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Almost

every one is
qualified
for office.

Office holders, if reeligible,

create

political machines.

repose have become necessary? Not at all. The reason is, that long continuance in office unfits a man for the discharge of its duties, by rendering him arbitrary and aristocratic, and tends to beget, first life office, and then hereditary office, which leads to the destruction of free government. This is the reason why the principle of rotation in office has been adopted by republicans; and the moment it is abandoned, life office must follow.

It might be urged though, as I think, without much force that the office of Governor and of President ought to be left without limitation, because, in cases of great public emergency, it might be expedient and necessary to continue in office, some incumbent, beyond the limited term, on account of his peculiar fitness for the crisis. But in a small county clerkship, which could be just as well filled by any one of five hundred men in the country, as the incumbent himself, it is preposterous to say that the public necessities require the retention of an officer. It is absurd to say, that the public service requires an unlimited tenure of offices, which any merchant's clerk could, in three days' time, be prepared to fill, as well as your oldest officers; for the easy and simple duties of which no previous study, and no great learning, or experience, are required and for the discharge of which the officer generally is just about as well fit, on the first day of his service, as on the last. Then, there is no reason to be found, in the nature of the service, which would render an exception from the principle of rotation in office, applicable to these clerks, registers, &c.

The only way to secure a quiet and easy application of the principle is to establish a rule making the officer ineligible after a fixed term. Without a rule of this kind, the officers, who are always on the alert and bound together by a common tie of interest, will combine to ensure their re-election. They get up a convention, the delegates to which are selected, and pledged in the dark, and, when they meet, they of course nominate and recommend to the support of the people, those officers whose creatures they are. The people do not know the contrivance, and they are easily en

trapped by it. The office-holders are leagued, active, and organised, and have possession of all the avenues to public opinion, and of all the machinery of their party. But by making the rule invariable, we can defeat this party organisation, and prevent an official monopoly and aristocracy.

Frequent

reëlections

will end in

a life

tenure.

tinguished Americans

favored

In the republic of Geneva, the same men were so often re-elected to office, that the government degenerated into an aristocracy of life office. The people found it more convenient to continue them for life and save the trouble of re-election. The next step was that these life officers, voted that they had power, for the public benefit, to elect their own successors. Of course each parent thought his own children best qualified for the succession, and chose them accordingly; and thus the government became an hereditary aristocracy. Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Jackson - men of great Disminds and most devoted patriotism as all will agree, whatever may be the difference of opinion concerning their policy, have have given their opinions most distinctly in favor of short terms of office. short In the Constitution of 1776, which was drawn up by Franklin and tenures. approved by the patriots of the revolution, this principle was established and carried out. The eligibility of the members of the Supreme Executive Council was then limited; and the Constitution gives this reason for it: "By this mode of election and continual rotation, by its powers, more men will be trained to public business; there will in every subsequent year be found in the council a number of persons acquainted with the proceedings of the foregoing years, whereby the business will be more consistently conducted, and the danger of establishing an inconvenient aristocracy will be effectually prevented." Many other officers besides the councillors were also limited and for this reason. General Washington, having been twice elected to the highest office in the gift of a free and grateful people, set the example of retiring at the end of the second term, though there was no limitation fixed by the Constitution, to the eligibility of the President.

Mr. Jefferson in his answer to a committee of his fellow citizens

Jefferson and Jackson

asking him to consent to serve in the office of President for a third term, insists upon the policy and necessity of short terms of office, in a republican Government; confirms the evidence of history as to the tendency of free Governments to degenerate into aristocracy through the influence of life tenures; and declares that, in laying down his charge, he is influenced by a repugnance to doing anything which would tend to impair the vital principle of short terms and frequent elections. General Jackson recommended an alteration of the Constitution, with a view to limit the eligibility of the President to one term. He said that the public interest, generally, suffered more injury, from the long continuance of power in the same hands, than it was benefited by the experience of the individual. An officer, as experience proves, grows worse instead of better, by long continuance in office. The principles which I have referred to, as having been established and supported by the great founders of our free institutions, are the principles of republicanism, and I ask if they are not still the doctrines of Pennsylvania?

