Imágenes de páginas

$3. Laws shall be made for ascertaining by proper proofs, the citizens who shall be entitled to the right of suffrage hereby established. The legislature may provide by law, that a register of all citizens entitled to the right of suffrage, in eve ry town and ward, shall be made at least twenty days before any election; and may provide that no person shall vote at any election, who shall not be registered as a citizen qualified to vote at such election.

4. The existing qualifications for the right of suffrage are abolished. The oath or affirmation of allegiance, which may now be required from an elector, is abolished.

§ 5. No citizen entitled to the right of suffrage, shall be arrested for any civil cause, on any day or days of an election.

§ 6. All elections by the citizens shall be by ballot.

§ 7. Members of the legislature, and all officers, executive and judicial, shall, before they enter on the duties of their respective offices, take the following oath or affirmation :

You do solemnly swear, (or affirm, as the case may be, that you will support the constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the state of New-York; and that you will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of according to

the best of your ability.

And no other oath, declaration, or test, shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust.

The report having been read, on motion of Mr. Sanford, was committed to a committee of the whole, and ordered to be printed.

Mr. Jay thereupon moved that the petition from the coloured people, be committed to a committee of the whole, when on the report which had just been read. Carried.

MR. WENDOVER moved an amendment to the rules and orders of the convention, which he had had in view for more than a week, the object of which was to prevent the division of a motion to strike out and insert-in other words to render a motion of that kind in all cases indivisible.

The motion was supported by the mover, together with Messrs. Root and Tallmadge, and opposed by Messrs. Briggs and Sheldon. It was finally adopted.


On motion of MR. RUSSELL, the Convention then again resolved itself into a committee of the whole, on the unfinished business of yesterday, (the report of the committee on the executive department)-Mr. Radcliff in the chair.

CHIEF JUSTICE SPENCER moved to strike out after the words declaring the governor to "be commander in chief of all the militia," the words "and admiral of the navy of this state. Carried.

CHIEF JUSTICE SPENCER suggested the propriety of striking out from the report of the committee, that part which goes to prohibit the governor from being eligible for more than eight years out of ten. It was the understanding yesterday, he believed, that that part of the report which relates to the term of office, should be read in blank, until we saw what would be the other provisions of the constitution. This part should be passed over with the same view. GEN. ROOT thought, as the committee of the whole had yesterday asked and obtained leave to sit again, that the whole report was again before the committee, and we should so act upon it. He continued his remarks a short time, and observed, that as the governor was no longer lord high_admiral of the naey, it ought not to be in his power to stand on the quarter deck, and turn the representatives of the people out of doors. He concluded by moving to strike out that part of the report which continues to him the power of proroguing the legislature.

MR. VAN BUREN called for a division upon this question; which being taken, was declared to stand as follows:

AYES-Messrs. Breese, Brooks, Carver, D. Clark, Clyde, Collins, Cramer, Day, Dubois, Duer, Dyckman, Eastwood, Edwards, Fairlie, Ferris, Frost, Hunt, Hunting, King, Knowles, Lawrence, A. Livingston, P. R. Livingston, M-Call, Moore, Park, Paulding, Pitcher, Porter, President, Price, Pumpelly, Rhinelander, Richards, Rockwell, Rogers, Root, Rose, Rosebrugh, Ross, N.

Sanford, R. Sanford, Sharpe, Spencer, Steele, D. Southerland, I. Sutherland, Swift, Taylor, Townsend, Tripp, Van Buren, Van Horne, Verbryck, Wheaton, Woods, Woodward, Wooster, Yates-59.

NOES.-Messrs. Bacon, Baker, Barlow, Beckwith, Birdseye, Bowman, Briggs, Brinkerhoff, Buel, Burroughs, Carpenter, Case, Child, Dodge, Fenton, Fish, Hallack, Hees, Hogeboom, Howe, Humphrey, Hunter, Huntington, Hurd, Jansen, Jay, Jones, Kent, Lansing, Lefferts, Munro, Nelson, Pike, Platt, Reeve, Russell, Sage, Sanders, Schenck, Seaman, Seeley, Sheldon, I. Smith, R. Smith, Stagg, Starkweather, Sylvester, Tallmadge, Ten Eyck, Townley, Tuttle, Van Fleet, Van Ness, Van Vechten, Ward, A. Webster, E. Webster, E. Williams, N. Williams--59.

The vote being equally divided, the chairman, (Mr. Radcliff,) gave the casting vote in the affirmative.

