« AnteriorContinuar »
ject, to enable the committee on accounts to make a report, and the committee having made their report,
The Convention adjourned.
TUESDAY, JULY 11, 1837.
Mr. Cope, of Philadelphia, presented a memorial from the Society of Friends, asking the Convention to insert in the Constitution, a provision exempting them from the payment of fines imposed for the non-performance of mili'ia duty.
On resenting this memorial, Mr. Cope said--I have not occupied inuch time in making speeches in the Convention, being rather desirous to improve by the wisdom of others, than lo he heard myself, but the Convention will excuse me for subrniting a few explanatory remarks on the present occasion.
I am not disposed to invite a discussion on the mooted question--whether war is allowable to the Christian--but this I can say in all sincerity, that the religious society, of which I am a member, do most conscientiously believe, that war is ine" insistent with the spirit of the Gospel.They cannot, therefore, bear arnis.
The society of Friends originated in Great Britain, a short time ante. cedent to the Commonwealtı, during a period of great civil, political and religious excitement, in which they suffered much for their principle, in sroperly, in liberty, and in life. To escape from these scenes of tumult, and 10 enjoy those conscientious privileges which were denied to them in the country of their birth, WILLIAM Pens, and his associates, fled to the wilds of America. They were preceded by the Pilgrim fathers, who lauded from the Mayflower, on the rock of Plymouth, and who, escaping from persecution, nevertheless, preserved the Government in their own hands down to the Revolution. Our forefathers, like theirs, also fled from persecution ; but, they invited the persecuted of all nations to seek protection under their mild sway, and to participate with them equally in the blessings of civil, political, and religious liberty. They arrived, and, in process of time, becoming the most numerous, ihey assumed the Gove ernment, and the reins fell from the liands of Friends.
But here permit me to remark, that, while in Massachusetts, peopled by the descendants of the Pilgrim fathers, it now is, and for half a century has been, sufficient for a Qiraker to produce a certificate of membership, to exempı him from military services, and from all penalties for a noncompliance-in Pennsylvania, founded by the society on the most liberal principles, designed to secure to all the enjoyment of the rights of conscience, in the land of Penn, the Quaker has been deprived of his conscientious privileges. For many years the society suffered but little on account of their principles; but, the Revolutionary war at lengt! bruke oui, and then commenced his sufferinys. From that period to the present time, the members have had taken from them, property to the amount of Letween three a..d four hundred thousand doilars, and ihat from members
of the Philadelphia yearly meeting alone ; and, there are at least seven other yearly meetings on this continent. What has been the amount of these exactions on them, I am not prepared to say, nor is it material here that I should. Can any one tell what poriion of this large sum has Teached the public treasury? Not a tithe-perhaps not the lithing of a tithe.
But it is alleged, that if the Quakers will not fight, they should pay an equivalent. Now, will any casuist here or elsewhere, tell me the difference between my shooting a man myself. and hiring another to shoot him? It is because Fr.ends cannot perceive this difference, that they seek relief at your hands.
But do not the members of the society render an equivalent? In the first place, they contribute equally with others to the public burthens.They pay
their full share in support of the common poor, and ihe public schools : they join oihers in works of charity and pnblic mility. They have not spared their money, nor their personal services, in the erection of your hospitals, your libraries, the asylum for the deaf and dumb, for the blind. the orphans' asylum, widows' asylum, house of refuge, and other works of christian benevolence. Well then, hesides these, they educate and support their own poor exclusively. Tell me, which of you has known a Quaker to knock at your door for charity ? It would not be allowed the society would not permit it. To say nothing of their houses for worship and appendages scattered over town and country, and which may be valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. I may mention the two institutions, lately established in the city, by the legacies of two indi. viduals, for the relief of suffering humanity, costing upwards of three hundred thousand dollars. These institutions are not intended for the use of members of the society, but for persons of all other denominationsnot that members have been excluded by the liberal donors, but because they are otherwise provided for.
I may next mention the asylum for the insane, established on a farm of seventy acres, near Frankford, which, with the buildings, cost seventy thousand dollars. This asylum is open to persons of all societies, and I ought, perhaps, in justice to the physicians and others who have the im. meiliate supervision of it, to say, that no similar institution, within my knowledge, either in this or any other country, has been more successful in the cure of that dreadful malady, as the records of the asylum will fully prove.
