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than a man holding for the term of his own life, or the life of another, which in law was denominated a freehold.
An idea had been suggested, that the amendment waa calculated to raise up a privileged order. It was certainly a very extraordinary privileged order, which should include nine-tenths of the people: for to such a proportion of the the community he believed the amendment wo»ld extend. It includes all the farmers and respectable mechanics: for it is a fact which he mig-Wt confidently urge, that a large proportion of mechanics in the cities and villages, and nearly all in the country arc freeholders. It also induces every man wh« residesamongst us, to acquire the privilege of voting, by pursuing a course of industry and frugality. And if the owner of personal property values the right of suffrage, it is easy for him to acquire it by converting some small portion of his personal property inle real' estate.
From the statement that has been presentee! to the committee by tne honourable gentleman from Otsego, (Mr. Van Buren^it might be implied, that the owners of the soil owned no part of the one hundred and fifty millions of personal estate which fce had referred to. The fact, however, was otherwise; for he confidently asserted, that taking the state at large, even including the city of New-York, with its vast commercial and banking capital, and the holders of government stock, the owners of the real estate yet own nineteen-twentieth*. Who, then, wonld be excluded from the right of voting if this amendment were adopted - Those, and those only, who have no property, and of course no interest in the government. And from what part of the right of suffrage would even this class be excluded? From the election of senators alone. After this slight deduction, if the proposition of the gentleman from Delaware should be adopted, every male citizen above the age of twenty-one, who- has a permanent residence in the state, would enjoy the privilege of voting, 1st, for governor; 3d, for members of the assembly; 3d, for town officers; 4th, for a great number of town and county officers, now appointed by the council of appointment, if the appointing power should be sent back to the people, as is contemplated, and as lie hoped wonld be the case. It a-ppearcd to him that the exercise of the right of suf* frage, in these numerous instances, would be as much as this class of citizens bad aright to claim from their interest in the government, and as much as they ought to ask or wish; leaving the senate to be elected by the owners of the soil.
He dwelt for some time upon the importance of the senate, and the propriety of the qualifications, as proposed by the amendment. We reqwrc jurors to be freeholders; and should there not be an equal responsibility in those who elect the senate, which is not only the most important branch of the legislature, but also the highest judicial tribunal in the state: Life, liberty, and property were at their disposal, as a court of final jurisdiction, and: He could no| conceive of a more important body.
He warned gentlemen of doubtful'and dangerous innovations. The principles of liberty were here, and here only understood and enjoyed. They have bad a sickly and feverish existence in other countries ; but America was almost the only nation on the globe that possessed the blessings of rational freedom. It was the chosen residence ofliberty. and we shoald beware how we sported with the boon, lest by striving for too much, we should lose the whole. We did1 Dot come here to introduce or establish republicanism—that had already been done by our fathers, who achieved the revolution, and framed our present CX' cellent constitution; and it was our business to preserve it.
One of the most important and delicate exertions of the legislative power, was undoubtedly that of taxation; and on what class do the burthens of government principally fall; Oh the landed hitercst, because they are the owners of the largest proportion of the property of the state. This is well known, and was felt, not only in peace, but during the late war. A debt of two or three milfinne has also been created for the construction of the canals. The expenses of tht government were also heavy: and large sums had been loaned to individuals, Much of which had been lost, All this must necessarily fall on the landed interest. During the laic war, a tax upon real estate was the final resource, and ike one mill tax has since b:en paid by tl)3 freeholders. In other respects itw aid of the freehold interest was most essential in time of war. Much had heen said ahout the services of the militia: hut what, he asked, would the militia he, without money to pay them, and to purehase implements and munitions of war? When men are called upon to fill the ranks, where are they to he found? When regiments are called out, the freeholders, and sons of freeholders, and mechanies are at hand. They have homes which they cannot desert, and they, therefore, stand the draft, whilst the transient character swings the pack that contains his all, and leaves the country to take care of itself. Moncj may hire them to act as mereenary suhstitutes, hut neither law, nor a sense of duty, can urge them into hattle. The real and efficient security of the country, therefore, Jq time of war, even in its physical strength, is to he found in the freehold interest.
Gentlemen would recollect the fact, that at ene period during the late war, the general government found itself not only destitute of funds hut of credit. Then it was that our patriotic militia were called on to defend the country, and Che finances of the state appropriated to equip, clothe, and support them: and then it also was, that the credit of the general government was re-estahlished hy imposing a heavy tax upon the real estate of the nation.
