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to the people the question of extending no restraint upon the Legislature, the elective franchise to colored citi- whose judgment is to be the test of the zens, separately from the rest of the necessity for a special charter. Constitution, that the exact condition 4. The Legislature should have been of public opinion upon this subject, prohibited from passing retroactive laws, throughout the State, may be known. or laws impairing the obligation of conThe provision upon which the people tracts or their remedies. are to vote is as follows:
5. The wise prohibition of the su
perior judges, from taking fees and per"1–. Colored male citizens, possessing quisites, should have been extended to the qualifications required by the first justices of the peace, upon whom the section of the second article of the Con operation of the practice is far more stitution, other than the property qualification, shall have the right to vote for all pernicious, in proportion to the imporofficers that now are, or hereafter may be, tance of the matters in controversy beelective by the people, after the first day fore them, than it is upon any other of January, 1847."
class of judges.
6. The judiciary system should have This proceeding will probably quiet been made uniform and consistent a painful and much-vexed question, throughout the State. and appease the complaints of a large To these we will add those defects class of people, who are entitled to have in the new Constitution to which we their political claims submitted at least have already referred : once fairly to the people, and to under 6. The State should have submitted stand the true state of public sentiment to be prosecuted at law like other muupon the subject.
nicipal corporations. We have thus hurriedly enumerated 7. The legislative sessions should some of what we esteem the most im- have been biennial instead of annual. portant novelties embodied in the pro 8. The senatorial term should not posed Constitution. We cannot per- have been abbreviated. mit this occasion to pass without allud 9. The Supreme Court Judges should ing to some of its defects, both of omis- have been elected from the surface of sion and commission, to which the the whole State, not from the eighths preceding analysis has not given us of it. occasion to refer.
10. About 4000 justiceships should 1. Foremost among these, we would have been annihilated. place the omission to secure every citi It may be perceived from the charzen against having his property taken acter of these criticisms that we are by the State, whether for private or not complaining that the Convention public use, without a fair appraisal by have given us a bad Constitution, but a jury selected from the vicinage, and that they have given no better one.without just compensation First made There is, we believe, but one change to him therefor.
made by them which is not an improve2. The omission to secure to females ment, and there is not one important the right to hold, transfer or devise pro- omission in the new instrument which perty as fully after as before marriage. does not exist in the old one. As be
A provision for this purpose was ac- tween the two, however, the Constitually adopted by the Convention, taken tution of 1846 is the superior, by virtue in terms, we believe, from the Texas of every feature of novelty, to which, Constitution, and was subsequently in the preceding pages, we have enstricken out by a small majority. deavored to direct our readers' atten
3. The power to create corporations, tion. If it is destined to be adopted, it except under general laws, should have will effect very important changes in been taken from the Legislature. The the political condition of the State, and proposed Constitution guaranties to we fervently hope and believe it will them this power as to municipal cor- purify her political morals. That it porations, and in all other “cases where, will be adopted, no serious doubt can be in the JUDGMENT OF THE LEGISLA- reasonably entertained, for it will be votTURE, the objects of the corporation can ed for as it was constructed, without not be attained under general laws.". distinction of party. The almost unani
Even the courts of justice are to be mous support it received from the Con
vention on its final adoption* affords a terms :-“We ask of the Convention reasonable presumption that it will en- to so direct its councils as to effect the counter no substantial opposition at the three following paramount results by polls. We think it deserves none; and whatever means in their wisdom they rightly appreciated, it would receive may find most efficacious : none-but on the other hand, the most * 1. A reduction and dispersion of cordial support.
