Debates in the Constitutional Convention Friday June 29 - History

Debates in the Constitutional Convention Friday June 29 - History

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In Convention. —Doctor JOHNSON. The controversy must be endless whilst gentlemen differ in the grounds of their arguments; those on one side considering tho States as districts of people composing one political society: those on the other, considering them as so many political societies. The fact is, that the States do exist as political societies, and a government is to be formed for them in their political capacity, as weld as for the individuals composing them. Does it not seem to follow, that if the States, as such, are to exist, they must be armed with some power of self-defence? This is the idea of Colonel MASON, who appears to have looked to the bottom of this matter. Besides the aristocratic and other interests, which ought to have the means of defending themselves, the States have their interests as such, and are equally entitled to like means. On the whole he thought, that, as in some respects the States are to be considered in their political capacity, and in others as districts of individual citizens, the two ideas embraced on different sides, instead of being opposed to each other, ought to be combined; that in one branch the people ought to be represented, in the other the States.

Mr. GORHAM. The States, as now confederated, have no doubt a right to refuse to be consolidated, or to be formed into any new system. But he wished the small States, which seemed most ready to object, to consider which are to give up most, they or the larger ones. He conceived that a rupture of the Union would be an event unhappy for all; but surely the large States would be least unable to take care of themselves, and to make connections with one another. The weak, therefore, were most interested in establishing some general system for maintaining order. If, among individuals composed partly of weak, and partly of strong, the former most need the protection of law and government, the case is exactly the same with weak and powerful States. What would be the situation of Delaware, (for these things he found must be spoken out, and it might as well be done at first as last), what would be the situation of Delaware in case of a separation of the States? Would she not be at the mercy of Pennsylvania? Would not her true interest lie in being consolidated with her: and ought she not now to wish for such a union with Pennsylvania, under one Government, as will put it out of the power of Pennsylvania to oppress her? Nothing can be more ideal than the danger apprehended by the States from the being formed into one nation. Massachusette was originally three colonies, viz. ; old Massachusetts, Plymouth, end the Province of Maine. These apprehensions existed then. An incorporation took place; all parties were safe and satisfied; and every distinction is now forgotten. The case was similar with Connecticut and New Haven. The dread of union was reciprocal; the consequence of it equally salutary and satisfactory. In like manner, New Jersey has been made one society out of two parts. Should a separation of the States take place, the fate of New Jersey would be worst of all. She has no foreign commerce, and can have but little. Pennsylvania and New York will continue to levy taxes on her consumption. If she consulte her interest, she would beg of all things to be annihilated. The apprehensions of the small States ought to be appeased by another reflection. Massachusetts will be divided. The Province of Maine is already considered as approaching the term of its annexation to it: and Pennsylvania will probably notincrease, considering'the present state of her population, and other events that may happen. On the whole, he considered a union of the States as necessary to their happiness, and a firm General Government as necessary to their union. He should consider it his duty, if his colleagues viewed the matter in the same light he did, to stay here as long as any other State would remain with them, in order to agree on some, plan that could, with propriety, be recommended to the people.

Mr. ELLSWORTH did not despair. He still trusted that some good plan of government would be devised and adopted.

Mr. READ. He should have no objection to the system if it were truly national, but it has too much of a federal mixture in it. The little States, he thought, had not much to fear. He suspected that the large States felt their want of energy, and wished for a General Government to supply the defect. Massachusetts was evidently laboring under her weakness, and he believed Delaware would not be in much danger if in her neighbourhood. Delaware had enjoyed tranquillity, and he flattered himself would continue to do so. He was not, however, so selfish as not to wish for a good General Government. In order to obtain one, the whole States must be incorporated. If the States remain, the representatives of the large ones will stick together, and carry every thing before them. The Executive, also, will be chosen under the influence of this partiality, and will betray it in his administration. These jealousies are inseparable from the scheme of leaving the States in existence. They must be done away. The ungranted lands, also, which have been assumed by particular States, must be given up. He repeated his approbation of the plan of Mr. HAMILTON, and wished it to be substituted for that on the table.

Mr. MADISON agreed with Dootor JOHNSON, that the mixed nature of the Government ought to be kept in view; but thought too much stress was laid on the rank of the States as political societies. There was a gradation, he observed, from the smallest corporation, with the most limited powers, to the largest empire, -with the most perfect sovereignty. He pointed out the limitations on the sovereignty of the States, as now confederated. Their laws, in relation to the paramount law of the Confederacy, were analagous to that of bye-laws to the supreme law within a State. Under the proposed Government the powers of the States will be mnch farther reduced. According to the views of every member, the General Government will have powers far beyond those exeroised by the British Parliament when the States were part of the British Empire. It will, in particular, have the power, without the consent of the State Legislatures, to levy money directly from the people themselves; and therefore, not to divest such unequal portions of the people as composed the several States of an equal voioe, would subject the system to the reproaches and evils which have resulted from the vicious representation in Great Britain.

He entreated the gentlemen representing the small States to renounce a prinoiple which was oonfessedly unjust; which oould never be admitted; and which, if admitte must infuse mortality into a Constitution which we wished to last forever. He prayed them to ponder well the consequences of suffering the Confederacy to go to pieces. It had been said that the want of energy in the large Stntes would be a security to the small. It was forgotten that this want of energy proceeded from the supposed security of the States against all external danger. Let each state depend on itself for its security, and let apprehensions arise of danger from distant powers from neighbouring States, and the languishing condition of all the States, large as well as small, would soon be transformed into vigorous and high-toned Governments. His great fear was, that their Governments would then have too much energy; that this might not only be formidable in the large to the small States, but fatal to the internal liberty of all. The same causes which have rendered the old world the theatre of inoessant wars, and have banished liberty from the face of it, would soon produce the same effects here. The weakness and jealousy of the small States would quickly introduce some regular military forge, against sudden danger from their powerful neighbours. The example would be followed by others, and would soon become universal. In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are coustantly given to the Executive magistrate. Constant apprehension of war has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with al1 overgrown Executive, will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny nt home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim, to excite a war whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved, the people. It is, perhaps, questionable, whether the best concerted system of absolute power in Europe, could maintain itself, in a situation where no alarms '[ external danger could tame the people to the domestic yoke. The insular situation of Great Britain was the principal cause of her being an exception to the general fate of Europe. It has rendered less defence necessary, and admitted a kind of defence, which could not be used for the purpose of oppression. These consequences, he conceived, ought to be apprehended, whether the States should run into a total separation from each other, or should enter into partial confederacies. Either event would be trully deplorable; and those who might be accessory to either, could never be forgiven by their country nor by themselves.