There was another consideration which with him had great weight. It is a fact which has no trifling hearing on the question now under discussion, that every nation extensively engaged in agriculture, commeree, and manufactures, has in it two great and rival interests, which grow out of these comhined pursuits. These were the mooied and landed interests. The past and present condition of Great Britain evinced this fact; and the lines hetween them were as distinctly drawn, as hetween the sexes. It was in the nature of man, that the ohject of his lahour should hecome dearer hy the pursuit. The late William Pitt was charged with favouring the monied interest, and had created a large deht, which devolved on the landed interest to pay ; and the agricultural interest in that country was still depressed in consequence of heing compelled to defray not only the ordinary expenses of the government, hut alio to meet the interest on the enormous amount, which has heen added to the national deht hy him and his successors in power.
The monied interest was generally the most powerful. It had heen so even in Great Bvitain. In our constitution, it was peculiarly represented in every department except one, the senate; and in that he thought it was wise and politic to give to the landed interest an influence to check, in that single instance, the monied interest, which miglit otherwise impose all the puhlic dehts and hurdens, on the landed interest. He did not appeal to the farmers, or to any particular class of men, hut to the good sense of all. The senate could invade the rights of no man. It would ohtain no increase of positive power; hut in the hands of farmers might hecome a salutarv check to encroachments hy a riral and formidahle interest. This was a safe depositary. There was more virtue and patriotism; more wisdom and moderation, in the middle than in any of the other ranks of society. They were not ordinarily zi alous partisans. They are the patrons of your institutions, civil and religious. They huild your churehes and defend your altars, and the country of which they are the protectors. They erect your school houses; foioid and support your-colleges and seminaries of learning; estahlish and maintain your charitahle institutions; and construct yourroads and canals.
It had heen said, that there was no danger of comhinations. Perhaps that danger was not extensive and alarming at present; hut as we advance in wealth and population, we follow Hi the wake of other nations. Look at Great Britain. Do not the monied interests comhine, and ahsorh, and array all the reif*ctive forees they can gather? Even in our own country, is there not a ijnction now pending hefore the general government, in relation to the tariff, m winch the manufacturing and commereial interests are arrayed in hostility to each other, and are actively engaged in rallving forees under their respective hanners? The country is convulsed with the agitation of this question, and it u supposed hy many, that it will at no distant period produce an entire change of political parties, equally exasperated ngninst each other as those whis h now rxiit
It had heen said that the amendment savoured of aristocracy. What is aristocracy? It is the exereise of the powers of government hy a few. But the amendment would emhrace nine-tenths, if not nineteen-twentieth of the adult male population, who have a permanent home in the state. So far, then, from favouring an aristocracy, it went to the estahlishment of a government directed hy the many.
The virtuous middling classes may thus hold the halance hetween the profligate poor and the proffigate rich. They form the halance wheel of the political machinery. They cannot he conspirators; they are too many in numher; and spread over too wide a space of territory. The days and dangers of aristocracy and monarehy are gone hy. Those powers in the state governments most liahle to usurpation and ahuse, have heen transferred to the general government, which now holds the purse strings of the nation. Should comhinations ever he formed hostile to our free institutions, that is the quarter from which you may c:.pect them; for there is centered the moral and physical power of the country.
It should he rememhered that we are acting, not for ourselves and this generation only, hut for posterity. The day may come, when the state will he convulsed with civil commotions—when we may have riots and hloodshed; and wise men are hound to provide against future evils and calamities, hy creating Mich depositories of power as shall at all times he competent to afford protection to all, hy preserving the supremacy of the laws. Our hlessings under the protection of Providencc are owing to the mediocrity of our condition. It had heen said, and it was not improhahle, that this was the last Convention that would ever he assemhled in the state; and if you now give out of the hands of the landed interests their rights, they can never he recalled.
The city of IS'cw-York now contains a population of t"23,000, and it already lias 12 or 14,000 voters. It is rapidly increasing; and with the addition of new voters, will elect whoever they please for governor, possess a controling influence in the assemhly, and in fact rule the state. Shall we he called on to ^rrender the senate also, and thus strip the agricultural interest of every vestige of power?
