Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

The question was then taken on the first part of the section, as amended, ik the following words:

"Every male citizen of the age of twenty-one years, who shall have heen one year an inhahitant of this state.preceding the day of the election, and for the last six months a resident of the town, county, or district where he may offer his vote, and shall have paid a tax to the state or county within the year next preceding the election, assessed upon his real or personal property j or shall he hy law exempted from taxation."

A division having heen called for, it was decided hy ayes and noes, as follows:

AYES—Messrs. Bacon, Barlow, Beckwith, Birdseye, Bowman, Breese, Briggs, Brinkerhoff, Buel, Burroughs, Carpenter, Carver, Case, Child, D. Clark, R. Clarke, Collins, Cramer, Day, Dodge, Duhois, Duer, Dyckraan, Eastwood, Edwards, Fairlie, Fenton, Ferris, Fish, Frost, Hallock, Hees, Hogehoom, Howe, Humphrey, Hanl, Hunter, Hunting, Huntington, Hurd, Jay, Jones, Kent, King, Lansing, Lawrence, Lefferts, A. Livingston, MsCall, Moore, Munro, Nelson, Park, Panlding, Pikh, Porter, President, Price, Pumpelly, Radcliff, Rhinclander, Richards, Rose, Rosehrugh, Ross, Russell, Sage, N. Sanford, R. Sandford, Schenck, Seaman, Sceley, Sharpe, Sheldon, 1. Smith, R. Smith, Spencer, Stagg, Starkweather, Steele, D. Southerland, Swift, Sylvester, Tallmadge, Taylor, Townsend, Tripp, Tuttle, Van Buren, Van Fleet, Van Home, Van Ness, Van Vechten, Ward, E. Wehster, Wendover, Wheaton, Wheeler, E. Williams, Woods, Young—IN,

NOES—Messrs. Piatt, J. R. Van Rensselaer—2.

The next division of the section relative to the qualification hy military service, having heen already decided hy ayes and noes. Was passed over; and the question in order, was on the part of the section expressed in the words following:

"And also, every malecit'rzen of the age of twenty one years, who shall have heen, for three years next preceding such election, an inhahitant of this state ; and for the last year a resident in the town, county, or district, where he may offer his vole; and shall have heen, within the last year, assessed to lahour upon the puhlic highways, and shall have performed the lahour, or paid an equivalent therefor, according to law, shall he entitled to vote in the town or ward where he actually resides and not elsewhere, for all officers that now are, or hereafter mayhe, elective hy the people.''

Mr. Bacon said that he was opposed, as he had alone heen in the select committpe, to the qualification now proposed, on general principles, and as he had also heen to that founded on militia service. The latter had, however just hecu adopted hy a large majority; and after admitting all who could he admitted under that qualification, as it would undouhtedly he executed in practice, he could see little else left that was worth a serious struggle for, since the present proposition would only admit a few more who were over the age of fortyfive, and consequently not enrolled in the militia; and they would prohahly he nsgosd voters, as those who were under that age. We had, also, hy adopting the militia qualification, given to the city of New-York an additional disposahle foree of many hundred electoral voles, and it might he well to over halance this weight, hy this highway qualification, which will not add any thing to the city list, while it may give us some small addition in those parts of the country "where the militia qualification may he strictly executed. While the latter, therefore, is retained, we should vote for the former as connected with it,—reserving, however, his vote against the whole, when that question shall he taken.

Mr . Van Buri N said, that as the vole he should now give on what was called the highway qualification, would he different from what it had heen on a former occasion, he felt it a duty to make n hrief explanation of the motives which kovernol him. Tim qualifications reported hy the first committee, were of three kinds, viz: the payment of e money tax—the performance of military duty, and working on the highway. Tho two former had met with-his decided approhation; to the latter he wished to add the additional qualification, that the elector should, if he paid no tax, performed no militia duty, hut offered his vote on the sole ground that he had lahoured on the highways, also he a house-holder; and that was the only point in which he had dissented from the report of the committee. To effect this ohject, he supported a motion made hy a gentleman from Dutehess, to strike out the highway qualification, with a view of adding " house-holder." That motion, after full discussion, had prevailed hy a majority of twenty. But what was the consequence? The very next day, the same gentlemen who thought the highway tax too liheral a qualification, voted that every person of twenty-one years of age, having a certain term of residence, and excluding actual panpers, should he permitted to vote for any officer in the government, from the highest to the lowest—Far outyieing, in in this particular, the other states in the union, and verging from the extreme of restricted, to that of universal suffrage. The Convention, sensihle of the very great stride which had heen taken hy the last vote, the next mornmg referred the whole matter to a select committee of thirteen, whose report was now under consideration. That committee, though composed of gentlemen, a large majority of whom had voted for the proposition for universal suffrage, had now recommended a middle course, viz—the payment of a money tax, or lahour on the highway, excluding militia service, which had, however, heen tery properly reinstated. The question then recurred; shall an attempt he again made to add thai of house-holder, to the highway qualification, and run the hazard of the re-introduction of the proposition of the gentleman from Washington, ahandoning all qualifications, and throwing open the hallot hoxes to every hody—demolishing at one hlow, the distinctive character of an elector, the proudest and most invaluahle attrihute of freemen?

