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be a most injurious measure to permit the Indians of this country to vote. There are gentlemen who are very popular among the wild Indians, who could march hundreds up to the polls. There is ňo distinction between an Indian here and the remote tribes. An Indian in the mountains is just as much entitled to vote as anybody, if Indians are entitled to vote. But men who have Indian blood in their veins are not for that reason Indians. There are, perhaps, many persons resident in this country who have Indian blood, but who are not considered Indians. If the motion was in order, he (Mr. Hastings) would move to defer further action upon this matter until the law of Mexico on the subject could be procured. There was no necessity for haste in passing this section.
Mr. DIMMICK trusted the motion would prevail, to defer the consideration of the subject. He held different opinions from some of the gentlemen who had spoken, as to the Mexican law in relation to the citizenship of Indians. He had supposed that Indians, in order to be entitled to the rights of citizenship in Mexico, were obliged to go through some form of naturalization, by which they became citizens. He arrived at this fact from having seen papers in the possession of Indians, who had received grants of lands, in which they went through certain forms of naturalization. He trusted the Convention would not act hastily in this matter; for he would be very unwilling to see the Indians of this country brought to the polls to vote in our elections. At the same time, where there was here and there a good Indian, capable of understanding our system of government, he had no objection to making such provision as would entitle him to vote.
Mr. TEFFT had obtained some information in regard to this matter. He was disposed to differ from the gentleman from San Jose, (Mr. Dimmick.) The Mexican laws define, in the first place, what is a Mexican citizen; " any person born of Mexican parents, or under Mexican laws;” they declare that all Mexicans shall vote, having an income of $100 in labor, lands, &c. He (Mr. Tefft) would like to have further time to look into the Mexican laws, and, therefore, hoped the subject would be postponed. He desired that the House should act advisedly, and according to the treaty of peace.
Mr. Borts had no objection to deferring the consideration of the clause. He had no doubt in his mind that the statement made by the gentleman from San Luis Obispo (Mr. Tefft) was, correct. But there was one doctrine urged here, that really astonished him-that the treaty of peace between the United States and Mexico, or any other treaty, could prescribe to this Convention wbat persons it should make voters in the State of California ! The Congress of the United States could not do it. Were gentlemen not aware of that fact? They ought to be shouting hozannas to liberty, now that they were informed of it. The States of this Union are free and sovereign. They prescribe for themselves the right of suffrage. Gentlemen need not look to the treaty of peace for authority ; it is competent for the people of this country to declare that no man, unless he have black hair and black eyes, shall vote. If that treaty had said, that none but the citizens of Mexico should vote, the Constitution of the United States prescribes that you shall fix your own elective qualifications. It particularly guards you against the abuse of the powers exercised by Congress.
Mr. Gwix had been endeavoring to get all the information possible on this sub. ject. He had ascertained the fact that by the passage of the amendment of his colleague, (Mr. Gilbert,) Indians would be permitted to vote. He found, that in the Constitution of Texas, (a State somewhat similar in the character of its popu. lation to this country,) there is the following restriction:
“Every free male person who shall have attained the age of twenty-one years, and who shall be a citizen of the United States, or who is, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution by the Congress of the United States, a citizen of the Republic of Texas, and shall have resived in this State one year next preceding an election, and the last six months within the district, county, city, or town, in which he offers to vote, ( Indians not taxed, Africans, and descendants of Africans, excepted, ) shall be deemed a qualified elector,” &c.
He did not think the descendants of Indians should be excluded, but the pure uncivilized Indians should not be permitted to vote. It was stated to him, by an officer of the army, that in California there are a hundred tribes of Indians ; that a few white persons control them; and that they would vote just as they were directed. He did not wish to limit the portion of the population that was in the habit of voting--those having property qualifications--but the restriction should be distinctly understood and defined. He would be in favor of saying, “ Indians, but not the descendants of Indians.”
Mr. Botts accepted the suggestion of the gentleman from San Francisco (Mr. Gwin ;) instead of the word " white,” to insert, “and every male citizen of Mex. ico, Indians, Africans, and the descendants of Africans excepted."