What would he the character of the future population of tlic metropolis, and of other large cities which would spring up in various parts of tlie state? ft would in all human prohahility comprise a few men of inordinate wealth, and a multitude degraded hy vice and oppressed with poverty. These were the proper materials for the most dangerous species of aristocracy. The monied interest would he in the hands of ttie proffigate and amhitious, who would make use of their wealth to hrihe and purehase the votes of the venal classes of society. The time is not distant, when those that have nothing, will form a majority in cities and large villages, and constitute a large portion of the population, even in tho country. Immigrants of all descriptions, and from every quarter of the glohe, were constantly pouring in, to swell the tide of population, and in many rases to increase the mass of vice, ignorance, and poverty. Extensive factories were daily springing up, and would hereafter he filled with crowds of dependants, whose votes would he at the disposal of the wealthy owners. These estahlishments, if all who were employed in them were permitted to vote, would possess an overwhelming and dangerous influence.
Was it unreasonahle, then, to ask protection for the paramount interest of the state—the fanning interest? Would it not he safe, would it not he wise und salutary, to provide some check upon the influence of excessive wealth nnd proffigate penury? And how could such a check he more discreetly provided, or lodged in safer hands, than hy investing those with peculiar privileges, who, hy honest industry, and rigid economy, had, with the smiles of Providence, ■.icqnired properly? This description of our population were commonly persons of soher, temperate, and frugal hahits, little disposed to ahuse power or forget right. But what was the character of the poor? Generally speaking, vice and liove rly go hand in hand. Penury and want almost invariahly follow in the train of idleness, prodigality, intemperance, and sensuality. Was it not wise fo discountenance these vices, hy encouraging their opposite virtues1
ll had heen said that the amendment would give an undue influence to the landholders. But it is well known that the large landholders in this state, are even now few in numher. In a few years they are gone. The law of descents is rapidly hreaking up their estates; and it surely would not he said, that our institutions were in danger from the influence of the small farmers in the country. The great ohject of government was to protect what was lawfully acquired. Where property is insecure, you find despotism. Freedom flourishes where property is safe.
We had already given the executive a veto upon all laws. Some gentlemen apprehended evils might arise from this—that the governor would hecome the mere creature of the legislature, dependant on their will, and suhservient to their wishes. If the senate was preserved, as this amendment proposed, the danger which had heen feared would he avoided. The senate would form a stahle and independent hody, and would check any encroachments upon the rights and liherties of the people, either from the other hranch of the legislature, or the executive.
An argument, of as much weight perhaps as any that had heen urged, was drawn from other states, in none of which, it had heen said, was there a distinction of the kind, which the amendment proposes. He hegged the indulgence of the committee for a moment, while he adverted to the state of Massachusetts. An attempt had heen made hy the county of Suffolk, emhracing the capital of the state, and a powerful monied interest, to ohtain an ascendancy and control over the legislature, hy proposing a representation in proportion to real and personal property. But the yeomanry of Massachusetts instantlv took the alarm. It was foreseen tliat the country would he politically enslaved hy the enormous wealth and influence of the capital, and the fanners of the state, true to their interest, interfered and defeated the project.
But he could not forhear to remark, that in all our proceedings, too much importance appeared to he attached to the examples of other states.
It should he recollected that the state of New-York, in moral and physical power, was not inferior to any other in the union. It was, therefore, entitled to take the lead, instead of heing tanght hy every petty state heyond the Allegany mountains. Those states were of recent origin, and without experience; and there was little or no analogy hetween our condition, and that of any of those to whom reference had heen made. They have no states like ours. They have no metropolis like New-York, whose commeree extends to every sea, and whose wenlth is drawn from every state. An emporinm into which is to flow, on the surface of the grand canal, the produce of a vast and fertile interior, hordering on the western lakes, whose shores are more extensive than the Mediterranean or Baltic. Alhany, too, will prohahlv hecome a great city; and is douhtless destined, with Buffalo and Rochester, to rival in extent and wealth the cities of Liverpool, Bristol, and Manchester. And what will he the condition of their population? By an irreversihle decree of Providence, it is pronounced, .i the poor ye have always with you"—people who have no interest in your institutions—no fixedness of hahitation—no property to defend. And is it not in human nature to envy superiority, in whatever it may consist; and to wish to dispossess, and ohtain that which is envied? Is there not danger, then, m departing too far from that system which our ancestors ordained?
