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and not by their agents, as the argument would seem to imply. He therefore did not wish to prevent them from niaking such alterations in their fundamental law as they might deem necessary.
I do not like (said Mr. B.) this perpetual distrust of the people. It does not look well. If they are unfit to govern themselves, all the constitutional clogs which you can pile up one on another, will not prevent them from going to destruction. No constilution will make a people free, if they are unworthy or unfit to be free. My desire is that they should enjoy their liberty as they have heretofore enjoyed it. I am not for compelling them to groan for ten years under evils which they can not remedy. Let the people be the judges of the action of this new government. If it should be found to work well, my word for it they will have no desire to change it; and if it works not well, they ought to change it without waiting ten years, ten months, aye, sir, even ten days. I, for one, am willing to trust the people at any and all times; and I trust that this convention will not now begin anew, and go again through the whole principles of government.
Mr. CURLL, of Armstrong, said. The case of the state of New Jersey has been referred to. In relation to that, I will say that I had the honor of a seat in the legislature of New Jersey in the year 1807 or 1808. There was no clause in the constitution providing for future amendments. It has been stated here that the legislature of New Jersey took it upon themselves to amend the constitution—some say by submitting an amendment to the people-others say, that the legislature passed it without even submitting it to the people.
Now, the fact of the matter is, that the constitution of the state of New Jersey never has been amended in a single line or word. The legislature did indeed pass a law explaining a certain section in that constitution, in reference to the elective franchise. That explanation happened to meet the views of a majority of the people. They acquiesced in it, and I believe it has remained so up to this day. Beyond this, the legislature has never done any thing.
Mr. HIESTER said, it must be evident to every gentleman present that the convention would not now consent to go back and change the most important principles which had been adopted. It was to be recollected also that the convention had agreed to adjourn over until to-morrow morning, in order to give the committee on the schedule time to make their report. It was important that the convention should get through with this section before they adjourned for the day; and as the usual hour had already arrived, he would call for the immediate question.
Which said motion was sustained by the requisite number of delegates rising in their places.
And the question being taken,
By inserting after the word “ representatives" in the second and third Kines, the words as follow, viz:
" In the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty, and at the expiration of each succeeding term of ten years thereafter. The yeas
and nays were required by Mr. Reigart and Mr. DARRAH, and are as follow, viz :
1245Messrs. Barndollar, Bonham, Brown, of Lancaster, Carey, Chandler, of Philadelphia, Chauncey. Clapp, Clark, of Dauphin, Cline, Cochran, Crum. Darlington, l'enny, Dickerson, Dunlop, Gamble. Hastings, Hays, Henderson, of Dauphin. Kerr, Konigmacher, MÄSherry, Meredith, Merkel, Myers, Pennypacker, Porter, of Lancaster, Reigart, Royer, Scott, Snively, Thomas, Weidman, White, Sergeant, President-35. Nars-Messrs. Agnew, Ayres, Baldwin, Banks, Barclay, Bedford, Bigelow, Brown,
Northampton, Brown, of Philadelphia, Butler, Chambers, Clarke. of Beaver, Clarke, of Indiana, Cleavinger, Coates, Cope, Crain, Crawford, Cummin, CunningLam, Curll, Darrah, Dickey, Dillinger, Donagan, Donnell, Earle, Fleming, Forward, Foulkrod, Fry, Fuller, Gearhart, Gilmore, Grenell, Harris, Hayhurst, Helffenstein, Henderson, of Allegheny, Hiester, Hopkinson, Hyde, Ingersoll, Jenks, Keim, Kennedy, Krebs, Lyons, Maclay, Magee, Mann, Martin, M'Cahen, Merrill, Miller, Montgomery, Nevin, Overfield. Purviance, Read, Ritter, Rogers, Russel, Saeger, Scheetz, Sellers, Seltzer, Serrill, Shellito, Smith, of Columbia, Smyth, of Centre, Sterigere, Stickel. Sturdevant, Taggart, Todd, Weaver, Woodward—78.
So the first division of the said amendnient was rejected.
And the question then recurred on the second branch of the said amendment, viz:
By striking out all after the word "published" in the tenth line, to the word "and" in the fisieenth line;
And, being taken, it was decided in the negative.
Further to amend the said motion by adding thereto, “ 'That the committee of the whole be instructed to amend the said article as follows, vis:
By striking therefrom the word “distant," in the eighteenth line, and inserting in lieu thereof the words as follow, viz: " after being so agreed to by the two houses."
The question on said amendment was called for by Mr. STERIGBRE and twenty-nine others rising in their places.
And on the question,
Purther to amend the said motion by adding thereto the words as follows vis:
" And that said committee be instructed to amend said article by striking from the twelfth and thirteenih lines thereof the words “a majority," and inserting in lieu thereof the words “two-thirds.”
On which motion, Mr. Dickey demanded the immediate question, but withdrew the motion on the suggestion of Mr. MEREDITH.
Ms. MEREDITH said, that he was not present in the convention when this
tenth section was adopted on second reading. Since that time, however, he had taken the pains to refer to the constitutions of the several states of the Union, and, amongst others, to the constitution of the state of Michigan which was the latest that had been adopted, and which had been held up here as the beau ideal of democracy and republicanism. I do not find continued Mr. M.) that the people of that state have thought fit to leave their frame of government at the mercy of a mere majority of two successive legislatures, so as to put it to the vote of the people.
The amendment of the gentleman from Beaver, (Mr. Dickey) requires an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of the second legislature.
