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impracticable to alter a decision pnce made without a quorum. If such action were admissable, five members might proceed to form rules and regulations, and even laws. There appeared to be but one way to get out of the difficulty. By some misunderstanding, it was supposed that by the adoption of the report of the special committee appointed yesterday, the Convention consisted of seventy-three members. This committee was to report the names of the additional delegates duly elected in their respective districts. The journal does not declare what members were duly elected. They were therefore not members of this House until some authority made them so. The journal afforded no evidence of additional action of the Convention on the subject. Under this omission, it was within the power of the House to proceed now and declare who were the duly elected members. He thought the difficulty might be obviated by some course of this kind.
A discussion here arose on the subject of a quorum, and the rules necessary for the action of the House, during which several propositions were offered but not entertained.
On a call of the House, the President declaring a quorum present,
Mr. Gwin moved to reconsider the report of the Committee on Privileges and Elections, and offered the following resolution :
Resolved, That the report of the Select Committee appointed by order of the House to report upon the number of votes received in the several districts by persons who were candidates for seats in this body be adopted ; and Hugo Reid, Jacinto Rodriguez, Francis J. Lippitt, A. J. Ellis, R. M. Price, L. W. Hastings, M. McCarver, John McDougal, E. O. Crosby, B. F. Lippincott, B. F. Moore, I. M. Jones, and O. W. Wozencraft, are duly elected and hereby admitted as members of this body.
Adopted, viva voce.
Mr. Gwin said he hoped the House would first dispose of the resolution in regard to the appointment of a Select Committee on the Constitution, in order that it might report some material upon which the Convention could proceed at its next meeting.
Mr. McCARVER moved to amend Mr. Gilbert's amendment to Mr. Gwin's reso. lution by striking out all after the word "Resolved," and insert the following :
That the Convention do now resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole, and take into consideration the Constitution of the State of Iowa, as a basis for the Constitution of California. Mr. Gwin remarked, that the motion of the gentleman rendered it proper
that he should make an explanation. Before he (Mr. Gwin) was elected a member of this Convention, a consideration of very great importance occurred to him—the difficulty that would be encountered during the labors of the Convention from the absence of a printing press. It would be admitted, that it was indispensable that every member should have before him the precise words upon which he was called upon to vote. He had exerted himself to have a press here, but found it imprac. ticable. He then took the responsibility, in consideration of the great public ne. cessity of the case, and after consultation with several members, to print a copy of the Constitution of Iowa, in order that every member might have it before him, and write on the margin any amendment that might occur to him. He had in. tended, if the Committee had been appointed, to have proposed this paper as a basis ; and if it met the approval of the Committee, he would then have moved to come into Committee of the Whole. No member would be committed to any part or provision. He had selected the Constitution of Iowa, because it was one of the latest and shortest.
Mr. Botts most heartily approved of the suggestion of the gentleman from San Francisco. It placed business before the House at once. As to any particular Constitution, it made no difference. This paper was well printed, and could be taken in hand without further delay. He suggested to the mover of the propo. sition the propriety of withdrawing the resolution originally offered by him, in order to permit this to go directly before the House.
Mr. GWIN would be glad to do so if it met the wishes of the House. With the .consent of his colleague, he would therefore propose to withdraw it.
Mr. GILBERT could not consent to withdraw his amendment.
Mr. SHERWOOD was of opinion that there would be enough to do in discussing propositions consolidated by a Committee, without bringing the whole matter be. fore the Convention at once. It was desirable to have the cream of the whole the best material of the Constitutions of the thirty States.
Mr. HALLECK asked gentlemen who approved of this idea of taking up an en. tire Constitution in Committee of the whole, whether from the experience of the Jast few days they considered the whole body better calculated to do business than a small committee.
*Mr. GILBERT remarked that, although in introducing his amendment, he did it to avoid the complicated machinery of a number of committees, he did not suppose any member would be in favor of destroying altogether that principle of legislative action. It was an established usage in legislative bodies, that matters of great importance should come before the House through a committee. This committee must digest the material for the action of the House. hended that when the report of the proposed committee came up for consideration, there would be enough amendments, propositions, and debates to satisfy all. He was opposed to adopting any one constitution as a basis, unless it came through a committee. Let this committee take all the constitutions and report what they deemed best. Each member could then, in Committee of the Whole, propose such amendments as he thought proper. It appeared to him that there was no other judicious mode of proceeding.
Mr. Gwin said there was still one difficulty. He was not opposed to a committee where there were ordinary facilities, but he wanted to know what was to be done with the report of this committee ? Were the members to act upon one copy of the report ? It was impossible for business to progress this way. If there was a printing press it would be the proper course, but no deliberative body, with. in his knowledge, ever passed a measure without first having it laid before each member for his examination.
Mr. GILBERT thought the gentleman overrated the difficulty of getting copies of this report for the use of the members. It would possibly consist of not more than half a page at a time, which could be copied by the clerks.
