Committee, in profes; himself and put us upon the position, before the sional language, take the bull by the horns,' and come at once to the system of equal districts. people of this Commonwealth, where we stand The amendment proposes single districts for Sen- to-day, in the following language :ators. Here ends the sanctity and inviolability of county lines in representation—a system just “Do the Committee mean to foist into the as old and cherished as that of towns, and adopt- Constitution the rotten borough system' of ed for the same reasons of convenience and pre- which the honorable chairman, (Mr. Griswold,) dilection. Adopt now the proposal made last year is the distinguished progenitor. If so, I am opin the House, and divide each of these senatorial posed to it. Do they intend a just and equal disdistricts into five equal representative districts, trict system? If so, I am willing to go for it.” and you have a perfectly equal system of representation of the people. This will make a So in reference to changing the time of holding House of two hundred members, or one member the annual election, he said :to about 5,000 inhabitants.”
“It is next proposed to alter the day of the anGentlemen who have gone before me in this nual election, so as to conform to the day for debate must pardon me if I say that their remarks I choosing presidential electors. This, the Com