Mr. HAMILTON observed, that individuals forming political societies modify their rights differently, with regard to suffrage. Examples of it are found in all the States. In all of them, some individuals are deprived of the right altogether, not having the requisite qualification of property. In some of the States, the right of suffrage is allowed in some cases, and refused in others. To vote for a member in one branch, a certain quantum of property; to vote for a member in another branch of the Legislature, a higher quantum of property, is required. In like manner, States may modify their right of suffrage differently, the larger exercising a larger, the smaller a smaller, share of it. But as States are a collection of individual men, which ought we to respect most, the rights of the people composing them, or of the artificial beings resulting from the composition? Nothing could be more preposterous or absurd than to sacrifice the former to the latter. It has been said, that if the smaller States renounce their equality, they renounce at the same time their liberty. The truth is, it is a contest for power, not for liberty. Will the men composing the small States be less free than those composing the larger? The State of Delaware. having forty thousand souls will lose power, if she has one tenth only of the votes allowed to Pennsylvania having four hundred thousand; but will the people of Delaware be less free, if each citizen has an equal vote with each citizen of Pennsylvania? He admitted that common residence within the same State would produce a certain degree of attachment; and that this principle might have a certain influence on public affairs. He thought, however, that this might, by some procautions, be in a great measure excluded; and that no material inconvenience could result from it; as there could not be any ground for combination among the States whose influence was most dreaded. The only considerable distinction of interests lay between the carrying and non-carrying States, whicb divides, instead of uniting, the largest States. No considerable inconvenience had been found from the division of the State of New York into different districts of different sizes.

Some of the consequences of a dissolution of the Union, and the establishment of partial confederacies, had been pointed out. He would add another of a most serious nature. Alliances will immediately be formed with different rival and hostile nations of Europe, who will foment disturbances among ourselves, and make us parties to all their own quarrels. Foreign nations having American dominion are, and must be, jealous of us. Their representatives betray the utmost anxiety for our fate, and for the result of this meeting, which must have an essential induence on it. It had been said, that respectability in the eyes of foreign nations was not the object at which we aimed; that tho proper object of republican government was domostic tranquillity and happiness. This was an ideal distinction. No governmeut could give us tranquillity and happiness at home, which did not posesss sufficient stability and strength to make us respectable abroad. This was tile critical moment for forming such a government. We should run every risk in trusting to future amendments. As yet we retain tho habits of union. We are weak, and sensible of our weakness.. Henceforward, the motives will become feebler, and the difficulties greater. It is a miracle that we are now here, exercising our tranquil and free deliberations on the subject. It would be madness to trust to future miracles. A thousand causes must obstruct a reproduction of them.

Mr. PIERCE considered the equality of votes under the Confederation as the great source of the public difficulties. Tlie members of Congress were advocates for local advantages. State distinctions must be sacrificed, as far as the general good required but without destroying the States. Tllough from a small State, he felt himself a citizen of the United States.

Mr. GERRY urged, that we never were independent States, were not such now, and nover could be, even on the principles of the Confederation. The States, and the advocates for them, were intoxicated with the idea of their sovereignty. He was a member of Congress at the time the Federal Articles were formed. The injustice of allowing each State an equal vote was long insisted on. He voted for it, but it was against his judgment, and under the pressure of public danger, and the obstinacy of the lesser States. The present Confederation he corsidered as dissolving. The fate of the Union will bo decided by the Convention. If they do not agree on something, few delegates will probably be appointed to Congress. If they do, Congress will probably be kept up till the new system should be adopted. He lamented that, instead of coming here like a band of brothers, belonging to the same family, we seem to have brought with us the spirit of political negotiators.

Mr. L. MARTIN remarked, that the language, of the States being sovereign and independent, was once familiar and understood; though it seemed now so strange and obscure. He read those passages in the Articles of Confederation which describe them in that language.

On the question, as moved by Mr LANSING, shall the word " not " be struck out? Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, aye—4; Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no—6; Maryland, divided.

On the motion to agree to the clause as reported, " that the rule of suffrage in the first branch ought not to be according to that established by the Articles of the Con- federation," —Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye—G; Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, no—4; Marylaud, divided. ;

Doctor JOHNSON and Mr. ELLSWORTH moved to postpone the residue of the clause, and take up the eighth Resolution.

On the question, —Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye—9; Massachusetts, Delaware, no —2.

Mr. ELLSWORTH moved, " that the rule of suffrage in the second branch be the same with that established by the Articles of Confederation." He was not sorry on the whole, he said, that the vote just passed had determined against this rule in the first branch. He hoped it. would become a ground of compromise with regard to the second branch. We were partly national, partly federal. The proportional representation in the first branch was conformable to the national principle, and would secure the large States against the small. An equality of voices was conformable to the federal principle, and was necessary to secure the small States against the large. He trusted that on this middle ground a compromise would take place. He did not see that it could on any other, and if no compromise should take place, our meeting would not only be in vain, but worse than in vain. To the eastward, he was sure Massachusetts was the only State that would listen to a proposition for excluding the States, as equal political societies, from an equal voice in both branches. The others would risk every consequence rather than part with so; lear a right. An attempt to deprive them of it was at once cutting the body of America in two, and, as he supposed would be the case, somewhere about this part of it. The large States he conceived would, notwithstanding the equality of votes, have an influence that would maintain their superiority. Holland, as had been admitted (by Mr. MADISON), had, notwithstanding a like equality in the Dutch confederacy, a prevailing influence in the public measures. The power of self-defence was essential to the small States. Nature had given it to the smallest insect of the creation. He could never admit that there was no danger of combinations among the large States. They will like individuals find out and avail themselves of the advantage to be gained by it. It was true the danger would be greater if

Mr. BALDWIN could have wished that the powers of the general Legislature had been defined, before the mode of constituting it had been agitated. He should vote against the motion of Mr. ELLSWORTH, though he did not like the Resolution as it stood in the Report of the Committee of the Whole. He thought the second branch ought to be the representation of property, and that, in forming it, therefore, some reference ought to be had to the relative wealth of their constituents, and to the principles on which the Senate of Massachusetts was constituted. He concurred with those who thought it would be impossible for the General Legislature to extend its cares to the local matters of the States.


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On-Campus Courses

HIST AHG 501 1A / POLSC 501 1A: The American Revolution (2)

This course focuses on three topics: political developments in North America and the British empire and the arguments for and against independence, culminating in the Declaration of Independence the Revolutionary War as a military, social and cultural event in the development of the American nation and state and the United States under the Articles of Confederation.

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HIST 505 1A / POLSC 505 1A: The Progressive Era (2)

The transition to an industrial economy posed many problems for the United States. This course examines those problems and the responses to them that came to be known as progressivism. The course includes the study of World War I as a manifestation of progressive principles. The course emphasizes the political thought of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and their political expression of progressive principles.

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HIST 510 1A / POLSC 510 1A: Great American Texts–The Education of Henry Adams

Upon reading The Education of Henry Adams, Henry’s brothers described the book as “simply silly” and “jacose," but the book that Adams’ editor labeled an autobiography after his death is no laughing matter. By telling his story Henry Adams tells the story of America’s transformation from a republic to a large-scale democracy and witnesses America become a commercial and political power on an international stage during the and nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This course will study this transformation as it is witnessed one of America's greatest historians.

