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16. ARTICLE 14—AmendmenTS TO THE CONSTITUTION. On the face of the documents it is a fair statement that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are responsible for the final provisions on the amendment and revision of the constitution. This article constitutes in fact the great compromise which the Republicans, who were in other respects mainly defeated in their proposals, forced upon the Democratic wing of the convention. One of the chief tenets of the Republican political creed was faith in the wisdom and justice of the people. They proposed, as we have already noticed, to give the legislature power to refer any matter to the people for their decision.37 They proposed special referenda upon several other questions and they particularly desired that the people at the first election should be allowed to pass upon the question of negro suffrage.38 When the Republican members of the compromise committee were forced to adopt one article after another in substantially the form proposed by the Democrats, they were thrown back upon their confidence that the Republican party would very soon carry the state and if at that time there should be a simple method of amending the constitution they would be able to get popular consent to a series of amendments which would make this Democratic constitution over into one which conformed more nearly to Republican views. Consequently, although they themselves had not proposed an extremely liberal or simple amending process, they insisted that the Democrats give them at least this much. Both the Republican and Democratic proposals on the method of amendment were entirely discarded, and instead thereof there was adopted a section which embodied the simplest and easiest method of amending a state constitution which has yet been put into effect in any state.39 This great compromise of the convention resulted in the development of a new method of amending state constitutions. Both conventions had originally proposed that an amendment must be proposed by two successive legislatures and be finally ratified by the people in a subsequent election before taking effect. The Republican proposal would have required a majority of the members elected to each of the houses in each of the legislatures to propose an amendment but a simple majority of the voters voting on the question would have been sufficient to ratify such amendment. This would have been perfectly satisfactory if the Republicans had been able to have their proposed constitution adopted. The Democratic proposals, on the other hand, required only a simple majority vote in the two legislatures to propose amendments and a vote of "a majority of voters present and voting" at the election to ratify amendments. The scheme which was adopted required the proposal of the amendment by only one legislature and that by a simple majority, and permitted the ratification of amendments by a majority of the voters voting on the question at the next election.
87 See p. 119.
See pp. 99-101, 123.
See pp. 147-48.
This, as has been said, was in advance of all the methods then in use among the various states.
The Democrats had, furthermore, made no provision whatever for the calling of constitutional conventions for the revision of the original constitution. The Republicans had proposed the submission of the question "Shall there be a constitutional convention?" to the voters in 1870 and every twentieth year thereafter. This Republican proposal was rejected and in its place there was inserted the provision which stands today in the state constitution. At the time of its adoption this provision was reasonably liberal and simple, for at that time elections came annually. At the present time, however, with our biennial elections, the scheme is somewhat cumbersome.4o
17. ARTICLE 15-MISCELLANEOUS SUBJECTS. The committee on compromise made a slashing attack on the miscellaneous provisions proposed by both conventions. Both Democrats and Republicans had adopted articles exhorting the legislature to maintain institutions for the deaf, dumb, blind, and insane. These provisions were entirely eliminated and appear nowhere in the constitution. The Democrats had also adopted a strong provision guaranteeing the separate property rights of married women and the Republicans had adopted a similar provision in connection with their bill of rights."2 These proposals were so nearly identical that it would have been a very easy matter to have reached a compromise upon their terms. In fact, however, the committee on compromise apparently refused to consider the question at all. The Republicans had also adopted articles fixing the date of the beginning of the political year for the state, prohibiting persons convicted of infamous crimes, defaulters, and the givers or receivers of bribes at elections from holding public office, prescribing the oath of members of the legislature and of state officers, and specifying the method of electing United States senators. All of these proposals were rejected by the compromise committee. A few years later, however, an amendment was carried fixing the date of the political year as the Republicans had proposed.13
Coming then to the article as it was adopted, we have once more upon the face of things a Democratic contribution. The Republicans had no equiva
40 See pp. 145-47.
41 The Republican proposal was as follows: "Institutions for the benefit of those inhabitants who are deaf, dumb, blind, or insane shall always be fostered and sustained by legislative enactments." 42 These provisions were as follows: Democratic: "The property of married women, which they may have at the time of marriage, or may acquire during coverture, together with the rents, issues and profits arising therefrom, shall be subject to their exclusive control, and may be disposed of by them in the same manner as though they were unmarried; and shall be subject to all debts contracted by them before marriage, but shall never be liable to the debts of the husband." Republican: "All property both real and personal of the wife, owned or claimed before marriage and that acquired afterward by gift, devise or descent, shall be her separate property; and laws shall be passed more clearly defining the rights of the wife, in relation as well to her separate property as that held in common with her husband. Laws shall also be passed providing for the registration of the wife's separate property."
43 Minn. Const., art. 7, sec. 9.
lents for the first, third, and fifth sections. The first and the fifth, it is proper to say, embody together with section 4 of article 8, the terms of the socalled tri-city agreement." In section 1 of this article the capital is guaranteed at least temporarily to the city of St. Paul and in section 5 the state. prison is assured to the city of Stillwater. The Republicans, for reasons which have already been given, not only had no interest in carrying out this agreement, but were actually opposed to its appearing in the constitution. Section 3 which relates to the oath to be required of voters at elections was entirely of Democratic origin. The Republicans had partial equivalents for the relatively unimportant provisions in sections 2 and 4 but on the whole. article 15 was of Democratic origin.
