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THE LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT.
The Convention then resolved itself into a Committee of the whole on the unfinished husiness of yesterday, (the legislative department.) Mr. VanBurear in the chair.
The Chairman stated the question hefore the committee to he on the proposition of Mr. Bacon, for dividing the state into thirty-ttvo senate districts.
Mr. Kmg presented the following statement, shewing the result of dividingthe siate into thirty-two senatorial districts, of equal numhers and contiguous territory:—
1st distvict, Suffolk 22,429, Queens, 18,260 40,689
'2d distvict. Kings 9118, Richmond 55.20, part of New York 26,438 41,176
2d distvict, Part of New-York 41,176
4th district. Purl of New.York 39,816
5M district, Westchester 30,523, Putnam 11,014 41,539
6th district, Part of Dutehess 41,176
7th distvict, Part of Duchess 2734, Columhia 36,383, part of Rensselaer 2059 41,176
8/A district. Part of Rensselaer 36,825, part of Washmgton 4351 41,176
9th distvict, Part of Washington 33, 843, p: rt of Warren 7127 41,170
lO.'A distvict. Warren 2000, Essex 12, 591. Clinton 11,011, Franklin 4244, Hamilton 124l, part of Saratoga 10,100
IDA d. strict. Part of Saratoga 25.U67, part of Montgomery 16,109 41,176
1?/A district. Part of Montgomery 20, 436, par, of Schoharie 2 ;,637 41,176
K3tfl district, Sc'ioharie 1886, Schenectady, 12,126, part of Alhany 27, 164 41,176
Mth distvict, Alhany, 9,360, Greene. 22,144, pan of Ulster, 9.670 41,176
15/A elistvict, Ulster, 19,037, Orange, 6,014, Sullivan, 8,559, Delaware, 7,566
16M district, Rockland, 8,246, Orange, 32,9o0 41,176
17/A distvict, Delaware, 17,325, Otsego, 23.85! 41,176
18/A district, Otsego, 20,433, Chenango, 20,743 41,170
19:A distvict, Chenango, 10,264 Bioome, 14,204, Cortland, 16,4.15 40,903
2oM district, Herkimer, 30,433, Oneida, 10,744 41,176
21i/ distvict, Oneida, 24,810, Madison, 16,366 41,176
2 2d distvict, St. Lawrence. 15,025, Jefferson, 26,151 41,176
23d district, Jefferson, 5.884, l*wis. 9,060, Oswego, 12,411. Oneida, 14,021
24/A district, Madison, 15,303, Onondaga, 25,58 I, 41,176
25/A district, Onondaga, 15,531, Cayuga, 25,645 41,176
26/A distvict, Cayuga, 12,802, Seneca, 23,318, Tompkins, 5,056 41,176
27IA distvict, Tompkins, 15,533, Tioga, 16,778, Stenhen, 8,867 41,176
28:A distvict, Stenhen, 12,791, Allegany, 9,271, Livingston, 18,400 40,462'
29/A' distvict, Ontario, 41,176
3Wi distvict, Ontario, 19,924, Monroe, 21,256 41,176
31 if distyict, Monroe, 5,504, Genesee, 35,672 41,175
32rf distvict, Genesee, 4,428, Niagara, and Er.e, 21,843. Chantanque, 12,555, Cattaragus, 4,084 43,810'
Mr. Tompkms was opposed to incorporating any specific regulation in the constitution on this suhject. He would fix the general principle, and Icavo the rest to thc legislature. His plan was to insert in the constitution a clanse making a provision, that there should not he less than eight districts, nor more than thirty-two senators, leaving the numher of districts and the apportionment to the legislature.
Mr. Kmo ohjected hotli to the proposition of Mr. Bacon and of Mr. Tompkins. The former would he attended with many difficulties, and the latter appeared impracticahle, since the constitution must go into operation hefore the legislature under it could he elected He thought, also, that it would lead to party contests in the legislature. On the whole, he helieved the report of tho committee liahle to as few ohjections as any plan that had heen suhmitted.
Mr. Tompkms disclaimed heing influenced hy party views, or hy any wish to treat the committee with disrespect.
Gen. Tiu.MAdov proposed to postpone the suhject. He wished to suhmit R proposition, aftur the amendoiont of the gentleman from Columhia, [sec proceedings of yesterday J was laid on, the tahic.