Mr. GILBERT rose to say a word or two in reply to the remarks of the gentle. man from Monterey (Mr. Botts.) He was willing to go as far as that gentleman in defence of State rights, and as far as any member in the House to protect the States from encroachments on the part of Congress, but he differed from him in the reading of this treaty, and in the reading of the Constitution of the United States. He would call the gentleman's attention to the 6th article of the Con. stitution, section 2d :
"This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, • and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land ; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding."
This treaty is therefore the supreme law of the land. It appeared to him that nothing could more definitely settle the question. We cannot go beyond this treaty, and disfranchise any man who is admitted under the treaty to the rights of citi. zenship. Ferhaps, so far as regards the election of Governor and State officers, we might prescribe the rules of voting ; but we cannot, in this instance, where the Constitution guaranties certain rights to these persons, who have become citizens of the United States under the treaty, deprive them of those rights. The only question here is in regard to the proper time when they shall be entitled to vote, and the object of the amendment is to fix the time beyond doubl. He wished to make no invidious distinctions as to color, but to abide by the treaty of peace and the Constitution of the United States.
Mr. Hastings said that, upon further reflection, he presumed the gentleman from Monterey (Mr. Botts) would observe that if we do not recognize this treaty, no treaty of peace exists. We are then at war with Mexico. We have no treaty to protect us. We are protected by no authority whatsoever but that of physical force. We came here under this treaty; gentlemen sit in this Convention under this treaty ; it is in virtue of this treaty alone that we are possessed of this terri. tory. If we carry our principle of State rights so far as to say we are wholly independent, and need not regard treaties of the United States, why not, with the same propriety, carry it further, and say we need not regard the Constitution of the United States ? If we violate the stipulations of this treaty, we' violate the Constitution. The gentleman from Monterey (Mr. Botts) asserts that we have a right to declare that no man shall vote unless he have black hair and black eyes. This is a principle of State rights that cannot be maintained in the present case. We must include every citizen of Mexico which the treaty of peace adınits to the right of citizenship. It is impossible to arrive at any other conclusion, unless we violate the treaty.' If the principle be well founded, that we may exclude certain persons who are made citizens by the adoption of the treaty, and hence who are entitled to be regarded as citizens, may we not, with the same propriety, exclude every native Californian? We cannot do it. We dare not exclude one human being who was a citizen at the time of the adoption of that treaty. Every man who was a citizen then, is a citizen now, and will be while he lives in California, unless he declares his intention to remain a citizen of Mexico. Our Constitution must, therefore, conform to the treaty, or it is null and void.
Mr. Borts thought the doctrines which he had just heard urged were at least novel. He had heard many federal doctrines, but never any like these. He saw plainly, after all that was said about not having Whigs or Democrats here, that it was a shallow device. A new party had come up-one beyond the extreme of federalism ; a party that contends that there is a power in the Executive of the United States to make a treaty contrary to the provisions of the Constitution. Were there any three men on his floor ready to record their names in support of this doctrine ? But he desired that his own position should be well understood. He maintained that this treaty, so far as he knew, is binding in every clause, because it does not contradict the Constitution of the United States; it does not prescribe who shall be our voters. If it had made those citizens of Mexico di. rectly citizens of the United States, it would not have said that they should be vo. ters of the State of California. He granted, for the sake of argument, that these Indians are citizens of the United States, because they were citizens in Mexico. The question is still open whether they shall be voters. There are thousands of citizens of the United States who are not voters. Gentlemen should not confound the words. It does not follow that if a man be a citizen of the United States he shall be a voter. Was it necessary for him (Mr. Botts) to speak two minutes to put down forever the monstrous doctrine that the treaty-making power can transcend and set at naught the Constitution of the United States; and, least of all,. that a citizen of the United States must necessarily be a voter ?