While it is not every political patronage. thing that could have been wished, it is ** 2. A restriction of the sphere of more than the most ardent of the con government to its legitimate public funcstitutional reformers expected when tions. the agitation was commenced, and di. “ 3. A restoration of every citizen to rectly or indirectly sanctions every prin- the enjoyment of every liberty or privciple they have advocated. Let the ilege not inconsistent with the enjoy. result teach them never to despise the ment of a corresponding liberty or privblows of the feeblest arm when struck ilege by every other. in defence of a great principle—that in ** If these great results should be acthe ever renewing struggles between complished, or even approximated unto truth and error the race is not always by that body, the people, not only of the to the swift, neither is the battle to the State but of the whole Union, will have strong, and that every person, however abundant reason hereafter to remember obscure or humble may be the pathway with respect and gratitude the Newof his life, if he firmly ally himself York ( onstitutional Convention for with singleness of purpose to the sa- 1846.". cred cause of right, shall surely have We have now only to say, that we the reward of triumph in due season. think “those great results" have not
Some five months since, in these only been approximated unto, but in a pages, we alluded to the prospective la- great measure accomplished. bors of this Convention in the following
* The amended Constitution was agreed to by the following vote :
AYES.-Messrs. Allen, Angel, Archer, Ayrault, F. F. Backus, H. Backus, Baker, Bascom, Bowdish, Braytou, Bruce. Brundage, Bull, Burr, Cambreleng, R. Campbell, jr., Candee, Chamberlain, Ciyde, Conely, Cook, Cornell, Crooker, Cuddeback, Dana, Danforth, Dodd, Dubois, Flanders, Forsyth. Gebhard, Graham Greene, Harris, Harrisoo, Hawley, Hoffman, Hotchkiss. A. Huntington, Hutchinson, Hyde, Jones, Kemble, Kernan, Kingsley, Kirkland, Loomis. Maun, McNeil, Marvin, Maxwell, Miller, Morris, Munro, Murphy, Nellis. Nicholas, Nicoll, Parish, Patterson, Penniman, Perkins, Porter, Powers, President, Rholes, Richmond, Riker, Ruggles, Russell, St. John, Salisbury, Sanford, Sears, Shaver, Shaw, Sheldon, E. Spencer. Stanton, Stephens, Stetson, Strong. Swackhamer, Tart, Taggart, J. J. Taylor, W. Taylor, Tilden, Townsend, Tuthill, Van Schoonhoven, Ward, Warren, Waterbury, Willard, Whitbeck, Worden, A. Wright, W. B. Wright, Yawger, Young, Youngs.—104.
Noes. --Messrs. E. Huntington, O'Conor, W. H. Spencer, Stow, Talmadgr, White-6.
(Gov. Bouck, Mr. Brown, Mr. D. D. Campbell, Mr. Chatfield, Mr. Clark, Mr. Gardner, Mr. Hunter, Jr. Jordan, Mr. McNitt, Mr. Simmons, and Mr. Smith, were absent when the vote was taken.)
See Democratic Review, June 1846, p. 420.
POLITICAL PORTRAITS WITH PEN AND PENCIL.
SILAS WRIGHT, OF NEW-YORK.
(With a fine Engraving on steel.)
BEFORE another number of this Re- parents were natives of the county of view issues from the press, the suf- Hampshire. They had pine children frages of the people of the state of — five sons and four daughters - two New-York will have re-elected the of whom died in infancy ; the rest subject of this memoir to the highest are now living. The elder Mr. office in their gift. In the elevation of Wright was by trade a tanner, currier, a man like Silas Wright to the head of and shoemaker ; which occupation he a free government, we recognize the followed until March, 1796, when he great excellence of our institutions, and removed to the town of Weybridge, the triumph of those principles, inher- Addison county, Vermont, where he ent in the inhabitants of the United purchased a farm, and where he has States, that have successfully resisted ever since devoted himself exclusively the encroachments of power, in all its to its cultivation. All the family, Protean shapes, upon the rights of the except Silas and his youngest sister, people. The direct attacks of the im- still reside in Vermont. The brothers, perial government upon the indepen- one only of whom is a graduate of a dence of the colonies, were not more college, are all likewise farmers. successfully foiled by our ancestors, The sisters married farmers, and one than have been the insidious encroach- of thein, a widow, now carries on a ments of aristocratic privileges upon farm with the assistance of her sons ; the rights of the people in our day, by so that the whole family may most the clear perception, vigorous intellect, emphatically be regarded as the chilfirm integrity, and untiring vigilance, of dren of the plough,—than which we that class of men, of whom Silas know no more honorable designation Wright remains to us as a most emi- that wealth or rank could bestow. pept example. In the course of this Mr. Wright, the father, was inden. sketch, we shall have occasion to show tured as an apprentice to his trade at that, on more than one occasion, when an early age, and never was at school the money-power, skillfully