M». Van Vechten offered the following amendment .—
"That the state shall he divided into thirty-two senatorial districts, to he composed of contiguous territory, and that one senator shall he elected in each district; Provided that it shall he competent for the legislature, in case it shall be <leemed expedient to form the cily and county of New-York, and the counties of Kings and Richmond, into one district, for the purpose of electing two senators, to reduce tie numher of said districts to thirty-one, and to autholise the election of two senators in the said district, to be composed of the city and county of NewYork, and the counties of Kings and Richmond.''
Mr. E. Williams made a few remarks in reply to the ohjections offered hy the gentleman from Queens.
The question on Mr. Tallmadge's motion for postponing the 2d section of the report with the amendments of Messrs. Williams, Bacon, and Van Vecten till Monday, was taken and carried.
Mr. Tompkms wished the committee might rise and report, for the purpose of directing the amendments to he printed.
Before the motion was put,
Gen. Tallmadce offered the fallowing resolutions.
Resolved, That the state shall he divided into eight districts, to he denominated senate distvicts—and that the thirty-two senators he elected in the said distvicts, in eoual proportions, that the said districts he contiguous in territory; and as nearly as may he equal in population, excluding aliens, persons of colour not taxed, panpers, and convicts.
Resolved, That it he referred to a select committee, to report a division of the state into eight senatorial districts, upon the pvinciples contamed in the preceding resolution, and that they report to the Convention.
Mr. Tompkms offered the following amendment.
That the state shall he divided into as many districts as the legislature shall direct, not less than eight, and that thirty-two senators shall he elected in said districts.
The committee then rose and reported
On motion of M. Sharpe, ordered that the several propositions he printed. The Convention then re-resolved itself into a committee of the whole on the unfinished husiness of yesterday—Mr. Van Buren in the chair. The third section was read, and postponed till Monday. The fourth section was then read.
Mr. Wheaton stated that though he had not the honour to he a memher of the select committee who reported this clanse, yet he understood that it was intended to determine a douht which had sometimes arisen, whether a money hill could originate or he amended in the senate. By the ninth article of the constitution of 1777, the house of assemhly was to enjoy the same privileges, and proceed in doing husiness in the same manner as the assemhlies of the colony of New-York had formerly done. Under the colonial government, the council was appointed hy the crown, and as the colonial legislature was constructed on the model of parliament, no money hill could originate or he amended except in the assemhly, the memhers of which were the immediate representatives of the people. By the constitution of parliament, as it had stood ever lince the knights and hurgesses hegan to sit in a separate house, the commons had uniformly asserted their exclusive right to originate money hills, and had oniformly resisted the right of the lords even to amend them. But as our legislature was constituted, there was no reason why any douht should he entertained whether the senate could originate or amend such hills. Both house* were the immediate representatives of the people, and hoth might he considered as equally representing the taxahle property of the country. The analogy of the United .States' constitution did not apply, hecause in that government representatives and direct taxes were to he apportioned among; the several states by the same rule. It was therefore fit that the house of representatives in congress should have the exclusive right of originating' revenue bills.
Col. Young replied, when the question was taken on the section, andcarried without amendment.
The fifth section was then read.
Col. Young moved that it be postponed, as he wished to offer an amendment making the pay of members two dollars per day.
Mr. E. Williams hoped the section would not be postponed—the gentleman from Saratoga could write two dollars in a moment.
Mr. King said that no sum, could with propriety, be fixed in the constitution the sum proper to be paid would depend upon the state of the times. Two dollars at one time, would be a better compensation than four at another. It was best to leave that subject with the legislature, under the restriction that no legislature should regulate its own pay. Public opinion would then always regulate the sum, and it would be such as would be reasonable.
Mr. Hallock called for the consideration of a substitute for this section, which he had offered some time since, and which had been committed to tlie committee of the whole when on this subject—the object of wbich, was to provide that the pay should not, for the present, exceed a certain sum, which could not be altered until after a certain number of years, the sum and numberof years left in blank. The sum of two dollars, two and a half, and three dollan, were mentioned, as sums with which it would be proposed to fill the first blank: and five years was also mentioned as a proper period with which to fill toe second blank.
