« ForrigeFortsett »
Brown, Alpheus R.
Chapin, Daniel E.
Durgin, John M.
Hazewell, Charles C.
Hewes, William H.
Loomis, E. Justin
Phinney, Silvanus B.
Ross, David, S.
Howland, Abraham H. Wilson, Willard
Banks, Nathaniel P., Jr. Lawton, Job G., Jr.
Beach, Erasmus D.
Bell, Luther V.
Lowell, John A.
Marvin, Theophilus R.
Absent and not voting, 85.
So the motion did not prevail.
The question recurred on the motion of the gentleman from Freetown, (Mr. Hathaway,) to amend the third resolve so as to provide that representatives in the general court be, hereafter, chosen as by law shall be established.
The question was taken, and the amendment was rejected.
Mr. WILSON, of Natick. I now move to amend the third resolve by substituting the following:
Resolved, That the Constitution be so amended as to provide that in all elections of representatives to the general court, when no election is effected on the first trial, the meetings may be adjourned, from time to time, until the meeting of the legislature to which the said representatives are to be chosen, provided that no one adjournment shall be for a longer time than six days.
Mr. WILSON, of Natick. I will detain the Convention but a few moments on this question. I am willing, although I am in favor of adhering to the majority system, to depart from that system under the pressure of necessity. By the Report of the Committee, senators are to be chosen by the plurality rule, and county and district officers are also to be chosen by that rule. I see a necessity for this, and I am willing to acquiesce in it. But I see no necessity for making the representatives and town officers elected by the plurality rule; none whatever. Gentlemen may say that it is
necessary in order to secure a representation from
I understand that this was the position of
The gentleman from Salem, (Mr. Lord,) told us that he saw through this plan. That gentleman is very keen-sighted, and sees all that is to be He sees, or thinks that he sees, the reason why this plan is made. It carries on the face of it something that looks very much like an arrangement for party ends. But, Sir, let us have the representatives and the town officers elected by the majority system. The election of these officers is a question of as much moment and importance as any other question that the people themselves can direct and control in their own primary meetings. And then we have adopted a system, a compromise system, and one which
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY. - HOOPER-FRENCH- ABBOTT - GARDNER.
I am ready and willing to sustain. But if we are to adopt the Report of the Committee, if we are to elect representatives and town officers by a plurality rule, I say frankly and freely, for one, you may take the plurality system altogether;-take it, and let it have free course and be glorified.
Mr. HOOPER, of Fall River. I am exceedingly surprised at the remarks of the gentleman from Natick. I had supposed that this Report was a compromise, and had made up my mind to stand by it as such. It is well known, that in the first instance, I was in favor of the plurality system throughout. But I found that gentlemen differed; and I was willing, as I could not get the whole, to take half of it rather than have none. I supposed that the Committee thought this Report equitable, and I came to the conclusion to support it. I confess it has taken me altogether by surprise, that the gentleman has made the motion which he has. The class of officers to which he alludes, is that to which I wish to have the plurality principle apply. I prefer that it should be applied in the first instance; but if we cannot have it in the first instance, let us have it at the second trial, and let town officers be elected in the same manner. The greatest complaint in the town which I represent is, that we have not been able, for several years, to elect our town officers without great delay and inconvenience. Now, we want this remedy, so as to have an opportunity to elect them at the second trial, at least, if we cannot have it at the first. I was in hopes that we should take this Report as a compromise on which we could all stand; so that we should all feel that we have succeeded in obtaining what we wish, in part, at least. I hope that the gentleman from Natick will take this view of the matter, and that we shall adopt the Report without farther amendment, since the amendment of the gentleman from Freetown, (Mr. Hathaway,) has been rejected. There seems to me a propriety in making this distinction, if you make any; that you should leave those officers who are to be voted for by the people of the State, so as to apply the majority rule to them. It has been said here that the judges are elected by the people, because they are appointed by a governor who is elected by the people. In the same way, we may say that these officers will be elected by the people, because they will be elected by a legislature which is elected by the people. If the argument is good in one case, it is just as good in the other. Now, in that view, as long as we can have the will of the people represented in the legislature, it is only at second hand that we elect these officers; and I think, that if we exclude any from this rule, these officers are the proper ones to be excluded. There was a strong reason why the senators should be elected by plurality; for if not elected at the first trial by the people, their election was transferred to another constituency, other than the one they represent. The people in the small towns are immediately interested to have this pass, because without it, many of them will fail to be represented. But the gentleman says, we shall not compel them to send representatives, because they may vote not to send, if they please. That is true; but it will seldom take place. The result will be, that when it is found there will be an election, men will take measures to see that the right candidates are put in nomination, and they will attend the polls to see that their election is made secure; conse
quently, a better class of men will be elected than we have had under our majority system. I hope that the amendment of the gentleman will not prevail, but that the Report of the Committee will be adopted as it now stands.
