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Gibson, T. S. Gibson, Gilman, Goodwyn, Graves, Grayson, Haden, Hale, Hamilton, Harris, Harrison, Henderson, Hill, Hoenniger, J. T. Hoskins, Howard, Hudgin, Hunter, James, Jett, P. K. Jones, Jordan, Koiner, B. W. Lacy, J. H. Lacy, Lamkin, Lewis, Lightner, Lipps, Longley, Lovell, Lovenstein, Loving, Lucas, Lybrook, Magruder, Massey, May, McGonigal, McMullan, Montague, John L. Nash, W. a. Nash, Nickens, Norton, O'Neal, Ould, Pannill, Pendleton, Popham, Powell, Rogers, Scruggs, Sellers, Shumate, Stovall, Strother, Stuart, Swann, Taliaferro, Taylor, Turner, Wallace, Webb, Wharton, Whittaker, Winn, Withers, Yager, Young, and Mr. Speaker-101.
The speaker appointed Messrs. Lovenstein, Hoenniger and John T. Hoskins the committee on the part of the house to count and report the joint vote.
The committee subsequently, by their chairman, reported as follows:
Whole number of votes cast,
Warner T. Jones having received a majority of all the votes cast, was declared duly elected county judge for Gloucester, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Wyndham Kemp.
No. 311. House bill for the assessment, levy and collection of taxes on railroad, canal and other companies, again came up.
The bill was amended.
The hour of 3 o'clock P. M. having arrived, the chair was vacated unt; 8 o'clock P. M.
The chair was resumed at 8 o'clock P. M.
No. 311. House bill, was, on motion of Mr. Critz, postponed until to-morrow at 11 o'clock A. M.
No. 260. House joint resolution directing the president and directors of the Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio railroad company to commence the work on the road to Cumberland gap (unfinished business), came up.
Mr. Coghill offered a substitute to 4th section of the substitute proposed by the committee on roads and internal navigation (as amended).
Mr. Koiner moved to lay the joint resolution on the table, which was rejected.
On motion of Mr. Longley, the substitute offered by Mr. Coghill was passed by and ordered to be printed.
No. 290. House bill to incorporate the Giles county iron company, was read a second time and ordered to be engrossed to be read a third time.
No. 336. House bill to allow the voters of Mecklenburg county to vote upon the question of establishing a fence law for the protection of crops, was read a second time and ordered to be engrossed to be read a third time.
No. 235. House bill to exempt additional property from levy or distress upon contracts hereafter made, was, on motion of Mr. Howard, dismissed.
No. 333. House engrossed bill to amend and re-enact sections 17 and 23 of an act entitled an act to provide a new charter for the town of Charlottesville, approved March 28th, 1871, was read a third time and passed.
On motion of Mr. Magruder, the title was amended by striking out “sections 17 and 23," and inserting "sections 4, 17, 23 and 24.”
No. 144. Senate bill entitled an act to incorporate the Alleghany improvement company.
The amendment proposed by the committee on propositions and grievances, as follows: strike out “ten per centum per annum” and insert “the rate allowed by the laws of this state,” was rejected.
The bill was read a third time and passed. No. 331. House engrossed bill to provide for aiding in the erection of additional buildings for the Hampton normal and agricultural institute, was read a third time and rejected-yeas 58; nays 33.
The vote required by the constitution was recorded as follows:
YEAS-Messrs. Armentrout, Blair, Branch, Brooks, Cecil, Matt Clark, Cox, Crank, Critz, Finney, Flood, P. Gibson, T. S. Gibson, Goodwyn, Grayson, Hale, Hamilton, Harris, Hill, Holbrook, Wm. Hoskins, J. T. Hoskins, Howard, James, Jett, P. K. Jones, R. S. Jones, B. W. Lacy, Lamkin, Lipps, Lipscomb, Longley, Lybrook, Magruder, Massey, May, McGonigal, Morris, Morrison, Moss, Nickens, Norton, O'Neal, Popham, Powell, Richmond, Round, Scruggs, Stovall, Strother, Syphax, Taliaferro, Turner, Van Auken, Wharton, Whittaker, Williams, and Young-58.