Now, I would ask, continued Mr. M., whether in the state of Pennsylvania, we are about to render our fundamental law less secure or enduring than it is even in the state of Michigan--whether we are about to put it more into market than has been found necessary in any one of the states? I do not mean to speak of political de nagogues, or to say any thing which would imply ihat there is a difficulty in the minds of the people, or that a majority of the people are at any time disposed to turn themselves into political demagogues. But I do say that. to place the fundamental law of the land in such a condition as to make it the subject of continual excitement, would be productive of results as bad as if the people were composed of demagogues.
There is no measure which is obnoxious to party outcry, for which, under this clause, an immediate proposition will not be made to prohibit such a measure by the introduction of a clause into the constitution; and instead of having what we ought to have, a secure and enduring fundamental law, I am afraid if we take the clause in its present shape, we shall have propositions to change the constitution as often, and almost as easily, as to lay down a measure of ordinary legislation.
Look at our own experience in this body. What do we learn from that? Have we not found that the greater part of our time has been occupied in attempia to make propositions a part of the fundamental law of the land-propositions, I say, which a majority of the members of this convention have determined it is not proper to introduce into it, but which ought to be left to the temporary legislation to which they belong ? Has not this been notoriously the fact from the first meeting of the convention down to the present time. I can appeal with perfect confidence to a majority of the gentlemen around me to sustain this assertion.
What would be the consequence of the prevalence of a party majority! What would be the consequence if that should put it out of the power of the same majority to force a change of the fundamental law of the land ? What had we seen here in regard to party outeries? Had we not seen time after time, weeks of the session consumed in deba:ing propositions, upon which almost every member of the body was agreed, and which it was conceded ought not to be made a part of the fundamental law? What, then, were we to expect in future ? And, after having expended so much time on subjects of trivial moment, and having come to subjects of the highest magnitude—of the greatest importance, as for instance, the bill of rights, we were told that there was not time to consider it! Yes! so much time had been wasted in the discussion of party questions of the day, that when we reached the bill of rights it was forth with indefinitely postponed. Why, he asked, were we about to place Pennsylvania, bith
erto steady in her policy, steady in her republican principles—why place the whole of her laws in the arena of the party politics of the day? What end was to be answered ? He was entirely at a loss to know what neces. sity there was for it. or, what was to become of any of the rights of the people, if this should be carried out. Change in the fundamental law ought not to be made on trivtal or light grounds. And while the right was renewed to the people to alter their constitution, the attainment of that object ought not to be rendered too easy, and accomplishable by mere
We ought to know that our government was framed with a view to protect the minority of the people against the violent and overbearing conduct of the majority, should it happen to be of that character. He contended that the operation of the amendment would be to give the majority time for reflection to hold back their hands when about to oppress their fellow citizens. It would give them time to deliberate and afterwards time to act. Why, he asked, was it that by the constitution of the state of Michigan a vote of two-thirds was required to submit amendments to the people to authorize the call of a convention. Why was it that the commonwealth of Pennsylvania should place herself in this new and unheard-of attitude ? Why are we to give a territorial government, or rather, a new state erected out of it, and which must have been ignorant, of course, as to the proper manner in which a government ought to be founded this great advantage over us in regard to the stability and security of their institutions ? And, to go further ; why were we, instead of setting an example of steadiness, of trust, and confi. dence in ourselves, holding up an example the reverse, and the belief that a republican government was to be sustained only by having its fundamental forms its bill of rights, placed at the will of the mere majority of the day?
Without concluding, Mr. M. gave way to
Mr. Dunlop, of Franklin, on whose motion the convention adjourned until half past nine o'clock tomorrow morning.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 1838.
Mr. WOODWARD, of Luzerne, moved that the committee appointed to prepare and report a schedule of the amended constitution, have leare io sit this morning during the session of the convention, which was agreed to.
Mr. MEREDITH, of Philadelphia, submitted the following resolation, which was laid over for future consideration :
Resolved, That when the amendments shall have been engrossed, each amendment shall be distinctly read, and the question put upon it.
Mr. HIESTER, of Lancaster, moved that the convention proceed to the second reading and consideration of the resolution read on yesterday, as follows, viz:
Resolved, That five thousand copies in the English language, and two thousand Ave hundred copies in the German, of the constitution as amended, be printed in pamphlet form for the use of the members of this convention,
'The question being taken, the motion was agreed to.
The resolution being under consideration, Mr. Hiester modified it to read as follows, viz:
Resolved, That twelve thousand copies in the English language, and three thousand in the German, of the existing constitution, and the like number of copies, in each lan guage, of the amended one, be published side by side in pamphlet form: the parts proposed to be stricken out of the existing constitution to be printed in italics, and the amendments proposed by this convention to be printed in small capitals, in connexion with the parts retained of the old constitution; for the purpose of distribution by the mem. bers of this convention, and that the committees on the English and the German printing, are hereby authorized and required to contract for said printing to be done under their supervision and direction.
Mr. Hiester said he had submitted this resolution yesterday at the request of several gentlemen, and had hastily endeavored to call the attention of members to it. The resolution was now presented in a modi. fied form, and such as he hoped would prove acceptable to the majority. There should be a goodly number of the amendinents printed, so that they may be comprehensible to the peo;le. This publication would be universally referred to as the common standard, being printed under the supervision of a committee. He had filled the blank with twelve thou. sand and three thousand, because he did not consider that in a document of such importance the expense of three or four hundred dollars was any object.
Mr. STERIGERE, of Montgomery, considered the subject as one deserring of some reflection. We ought to consider this subject well, as it is one which concerns all. To give time for consideration, he moved to postpone the resolution until to-morrow.
Mr. Shellito, of Crawford, said this resolution was introduced yesterday morning, and ought to be disposed of. We could not make a better use of the people's money than by applying it in this way. He saw no sufficient reason for the postponement.
Mr. Hiester said it was all very plain, but if it was the wish of the