« AnteriorContinuar »
selves to the minds of the Convention. The re- |forced upon my mind that the idea which prevails quirement will not only serve as a more sure among the people is true. In a conversation that protection against all fraud and corruption which I had not many years since with a member of the may be attempted on the part of those interested House of Assembly, representing one of our first in the passage of the bills, but will no doubt counties, he gave me a piece of information which greatly relieve the Executive from ceaseless I will impart for the benefit of two or three gentle. nad incessant importunities and temptations, to men who ask these questions. I inquired of him which the unscrupulous and designing are ever how it was possible that the minds of men who are ready to resori." Again, sir, they say, " By the knowu to be opposed to biils on their passage existing Constitution po bill can be passed unless before his Lody had become suddenly converted. by the as:ent of a majority of all the members He said: “It is a matier of almost every day elected to each House; and yet, if the Governor occurrence. There is one case within my own shall objeet, each House, on a reconsideration, may knowledge wher: a member was approached by a approve of such bills, by a vote of two-thirds of person inte rested in the passage of a bill, in all the members present." Thus, for instance, the these words: 'Now, here I am, very anxious to objections of the Governor may go back to the secure the passage of this bill by the LegislaSenate, and seventeen of that body constitute a ture. It is a matter of minor importance and quorum for the consideration of bills which are personal inte rest. It is a matter in which the objected to by the Governor. Two-thirds of that interests of the State are not very deeply conquorum-less than a majority of all which will be cerued, and I should like very much to have your required to pass a bill originally-may override vote in favor of its passage. There certainly can the Governor's veto, and send the bill to the House be no harm, You will not affect the interests of for coucuri ence. We supposed, in the first in your constituency at all, or those of the State. stance, that the Couvention of 1846 had over. I should be very much pleased if the looked this inconsistency, and that it had inad- passage of the bill could be effected." Nothing vertently b en suffered to remain in the Constitu. more was said, but the next moruing very mystetion, but on looking at the debates and proceed- riously that member found in his post-oflice box ings of the Convention, we find that it was the ap envelope, inside of which was a one hundred subject of much discussion. While all intention to dollar greeuback, without a word of explanation destroy the veto power was denied, and it was upon the subject. Nothing was said wheuce it conceded tl at it should be retained 10 prevent ill- came, or for what purpose it was intended But, considered and hasty legislation, it was thought said my informant, the mind of that individual advisable to permit the Legislature 10 override it, became suddenly converted, and in two or three after receiv'ng the objections, by a two-thirds vote days, when the bill came up for the third reading, of those prı sent. Yet the majority differed from he voted for its passage. I said, Why was not the views of the minority, and it was finally that man exi osed ?" He said that the member adopted as it exists now in the present Cou- informed him of the fact of his having receirad stitution, thus teaving the inconsisiency which the one hundred dollars, and asked him for adI have endeavored to expose, to prevail as it now vice as to what he should do upon the subject, does. I believe the amendment that requires-a and that he i dvised him to bring it to the atienvote of two-thirds of all the members elected to Lion of the speaker of the House, in his place, the each House onght to prevail, and I trust it will next morning. The gentleman thought it was not prevail in the minds of this committee. If ever advisable to do so, but that he would have the it was necessary as a safeguard, it surely is at privilege of sending it to a religious institution. the present day. It has been remarked that there it was accordingly so done, and the gentlemau's has been a sruption; it has been frequently re-conscience, if it was affected at all, was salved marked upon the floor of this Convention, during over by the remedy which he provided. IC its sittings, and I sincerely believe such is the the gentlemen want another instance I will prevailing opinion throughout the length and give one more without delaying the committee breadth of this State, that there is corruption, too long. It was asked during the last session that there has been corruption, among