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HIST 633 1A / POLSC 633 1A: The American Presidency II–Johnson to the present (2)

This course is an examination of the political and constitutional development of the office of president from Reconstruction to the present. It focuses on how changing conceptions of the presidency have shaped American political life in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially as America has become a global power.

Instructors: J. David Alvis (Wofford College) and Adam M. Carrington (Hillsdale College)

Course Materials: Syllabus Course materials can be found on Blackboard

HIST 641 1A / POLSC 641 1A: The Supreme Court (2)

This course is an intensive study of the highest court in the federal judiciary, focusing on the place of the Supreme Court in the American constitutional order. Areas of study may include the relationship between the Court and the other branches of the federal government as well as the states the Court's power of judicial review and judicial politics and statesmanship. We will examine these kinds of issues by investigating how the Court has interpreted the Constitution in some of its most historic decisions.

Instructor: Jeffrey Sikkenga (Ashland University)

Course Materials: Syllabus Course materials can be found on Blackboard

HIST 680 1HL: The Civil Rights Movement in American History and Literature (2)

When James Baldwin declared that "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced," he captured a central truth about the Civil Rights Movement, a crusade that is often evoked as if it were a coherent and unified era rather than a complex and multifaceted undertaking. In this seminar, we will critically examine the fascinating historical documents and literary texts that both shaped and reflected the Civil Rights Movement. On the history "side," we will focus on issues such as the long arc of the freedom struggle, the indispensable role of ordinary heroes--women and men overlooked by traditional narrative histories--and the fraught but fascinating relationship between nonviolent strategies and Black Power. On the literary "side" we will consider how polemicists and protest writers contributed to the struggle directly how poets and playwrights found beauty amidst the pain of racial inequality and why contemporary writers have returned to the Civil Rights era as a resonant source of creative inspiration. Writers may include James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, Ernest Gaines, and others. Through our shared readings of key historical and literary texts, we will examine the complicated and often contradictory urges, goals, and experiences that inform the Civil Rights Movement.

Instructors: David F. Krugler (University of Wisconsin-Platteville) and Kathleen Pfeiffer (Oakland University)

Course Materials: Syllabus Course materials can be found on Blackboard

Since the nation’s founding, the fabric of American society has been woven with deeply racist policies, practices, and attitudes that harm Black and Indigenous people of color. These policies have led to an unequal system where white people have both implicit and explicit advantages because of the color of their skin, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing.

Systemic Equality is a racial justice agenda that seeks to address America’s legacy of racism and systemic discrimination through administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress, advocacy efforts, legal strategies to strike down laws and practices that exclude and harm, and a significant investment and dedicated resources in the South.

Debates in the Constitutional Convention Friday June 29 - History


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Wyoming Becomes a State: The Constitutional Convention and Statehood Debates of 1889 and 1890 and Their Aftermath

Democrats and Republicans alike in Wyoming Territory agreed by the late 1880s that it was time their territory became a state. Statehood was attractive to the territory’s businessmen and politicians, as it offered them much more local control over land and water issues. Statehood would also mean the federal government would no longer pay the salaries of the top officials — but that savings mattered less as time went on.

One big obstacle loomed, however: were there enough people? Population had grown only slowly since the Territory was established in 1869. Congress used a general rule of thumb, dating back before the U.S. Constitution to the Northwest Ordinance, that a territory had to show a population of 60,000 people to qualify for statehood. Territorial Gov. Thomas Moonlight, a Democrat, reported in December 1888 that Wyoming had only 55,500 people.

Most people lived on ranches and in small towns. The major employers, however, were the railroads (by 1890, these were the Union Pacific, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy and the Chicago and Northwestern) and the coal mines (many owned by the railroads). But the population remained small and scattered over the territory’s 98,000 square miles.

Cheyenne businessman and rancher Francis E. Warren, was appointed to a second stint as territorial governor in 1889, replacing Moonlight. Warren strongly supported statehood. The only officer elected territory-wide, Delegate to Congress Joseph M. Carey, also backed statehood. (Territorial governors and other top officials were appointed by the president. Territorial delegates to Congress could introduce legislation, but could not vote.) Carey argued that it was not unprecedented for territories with fewer than 60,000 people to be granted statehood. Warren, Carey and the others knew that, though Wyoming's 20-year-old experiment with votes for women would be controversial when the statehood question reached Congress, the population issue was more likely to cause problems.

When Congress did not act on Carey’s proposal for calling a Wyoming constitutional convention in 1889, presumably because of questions of population, Warren went ahead and set a date anyway for the election of delegates to a constitutional convention in Cheyenne. The election was called for July 8, 1889. Though women had full voting rights and rights to seek and hold office, not one ran for a delegate slot. The future state that had prided itself for being the first government to grant women equal political rights was to have a state constitution that was drafted, debated and passed entirely by men.

Constitutional Convention

Forty-nine of the 55 elected members assembled in Cheyenne in September 1889 to draft the Constitution. Four of the 49 did not sign the Constitution and attended only occasionally. Of those who did attend, 31 were Republicans and 18 were Democrats.

Warren emphasized the necessity for haste. In order for Wyoming’s request to be considered by Congress along with admission requests from neighboring states, a Wyoming statehood proposal would have to be introduced before the Congress ended its current session. That meant Wyoming citizens would have to vote on the Constitution at the November general election. Warren wanted their work done by the end of September—just 25 working days away.

Knowing their time was short, the delegates assembled a "scissors-and-paste” recapitulation of sections pulled from many other states. There were two major exceptions to that process, however—water and irrigation, and women’s rights.

Executive and judicial branches

Especially in fiscal matters, the delegates reflected the 19th century distrust of legislative power, and many of the 37 sections in the Declaration of Rights article likewise limited legislative power.

Likewise, the constitution explicitly states that the "executive power" of the state "shall be vested" in the governor, who "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed." These seemingly broad powers, however, were limited. Most notable was creation of numerous boards, made up of the governor acting with the other four statewide elected officials, to administer many important state functions. (Other states had already adopted similar systems.) The constitution also provided that appointments to some other boards of citizen volunteers be made for terms longer than the governor’s. University of Wyoming trustees, for example, are appointed for six-year terms. The Constitution also allowed various boards and commissions to govern specific state agencies and even appoint the directors, taking that appointment power out of the governor's hands. Only government reorganization in the 1990s, more than 100 years later, finally made many of these formerly governing boards advisory only.

The Constitution provided for a four-year term for the governor with no restrictions on the number of terms a governor could serve. The legislature would need a 2/3 vote to override a gubernatorial veto. During the 16th day of the convention, delegate A. C. Campbell introduced an amendment attempting to make an override require only a simple majority, but his proposal failed.

Some of the main debates were over what levels of population and assessed valuation should be sufficient to establish new counties. Some delegates argued it ought to be easy to create new counties, so that people wouldn’t have to travel great distances to do business at county seats. Others, however, saw danger in allowing new county formation too easily. New counties could drain off essential resources from older, established ones. Delegates compromised, allowing a relatively low threshold for county formation, but with the requirement that the old county from which the new one was carved would have to meet a specific threshold for assessed valuation, so that it would have sufficient financial resources to keep functioning.

