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Mr. PORTER, of Northampton, moved to amend by striking out the words “ one County Surveyor, and one Notary Public".
Mr. PURVIANCE asked for a division of the question, to end with the words“ County Surveyor".
Mr. PORTER stated, that the compensation of the County Surveyors, was frequently not enough to pay the expense of the commission. "The deputy Surveyorship, in his county, was not worth twenty dollars a year. The Notary Public is only necessary for the attestation of papers and protests. The accumulation of so many officers to be chosen on the day of the general election, was productive of much embarrassment to the people.
Mr. DARLINGTON, of Chester, thought it would be the best way to dispose of the whole section by a negative vote. As we were in such haste to get through our business, the time of the Convention should not be wasted. He had never heard a word of complaint from any quarter concerning these officers. The existing provisions on the subject were ample and sufficient.
Mr. Porter replied, that the County Surveyor was merely the Deputy of the Surveyor General, and, if elected by the people, would not be under the control of the Surveyor General. It would be an awkward thing, if the deputy was to set the Surveyor General at defiance, when the whole of his duties were under that officer.
Mr. Dunlop said it was important that the county Surveyor should reside at the county town.
Mr. Stevens said it seemed to him that the motion of the gentleman from Northampton ought not to prevail. If any part of the motion ought to stand, this part ought not to be stricken out. He saw no reason why these appointments ought not to be given to the people ; for the Surveyor General had nothing to do with the county Surveyor, except to receive their returns. Why should we create a central power here, and establish an officer at the seat of Government, with fifty-two sentinels stationed in different parts of the State ? Small as these offices were, still they were an accession to the strength of a party, and were of great use in maintain. ing the power which created them. They could be made useful as recruiting sergeants for the party. He hoped gentlemen would consent to give these appointments to the people.
Mr. CUMMIN said few officers were more necessary than a county Surveyor, and, if he resided ten or fifteen miles off, great inconvenience would take place in consequence of it. Sometimes his papers were very important testimony on trials; and, if he could not be found, the parties would be put to great trouble. He thought he ought to reside at the county town, and no one who would not agree to live in the town ought to be appointed. There was no town in the State where there was not some person qualified as a Surveyer, and it would be a great convenience to the people to have his residence fixed at the place where the county court is kept.
Mr. READ said the residence should be fixed in the ninth section-not here.
Mr. CUMMIN said he had not brought up the question, if it was not in order, he would defer his remarks.
The Chair said the question would come up after the pending amendment was disposed of.
Mr. PORTER said the Surveyor General was himself a creature of law, and the office was not provided for in the Constitution. Why, then, should the Deputy Surveyor be provided for in the Constitution. At one time we had a master of the rolls, whose duties were transfered to another office. Circumstances might require a transfer of the duties of the Surveyor; and, therefore, we had better not provide for their appointment in the Constitution. The Deputy Surveyor had very little to do with any central power at Harrisburg : though, perhaps, the gentleman may expect it will be different under the next King's reign. In the courts of Northampton, the office of Deputy Surveyor was tilled for fifiy-four years, by the same man, and he was finally removed for disability. He was a good officer, and never ningled with politics.
Mr. Stevens said, either the gentlem'ın was mistaken, or he was, in relation to this subject. He did not understand the appointment of a Sur. veyor General to be a matter of legislation. Under the present Constitution, no one but the Governor could appoint him. His whole official ex. istence is derived from the Governor. There was no necessary connection between that officer and ihe connty Surveyors. We wanted the latter in each county to draw lines, and aid in establishing titles to land. If the appointment to those offices were not made on party grounds in Northampton, it was because the office there, was not worih fifteen dollars a year.
That was the reason that the gentleman's democratic friends let his able friend, the Surveyor. remain in office so many years. He was not quite satisfied that our next Governor would be a King. He thought the people would prefer a plain republican farmer, to any King or lawyer. In his propositions of reform, he (Mr. S.) made no exceprions He was for giving the election of all county officers to the people. Let others who will act for reform, vote otherwise, if they liked.
Mr. PORTER said, his good old friend was kept in, till he had surveyed nearly all the lands in the county. He left liti e for his successors to do, for he began before the revolution, and kept on till he could surv«y no more. The gentleman thought, the next Governor would not be a lawyer, but it did not make much odds whether we had a lawyer for our Governor, or for our Deputy Governor.
