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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 motion 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
record their votes, and as he was anxious to record his, he would ask for
nays. The inotion was not seconded.
Mr. STERIGERE moved the following, as a new section, to be called " section three".
Sect. 3. - The Canal Commissioners, the Auditor General, Secretary of the Land Office, Surveyor General, State Treasurer, and Attorney General, shall be appointed annually, by the joint vote of the members of both branches of the Legislature—the clerks and other officers in the treasury and land departments, attornies at law, election officers, all officers relating to common schools, to taxes, to the poor, and to highways, constables, and other township officers, shall be appointed in such manner as is, or shall be directed, by law”.
Mr. READ suggested to the gentleman from Montgomery, that he had better withdraw his amendment, and offer it at another time.
Mr. STERIGERE replied, that it struck him as being as fit an oppotunity to present it now, as at any other time, and was the proper place in which to insert it.
The question being taken on the amendment, it was rejected.
So much of the report of the committee as is called section 5, being under consideration in the words following, viz :
Sect. 5. Justices of the Peace, or Aldermen, shall be elected in the several wards, boroughs and townships, for a term of five years.
Mr. DARLINGTON, of Chester, moved to amend by striking out all after the word "section", and inserting the following :
“The Governor shall appoint such a number of Justices of the Peace, in such convenient districts in each county, as are or shall be directed by law. They shall be commissioned for the term of five years; but may be removed on conviction of misbehaviour in office, or of any infamous crime, or on the address of both Houses of the Legislature".
Mr. Russell moved to amend the amendment, by inserting after the word “ Governor”, in the first line, the words following, viz: “ and with the advice and consent of the Senate".
The question being taken on the amendment to the amendment, it was negatived.
Mr. DARLINGTON, of Chester, said it seemed to him that the amendment proposed, was only a slight alteration from the old Constitution. It gave the Governor power to appoint such a number of Justices of the Peace in each county, as are, or shall be directed, by law. The moti n which he had made to amend, raised the distinct question, whether the Convention would give the election of Justices of the Peace to the people. The election of Justices for a term of years, was tried under the Constitution of 1776. They held their offices for seven years. Under this Coustitution the people lived un'il 1790, when, for some reason, goo:) or bad, the people, by common consent, abandoned the system, and gave the appointments to the Governor.
Here Mr. FLEMING, of Lycoming, said, that the Judiciary committee had made a report on the subject; and perhaps, this was not the proper place to introduce the amendment.
Mr. DARLINGTON resumed : He was aware that the committee had made a report, and his opinion was, that this was the proper place for
it was the only place where we could test the principle of election, or appointment. It would be recollected by the committee, and he begged that they would bear it in mind, that under the Constitution of 1776, none but freeholders had any choice in choosing the Justices of the Peace. This system was not found to work well, if we might credit the assertions of those whom we occasionally meet with in the community, who were sufficiently aged to recollect public opinion at that time. He had heard it said, in the county in which he now resided, that the system had not answered the expectations of the people, and that they abandoned it in toto. Now, he would ask, why were we returning to a system, which had been tried, and found wanting? We were about to resort again to that system, on account of some imaginary inconvenience attending the present one. Ile would inquire what alteration was required? What was the inconvenience the people had suffered, and what was the appropriate remedy? The inconveniences, if he was not mistaken in his views, had arisen first, from there being too great a number of Justices of the Peace; and second, the difficulty of removing them from office when they became unfit, either from age or some other cause, to discharge the duties of their station. Under the Constitution of 1790, power was given to the Governor to appoint a competent number of Justices of the Peace, in each county, as should be directed by law, and they were to hold their offices during good behavior, at the discretion of the Governor. The giving of that discretionary power had led to the appointment of a larger number than the community required. Now, how should we remedy the evil of which he had spoken? By limiting the term of officeby giving the Legislature the power of creating so many districts in each county. And, as to dividing off the counties into districts, could there be any objection on the score of incompetency to the Legislature discharging this duty? He thought not. The Legislature passed an act in 1803, by which the County Commissioners were authorized to lay off the counties into districts, in order that appointments might be made of Justices of the Peace for them. The law was carried into effect in the county of Chester, and he apprehended in other counties also. This dividing of countics into districts, might be done through the instrumentality of the County Commissioners, or any local authority which the Legislature might point out. Now, the remedy which he had stated, he thought would be found perfectly adequate to meet the evil complained of. He had already spoken of the mode in which the evils in relation to Justices of the Peace might be got rid of. He would say that, as a general rule, at the period of their appointment, the greater portion of those officers had been in accordance with the wishes of the people. He was opposed to the election of the Justices hy the people, and to their participating with the Governor in the appointing power. It was not too much for us to imagine, that a Justice of the Peace would be found on the election ground, with his friends, endeavoring to secure his own election. Would he not have powerful temptations to delay the decision of cases before him, until after the election! It would be hazardous, he thought, to draw the Justices into the strife of elections. Mr. D. expressed fears that his amendment would not receive the sanction of the Convention. But he had felt it his duty to offer it, for it met the approbation of a very large majority of his constituents, who desired an alteration of the Constitution in the respect which he had indicated.
Mr. FULLER, of Fayette, said he was opposed to the amendment offered by the gentleman from Chester, (Mr. DARLINGTON). He was in favor of electing Justices of the Peace, and this was one of the important amendments which the people had asked for. He was fully convinced by the expression of opinion in this Convention since the commencement of its session, and from the opinion expressed in his own district, that, had it not been for this and two or three other questions of reform, this Convention would not now be in session. This question was one of those the people had much at heart, and had desired for many years the privilege of choosing their Justices of the Peace by election : And what, he asked, were the arguments of the gentleman against this mode of selecting that class of judicial officers? Why, he urged his objections on the ground that the people are not capable of choosing the best men; for this was undoubtedly the conclusion of his whole argument, that injudicious selections would be made, and that the Governor would select better men. Would that gentleman say, that the people of any township, ward, or district in this Commonwealth, were incapable of electing Justices of the Peace? He thought the gentleman would not, and trusted that no member of this committee would say so. He knew that some of the present Justices of the Peace had been appointed by the Governor, without the knowledge of the people of this district, or even knowing that they were applicants. In one instance in the district in which he lived, a Justice of the Peace was appointed without more than ten or fifteen persons in the whole district being acquainted with the fact. How did he get the appointment? He prepared a petition, and sent a man and horse through the county with it, and by this mode, he succeeded in getting a hand. some number of signatures, and sending forward his petition to the Governor, he was appointed to the office before the people were aware of what he was doing. A great number of Justices of the Peace had been made in this way, without the knowledge of the people who lived in the district, by the recommendation of persons living out of the district, and having no interest in the manner in which the office might be filled.
Surely gentlemen would admit that these Justices were not properly appointed.With reference to the Justices of the Peace and Associate Judges, for many years, the people had wanted the privilege of electing them, for the purpose of preventing these injudicious appointments, and he did not think the remedy proposed by associating the Senate with the Governor in the Judicial appointments would be sufficient. Where the officers are to act immediately on them, the people are the most competent and the most proper to elect them. He did not believe any gentleman would assume that they were not competent. It was their interest to elect good officers, and was it to be supposed that they would not do it? Would any one believe they would not have a better set of officers ? Many of the Justices have made themselves incompetent, but this cannot be remedied because persons are not willing to petition against them. The consequence will be, if these officers are pinned down to a term of years, though incompetent men may be elected, the people would better bear the evil knowing that at the end of the term they will be rid of it. In reference to the Judges of Courts, the principle was the same ; the opinion of the majority was in favor of the limitation. He