On the very eve of adjournment, the question of county officers’ salaries consumed the session. Some delegates believed county officials would be more diligent if their pay was gained from a percentage of tax collected, from fees or other similar measure. The majority, however, favored salaries, set by the legislature.

Sorting out the judicial branch, delegates debated whether or not to have a supreme court separate from district courts. The three territorial justices "rode circuit” individually, sitting as trial judges and returning to Cheyenne to hear appeals as the supreme court. Many delegates, particularly non-lawyers, believed making two separate courts would be wasteful. In the opinion of several delegates, the district judges would conduct most of the work while the Supreme Court justices would be left with little to do. Lawyers, however, favored separate courts and managed to defeat an effort to retain the territorial system, but barely — 21 to 17.

Judges at all levels were to be elected to their offices. In 1972, the Constitution was amended to change that system dramatically, when the state adopted the "Missouri plan" of selection. A judicial nominating committee now accepts applications from Wyoming lawyers who have an interest in serving as a judge. The committee selects three names and forwards the names to the governor who then selects one to serve on the court until the next general election, when voters are given the option of voting to retain or not retain the judge for the entire term.

Legislative branch

/> /> />Legislative apportionment also consumed substantial delegate debate. The disagreements came with apportionment in the Senate. Delegates from the older established counties, along the southern tier on the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad, fought efforts by delegates from the smaller northern counties to follow a plan like the U.S. Constitution’s, with each county given an equal number of senators. Delegates from the Union Pacific-dominated southern Wyoming counties, led by Charles Potter and E. S. N. Morgan, both from Cheyenne, argued that the federal analogy was flawed. Counties have no independence they are creations of the state — not at all like the states' relationship to the federal government. George Baxter, also from Cheyenne, pointed out that it would be as unfair to give each county a senator as it would be to demand that each county give the same contribution to the state's general fund.

If delegates from the southern counties had been uniformly in agreement, the issue would have been settled very quickly. But former Territorial Gov. John Hoyt and M. C. Brown, the president of the Constitutional Convention, broke with their southern colleagues. Both argued that a smaller Senate, constructed along federal lines, could serve as a check on the popular will in the lower house. Brown called the idea "the happiest compromise that ever came to man."

All along, the delegates opted for apportionment in the House to be based on population. Elections were to be at large in each county. Even the least populated county, therefore, would have at least one representative. (Not until the legislative reapportionment after the 1990 census — and a legal challenge — were legislators in Wyoming elected from single-member districts). On the 19th day of deliberations, the convention rejected the federal analogy by allocating more than one senator to more populous counties. The delegates, however, gave a sop to several northern counties in the form of one additional House member each. While the more populous counties gained greater representation in the Senate, arguably, a modified "federal" plan prevailed because at least one senator still was granted to each county — even to the least populated one.

The delegates seemed comfortable with retaining women’s suffrage by incorporating it into a provision of the Constitution, which flatly stated that equality would exist without reference to gender. For the majority of delegates, more specific language was not needed. The delegates did argue, however, about including literacy as a requirement for voting. One member argued that if a voter had to read in order to vote, most newcomers would be able to vote while old established ranchers, many of them war veterans who had been voting for many years, would be stripped of their voting rights. The entire article, incorporating equal rights and the much more debated requirement for literacy, passed by a vote of 30-12. Only one delegate, Louis J. Palmer, an Illinois-born lawyer and Democrat from Sweetwater County, flatly stated opposition to women’s suffrage.

In the article on mining, however, women were barred from mining coal, after considerable debate. Finally, Alexander Sutherland, a Canadian-born Big Horn Basin rancher, noted that he had seen women working in the mines in Pennsylvania and said, "I hope we shall never see that in Wyoming." Women were constitutionally barred from coal mining until 1978.

Convention President M. C. Brown introduced an article that would have established a coal tonnage tax. Brown pointed out that the coal industry was making substantial profits as the companies (primary the Union Pacific Coal Company) removed more and more coal from the territory. Little of the coal was used within the borders of Wyoming. Brown argued that the state would be financially sound for years to come if a modest tax were assessed against every ton of coal shipped out of Wyoming. "Can they afford to pay out of that 75 cents [of clear profit] two and a half cents per ton?" he asked.

The measure passed initially. But soon afterward, C. D. Clark, a delegate from Uinta County and a lawyer for the Union Pacific, argued that if the state got revenues from every ton of coal mined, the result would be government waste, inefficiency and corruption. It would be preferable to keep government lean and honest, which could only be done, he said, if the tax on coal were not made part of the Constitution. The delegates reversed their earlier decision. Wyoming finally adopted a severance tax on coal, similar to Brown’s proposal, in 1969.

Revolutionary water law

While taxation of coal would have forever changed state funding, Wyoming's Article VIII, involving water and irrigation, was revolutionary. The constitution set up a complete system of water allocation, unique among states to that time, and firmly established the principle of state ownership of the resource.

Because of the declaration that the state owned all waters within its borders, the state could intervene as to issues of water. The most important figure in drafting the water and irrigation article was Dr. Elwood Mead, the territorial engineer with substantial experience in administering Wyoming’s territorial water laws as well as the laws in Colorado. Frustrated by endless court adjudications of water rights in Colorado, Mead advocated directing such controversies to the deliberations a group of individuals with real expertise in the subject — a state engineer and a board of control, made up of one superintendent for each of the state’s four main drainages — the Green, Platte, Wind/Bighorn, and Powder rivers. The engineer was president of the board the board’s main job was to protect both private and state interests in water. The Constitution also set forth the principle that "beneficial use" determined the better water right, and no appropriation could be denied unless "demanded by the public interest."

Debates were long over questions of water and irrigation. And halfway through the convention, delegates adjourned for an entire afternoon to meet with the visiting U. S. Senate Committee on Arid Lands. Similarly the entire morning session of the 18th day involved a lengthy debate over the definition of "appropriation."

Two delegates were credited with the water article — J. A. Johnston, a Laramie County farmer (and manager of the biggest irrigation venture in the state, the Wyoming Development Company, in which both Warren and Carey had invested), and Charles H. Burritt, a Johnson County lawyer. Prominent as well was Territorial Engineer Mead, who was not a convention delegate but nonetheless played a strong advocacy role behind the scenes. Mead advocated adoption of the prior appropriation doctrine (already in operation, to some extent, in California and in Colorado where he had formerly served as assistant water engineer). During his term as territorial engineer, he had traveled throughout the territory urging support for his system as a means of fair allocation for everyone. Asbury B. Conaway, a former territorial court justice serving as a delegate from Sweetwater County, questioned if the Mead-inspired article changed the common law rule about riparian rights — that is, simple streamside rights — to water. Johnston and Charles Potter agreed it did. The rest of the delegates approved.

