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sion of an article in the Constitution, thought by the Convention to be of importance.
On the 28th of February, 1782, the Legislature passed a law, entitled, « An act empowering Colonel Samuel Robinson, to give a deed of the lands hereafter described, to the heirs of William Emms, deceased; and vacating a certain deed of the premises obtained in a fraudulent manner, by Johu Blackledge Emms, from said Samuel Robinson."* This Council cannot here omit observing, in addition to the reasons already given against the Legislature's exercising judicial powers, and reversing judgments, that the practice of legislating for individuals, and for particular cases, is much too frequent. If a subject feels himself aggrieved, and thinks the law incompetent to give him redress, he immediately applies to the Assembly; and too often, laws are suddenly passed upon such application, to relieve in particular cases, which introduce confusion into the general sysiem, or are afterwards discovered to be wholly unnecessary. The act last mentioned (admitting the Legislature to be a proper court for determining whether a deed was fraudulently procured) was entirely ncedless; the supreme court, possessing the powers both of a court of law and equity, being able to give proper relief in this and all other cases of fraud. When a person obtains a property, which the law of the land at the time of acquiring it, esteems a legal and equitable estate, if he is divested of it by a sovereign act of power, he has a right to complain of the injury; and all men of interest have a right, and it is their duty, to be alarmed at the precedent: if this was not the case, Colonel Robinson ought not to have applied to the Assembly, or they to have interfered.
That part of the act passed in the last session of the Legislature, for crecting the new county of Addison, which autherises the Governor and Council to appoint county officers therein, for the time being, is esteemed by this Board to be an unnecessary violation of the XXVIIth section of the Frame of Government. We are unable to imagine the particular cir cumstances of this part of the commonwealth to have been such, as to require adopting so extraordinary a measure, for any other purpose than to give a lead at some future county election.
In our enquiries whether “ the public taxes have been justly laid and collected in all parts of this commonwealth ;" we must offer it as our opinion, that neither has been fully the case. With regard to the equal collection of them, so many occurrences have intervened, known to the freemen at large, that the executive part of government does not appear greatly deserving of censure for their remissness in this respect; but in apportioning the taxes, this Council does not believe full justice has been done : all our towns are new, and a part of the most populous ones still uncultivated :-tradesmen of all kinds, and men of genius, are every where much wanted :-it must not certainly be therefore, as a good guardians of the people," that faculties are rated, and unimproved real property, and articles of luxury, left without assessment. In the opinion of this Council, visible property, in proportion to its real value, is the only fit subject of taxation (except the Legislature shall find it expedient * See pige 449.
to impose a small tax on polls, not minors, for personal protection ;) and every deviation from this rule, whether to exculpate one class of men, or to harrass another, is an error in government, and ought to be exploded our future system of taxation.
One branch of the duty assigned this Council is to enquire " in what manner the public monies have been disposed of.” In discharging this part of the trust reposed in us, we cannot omit mentioning the dissipation of a considerable part of the public lands in this State, at so early a period that settlements could not be made, and in most cases were not stipulated to be made, before the conclusion of the war; and at a time when actual surveys could not be performed: by which means an ample foundation is laid for the confusion proceeding from interfering grants-a door open for a variety of lawsuits, and applications to the Legislature to procure compensation for lands which the grantees are unable to hold ; and the public is deprived of a fund, which, if rightly managed, would probably defray the ordinary expenses of government. The ungranted and confiscated lands seem to have been a boon conferred by providence, for the support of our republic in its infancy, while its subjects were unable to pay taxes : yet the first septenary has seen the whole, or nearly the whole of them, squandered ; and the inhabitants will have reason to think themselves peculiarly fortunate, if they yet escape paying considerable sums on account of them. Ilow far the peculiar difficulties the State has been obliged to struggle through, ought to excuse this lavish disposition of the public property, must be decided by you, to whom all officers are mediately, or immediately, accountable for their conduct.
This Council is not insensible that the freemen look to this Board for information, with respect to the confiscation and sale of the estates of persons who joined the enemy; and are unhappy, that, after obtaining all the light in our power, we think it most prudent to refer them to such report as the auditors shall make on this subject. And we are also unhappy, that, being destitute of a complete state of the public accounts from the auditors, (which we have repeatedly requested of them) it is out of our power to make further enquiries in what manner the public monies have been disposed of. Nor ought this Council here to omit noticing that the General Assemblies, previous to February, 1784, are, in the idea of this Council, highly censurable for omitting to enact laws adequate to compel the annual liquidation of the public accounts : and that the Council are not free from blame for the appointment, and continuance of persons in office of great public trust, who did not keep regular books : by which means (we conclude, from the information of those auditors who have taken an active part in the business several public accounts of a very important nature, can never be properly adjusted ; and the lefaulters of unaccounted thousands will probably reserve them for their families.