CHIEF JUSTICE SPENCER called the attention of the Convention to the amendment which he had proposed on the 10th inst. It was then adopted, but as few had voted on the question, and as some gentlemen wished that vote reconsidered, for the purpose of giving it further attention, he had no objection.

On motion of Mr. Van Buren, the Convention thereupon voted to reconsider. The amendment was read in the words following:

The returns of every election for a governor and lieutenant-governor, or lieutenant-governor only, shall be sealed up and transmitted to the secretary of state, by the clerks of the several counties, directed to the lieutenant-governor, or president of the senate. The secretary of state shall, on the first day of the succeeding session of the legislature, deliver the said returns to the lieutenant-governor, or president of the senate, who shall open and publish the same, in the presence of the senate and assembly, in joint meeting. The person having the highest number of votes for governor, shall be governor; and the person having the highest number of votes for lieutenant-governor, shall be lieutenant-governor: but if two, or more, shall be equal, and highest in votes, for governor, one of them shall be chosen by joint ballot of both houses of the legislature; and if two, or more, shall be equal, and highest in votes, for lieutenant-governor, one of them shall, in like manner, be chosen lieutenant-governor. Contested elections, for governor or lieutenant-governor, shall be determined by both houses of the legislature, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.

The Chief Justice spoke some time in favour of the adoption of the amendment. He contended that it was not a new proposition, as the same provision exists in the constitution of the United States, and in the constitutions of several of the states, which he enumerated. He endeavoured to show the impro priety of entrusting the canvassing of votes to executive officers, who have no discretionary powers, and alluded to several instances to illustrate his argument.-Among them, he spoke of the loss of votes at the last governor's clection, and at the late congressional election in the first district, in consequence of their being mis-spelt. He also mentioned the Otsego votes for governor, which were burnt many years ago.

MR. Krxg made some remarks in reply, which the reporter could not hear. Forme considerable debate ensued, in which Messrs. Spencer, Van Buren, Edwards, and Root participated.

GN. RooT proposed to divide the question, by taking it first on all that part preceding and including the words “shall be lieutenant-governor." This part he hoped would be negatived; and as for the remainder he would vote for it.

MP. BRIGGS proposed an amendment, so as to require a majority of the whole number of votes to make an election. Declared to be out of order, and the motion was withdrawn.

MR. P. R. LIVINGSTON spoke some time against the amendment; when The question being taken on the first part of the amendment, as proposed by Mr. hoot, it was lost.

MR. EDWARDS then moved a substitute for the remaining part of the amendment, di cetie the contested elections for governor and lieutenant-governor, shall be decided in a manner to be provided for by the legislature.

CHIEF JUSTICE SPENCER could in no way assent to this proposition, as it did not meet the object he had in view.

A long and desultory debate ensued, in which Messrs. Van Buren, Spencer, P. R. Livingston, King, Yates, Russell, Kent, I. Sutherland, and Root, were respectively engaged. Various modifications were suggested; but the result was, that the whole amendment, as proposed by Mr. Spencer, was lost, and nothing was substituted in its place. The vote stood as follows:

NOES-Messrs. Briggs, Brooks, Buel, Burroughs, Case, Collins, Cramer, Day, Dodge, Dubois, Duer, Dyckman, Eastwood, Edwards, Fenton, Frost, Hallock, Hogeboom, Howe, Humphrey, Hunter, Hurd, Jansen, Knowles, Lawrence, A. Livingston, P. R. Livingston, Munro, Moore, Nelson, Pike, Porter, President, Price, Pumpelly, Reeve, Richards, Rockwell, Rosebrugh, Ross, Russell, Sage, Schenck, Seeley, Sharpe, Sheldon, R. Smith, Steele, D. Southerland, I. Sutherland, Swift, Tallmadge, Ten Eyck, Townsend, Townley, Tripp, Tuttle, Van Horne, Verbryck, A. Webster, E. Webster, Woodward, Wooster, Yates-64.

AYES-Messrs. Bacon, Baker, Barlow, Beckwith, Birdseye, Bowman, Breese, Brinkerhoff, Carpenter, Carver. Child, D. Clark, R. Clarke, Clyde, Fairlie, Ferris, Fish, Hees, Hunt, Hunting, Huntington, Jay, Jones, Kent, King, Lansing, Lefferts, M'Call, Park, Paulding, Pitcher, Platt, Rhinelander, Rogers, Root, Rose, Sanders, N. Sanford, R. Sanford, Seaman, I. Smith, Spencer, Stagg, Starkweather, Sylvester, Taylor, Van Buren, Van Fleet, Van Ness, S. Van Rensselaer, Van Vechten, Ward, Wendover, Wheaton, E. Williams, N. Williams, Woods-57.