While prior appropriation and administrative control by experts seemed reasonable, more revolutionary was state ownership of all waters within the state, a move that continues to intrigue modern historians. Early in the debate, M. C. Brown pointed out that without state ownership, prior appropriators would not be subject to the Constitution. "It would be utterly impossible for the legislature, or any power of the state, to control, regulate, or in any manner interfere with its use." He concluded that "It is only by the declaration that we are to be the absolute owners of all the water that we may be enabled to control unreservedly the uses to which it may be put."

Later in the debates, Sheridan County Democrat Henry A. Coffeen questioned if the water appropriation was a move to enrich corporations. Republican Charles Burritt from neighboring Johnson County took issue with the insinuation. Such a connection "exists only in the very fertile imagination of the gentleman from Sheridan," Burritt said.

Contrary to Coffeen's suspicions, historian Don Pisani argues that the lack of big mining interests, the relatively ample supply of unappropriated water and the absence of large groups of farmers made the Wyoming article possible. Other historians argue that the water article came from the "cattle kings — early arrivals and earliest users of water who were confident such prior appropriation would ratify their holdings (and who were among those who established the Wyoming Development Company, noted earlier).

At the same time, state ownership of the water was not a threat to them because they also were certain they would control state government. But these interpretations do not account for the concern delegates had over rights of Wyoming cities to water. Delegates debated whether or not municipalities should have the power to appropriate water. The cities were given that power.

Mead was crucial to the debate and to the eventual adoption of the water and irrigation article. Delegates drew from his experience with water and his persuasive abilities to argue for a predictable, expert-driven means of determining rights. As Mead biographer James Kluger points out, Mead's ideas about water spread worldwide and the Wyoming convention gave him his first opportunity to articulate his water vision.

Throughout the wide-ranging convention discussions on the state's ownership of water, no mention was made of the rights of the earliest water users—the Native Americans. Though the tribes who had long used the lands that became Wyoming had not been irrigators, they had of course used the streams as they needed, and the 1868 treaty settling the Eastern Shoshone tribe on a reservation on the Wind River had mentioned water among the tribe’s resource rights. It was not until nearly 100 years after the constitution was adopted that Wyoming’s supreme court, later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled that, independent of the state’s claim in 1890 to own all waters in Wyoming did not apply to the two tribes, Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone, that ultimately settled on the reservation. Rather, the courts ruled, the earlier treaty with the federal government had given the tribes the best priority rights to most of the flow of the Wind River, if they could put it to use.

But even beyond natural resource issues (and except for language exempting Indians from state tax and implying they could not vote because they were not considered citizens, delegates to the Constitutional Convention made no other mention of the presence of native people within the state's borders.

The railroads

Except for their reversal on the coal tonnage tax, the delegates displayed their independence from the influence of the Union Pacific by passing several provisions controlling the way the railroad did business. One barred the railroad from by-passing an established community in order to set up a depot nearby. Another declared railroads common carriers and required them to "deal impartially with the public,” and to keep their rates fair.

When the delegates debated how the master-servant rule would be applied in Wyoming in order that employees would not be barred from collecting for damages resulting from the negligence of another employee, many delegates pointed out that there were other corporations besides the Union Pacific in Wyoming.

Nonetheless, most knew that when provisions were being offered to curb corporate power, the railroad stood to lose the most. The convention passed a section restricting the legislature from providing any form of financial aid for railroad construction. The delegates similarly debated a proposal that would restrict corporations to one line of business. Adopted by the convention, Article 10, Sec. 6 was amended in 1960 to loosen the requirement.

"Chinese labor" was debated extensively — whether or not the constitution ought to ban use of Chinese labor on public works projects. The proposal was introduced by Thomas R. Reid, a Democrat and Union Pacific railway worker from Cheyenne, a native of England who had emigrated to Wyoming as a young man from Australia. Some viewed the proposal as a dig at Warren for his actions four years earlier helping protect Chinese miners against white miners at Rock Springs, after the whites had rioted, killing 28 Chinese. The proposal demonstrated discrimination against Chinese labor de facto: "No person not a citizen of the United States or who has not declared his intention to become such, shall be employed upon or in connection with any state, county or municipal works or employment." The measure passed, with bipartisan support. (See article XIX, section 1 in the original constitution.)

As a further measure of protection to the local workforce, the Constitution instituted the eight-hour day for miners. Another section forbade the importation of "private armies" into the state, clearly intended to prevent employers like the Union Pacific from importing Pinkerton agents to break labor strikes. The measure passed. Just three years later, however. stockmen raised such a private army to invade Johnson County and kill people they labeled rustlers. Two of the stockmen leading the invaders had been delegates to the Constitutional Convention--and had voted for the provision banning private armies.

The convention also showed skepticism of organized religion, and insisted on separation of church and state. Article 3, Sec. 36 asserts "No appropriation shall be made for charitable, industrial, educational or benevolent purposes to any person, corporation or community not under the absolute control of the state, nor to any denominational or sectarian institution or association." A similar provision in the Declaration of Rights states more directly, "No money of the state shall ever be given or appropriated to any sectarian or religious society or institution." During debate over requiring an oath for jurors, delegates made it clear that "belief or non-belief in God" ought to be no bar to service. The measures had near-unanimous and bipartisan support.

Political and sectional divisions

Republicans held a significant majority in the convention, but the convention did not divide along partisan lines. (U.S. Congressional Delegate Carey noted this fact in his speech to the Congress advocating admission in February 1890, and the fact is fairly clear from reading the convention proceedings). The real divisions appeared not between parties but between progressives and reformers versus conservatives, and between regions of the state. Though Mead’s successful proposals on water were part of a progressive policy outlook, some other ideas pushed by progressives failed. In addition to Brown's efforts at taxation of coal, for example, were a proposal from Delegate and University of Wyoming President John Hoyt to create a civil service for state employees. His recommendation was defeated by a substantial margin, however — 21-11. C. D. Clark, who had eloquently opposed the coal tonnage tax, also led opposition to the reform measure. Brown, Hoyt and Clark were all Republicans.

Sectional differences were particularly significant. Debates over legislative apportionment consumed substantial convention time. So did other issues dividing the earlier-populated, southern counties from the newly developing ones in the North. These divisions came up again over the question of where to locate state institutions. Delegates from the southern counties wanted the convention to ratify the territorial legislatures' designated locations of the already existing capital (Cheyenne), state "insane asylum" (Evanston), university (Laramie), and prison (Rawlins). Northern delegates, believing their region was about to experience population booms, disagreed. The convention struck a compromise. At an election to be held "no sooner than 10 years" after the passage of the Constitution, voters would decide the "permanent" locations of state institutions. During the interim, the institutions would be temporarily housed in the communities previously designated by the territorial legislatures.

In 1904, the election for the permanent locations finally was held. Laramie was the sole candidate for the university Evanston, the state hospital Rawlins, the state penitentiary. Cheyenne, however, was challenged by several cities for the capital.

The most serious competitor was Casper, founded in 1888 as a wool shipping point, but growing soon after into the center for oil exploration and development. It had the advantage of central location over Cheyenne, in the extreme southeast corner of the state. Centrally located Lander also got into the contest.

