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it does not apply to all. It seemed to him wholly unnecessary to introduce any new provision on this subject, and he should feel bound to vote against this amendment.
Mr. CLARKE, of Indiana, wished to call the attention of the committee to the principle contained in this amendment. The majority of the committee have decided, that the tax qualification shall be retained in the Constitution. He was always disposed to acquiesce in the decision of the majority, and, as he understood from the expression of opinion which we have had on this subject, it had settled down to this point, that the tax qualification was only to be retained, because they wanted some evidence of residence; and, it seemed to be agreed on all hands, that the Convention desired to give every person a chance to vote, who was entitled to vote. If then, this was the case, why not multiply the chances of a man's getting a vote. It is well known we have not had a State tax for sorty years, except for a very short time. We have no State tax now, and hence a man has but one chance, and that is the county tax. Well, a case might easily arise, where a man neglected paying his tax until the day of election, and it might so happen, that the collector of county taxes would be absent, or not to be found, and, by this means, a citizen would be cut out of his vote. But, give him a chance of paying the other taxes proposed by the gentleman from Columbia, and he will be secured in this sacred right. Give him a chance of paying any public tax laid by law, and that will multiply his chances of getting a vote, and identify him with the district in which he gives it, and this seemed to be all that was wanting. Then, if he does not meet the collector of county taxes, he may meet the collectors of borough, road, or school taxes, which will save him being deprived of his vote. He had merely risen for the purpose of calling the attention of the committee to this subject, hoping the amendment might be adopted.
Mr. AgNew said, the word public, made use of in this amendment, was very indefinite, and might mean almost any thing. He did not conceive, that the proper evidence could be obtained in cases of borough, road, or poor taxes. He apprehended that the reason why we adopted State or county tax, in the amendment we had made to the Constitution, was this, that you must have a record of the taxable inhabitants to carry it out. It was made the duty of the County Commissioners, in cases of county tax, to furnish the election officers with lists of the taxable inhabitants, which was the evidence of residence desired, and which was a complete protection against fraud; and, he apprehended, that one of the great reasons for inserting State or county tax in the amendment, was to prevent fraud, as it would confine every voter to his proper district. But, if he has paid any other tax, what evidence have you that he has paid it. It had been admited on all hands, that the payment of the tax showed no more strength of mind, and made the person no more capable of exercising the right of suffiage, but that it was merely imposed as an evidence of residence; but, if you extend it to taxes, over which the County Commissioners have no jurisdiction, you have none of the evidence at all which is desired, and when the man comes to the polls to vote, you have no evidence at all of his residence in the district, except his own word.A man, in this way, might claim the right to vote in two or three districts, and the only evidence you would bave, would be his word, or his oath.
If you allow a principle of this kind to be adopted, frauds will be commited to an enormous extent, and perjury will stalk abroad without the means of correction. For these reasons, he could not see that it would be proper to extend this right any farther than had been adopted by the committee.
Mr. Hayhurst said, he was well aware that, in some instances, persons might offer to vote without there being any record evidence of their citizenship in the district, but he was as well aware that this principle would not introduce any more cases of this kind than exist at present. In the first place, the commissioners of the county will furnish certified lists of the taxable inhabitants, in each township, to the election officers, and all persons coming up to vote would find their names there recorded, if they were residents of the township. All other taxes are based upon the county rates and levies, so that the lists furnished to election officers will actually contain all the voters in the election district, if it is correctly made out.Then, all that was to be done when a man comes forward to vote, is to refer to this list, and see if his name is there. If so, he was entitled to vote by this amendment, in case he had paid any tax at all, and the evidence of that would be the receipt of the collector to whom he had paid the tax. But, he wished to extend this matter so that it will not be necessary for a man to pay a tax for the support of the poor, or for the education of the children of the county, to obtain a vote, but that he may be entitled to it if he has worked on the road, because, it might be that a man might not have the specie to lay down to pay his tax, when he had a strong grasp to handle the hoe on the highways, and he asked that he might have the privilege to vote, in consequence of having done labor of this kind sufficient to pay his tax. He wished every man to have a voice in the selection of his rulers, who had contributed any thing in any way to the public, either by the payment of a tax, or by the labor of his hands. He did not, however, wish to have the right extended so as to permit frauds to be practised in our elections, but merely, so that every citizen of Pennsylvania, who has paid a public tax, may have the privilege. But, say gentlemen, where is the evidence that he has paid this tax? Why, the evidence was in the receipt of the overseer of the poor, the receipt of the treasurer of the school district, or any other public officer to whom he had paid his tax. The list furnished the election officers, by the commissioners, will be the evi. dence of his residence in the election district, and the receipt will be evi. dence that he has paid his tax. This, he thought, was not asking too much, and he hoped the committee would sustain this amendment. He knew it was not in the most appropriate place, but he asked that the principle might now be recognized, and on second reading, it can be inserted in its proper place.