Mr. FRENCH, of Berkley. Mr. President: I am rather astonished at the gentleman from Fall River. He appears to want a plurality to elect town officers, and I know that they have been embarrassed in that place on account of not being able to elect their town officers. But I cannot hardly understand what the gentleman wants. To this third resolution I had intended to have offered an amendment, if it had not been done by the gentleman from Natick; because I do not think it looks proper, as it now stands. At the first ballot a majority is to elect; and then it is provided that if a majority fails, an election shall be had by a plurality. Well, Sir, what do you want a second vote for? On the very first vote, you have a plurality, if you do not have a majority. But it seems to me to be proper that the people should not come together upon two bases for electing representatives and town officers; that they should try one at a time, and if that did not succeed, they could have another meeting and time to take breath, and take a sober second thought. Now this accomplishes all the gentleman asks for; for if they are not elected by a majority on the first ballot, they are sure to be elected by a plurality at the second meeting. All the difference is in two meetings. That is all; and I do not see but the gentleman may be accommodated under this amendment. I am in favor of this amendment, and I believe it to be right.
Mr. ABBOTT, of Lowell. I desire to say a single word on the amendment of the gentleman from Natick, and I am free to say that unless that amendment prevails, I, for one, am disposed to put myself on some sort of principle. I am disposed to go for the compromise, or else for the plurality, or else for the majority. [Laughter.] But as the matter is, at this present time, as it seems to me, I am going for neither the one or the other; or, to use a more common expression, the scheme presented by the Committee is "neither fish, flesh, nor good red herring." For my part, I do not wonder that my friend from Fall River is willing to go for what he calls a compromise; but I ask if he expects those who are in the position that I am, those who believe in the majority principle, that it is the true conservative power where the power is in the hands of the people, who believe that a man has a right to shelter himself, and his conscience, and will, behind the heart of the people; I ask if he believes gentleman who believe that, can go for this compromise? A compromise, indeed! It is a compromise which is all on one side. I want to know how much I, as a majority man, get here by this compromise ?
I want a majority, or I want something like a majority in the law-making part of this government. I do not care so much whether it be a plurality or a majority in the little petty offices, or the great offices, if you please, where men are chosen every year merely to execute and carry out the laws which are made by the law-making part of the government; but I want a majority in the law-making part of the government, and when I am called upon to vote for the men who are to make the laws, before I have to give up my will
and my way, I want to know, and I think I have a right to know, that the majority of the people go for that particular thing. I want the right to call upon a majority, and not upon less than a majority, or upon every little faction that may come up and get so as to number one more than any other faction in the community. Well, Sir, how is it in this compromise, as they call it? You are to vote for your governor, attorney-general, and some other officers-how many I do not know, and do not care-once, and if you do not choose them by a majority, they are to be chosen by whom, I pray you, Sir? They are to be chosen by two bodies, who are to be elected upon the plurality system, and the worst kind of plurality that can be brought into this House, or anywhere else. It is something that gentlemen cannot wink out of sight, or keep out of sight, that you have provided here by your vote, that a majority of the House of Representatives may be chosen by one-third part of the people of this Commonwealth; and now you ask gentlemen to allow your governor and the other great officers to be elected by that House so chosen, and by the Senate, who are elected by pluralities. I do not regard the first trial by majority, as anything-that is merely tentative; it is merely a feeler, as my friend for Manchester, has told us. But, on the next election, you abandon the whole; and yet you talk to me about principle, when you have given up all principle, and all that you have got in exchange, is something to go into the legislature and trade upon. Somebody else besides the gentleman from Salem, will come to the same conclusion, and see the same thing; you have given up principle and got something that you can trade upon in the legislature. That is so apparent, that it sticks out in every direction; the lion's skin is not a quarter large enough to cover something that I will not give any name to. Now, Sir, gentlemen expect persons who believe as I believe, in the majority principle; who believe that it is the true conservative doctrine, that a democrat should put between him and harm; that the great will of the people, the great heart of the people, is seldom if ever wrong, when a majority are suffered to give expression to their views-they expect that we, believing all this, can go for this compromise where we give up everything, and gain nothing that will do us any good-gain nothing that in my humble judgment will not be a reproach to us forever after. I say, if the gentleman from Natick, would take the Report of the Committee as it is, I, for one, am prepared to go for it, and accept the plurality system to that extent. While this is not a fish, that would be, although I agree with him, that this smells mighty fishy.