The election result gave Cheyenne more than 40 percent of the vote, but not the required 50 percent plus one, as designated in the constitution for permanent location. Consequently, Cheyenne remains, at least constitutionally, the "temporary" capital of the state.

The delegates never seriously questioned the declaration, included in the Constitution, that: "The people inhabiting this state do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof…" Yet, disregarding this language, so-called sagebrush rebels over the years have persisted in demanding that the federal government "return" all federal lands to the state.

The delegates debated numerous education issues. Most significant was how state lands, held in trust for the benefit of the schools, would be sold or leased. Any sale had to be made at or above the appraisal value. All revenues from sale or rent of these lands went into a permanent school fund for the exclusive support of public schools.

Delegates endorsed a provision barring the state superintendent or the legislature from choosing textbooks for use in schools. Charles Potter’s was the only recorded comment explaining the rationale: "I venture to say there is no more corruption than that which is caused where the prescribing of textbooks is left to the legislature."

The convention also debated how funding for schools could be fair to both small and large school districts. With the details left to the legislature, the convention concluded that baseline amounts should be allocated for each school, and after that, allocation of additional funds would depend on numbers of students. A property tax for support of public schools became a part of the Wyoming Constitution in 1948, and was amended in 1982. A series of Wyoming Supreme Court decisions in the 1990s, demanded equity in school funding statewide, and school-funding fairness continued to dominate legislative sessions in the late 1990s and early 2000s, more than a century after the convention met.

The convention also established a state university — already in existence in the Territory since 1886. The university was to be governed by a board, and "equally open to students of both sexes, irrespective of race or color…" The Constitution stated that the university would receive enough state funds to keep higher education "as nearly free as possible."

Finally, on the 25th day of the convention, the delegates voted on adoption of the entire document. The resolution passed 37-0. Later that day, 45 of the 55 elected delegates signed the document and adjourned, thereby sending it on the voters for approval.

Gov. Warren called a special election for Nov. 5, 1889. The Constitution passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 6,272 in favor to 1,903 against. The margin wasn’t a problem the problem was the total number of voters.

Wyoming Statehood in the Congress

On March 26, 1890, Territorial Delegate to Congress Joseph M. Carey introduced a bill calling for statehood for Wyoming. (It was not the first, but other attempts had not gotten far.) For months before the special election, Carey had been telling colleagues that Wyoming's true population was far above the traditional 60,000-person statehood threshold. At one point, he estimated it as high as 125,000! Now he had to explain why, if the population was so great, so few people had voted in the special election.

Population is always hard to estimate, Carey said when he took to the floor of the House to advocate passage of the Wyoming Statehood Bill. As for the 60,000 threshold, at least seven states had been admitted with fewer people — and nearly all doubled in population in their first five years of statehood, he said. Wyoming, with "booms and immigration societies,” had increased steadily "in population and wealth” since establishment of the Territory, and no doubt would continue to do so, he said.

/>Carey went on to attribute the small turnout at the special election to lack of interest, saying "There is but little of politics in Wyoming. Every year is an off year …” He was confident turnouts would increase once the state was admitted to the Union. Geography was a problem too, he said. Accurate censuses and voter turnouts were both difficult for a population spread over 100,000 square miles.

Curiously, Carey made no mention in his speech of the women’s suffrage article, which some delegates to the Constitutional convention believed might have been harmful to gaining statehood. Still, numerous Democrats in the U.S. House spoke against admission of Wyoming—known to be leaning Republican. In the minority in the House, Democrats knew they’d be unable to block admission based on party affiliation alone—but they could argue against statehood for a Republican territory by attacking women’s suffrage. They made persistent objections to Wyoming's article 6 that granted women equal rights. It almost worked. The vote was very close. Wyoming statehood finally passed the House of Representatives, 139-127.

Warren and Carey both assured Wyomingites that the bill would pass the Senate within ten days. It didn’t happen that quickly, however, with prominent Senate Democrats continuing to question both the territory's population and its having allowed women the vote. (Women were not granted the vote in U.S. elections until 1920.) Finally, three months after House passage, Wyoming Statehood passed the Senate by a more comfortable 29-18 margin. President Harrison signed the Statehood Bill on July 10, 1890. Wyoming was the 44th state admitted to the Union.

When the 1890 census figures for Wyoming became available nearly two years after statehood, they showed 62,555 people, according to the official count of April 1890, two months after Carey's speech in the House. Ever since statehood, Wyoming has been last or close to last among the states in population. Only Nevada was smaller in the early 20th century only Alaska, for one census in the middle of the century. Since statehood, government officials almost uniformly have called for economic diversification to increase the state's population and diminish the state's dependence on agriculture and natural resources. In the early 21st century, many residents of the state were comfortable with the small population and opposed promotional drives except for attracting tourists for temporary stays.

Many of the convention delegates, meanwhile. went on to long careers in Wyoming politics, Warren and Carey most prominent among them. Soon after statehood, the first Wyoming State Legislature sent Carey to the U. S. Senate. In November, 1890, Warren easily won the race for state governor, but abandoned that post two and a half months later when the Legislature sent him, too, to the Senate. Except for a two-year period, he remained in that chamber, and as a power in Wyoming politics, until his death in 1929.

In 1894, Warren managed to push his old friend Carey out of the Senate, and a 25-year feud between the two began. In 1910, Carey managed to gain the Democratic nomination for governor, beat the Warren-backed candidate and served for one term. Joseph Carey died in 1923, five years after the Warren machine ended the feud by nominating his son, Robert Carey, for the governorship.

C.D. Clark, the Union Pacific Railroad lawyer from Evanston who’d argued successfully against a coal tax, won election to the U. S. House of Representatives as Wyoming's only representative. Clark was later elected to the U. S. Senate Henry Coffeen, to the U. S. House of Representatives.

Other delegates served as federal judges and judges on Wyoming’s Supreme Court and district courts. Hoyt, the UW President and former Territorial governor, and the delegate who drafted much of the education article, returned to the university presidency after statehood. Soon after, however, he was fired by the trustees over disagreements over administrative control. Two delegates, Charles Burdick and William Chaplin, were later elected secretary of state. Delegate DeForest Richards was serving as Wyoming governor at the time of his death in 1902.

Delegates W. C. Irvine, H. C. Teschemacher, and Charles Burritt were implicated on the side of the invaders in the Johnson County War in 1892.

The Wyoming Constitution, amended some 75 times since its adoption, remains generally similar to the document drafted in 1889. It is the 11th longest of any state constitution, much longer and more detailed than the United States Constitution and many other state constitutions. Major amendments have been made to articles on judicial selection and on public finance. An amendment was passed in 1974 making it difficult to adopt a state income tax Wyoming remains one of seven states without an income tax. The first sales tax was authorized in 1935.

While gubernatorial power increased with government reorganization in the 1990s, the constitution continues to dilute the power of the chief executive by providing for such entities as thestate land board, which governs the revenue-raising measures and management of state lands and farm loans, and is made up of the governor and the other four statewide elected officials.

