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“ Provided, further, that all towns, cities, or places which now are or may hereafter be divided into sections or wards for the choice of representatives, shall, for the purpose of apportioning the number of representatives to the number of ratable polls, be considered as undivided.” 1
On the same day, Mr. Bartlett of Portsmouth moved to amend the amendment by striking out all after the words, “ Resolved, That in fixing the basis of representation,” and inserting the following instead thereof, “ That the towns in each of the thirty-six senatorial districts be authorized to send to the house ( ) representatives, to be apportioned among the several towns in the districts as the Legislature may direct.”
This amendment was rejected-yeas, 92 ; nays, 174.?
On December 13, Mr. Eastman of Conway introduced the following amendment to Mr. Lane's plan as modified by the convention : “By striking out the word fifty wherever it occurs in the first proviso, and inserting the words seventy-five instead thereof."; This amendment was adopted.
On the same day the question was put, “ Will the Convention agree to the amendment reported by the Committee of the Whole relating to the basis and ratio of representation as amended, which is as follows:
• Resolved,—That on fixing the basis of representation it is expedient that the same be so arranged that every town, parish, ward, or place entitled to town privileges, have 175 ratable polls of twenty-one years of age and * From the manuscript Journal of the Constitutional Convention of 1850
51, p. 186.
Ibid., p. 191. 3 Ibid., p. 211.
upwards, who shall have resided in this state six months
more immediately preceding their enrollment, paupers and foreigners not naturalized excepted, may elect one representative; if 750 ratable polls, may elect two representatives; if 1,550 ratable polls, may elect three representatives; if 2,550 ratable polls, may elect four representatives; and so proceeding, making 1,000 ratable polls the number required for each additional representative after the third ; such towns, parishes, wards, or places as have less than 175 ratable polls, may elect a representative such portion of the time as the aggregate number of their ratable polls shall bear to the number of 175; Provided, That such towns or places as shall not have 175 ratable polls and shall be conveniently located for the object, may, on application to the Legislature, be classed for the choice of a representative, such classed towns not to contain less than 175 ratable polls in each representative district so formed: Provided, further, that all towns, cities, or places which now are or may hereafter be divided into sections or wards for the choice of representatives, shall, for the purpose of apportioning the number of representatives to the number of ratable polls, be considered as undivided.'
The yeas and nays were called and the proposed amendment to the constitution was adopted-yeas, 129; nays, 119.'
This amendment was duly submitted to the people on the second Tuesday of March, 1851, in the form of the second question, as follows: “ Do you approve of a House of Representatives to be constituted and chosen as provided in the amended Constitution ?” It was rejected-yeas, 6,147; nays, 33,750—more than four fifths of the votes having been cast against it.
1 From the manuscript Journal of the Constitutional Convention of 186051, p. 212.
Convention of 1876. In the convention that assembled at Concord, December 6, 1876, no part of the constitution was more continuously under discussion than that relating to the house of representatives.
Among the causes which led the convention to take up the subject of basis and ratio of representation, the three following were the most important :
There was a wide-spread feeling that the house of representatives was too large. The number of its members at the June session, 1876, was 391.
2. It was alleged that lax or corrupt officials often had interpreted the term “ ratable polls ”-upon which by the constitution representation had been based-s0 as to promote personal, local or partisan interests.
3. There was a provision in the constitution of 1783 giving the Legislature the power to issue a writ for the election of a representative to the General Court from any town containing less than 150 ratable polls and so situated that it could not conveniently, be classed. The population of New Hampshire by the census of 1870 showed practically no gain over that of 1850; but the membership of the house of representatives had been increased from two hundred eighty-eight in 1851 to three hundred ninety-one in 1876. One potent cause for this remarkable increase was found in the fact that partisan considerations often had led the legislature to grant the petitions of small towns for the privilege of sending representatives.
The long discussion in the convention over the basis of representation began with the proposal that the number of members of the house of representatives be reduced by choice of one of the four following methods :
Shall the number of representatives to the House be diminished by increasing the ratio of representation ? 66 2.
Shall the number of representatives to the House be diminished by districting the state into representative districts ?
“ 3. Shall the number of representatives to the House be diminished by diminishing by definition the number of ratable polls?
"* 4. Shall the number of representatives to the House be diminished by a classification of all towns having less than 150 ratable polls ?”
Numerous specific plans for reducing the number of members of the house were submitted of which the following are the more important:
Mr. Page of Haverhill introduced the following amendment :
“ Amend article 9 by striking out all after the word privileges,' in the fifth line, and adding the words, having 400 inhabitants, may elect one representative; if 2,000 inhabitants, may elect two representatives ; if 4,000 inhabitants, may elect three representatives; and so proceeding in that proportion, making 2,000 inhabitants the mean increasing number for every additional representative—the number of inhabitants in each case to be taken to be the number shown by the last preceding official census taken under the authority of the United States; and no towns shall be so divided or cities warded as to increase their ratio of representation.'
On December 12, Mr. Sargent of Concord introduced the following resolution :
* Journal of the Constitutional Convention of 1876, p. 61.
Ibid., pp. 66, 67.
o Resolved,—That the state be divided into 100 representative districts to be formed so as to contain as nearly as may be an equal number of inhabitants, and in such a way as to conform to the existing county, town, and ward lines so far as may be, and that each of said districts shall be entitled to send two representatives to the General Court. The Legislature may from time to time change these districts so as to make them conform as nearly as may be to the foregoing conditions, but in no case shall any change be made in said districts oftener than once in ten years.
Mr. Badger of Concord introduced the following:
“ Amend by striking out articles 9, 10, 11, and inserting therefor the following words, The House of Representatives shall consist of not less than
), nor more than ( ) members, chosen by the cities, towns, and places entitled to town representation, according to population as shown by the decennial census of the United States as follows: The whole population of the state to be divided by the maximum number of representatives, and the quotient arising by dividing the population of any city, town, or place, by the first resulting quotient shall determine the number of representatives to which any city, town, or place, may be entitled. Provided, however, that all cities, towns, places, which cannot be represented by this process, shall be entitled to representation such portion of the time as their respective populations bear to the first resulting quotient. Provided, however, that every city, town, and place, however small its population, shall be entitled to representation each year when a new apportionment of the state tax is made. ” 2
1 Journal of the Constitutional Convention of 1876, p. 133. ' Ibid., p. 188.