Mr. GARDNER, of Seekonk. I have not detained the Convention at all upon this question, although I have listened with much interest to the remarks of other gentlemen who have spoken upon it; but, before the question is taken, I wish to express my views in short, in regard to it. I must say, that I am obliged to differ with my friend from Fall River, (Mr. Hooper,) and many other gentlemen of the Convention, who have stated here, that the people of the Commonwealth were dissatisfied with the present system, and in favor of the plurality system. I think that I know something myself of the views and feelings of the constituency which I represent here, and the people of that part of the State. To be sure, I am from the same county with my friend upon
my right, (Mr. Hooper); but, Sir, I do not believe that a majority of the people of the county of Bristol, or of this Commonwealth, are at present prepared for the plurality system, even so far as we have already adopted it. I hope, therefore, that the amendment which has been offered by the gentleman from Natick, will be adopted. I think gentlemen may, perhaps, make up their minds for themselves, in some instances, better than they can for their constituents. I think they are mistaken in supposing that the people desire so many reforms in the Constitution. We have made some which are salutary and democratic in their tendency, which are well conceived, and which I have no doubt will be adopted by the people; but I doubt very much, whether we have made a judicious reform in the manner in which we have settled the basis of the Senate; I should have preferred that it had been based upon legal voters. In regard to the plurality question, I hope the amendment of the gentleman from Natick will prevail; and if it should not, I should like to move an amendment to the third resolution, which would be, to strike out all after the word "election." I should prefer that, but still I shall give my vote, with great pleasure, for the proposition which has been made by the gentleman from Natick. I have not, upon any occasion, detained the Convention with any very protracted remarks; nevertheless, there are some questions which have been taken here, in cases where the previous question has been unexpectedly ordered, or some motion has been made that the question should be taken at a specified time, so that the gentlemen, who, like me, happen to sit in the rear of the hall-though with my own position I am well pleased-have not had an opportunity to express their views. At any rate, I will take the liberty to say, that some questions have been passed upon, in a manner which, in my judgment, needs to be reviewed, before we adjourn. Although I am in favor of bringing the doings of the Convention to a close as speedily as possible, yet I hope, that what we do will be done for the public good; and I hope that this question will be discussed, if need be, until we shall vote down the propositions contained in these resolutions.