Mr. Hayhurst, of Columbia, remarked that, in his county, the Tresurer was elected under a special act of Assembly; and he was in favor of having them all elected by the people. As to the office of Deputy Surveyor, he himself, filled it in his county, and it was not worth to him the price of printing the tickets. Very few were willing to take it. He had sig. nified a wish to give it up, if any one would accept it, but it was declined by every one. It was an office which required a special, and not a general qualification, and, for this reason, he would vote for the amendment. The county Surveyor ought to live in the county town, if possible, for he knew by woeful experience, the inconvenience attending his residence, at the distance of eight or ten miles from the town.
Mr. Read said, he had taken the trouble to look into the practical operations of the Land Office, and he found that it was an anomalous institution. The deputies were the principal officers, and the head of the department was merely a scribe for those who were called his deputies. It was not necessary to keep up the office of Surveyor, but if we did, we must provide some other mode for the appointment of the County Surveyor,
than by the Governor. The appointment should be made either by the people, or the Legislature. The office was a complete sinecure, and the returns from the County Surveyor, could as well be made directly to the Secretary of the Land Office, without the intervention of the Surveyor.He remarked, that he was daily asked, why he did not speak in support of this and that section of the report; but he did not feel any more bound to sustain the report, than any other member of the committee was. In many particulars, it did not meet his assent, and he was under no special obligations to mention it.
Mr. DARLINGTON said, if the committee should abolish the office of Surveyor General, the duties must be persormed by some one. The County Surveyors were the agents of the Surveyor General. The fact mentioned by the gentleman from Columbia, (Mr. HAYHURST) that the Legislature gave the people of that county the right to elect a County Treasurer, was à proof that the Legislature were able to regulate this matter. In his county, these officers were elected by the county Commissioners.
Mr. Forward said, it was due to this officer, (the Survyor General) to say, that he performs all the duties imposed on him by law. He performs those duties by deputies, in the manner prescribed by act of Assembly, but all the business passed through his hands. He had no control over the deputies, for their duties were provided by law. He had no more right to interfere with them, than the Governor had with the Prothonotaries. His duties are perfectly independent of the Surveyor General, and although they are exceedingly trifling in some of the counties, yet there may be good reasons for not electing him by the people. He apprehended, that the duties of this office were known to the law, and that he was no more a deputy than a Prothonotary, or any other officer.
Mr. Porter did not exactly know what the duties of a Deputy Surveyor were now, but he did know, that some years ago, a Deputy Surveyor was nothing more nor less than a Deputy of the Surveyor General. All orders were sent out to these officers from the Surveyor General, unless perhaps, it was some order from a board of property, and when the work is performed, and a return made, it is the duty of the Surveyor General, to er: amine it, and see whether it is right. The Surveyor General was in duty bound to send him out instructions along with his commission ; so that in fact, he can be nothing else than a deputy of that officer. He never had been known as an officer under the Constitution, and he considered it improper that he should be now introduced into it.
Mr. Forward admited that the gentleman from Northampton, Mr. PORTER), was generally correct, and he admited that the Surveyor General might send out instructions to the Deputy Surveyors; but these instructions were of a general character, and in conformity to a general law; and he contended that the duties of a Deputy Surveyor, notwithstanding that he acted under general instructions, were as well known to the laws as the duties of any other officer under our Government. The Surveyor General had no more right to meddle with this officer in the discharge of his duties, than he had to meddle with any other county officer. He was in form, to be sure, a Deputy, yet in point of fact his duties were as well known to the law, as ihe duties of a Prothonotary. He was not very solicitous on this subject; but he wished to be understood to say that we might just as well elect this officer by the people as allow him to be ap
pointed by the Surveyor General; and he believed the people would make just as good a selection as that officer would.
Mr. STERIGERE found, upon reference to Purdon's Digest, that there was a law providing for the appointment of these officers by the Surveyor General, which showed that they were in every sense of the word nothing more nor less than Deputy of the Surveyor General. He hoped, therefore, this question as to whether they were Deputies or not, would be put to rest.
The question was taken on the first division of the amendment, and decided in the negative.
The question then being on the motion to strike out “one Notary Public”, Mr. Forward said, he considered the duties of the office of Notary Public as special and peculiar, and he did not believe it was an office which would attract the attention of the people, or was one which they desire to meddle with ; therefore, he thought it would be better to leave their appointment with the Governor, or some one else, and not trouble the people with the election of an officer of so little importance.
