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REPORT AND RESOLUTIONS OF COMMITTEE OF ELEC
To the Hon. Senate of the State of Vermont :
Your Committee on Elections, to whom was referred the memorial of the Hon. Moody Rich, claiming to have been elected a senator of this State by a majority of the votes of the freemen of the county of Essex; the petition of George E. Holmes, and others, praying that said Rich may be admitted to a seat in the Senate from the county of Essex; and the memorial of James Towl and 19 other inhabitants of the town of Victory, praying that the organization of Victory may be regarded as strictly legal, have had the same under consideration, and respectfully
That, by the certificate of the County Clerk of the county of Essex, which was also referred by the Senate to your committee, it appeared that in counting the votes for senator in said county, he omitted to count the votes returned from the town of Victory. The votes in all the towns in said county, except Victory, were, for Mr. Howe, 389, for Mr. Rich 3777; being a majority for Mr. Howe of 12 votes. The votes from the town of Victory were, for Mr. Howe 7, for Mr. Rich 24; which, being added to the amount of votes from the other towns in said county, would be, for Mr. Howe, 396, for Mr. Rich, 401; being a majority for Mr. Rich of five votes. There was also referred to your committee by the Senate, a remonstrance signed by eight of the inhabitants of the town of Victory, a gainst the said Clerk's receiving or counting the votes for senator, returned from said Victory, and a copy of the records of said town, which were received by the said County Clerk on the day on which he counted the votes for senators, on the examination of which the said clerk certifies that he felt it to be his duty not to count the votes from the said town of Victory. Said papers, marked A and B, accompany this report. The counsel for Mr. Howe presented a certified copy of the records of the organization of the town of Victory, signed by Loomis Wells, town clerk, which paper also accompanies this report.-[No. 1.[
The counsel for Mr. Howe also introduced the depositions of Isaac R. Houston, Chauncey Hildreth, and John Shores.
The counsel for Mr. Rich introduced the depositions of Loomis Wells, Ransom Hall, Levi P. Shores, Ansel Hammon, and Elisha Gustin, and also a check-list of the freemen of the said town of Victory, from all which your committee collect the following facts:
That, at the time of making the application to the Justice to warn a meeting, to organize the town of Victory, there were twenty-eight families in town. That application was made to Ansel Hammon, Esq., a justice of the peace of the county of Essex, by four or more of the inhabitants of said Victory, who are freeholders, requesting said justice to call or warn a meeting of all the legal voters in said town, to meet for the purpose of organizing the same. .
That said justice put up notifications dated the 8th day of April, 1841, at four of the most public places in said town, warning all the legal voters thereof to meet at the dwelling-house of Orin Hall, on lot. No. 6, range 8, on the 3d day of May, then next, at 10 o'clock, forenoon, for the purpose, 1st, to choose a moderator, and 2d, to choose town officers. That, on the said 3d day of May, the voters in town, to the number of 25, 26, or 27, did assemble agreeably to said notice or warning, and that but 5 or 6 voters in the town were absent. That on looking at the warning, the justice said he had made a mistake in stating the nuinber and range of the lot, and in the presence of the voters present, altered it to lot No. 8, range 5, which was the true number and range of the lot on which the house of Orin Hall stood, at which the meeting was holden. That the ineeting was then called to order, and Isaac R. Houston was chosen moderator, and took the chair ; some objections were then made to organizing, because the charter of the town was not present, and some confusion arose, and during this time the three following votes were taken and declared by the moderator, viz: 1st, voted not to organize; 2d, voted to pass over the second article; and 3d, voted to dissolve the meeting. On the moderator's declaring it to be a vote to dissolve the meeting, the vote was questioned, says one witness, in one minute; others say immediately, others say within ten or fifteen minutes, and others that it was half an hour.-. Your committee, on taking into consideration all the testimony relating to the challenging the vote to dissolve the meeting, arrive at the following conclusion: that one or two of the voters did challenge the vote immediately, that then reference was had to the statute for information, and that after some consultation, and at the expiration of fifteen or twenty minutes, and perhaps more, eight or nine voters formally challenged the vote, upon which the moderator again took the question, which was then decided almost unanimously in the negative. They then proceeded to the choice of town clerk, and other town officers. Subsequently, those officers have acted in their official capacity, the select men laying out roads, the town clerk in recording deeds, &c. It further appeared to your committee, that Orin Hall, in the fall of 1840, sold a farm on which he had lived for several years, which was on the river, about six miles distant from the new house in which the meeting was holden. That he left the house on the river on or about the 6th day of April, 1841, and moved into a house belonging to Ransorn Hall, within about two miles of the house where the meeting was holden, where he resided until about the 26th of April, when he moved into his own house. The reason assigned for his not going immediately into his own house was on account of the depth of snow, One witness testifies that the warning for the meeting which was dated the 8th day of April, was put up before O. Hall moved from the river to Ransom Hall's. Your committee are satisfied that said 0. tall moved from the river about the time the notice was put up; it might have been a day or two before or after. The counsel for Mr. Howe offered certain open affidavits, by which it was alledged that it could be proved that Mr. Howe had a majority of the legal votes in the county of Essex, adınitting the votes from Victory to be counted; he also offered a deposition to impeach the testimony of A. Hammon and R. Hall, which was taken without notice being given to Mr. Rich. The affidavits and deposition were rejected by the committee,
Your committee acknowledge they have felt some embarrassment in prosecuting their inquiries and in coming to the result they have. This is the first instance of the election of a senator being contested since the organization of this branch of the legislature, and the first in any contested election in this Ştate, when the organization of a town has been called in question ; and whatever errors your committee may have committed in the admission or rejection of testimony, or however erroneous their judg. ment may be considered by the Senate, in the result at which they have arrived, they would assure the Senate, and particularly those feeling most interested, that they have endeavored, without partiality, to arrive at the truth.
If the town of Victory is an organized town, the dispute is ended. Your committee are inclined to the belief that such is the fact, and are unanimous in the belief that on the first Tuesday of September last, Moody Rich did receive a majority of the votes of the freemen of the county of Essex, for senator of this state, and was duly elected, and therefore recommend the passage of the accompanying resolutions ; all which is respectfully submitted for the consideration of the senate.
MOSES FISK, for Committee of Elections.