our public of the Legislature how a certaiu Senator was as officials and members of the Legislature of the to his integrity and morality, and whether it State. Is there not great reason for entertaining was believed that by tying $5,000 over his eyes, such a belief? "By their fruits ye shall know it would enable him to see more openly the prothem" is an old sentence which coinmeuds itself priety of overriding the Governor's veto to a to us all aud which has been approved ever since certain railroad bill. The question was asked ; it was uttered by Him who spake as never said my informant, “ I told him he must answer man spake. Look at our mammoth and huge his own questions." Whether the attempt was corporations at the present day, wliich can ex- made or not I am unable to determine. One gen. peud any amount of money to secure the passage tleman remarked yesterday that in case these of bills. Gentlemen on the floor very gravely great corruptions were going on, why should not and seriously, when they have been talking about the Governor prorogue the Legislature as was these charges of corruption, ask for the evidence. done during the session of 1812, and when the Why, the evidence exists, sir, in such a manner enormous frauds elicited on that occasion, certainly that he who runs may read. Do the gentlemen who entitled the Governor to use that power. Why, ask these questions ask any proof froi me upon this does not my friend renvember, or had it escaped hinn subject It is a subject on which I do that by the Constitutiou of 1777 the Governor had not willingly enter. It is an unpleasant mat- the power to prorogue the Legislature for a ter to me, but at the same time the conviction is period not exceeding the term of sixty days, that
Daniel D. Tompkins, by virtue of the power, rise above all partisan considerations and above given by the Constitution of 1777, prorogued that all party feelings, and do what I might in unison corrupt Legislature, and for which he has been and in connection with my brethren to make a thanked a great many times. By the Constitution Constitntion which shall redound to the benefit of 1821 that power was withheld from the Gover-aud good of the whoie people. Let us, then, so vor, and again by the Constitution of 1846 it was act in reference to the provisions which we will withheld from him, and he has uo power to pro- adopt as will enable us to reflect and say that we rogue the Legislature. You have got to protect are not ashamed to have been a member of the this power in some other way-by this veto Convention of 1867. power which the committee recomniend. Now, Mr. S. TOWNSEND -- The suggestion of the sir, the propriety and safoty of this veto power committee in favor of proposing to give more was deinonstrated during the last session of strength to the veto power, is an admirable one. the Legislature. Look at the pile of bills I wish the committee had gone further, and inthat were on the tables of our members stead of saying two-thirds, had required three. during the last year. But for the 'timely fourths of the members elected to pass a bill over interposition of the Governor's veto the peo- the Governor's relo. people of the State of New York to-day would A DELEGATE — The gentleman from Queens have been living under a State tax of more than (Mr. S. Towosend) is referring to a subject emten mills on the dollar, while even now it will braced on the eighth section—not the one under exceed the sun of seven mills. We should look consideration. to it to see that the interests of our State are pro Mr. S. TOWNSEND-I shall speak of the tected; that our own individual interests are pro- first section. The committee will remember that tected, and protected by the timely exercise of the Convention yesterday agreed, by a very conthis power. But, sir, it is not this alone. The siderable majority, to extend the term of office for alarning state of public morals at the present day State Senators to four years. We have an calls upon us to guard well this veto power. We analogy then in the term of office of United need but to take up the papers of the day to read States Senators being six years, and the chief evidences of the declension of public morals. executive office of the United States being four The standard of public morality has long been years. I would amend this first section by insertirailing in the dust. Officers in high stations of ing in lieu of the words "two years" the words trust and responsibility are continually proving three years,” so that the term of office of the criminals, and destroying the confidence and Governor shall be three years. There is no occaproperty of thousands and thousands of those sion to dilate upon the reasons why the principle wlio have placed confidence in them, and de- of a farther extension of the time