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United States Senators

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One of the (Iemands of the Farmers' Alliance is for the election of senators directly by the people. ïhe adoption of such a chango in our system would at least have the good effect of doing away with the scandals - altogether too frequent - of weolthy men purchoiig their seats in the upper house. The main obstacle in the way of such a change is that it involves a constitutional amendment, and there are few (bings in our political life harder to bring about than amandments to the organic law, either state or national. In the cases of state coustitutions it is notorious that people will go on iudefinitely bearing real evils, rather than adopt constitutional amendments which will cure the evils. Any proposition to change the organic law seems to awaken all the conservatism in people's natures, and great numbers will vote against any proposition eimply because tbey would rather endure the ills they have than run any risk of opening the door to "tinkering with the constitution." It may be interestingto say something as to how the senate came to have its present form. There was no senate in the Continental congress. There was but one house, and each state had a single vote in it. The constitutional convention of 1787, following the model of the British government, then the best fonn known, was in favor of two houses, but sorely puzzled how to constitute an upper house which would be different from the lower one and a check upon it. It was a long while before the idea of a senate was conceived, and it really grew out of the jealousy of the smaller states of the larger ones. But eieven states took part in the earlier proceedings of the convention. Two of the four delegates from New Hampshire camo in later, and no delegates were appointed by Rhodelsland. The "small states" - fivein number - were Uonnecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The "large states" were Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia. The "small states" feared that they would be overslaughed by the large ones, and so they hung out stubbornly for equal voice in cougress. Several of the "plans" suggested did not contémplate an upper house, but the Virginia plan, which was eventually made the basis of congress, did. It, however, gave no name to the upper house, but proposed that its members should be chosen by the house of represen tati ves out of a number of persons noininated by the legislatures of the several states. Three ways in all were suggested tb constitute the membership: 1. Appointment by the chief executive froni nominations by the legislatures. 2. Election by the people. 3. Election by the legislatures. Alexander Hamilton urged as an amendment that the members should be chosen by electors chosen by the people of the statei , and that they should serve during good behavior. Pinckney proposed a ten i of three years. The committee of the whole digested these propositions, and reported in favor of a "second branca." the members of which were to be elected by the legislatures for seven years, and to be ineligible to any office for a year after the expiration of their term, and the number was to be in proportion to the population. This was the shape in which it appears in the first draft of the constitution. June 24-25, 1787, the convention adopted the report of the committee, except that the term was changed from seven to six years, and the ineligibility clause was stricken out. The convention then entered upon a protracted struggle as to the representation of each state, and various propositions were urged. One schetne gave Rhode Island and Delaware each one and Virginia five, with the other states proportioned between these. Dr. Franklin proposed that each state have an equal representation, with a vote on money bilis proportionate to its share of the taxes. Delaware thveatened to withdraw from the confederation if the small states were not given an equal representation, and finall)', after the debate had gone on for six weeks, the plan of giving each state two members was adopted. and the small states concentrated their eiïorts upon giving the "second branch" the utmost power and importance. Aug. C the name "senate" was formally given the "second branch." Sept. 6 the office of vice president was agreed upou, and he was made the presiding offleer of the senate in order to give him sometliing to do. The constitution was finally adopted Sept. 17. The Farmers' Alliance platform confines itself to a mere demand for the election of senators by the people, and does not specify how this is to be done. Here is opportunity for a wide diversity of opinión. Shall it be by the whole vote of a state, as a governor is elected, or shall each state be divided into two senatorial distriets? Shall the present rule of two senators for each state - large or small - continue, or shall each state have a vote in the senate in proportion to its population? Before any change can be made it will be necessary to get section 3, article 1, of the constitution amended. This reads: "The senate of the United States shall be composed of two senators frorn each state, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six 3't'uïs. and each senator shall have one vote. " To secure this amendment it will be necessary to have it proposed by twothirds of the members of both houses of congress, and it must then be ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. That is, assuming that the house will consist of 356 representatives, it will have to receive the votes of 234 repreeentatives and 59 senators, and be ratified by the legislatures of 33 states. - National Tribune. Belva Lockwood, in a recent interview with a Kansas City Times reporter, said: "I expect to see an Alliance president of the United States some of these days."