Imágenes de páginas

He (Mr. M’D.) would rather have an old man of reputed ignorance, than a young man of the most splendid talents, without experience, to make laws for him. He would repeat, that he had never entertained any such notion as that of sending boys to the legislature. It was true, as was observed by the gentleman from Luzerne, that the people would judge of that matter. Why, then, should they not judge of every other matter?

Gentlemen had said that a restriction was arbitrary and anti-democratic, and that the people ought to be lest at liberty to select men of whatever age they deemed right. Why, he asked, was it provided in our constitution, that a man shall not hold office, unless he is of age ? Why, fix upon twenty-one years of age? It was an arbitrary matier-a general rule laid down, that a man shall not act for himself, until he arrives at that age. Was it not known that a man could not make a will, if under twenty-one? A young man might not have discretion enough to take care of his own affairs, and yet he was to be sent to the senate to make laws for the people! There were some boys of fifteen, who knew more than many old men ; whilst, on the contrary, there were some who had no sense at fifteen years old, and never would have any. It was not necessary that he should say a word about the dignity of the senate ; the people might be happy where the king was a fool. So with regard to a governor ; the state might have wise laws, and yet he be a fool.

He (Mr. M'D.) would rather vote for an amendment providing that men of twenty-five shall be eligible to the house of representatives, and at twenty-eight to the senate. He thought the constitution very defective in this respect, that it made a seat in the lower house quite a common matter. Fixing the age, would have, in his opinion, a tendency to elevate the character of the body, as no man could have a seat in it who had noi, at least, arrived at the years of discretion. Genius, talents, and inexperience were not wanted. Young men, just from college, went to Harrisburg, knowing nothing about the internal improvements, the banking institu. tions, nor any thing else connected with ihe welfare of the state of Penn. sylvania. Now, this was not the class of men required to transact the business of this commonwealth ; they were men well acquainted with the business operations and interests of the community, and could see, at a glance, what would promote the welfare and prosperity of the state.

Mr. WOODWARD, of Luzerne, would say a word or two on the sub. ject. He regarded the introduction of this provision in the constitution as a very salutary regulation with respect to the young men themselves. He did not think political station the principal object for which young men should seek--the great end of life. He conceived that it would be infinitely better, henceforth, that young men should properly qualify themselves for the duties they would have to discharge as representatives of the people of this great commonwealth. He looked upon this amendment, therefore, as a sort of shield for their protection against the vices and temptations of political lise. For these reasons, then, he would vote for the incorporation of the amendment in the constitution of Pennsylvania.

Mr. STURDEVANT wished to say a word or two, to explain why hea young man—had dared to offer this amendment. He had hoped that

[ocr errors]

other gentlemen would have offered reasons in its favor, which would have rendered it unnecessary for him to obtrude himself on the convention. It has been said that the legislature is likely to be corrupt. Does it require more ability to fill a place in the senate, than in the house of representatives? If the people choose a young man, they are fully com. petent to select whom they desire. There are some of us here, in this convention, who are young men; and if the people would trust us here, to amend the constitution of Pennsylvania-admitted to be sound by allmight they not safely adınit us into the halls of legislation ? Does it require more ability to fill a seat in the legislature, than to fill one in this convention ? Are we not as likely to do our duty honestly, as if we were more advanced in years ? There is no good reason for the distinction made between a member of the house of representatives and a senator. It had been said, by the gentleman from Philadelphia, that because the word senator is derived from senex, a senator ought to be old. He admit. ted that the word was so derived ; but this was no reason why we are to be compelled to arrive at the age of twenty-five, before we are entitled to the appellation of senex. At twenty-three we might be as well qualified. If the people of the district choose to send a young man, they are the best qualified to judge of the propriety of the act.

His colleague (Mr. Woodward) desired to prevent young men from going into the senate, and to keep them at home for the sake of attaining experience. May I be preserved from such prevention! Young men should be sent to the senate, and should remain there until they become old. Young men of twenty-two, may have acquired as much experience as many wh are forty. The young man may have a mind as capable of discriminating and judging; he is certainly as active, as the man who is more advanced in years ; and why shall he not be entitled to be elected to office? There is no reason why young men should stay at home until they are twenty-five, any stronger than there is for them staying until they are thirty. If they have not experience at twenty-five, they will not have it at thirty. There are some young men at sixteen, who are better fitted for public life, than others are at thirty or fifty.