Mr. TRAIN, of Framingham. I am very happy, Mr. President, that the gentleman from Natick has moved this amendment; because, Sir, it has given me an opportunity to know that that gentleman, and my friend from Lowell, (Mr. Abbott,) have been brought to a realizing sense of their condition. [Laughter.] In other words, they have been brought to appreciate that the Report of this Committee is by no means such a proposition as this Convention should go for; that it is an attempt, either intentional or unintentional, to place the chief offices in the Commonwealth in the hands of a legislature who may be chosen by a majority or not, as political capital upon which to truck and dicker. Now I think, that, as a member of the minority of this Convention, in relation to the remarks of those gentlemen, I am entitled to speak right out, without keeping anything back. We have been told, by the member for Manchester, by the member from Natick, and by the member from Lowell, all leading minds in this Convention, that that is the result of this Report; and I think that I am assuming nothing, as a member of the Whig party in this Commonwealth, when I say "Amen" to their declaration. We are called
upon to vote here that senators and councillors should be chosen by plurality; that district and county officers should also be chosen by plurality; but that six of the highest officers in the Commonwealth should be chosen by a majority, and that failing, that they should be chosen by the legislature. Now I should like to have some gentleman who has astuteness enough, point out the principle upon which this distinction is made. I have been unable to see it. I agree now, as I always have done, to the general doctrine, that if you apply the plurality principle in one instance, you are bound to apply it in the whole. I need not recapitulate the arguments which have been gone over in the course of the debate upon this subject, because it is well understood, and I think it must be conceded that the argument of necessity alone-if it is an argument-should induce the people of this Commonwealth to adopt the plurality system; and I do not rise for the purpose of going into an argument generally upon the propriety of adopting either the plurality or the majority system, but for the purpose of addressing myself to the amendment of the gentleman from Natick; and, Sir, having been born and educated in one of the country towns of Massachusetts, I know of nothing that would be more oppressive, that would create more hardship, and would place the House and Senate more in the hands and in the power of the money of Massachusetts, than this amendment which has been offered by the gentleman from Natick. The proposition, as I understand it, is that if a majority fails to elect at the first ballot in any of the towns, they may adjourn from day to day for the purpose of election, provided, that that adjournment does not extend beyond six days. Now, Sir, I desire to know how many towns there are in this Commonwealth where a majority of the people can afford to go to town meeting from the first Monday in November until the snow flies? I do not know of any such towns. In my town we have seven hundred voters, and there may be one hundred and fifty out of the seven hundred who can afford to go to town meeting from the first Monday in November, until the legislature meets, but there are not more than that. At the first town meeting perhaps there will be five hundred voters out of the seven hundred, and you can get a large expression of the people of the town; but at the next election there would not be more than half of the whole number there, and after that there would be but a small fraction. These men find that it is a great expense of time and money to go to town meeting so often; and hence the oppression of the amendment of my friend from Natick. In my own town I have three hundred constituents who work by the day in the cotton factory, or who work at manufacturing boots and shoes; and every day that they go to town meeting causes them a loss of from one to two dollars each, which they need to appropriate to the support of their families; and are we to be told now that we should vote from day to day from the first of November, until the legislature meets, for the purpose of choosing a representative by majority? I put it to members from the country, as a matter of fairness and justice to those who are unable to go to town meetings from day to day, if they should be dragooned into any measure, which will, in the end, put the power of administering political affairs into the hands of those few who can thus afford to go when the others cannot?
That is the whole of it. Those who have the most money, those who have the best wind-to use a race-course expression-and the most bottom, will choose their men at last; for they can attend the election after the poor man has been obliged to stay at home, to earn bread for his wife and children. That is what I understand the proposition to be.
Now, I do not know to which party I belong here-whether I am a conservative or a radical. I thought I was a conservative-I was always taught that I was a conservative-but since my friend from Lowell, whom I have known so long, claims to be a conservative, I think it is very possible that I have been driven to the other side. If a desire that my fellow-citizens should be allowed to exercise their rights and to be represented, is radical, then I am a radical. If being driven from the position that but a small part of the seven hundred voters in my town should be allowed to choose a representative is radical, then I am a radical as opposed to that position. Look at the last election in the district in which I live, or in any of the congressional districts in which there were elections last fall; and I say, Sir,-I believe that I cannot be mistaken,-that the representatives to congress who were chosen by pluralities at that election, were chosen by a smaller vote than the minority candidate had at the first election. I believe that to be true; I am not quite so sure how it was in my own district, where Mr. Sabine was chosen; but I am very sure that it was so in the adjoining district, where another gentleman was chosen whom I will not name. Gentlemen will find that just in proportion to the number of elections, just in that ratio does the number of voters diminish; because a majority of the people of the Commonwealth who exercise the right of suffrage cannot afford to go to the polls and vote day after day; and that is the reason why I oppose the amendment of my friend from Natick. I trust that no such amendment will pass. The same reason which he urges in favor of the amendment, as it seems to me, applies with double force against it. He says that if you adopt the plurality principle in these towns, there may be a desire to concentrate against the plurality candidate, and so they will vote not to send. I say it is better that they should have no representative, than that, because they are unable to send a man to represent them properly, they should be misrepresented by a representative upon this floor. These are, briefly, the views which I have entertained in regard to this matter. I did not propose to occupy the time of the Convention as I have done; but I have a very strong feeling and belief, that the principles which I have enunciated are the true principles which should govern the elections in this Commonwealth.
