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Second Session, 1851. Upon reassembling on April 16 the convention proceeded to canvass the returns of votes upon its proposed amendments and found that all had been rejected by the people.
This remarkable result of its deliberations called forth the following comment from Governor Dinsmoor in his annual message to the Legislature at the June session, 1851:
The popular reception of the amendments proposed by the convention to revise the Constitution, is a remarkable incident in our history. Considering the character of that very respectable body, composed, as it is known to have been, of the most able and distinguished representatives of the various classes, occupations and interests in the State, and enjoying, perhaps, in as high a degree as any former political assembly in New Hampshire, the confidence of their constituents, it was not to have been anticipated that they would be so unfortunate in apprehending the wishes of the people as to fail in securing their acceptance of even one of the numerous amendments submitted for their approval.
It is apparent from this decisive expression of the popular will that the present Constitution is, in the main, entirely satisfactory to a large majority of the people; that the alterations demanded by them are few and obvious, and that they neither contemplated nor desired the extensive and radical changes proposed by the convention. This result also inculcates the instructive lesson, which may be useful for our guidance hereafter, that no material or important amendments to the Constitution can be expected to find acceptance with the people which are anything more than declaratory of their known sentiments, and that it is always unsafe to assume a knowledge of their opinions when they have not been distinctly pronounced. It would be an error to suppose that all the labor and expense bestowed on this unsuccessful attempt to improve the Constitution has been entirely lost. An occasional examination and discussion of the principles and forms
1 Journal of House of Representatives, June Session, 1851, pp. 31-32.
of the fundamental law are not without their use, if they serve other purpose than to bring more clearly to view the great merits of our old and well-tried Constitution, and to give the people another opportunity to reaffirm their strong and unabated attachment to it.
The convention, after briefest discussion, resolved to submit what have commonly been described as three new amendments, but in fact, as comparison of their text shows, to re-submit three of those just rejected. These were the amendments proposing to abolish the religious test, to abolish the property qualification, and to provide a new mode for amending the constitution. Provision was made for submitting these to the people at the annual town meetings to be held March 9, 1852, at which time the amendment abolishing the property qualification was adopted.
The three amendments with the popular vote thereon are given on page 216.
The manuscript journal of the convention of 1850–51, with a very inadequate index, is in the office of the secretary of state, but has never been published." The Patriot (newspaper) of Concord, which was issued as a daily during the first session (Nov. 6, 1850, to Jan. 3, 1851) of this convention, published a stenographic account of its proceedings, with a full report of the debates.
On April 17, 1851, the convention adjourned sine die. AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION,
1 The Journal of the preceding convention, 1791-2, was published in Province
and State Papers, Vol. X, pp. 33–196, in 1877.
PROPOSED 1851. SECOND SERIES.
BILL OF RIGHTS.
Art. 6. Strike out the word “ protestant."
Art. 14. Strike out the words “ shall be of the Protestant religion.”
Art. 29. Strike out the words “ who is not of the Protestant religion.”
Art. 42. Strike out the words, " and unless he shall be of the Protestant religion."
Strike out the words « shall have an estate within the district which he may be chosen to represent of the value of one hundred pounds, one-half of which to be a freehold whereof he is seized in his own right.”
Strike out the words “and seized of a freehold estate in his own right of the value of a hundred pounds, being within this State."
Art. 42. Strike out the words ". and unless he shall at the same time have an estate of the value of five hundred pounds, one-half of which shall consist of a freehold in his own right within this State."
Strike out these articles and insert in lieu thereof
Arts. 99, 100. the following:
o. Art. 99.
Any amendment or amendments to this Constitution may be proposed in the Senate or House of Representatives, and if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of the members elected to each house, such proposed amendment or amendments shall then be entered on their respective journals, with the yeas and nays taken thereon, and referred to the Legislature then next to be chosen, and shall be duly published; and if in the Legislature next afterwards to be chosen such proposed amendment or amendments shall be agreed to by a majority of the members elected to each house and the same be recorded on their journals, and the yeas and nays taken thereon as aforesaid, then it shall be the duty of the Legislature to submit such proposed amendment or amendments to the people, and if twothirds of the qualified voters of this State present and voting thereon at meetings duly called and warned for that purpose, shall approve and ratify the same, then such amendment or amendments shall become a part of the Constitution : Provided that no amendment or amendments shall be submitted to the people oftener than once in ten years, the Legislature to fix the first year for such purpose and the number afterwards to be computed from that: and if more than one amendment be submitted, they shall be submitted in such manner and form that the people may vote for or against each amendment proposed to any and every provision of the Constitution separately."
VOTE ON THE THREE AMENDMENTS OF 1851, TO CONSTITUTION OF N, H., SUBMITTED BY THE CONVENTION AT ITS SECOND
SESSION, WHICH ADJOURNED APRIL 17, 1851,
Period from 1852 to 1877. During the next quarter of a century the people voted at five different times upon the question of calling a convention; and three times a majority of the voters were in favor of it. Although the vote taken under act of July 4, 1860, showed a majority in favor of calling a convention, the senate and house of representatives at the June session, 1861, failed to agree upon a bill for that purpose. Again the vote under act of Aug. 19, 1864, showed a majority of the voters in favor of calling a convention ; but the Legislature at the June session, 1865, by joint resolution decided to take no action in the matter.