The second division of the amendment was then agreed to.
Mr. PURVIANCE then moved further to amend the section, by adding after the word " Treasurer” in the first line, the word “and", and in the third line by striking therefrom the words “and Notary”, and in the fifth and sixth lines by striking therefrom the following: "The Legislature may provide by law for the election of so many additional Notaries Public in any city or county as shall be deemed necessary.”.
Which was agreed to.
Mr. STEVENS moved further to amend the section by striking from the first line the words “one County Treasurer and”, and in the third and fourth lines by striking therefrom the words following, viz: “But no person shall hold the office of county Treasurer more than four years, in any term of eight years'' ; and in the second line by striking therefrom the following words : “ The Treasurer for a term of two years”.
Mr. Read hoped that this amendment would not be agreed to. It was true, that heretofore, the appointment of County Treasurer had been by virtue of an act of Assembly, but that was no reason now, why they should not be made Constitutional officers. It is an office of as much importance as some we have introduced into the Constitution, and it is of vastly more importance than the office of Coroner; and it is an office in which the people have a more particular interest, than almost any other of their county offices, because he holds the purse strings, and has the care of the funds of the county. He would refer gentlemen to the case of the State Treasurer, in the old Constitution. He is made an exception from the general rule; and he is required to be elected annually by the joint vote of the two Houses of the Legislature, while all other officers are appointed by the Governor; and this was done merely because he held the purse strings of the people. Now, this office of County Treasurer, being assimilated to that of State Treasurer, and being an officer which the people should keep within their own power, he ought to be an elective officer. This officer was not like a County Surveyor, who might in the course of time, become unnecessary. His office will always exist, and the people will feel a more direct interest in relation to his oflice, than almost any other office in the county. He hoped, therefore, that the mo
tion would not prevail; but that his election might be left with the people.
Mr. Stevens said, the reason why he had moved this amendment, was, that the regulation of these officers was a matter which belonged strictly to the Legislature, and it should not be taken from them. The County Treasurer, as well as the County Commissioners, never had been considered as officers under the Constitution. The County Treasurer had always been a creature of legislation, and the Legislature had it in their power, at any time that the people desired it, to give his election to the people, or change his mode of appointment, in such manner as they desired. Now, what he objected to, was the putting into the Constitution any thing in relation to these officers which belonged to the Legislature, and which the people might perhaps hereafter desire to have changed. We have gone on in taking appointments from the Governor, and giving them to the people, and in changing the elective department of our Government to a very considerable extent; but this he thought was going a step too far. He considered it proper, that it should be left with ihe Legislature, so that if the people desired it, they might have the system of appointments changed to suit themselves. If a majority of the people wished the appointments made one way at one time, the Legislature could satisfy them, and if they afterwards desired the mode to be put back as it was originally, it could be put back; but if you insert this clause in the Constitution, it will be binding and permanent, and there will be no way of getting rid of it, but by the call of another Convention, to act over the scenes of this one, and he hoped that would not be done for a long time. There was another reason why he had moved to strike this out. By the law of the Legislature, the County Treasurer can only hold his office for three years out of six; but the present provision gave him the office for four years, and he was fearful some gentlemen here might call this arisiocratic. He hoped, therefore, that the amendment which he had proposed, might prevail.
Mr. DARLINGTON could se: no necessity for inserting this matter in the Constitution. At present, it is plain and simple, and easily understood; and if we make an alteration, it will require much legislation to make the laws conform to this Constitutional provision. Under the existing laws, thCounty Treasurer is appointed by the County Commissioners, and he may hold his office for three successive years, in any term of six years ; and he is paid by those Commissioners such sum as they may choose to give him.
Now, if you el ct him, you elect him by the people, and you leave with three men, the County Commissioners, the righi to say that they will give him tive dollars for his services, or that they will give him a hundred dollars. He could see no reason for making a change in this respect. It was well known, that the County Commissioners took into consideration, in the appoiniment of this officer, the persons who were mosi compeient and trust-worthy, and who would undertake to discharge the duties of the office for the least money. He hoped, therefore, that the motion to strike oul would prevail.
The motion to strike out, was then disagreed to.
Mr. Read moved further to anend, hy striking out the words “and third”, in the seventh line, and to make the word "sections”, in the same line, rear section".
Mr. Earle remarked, that providling for elections by the people, was a question of considerable importance, and as many gentlemen wanted to