Mr. Skarpe was in favour of the section as reported by the select commiltec. tic hoped they would not, in making a constitution, attempt to run a race of popularity. With the restriction provided by the report itself, the legislature might safely be entrusted with the regulation of their compensation. He had, he said, seen two dollar men, three dollar men, and from that up to five and six dollars. The courting of popularity in this way, he had always considered as disreputable, and generally, he believed, it had proved unavailing. He had known one remarkable instance of this kind: two members from the county of Saratoga, two years ago, had been the strenuous advocates for lessening the pay of the members of the legislature, in which, however, they had failed. They received their pay from the public treasury, but on arriving home had deposited in the county treasury of their county, about one hundred dollars each, being what they supposed the excess, or what was more than a reasonable compensation: both the gentlemen were catididates for a re-election, but the electors of Saratoga thought proper to leave them at home, notwithstanding the deposit of their hundred dollars each for the beue£t of the county.
Mr. Oijer hoped the gentleman from New-York would not impute to hiraself and his honourable colleague, a desire of securing popularity; if lie did. such imputation would be unjust and unfounded. lie thought they had sufficiently shown that they were not actuated by such motives, and he hopctl the proposition of his honourable colleague would be adopted. The great evil. of which the people had complained, was, that the members had been allowed to fix their own pay; and that motives of self-interest had prevailed over their popularity, insomuch that they had generally fixed their wages higher than (be people thought proper; and notwithstanding, each successive legislature lias pursued the very course which public opinion has condemned and reprobated.
What is to be the remedy? To take it out of the power of the legislature to be led by their own private interest, to pursue a course different from the wishes of the people. It was supposed by some, that the report of the select committee contained a provision which would answerevery purpose; for his own part, he could not concur in that opinion. The members of the legislature wonTM generally expect a re-election; and although they would not have the power of fixing it for their present compensation, they would fix it in expectation ot receiving the benefit in future. He was satisfied it would not be wise tofi*"16 price for a long term, but there could be no danger in fixing it for five year* and for these reasons he thought the substitute ought to be adopter!.
Col. Younu said he would be opposed to regulating the pay of the members of the legislature for any long term of years. Let one year intervene bch»'W> the legislature making the provision for the pay, and that to which such provision should apply. He thought it necessary that some regulation should be made in the constitution, for the compensation to be received Tor the two first years. This would be necessary, to quiet the public discontent which had grown out of the large compensation which the legislature had heretofore voted for themselves. It was customary for the supervisors of coflnties to receive two dollars per day for their services; he did not kuow why that ought not to l>e considered as a criterion by which to regulate the pay of members of the legislature. It was true that the lulter were put to more expense and had to pay more fortheir board, than the former, but the length of time for which they were employed, would be an equivalent for that difference ; perhaps it might be well enough to fix the sum at two dollars and fifty cents per day.
The honourable gentleman from New-York (Mr. Sharpe) had alluded to a circumstance which had occurred two years ago in Saratoga county. He had attributed the loss of the election of two gentlemen in that county, to the circumstance of their having paid into the treasury of their county, a part of the compensation they had received as members of the legislature. Mr. Y. did not think this u lair conculusiou. He thought it would have been more charitable for the gentleman to have attributed their defeat to some other cause. 1 have, sir, continued Mr. Y. known candidates to lose their election, who had not parted with any portion of the pay they had received in the legislature.
Gen. Hoot said, when the proposition of the gentleman from Orange, should be negatived, (which he believed would be soon) he should oner an amendment, that no legislature should increase their pay during the year for which they were elected. It might not be improper for the next legislature, to instruct the attorney general to collect the money that was received unlawfully at the last session.
A gentleman at Catskill, had three or four years ago, offered to serve the state as a legislator, for six shillings per day; or, if they would board him, for four shillings per day; but they must make an advance sufficient to enable him to purchase a suit of clothes. The gentleman from Orange has it. lie denies that he votes for the sake of popularity. 1 will admit that 1 vote for popularity. I vote to please the great mass of the people in the state, including my constituents, the yeomanry, and mechanics; (and I might say some merchants too) but more particularly, agriculturists, and when I vote to please all these classes, I vote to please myself also. Members that are calculating on a re-election, will generally be cautious how they vote for bigter wages, on account of I heir popularity; and those who do not expect a re-election, will not feel so much magnanimity, as to vote for paying others more than they receive themselves.
Mr. J. Sutherland said that much discontent had certainly existed respecting the compensation which the members of the legislature had hitherto reituivcd. He believed that it would not be amiss to fix the pay for a few years. The fluctuation in that period could not be so great as to make any serious difference; the compensation had been unreasonably high. No more should be given, than a sum which would compensate men in the common walks of life lor tlicir time, and he supposed two and a half dollars per day, as the times now were, would be sufficient.