Mr. DIMMICK did not see how business could be expedited by adopting, as a basis, the Constitution of Iova. It would have to be translated into Spanish, and a sufficient number of copies made for those who only spoke that language. If, on the other hand, the committee reported, article by article, a plan of a Constitu. tion, it could be translated, copied, and laid upon the tables of the members at the opening of each day's session. He approved of Mr. Gilbert's resolution.
Mr. Botts would like to know how the House could understandingly vote upon a particular section, when it was ignorant of what was to follow. Nothing appeared to him more impolitic than the introduction, by piecemeal, of sections upon which others, behind, might be dependent. All must be acted upon together. A section, objectionable in itself, in one part of the Constitution, might, in another, be made beneficial.
Mr. Price said there seemed to be great difficulty in the minds of gentlemen in relation to the mode of getting to work at the business of making a Constitution. He had a resolution which he thought would be acceptable to the House. He hoped it would also be satisfactory to his colleague, (Mr. Gilbert.)
Resolved, That a Select Committee, composed of one delegate from each district, be appointed by the President, to report upon the best mode of proceeding to make a State Constitution, for the action of this body.
Mr. GILBERT preferred that the question should come at once between Mr. Gwin's resolution and his own. As to the difficulty referred to by gentlemen in relation to reporting, from time to time, different portions of a Constitution, it was not to be supposed that the House was to act finally and irrevocably upon each provision as it came up. It would first be considered in Committee of the Whole. The entire Constitution would afterwards come up in the House, and be open to amendment, section by section.
Mr. PRICE objected to making one general committee, as contemplated by the resolution of Mr. Gilbert. The work of the Convention should be subdivided. He believed five or seven standing committees should be made. By adopting this plan, he thought the form of a Constitution could be thrown together much quicker than by putting the whole labor on one committee. It was with this view that he moved the appointment of a committee to report upon the best mode of proceeding.
The question was then taken on Mr. Price's amendment, and it was rejected.
On motion of Mr. Borts, the Convention adjourned till 10 o'clock to-morrow morning.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 1849. The Convention met pursuant to adjournment. Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Willey. Journal of yesterday's proceedings were read, amended, and adopted. Mr. LARKIN offered the following resolution: Resolved, That Messrs. P. La Guerra, and J. M. Cabarruvias, now at the bar of this House, have produced to this House satisfactory evidence of having been duly elected members of this convention from the districts of San Luis and Santa Barbara, and that they be requested to come forward and be qualified as such. Adopted.
Whereupon Messrs. Cabarruvias and De La Guerra were sworn in by the President and took their seats.
Mr. LIPPITT then stated that he was absent when the members were sworn in yesterday, and requested that the oath be administered to him; which was accordingly done by the President.
On motion of Mr. Gwin, an invitation to take seats upon the floor of this House was extended to Col. Weller, Judge Hastings, and Col. Russell.
On motion of Mr. HALLECK, Manuel Dominguez was sworn in by the President, and took his seat.
Mr. Gwin reported, as chairman of the Committee on the appointment of a Reporter, against the publishing of the proceedings by the Convention.
He then moved a suspension of the rules, and nominated Mr. J. Ross Browne as Reporter to the Convention, who was elected, viva voce.
Mr. Gwin moved a reconsideration of the vote upon the resolution declaring it expedient to establish a State Government, which was received, and ordered to be laid on the table subject to call,
On motion of Mr. PRICE,
ORDER OF THE DAY.
Mr. Price stated that he had drafted a resolution asking for the appointment of six standing committees by the President, to take into consideration the different portions of the Constitution. There might be special committees appointed from time to time if necessary; but these standing committees would always be ready to perform any duty imposed upon them by the House in Committee of the Whole. He believed the business of the Convention would be done quicker by the adop. tion of this resolution than by any other mode yet suggested. There appeared to be three distinct propositions before the House : One to go at once into Committee of the Whole, and debate, section by section, the entire Constitution. In addition to the same resolution, it was proposed yesterday to take as a basis one of the State Constitutions. Mr. Gilbert's resolution proposes to appoint one general committee, to report from time to time the plan of a Constitution. He would not detain the House by going into a discussion of the merits of these different propo. sitions, but would content himself by stating, that after consultation with several of the members, he was of opinion the following resolution would meet with gene. ral favor. He moved it as an amendment to Mr. Gilbert's amendment to Mr. Gwin's resolution :
Resolved, That six standing committees, of five members each, be appointed by the President, to take into consideration and report upon the following articl of a Constitution, to be submitted to this Convention, viz :
1st. Enacting clause and Bill of Rights.
Mr. HALLECK was opposed to this plan, and preferred the amendment of Mr. Gilbert as better calculated to facilitate the business of the Convention. He knew of no instance of the appointment of a number of committees, where a body of this kind had been enabled to get through its labors short of two or three months. There was no reason to suppose that six committees would get through any sooner here than in other Conventions. Great labor would be required in combining the reports of these different committees. Confusion and difficulty would be the in. evitable result. Moreover, there would be various omissions, as in the case of the Constitution of New York. He did not know of any State Constitution that contained more admirable provisions than that; nevertheless, there was no Con. stitution in the States so imperfect; and this fact arose, not from the want of talent in the Convention, but from the appointment of a large number of commit. tees. He was aware that there were numerous aspirants for the position of chairman to the proposed committee, but he thought that matter might be decided by the House.