Next is Westown school and farm of six hundred acres, sitaated about twenty miles from the city. The land was purchased low, and, with the buildings, cost between seventy and eighty ihousand dollars. About (R'O hundred children, of both sexes, receive here a good English eslucation, and such as chvose, my acquire a knowledge of the learned languages. Then we have Haverlord school, on a farm of about two hundred acres, eight miles from Philadelphia, in which between seventy and eighty boys receive an education, believed to be equal to that taught in any of the best colleges in America. This school was chartered by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, with a capital of one hun ired:housand dollars.
We now arrive at the city itself-:here the society have about twenty schools, two or three of which are exclusively appropriated to the children of their own members—all the rest are open to persons of every denomi
nation. In these schools, from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and thirty children are taught gratis, and the charge for others is kept purposely so low, as to enable citizens, in moderate circumstances, to educate their children without the appearance of receiving charity.
Now, I have not made this enumeration with ostentatious views, but simply for the purpose of saving, that while the society contribute equally with others in the common expenses, and while the Legislature of the Stale has appropriated large sums, and very properly so, to the endowment and support of colleges, and other useful institutions, from which the society receives no benefii, the public has not, in any shape or form, contributed one cent towards any of the institutions mentioned by me, nor a cent to the support or elocation of a single member of the society of friends--nor indeed have they ever asked it.
Have I not, then, made out my case? Have not the Quakers paid an ample equivalent for not mustering iwo or three times a year, to march through the streets for the amuseinent of our children? But, it is not merely the pecuniary exactions of which the society has reason to complain; it is the insuliing-may I not say the brutal manner in which these fines are sometimes collected. I have, myself, known the blankets to be Birip: from the beds of children in a cold winter's night, while they were left to suffer, with no other covering than a linen sheet; and this not once or twice, but oft repeated, on the same family, and that, too, when woolen clothing was exceedingly dear, and difficult to be procured.
I have little knowledge of the kind of persons employed to collect militia fines in the countiesmin Philadelphia we have had some experience in these matters. An individual was there employed for many years, who rendere l himself sufficiently notorious by his savage conduct. I will not wound the feelings of this House by a recital of many of his deed3 : their recapitulatio: would employ hours. On or two instances, by way of sample, the Convention will escuse me for mentioning.
On one occasion, this man called at the house of a mechanic, on whom he had a small demand for a militia fine. The occupant of the house was from home. Perceiving an infant slumbering in a cradle, this hero threw it on the floor, and marched off triumphanıly with the cradle and bedding. On another oc:asion, he called for a fine on a lad who had been born blind. While this la: was sianding at his father's door, reasoning with the tax gatherer on the absurdity of the demand, he received, from the latter, repeated blows on t!ie head from a bludgeon, administered with so much severity as to endanger his life. Now, be is known, that although this lad, from his imperfect vision, could neither read nor write, he pos. sessed a cultivate:1 inind, was a niable and interesting, had been de. licately broughi up, and was the son of one of our most respectable citi
I will mer.lv add, that Churre no pleasure in these paintul recitals, and will pursue the subject no further, as this miserable man was at length overtaken by the laws of his country, and now is, or lately was, a convict in the Eastern Peniteati :ry of Pennsylvania.
Why, then, continue : system which produces no advantage to the public, but which is so offensive and oppressing to an unoffending people?
On motion of Mr. DARLINGTOX, the memorial was then read, laid on the table, and ordered to be printed.
Mr. Magee, of Perry, presented two memorials from the county of Perry, on the subject of Banks and Banking, which were refered 10 the approp iate ce mmittees.
Mr. Cope, from the committee of accounts, made a report, accompanied by a resolution, making a provision for the payment of officers, which, after some discussion, was agreed in.
Mr. Dunlop, of Franklin, obtained leave to offer the following resolution:
Resolteil, 'That the Stenographers, one of the Assistant Secretaries, the Assistant Door Kieper, and the Sergeant-at-Aims, be dispensed with at the next meeting of the Con vention.
Having been read a first and second time,
Mr. Fxy moved that it be refered to the committee appointed to inquire into the expediency of making arrangements for discontinuirg ile Daily Chronicle and Convention Journal, and to inquire what other expenses, if any, nf the Convention, ought to be curtaileı.