Nays-Messrs. Armstrong, Beaton, Brown, P. J. Carter, A. J. Clark, Cockerille, Coghill, Fitzpatrick, Fulkerson, Gilman, Graves, Haden, Harrison, Henderson, Hoenniger, Hudgin, Hunter, Jordan, Koiner, J. H. Lacy, Lewis, Loving, McMullan, Montague, Ould, Pannill, Rogers, Shumate, Stuart, Swann, Webb, Yager, and Mr. Speaker-33.
Mr. P. J. Carter moved a reconsideration of the vote by which the bill was rejected.
On motion of Mr. Popham, the motion to reconsider was passed by.
No. 158. House engrossed bill to amend and re-enact the 16th section of chapter 128 of the Code of 1873, in reference to commissioners in chancery, was read a third time and passed.
Mr. Harrison moved a reconsideration of the vote by which the bill was passed, which was rejected.
No. 323. Senate bill entitled an act to amend and re-enact the 11th section of an act entitled an act to prescribe the times for holding the terms of the circuit courts of this Commonwealth, and to repeal the 15th section of the 155th chapter of the Code of 1873, which authorizes the judges of said courts to fix said terms, approved March 27th, 1874, was read a third time and passed.
No. 346. House bill to authorize the county of Halifax to vote on the question of the fence law, was read a second time and ordered to be engrossed to be read a third time.
No. 267. Senate bill entitled an act to incorporate the James river coal company,
The amendment proposed by the committee on propositions and grievances, as follows: Oth, 10th and 11th lines of 4th section, strike out the words, “that the taxable property of said company shall be assessed at a rate not exceeding one-half of one per cent. for a period of ten years," was agreed to.
The bill was ordered to its third reading.
No. 196. House bill for the relief of William W. Phelps, late sheriff of Wythe county, was read a second time and ordered to be engrossed to be read a third time.
On motion of Mr. Armstrong, the house adjourned until to-morrow at 10 o'clock A. M.
THURSDAY, APRIL 23, 1874.
Prayer by Rev. George C. Vanderslice, of the Methodist church.
In Senate, April 22, 1874. The senate have passed house bills entitled
An act to provide for the completion of the Black Lick and Cove plaster bank turnpike, in Wythe county; No. 138.
An act to incorporate the town of Smithville, in the county of Charlotte; No. 228.
An act to enlarge the corporate limits of the town of Goodson, Virginia; No. 310.
An act to incorporate the Lexington gas company; No. 326. And
An act for the relief of James O. Swanson, of Pittsylvania county ; No. 356.
They have passed, with amendments, house bill entitled
An act to authorize the county of Essex to vote on the question of the fence law; No. 345.
They have passed a bill entitled
An act to amend and re-enact sections 1 and 3 of chapter 200 of the Code of 1873, as amended by an act approved March 27th, 1874, entitled an act to amend and re-enact sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 9 of the 200th chapter of the Code of 1873, in relation to grand juries; No. 340.
In which amendments and bill they respectfully request the concurrence of the house of delegates.
No. 315. House bill, was referred to the committee on agriculture and mining.
No. 340. Senate bill, was read twice and placed on the calendar, the rules having been suspended. (on motion of Mr. Williams) requiring its reference to a committee.
No. 319. Senate bill entitled an act to provide for a new registration in the city of Manchester, was reported from the committee on privileges and elections.
Mr. Holbrook stated that had he been present when the vote was. taken on the passage of senate bill No. 133, entitled an act for the encouragement of land purchasers and actual settlers in Virginia, and to repeal an act approved March 29, 1873, entitled an act for the encouragement of immigration, he would have voted in the affirmative.