Here you require a precise number of years as a qualification, and if a person be twenty-four years and ten months, he is not regarded as qualified. He believed that there were young men in this convention, who were as much qualified for the situation at twenty-three or twenty-eight, as others were at filty and sixty. He saw no reason why the matter should not be left to the people. It is the people who are to be the judges. They are to suffer if any injury shall arise. If the people choose to send boys, let them send them. He would guaranty, that young men would make as good legislators, as men who were more advanced in life.

Mr. Porter, of Northampton, wished to say but a single word. The amendment of the gentleman from Luzerne, was "prelieated on two grounds : 1st. Tliat it is wrong to restrict the people ;'and, 2d. That age is not requisite to qualify for a senator. Every constitution was for the purpose of controlling the people; therefore, that argument could not avail him, for reasons very obvious and proper. The gentleman from the county of Philadelphia, said this amendment should prevail, because Colonel Croghan behaved gallantly. If we were called on to choose for

[blocks in formation]

young men.

soldiers, he would not be sure that it might not be proper to prefer

It was urged that Willianı Pitt entered parliament when a very young man.

But this was not an illustration of the rule, but rather an exception to it.

Where are we to find anoiher William Pitt? It is said some have greater experience at twenty-five, than others have at fifty. But we must settle this matter by some general rule. He knew many young men of great talent and experience at twenty-one. But he would ask any gentleman o look back and see if, at the age of twenty. one, men were generally found qualified to take charge of the interests of a whole people, and to regulate the machinery of government. For himself, he would wish to be governed by experience, in preference to youth.

The question was then taken, and the amendment was decided in the negative.

The Convention then" adjourned.



'The convention resumed the second reading of the report of the committee, to v hom was referred the first article of the constitution, as reported by the committee of the whole.

The eighth section, as amended, being again under consideration,

Mr. Clark, of Indiana, moved to amend the section, by striking therefroin the word “twenty-five," and inserting in lieu thereof, the word " thirty."

After what he had stated this morning, (Mr. C. said) it wvuld be expected that he should renew his amendment. He would not otherwise have offered it, as he had once obtained an expression of the sense of the convention, and found it against the proposition.

The subject had, however, been agitated this morning by the gentleman froin Liizerne, (Mr. Sturderant) and as his friend from Berks, (Mr. Keim) and other gentlemen, wished for an opportunity to record their votes, he again submitted his amendment. He disclaimed any ill. will towards the young men.

Few there are, who liked young men heiter than he did. In regard 10 the honesty of young men, he would freely concede the point, that young men were more honest than old men. Their hearts were warm, they were unsuspicious, and unskilled in the ways of the world. But they were deficient in experience, in law-making. He would be desirous to have young men in all offices, but those of the executive

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

and the law-inakers, which required age. The whole field of ambition

is open to them.

The gentleman from Luzerne laid great stress on the point that the people should do as they pleased. That assertion holds good, as regards county officers, but the legislature legislates for the whole people, and should embody the age, experience and wisdom of gentlemen from all parts of the state; and, it was his wish to protect his constituents against young men exercising the powers of legislation.

That was the reason for the limitation which was imposed, because it is requisite, in reference to those who are to make the laws for the whole state; and differs from those offices which only affect particular sections of the state, which ought to be filled by the voice of the constituents, who are immediately interested. 'Besides all these county offices, young men have the army, navy, and the militia, open to them.

He would rather see them filling other offices. Let them take wives, and then get families. He wished to see the senate, a staid, sober, deliberate body. What measures may originate, or pass through the other house, let the senate deliberate on, and mature. Ile would not take up any more of the time of the convention, except to ask for the yeas

and nays on the question.

The call being seconded, the yeas and nays were ordered accordingly.

The question was then taken on the amendment of Mr. CLARKE, and decided in the negative, by the following vote, viz:

YEAS— Messrs. Clarke, of Indiana, Lyons, M'Dowell, Nevin, Shellito—5.

