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dominant third of the population of the State, and on the other at the long-suffering patience with which such treatment was submitted to by the two-thirds whose natural and just political rights were thus outraged and denied. The number of votes in the Assembly, in 1829, in favor of an extension of the suffrage, was three! in 1834, seven !-in the former year, being on the motion of Mr. Pearce; in the latter, on that of Mr. Dorr.

It was in the year 1841, that the Constitutional party at last determined to cast themselves on their indefeasible natural right, as the majority of the people of the State, to remodel its organic law, so as to bring it into harmony with the universally recognised principles of American liberty, in the midst of which their little State, under its antiquated and obsolete royal charter, presented so singular a solecism. During the course of 1840, they had commenced an active organization of Free Suffrage Associations formed in different parts of the State, with a view to the attainment of the great object so long in vain contended for. At the January session of the Legislature of 1841, the state of affairs extorted from that body a resolution requesting the election of a convention to meet in November to frame a constitution. The worth of this concession to the popular demand may be estimated from the fact, that this convention was to be elected only by the qualified freeholders, voting on the existing unequal basis of representation and suffrage ; and that the constitution they should frame, if any, was to be submitted, for adoption or rejection, not to the people to be governed by it, but to that same interested minority of landholders, voting on the same basis. At the June session of the Legislature, a bill admitting to the right of voting on the election of this convention, “every white male citizen of the United States, over twenty-one years of age, who has resided in this State two years, and in the town or city where he is to vote six months preceding the time of voting, and who has paid a tax on real estate or personal property for one year previous to the time of voting,” was rejected by the large majority of 52 to 10. What was to be hoped, after all the experience of the past, from a body thus constituted? The Free Suffrage Party, naturally enough, abandoned all further expectation of justice from those from whom they had so long in vain besought it; and, carrying into effect the course they had already marked out, proceeded at once to call a voluntary popular convention to frame a constitution. This body, elected in August, assembled in October, and again at an adjourned meeting in November; and having completed its labors, submitted to the people the draft of a constitution thus framed, to be voted on in December. In the interval between these two meetings of this body, the Charter convention

assembled ; and, without completing their task, adjourned to meet again in February. At the time of their adjournment, the proposition for an extension of suffrage which had been adopted by the vote of the body, was to take it away from the eldest sons of freeholders, and to give it to non-freeholders on the qualification of five hundred dollars in personal property. Meanwhile the popular vote on the People's Constitution was taken, in the last week of December; and the Convention by which it had been submitted, reassembled on the 12th January, and after counting the votes returned to it, declared it adopted by a vote of 13,944. None of the estimates of the population of the State (based on the recent census) has carried the number of white male citizens of the United States, over the age of twenty-one years, above the number of about twenty-three thousand. The number, 13,944, would, therefore, be a large absolute majority of the whole. After this, the Charter Convention reassembled in February, and completed their constitution; which was rejected by the votes to which it was submitted—the vote standing, 8689 against, to 8013 in favor of it. It should here be mentioned, that the extension of suffrage finally adopted by this body was as follows :the property qualification was removed so far as regarded native American citizens, but was retained for naturalized citizens, together with the requisition of a three years' residence in the State after naturalization. A residence of two years was also required from all—the residence under the People's Constitution being one year. All who were to become qualified under the instrument were allowed to vote on its adoption. This constitution having been rejected, * the issue then lay between the Constitution and the old Charter. Under the former, in pursuance of its own provisions, a Governor, Legislature, &c., were duly elected; while the accustomed officers under the Charter were also elected at nearly the same time.

Here, then, arose the great question—which was the true, rightful, and legitimate government of the State? The Charterists insisted that every proceeding in relation to the Constitution was illegal and null, and treasonable against the State; and passed a very severe law of pains and penalties (commonly designated as

The chief grounds on which the Free Suffrage party opposed this constitution (although a certain number of them were induced to vote for it) were: 1, the reten. tion of the property qualification for naturalized citizens; 2, the unequal apportionment of representatives made by it in both branches of the Legislature, being such as to give to one-third of the population of the State a majority of members in each branch ; 3, the provision in relation to amendments, perpetuating this evil, by requiring the consent of these two branches to any alterations; and, 4, the fact that they had already adopted a different and a better constitution, in a mode which they regarded as right, proper, and authoritative. Whether there was not in these grounds ample justification of this course, may be left to the judgment of every candid reader.

the Algerine law) against all persons connecting themselves with any attempt to carry it into effect. The Constitutionalists insisted that the adoption of the Constitution by the well-ascertained vote of a large majority of the people, established that instrument as the true organic law of the State, superseding the old form of government, and entitled proprio suo vigore, to the allegiance and support of every good citizen. Which was in the right? We imagine that there will not be found very many among our readers who will hesitate to answer this question in favor of the latter party, so far at least as regards the general principle involved in the issue. And if there be any, we desire only to refer them to the emphatic language in which the right of the people to alter their form of government at pleasure, and in their own time and mode, is expressly declared in most of the constitutions of the States of the Union, as well as in the writings of some of the most venerated, and even of some of the least democratic, of our elder sages of political science and law. Few will rise from the examination of these authorities with many doubts lingering on their minds on this point, -especially in view of the fact that the people of Rhode Island have never before exerted that sovereignty which reverted to them on its passage from the crown, to establish a constitution, entitled to respect and allegiance on that ground, and prescribing a fixed mode for its own amendment.

