« AnteriorContinuar »
ponderating influence in the government of tions of the several States of the Union, which this State that we desire to see the large coun- are now lying on their tables. This book, I ties limited in the number of representatives presume, will be regarded as the collected wisthey may have. Not, sir, that we desire to pre-dom of the American people in regard to the vent capital from having the weight that legitimately belongs to it, but we are opposed to its possessing the all-controlling influence in the Legislature.
Sir, the great interest of the State of Indiana is agricultural; and while that class of our population engaged in these pursuits retain the ascendancy in the councils of our State, we have no reason to fear but that she will be well governed. Let us not, however, attempt to conceal from ourselves the fact that the towns and cities of our State are rapidly on the increase; that banks, insurance companies, railroads, and other corporations and associations have increased beyond anything we could have expected, or even dreamed of a few years ago, and that, at no distant day, unless some measures are taken to prevent it, there is reason to fear that the capital and moneyed influence of the State will govern its legislation. And, sir, it is because I find that in nearly all the large counties, such as Jefferson, Marion, Tippecanoe, Vigo, and others, large cities are gaining the ascendancy, and sending up here their three or four members to the popular branch of the State Legislature, that I desire to see a provision inserted in the new Constitution that shall retain and secure to the farmers in the new and sparsely settled portions of the State their full share in the representation of the State. In regard to the increase of population in the States of this Union, it is a fact that has been well ascertained, that, after they reach a certain point in population, the rural districts remain stationary, while the towns and cities continue to increase. In many of the old States the population of the country has even decreased to a very great extent, while the large cities and towns are constantly drawing the population to them. I therefore contend, that, in fixing the principle for the apportionment of representation, which, for aught we know, is to continue for a century to come, these facts should be constantly borne in mind; and unless we do bear them in mind, it will be found that, in time, the agricultural counties will be too much at the disposal of the commercial counties, having within their limits the large cities and towns of the State.
And now, sir, let me again repeat what has already been observed by others-that the principle for which we contend is not new, notwithstanding that some gentlemen would seem to insinuate such to be the case. It is a great mistake to suppose that numbers is the only principle that has heretofore been observed in this country in regard to representation. In addition to the General Government, to which I have already alluded, I would direct the attention of members to the book of Constitu
best method of construing organic law for the wise government of a people; and by turning over these pages what do we find? In Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the rest of the New England States, it is expressly provided that each township shall have one member in the lower branch of their Legislature; and in several of the States, the number of representatives in the popular branch of the Government amounts to three or four hundred. In New York and Pennsylvania, the agricultural interests of these States, in order to secure themselves against the overpowering influence of their great cities, have provided in their new Constitutions that each county shall have at least one member in the House of Representatives. In New Jersey, one representative is sent from each county, without regard to its population. The same principles may be found in the Constitutions of Delaware and Maryland. In North Carolina, my own native State, under their new Constitution, each county, without respect to its population, is entitled to send one member to the popular branch of the Legislature, whether it has the ratio fixed in the Constitution or not. It is the same in Georgia and in South Carolina. In the State of Louisiana, it is expressly provided in her new Constitution that "each parish shall have at least one representative.” In Tennessee, the rule was adopted that every county having two-thirds of the ratio of representation should have one representative; and I am told by a gentleman I have reason to believe is well informed upon the subject, that, practically, this gives to all her counties one representative. I have not had time to examine the Constitutions of all the States minutely, but I find that the Constitutions of Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Michigan, each contain a provision that each county shall be entitled to at least one representative; and a friend, who has examined the matter, informs me that the Constitutions of twenty-five out of the thirty-one States of the Union, in some shape or other, contain the same principle. Now, sir, with this evidence before us, am I not justified in saying that the united experience of our country requires us to adopt this principle, or one similar to it? Sir, the more this subject is examined, the more I am satisfied it will be found that there is nothing so really odious in allowing each county which has onehalf or two-thirds of the ratio to be represented in the popular branch of our State Legislature.