Mr. Gwin said the gentleman's remarks presented a most irresistible argument against the proposition which he advocated. The very fact referred to by him showed the impracticability of doing business in the mode proposed, without a printing press. The experience of forming thirty Constitutions of the Statesthe result of seventy years of labor—was to be thrown aside, and this Convontion was to enter into a new field, to draft a new Constitution. The gentleman had shown the absolute necessity of taking one of these Constitutions as a basis. There would then be no necessity for either one standing committee or six special committees. The entire Constitution could be discussed in Committee of the Whole. He did not care which Constitution was taken up. It would be infinite. ly better to take any one of them than appoint a committee to report upon a form section by section. It was with the intention of proposing in committee to lay the printed copy, already referred to, before the House, that he had offered his original resolution. That Constitution was one of the latest and briefest. He wanted nothing better than to form a Constitution from the thirty Constitutions of the Union. Had some standard or plan been taken as a basis, the Convention would now be at work upon it.
Mr. Botrs rose to protest against the haste apparent in every quarter of the House, to proceed headlong in this important matter of forming a Constitution. He appealed to members to consider the circumstances under which they were here." It was to perform the most solemn of trusts—to decide upon the fundamen. tal principles of a Government. This great question of securing to mankind the prosperity and happiness which can only result from a good Government, now agitates the world. It occupies the minds of sages, and the discussion of it fills volumes. Yet gentlemen come here under the expectation of making a Constitution almost in a single day. He had been present as a spectator in one or two Conventions of the old States. He was struck with the contrast presented by ibis; for highly respectable as it was, he could not but be impressed with the ab. sence of those gray hairs which he had seen in assemblies of this solemn charac. ter in the older States. He hoped to see a good Constitution formed, but it would take time to make it. He was well aware that gentlemen, in coming here, sacri. ficed much-that all were desirous of returning home without delay. Business in California was very profitable, and it was natural that gentlemen should wish to get back to their money bags ; but he would oppose the spirit of patriotism to the spirit of mammon. There was something in the very word patriotism calculated to inspire men to make sacrifices. It was true houses were built in a single night in San Francisco; it was a go-ahead place; but he feared, if this Constitution was built in the same way, it would bear about the same relation to an enduring political structure that a shanty in San Francisco bore to a great monument of architectural skill. Gentlemen complained that the time of the House was con. sumed in useless discussion ; that nothing had been done ; no vote taken. Suppose you ascend a hill in the morning, and come down again in the evening, with. out being able to get over, have you done nothing? Have you not discovered that you cannot get over in that way? Delay is the characteristic of hasty legislation. A word with regard to the propositions before the House. By the first, proposing the appointment of one large committee, you can only have a portion of the intel. ligence of this body to engage in the formation of a Constitution. Is there any to spare ? Mr. Price's proposition employs the whole intelligence of the Conven. tion. He (Mr. Botts) was in favor of having as much wisdom as possible en. gaged in this business, and would therefore vote for the amendment offered by Mr. Price.
Mr. Norton sustained Mr. Gilbert's proposition. He thought it would be the only means of advancing the work before the Convention. It was a great objeet to expedite business. The people sent delegates here to form the organic law of what would soon, he trusted, be a great State of the American Union. The pro. position of Mr. Gilbert seemed to him to indicate the most practicable mode of proceeding. The Committee thus appointed could report, in whole or in part, a form to be acted upon in Committee of the Whole. He was not prepared to say they could form a Constitution better than those of the several States; but the Committee could select from them such provisions as were most applicable to this country, and by combining the wisdom of the whole, make a better Constitution than could be accomplished in any other way. The experience of Conventions proved that where several Committees were appointed on the several articles of the Constitution, men of different opinions necessarily presided over them, who deemed themselves bound to sustain their respective Committees. In the present case the objection would be peculiarly striking, where so many were assembled together coming with conflicting prejudices from different States of the Union.
Mr. Gwin observed that he had lived in three of the old States. He had care. fully examined all the State Constitutions, and he preferred the Constitution of Iowa to that of any other State. He had no sectional prejudices to gratify here.
Mr. Norton did not refer particularly to Mr. Gwin. "That gentleman was not the only member of this House, Such prejudices existed, and that was sufficient.
Mr. HASTINGs said that all appeared anxious to effect the same great ohject, but arrived at different conclusions. It was very important that the work should be commenced at once ; yet it was argued that it should not be hastily commenced, because the object was an important one.
He considered that an excellent rea. son for beginning it without delay. They were not without a guide ; there was one book to which they had access, containing the Constitution adopted by the wisdom of the age in which the framers lived-sanctioned by long experiencepronounced superior to any ever adopted in the known world. If the lawyer ap. pears at the bar to argue his cause, he knows well where to find the best book er. tant on human rights and human government—the Constitution of the United States. The record of the debates on that Constitution embraced the principles of all the State Constitutions. The best plan would be to take up that great in. strument as a guide, and proceed to form a Constitution for the State of California.