Since its adoption in 1889 and Wyoming statehood the following year, there has been no call for a second constitutional convention to replace the current version. Wyoming's constitution retains the outlines drawn for it by the drafters in 1889 and accepted by Congress the next year, when Wyoming became the 44th state.

Civil War 1861-1865

"The Game of Secession, or Sketches of the Rebellion," a board game.

The New York State Library holds an extensive collection of material on the American Civil War in print, microform, and online formats. Civil War materials available at the State Library include regimental and military histories, personal narratives, military records, general references, bibliographies, annual reports of the New York State Adjutant-General (which include registers of New York regiments), rosters of Confederate and Union soldiers, the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, documents and reports of federal agencies, lists of pensioners and numerous primary documents, such as letters, diaries, citations, personal and family papers, broadsides, prints, music, maps and atlases.

Listed below are publications that have been digitized from items/volumes in the New York State Library's collection. As the State Library digitizes other Civil War materials, links to the digital copy will be added to this list. The titles listed below are also available in print copy at the NYSL for use onsite. Some of the titles are also available in microform copy and are available for loan. Additional materials relating to the Civil War can be found by searching the NYSL online catalog and the Finding Aids to Special Collections.

For more information, contact the Reference Desk at 518-474-5355 or via e-mail, or see the Digital Collections FAQ.

Ages of U. S. Volunteer Soldiery: This report, prepared by the Statistical Bureau of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, shows the number of men at each year of age in the volunteer organizations at the time of their muster into service of the United States during the Civil War. The information is arranged in tables for states, territories or geographic groups. Officers are tabulated as a distinct class and the branches of the military – infantry, cavalry and artillery – have been treated separately.

Army Relief Bazaar, Albany, in Aid of the United States Sanitary Commission: This is a certificate that was given to people who helped put on the Army Relief Bazaar held in Albany during February – March 1864. The line for the certificate holder's name is blank. There are six pictures on the certificate: picture of George Washington a cityscape of Albany, NY from across the Hudson River picture of an unidentified military officer an exterior of the building in which the bazaar was held a picture of an American eagle hovering over the Constitution and a picture of the interior of the building in which the bazaar was held.

Army Relief Bazaar: Grand Promenade Concert: A broadside publicizing a concert that was held as part of the Army Relief Bazaar in Albany in 1864. The concert band was under the direction of Professor Charles Doring. The concert program is included on the broadside.

Army Relief Bazaar Regulations: A broadside listing the regulations of the Army Relief Bazaar that was held in Albany during February and March 1864 to aid the U.S. Sanitary Commission.

Cayuga in the Field: A Record of the 19th N.Y. Volunteers, All the Batteries of the 3d New York Artillery, and 75th New York Volunteers: This publication, by Henry Hall and James Hall, contains information on the organization, camp life, marches, battles and losses of the 19th New York Volunteers, the 3rd New York Artillery and the 75th New York Volunteers.

Circular: This circular was issued on May 29, 1861, by George P. Sharpe, chairman of the Kingston Sub-Committee of the Ulster Military Relief. In the circular, Sharpe talks about the need for flannel drawers, shoes and India Rubber blankets for the soldiers in the 20th regiment. He provides information on the cost of these items and explains where contributions can be made.

Civil War Map of Shiloh, Tennessee, 1862: An 1862 tactical map used by Brigadier General Daniel Ruggles (Confederate Army) at the battle of Shiloh, Tennessee.

Corporal Granville Abbott's Hammock Knapsack: A broadside promoting Corporal Granville Abbott's invention, a hammock-knapsack. Abbott received a US patent for his invention – US Patent No. 41,418, dated February 2, 1864. He was enlisted in the Thirty-First Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry at the time.

Final Report on the Battlefield of Gettysburg: This three-volume set contains New York at Gettysburg by William F. Fox and includes regimental histories of the numerous New York State regiments that fought at Gettysburg. The report also includes the dedication of the monuments erected in honor of the New York regiments at Gettysburg and the location, dimension, construction and cost of each of the New York monuments at Gettysburg.

The Game of Secession, or Sketches of the Rebellion: This full-color game board from 1862 includes images of Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis and three military figures as well as images of battle sites and editorial cartoons related to the Civil War.

Army and Navy Swords: This broadside is a notice of the closing date and time for subscriptions at the Metropolitan fair, New York, NY.

Mr. Jay's Address on Presenting the Colours Prepared By the Ladies of New York: The "Colours" were presented to the Second Coloured Regiment raised by the Union League Club on the regiment's departure for war. This broadside includes the text of Col. William Silliman's reply.

New York in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1865: This six-volume set compiled by Frederick Phisterer provides detailed information on various aspects of New York State's role in the Civil War and is an important resource for conducting research into New York State regiments during the Civil War. Each regimental history in this set includes information on when and where a regiment was recruited, the names of its officers, the battles in which the regiment participated, and the casualties suffered. More information about Phisterer's New York in the War of the Rebellion .

Onondaga's Part in the Civil War: This volume, written by Mrs. Sarah Sumner Teall, was published as the Annual Volume of the Onondaga Historical Association for 1915.

Registers of New York Regiments in the War of the Rebellion : These registers are from the Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of New York . The Annual Reports for 1893-1905 have supplementary volumes that contain the registers of New York regiments in the Civil War. The registers list the officers and enlisted men in each New York State volunteer regiment and battery during the Civil War and include a sketch of their service with the unit.

The United States Conscription Law or National Militia Act: This volume was published by the James W. Fortune and provides text of the U.S. conscription law as approved March 20, 1863.

Who is Responsible for the War? Who Accountable for its Horrors and Desolations?: This broadside has extracts from a speech given by Alexander H. Stephens (Vice-President of the Confederate States), delivered in the Secession Convention of Georgia on the 31st day of January 1861.

Wesley H. Shaw Letters, 1861-1865: This is a group of letters that Wesley H. Shaw sent to his family detailing his experiences of military services during the Civil War. He provides a vivid picture of camp life and routine activities such as drill and picket duty, as well as battles and skirmishes with Confederate troops. Shaw was a soldier from Otselic, Chenango County, New York who served in 35th New York Infantry, Co. H from 1861-1862. Shaw reenlisted and served in the 2nd New York Heavy Artillery, Co. G, from 1864-1865. He fought in the battles at Bull Run and Antietam.

Letters describing the Battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg: The New York State Library's Manuscripts and Special Collections Unit has many collections related to the Civil War. In July 2013, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of two major Civil War Battles, Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the Library digitized selected letters that contain some descriptions of the battles.

Journal of the Proceedings and Debates in the Constitutional Convention of the State of Mississippi, August, 1865. (Paperback, 2012)

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Only one year after the 1848 Seneca Falls Woman&rsquos Rights Convention a special Senate Committee was tasked with making recommendations for a general revision of the state constitution. The committee responded with a lengthy report in which they went so far as to recommend universal suffrage based on the importance of natural rights and equality, and the deeply-held American belief that government must derive its power from the consent of the governed &ndash including women.