Our state is now going on with the patience of the ox, the wisdom and sagacity of the elephant, and the strength of the lion, in the path of prosperitv. And yet, in this hallowed land, from the uneasiness that is exhihited, and the complaints that are made, one would suppose that we were writhing uuder an -\le^nn* despotism. But whatever way the current may set, let us " do justly and fear not." Popularity is a shadow that shifts with the luminary which casts it: nor can its hearing to-day, indicate its position to-morrow. The President of the Convention has told us, with hecoming exultation, that tw enty yean ago, he resisted, alone and separate from his party, a measure introduced toredace the power of the executive. The time might come, when the gentleman from Dutehess, (Mr. Livingston) might witness in this state a prosppct similar to the one he had taken from the hattlements of the palace in the neighhourhood of Paris, a confi1'.-ation hy the ahandoned poor, of the honestly and hardearned estates of the rich. He Imped equal firmness and cquaI independence would he manifested hy every one on this occasion.
The time will come, when the yeomanry, those who own the suhstance of the country, will regret, should the amendment ho defeated, that they gave up a right which they cannot recal, and surrendered a privilege which they cannot regain.
Col. Young. It has heen ohserved hy the honourahle gentleman of Columhia, (Mr. Van Ness) that it devolves upon theopposers of the amendment to point out its inutility. 1 am saved that trouhle hy the gentlemen themselves. They inform us that there are forty or fifty thousand people in this state, deprived of the right of suffrage, who ought to exereise it.
Another honourahle gentleman, (Mr. Van Vechten) has deplored the omission of the word/W.n/io/,/ in the report of the committee; whilst the memher from Columhia, (Mr. E. Williams) pointed out with great foree and perspicuity, the inconvenience and uncertainty that had arisen from its insertion into our existing constitution. Ho would leave those gentlemen to reconcile such contradictions as they could. The report of the committee, however, and the amendment of the gentleman from Delaware, were caleulated to do away at once all this moral turpitude; to prevent these frands and perjuries hy simplifying the system; and extending the right of suffrage to all, whose station in society, and whose presumahle intelligence, integrily, and independence, gave them a right to expect it.
The constitution of the United States was made suhsequently to ours, and contained no provision, that cither the electors, or elected, should he freeholders. And yet it gave to the general government the power of making war and peace, and of creating a national deht that had the effect of a mortgage on all the freehold estate in the union. Why, then, preserve this odious distinction in the state of New-York?
It has heen said that the poor will increase with the progress of society, and therefore you ought to limit this privilege to the freeholders. Whom do the gentlemen mean hy the cpithal poor? The paupers? They are excluded hy every proposition that has heen made. Or do they intend to descrihe that intermediate class of society, hetween the very poor and the very rich? If they mean the latter, I am prepared te say, and that, loo, with emphasis, that they ought not to he excluded. They are the soundest, the most honest, and incorruptihle part of your populationMr. Young continued his remarks for some time; hut the usual hour of adjournment having nearly arrived, and the patience of the committee prohahly exhansted, he would apologize for an ahrupt conclusion of his remarks, and suhmit the question.
The question on the amendment offcred hy Chief Justice Spencer, was then taken hy ayes and noes, and it was decided in the negative, as follows:
NOES—Messrs. Maker, Barlow, Beckwith, Birdscye, Bowman, Breese, liritrgs, Brinkerhoff, Brooks, Buel, Burroughs, Carpenter, Carver, Case, Child, 1). Clark, R. Clarke, Clyde, Collins, Cramer, Day, Dodge, Duhois, Duer, Dyckinan, Eastwood, Edwards Fairlie, Fenton, Frost, Hallock, Hogehoom, Howe, Humphrey, Hunt, Hunting, I Inn1, King, Kuowles, Lansing, Lawrence, Lctferts, A. Livingston, P. R. Livingston, MsCall, Millikin, Moore, Muriro, Nelson, Park, Panlding, Pike, Piteher, Porter, President, Price, Pumpelly, K adc l iff, Rceve, Richards. Itockwell, Rogers, Root, Rosehrugh, Ross, Russell, Sa;ie, N. Sanford. R. Sandfurd, Kchenck, .Seaman, Secly, Sharpe, Sheldon, R, Smith, Starkweather, Steele, D. Southerland, I. Sutherland, Swift, Tallmadge, Taylor, Ten Eyck, Townley, Townsend, Tripp, Tuttle, Van Buren, Van Fleet, Verhryck, Ward, A. Wehster, E. Wehster, Wendover, Wheaton, Wheeler, Woodward, Wooster, Yates, Young—100
AYES—Messrs. Bacon, Fish, Hees, Hunter, Huntington, Jay, Jones, Piatt, Rhinelander. Rose, Sanders, I. Smith, Spencer, Sylvester, Van Horne, Van Ness, Van Vechtuo, E. Williams, Woods—19.
The committee then rose, reported progress, and ohtained leave to sit again