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some time women had been chosen to American Legislatures here and there in Western States; two were chosen in 1917 to the Legislature of the Canadian Province of Alberta. The first woman member of the Congress of the United States was elected in 1916; no woman was elected to the next Congress; one to that following, with two others later to fill vacancies.
In England the attendance of a woman at Westminster has been a revival. In early times peeresses in their own rights and abbesses at the head of religious orders were summoned to attend Parliament. Presently they fell into the habit of sending men proxies, and by the times of the Stuarts the practice of issuing summonses to them had disappeared. When the Representation of the People Act gave women the suffrage in 1918, it was held by the law officers of the Crown not to confer on them the right to sit in Parliament, whereupon correcting legislation was promptly enacted. Lady Astor was the first woman to take her seat, late in 1919. The correcting act provided that no person should be disqualified by sex or marriage from the exercise of any public function. What this might mean, came in issue in 1922 when Lady Rhondda, a peeress in her own right, petitioned that she might sit in the House of Lords. At first the Committee on Privileges reported favorably, but the Lords sent the matter back, whereupon the Attorney General argued strongly that the holding of the dignity of a peerage could not be construed as a public function and the committee voted against the petition, 20 to 4. Its granting would have opened the doors to a score or more of other peeresses a prospect not viewed with equanimity by a majority of the Lords. Yet undoubtedly wherever the suffrage is granted to women, many of them will presently be found in all types of legislative bodies.
Arizona is the only State of the Union to impose any specific educational test. With a view, no doubt, to its Spanish-speaking inhabitants, it requires the ability to read, write, speak, and understand the English language well enough to perform the duties of a member without the aid of an interpreter. As in general our States require directly or indirectly that Senators and Representatives shall have the qualifications of an elector, it may be broadly stated that illiterates are barred where there are educational qualifications for the suffrage.
The desirability of giving at least some small degree of formal recognition to the advantages of the higher education has been in effect met in England and now in Ireland by university representation in the House of Commons. Indirectly the same result is after a fashion accomplished in Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Egypt by the provisions about the choice of Senators from certain specified classes, to most of which it is inconceivable that a man of little or no education could attain.
CITIZENSHIP as a qualification for office was a matter of negligible consequence in colonial days. The common requirement of property for the exercise of the suffrage or any share in public affairs, was enough to secure the desired attachment to local interests. It was the change worked by the Revolution that led men to begin to think they should take precaution against putting their affairs in the hands of outsiders and newcomers.
The plan of a Constitution laid before the Federal Convention by Charles Pinckney contemplated four years of citizenship for Senators and left blank the requirement for Representatives. The report of the Committee on Detail filled the blank with three years. Colonel Mason thought that was not enough to ensure the local knowledge a Representative ought to have. "It might also happen that a rich foreign nation, for example, Great Britain, might send over her tools, who might bribe their way into the legislature for insidious purposes.” He wanted it seven years, but after hearing argument, thought seven years too long, though he “would never agree to part with the principle.” Rutledge and Gouverneur Morris stood for seven years. On the other hand, Ellsworth thought one year enough. Later, Morris moved to make the qualification for Senators fourteen instead of four years of citizenship, Pinckney seconding him. Ellsworth opposed the motion, as discouraging meritorious aliens from emigrating to this country. Mason would have restrained eligibility to natives, had it not been for the fact that many not natives had acquired great credit in the Revolution. Madison thought any restriction in the Constitution unnecessary and improper. Butler was decidedly opposed to the admission of foreigners without long residence. Doctor Franklin would be sorry to see anything like illiberality, though not against a reasonable time. Randolph would go as far as seven years, but no farther. Wilson rose with peculiar feelings. He was not a native and foresaw he might be excluded from participating under a Constitution he had shared in making. Morris spoke strongly for his motion but in vain, as only four States voted for it, with seven against. Next he moved for thirteen years, and lost; Pinckney for ten years, and lost. Then nine years secured the support of six States, a majority. The debate returning to Representatives, Wilson and Randolph wanted the requirements for them four years. Gerry preferred to confine eligibility to natives. Williamson preferred nine years of residence. Hamilton and Madison wanted to leave it to the Legislatures. All motions for a figure other than that of seven years, failed of a majority.
The most noteworthy instance where the question of citizenship has resulted in exclusion from an American legislative body, was that of Albert Gallatin, who came to be a famous Secretary of the Treasury and played an otherwise important part in public life. Gallatin took his seat as a member of the United States Senate from Pennsylvania December 2, 1793. He had landed in Massachusetts in 1780, had formed the intention of becoming a citizen in the summer of 1783, and had taken the oath of citizenship and allegiance to Virginia in 1785, so that he had not actually been a citizen for the nine years prescribed by the Constitution. When he took the Virginia oath, however, the government was that of the Confederation, under the Constitution of which the free inhabitants of each of the States, paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted, were to “be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States.” Gallatin himself thought it a nice and difficult point, likely to be decided by a party vote, for parties were already forming. His election was declared void by a vote of 14 to 12. His biographer doubts if a majority would have been secured against him had he not seriously annoyed the Federal leaders by introducing a resolution calling for an elaborate statement of the debt, which they found most embarrassing.
Excluded from the Senate in February, 1794, Gallatin came back as a member of the House in December of the following year and proceeded to make himself more obnoxious than ever to the Federalists. They tried to get at him when they passed the fatal Alien and Naturalization Bills of 1798. These did not reach Gallatin, but they helped kill the Federalist party. The new Naturalization Act prolonged the period of residence before a man could become a citizen, from five to fourteen years. Harper in the House debate urged that nothing but birth should entitle a man to citizenship. Otis offered a resolution that no man alien-born unless already a citizen, should thereafter hold. office here. Massachusetts and Connecticut Legislatures recommended to Congress that no person thereafter naturalized should be eligible to either House. The only result was to help defeat John Adams and make Thomas Jefferson President. In the year after Jefferson took his seat, Albert Gallatin became his Secretary of the Treasury, and the period required before naturalization was put back to five years.
The obstinate remnant of the Federalist party that in 1814 held the famous Hartford Convention, which might have led New England to secession but for the ending of the war, persisted in trying to revive the alien issue. “The easy admission of naturalized foreigners, to places of trust, honor, or profit,” the delegates resolved, “operating as an inducement to the malcontent subjects of the old world to come to these States, in quest of executive patronage, and to repay it by an abject devotion to executive measures," was part of the policy that had brought the country into "this vicissitude.” Therefore they proposed a constitutional amendment excluding from office foreigners thereafter arriving in the United States."
From that day to this at intervals of a score of years more or less, agitations against the foreign-born, and particularly against those of the Roman Catholic faith, have disturbed the public tranquillity. The most serious was that which reached its height about 1855, called the Know-Nothing movement. It has been the only outbreak of prejudice that has come dangerously near to lessening the opportunities of new-comers. The Legislature of Massachusetts, overwhelmingly controlled in that year by the apostles of Native Americanism, gave the first passage to a constitutional amendment confining political, judicial, or military office to the native-born (or children of American parents born without the jurisdiction of the United States). The next year this passed the Senate by 17 to 6, but failed of the necessary two thirds in the House, the vote being 166 to 128.
Maine is the only State requiring a period of citizenship in the United States to have passed before a man can take his seat in Senate or House, the requirement being five years. Seven
1 Theodore Dwight, History of the Hartford Convention, 369, 373.