Nays-Messrs. Agnew, Baldwin, Banks, Barclay, Barndollar, Belford, Bell, Biddle, Bigelow, Brown, of Lancaster, Brown, of Northampton, Brown, of Philadephia, Carey, Chambers, Chandler, of Chester, Chandler, of Philadelphia, Chauncey, Clarke, of Beaver, Clark, of Dauphin, Cleaving r, Cline, Coates, Cochran, Cox, Craig, Crain, Crawford, Crum, Cummin, Curll, Darlington, Darrah, Denny, Dickey, Dick. erson, Dillinger, Donnell, Earle, Farrelly, Fleming, Foulkrod, Fulier, Gearhart, Grenell, Harris, Hastings, Hayhurst, Hays, Helffenstein, Henderson, of Allegheny, Henderson, of Dauphin, Hiester, High, Hopkinson, Houpt, Hyde, Ingersoll, Jenks, Keim, Kennedy, Kerr, Konigmacher, Krebs, Long, Maclay, Magee, Mann, Martin, M'Cahen, M'Call

, M'Sherry, Merkel, Miller, Montgomery, Pennypacker, Pollock, Porter, of Lancaster, Read, Riter, Ritter, Royer, Russell, Saeger, Scheetz, Scott

, Sellers, Se'tzer, Serrill, Sill, Smith, of Columbia, Smyth, of Centre, Snively, Sterigere, Stickel, Sturdevant, Taggart, Thomas, Todd, Weaver, Weidman, Woodward, Young, Sergeant, President-103.

Mr. Jenis moved to strike out twenty five, and insert twenty-seven. He thought, he said, that the age at which a person, in ordinary cases, should be eligible to the office of senator, ought to be greater than twentyfive.

He did not consider, that for that grave and responsible station, a person of an age under thirty ought to be chosen, unless in some extraordinary cases, which he admitted, had happened, though they oughi to be considered as exceptions to the general rule, and not as contradictions to it. He was of opinion, that as the gentleman from Indiana had well reinarked, the senate ought to be made a little more patriarchal than i

He was aware that the opinion of the convention was opposed to any change. They had, while in comunittee, if he recollected aright, rejected the motion of the gentleman from Indiana, (Mr. Clarke) to increase the age to thirty or to twenty-eight.


It was very true, therefore, that there was a disposition in this body, not to carry the ineligibility of persons to the senate, beyond the age of twenty-five years.

But, if we considered the additional duties imposed upon the senate, by the new constitution, there would be found in that consideration, a strong reason for increasing the age, which could not have occurred to the members, at the time of their former decision.

The senate was now made a much more important body, than it ever was before ; and, in addition to their legislative duties, which were very heavy, they shared with the governor, the appointment of some of the highest executive officers.

He would ask whether the duty of making important appointments, should be conferred upon those whose age forbid the idea of their having acquired the experience necessary to enable them to exercise their duly judiciously? It required much experience and observation, and much mental discrimination, to exercise that power in a proper manner. The judgments of persons of five-and-twenty are not, in the majority of cases, , matured. When they enter upon public life, with their minds unimproved by experience, they cannot be well fitted for the discharge of its high and responsible duties.

We look upon the senate, as a body which is to act as a check upon the imprudence of the other house, and correct any errors which might occur in legislation, from the want of experience, wisdom and prudence. Therefore it is that we make a distinetion as to the age and the term of service of the two bodies, and also, as to their number.

The senate is intended to correct the mistakes of the more popular branch of the legislature. He had never witnessed any material benefit from sending very young men, either to the senate or the house. It was true, that there were exceptions, but they were very rare. Young men were ardent and ambitious, and, in legislation, they were apt to be hasty and indiscreet. They were better fitted for active, than for sober reflection, and were more trust-worthy in the council than in the field.

The gentleman from Indiana had shewn his discrimination and practical knowledge of legislative matters, and the concerns of government

, by bringing forward this proposition in committee. He (Mr. J.) was now decidedly in favor of it, though he did not vote for it at the time, in con. sequence of the manifest indisposition of the body to adopt it. But, he thought that, though the committee had refused to fix the age at thirty, and at twenty-eight, the convention might agree to fix it at twenty-seven, instead of twenty-five, in consideration of the new responsibilities imposed upon the senate. Few, he thought, would disagree with him as to this—that the age

of twenty-seven was not too great, as the age at which eligibility to the senate should commence. By the adoption of the amendment, our legislation would be rendered more correct and enlightened than it now was. He flattered himself that his proposition would meet with a favorable reception.

The motion to amend was put and decided in the negative.

« AnteriorContinuar »