Mr. Lucas entered a motion to reconsider the vote by which house bill No. 235, to exempt additional property from levy or distress upon contracts hereafter made, was dismissed.
The speaker laid before the house the following communication from the governor:
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA,
Richmond, April 23d, 1874. Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Delegates :
As your session is rapidly drawing to a close, and the chances for maturing further legislation are hourly diminishing, I am constrained by a strong sense of duty to call your attention to a subject which, in my opinion, should be immediately considered. The constitution of the State ought to be amended thoroughly and without unnecessary delay. Many of its provisions, which are properly within our control, are as odious to the people as they are mischievous in operation. The longer we live under it, the greater the inclination to endure and to become reconciled to even such of its provisions as are vicious and demoralizing. Occasional and partial changes of some of its particulars only serve to increase the difficulty of ridding the State of the residue of the evil. It will hardly be questioned that general public sentiment demands a thorough revision of that instrument. What is wanted is a new constitution which, without impairing any existing right, will in all respects conform to the habitudes, ideas and necessities of the people of Virginia, as far as may be consistent with our federal and inter-state obligations.
The difficulty lies in the choice of a mode for accomplishing the desired changes. The creation of a constitutional convention at this time would produce popular agitation, not to be desired, and would involve expenses which the treasury is in no condition to bear. If on the other hand the general assembly should assume the task of revising the entire constitution, such action would probably prove not less expensive than the work of a convention of the people, while it may well be questioned if the legislature would be justified in entering upon this delicate and responsible task, for the performance of which it was not elected.
À different mode of changing the constitution would, in my opinion, avoid the objections which apply to other plans. A commission, composed of five or seven statesmen, combining the greatest experience, ability and weight of character to be had, would be likely to frame such a constitution as would commend itself to the approval of the legislature and the people. Such a commission would involve but slight expense, and if now created its labors could be completed in time to be submitted to the present legislature at its next annual session. A constitution, thus perfected and carrying with it such sanction and weight of influence, would probably receive very little or no alteration at the hands of the legislature, and would, after being agreed to by two successive legislatures, be likely to be ratified by the people in the mode prescribed by the twelfth article of the present constitution. It is not doubted that an amendment in the nature of a substitute for the whole constitution-an amendment embracing the entire frame-work of the organic law of the State—would be equally as admissible under that article as the separate amendment of any single provision.
It is held to be clear that so far as that article attempts to restrain the people from changing the constitution, it is wholly ineffectual for such purpose; yet in making such change, otherwise than through a regular convention of the people, it is urged by leading minds that we are bound to proceed in the mode prescribed by the present constitution, and, without expressing any opinion upon that question, I suggest it as safest, in effecting the proposed amendment, through the action of the legislature, and without a convention, to conform to the mode so prescribed.
Our object should be to secure an amended constitution by the best means at our command and with such speed as the circumstances will allow. In view of the fact that any amendment, made in accordance with the requirements of the twelfth article, must be approved by two successive legislatures before being submitted to a vote of the people, two years of delay will be avoided by providing at your present session for the proposed commission. If such amendment should fail of being perfected and agreed to by the legislature during the present biennial term, it would necessarily have to be approved by the successive legislatures to be elected towards the close of the years 1875 and 1877, respectively, before it could be submitted to the people for ratification. Such delay of two years must result from a failure to take proper action before your approaching adjournment, for it is hardly to be supposed that a commission, constituted at your next and last session, could complete its work in a satisfactory manner and in time for your revision during that session.
The existing constitution is a great barrier to the return of the public prosperity. Its framers were, in large proportion, strangers by birth and previous residence, and aliens in sentiment to our people. The whole scheme, context and composition of the constitution show their unacquaintance with the wants of the State, and even with the rules of the English vernacular. That instrument imposes upon the impoverished and sparse population of Virginia a frame-work of State and local government, so complicated and costly, that it must of necessity be oppressive in any but a wealthy and densely settled State. After