of service posited their little all for safe keeping, in would add to the importance of the office. Yet, their hands, and many a widow and orphan if the propriety of devolving upon local boards has been reduced to poverty in the last ten years of county, town and city officers is not adopted who had a competency which would have taken under the action of some appropriate committee, care of them for life and solaced their declining I should then favor a shorter term than four years Fears to the grave, and have been cast upon the for Senators, and I should also favor a two years' cold charities of a heartless world for the bread service for Governor. It would be better that necessary for their support. I am no alarmist or the election of Governor, and the election of prophet of evil, but I may be permitted to remark Senator, should take place at different times, and that if as a nation or a people we are to pursue the for periods of office. This idea of separating in same downward course which has characterized us as many distinct questions and different issues as for the last ten years, we shall approach the fate possible, is a favorite one to my mind, and one which befel the republics which have preceded ihat I have attempted often to sustain. With us. Let us endeavor to profit by past experience reference to the ditficulty of the submission of and by the lessons of history. Let us endeavor various points, I think we should endeavor to to guard well our public and private institutious thus prepare and submit them to the consideraand our public morality. Let us do what we can tion of our constituents. A gentleman stated on lo stem the tide which is rushiog upon us with a this floor that in another State (Masaachusetts) velocity calculated to endanger and destroy us as nine separate propositions were thus presented. a people. Let us preserve this safeguard against What was valuable in them we could succeed in the corruption of inconsiderate and unprincipled preserving. From the first day of October to the legislation. Let us stay it by every means in our November election would give ample time for the power. I came here, sir, as a member of this electors of intelligence in the State of New York, body for that purpose; and came here to do what who I believe are daily advancing in their knowl. I might, in connection with those with whom I edge and fitness to discuss and decide questions act, to correct the evils which prevail in our State. of large importance. We have the advantage of As regards myself, sir, and some other members of education, the dissemination of knowledge, the this Convention, we have passed the meridian of electric telegraph, and above all the newspaper life; we have no aspirations but to do our duty press, affording the means for much more than for the benefit of those who come after us. usual opportunity for reflection and consideration For myself I feel as if the few decliniog years on the part of our constituency than has ever that are left to me should be devoted not to my before existed in our State. I say that I should self, not for myself, nor for my own interests, but be willing, even if we rise from our deliberations, for the interest of posterity. It is for that reason having succeeded with fifteen different proposiI came here as a member of this body, resolved to tions as the result of our labors, if we adjourn at
B'i urly period, to submit as many distinct I have served the second term. I believe the first pro usitions If the people as
In two years as well as the next two they have that idea, wis a view of separating the elec- filled the Executive Chair, have been devoted in tion of the Gonnor, we may safely and prop- all cases to the making of a good record of the erly put the tem of Senators at four years. I faithful discharge of public du.y, and to so place think that fur Goveruor it may be properly ex. themselves before the people, that their acts panded to three years. the grounds should be approved, and not with reference to I have saird, and the particular point I am re-election, not with reference to any other offico pndeavciug to elucidate is, that the election of to which they may aspire, but for the benefit of Gover:or shall take place on a different year their constituency. I do not believe, myself, in from that f Senator,
extending this term beyond two yea:s. Nor do I Dir. EETCHAM-I offer the following amend. believe in declariug the incunbent in office ineliceit.
gible for the next two years. I believe in a In line 2 strike out the word “two " and insert return to the people for their approbation as often ** four," and after the word " years" in line 2, as once in two years. I don't beliove in saying insert " but shall not be eligible for re-election that the experience that has been gained the for the next term."
