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PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES
OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION,
COMMENCED AT HARRISBURG, MAY 2, 1838
Reported by JOHN AGG, Stenographer to the Convention :
ASSISTED BY MESSES. WHEELER, KINGMAN, DRAKE, AND M'KINLEY.
PRINTED BY PACKER, BARRETT, AND PARKE.
PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES
CONVENTION HELD AT PHILADELPHIA.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 1837.
Mr. BEDFORD, of Luzerne, moved that the convention do now proceed to the second reading and consideration of the resolution, offered by hisz on the 26th instant, in the words following, viz:
Resolved, That the following new rule be adopted, both in convention, and in committee of the whole, viz :
“ That when any twenty delegates rise in their places, and move the question on any pending amendment, it shall be the duty of the presiding officer to take the vote of the body on sustaining such call, and if such call shall be sustained by a majority, the ques tion shall be taken on the amendment without further debate.”
The question being put, the motion was agreed to. Mr. BEDFORD said he had offered this resolution for the purpose of accele rating the business of the convention. We have now adopted a resolvtion fixing the period for an adjournment, sine die, and it becomes important to adopt some measure to expedite the business before us. It is
now six weeks sirce there has been a single voie taken in the committee pe of the whole on any of the articles. The committee to whom the seventh
article was referred, reported no amendment to the section now under discussion. An amendment was offered, and an amendment was offered to that amendment: and although both had been fully discussed, and every one's mind was made up, still the majority, being in favor of neither the one proposition or the other, could not get the previous question: attempts had been made to do so without effect. If the call for the previous ques. tion were sustained, the amendments would be cut off, and then the origi. nal constitution would stand; and this prevented a majority from sustaia. ing the call for the previous question. Thus this debate had been continued for a considerable time without the possibility of cutting it short. He
believed such a change in the rules as he now proposed to be absolutely 9 necessary to be carried into effect, before the convention could be able to
adjourn sine die. The resolution was offered before the resolution to
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adjourn was adopted ; and he believed it to be more necessary now. We have spent six weeks on a single article in the committee of the whole : and within the short space of five weeks which we have before us, we cannot get through our business unless we adopt a rule of this character. Gentlemen say, that, if we cannot get through our business by the second of February, we can extend the time. He had voted against the resolution not because he did not wish to terminate the session, but he wished to see some evidence that we could get through what had been committed to us by the people to perform. Unless this rule shall be adopted, we may not only have to extend the term for the convention to sit, for a few days, but for weeks, and perhaps months. The resolution to adjourn means nothing more than that we will adjourn on that day, if we are ready to adjourn. "Those who are anxious to finish the labors of this body by the 2d day of Februry, will be willing to adopt such rules as may enable us to get through our business; more especially, he presumed would the gentleman, who was so anxious to adjourn sine d e, and who opposed the resolution, be desirous to devise some mode of expediting the business.
Mr. Dickey, of Beaver, expressed regret, that he should have to dis. appoint the gentleman from Luzerne. The rule which the gentleman had introduced was one entirely new, and unknown to legislation. If gentlemen had not wished to consume the time of the convention, they ought not to have offered amendments, which they knew would not be adopted, and which would be withdrawn. The previous question was a sufficient check, whenever the sense of the house was in favor of sus. taining it. He did not know whether the previous question would be considered a privileged question, if this were adopted. All the objects which it is desirable to accomplish, can be accomplished by the previous question. The gentleman from Luzerne would not like to vote for the previous question, because he was in favor of the ten dollar note sys. tem, and the previous question would cut that off. He believed, however, that the previous question was quite sufficient, and he was therefore opposed to this resolution.
Mr. DARLINGTON, of Chester, asked if the adoption of this rule would not lead to the interruption of a speaker, in the midst of his speech?
Mr. BEDFORD replied, ihat such was not his intention, and he believed that such would not be the effect of the adoption of the resolution.
Mr. Meredith, of Philadelphia, said, that we had already adopted so many new rules, that no one could tell what the rules of order are. He did not know however, whether it would not be necessary to adopt some such provisions, to enable us to adjourn on the second day of February ; because, from the course pursued yesterday, it appears, that, although sent here for the purpose of deliberation, we are to be a body deciding the most important questions without debate. Every one who wishes to deliver his views, is to be limited to one hour. We must resort to some mode of sitting out every question in the best mode we can. He moved 10 postpone tlie further consideration of this resolution for the present, in order that we may see how the other rules operate. He afterwards withdrew the motion.
Mr. INGERSOLL, of Philadelphia, said, he understood there were three gentlemen, who had in their power to move a reconsideration of the vote
by which the resolution of yesterday was adopted, and he hoped they would do so. He would, however, move to amend the resolution now offered, by adding to the end of it, the words following, viz::
" And that the resolution adopted yesterday, fixing the day for the adjournment sine die of this body, may be rescinde:, or altered, at any time, by a vote of a majority of the convention.
The President decided that this motion was not in order. Mr. MEREDITH, then renewed his motion, to postpone the further consideration of this resolution for the present. The resolution to adjourn, he added, might be repealed or rescinded at any time.
The question was then put, on the motion of Mr. MEREDITH, and decided in the affirmative-yeas 61.
The convention again resolved itself into a committee of the whole, Mr. Reigart in the chair, on the report of the committee to whom was referred the seventh article of the constitution.
The question being on the motion of Mr. FULLER, of Fayette, to amend the amendment offered by Mr. Read, as modified by him, by adding to the end thereof the words following, viz:
"No bank shall issue any bill, check, note or paper credit of a less denomination than ten dollars.”
Mr. Barnitz, of York, had no disposition, as he said, at this time, to enter the wide field of discussion, which had been opened on the questions now pending ; but there were two or three points in which he felt peculiar concern, and upon which he desired to submit someremarks.
As to the causes of the suspension of specie payments, he would say nothing; that question had been discussed. He was satisfied hinself, and he thought others were satisfied. He would leave that question in the hands of the people ; they had already decided it in a number of the states, and especially in the einpire state, where they had spoken in terms not to be misunderstood.
As to the mode and manner and the necessity of that suspension, he contended that it was a measure of absolute necessity—for the safety of the banking institutions of the state, as well for the convenience and security of the vast number of our fellow citizens who had their engage. ments with the banks in various modes. It had been asserted by the delegate from Susquehanna, who opened the question, that the suspension of specie payments was a conspiracy by the banks of the country to promote their own interests at the expense of the interests of the country. Mr. B. denied this charge, not in the way of idle declamation or partisan warfare, but upon facts and reasons that no candid or liberal man would deny or dispute. The delegate from Susquehanna, on being pressed for reasons or explanations, with the courtesy that belongs to him disclaimed any improper charge againtst the individuals who were officers of the banks, but that the charge was made against the corporations,