Mr. Gwin said that in Virginia there are thousands who spend their lives and die without ever having the privilege of voting. There is a property qualification required there, as also, he believed, in some other States of the Union. As the gentleman (Mr. Botts) said, we could exclude all these Californians from the privilege of voting; but that is not our intention. It would not be right or just. This is a very important question. If we permit every Mexican citizen to vote, under our free and liberal system of voting, we would en. large the vote immensely to what it was under the former Government here. For instance, there were certain laws, under the Mexican Government, that no man should vote unless he could read and write. We are to declare who shall have a right to vote. We only exercise the same privilege that was exercised by the previous Government. Indians should be excluded, but not the descendants of İndians. It must be by special enactment if they are permitted to vote.
Mr. HASTINGS asked if the treaty did not design that those citizens referred to should be entitled to all the privileges of free citizens of the United States.
Mr. GILBERT said that according to the principles of the Constitution they should be admitted to all the rights and privileges of free citizens of the United States.
Mr. HOPPE had a different construction of this clause of the Constitution from some of his friends in the House. His friend from San Francisco (Mr. Gwin) observed that there was a property qualification in some of the States. He (Mr. Hoppe) admitted that; but at the same time it should be remembered that the States of the Union, and that of California, were admitted into our Republic in a different manner. California was admitted by a treaty between the United States and Mexico. Now we have taken a solemn obligation that we will support the Constitution of the United States. That treaty gives the right to every Mexican citizen, who becomes thereby a citizen of the United States, to enjoy the freedom and privileges which we enjoy. What does the Constitution say? It says that all treaties made under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land. Suppose we pass a law prohibiting Mexican citizens from the full enjoyment of the free elective franchise. What will be the effect? When this Constitution is presented to the Congress of the United States it will be rejected, because it is in direct conflict with the treaty of peace and the Constitution of the United States. He (Mr. Hoppe) was prepared to vote in favor of Mr. Gilbert's proposition. He thought the House was fully satisfied on the subject.
Mr. DIMMICK differed from most of the gentlemen who had spoken on this question. He admitted that the spirit of the treaty of peace, if made in accordance with the Constitution of the United States, and not in violation thereof, is the strongest. law that could be adduced; that it is stronger than any Constitution we can form here, and which the people might adopt. But upon looking at this treaty he found that it says that Mexican citizens shall be received at a suitable time to all the rights of citizens of the United States. What are the rights of citizens of the United States ? Are we to admit them to rights superior to those which we enjoy ourselves ? Does any one pretend to assert that we are under obligations to do this? Does it necessarily follow that the right of suffrage is one of these rights? He contended not. It is not necessarily the right of a citizen. He be. lieved that the States in their sovereign capacity have a right to make their own regulations in respect to this matter. The right of suffrage is not possessed by all citizens; it is not a general right. We admit these Mexicans subject to the same restrictions to which American citizens are subject. We are not necessarily compe!led to make Indians citizens, entitled to the elective franchise, when many of our own citizens in the United States are not entitled to such privilege. He (Mr. Dimmick) would go as far as any gentleman on this floor, to admit to all the privileges of citizenship such of them as are capable of understanding our institutions, and who are responsible and orderly citizens; but he would be very unwil. liug to admit the wild Indian tribes of California to the right of suffrage. He did not think such a thing was ever contemplated by the treaty. Those Indians who have become civilized, and who were entitled by the Mexican Government to hold lands and pay taxes, are not objectionable. They should be allowed the elective franchise; and as for the mixed race, descended from the Indians and Spaniards, he certainly was in favor of permitting them to enjoy the right of suffrage as libe. rally as any American citizen. It is no objection to them
that they have Indian blood in their veins. Some of the most honorable and distinguished families in Virginia are descended from the Indian race. It was the proudest boast on the floor of Congress of one of Virginia's greatest statesmen, that he had Indian blood in his veins. At the same time, it is absolutely necessary to embody in this Con. stitution such a restriction as will prevent the wild tribes from voting. He believed that these Indian tribes were never Mexican citizens in the full sense of the word; that it was necessary, according to Mexican law, for them to receive naturalization papers before they could enjoy that privilege. He would like to ascer. tain the fact, whether the Mexican laws declared these Indians free. He was under the impression that they were held in some kind of peonage or servitude. He could not vote or act understandingly until he knew more of the Constitution and laws of Mexico.
