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Our increase is rapid-almost beyond human conception. Immigration adds to our numbers hundreds of thousands each year. They come to us with views of government different from, if not inimical to ours, in such masses, and congregate so numerously in certain sections of the country, that the process of assimilation in custom and ideas with us is slow, if not completely checked. The character of the population of each section of the country is continuously changing. Massachusetts was the land of the Pilgrim and the home of the Puritan. They left the impress of their lives and ideas upon our institutions. But gradually the firm hand which puritanic influence has held upon our town, municipal and State governments, and in other and varied institutions, is relaxing. The Celt is replacing the sons of the Anglo-Saxon fathers not only in the large cities, but one by one the old farm homesteads are absorbed by this race. The Irish, with his peculiar natural characteristics, his multiplying proclivities, is gradually encroaching not only upon our body politic, but absorbing our very soil. I am not criticising, I am narrating. Neither do I desire to be understood as making any comparison unfavorable to this large class of our fellowcitizens. I am merely indicating an important and not intimating a harmful change in the character of a population. Our vast cities, with their millions of people, governed by, to say the least, not the better elements of society, by reason, perhaps, of the indifference for public concerns of those who ought to lead our affairs, are passing beyond the control of law. The dangerous elements in these human hives seething with a population which recognizes no country and no God, whose instincts and passions are arrayed against law and order, are increasing in their potency for evil every year. Slowly but surely the power

which holds these elements in check is passing into the hands of men not entirely free from sympathy with these lawless classes. The great safeguard provided by the wisdom of our ancestors in popular and universal education through free public schools is attacked.

Sectarian education, sedulously adapted to misinform, and intended to foster ignorance rather than develop intelligence, usurps the magnificent educational system so carefully established to preserve our free institutions. Allegiance to a foreign

power is taught many of the young of this land to-day instead of the priceless value of our liberties under the Constitution. The selfishness of capital and the unrest of labor, too often kept in exhaustive agitation by wicked arts of designing men, not only threaten unwholesome fevers in the life-blood of the nation, but incite alarming symptoms in all industries and business relations.

The interests involved in the correct solution of the controversies between the advocates of unrestained trade with the world on one hand, and those who believe in its limitations in behalf of American productions on the other, and the great contest between the friends of temperance and the power of the saloons are so engrossing that the minds of thinking men and women are blinded to the potent influences which are insidiously endangering the maintenance of our national existence. Who shall say that, although we are at peace, we ought therefore to slumber? Are we not now in the midst of a revolution, born perhaps from the very freedom which we so fondly cherish? A revolution, indeed, which it is the part of all good men and women to prevent becoming an upheaval or an overturning

Mighty agencies still exist for the continuance of all that is right, and they will prevail. They must be, however, wisely controlled and directed. In their correct guidance our profession to-day has its noble opportunity. The preservation of our free Republic and the maintenance of this magnificent fabric of government should become our highest ambition, as it is and will always remain our sacred duty.

Here lies the field for the constant exercise of our best energies. The battles which are to be fought must never be submitted to the arbitrament of the sword.

The decisive actions in this warfare are to come in no one section, neither in any few sections of our land. Sectional strife has been and must forever remain buried. We recognize with joyful acclaim that the South and the North, the East and the West maintain no longer, nor will ever again, the sectional barriers so unnatural to a united people. Everywhere and in every true American home the latchstring hangs invitingly upon the outside, not only for the nearest friends and neighbors, but fellow-countrymen from the remotest districts of the great Cnion. Under this beneficent condition of the best public sentiment, the warfare which must be waged against turbulence, error, and the public enemy will be one in which the strong and conservative elements all over the country will go hand in hand. We shall unite in a common band, “in order,” to repeat the glowing words of our National Constitution, “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic integrity, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

The better to equip ourselves to perform the solemn obligations which rest upon us as lawyers, the grand conservative force in the events of to-day and the future, we must not only studiously and faithfully train ourselves as individuals in the science of true statesmanship as well as law, but we must conjointly and in concert formulate our plans and our opinions. While we may be Democrats or Republicans, free-traders or protectionists, prohibitionists, or the believer in the efficacy of partial restriction in the interests of temperance, we will yield in no respect the one to the other in the strength of our devotion to securing and preserving all the time-honored principles of our free institutions.