Ma. R. Clarke was opposed to fixing any sum by the constitution, and he wa< so, he believed, from a just regard to the public interest. He would not, he said, have the pay so large as to be an object of cupidity, or so low as to prevent men in the middling paths of life from attending without great sacrifice of private interest. Fixing the compensation at a very low sum, would operate to till the legislative assemblies wiih two opposite classes of men—nabobs and those having no honest employment to keep them at home. It would drive from the legislature all the honest yeomanry of the country, who could not afford to bestow their time without a reasonable compensation.
Ge*. Tallmadge proposed to fix the pay of members for a certain period, before the expiration of which it should not be altered. He thought two years would be a proper term for an experiment, during which no great changes in liv« prices of labour and money could take place.
Mr. Nelson moved an amendment limiting tlic pay regulation of llie memhers to two years, and until after the meeting of the next succeeding legislature.
Gen. Root called up the resolution which he had offered at an early part of the session, and which had heen permitted to lie on the tahle. He replied at considerahle length to the gentlemen who had preceded him in the dehate.
Mr. Duer regretted that the prejudices of an early education prevented his replying to the language of a gentleman in a puhlic assemhly, which he should he ashamed to use in a private cirele. The epithet of "soher-minded," which he had unfortunately used a few days ago, had given great offence to the gentleman from Delaware, and had drawn down his indignation upon him. The gentleman tells us (hut the avowal was unnecessary) that he is directed hy popularity in votijig—that his conduct in this house is controlled hy a desire to secure popularity. 1 deny that to he the case with me. I will endeavour to he directed hy what I conceive to he for the interests of my constituents, without regard to their prejudices; although hy such a course 1 may deprive myself of that popularity which is the idol of the gentleman from Delaware. I flatter myself 1 shall preserve their permanent esteem, which to me is much more desirahle. The gentleman lias requested us to take a course, which, I think, were we to pursue it, would he an honest one—nay, more so than to endeavour to destroy the popularity of those who have voted on similar grounds, and then pocket $t,500 himself. Should we take this course, it will he full as lionest and as dismterested as to exclaim against those who have fixed a rate of compensation, and then without scruple receive pay to the full amount, after heing ahsent during half the session.
I trust the proposition which has heen suhmitted hy my honourahle colleague will not he so speedily rejected as the gentleman from Delaware may imagine; although I have no douht he wishes it to he the case, as it may interfere with a favourite proposition of his own, and he is always anxious to appear to the people as heing the anthor of all popular propositions."
Mr. D. said he was very thankful to the gentleman from Saratoga for the support which he had given. He was in favour of filling the hlank with the smallest sum mentioned, or a sum harely sufficient to pay the expenses; and hy adopting such a course the character of memhers would he improved. The place would not he sought after for the emolument which it would afford.
Gun. Root explained at length in relation to the suhject referred to hy Mr. Duer.
Mr. Duer expressed his entire satisfaction with the explanation that had heen given, and hoped hereafter that the gentleman from Delaware would he inclined to extend the same charity to others that he claimed for himself.
The amendment offered hy the gentleman from Rensselaer, (Mr. Hogehoom) and referred to the committee of the whole when on this suhject, was read hy the chairman.
Mr. Cramer hoped the compensation of memhers would he fixed hy the constitution.
Mr. Dodge wished that a maximum might he ctahlished, and offered an amendment to that effect.
Mr. Rriggs hoped we should not disfigure the constitution hy fixing on the face of it dollars, shillings, cents, farthings, and mills. It was descending from great and fundamental principles.
Mr. Husscr.l was opposed to the amendment It was going too much into detail, and had hetter he left to the legislature.
Mr. SntrpE announced his intention to vote against the amendment.
Mr. 15 Icon said, that he was, upon the whole, in favour of fixing in the constitution the pay of memhers of the legislature, at a sum which should he unalterahle for a short period. It was true, that there might he some little inequality in different years in tlie real value of the sum which was fixed, owing to a variation in the price of commodities for that period; hut, as hut a short period was proposed, it could produce no material inconvenience or injustice, and would he more than counterhalanced hy the henefits which would grow out of it. And those were that it would put at rest, for a while at least, that hall of