directed a day in his life. When he had by unscrupulous party leaders, both in “served out his time,” he could neither the state and national governments, read nor write ; but with the assistance had effected combinations which threat- of his fellow journeyman, he soon ened to thwart the will of the people, qualified himself both to read and to and jeopardize their best interests, the write, as well as to keep accounts and cool judgment, self-possessed firmness, transact business with accuracy and and intellectual vigor, of Mr. Wright, facility. After his marriage his wife came to the rescue, dispersed the coa- became his instructress - a service litions, and in his luminous exposition which she performed with all a woof the sophistries advanced in their man's devotion and alacrity, and with a support, the people recognized the success proportionate to her own insound reasoning of a faithful officer. terest in the labor of love, and to the Some years since a sketch of the early willing docility of her pupil. period of Mr. Wright's life appeared Silas, like most of the rising youth in this Review, and we bring forward a of New-England, attended the comportion as a preface to later events. mon schools in winter, and worked on
Silas Wright, Jr., was born in the the farm in summer, until he had town of Amherst, Massachusetts, on passed his fourteenth year, when he the 24th of May, 1795. Both his was placed at an academy, that he
might be prepared to enter college. the most ardent. His politics were The father perceived that his son was never better known than at this period rarely endowed by nature, and was of his life. In October, 1815, he comtherefore the more anxious that he menced the study of the law with Mr. should enjoy the benefits of education Martindale, who resided at Sandy Hill, denied by circumstances to himself. Washington county, New-York, where The tradition is, that he always re- he remained about eighteen months; garded him with peculiar pride and when he removed to the office of Ro. delight, as destined to be the chief ger Skinner, Esq., which presented hope and ornament of the family. superior opportunities for acquiring a
În August, 1811, Mr. Wright be knowledge of the details of business, came a student of the college at Mid- as he was at that time the attorney of dlebury, Vermont, where he remained the United States for the northern disuntil the summer of 1815, when he trict of that State. received the first degree of Bachelor In January, 1819, Mr. Wright comof Arts.
pleted his preparatory legal studies, The elder Mr. Wright has always and was licensed to practise as an been an earnest aud determined dem- attorney of the Supreme Court of New. ocrat. He became such during the York. His health being impaired by first contest for the presidency, in 1796, intense application to his books and at between Adarns and Jefferson. On his desk, he spent the ensuing summer that occasion he supported the latter in travelliog on horseback for its restozealously, and ever after cherished ration, and with the view of selecting a for his name and principles a venera- place where he might settle himself tion which time rather increased than permanently. diminished. Between 1800 and 1810, In October, he removed to Capton, he was repeatedly elected a member of in the county of St. Lawrence, and the Legislature, and was ever an ar- opened an office. The village was dent and firm republican. He and his new, and the business in the courts oldest son were in the battle of Platts- both limited and unprofitable, so that burg, under Macomb, in September, the young lawyer made but little by 1814, when the British fleet was cap- his practice. tured on Lake Champlain by M.Do His superior talents, added to the nough, and Sir George Prevost with universal kindliness in his disposition his forces defeated and driven back in- and manners, soon made him highly to Canada.
popular. He was, after but a short reThe husbands of two sisters of Mr. sidence in his new home, selected as Wright were also in that battle as vo the village postmaster, the captain of lunteers from the “Green Mountains," the local militia company, justice of the although the Federal Governor of Ver peace, and not long after was commismont, following the treacherous and sioned as the Surrogate of the county cowardly example of Governors Strong of St. Lawrence. In all these situaof Massachusetts, Jones of Rhode js- tions, at the same time that he perland, and Griswold of Connecticut, had fectly discharged every duty devolving positively refused to call out a single on him, he never failed, by an insensiman to defend the invaded territory ble process which, without effort on and habitations of an adjoining state, - his own part, was irresistible on the on the unworthy position that the militia part of others, to make himself the obcould not be required to pass beyond ject of a universal and affectionate perthe boundary lines of those states of sonal popularity. which they were citizens.
