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Committee on Bill of Rights, Executive Department, and Religious Test.
Chairman, Samuel M. Wheeler, of Dover. Committee on Legislative Department.
Chairman, Harry Bingham, of Littleton. Committee on Judiciary Department.
Chairman, Jonathan E. Sargent, of Concord. Committee on Future Amendments of the Constitution, and other miscellaneous matters.
Chairman, John S. H. Frink, of Greenland.
Some of the other prominent members of the convention were, John J. Bell and Gilman Marston, of Exeter; Ichabod Goodwin, William H. Y. Hackett, of Portsmouth ; Franklin McDuffee, of Rochester; Thomas J. Whipple, of Laconia ; John W. Sanborn, of Wakefield; John M. Shirley, of Andover ; James O. Lyford, of Canterbury; Ai B. Thompson, Jacob H. Gallinger, John Kimball, William E. Chandler, Joseph Wentworth, Benjamin A. Kimball, and Isaac W. Hammond, of Concord; Isaac N. Blodgett and Edward B. S. Sanborn, of Franklin; George C. Gilmore, Frederick Smyth, James F. Briggs and Charles H. Bartlett, of Manchester; George A. Ramsdell and Edward Spaulding, of Nashua; Silas Hardy and Francis A. Faulkner, of Keene ; Dexter Richards, of Newport; John G. Sinclair, of Bethlehem; Henry E. Parker, of Hanover; John L. Spring, of Lebanon ; Samuel B. Page, of Haverhill, and Jacob Benton, of Lancaster.
This convention was in session for eleven days and prepared and submitted to the people thirteen amendments to the constitution, and provided that the General Court should fix the time when such of them as might be adopted should take effect. Of these amendments, eleven of which were ratified by the people, the most important was that changing the basis of representation from ratable polls to population. Other important changes were the provision for biennial sessions, the increase of the number of senators from twelve to twenty-four, the election of sheriffs by popular vote, the abolition of the religious test and the change in time of holding elections from March to November.
The convention voted to submit its amendments to the people at the annual town meetings on March 13, 1877, in the form of thirteen questions. (Governer Cheney on the 16th of the following April by public proclamation announced the result of the vote.)
(Annual Message of Governor Prescott, June, 1877.)
The text of the thirteen questions and proposed amendments to the constitution with the vote thereon is given on pages 224-229.
After having provided by resolution for its reassembling at the call of the president should the welfare of the State seem to him to demand it, the convention on Dec. 16, 1876, adjourned sine die. By order of this convention the Journal of its proceedings was published.
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION.
PROPOSED IN 1876.
Bill of Rights, Art 6. Strike out the word “ protestant.” Rejected.
Part II. Arts. 3, 5, 12, 16, 27, 28, 31, 33, 42, 60, and 66. Strike out the words “ every year" and insert the word "biennially."
Part II. Art. 5. Add: “ Provided, that the general court shall not authorize any town to loan or give its money or credit, directly or indirectly, for the benefit of any corporation having for its object a dividend of profits, or in any way aid the same by taking its stock or bonds."
- Art. 9.
Part II. Arts. 9, 10, and u. Strike out these sections, and insert :
There shall be in the Legislature of the State a representation of the people, biennially elected, and founded upon the principles of equality; and in order that such representation may be as equal as circumstances will admit, every town or place entitled to town privileges, and wards of cities having six hundred inhabitants by the last general census of the State, taken by authority of the United States or of this State, may .elect one representative; if eighteen hundred such inhabitants, may elect two representatives; and so proceeding in that proportion, making twelve hundred such inhabitants the mean increasing number for an additional representative: Provided, That no town shall be divided, or the boundaries of the wards of any city so altered, as to increase the number of representatives to which such town or city may be entitled by the next preceding census : And provided further, That to those towns and cities which since the last census have been divided, or had their boundaries or ward lines changed, the general court, in session next before these amendments shall take effect, shall equitably apportion representation in such manner that the number shall not be greater than it would have been had no such division or alteration been made.
• Art. 1o. Such towns, 'places, and wards as have less than six hundred inhabitants shall be classed by the general court for the purpose of choosing a representative, so that every such class shall
contain at least six hundred inhabitants, and be seasonably notified thereof; and in every such class the first meeting shall be held in the town, place, or ward wherein most of the inhabitants reside, and afterwards in that which has the next highest number, and so on, biennially, in rotation through the several towns, places, and wards forming the district.
« Art. II. Whenever any town, place, or city ward shall have less than six hundred such inhabitants, and be so situated that it cannot conveniently be classed with any other town, place, or ward, the general court may authorize such town, place, or ward to elect and send to the general court such proportionate part of the time as the number of its inhabitants shall bear to six hundred; but the general court shall not authorize any town, place, or ward to elect and send such representatives, except as herein provided."
Part II. Arts. 12, 28, 31, 42, and 60. Strike out the word " March” and insert “ November."
Part II. Art. 14. Strike out the words “ shall be of the Protestant religion.”
Part II. Arts. 25, 26. Strike out the word twelve" and insert the word “. twenty-four."
Part II. Art. 29. Strike out the words “ who is not of the Protestant religion." Part II. Art. 37. Strike out the words “seven, eight,"
five," and insert the words •• thirteen," "sixteen," " ten." Part II. Art. 42.
Strike out the words and unless he shall be of the Protestant religion.”
Part II. Art. 46. Strike out the words “ solicitors, all sheriffs," “ registers of probate."
Part II. Art. 73. Strike out the word " president" and insert the word governor."
Part II. Art. 73. Add at the end of the article the following words: “ but in no case shall such removal be for political reasons."
Rejected. Part II. Art. 77. Strike out the words “ four pounds" and insert the words “ one hundred dollars." Strike out the words “ so that a trial by jury, in the last resort, may be had."
The convention of 1876 submitted to the people the foregoing proposed amendments in the form of the following questions :
1. Do you approve of striking out the word - Protestant” in the Bill of Rights, as proposed in the amended Constitution?
2. Do you approve of so amending the Constitution that the general court shall be authorized to provide for the trial of causes in which the value in controversy does not exceed one hundred dollars, and title to real estate is not concerned, without the intervention of a jury, as proposed by the amended Constitution?
3. Do you approve of the biennial election of governor, councillors, members of the senate and house of representatives, and biennial sessions of the legislature, as proposed in the amended Constitution?
4. Do you approve of a house of representatives based upon population, and constituted and chosen as provided in the amended Constitution?
5. Do you approve of a senate of twenty-four members, to be constituted and chosen as provided in the amended Constitution?
6. Do you approve of the election, by the people, of registers of probate, solicitors, and sheriffs, as provided in the amended Constitution?
7. Do you approve of abolishing the religious test as a qualification for office, as proposed in the amended Constitution?
8. Do you approve of prohibiting the general court from authorizing towns or cities to loan or give their money or credit to corporations, as proposed in the amended Constitution?
9. Do you approve of changing the time for holding the state election from March to November, as proposed in the amended Constitution?
10. Do you approve of authorizing the general court to provide that appeals from a justice of the peace may be tried by some other court without the intervention of a jury, as proposed in the amended Constitution?