Mn. V.\rt Buhen said, he had, on the motion of the gentleman from Columhia, this day hinted at the numerous ohjections which he had to the proposition, which the other day passed the Convention, in regard to the right of suffrage: ohjections which he intended to make, had the committee reported in favour of that vote; and hy which, when fully' urged, he knew that he would he ahle to convince every memher of this committee of the dangerous and alarming tendency of that precipitate and unexpected prostration of all qualifications. At this moment, he would only say, that among the many evils which would flow from a wholly unrestricted suffrage, the following would he the most injurious, viz :—

First. It would give to the city of New-York ahout twenty-five thousand votes: whilst, under the liheral extension of the right on the choice of delegates to this convention, she had hut ahout thirteen or fourteen thousand. That the character of the increased numher of votes would he such as would render their elections rather a curse than a hlessing: which would drive from the polls all soher minded people; and such, he was happy to find, was the united opinion, «r nearly so, of the delegation from that city.

Secondly. It would not only he injurious to them, hut that injury would work an equally great one to the western and northern parts of the state. It was the present consolation of our hardy sons of the west, that, for their toils and their sufferings in reducing the wilderness to cultivation, they were cheered hy the' conviction, not only that they would he secure in the enjoyment of their dear hought improvements, in consequence of their representation in the legislature, hut that any increase of that represention gave them a still greater influence there. That as far as it respected this state, their mareh, and the mareh of empire kept pace. This arose from the cireumstance of the representation in the state heing founded on the numher of electors; and hecanse almost every man in a new country was an elector, under the existing and contemplated qualifications: whilst in the old counties, and especially in cities, there were great numhers who would not he emhraced hy them. So great was this effect, that the city of New-York alone would, under the vote of the other day, have hecome entitled to additional voters, over those who voted at the election of delegates, equal, or nearly so, to the whole numher of votes of Ontario or Geaesoe. The direct consequence of which would he, that the additional reprelid to hy a gentleman from Saratoga, all stand on grounds of pehlic safety, of high political inconvenience. The exclusion of the hlacks from militia duty and from juries, is founded only on considerations of feeling and of taste in the Whites, and adopted for the sole convenience of the latter, hut it is not on any such principles, that we can justify withholding from them the first of our general political rights, where its exereise is forhid hy no considerations of puhlic safety, or political necessity.

Mr. Eastwood said he was not in favour of letting in hlack vagahonds to vote, hut felt more liheral than the select committee; he therefore moved to strike out #250 and insert #100.

The question was therenpon taken on Mr. Eastwood's motion and lost.

A division having heen required upon the proviso reported, the question was taken thereon and carried in the affirmative as follows:

AYES— Messrs. Barlow, Beckwith, Bowman, Brigfrs, Brinkerhoff, Burroughs, Carpenter, Carver, Case, D. Cfark, Collins, Dodge, Duhois, Dycbman, Edwards, Fairlie, Fenton, Ferris, Frost, Hallock, Howe, Humphrey, Hunt, Hunting, Hurd, Lansing, Lawrence, Lefferts, A Livingston, M'Call, Moore, Nelson, Park, Pike, Porter, President, Price, Pumpelly, Radeliff', Richards, Rosehrugh, Ross, Russet, Sage, R. Sanford, Schenck, Seaman, Seeley .Sharpe,Sheldon,I.Smith,R. Smith, Stagg,Starkweather, Steele, D. Southarland, Swift, Talmadge, Taylor, Townsend, Tripp, Tuttle, Van Buren, Van Fleet, Van Home, Ward, E. Wehster, Wendover, Wheeler, Woods, Woodward Young—72.