GEN. ROOT, then called the attention of the Convention to the subject of fixing the provision as to the term of service for which the governor should be elected. He moved to strike out from the report of the committee the words two years and insert the words one year.

MR. FAIRLIE moved to fill the blank with three years.
MR. WENDOVER wished to retain the words two years.

GEN. ROOT said, a number of propositions had been made, viz. to fill it up with one year, with two years, and with three years. He presumed, therefore, that the range of time would be from one to three years, inclusive. That the blank ought to be filled with one, he had no question.

It is a principle, said he, in republican governments, that elections should be frequent, for the purpose of insuring the people against improper execution of the trust reposed in their public functionaries. Republican governments are no better than monarchical, only, that the public agents are responsible to the people, and are frequently brought under their review, for the approbation or disapprobation of their respective duties. If our government is preferable to an aristocracy, or monarchy, it is on account of our frequent elections, by which the people have some security, that their agents will be faithful and act in conformity to their will. The longer the term of service, the further are they removed from the people, and the less they feel their responsibility to them. Give them a long term of service, and there is nothing but their honour, and a sense of their respective stations, to govern their conduct, except the dictates of morality and religion. They would be equally bound to have the good of the people in view, in a monarchial government.

The law of power will permit any individual to exercise that power to illimitable extent, unless restrained. It has been shewn, and proved by experience, that the most powerful restraint is a responsibility to the people by frequent elections.

The objections that will be urged to an annual election, unquestionably will be, that they will cause too much and too frequent agitation in the community. You will permit me to ask you, whether, if this argument is entitled to any regard, it should not be extended to a longer time than three years. If it is to avoid agitation and confusion, that you are to fix it at three years, why not extend it to seven or ten years, and then for life, in imitation of the French republic. In my judgment, this is fallacious reasoning, to suppose that these triennial elections would cause more ferment, than one annual election. Look

at other states--Pennsylvania and New-York elect triennially, and where is there as much ferment in any other state? In the eastern states, where they elect annually, they have not half the ferment that we have in this state.

Has this state been more agitated by party than other states? No, it has been the excresences of party, that have split her up more than other states; and it may, probably, be imputed to our triennial elections. But the two great parties which have existed for almost half a century, have gone as great lengths in other states as in ours. In Massachusetts they have raged to greater excess than we ever did in this state, and during the war with greater violence than they ever dared to here. It was not to see who should be governor, but to see who should prevail, the peace, or the war party.

There must be some ferment at an election, and we have a right to expect it, if it was only to elect a constable. Having elections annually, the public mind will not be half so much enraged, as to have them triennially. I do not believe that at these annual elections there would be half as many lies told, or that they would be half so stoutly tok!. More faction would generate in one triennial election than in three annual. It is in the moral world, as in the physical-let Vesuvius groan for years under the influence of her internal heat, what would be the cruption? The consequences have been witnessed, under such circumstances, by her lava overwhelming cities and villages; and carrying terror and dismay in every direction.

When the eruptions are frequent, they carry no terror or alarm; and sometimes they are beneficial, by fertilizing the state: So with your political eruptions-they add vigour to your body politic without destroying it-so party heat is beneficial, if not kindled into a blaze, but permitted, like a gentle fire, to dispense its worming influence. Is it desirable that these embers should be smoking and kindling for three years, and then break out into a devouring flame?

It appears to me to be sound policy, to have an election annually. Sometimes an election to office may be effected by surreptitious measures, and when effected, there could be no relief till the expiration of the three years; but if the election was annual, at the end of a year the people could come forward, and by their ballot boxes show that they had been deceived. If it is extended to three years, the electors will be in a great measure changed, some will have gone to foreign states, others to the tomb; and new ones will have arisen, who will not feel that indignity due to their deceivers.

I move that the blank be filled with one year.

