Imágenes de páginas

state to vote at any election. The Republicans in their proposals limited the right of aliens to vote to those who either were residents at the time the constitution was adopted or who had resided in the state for two years. It was the Democratic provision which was adopted. 26

The Republicans also proposed that the legislature might at any time extend the privilege of the suffrage to other classes, with the proviso that "no such law shall have any force until it shall have been submitted to the people at some general election and approved by a majority of all votes cast on that subject at such election.” This Republican proposal was not embodied in the constitution, nor was it necessary that it should be, in view of the fact that the constitution itself was made amendable in exactly this way.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]


In the case of this article also the Democratic proposals were mainly adopted by the committee on compromise. The Republican wing had entertained and discussed a long committee report outlining a complete school system.27 It had become very evident in the course of their debates that they would be unable to agree upon even the fundamentals of the system to be embodied in the constitution. They accepted, therefore, a proposal to eliminate from their article on this subject all matters which could safely be left to the legislature and adopted as a substitute for the committee's proposal two fairly short sections in which they made it clear that they intended to do just two things: (1) to guarantee the state school fund against waste in any form; and (2) to prohibit the use of any part of the fund by any religious sect or sects.2 Upon these matters they were in fundamental agreement and these provisions they adopted with little dissent. In their article on miscellaneous provisions they had also a section proposing that the regents of the university be elected by the people in the three supreme judicial districts of the state which they proposed.

Taking up the provisions written into the constitution in their order, it should be said that section 1 is a revision and abbreviation of the Democratic provision on the same subject. The first sentence of section 2 was mainly drawn from the Democratic proposals also. The second sentence of this section was also of Democratic origin, but was not essentially different from the provision on the same subject in section 1 of the Republican proposals. As to section 3, it is only just to relate that the Democrats originally proposed that the school fund should be divided among the various townships of the state instead of having one centralized state school fund. Sibley himself 28 But even this provision was not liberal enough to the foreigner to satisfy Mr. Francis Baasen

He argued that “to make a distinction between white men is invidious, and I con. sider it anti-Democratic. Sir, men coming here from South Carolina or from Connecticut are as ignorant of the peculiar institutions of our future State as those coming from Europe.” Dem. Deb., pp. 607-8.

? Rep. Deb., pp., 167-68.

A provision embodying the second principle later became part of the constitution by amendment. See p. 184.

her the the


of Brown county.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

favored this township arrangement, but other members, led by ex-Governor
Gorman, were able to strike from the second and third sections of the Demo-
cratic provisions any words which would have authorized the splitting up
the school fund. The Republicans proposed that the school fund should be
used to establish a school system throughout the state, making it very clear
that they would not favor any township or district scheme. It was the Demo-
cratic provision which was adopted for this section. The fourth section of
this article was copied verbatim from the proposals of the convention over
which Sibley presided. It is the provision which guarantees that the Uni-
versity of Minnesota shall remain where it was established in 1849, namely;
at St. Anthony Falls. It should be said, and it is a fact which will be noted
again, that the Democratic wing of the convention alone was interested in
carrying out the tri-city agreement by which Stillwater was to have the state
prison, St. Paul the capitol, and St. Anthony the state university.29 The
Republicans naturally opposed this scheme since it kept all the state institu-
tions east of the Mississippi and gave none to the southern and western
portions of the state.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

II. ARTICLE I-FINANCES OF TH STATE BANKS AND BANKING. The victory of the Democratic convention over the Republican on this article was fairly decisive but not so sweeping as was the case with certain other articles. In general it is proper to say that it was the Democratic form of words which was adopted in almost every case. The Republicans succeeded, however, in getting several of their proposals into the constitution. They alone are responsible for the second part of the fifth section, which prohibits the incurrence of debt for works of internal improvement, and they seem to have forced the Democrats to compromise in the matter of the third provision in section 13. The Republicans had rejected a provision that the stockholders in banks should be subject to an unlimited liability and they had put nothing in its place, thus leaving this question to the legislature. The Democrats had adopted a provision for single liability "over and above the stock by him or her owned." The Republicans really insisted upon a high liability, though they rejected unlimited liability, and they seem to have been responsible in the committee on compromise for the writing in of the provision for treble liability.30 Sections 3, 4, and 6 of the provisions finally adopted were entirely of Democratic origin. The Republicans had no equivalents for 4 and