36. Restrictions on Special Legislation *

The early state legislatures were practically unrestricted in their lawmaking power except by the general terms of the Bill of Rights, and they soon began to abuse their authority by passing special laws granting favors to corporations, discriminating among cities and localities, and exempting private persons from the penalties of general statutes. The sale of this special legislation became one of the most fruitful sources of boss rule and political corruption, and to remedy the intolerable abuses the device was adopted of placing in the state constitution a series of clauses forbidding special legislation in general and particular. The whole question was thoroughly discussed in the Pennsylvania state constitutional convention in 1873, and during the debates the following speech was made against special legislation:

Now, sir, nothing will strike the people of this State with as much force as this question of barring special legislation; the

general

people feel more interest in this one subject than any other which The this Convention will be called upon to decide. I would there- principle fore say that equal privileges for all, exclusive privileges for none, of equal privileges should be the sentiment of every citizen of this Commonwealth. for all. If we depart from this principle we are at sea without a chart or compass. A general law, granting privileges to incorporate companies, is made for the benefit of the people of the State; the privileges granted thereby may be enjoyed by all the people of every locality in the State. There can be no special monopoly created by pursuing this course. No company can be organized under general laws which can occupy any particular locality or carry on any particular kind of business to the exclusion of all other companies for the same purpose. I am in favor of adopting a principle into our Constitution which will permit all people to combine with the same privileges. I would not give to the Legislature, through this Constitution, power to grant privileges to which all persons are not equally entitled under general law. I would place a restriction on the legislature in this Commonwealth, and say to it, thus far and no farther, so that if one man points his finger at you, and says, "I have a right and privilege under such a law," you can answer him, "so have I." There would seem to be a kind of general fairness in such a principle as this. But when you permit through a Constitution, a legislative body to assemble, and allow them with hardly a restraint to pass any act they may choose, to incorporate any company, to establish any special charter, you at once tolerate arrogant legislation. I would, therefore, restrict special legislation by placing around it a proper safeguard, like that which this section suggests, and provide also that all laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation throughout the State.

of Illinois.

We have the Constitution of a State before us which seems to The checkmate many of the abuses growing out of local legislation. I example refer to the Constitution of the State of Illinois. Her revised Constitution of 1870, we find under article four and section twenty-two entitled special legislation, prohibited some twenty or more spe

Some figures

on special legislation.

cific subjects that cannot be bartered and traded away at the mere beck or nod of some unscrupulous lobbyist, who lounges about the State Capitol, whose business it is to manipulate the foul work of their masters. If we adopt this section as reported in this Constitution, we shall receive the thanks of the many whose eyes are now upon us. We may rest assured, unless we meet the expectation of the people of this Commonwealth in some way of this kind, that the work we are doing here will be repudiated by them, and with the advantages they have, they will not be slow in making up their minds, and will be prepared to give their solemn verdict against our work.

In looking over the acts which the Legislature has passed for the past few years, say commencing with 1866 and ending with 1872, we find the following results:

In 1866, general laws passed were 50;
In 1867, general laws passed were 86;
In 1868, general laws passed were 73;
In 1869, general laws passed were 77;
In 1870, general laws passed were 54;
In 1871, general laws passed were 81;
In 1872, general laws passed were 54;

special laws were 1,096. special laws were 1,392. special laws were 1,150. special laws were 1,276. special laws were 1,276. special laws were 1,353. special laws were 1,232.

So you see that in seven years there were passed 475 general laws and 8755 private acts. The number of acts which the present Legislature of 1873 have passed are many, and I am told will duplicate the number of the acts of any one former year. This is undoubtedly correct, and is but another proof of the necessity for this Convention of adopting this section with all its paragraphs complete. From 1866 to 1871 the legislators passed for railroads, and granted them corporate privileges, some four hundred and fifty special acts, bearing on railroads alone. Those were, perhaps, not all the laws that were passed in which railroads were directly or indirectly interested.

Mr. Chairman, what a fearful commentary is this on the abuses of special legislation! By a restrictive section in this Con

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