Mr. DAVIS, of Plymouth. I am very glad, Sir, that the gentleman from Natick has seen fit to move any amendment which will shape, or which will have the tendency to shape, the Report of the Committee. I agree with what has been said by the gentleman from Lowell, that I see no rule-I see no principle-I see no compromise in the Report of the Committee; and I have not yet seen that the chairman of the Committee which made that Report, has evinced any desire to recommend it farther than by thus offering it to this Convention. He has not defended it, nor is he present here
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY. — BRIGGS-KEYES.
to take charge of it; and certainly, if the Convention will read the preface to the Report, I think they will perceive that he has given no reasons there which will recommend it to this body. I am glad, Mr. President, that this amendment has been offered by the gentleman from Natick, because it is, in some degree, like that which was offered in Committee of the Whole, yesterday, by myself; and I certainly do not care which amendment prevails, if either of them has any tendency to prevent the election of town officers by plurality; because I regard them as substantially the same. I rise, at this time, to state one reason why the plurality system should not prevail in any election-more especially in town elections and in the elections of representatives-and it is a reason which I have not seen or heard stated. It is more particularly applicable to town and city elections. It seems to me that elections by plurality, for town officers and town representatives, would be the means of introducing a political demoralization here, which the experience of other States has shown us almost necessarily follows in town and municipal affairs. I ask gentlemen of this Convention whether they believe that if the majority system had prevailed in the city of New York, the country and the world would have seen that spectacle of corruption in the aldermen of the city of New York, which has now become a matter of history!
I believe that plurality in elections for representatives, as well as for town officers, tends directly to that end; and moreover, that if any local object is to be gained, if any particular private speculation is in view, in a town or city; if a street is to be cut in a certain direction, or a new one laid out through some man's land, or any other particular object is to be attained, all that they have to do is to get a caucus; and while the more silent, honest, but careless voters are slumbering in security at home, or are divided upon other matters, this caucus nomination is brought out under the guise of party, and before the majority of the citizens are aware, by the vigilance and activity of men intent upon a private purpose, they carry their election under the plurality system. It was for that reason,-a reason I did not state before, because I supposed it was the sense of the Convention that, without debate, many parts of the Report of the Committee would be rejected,-that I offered this amend
Mr. BRIGGS, of Pittsfield. It has been said that politics makes strange bed-fellows, and I believe that Conventions do also. But a little while ago I found myself voting point blank against the gentleman from Natick, (Mr. Wilson,) and, I believe, the gentleman from Lowell, over the way. Now, Sir, I find myself in their ranks, an humble supporter of the proposition of the gentleman from Natick, although I could wish that he would modify it a little. I have made inquiry, a great many times, of gentlemen who, I suppose, would know something about it, how it happens that that provision came into the Constitution that the towns were obliged to elect their representatives in one of four days,-first on regular election day, then at two adjournments, and then on the fourth Monday in November,and I must say that I have never yet had a sufficient reason assigned. The gentleman from Framingham has given, perhaps, as good a reason as can be given, which is, that it is not advisable
that the people should be called together too frequently for the purpose of voting. That, however, is not a satisfactory reason to me. I should prefer to adopt the system of permitting the people to hold meetings as long as they pleased for election purposes, even if they did not succeed, down to the very day of the adjournment of the legislature. I would carry out what we have carried out here. I see before me the respected gentleman who succeeds our lamented colleague, whom we last week put into the grave, who takes his seat on the second day of the week during which the Convention have declared that we should close our labors. Is there any objection to that? None whatever. Would there have been any objection to it if the people had seen fit to have voted on the matter ten times? None whatever.