NOES—Messrs. Bacon, Birdscye, Brooks, Buel, Child, R. Clarke, Clyde, Day, Doer, Eastwood, Fish, Hees,, Huntington, Jay, Jones, Kent, King, Munro, Panlding, Piteher, Piatt, Rhinelander, Root, N. Sanford, Spencer, Van Ness, J. R. Van Rensselaer, 9. Van Rensselaer, Wheaton, E. Willians.—31.

The committee then rose and reported progress, and ohtained leave to sit agaio.

In Convention, on motion of Mr. Buel, ordered, that the report of the committee of the whole as amended, he printed for the use of the memhers of the Convention. Adjourned.

MOJWAY, OCTOBER 8, 1821.

The President resumed the chair at 9 o'clock, and the journals of Saturday were read and approved.

THE ELECTIVE FRANCHISE.

The Convention then again resolved itsetf into a committee of the whole, on the report of the committee of thirteen, on the suhject of the elective franchise—Mr. N. Williams in the chair.

Sundry amendments were proposed, which were not acted on, when the question recurred on agreeing to the whole report.

JunoE Van Ness said, if the question was now to he taken on the Whole of the report, he wished to suhmit some ohservations in opposition to it, hut if H was to he postponed, he would reserve them until the question should finally he taken.

Col. Young thought we ought to take the final question on the report, hut it should he left open to amendment, in Convention.

On motion of the President, the committee rose and reported; and the report was ordered to lie on the tahle.

Gen. Root said, as the report was now open to amendment, he moved to strike out the third section, relating to a registry of votes.

Mr. R. remarked, that this section had passed in committee of the whole some davs ago; hut he hoped that they had since heen convinced of their error, and satisfied themselves, that such a muster-roll of voters wouhl he impracticable, and lead to mircuicvoueconsequences, hy depriving many legal voters of I'.u right of suffrage, in consequence of not having their names properly insert* t •! on the muster list. In the militia, if the roll is not complete, it may be com" pleted by a nun-commissioned officer on the day of training; the overseers o highways may add to their roll, names that are not contained in their commission list; hut no additional names can be added to the list of voters, unless twenty days before the election. It will be necessary, in order to carry this provision into effect, to have certain officers to take the proof of the qualifications of voters to be enrolled previously to the election. This proof is to be taken in private, by affidavit, at least twenty days before the election. In order that all may hear of this, it will be necessary to put up a notice in at least three public places—a bar-room, a blacksmith's shop, and a post at the angle of the roads. Thus men are to be compelled to make two journeys, one to appear before this dread tribunal, and once at the polls of the election—perhaps in some instances, ten, twelve, or twenty miles, to get one vote! It is said, there will be no difficulty in all this. Perhaps some gentlemen will beso much interested, as to turn out and bring them to the polls of the election. But will they be willing to turn out twice—once to get their names entered on this great conscription list, and again to appear at the polls.' No; they will not eome. It will lead to> this result—that a few individuals in the villages and cities, who have adesi re that a few shall rule the many, who have a desire that aristocracy should triumph, will be on the alert: but honest republicans will never take such pains—modest, unassuming democracy will never be shackled by your conscription lists. We are told that this is to be our economical plan—that one day instead of three will be sufficient to receive all the votes of a town. I want to know whether the object of having our elections three days, was to accommodate the inspectors or the electors? I am of the opinion, that the object was to accommodate electors, who might otherwise have to come ten or twenty miles; and by having an election three days, it may be brought into their neighbourhood. The additional expense of having to appear before this board of control, will more than equal the expense of the inspectors for (lie two days' service at the time of election; and to fill up this list previously to the election, will require more than one day, the expense of which will be more than to balance the expense of a three days1 election. I think, therefore, we have reason to hope this section will be rejected.

Cor.. Young opposed the motion. He reviewed and enforced the arguments that had been previously offered on the subject to the committee, and thought there could be no danger or impropriety in giving to the legislature the power of exercising a discretion to prescribe in the mode that the report had suggested. The inconvenience of registering was very inconsiderable. The tax lists, the highway assessments, and the muster rolls of the militia, would furnish the inspectors with indubitable documentary evidence of the admissibility of almost all the voters who were entitled to the privilege.