Sir, I cannot but believe that when the State Government has come to the conclusion that any portion of the territory of the State should be organized into a county government, it would seem to me as necessarily following that the interest of that portion of the territory would
to enable them to secure their rights. These } counties are just organized and are now being settled. They are, as it were, just in the chrysalis state, and for that very reason they stand more in need of attention than the older counties, whose interests are permanent, and which have already received the fostering care of the Government. The remoteness, too, of these counties from the seat of Government, makes it doubly necessary that each of them should have some one upon the floor of the House of Representatives who would in truth and in fact, and not in name only, represent their interests.
be so separate that from any other county that it ought to be represented in the government that had organized it. Sir, I am not only a "State rights" man in regard to our National Government, but I am, to some extent, a State rights man in county matters; and I hope that this Convention will re-organize the county boards and rest in them the power of local legislation, and thus render it unnecessary that the Legislature of our State should be occupied with that class of business. The business which even now is committed to their care is very important. They have to act on all claims against the county; they have to take care of the poor; to erect county buildings; to construct roads Sir, I know that some of the smaller counand bridges; and to transact various other imties in the northern portion of the State have portant business which I have not time now been held up to ridicule on this floor; and it has to mention. And how, could these miniature been triumphantly asked here if such counties, republics be properly represented in the great with their sparse population, were each to have council of the State, unless the principle for as many representatives as Wayne, with her which we contend should be adopted? Can it four thousand seven hundred and eighty-two be done by attaching them to some adjoining polls. No, sir; no one has ever contended for county! Sir, there are many questions which this. We have no objection that Wayne and have reference to each county in its capacity of the other large counties should have their two a separate political organization which never or three representatives. All that we ask is, could be fully and fairly represented by a person that each of these small counties should have, at who had his feelings and wishes divided by rep- least, one representative. Suppose, sir, that resenting at the same time another county. I the population of these northern counties is have known of jealousies and unfriendly feelnow sparse, is that any reason why they should ings existing between counties when they have be deprived of their voice, when you have albeen attached together for purposes of repre-ready recognized their separate territorial exsentation, and I have always looked upon the istence? joining of counties together for such purposes, as an evil that, if it were possible, should be But, say gentlemen from the large counties, avoided. When a person is elected to repre- the small counties will be allowed each a repsent two counties, whatever may be said to resentative once in four years; or should there the contrary, it practically results in his becom- be some three of them joined together to form a ing the representative of but one; for it is a representative district, then once in six years; matter of course that he will be attached to the and that once in two years they will be allowed county in which he resides; and in all local to participate in electing a representative for matters he will be disposed to give more parthe whole district. It is contended that this ticular attention to its interests than to the in- ought to be sufficient for them; and that at all terests of the other county, especially where events one person ought to be able to represent the interest of the two counties might happen three or four such counties. Sir, need I repeat to conflict. There was much truth in the rewhat I have already said, that the interests of mark of the gentleman from Owen, (Mr. Dob-even contiguous counties, are not always idenson,) that there was now a double necessity that as far as possible, each and every county in the State should be represented in the Legislature, and for the very reason that he sug gested. We have decided to have the General Assembly meet but once in two years. Now, we know that when two counties are attached together for the purposes of electing a representative, they usually take it in turns; and thus under the new Constitution, one of such counties would only in fact be represented once in four years. I repeat, sir, that if the system reported by the committee on the legislative department should be carried into effect, it would do manifest injustice to the smaller Counties. In my opinion the new counties in the northern portions of the State, of all others, need most to be represented in the Legislature,
tical, and that the person elected, to represent them, necessarily becomes the representative of one in preference to the others, for the reason that his personal interests and attachments unite him in feeling with the county in which he resides. Besides, sir, as is frequently the case where one county is the larger of the two, it will overpower and entirely control the representation, and thus the smaller county goes entirely unrepresented if the interests of the counties should in any way conflict. For all these reasons, then, which, whatever weight they may have with the Convention, have great weight with me, I think the course we ought to pursue is, to give to each of the counties, at least one representative.