18. SCHEDULE. It was charged in the Democratic convention when the compromise constitution came up for adoption that the Republicans had sacrificed all their principles for the chance of winning the offices.45 The same charge also appeared in this form: that the Republicans had carried the schedule provisions while the Democrats had written the constitution. This accusation was of course strictly a partisan charge. As has been shown above
See p. 125.
45 Dem. Deb., pp. 596, 605-6. See pp. 105-6.
See pp. 101-3.
NOTE. THE SOURCES OF THE CONSTITUTION. It was a part of the original plan of this work to prepare a statement of the sources from which the various provisions of the original Minnesota constitution were drawn, with a view to ascertaining which state constitutions most directly influenced the Minnesota constitutional conventions. Much of the necessary work was done but the results were not so satisfactory as to warrant the completion of this part of the study. In the first place the constitutions of the northern states of that day from New York to Wisconsin and Iowa were all very much of a piece. To be sure each had its peculiarities, more or less important, but in the main their bills of rights, their provisions for the three departments, and even less weighty clauses and sections followed much the same general lines. Furthermore there appears to have been a fairly adequate law library already in existence in the capitol at St. Paul and there is little reason to doubt that the various committees of the conventions prepared their reports only after some hours at least of study of the constitutions of other states. The delegates were not servilely bound to follow one or another of a few clearly differentiated models, but had, rather, to make their selections from a number of constitutions differing in details and by shades of meaning rather than in fundamentals. Their work was largely eclectic, though by no means entirely so, and it required the ability to discriminate often "twixt tweedledum and tweedledee." Each convention went through this task more or less completely, selecting a group of provisions to come under each of the heads of a constitution, adapting them to local conditions, and working them as far as possible into a harmonious whole. Most of the Republican committees reported and had their reports printed before the Democratic committees on the same subjects presented their conclusions, thus giving the latter the advantage of a knowledge of what the rival convention had under consideration. While the work was still going on the conference committee took over all the materials of both conventions, subjecting them to another process of selection and adaptation. The result was that when the committee finally reported back a complete constitution that document was already several stages removed from the sources. Therefore, when the author of this study found that a certain clause bore a striking resemblance to clauses in the federal constitution and in several of the state constitutions, but was identical with no one of them, it was impossible for him to give a definite source for the Minnesota provision. There is little reason to doubt that if the work had been completed with Teutonic thoroughness some stray bits of valuable information would have been acquired, but on the whole the task did not seem worthy of completion. It may be said, however, that the Minnesota bill of rights closely resembles that in the Wisconsin constitution (1848). Among the chief general sources of the constitution not to mention the remote Magna Charta and other famous English liberty documents, may be listed the Northwest Ordinance,
it had little basis in fact.46 Viewed as a whole, the schedule of the compromise constitution is a skilful piecing together of the proposals of the two conventions, with several provisions proposed by neither. Superficially it bears a greater resemblance to the Republican than to the Democratic proposals, but in fact the Democrats gained more than appears upon the surface.
the federal constitution, the organic act, the enabling act, the Iowa constitution (1846), the Wisconsin constitution (1848), the New York constitution (1846) and the contemporary constitutions of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Practically all of these were mentioned at one time or another in the debates, and some of them frequently. Students who wish to pursue this investigation further should consult the best collection of state constitutions of that day: A. S. Barnes & Co., The Constitutions of the Several States, etc., 555 p., New York, 1857. See also Poore, The Federal and State Constitutions, etc., 2 vol., 1878, and Thorpe, The Federal and State Constitutions, etc., 7 vol., 1909.
MINNESOTA ENTERS THE UNION
1. THE ADOPTION OF THE CONSTITUTION. Surprise has often been expressed that the vote of the people upon the adoption of the constitution should have been so nearly unanimous. According to the precinct returns there were 36,240 votes for the constitution and only 700 against it. According to the canvassers' returns there were 30,055 affirmative votes and 571 negative.1 How did it happen, it has often been asked, that following such a bitter struggle between the Republicans and the Democrats both inside the conventions and out, and between those who desired an east and west division of the territory and those who desired a north and south division, between those who wanted negro suffrage in the constitution and those who did not, and following such an unsatisfactory compromise between the two conventions upon the text of a constitution, that not two per cent of the voters in the territory cast their ballots against the instrument? Certainly if one had listened to the mutterings of the discontented minority in each convention during the last three days of their proceedings, one would have gained the idea that the constitution would not be readily adopted by the people.
But the answer, though somewhat complicated, is not hard to find. In the first place, each party had taunted the other with the charge that it did not want Minnesota to achieve statehood and was trying to delay that consummation. Consequently when a compromise constitution was finally agreed upon, neither party dared to come out against it. It is also to be remembered that the land grants to the new state were very favorable and that there were powerful interests connected with the railroad corporations and land companies who desired the state government quickly established so that they might proceed to do business with it and to receive its assistance. Moreover, the friends of the east and west division had been partly mollified by the splendid grant of lands for a railroad from Winona west through St. Peter to the Big Sioux river, and after their defeat in both conventions they had become convinced that for them the game was up.
These are some of the pertinent facts, but the most important one is yet to be given. Sections 16, 17, and 18 of the schedule contain in themselves all the explanation that is needed of the almost unanimous vote for the constitution. The Democrats in the conference committee had insisted upon holding the elections for state officers, for congressmen, and for or against the constitution all on the same day. They did not intend to give the Republicans time to strengthen their organization still further before holding the
1 Dem. Deb., p. 677; Rep. Deb., P. 620.
Ibid., pp. 115-27.