Mr. DUNLOP, of Franklin, thought ihat the resolution inrolved no difficulty, and required but liile exercise of the mind to comprehend and 10 decide upon it. With regard to the Sergeant-at-Arms, and Assistant Sergeant at-Arms, he could see no earthly service for them. He understood the ofiice of Sergeant-at-Arms, to be of an exerutive cliaracter merily, and connected only with Legi-lative duty. This was the Parliamentary idea. He knew of no service that these officers could perform in a convention like this. lle would then asli, why we should be burdened with an unnecessary expense of this sort? And, as 10 the Clerks, we liad certainly more than we had any cccasion for. In repard 10 the Stenographers, he would hey leave 10 refer the committee to the aci of Assembly, and would ask then respectfully, whether we had not gone beyond the act of 1836. The eleventh section of that act says—“'The delegates to the said Copvention shall be entitled to the same pay and mileage to which members of the General Assembly, are now entitled, which, together with the pay of a competent Stronographer, to report the debates of the said Convention, shall be paid by the Sale Treasurer, on the warrani of the presiding ficer of the Convention,” &c. Now, instead of a competent Stenographer, we had four. And, even that number had found encroh work to keep them busy from six in the morning, till six at night. When the legislature authorized us to employ a competent Stenographer, they did not con. template the probability of our holding two sessions a day, and making sis thousanil, eight hundred and eleven spreches. The debates, as far as they had gone, would, he had been informed, make nearly two thousand pages royal octavo; and at the next session, we should make speeches encugh to fill three or four volumes more. What was the use of ihis voluminous eollection of speeches ? Who would ever read them? For his own parl, he did not think it worth while to put the State to the expense of publisliing his speeches. He did not care whether they were heard of again.The great expense of those books, he thonghi, might as well be saved. The people would never look into them for inforınation concerning our proceedings. We were now getting along very well. If gentlemen rould only let the delegate from Beaver have his own way, he would make us a Constitution that would last forever, and there would be no necessity for spreading our debates before the public. His (Mr. D's) object was to eur.
tail our expenses as much as possible. With regard to the officers named in the resolution, they were wholly unnecessary, and might be dispensed with wishout any inconvenience.
Mr. Fry observed, that if the resolution was not refered to the committee, according to his motion, he would inove to amend it by substituting for it a provision for the discontinuance of the Daily Chronicle.
Mr. Brown, of Philadelphia, said, that no doubt the committee which had been raised to ascertain what expenses could be curtailed, would take the whole subject into their consideration, and if they did not go far enough, we could act accordingly.
Mr. STERIGERE, of slontgomery, thought the resolution would go more appropriately to the committee appointed to consider the propriety of digcontinuing the Daily Chronicle.
The PRESIDENT said that it was refered to that committee.
Mr. STERIGERE remarkeư, that if it was the intention of gentlemen to dispense with the Chronicle, the necessity of continuing the Stenographers was increased. The debates should be published. He was astonished at what had been said by the gen leinan from Franklin, (Mr. Duslop,) in reference to dispensing with the S'enographers. Would the gentleman siop the publication of the debates, afier having proceeded so far, and leave the rest unpublished.
Mr. Dunlop here said, that he had no objection to refering the subject to a committee.
Mr. Hiester, of Lancaster, said it was a proper subject of inquiry, and he was in favor of the resolution. If it was before ihe Convention, he would move to amend it, by striking out “ Stenographers.” Ile declared that he should not be in favor of dispensing with the Stenographers. With regard to some other oficers named in the resolution, he agreed with the m'wer, that we had no use for them. His opinion was, that the Sergeantat-Arnis might have been dispensed with. He coincided in all that had been said by the gentleman from Franklin, (Mr. Dunlop,) in reference 10 the duties, and character of that oflicer. This body, unlike the Legislature,, did not possess the power of compelling the attendance of its members here. If members chose to absent themselves, thev were answerable to their constituents ; we could not compel them to do their duty. Therefore, he conceived, there was no occasio: whatever, for the services of that officer. His opinion, as regarded the Secretaries, was, that we had not duiy enough for two and their two assistants. He thought this, then, a very tit subject of inquiry.
Mr. FORWARD, of Allegheny, asked when the committee on the expenses of the Convention would report? He expected that they would have reported before this.
Mr. Fry said, that the committee intended to report to-morrow. But, if they should not agree with him, he would report himself.
Mr. M’Dowell said, he wished to say a word upon this subject: it was of very serious import, and he felt directly and deeply interested in it. The gentleman from Franklin, (Mr. Dunlop) was the last man in the world whom he should suspect of cruelty towards his fellow man; but he did deem his motion to cut off the stenographers from this Convention, an act of great unkindness towards those members, who had not yet made any or all of their speeches. Who would wish to deprive the world