I now come to speak of another feature of this report to which I object. For anything
so much perverted by both of the great political parties of this State.
that I can yet see, the odious principle of representing fractions, by what is termed in the language of the politicians of this State, the And now, sir, in connection with this subject, system of "floats," will be continued if the relet me call the attention of the Convention to port of the committee should receive the sanction of the Convention. I think, sir, that we ticed in the State which does great injustice another feature of the system heretofore pracshould endeavor to fall upon some plan which to the small counties, and even some injustice will effectually put an end to this system and to the medium sized counties, but not to the make the representative districts permanent, so same extent. I am told that the whole number. that no party hereafter in power by this sys- of polls in our State is not far from 200,000. tem of gerrymandering may perpetuate their If they do not reach that number now, they power in defiance of the will of the people. probably will do so by the time of the first apSir, this system holds out too many induceportionment under the Constitution which we ments to do injustice to political opponents, not may adopt. And, sir, if we limit the representato be abused; and in my opinion, no majority majority tives in the popular branch of the Legislature in either party, ought ever to be entrusted with to one hundred, we can see how this system. it. I am aware, sir, that equality between will practically work. Take Marion county, counties is not to be obtained. There will ever for instance, with her 4226 polls, and she be fractions; and therefore mathematical accuwould be entitled to two representatives and racy cannot be had in any system of apporwould have but a small fraction. Now, sir, suptionment, sir, if counties were not already organized, and if we were at liberty to disregard the one in which I reside, with 3214 polls. posing that there were four counties like Allen, township and county lines, and begin at the Each county would be entitled to send one confluence of the Ohio and Wabash, in Posey representative, and each would also have a county—and, sir, I believe that we always be- fraction of over 1200 polls which would make gin in the pocket to apportion the representa- their united fractions over 4800 polls, which tion for any purpose-and there count the first would go unrepresented, thus losing two reptwo thousand voters and authorize them to send resentatives in the district of country coma member to the Legislature, and thus proceed prising the four counties. Sir, do we not all on through the State until every two thousand polls should have a representative, we might and that the more counties there are, the see that every county must lose a fraction, make the representation equal. But this we more chances there are of losing fractions, cannot do. On the contrary, in any system of and that very frequently the smaller counties apportionment which we may adopt, we must have reference to the existing political organi- I have not examined the matter sufficiently to have much larger fractions than the larger ones? zation in the State. I have already alluded to the fact that both in our national and State speak with certainty, but I am told that in both Government-and I may add that in every rep-fourths of all the fractions which went unrepof the apportionments of 1840, and 1845, threeresentative government in the world where they resented in the House of Representatives, were pretend to have a system of popular representa- lost in the middle sized and small counties. Sir, tion-they are compelled from necessity to I cannot believe that the framers of the Conhave some reference to the local division esstitution of 1816, ever designed that such an unjust system as this should be adopted in our State. I learned from one of the members of the Convention that framed that Constitutionthe late Col. Polk of Fort Wayne-that no other idea was entertained in the Convention than that every county should have at least one member in the popular branch of the General Assembly. And, sir, in support of this idea several of the subsequent ones, that each county, we find in the very first apportionment, and in without reference to its population, was authorized to send one member to the House of Representatives. Indeed, sir, if we turn to the Constitution, we will find that in the very language employed, this idea is fully carried out, for in speaking of the apportionment of representatives in the House it uses this language:
tablished by law in apportioning their representatives. It was a wise institution of the great Alfred, and much improved upon by our pilgrim forefathers, to divide the country into Counties and townships. They have ever been looked to in our political organization, and from this division some of the most beneficial effects have resulted to our Government. They already exist in this State, and we cannot disregard them in any plan of apportionment which we may adopt, even if we should desire to do so. And, sir, allow me to say further, that as long as any attention is paid to the political organization of the counties, perfect equality in representation cannot be obtained. Sir, we are compelled, in all our efforts, to equalize the representation to take in a county here, and to throw away a county there, to enable us make the fraction larger or smaller; and it was in attempting to correct this evil of large fractions that the system of floats, to which I have alluded, was introduced, which has since been
"The number of Representatives shall, at the several periods of making such enumeration, be fixed by the General Assembly, and apportioned among the several counties, ac
cording to the number of white male inhabitants above twenty-one years of age in each." But, sir, when it comes to speak of the apportionment of the Senate it says:
"The number of Senators shall, at the several periods of making the enumeration before mentioned, be fixed by the General Assembly and apportioned among the several counties or districts to be established by law according to the number of white male inhabitants of the age of 21 years in each," &c.
