« ПредишнаНапред »
three times that number. For these and many other reasons, the reducing and confining this branch to a small number, was surely an achievement devoutly to be wished ! But how was it to be effected? Should the mode hitherto practiced of choosing members, be continued, scarce three towns in the State would be each entitled to elect one. Should several towns be joined together till a number sufficiently large was collected to choose a representative, this would be abridging the privileges of towns, confounding them with each other, and destroying their independence. This has been practiced in some few instances, but has been the source of much complaint and many heavy evils.
The convention therefore, after revolving the matter with the utmost attention, could hit upon no method that appeared to them, in all respects, so unexceptionable as the one here offered. By allowing every town and parish having fifty ratable polls to elect one member to compose a certain body, out of which the people's representatives are to be chosen, almost every town and parish within the State that would wish to exert the privilege, is included, and even such as have less than fifty ratable polls are permitted to join another. Besides, in a few years, it is probable there will be no towns which have not fifty families at least within the State. The larger towns being permitted to choose in the same proportion renders the representation as equal as the nature of things will admit.
These bodies thus chosen, one in each county, after dividing the districts as mentioned in the constitution, are respectively to choose from among themselves the representatives of the people to sit in the General Court. This mode will be found, perhaps, as free, equal, and perfect, as any that can be devised. The objection, that in this way each town will not know, nor have the power of designating its own representative, will, perhaps, on examination, be found one of the strongest
arguments in its favor. Those interested views, that party spirit, and zeal for rivalry, which too often takes place in towns on such occasions, will be hereby in a great measure destroyed; and the people will be under a necessity of acting upon higher and better principles.
The provision for publishing the journals of both Houses at the close of each session, supersedes another objection that might be started against the want of information among the people, that the smallness of the representative body might otherwise occasion. The only remaining objection of any weight, is the ill consequences that may arise from the assembling so large a number of people together at the County Conventions. To this it is replied, that the county delegates through the State, will be divided into five separate and distinct bodies -- that all will sit on the same day - and probably not more than one day, unless upon extraordinary occasions — that they will be the chosen ones of the people, a most respectable body, with too much business on their hands to allow them time for dissipation, and too much of the people's welfare at their hearts to permit them to sow sedition. And even allowing some of the inconveniences hinted at really to follow, they must be less than if all should unite in one general assembly, and sit, not one or two days only, but half the year, in the proportion of a hundred to one.
We have been thus particular upon this head of representation, partly on account of the novelty of the mode, and partly from a full conviction of the vast importance of the thing. And we leave it for your faithful discussion ; observing as we do it, that it is what many great, wise, and learned men of our own, and other days, have wished to see put in practice, and have not seen it.
The choice and powers of the Senate, having less of novelty, and being sufficiently explained in the constitution, we shall pass over with a bare mention, and proceed to the Executive power.
This power is the active principle in all governments ; it is the soul, and without it the body politic is but a
Its department is to put in execution all the laws enacted by the legislative body. It ought therefore to have the appointment of all the civil officers of the State. It is at the head of the militia, and therefore should have equally the appointment of all the military officers within the same. Its characteristic requisites are secrecy, vigor, and dispatch. The fewer persons, therefore, this supreme power is trusted with, the greater probability there is that these requisites will be found. The convention therefore, on the maturest deliberation, have thought it best to lodge this power in the hands of one, whom they have styled the Governor. They have, indeed, arrayed him with honors, they have armed him with power, and set him on high. But still he is only the right hand of your power, and the mirror of your majesty. Every possible provision is made to guard against the abuse of this high betrustment, and protect the rights of the people.
The manner of his choice is such, that he is the most perfect representative of the people. He can take no one step of importance without the advice of his privy council; and he is elected annually. But, as if this was too little, no one person is capable of being elected oftener than three years in seven. Every necessary and useful qualification is required in him, in point of age, religion, residency, and fortune. In addition to all which, he is liable for every misconduct to be impeached, tried and displaced, by the two legislative branches; and is amenable to the laws besides, equally with the meanest subject of the State. Thus controlled and checked himself, the convention thought it reasonable and necessary, that he, in turn, should have some check on the legislative power. They therefore gave him the right of objecting to and suspending, though not the absolute control over the acts of that body; which they thought indispensably necessary to repel any encroachments on the executive power, and preserve its independency.
The Judicial department falls next under our consideration.
This comprehends the Judges of the several courts, and the Justices of peace throughout the State. These are all appointed by the Governor, with the advice of Council, but not removable by him in case of malconduct, but by the legislature-and in no case without the intervention of that body.
The Judges all hold their offices during good behavior; the only proper tenure, especially for the Judges of the Supreme Court of Judicature, as they ought, in a peculiar manner, to feel themselves independent and free, and as none would be at the pains to qualify themselves for such important places, if they were liable to be removed at pleasure. As anotherinducement for persons so to qualify themselves, as an encouragement to vigilance, and an antidote to bribery and corruption, adequate, honorable, and permanent salaries to the Judges of the Supreme-Court in a particular manner, we have made essential in the Constitution, and do now most strongly recommend.
The alteration of Justices' commissions from life to five years, is to guard against age, incapacity, and too large a number ; to secure the appointment of the best ; and to prevent too frequent addresses and impeachments. You will judge of the propriety and expediency of this innovation, and either give it your sanction, or not, as it appears to you best.
The reasons for the Exclusion-Bill are too obvious to need pointing oul. Sad experience has evinced the necessity of such a provision. Besides the interference of several offices held by the same person, in point of time, which we have too often secn; and the difficulty of one man's giving his attention to many matters sufficiently to understand them all, which we have too often felt; there is a still stronger reason, which is the difficulty of a man's preserving his integrity in discharging the duties of each unstained-at least by suspicion.
From the deepest impression of the vast importance of literature in a free government, we have interwoven it with, and made its protection and encouragement a part of, the Constitution itself.
The Bill of Rights contains the essential principles of the Constitution. It is the foundation on which the whole political fabric is reared, and is consequently, a most important part thereof.
We have endeavour'd therein to ascertain and define the most important and essential natural rights of men. We have distinguished betwixt the alienable and unalienable rights: For the former of which, men may receive an equivalent; for the latter, or the Rights of Conscience, they can receive none : The World itself being wholly inadequate to the purchase. 6. For what is a man profited, though he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? ”
The various modes of worship among mankind, are founded in their various sentiments and beliefs concerning the Great Object of all religious worship and adoration, therefore to Him alone, and not to man, are they accountable for them.
Thus the Convention have endeavoured to explain as particularly as they could without trespassing on your patience, the reasons and principles upon which they have laboured to form this Constitution. They have done it in integrity and faithfulness. They conceived themselves as part of the community for which the Constitution is intended, and therefore equally interested with the other members in framing the best. Whatever latent defects there may be in it, time will discover them-and, at the end of seven years, provision is made