Mr. Dickey should vote for the amendment of the gentleman from Columbia. He was opposed to the tax qualification, but as it had been decided by the committee that it should be retained, he was under the necessity of acquiescing with it. He was, however, anxious to see any proposition introduced which went to extend the right of suffrage, and whenever such proposition was introduced, he would be found voting for it.He would not, however, hold himself bound to vote for the amendment as amended. When the question came to be taken between it and the report of the committee, he should vote against the amendment, with the hope that we may yet dispense with the tax qualification.
Mr. SMYTH, of Centre, was disposed to go for the amendment where it was, because, he thought, if it was not adopted, injustice might be done to poor men, because of their not being able, in many instances, to pay the necessary tax. The commissioners in each county make out lists of the taxable inhabitants, but before the time comes round for paying the taxes, the laboring man, in many cases, may have moved into another district, and when he comes to vote he may be deprived of the privilege, in consequence of his name not being on the assessor's books. "But, he may
have worked on the roads, or paid a poor tax, and this would entitle him to a vote, in case this amendment should be adopted. In some counties, the road tax and poor taxes were higher than the county tax. In his own county, the road tax was five and a half mills to the dollar, while the county tax was only two and a half. Hence, he thought, there might much benefit result from this amendment, and he hoped it would be adopted.
The committee then rose, reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again to-morrow, when
The Convention adjourned.
SATURDAY, JUNE 24, 1837.
Mr. MAGEE, of Perry, presented a memorial from citizens of Perry county, on the subjects of Banks and Banking, praying for legislative restrictions.
Mr. M'CAHEN, of Philadelphia, presented a memorial from citizens of Philadelphia county, similar in its import and prayer.
These memorials were laid on the table. Mr. MERKEL, of Cumberland, presented a memorial from citizens of Cumberland county, praying that the trial by jury may be extended to fugitives from labor, which was refered to the committee on the ninth article of the Constitution.
Mr. MANX, of Montgomery, submited the following resolution :
WHEREAS, it appears to this Convention, from the progress hitherto made, that it is almost impossible, that the duties we were sent here to perform, can be accomplished and brought to a close before the unhealthy part of the season (viz: dog days) commences ; and whereas, so large a body of individuals, congregated in one house, would doubtless greatly impair our health, if not endanger our lives : Therefore,
Resolved, That this Convention will adjourn or the 7th day of July next, to meet again, in this place, on the 17th day of October ensuing.
The resolution being under consideration, and the question being on the second reading, it was decided in the affirmative-yeas 53, nays 28.
Mr. PORTER, of Northampton, moved to amend the preamble, by adding these words : “And whereas, there are a number of farmers in this Convention, who are anxious to go home, and get in their hay and harvest”.
The PRESIDENT decided it to be out of order to amend the preamble.
Mr. HIESTER, of Lancaster, said, he had hoped the Convention would not have been again perplexed with motions of this character. He was entirely opposed to adjournment. We were sent here, with the implied
understanding, that we should complete the work which was confided to us; and, any gentleman who could not make up his mind to stay here, should have said so when he was nominated. We ought to finish before we adjourn. We can do as much in two months now, as we shall do in five months, after we return from a visit to our homes. After seeing his constituents, every gentleman will return with his head full of plans. In addition to this, it might be urged, that the Convention cannot get through the residue of its labors, from the 17th of October to the first Tuesday of December, when the Legislature will meet. It will be impossible for the Convention to get through, and the Legislature will require this Hall, and we shall have to find a new place for our deliberations. The expense of our going and returning will also be charged to the Convention. There are some of our members, who may be called to Congress, in September. The PRESIDENT will have to attend to his duties there, and Mr. INGERSOLL expects to go there. There were several gentlemen round him, also, who are likely to be selected by the people at the elections, in October, for public trusts, and resignations would probably take place, so that we may expect to be deprived of many of our members, and special elections would have to take place. Why is all this to be? Why shall we not go on, and finish the business? Any gentleman, who cannot make his arrangements to stay here, ought not to have come. The people will not be satisfied with our leaving the work unfinished. Letters have already been received by gentlemen, in which strong dissatisfaction is expressed. I hope, therefore, that the Convention will vote down this resolution. It will be yet two monthe before the sickly season will come on, and, even then, this place is not more sickly than any other country town. The oldest inhabitants assure me, there is no more sickness here than in other places.