Now, sir, it may be observed by gentlemen what a marked distinction there is between the language which relates to the apportionment for the House and that for the Senate. When it refers to the House of Representatives it speaks only of counties, and says nothing what ever in regard to districts. On the other hand, when it refers to the apportionment of Senators, the language is entirely changed, and it speaks not of counties only, but also of districts.
This, sir, has always been conclusive to my mind that the old Constitution never contemplated that counties should be joined together and formed into districts for the purpose of representation in the Lower House; but that, on the contrary, in the formation of senatorial districts, they might be so constituted if it was found to be necessary.
Sir, I am fully satisfied, from all that I have heard and read upon the subject, that the Constitution intended that the very principle I am contending for should prevail; and one objection I have to the report is, that it now expressly does what the old Constitution never authorized to be done-that is, to provide that two counties may be united together for the purpose of electing one representative to the popular branch of the General Assembly. As there will of necessity be fractions, the only way to represent them is either by the system of "floats" or by allowing each county to have one member or at least one to every County having one-half or two-thirds of the ratio of representation.
This would secure one member to each of the counties of Adams and Wells, which constitute a part of my district, and would thus comply with the instructions which were given to me when I was placed in nomination. It is true that one of the counties which I represent upon this floor (Allen) has no favors to ask in this respect. She is now the eighth county in the State in point of population, contains the largest area of any county in the State, and has more good tillable uncultivated lands, with prospects in every respect equal to those of any other county in Indiana. Sir, I was surprised when, during the past year, I passed through the different parts of that county, to find what extensive tracts of rich land were lying unsettled, held by those greatest of all enemies of a new country, the land speculators. We have
a flourishing city now numbering between four and five thousand inhabitants, and it will soon double, and probably treble its present population; and, sir, unless I am greatly mistaken, Allen county, at no distant day, is destined to be the "Empire" county of the State, and Wayne, which has heretofore been designated as the "old Dominion," will be compelled to yield the palm to Allen. But, sir, strong as she now is, and encouraging as are her pros pects for the future, she would despise to deprive her sister counties who are so unfortunate as to be less prosperous than herself of a fair and equal represention with her in the legisla tion of the State. If, sir, she were like some other counties of the State which seem never to look beyond their own borders, unless it be to gain some political ascendency in the affairs of the State, she, too, would probably desire to retain the present number of one hundred members in the House of Representatives, and to continue what the present system practically carries out to give the advantage of all or nearly all the fractions to the large counties. No, sir, we desire nothing of the kind. On the contrary, we desire that the younger and weaker counties should be protected by having a fair representation on the floor of at least one of the branches of the General Assembly.
Sir, in addition to the instructions to which I have referred, I am also instructed to vote for a plan requiring the General Assembly either themselves to divide, or cause to be divided, those counties having more than one member, so that the districts may be single. This might be done by the county boards of the respective counties, dividing them into as many districts as there are members to be elected in the county. Should this principle be carried out, it should be so regulated in the Constitution that the county boards would not be authorized to divide any township in forming a district; and the districts ought to be constituted of contiguous townships, and other necessary provisions ought to be inserted in the Constitution calculated to secure a just and equal division of the counties for the purpose of representation.
Sir, I favor the single district system for many reasons, only a few of which I can now take time to mention. In the first place, I regard it as a method better calculated than any other to arrive at the real opinions and wishes of the voters of the State upon all measures of public policy, and this from the fact that it brings the representative home directly to his constituents, and requires him to be chosen by those only who are best acquainted with him.
ranged it so that he can only vote for one person in the district in which he resides; and, therefore, so far as this principle prevails, you have as much political weight in the affairs of the State as he has."