We have now, in an imperfect manner, finished the important and invidious task allotted this Council-censuring the proceedings of the supreme legislative and executive branches of government, composed of gentlemen of the best characters, and greatest influence, in the commonwealth. A principle of duty has led us to speak our sentiments with a
freedom, which, we are not insensible, will be disagreeable to many: but as we have been actuated solely by a desire of contributing our mite to the honor and felicity of the community, and are conscious of no sinister or personal motives in our proceedings, we cheerfully submit our opinions to your candid consideration; and if we are so unhappy as materially to differ in sentiment from that respectable body, the freemen of the State of Vermont, we must console ourselves with the pleasure of having meant well, and that it is the lot of humanity to err. By order of the Council of Censors,
INCREASE MOSELEY, President, Bennington, 14th February, 1786.
SECOND COUNCIL OF CENSORS.
The compiler had not intended to exhibit any further view of the proceedings under the 44th section of the Constitution, than is presented in those of the first Council of Ceasors; but, on examining the Constitution, as revised by the second Council, in the year 1792, it is found to contain several proposed amendments, which it is deemed important to preserve The compiler has thought it unnecessary, however, to encumber this collection with an entire copy of that Constitution ; believing that every important purpose may be answered by the following abstract of those provisions which materially vary from the Constitution now in force.
. LEGISLATIVE POWER. The Council proposed that the supreme legislative power should be vested in a Senate and House of Representatives :—that, for the first septenary, the Senate should be composed of members from, and to be elected by, the several counties, as follows, viz :-Bennington and Orange counties, each, two; Windham, Windsor, and Rutland, each, three; Addison and Chittenden, each, one, and every new county, which might be thereafter organized, one; and that, after the first septenary, each county might elect one senator for every eight thousand souls in such county ; and that any county containing a less number, might elect one. The votes for senators were to be taken on the first Tuesday of September, annually, and returned to, and canvassed by, the judges of the county court.---That the judges of the county courts should be ineligible as senators, and that senators should be incapable of holding any office in the judiciary department.
The House of Representatives, it was proposed, should consist of one member from each town, containing, at the time of election, forty families; and that the freemen of any two or more towns that might, together, contain forty families or upwards, might meet, and elect one representative.
The Senate and House of Representatives were to be styled – The Legislature of the State of Vermont.
To the end that laws might be more maturely considered, &c. it was provided that every bill, having passed the Senate and House of Representatives, should be presented to the Governor and Council for their approbation; if not approved, to be returned, with the objections, in writing, to that House in which it originated ; and if, on re-consideration, the bill should pass both Houses, it should become a law, notwithstanding the disapprobation of the Governor and Council.
EXECUTIVE. The supreme executive power was to be vested in the Governor, or, in his absence, the Lieutenant-Governor.
The Governor, or person acting as such, was empowered to commission all officers, and to fill vacancies; and to exercise all the other powers vested in the Governor and Council by the 18th section of the first Constitution ; except that of judging in cases of impeachment.
An advisory Council, consisting of four, were to be annually elected by the Senate and House of Representatives, in the same manner as judges of the supreme court were to be elected; who were to meet with
the Governor, at every session, “ to advise with him in granting pardons, · remitting fines, laying embargoes, revising bills,” &c.
All commissions were to be signed by the Governor, and attested by the Secretary of State.
POWER OF APPOINTMENT.
Either House of the legislature were authorised to " nominate, or elect," by ballot, judges of the supreme court, county courts, and courts of probate, major, and brigadier, generals, Secretary of State and sheriffs; and, without ballot, to " nominate or elect” justices of the peace; and transmit such nominations to the other House, for their approbation. If the other House should approve, the election was thereby consummated. If they should not approve, they were to make a nomination and transmit it to the House in which the nomination originated; and if both Houses could not thus agree, they should proceed to make the election by joint ballot.
Connected with the Constitution, thus proposed to be amended, we fipd the following address.