But this whole argument hinges on the presumption of the fact of the popular majority by which the Constitution was adopted. Now, there is no force in the attempts which have been made to impeach the genuineness of that majority on grounds derived from the votes cast at a subsequent uncontested election. The original voting on that direct question is alone to be regarded. The votes were collected on ballots required to be inscribed in the following terms, and signed by the name of the voter: "I am an American citizen of the

age of twenty-one years, and have my permanent residence or home in this State. I am (or not) qualified to vote under the existing laws of this State. I vote for (or against) the constitution formed by the convention of the people assembled at Providence, and which was proposed to the people by said convention on the eighteenth day of November, 1841." The proxy votes taken during the three days following those of the direct voting, were in the same manner inscribed and signed, with the addition of the name of a person who had already voted, as an attesting witness.* The originals of all these ballots were

• As much has been said to prejudice the fairness of this voting on the adoption of the constitution, on the ground of the subsequent reception of these proxy votes, it is proper to state, that it was only in accordance with the provision of the constitution

carefully preserved and returned to the Convention, by which they were counted and inspected. The report of the Counting Committee was transmitted to the General Assembly at the January session, and a motion was made to inquire into the return of the votes polled. This was rejected by a large majority. In view of such a state of uncontested facts, we cannot but conclude that the Charterists have no right to dispute that fact of majority thus ascertained and published, which they were thus unsuccessfully invited to investigate for themselves, to their own satisfaction. It was their duty to accept that invitation ; to scrutinize and verify the return of this voting; and on becoming satisfied of the genuineness of the majority declared by the Popular Convention, to come in with an honorable and loyal adhesion to the Constitution thus established, by the first direct exercise, which had yet taken place in the State, of the primary and fundamental popular sovereignty. Having failed to do so,-having thrown themselves on a principle antagonistic to this of the sovereign right of the people to frame their own Constitution, by refusing even to inquire into the truth of the fact of the majority—they placed themselves in an attitude of real moral treason against the State; and the Constitutionalists were perfectly right in going on to carry that instrument into effect, and in organizing the State government under it. In sustaining it, they were the true party of law and order, occupying a defensive position against disloyal and factious aggression, brought against the legitimate and rightful Constitution of the State, under the forms of the superseded Charter.

The failure—the present temporary failure-of this noble movement, we sincerely regret. The means by which it has been effected are yet enveloped in too much mystery to justify any conclusions in relation to them. That there has been some foul treachery in the business skilfully brought into play at the critical moment, is manifest enough ; and that most of the leaders of the enterprise were grossly incompetent, destitute of moral courage and energy, and unworthy of their position. Mr. Dorr's itself, which says that “every person entitled to vote as aforesaid, who, from sickness or other causes, may be unable to attend and vote in the town or ward meetings, assembled for voting upon said constitution on the days aforesaid, is requested to write his name upon a ticket, and to obtain the signature upon the back of the same, of a person who has given in his vote as a witness thereto. And the moderator or clerk of our town or ward meeting convened for the purpose aforesaid, shall receive such vote on either of the three days next succeeding the three days before-named for voting on said constitution.” Now when it is considered that this voting was upon the adoption of a constitution, it will be manifest that this was a very proper provi. sion to secure the actual vote of as nearly the whole number of the people as possi. ble. At ordinary elections, a very large proportion of the whole do not vote at all. Many doubtless did not deposite their votes in person, from reasons of convenience, in reliance upon the reserved ability to do so within the course of the three ensuing days.

conduct, personally, appears to have been spirited and brave; though he was either led or forced by those surrounding him to commit some serious mistakes of judgment,--such as his most unwise and really fatal departure from the State on his mission to Washington. We have witnessed with profound satisfaction the spontaneous and warm sympathy of the Democratic Party of other States with the whole movement; and with equal disgust the part played by the Federal Government in relation to it—a part for which Mr. John Tyler must yet be brought to a severe reckoning. The spectacle has been a melancholy one, of the zeal with which nearly the entire body of the Whig Party have betrayed the true instincts and affinities of their political character, in the course they have taken on this question. The ferocity with which they have denounced one of the most legitimate, reasonable, orderly, and moderate movements ever made for the vindication of popular rights, has almost equalled that with which the worst toryism in England always meets the first indication of such a spirit

the part of the masses enthralled and degraded by their fetters of force and aristocratic law. Following so closely after all their “democratic" professions of late years, this question has acted upon them like the touch of the spear of Ithuriel. We trust that no portion of this history will be forgotten by the people.

Let not the Free Suffrage party of Rhode Island be disheartened or disorganized. They are in The Right. They have the full sympathies of their friends and brethren elsewhere. If a new constitution is now offered them, with as free a suffrage, and as fair an apportionment, as their own, let them accept it—and the whole affair will be their substantial triumph. If not, let them repeat their recent movement, with better preparation and better men in their prominent places, and they need fear nothing from any hireling soldiers with which they may be menaced. They must and will succeed.

on

BULWER.

We had intended to present in our present number a sketch of the personal and po. litical character and career of Bulwer, one of the most decided liberals and radicals of England, as one of the series of Eminent Liberals in Europe," of which one has been given before, (Christo)phe of Sweden,) and of which others will follow in the course of the coming year. The friend who had undertaken the preparation of this paper has found himself unable to accomplish it; and as we know of no other indi. vidual similarly competent to that duty, we are compelled to await the results of a correspondence with the other side of the Atlantic before laying before our readers the article in contemplation. In the mean time, we do not omit the engraved portrait which is intended to accompany it, though thus compelled to give it without the paper which it was intended to illustrate.

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