And, Sir, if you will not give the people such a Constitution as will permit them to elect their officers on the first ballot, what earthly reason can be assigned why they should not be allowed to try until they can come to a final determination, and elect a man according to their own mind? I would not provide that they should not adjourn for a longer period than six days. I see no necessity for any provision of that kind. Leave the matter to the people of the towns. Let them adjourn for as short a time, or as long a time, as they please. Leave it to them; and then I would adopt a provision in the Constitution to the effect that the towns which are entitled to representation, and which have not chosen a representative, may send a man to the legislature any day previous to the last day of the session. I shall, however, vote for the proposition as it is.
One word more, Mr. President. Gentlemen complain of the Report of the Committee. Why in the world should they? They say that it contains no principle. Why, Sir, does it not contain all principles? [Laughter.] Who is there that ought not to be satisfied with it? Do you want an election by a majority? Governor, lieutenantgovernor, treasurer, attorney-general, and auditor, must be elected by the good old-fashioned method of a majority-of what? Why, Sir, they must come up here and be elected by representatives chosen by one-third of the people. [Laughter.] Can any majority man be dissatisfied with that? Do you want a plurality? Your plurality men-of whom I have the honor to be one-why, Sir, your senate is to be elected by a clean plurality, and so are your county officers. Do you want both principles? Look at your town representatives, and your municipal elections. Do you want a majority system? There you have it, and if you cannot elect upon that system, then you have the privilege of trying the plurality plan; and yet, here we are, grumbling at this Report-a Report which furnishes individuals everything they want in that line, as far as it goes. Now, it seems to me, that we are making a mistake. I say, with all respect to the ConventionI know we have no right to talk to them, but I know, also, that they are civil gentlemen, and they will bear with me-I say, I believe at this moment, that the great people of the State of Massachusetts, are looking up to this House for the adoption of the plurality system. I may be mistaken; if I am, I am mistaken; but that
is my opinion. As to the majority system, have they not felt the inconvenience of it, year after year; and have not members of differ
ent parties, on different occasions, advocated the plurality system? And are there not numbers of gentlemen,-I say it with all respect; I do not intend it, as my friend from Boston, (Mr. Hillard,) would say, as a "fling,"-are there not gentlemen, whose ears listen to me, that came here strong plurality men, who have abandoned that notion, and has it not been assigned by some, as a reason for abandoning it, that the Whigs have come up here in one solid phalanx in favor of it? And is that a sufficient reason? Mr. President: with some gentlemen I have no doubt that that reason is all-sufficient. If the people want it, is there any danger in adopting it? And, if they do not want it, no man ought to go for it; and, as far as I know, those who cooperate with me in political affairs out of the Convention, at home, and who have expressed their opinions honestly, have entertained this opinion, though they may have changed that opinion, as all honest men will do when they see sufficient reason for doing so.
I say, Sir, without occupying more of the time of the Convention, that I seriously wish gentlemen would attend to the arguments that have been presented to them, not on this side of the House, but from their own friends. I wish they would come forward and answer the arguments of my friend for Manchester, (Mr. Dana,) on this subject, or carry out those principles which but three hours ago were so strongly shown to be the sense of the Convention. This is certainly an important subject; one which strikes deeply at our political rights, and which will have an important effect upon those rights for years to come. I would wish that this question should be met and decided upon its merits, and that we should carry out fully and fairly, and clearly and plainly, what I believe to be the unmistakable indications of the public wish. But, Sir, if that cannot be done, for one individual, I am disposed to get as near to it as I can; and, with the present aspect of the proposition before the House, I shall support most cordially the proposition of the gentleman from Natick, (Mr. Wilson,) though I wish he would present it in a somewhat modified form.
Mr. KEYES, for Abington. I should not have risen to say another word to the Convention, on this subject, had it not been for the fact, that it has been mentioned, several times, that the chairman of the Committee which reported these resolutions, is absent, and that absence been construed as being intentional on his part. And, as I had as much to do with that Report as he had, and as it has been assailed as having no principle, and it having been asserted, again and again, that no good reasons can be assigned for the several points it embraces, I wish to say a word or two in its defence.
The gentleman from Plymouth (Mr. Davis) is opposed to it, because he regards it as a monster, without character, without principle, and without everything else that, in the remotest degree, could recommend it. But, Sir, I immediately saw the reason why he opposed it. He had offered an amendment, similar in its provisions to that which is now pending, as offered by the gentleman from Natick, (Mr. Wilson,) and which was rejected by the Committee of the Whole. That is a sufficient reason for his opposition.
