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PAGE. 69. The general assembly should be forbidden to interfere in local affairs of
towns and cities.
Earnings needed for support should be exempt from attachment. 70. No property should be exempt from taxation.
Except when to tax it would be unconstitutional.
The qualifications for the suffrage should be simple and uniform. 71. All persons 21 years old not disqualified through crime or mental incapacity
should be voters. Education, including teaching of morality, including political morality,
should be insisted on. Our retention of property qualifications has not resulted in better government. The time has come to carry into effect our professed belief in a democratic
form of government.
It is safer to trust all the people than any one section. 72. Suffrage should be extended to women.
It will be when they are convinced of its wisdom and ask for it.
wife's estate. A plan should be adopted under which suffrage could be extended to women
when public opinion renders it feasible. All contested election cases should be decided by the judiciary. No “grab act,” “ back pay act,” por distribution of public offices among
members of the general assembly should be possible. All State officers in towns and cities appointed by the general assembly
should be paid by the State. Corporations should be formed under general laws, even if they exercise
rights of eminent domain, in which case publicity should be requisite. No monopoly should be allowed except for adequate consideration and for a
limited time, and the court should have powers to compel compliance
with these provisions.
A bicameral legislature should represent different constituencies. 73. Equal representation of each town and city in senate, accords with the his.
tory and constitutional development of this State. All the more imperatively, representation in the lower house should be based
on population only, without regard to town lines. Therefore, the State should be divided into districts of equal population,
each to elect a representative. With provision for minority representation. An independent, able judiciary is best secured by vesting appointment of
judges in the executive, under proper restrictions.
73. The judges should be removable only because of old age or for good cause.
Only men of one party are now placed on the bench.
tration of public affairs. 74. Therefore public returns should be required in all election matters and in all
matters before the general assembly. The old inhibition of grant of monopolies is evaded by coupling the grant
with a consideration paid. Even if it is inadequate, it thus becomes a con
tract and is protected by Art. I, Sec. 10, Constitution of United States. The remedy is a new clause in the bill of rights forbidding such contracts
except for adequate consideration and for a limited time only. Full statements of moneys received and how spent for campaign purposes,
should be required. 75. Organization in political affairs acknowledged to be necessary.
But such organization is of public concern, and publicity is requisite to
secure honesty. Secrecy in political organization is requisite only to conceal dishonesty. The State should not be committed to fixed periods only for revisions of
constitution. Because it is a denial of the right of the people to make and alter their con
stitution of government, and a limitation by implication upon that right. The general assembly, and the people, too, sliould have power to suggest
amendments or a revision, as occasion may require.
be placed on that right.
They should not be introduced here. 77 to 110. Essay at a draft of a new constitution submitted.
In reply to questions put by the senate, the members of the supreme court gave their advisory opinion March 30, 1883, to the effect that the general assembly has no power to call a constitutional convention. If correct, this would render wholly nugatory the express declaration contained in Article I, section 1, of the constitution: “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and alter their constitutions of government.” January 27, 1897, the general assembly passed a resolution “stating there is a wide-spread feeling among the people of the State that the constitution should be carefully and thoroughly revised, and such changes as may seem to be advisable, in view of the changed condition since it was adopted, properly and carefully prepared,” and, therefore, authorizing the governor to appoint a commission of fifteen persons to revise the constitution and to make report to the general assembly, that such revised constitution might be submitted to the electors in the form of an amendment to the present constitution. The governor appointed the commission, in accordance with the authority thus conferred upon him. This commission made report to the general assembly at its January session, 1898, submitting a revised constitution drawn by them. This revised constitution was submitted by the general assembly to the electors of the State as an amendment to the existing constitution under Article XIII thereof, and failed to receive the necessary approval of three
fifths. It was again submitted to the electors on June 20, 1899, with a change of the time a constitutional convention should be called, and again it failed to pass. It would seem, therefore, that despite the admitted necessity for a new constitution none is to be had. It is the purpose of this pamphlet to show that the general assembly should call a constitutional convention forthwith; that it has this power; that the advisory opinion to the contrary was clearly wrong and has no effect as a judicial decision ; that this course would be strictly in accordance with established American usage, when necessity arises for a revision of the constitution ; that such thorough revision can be made in no other way; that the majority always has the right and power to make and alter the constitution ; that this doctrine is strictly in accord with the provisions of the existing constitution and of Article I, section 1, more particularly; that the constitution framed by this convention should be submitted to the vote of the electors, including those who will become electors under it, and should become the law of the land if approved by a majority of those voting thereon, as was the case, in both respects, when the existing constitution was adopted in 1842. It is further the purpose of this pamphlet to show some of the defects and omissions of the existing constitution and how they may be remedied, submitting to that end an essay at a draft of a new constitution for the consideration of those who wish to see the government of this State made what it should be, in the hope that this may in some degree contribute to that end.
AMASA M. EATON.
Providence, R. I., September 19, 1899.