>> It is equally impossible to prove and to disprove the existence of a definite agreement among the three towns here named for the control of the territorial and state institutions, yet it is interesting that the Democratic wing of the constitutional convention, dominated as it was by the delegates of St. Paul, St. Anthony, and Still water, should have written the essential terms of this supposed agreement into its proposals for a constitution. See pp. 130-31; and see also Minn. Hist. Col., 8:77-78.

80 “Treble liability" here means a double liability over and above the par payment for the stock. The stockholder might lose all his initial investment and still be liable for double the par value of his shares. As a matter of fact this liability applies only to stockholders in state banks of issue, of which there are none in Minnesota. “Double liability," as the term is used farther on, means an additional one hundred per cent liability over and above the par payment for the stock.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

6, and had provided a different list of exempted property in section 3. Sections 7, 8, 9, and 10 were drawn about equally from the Democratic and Republican proposals, although it is true that the words have a Democratic origin.

The committee on compromise again in the case of this article found it wise to write in words which neither convention had proposed, as for example the words "by general law” at the end of section 3, and they also made various minor compromises between the proposals of the two wings.

12. ARTICLE 10%OF CORPORATIONS HAVING NO BANKING PRIVILEGES. The important discussions in both wings of the convention as they concern this article dealt with the question of requiring all corporations to be created under general laws. There was a very strong sentiment in favor of forbidding special incorporations. The statute books of the territory had been filled with laws creating corporations and granting special privileges to them and as one member expressed it, “The whole territory is flooded with these special charters."32 The legislature seems to have had no more important function than that of granting special corporate privileges. The debate in the Democratic convention was especially lively and the Democrats finally agreed upon the following provision: “No corporations shall be formed under special acts." They refused to make an exception even of municipal corporations. The Republicans, however, permitted several exceptions to the rule. Their proposed section ran as follows: "Corporations for purposes other than banking may be formed by general laws; but shall not be created by special act, except for municipal purposes, and in all cases where in the judgment of the legislature the object of the corporation cannot be obtained under general laws.” It is very clear that the Republicans were inclined to have more confidence in the legislature than were the Democrats. The committee on compromise accepted neither of these proposals but adopted what it may have considered a compromise in the following terms: "No corporation shall be formed under special acts except for municipal purposes."33 An analysis of this section will show that it was satisfactory to neither of the conventions, since both had rejected the provision in almost these identical terms.

Section 1 of this article is practically the same as was proposed by both conventions but in its wording it is identical with the Democratic proposal. As regards section 3, on the liability of the stockholders for the debts of the

31 This was the first constitutional question debated in the Democratic wing. Dem. Deb., pp. 124-77, 221-22, passim. It consumed so much time that the leaders seem to have concluded to work out other problems more fully in the committees, in order to obviate the necessity for lengthy debates. 82 Dem. Deb., p. 129.

See also the speech by Gorman, ibid., pp. 140-43. 33 These words are still a part of the constitution, but the last four, "except for municipal purposes," have in fact been annulled. See pp. 169, 198.

corporation, the Republicans would have left to the legislature the determination of the extent of the liability. The double liability provision which was adopted was that proposed by the Democrats. Section 4, which relates to the granting of rights of way to corporations and the obligation of common carriers to carry all goods produced in the state upon equal terms, was of Democratic origin exclusively. The Republicans had no equivalent section. All things considered the Democrats were more influential than the Republicans in the determination of the contents of this article.