In no more effectual manner can we accomplish our mission as lawyers, friends, and supporters, whether in peace or hazardous internal convulsions, of law, order, truth and justice than by gatherings like this.

May your assocition, Mr. President and gentlemen, live long and prosper. May its example be followed in all the States, and may such a system of interstate visitation be adopted and prevail that the brothers of the law shall become a national fraternity, enlisted with the other great fraternities, for noble and successful work.

SOME NEEDED CHANGES IN OUR STATE CONSTITUTION.

FRANCIS FENTRESS.

State Constitutions, under our system of government, ought to be the work of the wisest statesmanship. The organic law cannot be easily or frequently changed. An oppressive or unjust statute can be soon wiped out. The Legislature can readily repeal an objectionable statute, or public sentiment or the Courts can, in proper cases, ordinarily nullify it.

Not so, however, with the organic law. Its mandates, howsoever arbitrary or unwise, must be tolerated until modified or abrogated by amendment, or by a new Constitution.

Within the history of Tennessee we have had but three Constitutional Conventions—that of 1796, that of 1834, and that of 1870. A century almost of our existence as a State has passed with only three new Constitutions.

The men who drafted our Constitutions and represented our State in Constitutional Conventions were, as a class, brainy, patriotic, intelligent, but fallible. New conditions or changing circumstances afterward exhibited their short-sightedness, or the non-applicability of their official work to subsequently developed phases of society. Indeed, it would be impossible in this rushing age to make a Constitution of such scope and adaptability as to fit and properly provide for these mutations. And while the directory provisions of the Constitution might be allowed to remain dormant or quiescent, the mandatory provisions, no matter how disastrous in their operations, must be observed and obeyed.

Take an example: Section 28, Article 2, of the Constitution of 1870 ordains that $1,000 worth of personal property in the hands of each tax-payer shall be excepted from taxation.

Now, taxes are the life of the State, and that is the highest statesmanship which frames a law that shall equalize all public burdens; or, in other words, the law should be so adjusted as to compel every citizen to pay his just share of taxes. It is true, no law can be framed that will exactly effect this, but that law which approximates it nearest is to be adopted.

While the Aegis of goverument throws its sheltering protection around every citizen in his person and property, so the reciprocal duty evolves that every citizen should pay his just share to the support and maintenance of that government.

The clause of the Constitution above referred to must have escaped the critical notice of the Convention; or, if not, it was supposed to be inserted as a concession to the demagogue, or as a gratuitous exemption to that large voting element who own no real estate.

Whatever the explanation, the fact remains, that by that stupid and singular provision, the State has lost and yearly loses a vast revenue.

It is estimated that at least $75,000,000 of personal property annually escapes taxation in Tennessee entirely, by reason of that provision.

How does it operate? The Assessor goes to the tax payer with his assessment rolls; he finds a stout, vigorous, active man who owns $1,000 in money, or stocks, or cattle, but no real estate. That man escapes all property tax, because he owns no real estate, and no personal property in excess of $1,000. He therefore contributes nothing to the relief of the public burden, except it may be a poll-tax.

But the Assessor next approaches, it may be some old widow who owns a hut and a few acres of land worth, say, $100; or some old man whose sole possession is a homestead worth, say, $1,000. Now, these latter are assessed for taxes and made to pay them. There is no escape; real property is fixed; it cannot run away; it remains; the tax is a lien on it, and unless that lien is discharged it is condemned and sold and the owner is ejected by the purchaser.

The picture is not overdrawn. Its truthfulness is attested by the observation of all, and by the sad experience of some.

Can any man say this is fair and just? Will any contend that a constitutional provision which tolerates this condition of things ought to stand ?

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