MR. CRAMER. I must in duty to myself express my sentiments upon this subject. It is time for us to consider what powers we have given, and mean to give, to the governor, and for what purposes. He has the powers of veto, of pardon, and will probably have others of appointinent. I have voted for the first two, not to give him power to protect himself, the judiciary, nor of any man in authority, nor for the sake of providing for hungry expectants of office; but to be exercised for the benefit of the people. I have not delegated this power, for the purposes of indulging the sympathies of his heart, or of rewarding contractors; but to protect the citizens against midnight murder, and the torch of the incendiary. I am willing to delegate the appointing power to him, not to reward sycophants and flatterers; but for the purpose of appointing to office men of talents and integrity, who will discharge their duty with a single eye to the public good.

I lay it down as a maxim, that as you increase power, you increase accountability. Let us render him accountable to the people, and frequently. Is this assembly less likely to act discreetly and wisely, because the people have a revision over us? No, sir; I rejoice at it-it will prevent many bad amendments-it will teach us to leave untouched that which the people have not complained of. Settle with your governor often-short accounts make long friends— but leave him in power two, four, or seven years, and both crimes and virtues are difficult to be tested. Frequency of election influences the habits and understandings of the people in a variety of ways. It enables them to discharge their duty with the same deliberation with which they discharge the ordinary business of life; and it renders them less liable to the intrigues and misrepresentations of artful and designing men. Office is the mirror in which men are

seen as they are; not as they profess to be. How often do we see men, who, in private life, make a boast of their attachment to our democratic institutions, when in power, belie their professions. Office is a political barometer, in which not only the intrinsic weight, but the value of the officer, is tested. If he stand the test-if he be a faithful shepherd-if he has honestly discharged his duty, the people are to be trusted-they will not be unjust to themselves, nor to a faithful servant. But if he has proved himself an unfaithful steward-if he be a cold, sordid, calculating wretch, without one generous emotion, without one tender sympathy, aiming at personal aggrandizement alone-if he should have removed from office men whom the people delight to honour, men whose talents and integrity would do honour to any age or country, and substitute men corrupt, profligate, and abandoned, literally wanting principle, and wanting breadif he have disgorged that Pandora's box of the state prison on the people-if he have sanctioned unjust laws, or withheld his sanction from beneficial laws, which he himself had recommended, would it not be a consolation to every patriot in the country, that there was a redeeming power in the people, and that power near at hand?


It may be objected that a short term takes away the independence of the goThere are two sorts of independence-one to be commended, the other to be deprecated. That which arises from a fearless boldness of doing right at all hazards; that which arises from a sense of moral obligation; that which arises from a still stronger and more sacred tie, that which arises from a religious obligation, which binds man to eternity, and whispers to him every step he takes, that there is an accountability hereafter. This is the independence I prize; the independence I wish to see exercised. But that independence which arises from the multiplication of power, from the perpetuity of office, and from independency of circumstances, is the same independence which a Bonaparte once wielded over his subjugated provinces; the same independence which the legitimate royal robbers of Europe, now wield over their degraded subjects. It is that independence, which I trust I shall never live to see any man wield over the destinies of this country. It is that independence, to resist which, every honest man in this community should place himself in the last bulwark of liberty, over which a Caesar or Cromwell must pass, ere he arrived at that fatal independence. I therefore am for the shortest period.

MR. N. WILLIAMS, on rising observed, that he was impressed yesterday, when this subject was introduced before the Convention, with the importance of having all the plans of the different departments of the government brought under review, before deciding on the present question. It would be difficult to make a perfect whole, as a government should be, without adepting this course; and he could not conscientiously vote without knowing, in some degree, what the whole structure was to be.

He was of the opinion, he said, that the legislative departments were intimately connected with the executive, and that the powers to be given to the governor, and the duration of his term of service, ought very much to depend on the construction and powers of the former; more especially of the senate. If that body could be made what he ardently hoped it would be, it was far less important whether the executive term should be fixed at three, or a less number of years. Give us a senate, sir, he said, that will insure to the people of this state as much integrity and firmness, wisdom and experience as the present state of human nature will admit of, and he would not be very solicitous about the result of the question now under discussion.

We have been referred, he said, to other states for a precedent and a guide on this as well as on other subjects before this Convention. These precedents might, he thought, be very properly resorted to, and ought always to be treated with the highest respect. The one particularly referred to by an honourable gentleman, he considered, however, as wholly irrelevant. The governor of Connecticut was elected annually. But will gentlemen, he asked, draw a comparison between the magnitude of the great and flourishing state of New-York, and the state of Connecticut? It is acknowledged, that to elect a governor annually, in such a state as that, may be very well, and that even a different form of government would answer for so small a community. That state is not

« AnteriorContinuar »