But a more enlarged public than a During the four years passed by Mr. village neighborhood soon appreciated Wright in college, the number of the justly the abilities, studious habits, atclass to which he belonged averaged taioments and integrity of the young about thirty. Then, as now, every barrister. In the fall of the year 1823. student was a politician, and called without the slightest expectation of himself either a federalist or democrat. such an event on his part, Mr. Wright Of the latter there were in this class on was nominated by his democratic ly four, of whom it will readily be con- friends as a candidate for the office of ceived that young Wright was one of Senator in the State Legislature.
There was an overwhelming federal republicans had elected a large mamajority in the county of St. Lawrence jority of their friends to the Legislawhen Mr. Wright first settled in it; ture, in order that they might have yet he had taken especial care to ex- another chance, raised the cry that the press, in the most public manner, his electors ought to be chosen by the devotion to the principles of the re- people. The followers of Mr. Clay, publican party. Still he was elected who were comparatively few, aided in for the term of four years, and took his this movement. As matters then seat on the first Tuesday of January, stood, it was certain that Mr. Craw1824. During this winter the contest ford would receive the undivided vote for the presidency was waged in New- of the state. The conductors of the York, as well as in other states of the federal presses joined in with this cry, Union, with the utmost violence. It and everywhere proclaimed that those resulted in the election of John Q. members of the Assembly who should Adams by the House of Representa- refuse to repeal the law which had tives, in February, 1825. The indi- been so long in force, without comviduals voted for were Crawford, Jack- plaint from any quarter, were enemies son, Adams and Clay. A caucus, to liberty, to the Constitution, and to composed of a portion of the members the rights of the sovereign people. of Congress, had been held at Wash It was insisted by the republicans, ington, which had nominated Mr. that there was much danger that the Crawford as the candidate of the old election of the president might be rerepublican party. At one time, Mr. ferred to the House of Representatives; Calhoun's claims had been earnestly that there bargain, intrigue, and manpressed in Pennsylvania, by many lead- agement might be practised; that so ing politicians who were devoted to his great a state as New-York should neiinterests, but the great mass of the ther divide her vote in the electoral colpeople there had espoused the cause of lege, and thereby impair her strength, General Jackson.
nor aid in any way in taking the elecThe friends of Jackson, Clay and tion to a body where her political Adams had refused peremptorily to weight could not be an atom greater submit their claims to the arbitrament than that of Rhode Island or Delaof a caucus, which caused the division, ware. distraction and defeat of the democra But the timid in the more popular cy. Mr. Wright, adhering as he has branch of the Legislature became ever done, to the principles of his alarmed, and gave way, so that the feparty, advocated Mr. Crawford's elec- deralists gained the ascendancy there. tion.
A bill was passed in the lower House, In order to defeat this wise, honest, giving the choice of presidential elecand fearless man, in New York and tors to the people, which was thrown the contiguous states, a large number upon the Senate for its action. This of politicians exhausted all their inge- body contains thirty-two members, of puity and skill, secretly and assidu- which seventeen were a bare majority. ously, in exciting prejudices against Every member, except one, was a de. the South. Appeals were made in be- mocrat on paper, and had been returned half of Mr. Adams to the pride of the as such; and yet when this bill was people, and it was urged that all the called up for discussion, only seventeen other candidates were Southern men. had the courage to oppose it, and deBy these means large numbers were nounce the views and schemes of those decoyed from the democratic into the who had concocted and passed it.federal ranks.
They stood to their posts unterrified, From the time of the adoption of the and rejected the bill. Immediately, federal constitution, up to the period everywhere throughout the state they of which we are now speaking, the were assailed by the federal opposition, electors of president and vice presi- and branded as “ usurpers and tyrants" dept in the State of New-York had -as the “ ipfamous seventeen”-as been chosen by the Legislature. The the “immorally infamous seventeen;" federal party which supported Mr. and so great was the height to which Adams, having ascertained that the the popular fury was excited by the as