State during two years sliall be lost necessarily We all know, Mr. Chairman, that at the pres. by putting aside the incumbent for another perent time, the term of uffice of the Governor is son. There is a difficulty, I admit; something practically four years. The first two years of a may be said on both sides of the question, some Governor's incumbency in office is almost always may desire to reduce the term to one year; some used to a very considerable extent in devising the may desire to extend it to three. But I ask, has means to secure a re-election. Appointments are there been any call on the part of the people for made, bills are signed, and the sanction to bills any change in this term of ošice? Are not all withheld, with a view to secure a return for a satisfied with the incumbency of two years, and second term. I submit that we may just as well with the privilege of being again a candidate for and better provide that in effect and without the a place before the people ? I do not believe, Mr. necessity for this effort on the part of the in- Chairman, that we should make changes liere in cumbent the first two years, that the term of matters of this kind that have not been called for office for Governor shall be four years, so I by the public, and I am not aware of any dissatisthat he may spend the whole of his time, faction in any portion of the State with the instead of the
years, in incumbency of a term of two years. I believe it making up a good record for himself in the is safer, and so thought our committee; and I future, instead of having the first two trust this committee will retain this Constitution years with a view of securing a re-election. as it is, with regard to the term, and with regard Then the prohibition against his re-election still to future eligibility. further removes him from any temptation to Mr. GREELEY-I believe the experience of #cupy any portion of the time to that purpose. free and elective institutions all over the world Under this provision an election will take place tends to the establishment of this convictionnext year at the same time with the election of that an officer wielding great patronage and the Federal executive. You will thus have our power ought not to be eligible to re-election Governors elected each time when there is a while he wields that power. We have estabpresidential election, and a time when all the lished that principle with reference to sheriffs, voters are much more likely to be got to the and I believe to the very general satisfaction of polls, when there is a better and a fuller expres- the people. I am confident that a large majority sion of the will of the people. If the record for the of the people of the United States have, from first four years is a good one, and it is desirable General Jackson's day (I think he was the first that the Governor shall secure a re-election, hav- who put forth the idea prominently) been con. ing had the experience of the first term, he may vinced that it would be better for the country be taken up if the people so choose. It strikes that a President in office should never be a canme, for these reasons, that it will be much better didate for re-election. It is best that the suborto have the term extended for four years, than to dinates of the President should pot be under a have it as now, but two.
sort of partisan obligation, as they are understood Mr. A. J. PARKER-As a member of this to be, to advocate his re-election. It is now committee I wish to say, in answer to what has regarded as a sort of pledge, or rather touchstone, been said, in regard to this subject
, that this pro- of fealty-" Are you in favor of the President's vision in regard to a two years' term of office, as re-election ?" And, if you are not, you are to give well as all the other provisions in this report, place to some one who is. I do not say that this were unanimously agreed upon by the committee State has experienced the evil of this condition after a very careful consideration of the subject, of things as signally as the Union has, because and after a full discussion. Now, I think the the Governor has for some years since 1846 been gentleman who has last spoken, does great in quite limited in his patronage. But after all, he justice to the distinguished men who have filled is always assailed by this consideration : if you the gubernatorial chair under the present Consti- veto that bill giving money from the treasury to tation, when he says the first two years have support that railroad, here is a great stretch of been devoted to securing 3 re-election.
country that will be after you at the next elecMr. KETCHAM - In pit-I said.
tion. This is continually held up to him. You Mr. A. J. PARKER - I don't think they have say he desires to secure that stamp of popular at all. In the first place, lut half the gentlemen approbation which is implied in his re-election.
Hence he must defer to these "shrieks of State should desire to secure his services for more locality" so continually sounded in his ear. He than a single term. We should be doing some. says, “The people on the line of this railroad thing that has not been asked of us; something will remember my veto and vote against me at that perhaps in the future may work serious the coming election; while those who have no injury. I think this Convention will be wise in interest in the undertaking will vote according this respect, as in all others, if it leaves “ well to their party bias respectively." Thus he is con enough alone.". stantly tempted to sign bills devoting public Mr. OPDYKE -I rise to express my entire money to local benefit, when he ought to veto concurrence in the views so clearly expressed by them. I do not say that he yields; I believe he the gentleman from Westchester (Mr. Greeley]. generally does not that our Governors, though I think that the experience of the people of the tempted, have not yielded. But he is continually United States, in relation to the office of the