[ocr errors]

13. ARTICLE 11-COUNTIES AND TOWNSHIPS. We come in this article to another instance of a distinct and emphatic victory for the Democratic proposals over the Republican. Every section in this article had its origin in the Democratic convention. It should be said, however, that the Republicans had originally considered a long report on the organization of counties and townships and that the report contained more or less of the substance of the first five Democratic sections.34 This Republican scheme had included provision for the supervisorship system of county government and it had named all the important county and township officers and had, generally speaking, gone too much into detail. Once it was seen by the Republicans that they could not agree upon the terms of this lengthy proposal, they found an easy solution of their difficulties by the adoption of the old expedient of leaving it to the legislature. Mr. Colburn proposed as a substitute for the committee report that the legislature at its first session should provide by law for county and township organization.35 To this substitute, which was adopted, the Republican convention added but one more section requiring that no county seat should be established or removed except by a vote of a majority of the legal voters of the county. Suffice it to say that the committee on compromise seems to have considered the Republican proposal too brief. It adopted the Democratic proposals in toto.


14. ARTICLE 12–OF THE MILITIA. Both conventions had under consideration at one time or another lengthy committee reports relating to the militia organization of the state. Both found it wise to reject these extended reports and to adopt brief and simple substitutes. The final Republican proposal, consisting of two sections, provided, first, that the legislature should establish and equip the militia and that in time of peace no conscientious objector should be compelled to do military duty but might be required to pay an equivalent for such service; and second, that all officers of the militia except the staff should be elected "by persons subject to military duty in their respective commands." Here again we see the extreme care which the Republicans took to protect

24 The original Republican proposal will be found in Rep Deb., pp. 166-67.

* Ibid., p. 273.

the rights of the individual and, on the other hand, once personal liberty had been guaranteed, to allow the legislature full control in the matter of governmental organization. The Democrats also, finding it impossible to agree upon the terms of the military organization, adopted the brief provision which became a part of the constitution leaving the whole question to the legislature, and not even guaranteeing the rights of conscientious objectors or the right of the militia to choose its under officers.

15. ARTICLE 13-IMPEACHMENT AND REMOVAL FROM OFFICE. If the materials be not examined with a great deal of care, it will appear that the Democratic proposals on the subject of impeachment and removal were entirely adopted and that the Republicans had nothing to say about the contents of this article. The fact is, however, that the Republicans had, in a somewhat disorderly fashion, proposed various sections on impeachment and removal in the article on the legislature, and that their proposals substantially conformed to what the Democrats proposed, except in form. In some ways the Republican proposals may be considered to have been better than those coming from the opposite wing. Briefly, the Republican convention would have applied the impeachment process to all civil officers and not merely to the few named in the constitution. Officers under impeachment would have been protected by the requirement that two thirds of the senators elected must vote favorably to bring about a conviction. The oath of office for the senators when sitting as a court of impeachment and the organization of a prosecuting committee in the house were also prescribed in the Republican materials. It was further provided that the governor might remove a judge from office on the passage of a concurrent resolution by two thirds of the members elected to each house.36 It was specifically provided also that the chief justice of the supreme court should preside over the senate during impeachments. It was finally proposed that no officer should be suspended or removed without having received notice of the charges against him and having been given an opportunity to be heard in reply. In short, the Republicans made the usual proposals with reference to the impeachment and removal process but went farther than the Democrats in the guaranteeing of the rights of the officeholders against improper removals and impeachments. In fact, they seem to have gone too far in the latter respect, for the committee on compromise adopted the more ordinary Democratic provisions instead. This whole article is not, however, of very great importance since it simply traverses once more the ground covered in article 4, section 14.

30 Rep. Deb., p. 219. "For reasonable cause, which shall not be sufficient ground for the impeachment of a Judge, the Governor shall remove him on a concurrent resolution of two thirds of the members elected to each House of the Legislature; but the cause for which such removal is required shall be stated at length in such resolution." Cf. Mass. Const., part 2, chap, iii, art. 1.

« AnteriorContinuar »