Then, the gentleman from Lowell (Mr. Adams) is similarly situated. He made a very proper speech, in favor of the majority system—and I am
ELECTIONS BY PLURALITY. — KEYES - SCHOULER - WILSON.
sorry that we had not many speeches of the same kind—a long time ago. But it is too late to make them now. There has been a great deal said here about "principle; " but it strikes me, Mr. President, that there is very little principle in the whole matter. Now, Sir, here is a complete compromise; not like the compromises we hear of in some other parts of the country, which contain matter which nobody can adopt; and, Sir, I contend that there is a good reason for every one of these propositions. What were the complaints before? They were not made on the ground of principle, at all. There is not a man on the floor of this hall, who would wish to say, before the people, that the majority principle is not the only and the proper principle that ought to be adopted; and the moment you depart from it, you lessen the government, and degrade it, in every sense of the word. And, as I said before, the only principle about it is, on the ground of inconvenience, and its only effect to destroy one party and permit another party to rise into
Now, Sir, I say that we had evidently abandoned the idea of coming to any decision on the ground of any distinct and positive principle; and that was the reason why the Committee went out to see if we could not devise some plan on which we could harmonize. In the early part of the day, I explained briefly some of the reasons which had operated upon the Committee, and some of the advantages which would result from the adoption of the Report. In regard to the town system, every-body knows that it extends the privileges of the people to give them more than one ballot. Why do they wish it? It is for their own satisfaction and convenience. When they cannot agree upon the caucus nominations, they can have a second choice-a choice emphatically of their own, without the intervention of a caucus; and there is, therefore, no inconvenience in the arrangement, so far as it regards the towns. If they say: "Let us decide upon the matter today," they will do so; and, after having voted once and come to no decision, they may have twenty candidates if they please. Here, then, in these propositions, there is a fair compromise on both sides.
Now, it was said by the gentleman from Natick, that if the people, at a town meeting, could not agree on a candidate, they could agree to adjourn; and that, therefore, the majority would rule. But, Sir, it is not so. The polls are open at nine o'clock, and there are no majorities there to adjourn on this system; and they will go on and take a vote, and after they have made a count, and decided that they will have no election, then the majority rules.
The gentleman from Lowell, said that the House of Representatives, by this plan, may be elected by a third party, in Massachusetts. Why, Sir, the moon may be made of green cheese, for anything I know. A great many things, may be; but may bees do not fly in July or August. We all know that all this talk about inequalities in representation, is humbug, from beginning to end. It is all absurdity, and reminds me of a conversation I had with a gentleman from Boston, the other day, who told me, with a long countenance, that this inequality was perfectly awful. I asked him if it had ever occurred to him, that during the last ten years, he had exercised sixty-six times more power in the legislature
than I had; and that while that was the case he had never thought there was any necessity for a change in the Constitution? I told him that I lived in a town having 4,500 inhabitants, electing one representative every year; that I voted for one representative every year, while he voted for fortyfour representatives; that he elected one representative for every 3,100 of the population of Boston, and I one for 4,500; and that he had sixty-six times more power in the legislature, than I had; and yet he had lived under the system for ten long years, and said that all was equal enough, and answered every-body's purpose well enough. There was no ruin and destruction, under that system. The country towns, Sir, are to be opposed to each other always. Why, Sir, if you had a decent party, here in Boston, one half of the country towns would go for you. [Laughter.] Therefore, these towns are divided against each other, and this vast accumulation of power in the country is just as much for the benefit of cities, as for anybody else, and they can calculate upon it if they only behave themselves.
Now, as I said before, I felt in duty bound to go for the Report, because I thought it was made to meet the wishes of the members of this Convention, a wish expressed by a previous vote. It has not given everything to one side, and kept everything from the other, but has divided the spoils. But now that gentlemen see fit not to accept of it, the obligation I felt under to support it, is removed from me. I do not care whether any more of it be adopted, or not; and I will simply say, in defence of this Report, that it answers the purpose for which the Committee were sent out to make it. It answers that purpose as completely and as fully, as any report, made by anybody possibly could. It is a compromise, and a fair one, giving to each party what belongs to each, and there is good reason for each paragraph in it.