Presplaced between two considerations: his danger ident of the United States, which carries with it of alienating localities and his duty to the whole an immense amount of patronage, has satisfied State. He knows that the specially interested them that a change in reference to that office, of localities will give him the cold shoulder if he the character proposed in the amendment now dares to veto their bill or canal or railroad—they under consideration, is most desirable. The genwill veto his re-election; that, if he refuses to tleman from Albany [Mr. A. J. Parker) has yield to the demands of this or that locality, it remarked that the people of this State have given will be swift to visit him with its vengeance no indication of a desire for the change bow pro. For that reason, without desiring to vote on the posed. There is very good reason why they have question of a two, three, or four years' term, 1 given no such indications. They have given very shall most earnestly vote for, as I shall advocate, little thought to the revision of the Constitution. the rendering of the Governor ineligible to re. They have given no indications of their desire un election while he holds the executive office. scarcely any subject in relation to changes that
Mr. FLAGLER — As one of the committee re may be proposed. But, sir, the people of the Uniporting this article now under consideration. Ited States have given consideration to this subwish to say this in reply to the distinguished ject, where the amount of patronage has been such gentleman from Westchester (Mr. Greeley], that as to enable the incumbent of this highest executhis very question occupied the time and thought live office of our government to wield it in a direcof the committee as much, perhaps, as any other tion to secure his re-election. I believe the majorthat has ever engaged their attention. This circum-ity of the members of this Convention deem it stance, among others, influenced the decision of that desirable, and I anticipate they will so decide, to con mitteo, first, that so far as any one knew, there increase the power and the patronage of the was no desire to have any change in the term of chief executive of the State. If that be done I this office. And I presume this remark applies as deem it very desirable, and am certain that it will be well to members of that committee as to the conducive to the public good, that he be ineligible members of this body as a whole. There is no to future service for the period of at least one dissatisfaction anywhere on this subject; there is term if not for all time. It is well known that no expression that has ever reached my ear in various efforts have been made to so amend the favor of a chauge in this regard, and the com. Constitution of the United States, as to make the mittee felt themselves bound to recommend no President ineligible to re-election, and I have no change which public sentiment did not demand. doubt but a majority of the people are to day in The gentleman from Westchester (Mr. Greeley]. favor of that change. With the very limited patadvocates this part of the amendment of the gen ronage and power now held by the Executive of tleman from Wayne [Mr. Ketcham), making the this State, it is a matter of less moment; but for Governor ineligible, by drawing a comparison the reasons stated by the gentleman from Westbetween the office of Governor and that of Presi. chester (Mr. Greeley) it is even material as regards dent of the United States; and yet the gentleman the Governor. I believe he would be more free himself, befure he finished his argument, was from improper influence; more intent on a strict compelled to state the fact that, comparatively, and faithful performance of his duty, and his efforts the patronage of the Executive of this State is more ernestly directed to the promotion of the very small. And this very circumstance is a public good, if the subject of re-election were not circumstance which will justify us in leaving before his mind. I can see no objection to the the Governor eligible, as wow, to a re-election. change. We have just voted to extend the term The gentleman referred to the exercise of of the senatorial office to four years. I think it the veto power, and the use of it with refer- proper in view of that fact that the term of ence to re-election. I submit that the recollec. Governor should also be extended. And if we tion of every member on this floor will corrobo. shall give him as I hope we shall, the appointrate the statement that, irrespective of what may ment of the chief executive officers, and most of have been the motives of the Executive in the use the other and inferior officers of the State, it will of this power, the electors, even in those localities then be, in my judgment, very wise and very affected by its exercise, have voted with their proper to insert the amendment now proposed. party, even when the incumbent himself was Mr. E. P. BROOKS-Mr. Chairman, while I de. before them for re-election. I hold, therefore, sire not to consume the time of this committee looking at it in every aspect, there is no reason with any extended remarks, yot, inasmuch as I why this Convention, without any demand for it. have heretofore expressed views elsewhere differshould throw this barrier in the way of a re-ing, in some respects, from those contained in this election of the Governor, if the people of this, report, it may be proper for me to say, as a mem