Mr. Vaw Vechten was for retaining this section. One great object in the adoption of such a provision was, to make oaths less frequent;—and now are we to return to the same old system which we ha/e so lately expressed a desire to abandon? He hoped not. Admitting this system should be attended with some little inconvenience, the object for which it is adopted is sufficient to induce us to put up with it. But he did not believe it would be the case. It had been very properly remarked by the gentleman from Saratoga, that these names would not have to be enrolled every year. It would be necessary to add annually the names of such as became voters within the year; and, with proper attention to this system, much of the iniquity heretofore practised would be avoided. Great fears are expressed, that by some means men will not all be able to get their names enrolled, and thereby lose the privilege of voting, through the neglect of some military or town officers in making their returns. As this is to be regulated by the legislature, we need not trouble ourselves with it. As we have Wn frequently told, we can safely trust the legislature.

Mr. Van Vechten was sorry to hear the words aristocracy and democracy so frequently used in the Convention. They had convened, not to talk of political appellations, but to form a constitution, to which subject he was anxious that tlieir attention should be more particularly directed. With respect to the sobject before the committee, it was not to be presumed that the legislature woutf never err; but they were to presume that it would do its duty. Still, as there was a possibility of its being- led astray, it was necessary to provide some-contlitutioual guards. We are now endeavouring to secure the right of suffrage by • constitutional provision; but something must be left to the discretion of the legislature in carrying this provision into execution. It is said that many Totes will be lost in this way, through ignorance of the manner of proceeding- to obtain the necessary qualifications to appear at the polls. This cannot long he the case, as all will soon know the course and their duty. By this constitutional provision we are securing the right of suffrage, with a pledge to our government that none shall enjoy it who are not really entitled to it. It is pretended thatfthese qualifications are to be tested in secret. It is to be regulated by the legislature; and when they have determined the manner in which it is to be conducted, it will be no longer a secret. Now what is to be the situation of our elections without this provision, with all the new qualifications that have been added? Will it not be extremely difficult at the polls, when all a in confusion and hurry, to asce-tain who is qualified and who not? Could this not be determined with more propriety at some other time and place? My judgment telli roe it could. I think it is the best feature in the report, and we nave the experience of other states to confirm my belief; and, to relieve the gentleman front his fears, that the system cannot be understood, I will inform him, that we havs many gentlemen among us who will be willing to teach those who cannot understand it themselves. A gentleman has remarked, that in this way we were about to establish an aristocracy. I hope we shall not do it by extending the right of suffrage. This sound of aristocracy must by this time, I think, have lost its force. No man can apprehend any danger from the adoption of this proposition. It is the provision originally reported by the committee; and that gentleman will not, I presume, accuse this committee of aristocratic notions. This ory of aristocracy has been too frequently addressed to this Convention.

Gen, Hoot was aware, that he had occasion to use terms sometimes, thai were rather disagreeable to certain gentlemen- The term democracy appeared to frighten some gentlemen almost as much as the ghost of the old Council of Appointment. He did not know but the honourable gentleman from Albany, might have his ears wounded sometimes with that epithet. It hcd been stated, that it was agreed on all hands to get rid of the cause which led to so much perjury: by the provisions of this report, it is required that young1 men shall i* twenty-one years of age before they are entitled to vote. How is this fact to be ascertained? By oath, if a challenge should be made. And how is a residence in the state to be ascertained? This is a fact perhaps known only to the elector: and again, as to residence in the town, which must be at least six months iu all cases, and twelve months in some. This must be ascertained by the oath ol' somebody ;—and would it not be better to have it ascertained by the person himself, who must be acquainted with the fact, than by some one who knoirs nothing about it? The legislature has provided a law, that challenges may be made at elections—members of the legislature have to swear to support the constitution of the United States. Oaths must then be provided—electors must »o before this board, whether it be a triumvirate, or a decemviratc: and if so, where is the greatest safety, before the public, or to be pulled by the button or sleeve into a closet? In my judgment, it would be full as safe in public. If is said, the legislature will perhaps never carry it into effect; and I am sure it in the last one that they ever should—it is possibly so absurd that they will not sco fit to carry it into execution. We are asked by the gentleman from Albany, whether we are afraid to trust the legislature? 1 am not afraid to trust to legislation at any time, if there is patriotiom there; but I have known the time when there was neither honesty nor patriotism in our legislature.

We are told by the honourable gentleman from Saratoga, (Air. Young.) that there will be no inconvenience in the application of this plan; if men once appear and get their names on this inscription list, it is sufficient for all their pves. I was sure the gentleman did not understand the plan which he advocated. I think it reads, " that Ue shall have paid p tax. pr done mililar} July

« ZurückWeiter »