Mr. SCHOULER, of Boston. The gentleman from Pittsfield, (Mr. Briggs,) has said that politics make us acquainted with strange bed-fellows, but that is not half so strange as the speech just made by the gentleman who represents Abington, (Mr. Keyes,) for there is no man in this State, I might, perhaps, say there is no man in the United States, who has spoken more frequently, and more bitterly against all kinds of compromise than that gentleman; and yet he comes forward here in this Convention, finding that the chairman of the Committee shirks from the responsibility, and takes upon himself the responsibility of advocating this compromise Report.
Mr. WILSON, of Natick. Will the gentleman from Boston allow me a word of explanation? Mr. SCHOULER. Most certainly I will.
Mr. WILSON. My friend from Boston has made a remark which I am sure is unjust, and which he will consider so, when he ascertains the facts. The gentleman from Lowell, (Mr. Butler,) to whom he referred as shirking the responsibility of this Report, was compelled, by death in his brother's family, to be absent this afternoon. Justice to him requires that I should make this explanation.
Mr. SCHOULER. That is a matter which I did not know. But the gentleman from Lowell was here yesterday all day, and also has been here to-day during the whole discussion until this afternoon, and he has not put forth any defence of this Report. But the gentleman for
Abington, (Mr. Keyes,) takes up the gauntlet; a gentleman who has been opposed to all kinds of compromises-who has stood upon the pinnacle of principle, has become the advocate, par excellence, of compromise. And what has he made out of it? He said it was the compromise for which this Committee was sent out of the Convention to make. Who ordered them to make it? Where was it made? In coffee-houses, and pot-houses.
Mr. KEYES. I desire to ask the gentleman whether, from his own experience in going to coffee-houses and pot-houses to make compromises, he judges that this Report came from the same place? [Laughter.]
Mr. SCHOULER. I did not mean anything personal by my remarks, and I am sorry that the gentleman should suppose I did. When I spoke of coffee-house and pot-houses, I did not intend any personal reflections upon the gentleman who represents Abington; but I have heard, and other people have heard, that the compromise for the basis of representation which was brought into this House, was concocted over a dinner-table down near a certain coffee-house. That the gentleman will not deny, because if he does, I can prove it. [Laughter.]
Mr. KEYES. I do not know how far my opinions may have accorded with others who have considered and talked over this matter, everywhere, almost; but, Sir, this entire Report of the Committee, with the exception of one single paragraph, was prepared by myself at home, and submitted by me to the Committee. I have not dined in any coffee-house, or any restaurant during the whole session, and have been at no dinner, or public display of any character, except once, and then I spent five minutes in a caucus, where I saw nothing but a lamp upon the table. [Laughter.]
Mr. SCHOULER. It was the remark of an English poet, "may not a man have a house in his own inn." I supposed that the gentleman who signed the Report was the concoctor of it, and he is the gentleman who represents Lowell, (Mr. Butler).
Mr. KEYES. I will state that the principles of this Report were adopted mainly during the absence of that gentleman. Being afterwards submitted to him, he agreed to them, and signed his name to the Report.
Mr. SCHOULER. All I judged from, was the signature of the Report, and that is the signature of the gentleman from Lowell, and I presumed he was the chairman of the Committee, for he made the first speech to explain the Report; but now it appears that the gentleman from Abington, (Mr. Keyes,) is not only the defender of the compromise, but the author of the compromise. He has brought in an omnibus bill, and asks us to go for it. It is a bill which he cannot even get his own friends to support. I dislike omnibuses, any way. It was said yesterday, it has been said to-day, and it will be said hereafter, and it cannot be denied-and, as the gentleman from Lowell, (Mr. Abbott,) who spoke this afternoon, well put it, it cannot be winked out of sight, and it wont go if you do wink it out-that, by this basis of representation, one-third of the people of Massachusetts, can have a majority in this House. That is the point which the gentleman from Lowell, (Mr. Abbott,) put to the Convention this afternoon, and the fact cannot be gainsayed, however much we may talk about