ber of the committee that reported this article, I ventions ?" He is assured that such an one that I deemed it desirable and that I proposed in attends to that county, and such an one can take the committee room that we provide for extending care of this district. These important personages the term of the Executive to three years, and for are applicants for office under his appointment; rendering him ineligible to that office for the three perhaps they are alike destitute of character or years next succeediug his election. I did so in intelligence sufficient to qualify them for any the belief that this Convention was about to con- place, except the penitentiary. The ambitious fer additional power and patronage upon the aspirant, regarding mainly his own chances for Executive, and in case it should do so, then the re-election, selects these serviceable men for imamendment proposed would be found desirable. portant public positions, when he suspects, perhaps This proposition, as has been represented by the knows, that they should be serving the State in a geutlemen from Albany [Mr. A. J. Parker), was different capacity. Would it not be well to rediscussed at length in the committee, and at first, move from him every temptation of this characI thik, was received favorably by other mem. ter? Certainly, if he were a weak man, or “a bers of the committee. It may not be improper bold, bad man," it would be. But, Mr. Chairman, for nie to state some of the considerations that in another reason which influenced my acquiescence duced me to yield my own views upon this sub- in the report is that I believe it advisable to make ject. Among them was a desire to have our as few changes in the present Constitution as report unanimous, a proper deference for the possible, consistent with the necessities of the views and opinions of my colleagues, and the fur- times, and only those that experience has proved ther consideration arising from the probability to be necessary. For this reason I favored the that this Convention would provide for the mak. plan of small senate districts, and for this and the ing the Secretary of State and Attorney-General other reasons I have suggested, I yielded my own a part of the Governor's cabinet, to be appointed views in committee on the question of the term by him. In a couference with the "Coromittee on of office, united with my colleagues in this report, the Secretary of State, Attorney-General," etc., and with them unite in its support. it was understood that that committee pro Mr. VAN COTT—I think the age in which we pose to fix the tenure of office of those officials live is one of suspicion and imputation, that the at two years. If the proposition to have those Constitution under which we live is one of susoflicers form a part of the Governor's cabinet or picion and imputation. The general rule seems to council shall prevail, as I hope it may, I thought be to think the worst and say the worst of everythere might be less reason for extending the term; body; and the idea is that, by such a or of providing for the ineligibility of the incum system-thinking the worst and saying the bent. The argument of the gentleman in regard worst—we are likely to get an administrato the increased patronage of the Governor and tion of angels, that the happy, golden the temptation to improperly dispense it, I think age of the millenium will come to us. There hapentitle 1 to consideration. I concur fully in the pens, however, to be this incongruity in the sysviews, in this respect, expressed by the gentle- tem, a prevailing idea—that that which was to man from Westchester (Mr. Greeley) and the bring about these happy issues has brought gentleman from New York (Mr. Opdyke). It has about issues of a reverse description. We were beeu said we have heard no complaint, that lo one to have had infallible judges, and infallible legishas asked this Convention to change the tenure lators, and infallible Governors; and yet we have of office. Why is such the fact? Is it because heard from the beginning of the Convention thus attention has not been directed to this subject? far, that every part of the system has failed, and Probably that is one reason; another may be the charges of corruption have been almost uni. found in the fact perhaps that there versal, and quite universally alarming. Now, I has been no just cause of complaint iu do not believe in founding a government upon the past history of the State. The pres that principle at all; of erecting and constructing ent honored incumbent has certainly given of rotten materials, with constant provision for vone in this regard so far as I have heard. But the repair of the machinery, upon the assumption the State may not always be so fortunate. She that it is rotten, and at once to get out of repair. may not always have so intelligent, upright and I believe that a free government is a government discreet a man occupying the executive chamber. of faith; faith not only in the people who origiA weak, amb tious man may yet till this high nate and establish it, but in the instrumevtalities office, and the suggestions of arubition may influ. which they use for making it, and adapting it to ence him in dispensing the patronage of his office. the ends of its creation. I believe that we corRemembering that his predecessor had been re. rupt by the very process of suspicion; I think elected he would think his own re-election neces. we degrade by the very condition of distrust. sary as an indorsement of his administration. He would repose a large confidence in what the peo. would be likely to say to himself and friends : ple do in the administration of institutions, - I inust justify my administration by a second and in the selection of the great officers of election. If I do not, the first is no compliment. the State. I would make the Governor venerGovernor Fenton was re-elected, and by an in. able; I would surround the administration creased majority, and why should not I be?" He with respect. I would try to add confidence and casts about to see what patronage be has to be faith to the hear of the people; I would make stow, what offices to fill. He calls to his aid his government strong by making it good, and by lieutenants and political advisers and asks, “Who believing that it is good. I believe when we act is the man in this ward that controls the primary thus we act most in harmony with free instituelections, who in that county that attends the con. tions, with popular institutions, and with a large,