Mr. KERR, of Washington, said, he regreted that the gentleman from Montgomery had deemed it to be his duty to offer the resolution now under consideration. He had supposed that, when a similar resolution, for a temporary adjournment, was before the Convention, a week ago, a sufficient indication was then given, that a majority of this Convention was opposed to any adjournment, until the business was finished for which it assembled. Will we, by passing this resolution, determine that we will adjourn on the 7th of July, let the situation of our business be what it may at that time? It is said that a majority can at any time rescind the resolution, or extend the time. Admiting this to be so, then what will be gained by passing the resolution now, if the majority may, on the 6th of July, rescind it, and thereby prostrate all the preparations gentleman may make for returning home? We have heard much said respecting that part of this body, who are farmers, and the necessity of their going home to attend to their harvests, and therefore, that it was proper to adjourn. It may be necessary for a few of those gentlemen to ask leave of absence for a few days ; but, have we not, Mr. President, heard a number of those gentlemen declare, upon this floor, that they did not desire an adjournment on their account? It is true, some members, who are farmers, have occasionally been absent on eave ; but, as far as my observation has extended, the farmers are the most steady attenders on the business before this Convention, and that it is gentlemen belonging to another class, whose seats are more frequently vacant. By passing the resolution now before us, we determine to adjourn on the 7th July, and to meet again on the 19th
October next. Sir, when I took my seat in this Convention, my determination was to remain until the business we were expected to perform was finished, if that was possible. I believe the people of the State desire we should do so; at least, I have every reason to believe, that those whom I have the honor to represent, desire that we should. I shall, therefore, vote against this resolution, and all others, to adjourn until our work is completed, unless the necessity for such a measure shall appear more manifest than it does at present; but, if I am forced to choose between a final and temporary adjournment, I am not certain but I would prefer the course proposed, some time since, by the gentleman from the county of Philadelphia, which was, to submit to the people a proposition, simply providing for the future amendment of the Constitution, and then adjourn sine die. Yes, sir, I would be tempted to vote in favor of this course, and let us go home and tell the people, that the one hundred and thirty-three delegates they had elected, expressly for the purpose of submiting amendments, for their ratification or rejection, were not able to perform the service required of us ; that we could not agree upon any thing; that we could not even reach the important points on which they expected us to act, and therefore, only recommend authorizing future Legislatures to propose amendments to them—to authorize that body, already charged with the labor of making laws for this great Commonwealth, to perform the work we were sent here to do, but find ourselves unable to perform.But, I trust that we shall not be driven to this extremity, and hope the resolution may be postponed; if not, that it may be negatived.
Mr. WOODWARD, of Luzerne, moved to amend the resolution by adding, after the word “ July',' the words : “ Provided all the articles of the Constitution shall have been passed through the committee of the whole on that day".
Mr. M'SHERRY. of Adams, expressed his approbation of the amendment. We had passed on three or four of the articles, and the next would be the Judiciary article. Then, there would be the article which provides for the election of officers. To some of the articles the people never thought of any amendment. He thought it was our duty to reinain and go through the amendments. It would be improper to adjourn until the amendments were put in some form. As to ineeting again in October, he would say, that if it should be required to have a call of the Legislature, that body would probably be convened in October, and he knew no other place where the Convention could sit. The Court house would not be a convenient place. It would not accommodate all the members. It would be better, perhaps, to agree to the amendment, thsn postpone the resolution, and, if we find that, in a week or two, we are likely to get through, we can take it up again and pass it. The amendment, he thought, was a proper one. His district required very few amendments. He would like to agree to the resolution of the gentleman from Philadelphia, (Mr. EARLE) as to future amendments, so as to leave it in the hands of the people.
Mr. HIESTER moved to amend the amendment, by striking out all after the word " Provided", and inserting, “ we shall then have entirely finished the business for which this Convention was assembled”.