Mr. Gwin said it was very important that this matter should not be misunder. stood. The question raised by gentlemen as to the Constitution of the United States, is not applicable. Louisiana was purchased precisely as the United States purchased California. The very same words, in regard to citizenship, that you find in the treaty with•Mexico, are in the treaty with France. Yet when Louisi. ana formed a State Constitution, she put a restriction upon the right of suffrage ; she declared that only such and such persons should vote ; and if she violated the Constitution of the United States, she did so according to this construction. In the old Constitution of Louisiana, it is provided, that no person shall be a repre. sentative who, at the time of his election, is not a free white male citizen of the United States, &c. So much for the representative ; now for the voter. Recol. lect that Louisiana was purchased from France, and that all the rights were guar. antied by treaty to the citizens of Louisiana that are now guarantied to the citi. zens of California. There was a great mixture of population in Louisiana as there is here. The Constitution of that State says: “In all elections held by the people, every free while male, who has been two years a citizen of the United States, who has attained the age of twenty-one years, and resided in the State two consecutive years next preceeding the election, and the last year thereof in the parish in which he offers to vote, shall have the right of voting,” &c.
In regard to the property qualification, it should be strictly guarded. Gentlemen had heard of the celebrated Plaquemine vote. Vast numbers of votes were created there by buying up the public domain, and transferring it to parties who paid the taxes on it. They were then voters. It was certainly within the power of this Convention to impose such limitations as it thought expedient. He (Mr. Gwin) was disposed to adopt the suggestion of the gentleman from Los Angelos (Mr. Foster,) who proposed that those Indians, and those only, who had the right of suffrage in Mexico, should be entitled to the same privilege here.
On motion of Mr. Sherwood, the Committee, without taking the question, rose, reported progress, and asked leave to sit again.
The House then adjourned to 8 o'clock, P. M.
AFTERNOON SESSION, 8 o'CLOCK, P. M. On motion, the House resolved itself into Committee of the Whole, Mr. Dim. mick in the chair, on the report of the Co'nmittee on the Constitution relative to the right of suffrage.
The consideration of Mr. Bott's amendment to the amendment of Mr. Gilbert was taken up as follows :
To insert after the word “ Mexico," and before the word “who," the words “Indians not taxed, Africans and the descendants of Africans excepted.”
Mr. Dext said it appeared to him, that if the treaty of peace between the Uni. ted States and Mexico destroyed the right of this House to prescribe the qualifica. tions of the voters of California, a treaty could, upon the same principle, compel us to pass such regulations as it thought proper to prescribe. It could, in other words, destroy the sovereignty of the State. California makes application for ad. mission into the Union on the same footing, and on the same conditions, with other States. She applies, as a sovereign and independent State, exercising undoubted control over matters of this character. No law that the Government of the United States has made, can interfere with her in the exercise of this right, without de. priving her of her sovereignty. He could not believe that the Government of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this treaty, contemplated establishing the qualifications of voters here; he could not believe that it contemplated the destruction of the sovereignty of California.
Mr. Jones had been absent during the debate to.day, and had therefore been unable to follow the subject. According to his construction of the treaty, all those who were citizens of Mexico at the time of the adoption of that treaty, were to become citizens of the United States within one year, if they did not remain citizens of Mexico. By article Bth, it is provided that
“Mexicans now established in Territories previously belonging to Mexico, and which remain for the future within the l mits of the United States, as defined by the present treaty, shall be free to continue where they now reside, or remove at any time to the Mexican Republic, retaining the property which they possess in the said Territories, or disposing thereof, and removing the proceeds wherever they please, without their being subjected, on this account, to any contribution, tax, or charge whatever. Those who shall prefer to remain in the said Territories, may either retain the title and rights of Mexican citizens, or acquire those of citizens of the United States.”
They may either retain the title and rights of Mexican citizens, or acquire those of citizens of the United States. The treaty goes on to define the method by which they shall acquire the title and rights of citizens of the United States, in these words :
“But they shall be under the obligation to make their election within one year from the date of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty; and those who shall remain in the said Territories after the expiration of that year, without having declared their intention to retain the character of Mexicans, shall be considered to have elected to become citizens of the United States."