Sir, I hope this principle of dividing counties into districts, will prevail for another reason. It is the best calculated of any other system to break up the central influence in the counties which has heretofore exercised altogether too much control in the business affairs of the counties. I am told that three-fourths of all the members of this Convention reside at the county seats of their respective counties. Now if the Constitution required that counties sending more than one member to the House of Representatives, should he divided, then only one member, at any rate, in any one county, could reside at the county seat, and the farmers would have, at least, some chance of electing a man that would represent their interests. Sir, if no other reason had any weight, this one recommends the measure to my most cordial support, inasmuch as it prevents the overshadowing influence, which the
the affairs of the counties in which they are located, but also over the legislation of your State.
siding in another. Sir, I deem it of much importance that we should at least, make the effort to equalize the votes in every part of the State as far as possible; and I cannot see how this can be done while we allow the voters residing in those counties having three or four members, to vote for the whole number of members to which a county may be entitled, and thus give the voter in one county, four votes, whereas, were he residing in another county, he could only give but one. And, sir, I object to this system further, on the ground that it gives to the members when assembled at the Capital, from the large counties, a decided advantage. Inasmuch as the same influence elected them all, they usually act in concert on all questions coming before the body of which they are members. I know that it has been contended here, that because four thousand voters in one county are entitled, each, to vote for four members, the representatives, when assembled in the halls of legislation, have only four votes, and that this system does not really give to persons residing in those counties more power than it does to the residents of any other four counties, each hav-large towns are rapidly acquiring, not only over ing a thousand voters. But, sir, were gentlemen to contend with me until doomsday, they cannot convince me that their position is prac- Sir, in all ages, and in all countries, the intically correct. Need I say to gentlemen, that fluence of large cities and towns, when exeras you concentrate political power, you thereby cising a controlling power over the destinies of render it doubly efficient? And when those a people, has been detrimental to their best ingentlemen shall make me believe that in any terests. I believe that the greatest of political election for a member of a deliberative assembly philosophers now admit that it was the overfifty votes given by fifty men can ever be made shadowing influence of the city of Rome, that as efficient as fifty votes controlled by two men, finally proved fatal to the prospects of that rethen, and not till then, will I believe their the-public. If those laws had been passed which ory. Sir, when this proposition was up some weeks since in the form of a resolution of inquiry, introduced by the gentleman from Putnam, (Mr. Stevenson,) it did not then appear to receive that favorable attention from the Convention that would seem to indicate its adoption; and from all that I have seen and heard since, I fear that neither it nor the proposition to give to the small counties a fair proportion of representation will be engrafted upon the Constitution. Sir, I shall repeat this much; because if the larger counties are determined to retain a principle which gives them an unfair advantage in the fractions, thus securing to them from two to three representatives each, it does seem to me that the single district system should be ingrafted upon the Constitution; for nothing, in my opinion, would probably tend more to reconcile the voters in the small counties, to the new Constitution, than for their delegates, when they return home, to be able to say to them-"It is true that the Convention refused to increase the House of Representatives as you desired, and would not give one member to each county, or even to those counties having onehalf of the ratio of representation; yet we have so provided that a man in Wayne county cannot give four votes to your one, for we have ar
the true but much abused friends of their country advocated, and which were calculated to secure each Roman in the enjoyment of his home; if the political power of that great republic had been diffused among the honest yeomanry of the country, and not concentrated in their great metropolis and the other cities of the republic, it is more than probable that she would never have fallen a victim of the united evils of internal convulsions and foreign invasion.
We find too, sir, that the little Grecian republics were entirely ruled by their cities and towns, and that their luxury and licentiousness proved their ruin. Sir, I trust that we will avoid the rock on which they split-that we will place the rural districts forever beyond the control of the commercial parts of this State. I know, sir, that the idea that the towns of this State could ever attain such an influence as in any measure to control its legislation is deemed futile; but, sir, those gentlemen who have been connected with the legislation of your State tell me that even now when three or four of the largest towns of the State unite their influence on any subject, it is almost impossible to resist them; and if such is the case now what may it come to be when these towns shall have greatly increased in number and in size. Sir,