&ldquoReport of the Special Committee on the Part of the Senate, on the General Revision of the Constitution of the State of Michigan.&rdquo In Documents Accompanying the Journal of the Senate of the State of Michigan at the Annual Session of 1849. Lansing, MI: Munger & Pattison, Printers to the State, 1849, pp. 32-69.

Convention delegates met in the second Michigan State Capitol (located in Lansing) in 1850 to draft a new state constitution. Not surprisingly, debates over extending the franchise to women, black men, Native men, and recent immigrants ensued. The final document granted the vote to male Native Americans who were at least twenty-one years old and did not belong to any tribe.

&ldquoConstitution of Michigan of 1850.&rdquo Michigan Legislature. Accessed January 27, 2020.

By 1855, Michigan women were actively signing petitions asking for the right to vote. Some couched their request in respectful and somewhat timid language, while others preferred to be blunt. From this point forward, Michigan women would submit petitions asking for &ndash or occasionally demanding &ndash the vote at nearly every biennial legislative session thereafter. Some of these petitions were referred to legislative committees for discussion, while others simply languished.

Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Michigan. Lansing, MI: Hosmer & Fitch, Printers to the State, 1855.

The Michigan House and Senate voted to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in January of 1867. This Amendment defined citizenship, and, much to the chagrin of many woman&rsquos suffrage supporters, introduced the word &ldquomale&rdquo into the document.

Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Michigan 1867. Lansing, MI: John A. Kerr & Co, Printers to the State, 1867, pp. 180-182.
Journal of the Senate of the State of Michigan 1867. Lansing, MI: John A. Kerr & Co. Printers to the State, 1867, pp. 181-182.

Throughout the spring and summer of 1867, a constitutional convention met in the wooden Capitol for the purpose of writing a third state constitution. Convention delegates received numerous woman&rsquos suffrage petitions, but ultimately voted down removing the word &ldquomale&rdquo from the constitution 23 to 46. They also rejected by a slimmer margin of 31 to 34 the idea of submitting the question to the voters in a separate proposal.

The document drafted did extend the franchise to African American men. This reform did not come to pass, however, as Michigan voters soundly rejected the document due, in part, to this issue. Black men in Michigan would have to wait three more years to receive their voting rights, until the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in February of 1870.

Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention of the State of Michigan Convened at the City of Lansing, May 15th, 1867. Vol. II. Lansing, MI: John A. Kerr & Co., Printers to the State, 1867, pp. 775, 791.

On March 31, 1869, Harriet Tenney was confirmed as Michigan&rsquos new State Librarian. This made her the first female state officer (the 19th century equivalent of a department director) in the Peninsular State, and only the third female state librarian nationally. Though Tenney never publicly expressed her opinion on suffrage, her appointment was celebrated as a victory for women and &ldquoan entering wedge for suffrage and female office-holding.&rdquo

&ldquoAn Entering Wedge.&rdquo Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, April 9, 1869.

Though delegates to the 1867 constitutional convention ultimately did not vote to enfranchise Michigan women, there was a growing sense that perhaps the time had come. In January 1870, a group of reformers founded the Michigan State Woman Suffrage Association (also known as MSWSA) in Battle Creek. Soon this group was actively lobbying the Legislature for a constitutional amendment enfranchising women, or an acknowledgement that women, as citizens, could now vote under the newly amended U.S. Constitution.

The leaders of MSWSA clearly understood the importance of taking their message to the Capitol. In March 1871, the group held their annual convention in Lansing, timed to coincide with the busy biennial legislative session. In the days leading up to it, a Joint Resolution was introduced &ldquosubmitting an amendment to the constitution, providing for female suffrage&rdquo which was read and referred to committees in both the House and Senate.

While the House ultimately failed to act on this resolution, they granted permission to use their Chamber in the evenings to multiple women who wished to speak on the suffrage issue. First, on Wednesday, March 1, Mrs. Dr. Wheaton of Kalamazoo spoke opposing woman&rsquos suffrage at the same time that Susan B. Anthony was opening the MSWSA conference at Mead&rsquos Hall in downtown Lansing. A trio of pro-suffrage advocates, comprised of Anthony, Judge Livermore, and Mrs. Adele Hazlett, spoke in the House the following night, the latter specifically rebutting Mrs. Wheaton&rsquos arguments. According to the local Lansing State Republican, a pro-suffrage newspaper, both the anti and pro speeches were well attended.

On Friday, March 3, MSWSA sent a resolution to the legislature stating that &ldquoWe, the members of the Michigan State Woman Suffrage Association . . . request your honorable body to pass a joint resolution to the effect that in your opinion the Legislature of Michigan, in ratifying the 14th and 15th amendments to the federal constitution, annulled all laws of the State denying or abridging the right of the women to vote.&rdquo The resolution was signed by Mrs. Mary T. Lathrop, MSWSA President, who proceeded to address both the House and the Senate in their respective Capitol Chambers. This was an extraordinary moment for the women of Michigan, who were now personally advocating for suffrage in the very rooms where the laws of Michigan were made. Yet even this direct petition failed to change the minds of the male legislature.

Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Michigan 1871. Vol. II. Lansing, MI: W.S. George & Co, Printers to the State, 1871, pp. 882, 945, 1022, 1104-1105.
Journal of the Senate of the State of Michigan 1871. Lansing, MI: W.S. George & Co., Printers to the State, 1871, pp. 809-810.
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage. History of Woman Suffrage. Reprinted. Vol. III. New York, NY: Source Book Press, 1970, pp. 515-516.
&ldquoWoman's Suffrage Convention.&rdquo Lansing State Republican, March 2, 1871.
&ldquoState Woman&rsquos Suffrage Association&rdquo Lansing State Republican, March 9, 1871.

In the fall of 1873 a special Constitutional Commission of eighteen gubernatorial appointees met in Lansing to discuss and propose amendments to the 1850 Constitution. While they did not endorse including woman&rsquos suffrage, their recommendations went to the Legislature, who had a different opinion. On March 12, 1874, during a special spring session, the Michigan State Woman Suffrage Association sent a memorial to the Legislature asking that they strike out the word &ldquomale&rdquo from the state constitution. &ldquoWomen are also governed,&rdquo the association argued, &ldquowhile they have no direct voice in the government, and made subject to laws affecting their property, their personal rights and liberty, in whose enactment they have had no voice.&rdquo By righting this wrong the Legislature would &ldquoelevate the entire people to the highest practicable place of intelligence and true civilization.&rdquo

Both the House and Senate took heed and voted to submit a constitutional amendment enfranchising women to the voters via a separate one-issue ballot marked &ldquoWoman suffrage &ndash Yes&rdquo or &ldquoWoman suffrage &ndash No&rdquo at the 1874 election.

Excited about the potential of this amendment, MSWSA reconvened in Lansing on May 6 and 7. This time, the group met in Representatives Hall, in the Capitol itself. Over the course of two days, approximately 300 men and women heard a lecture by Elizabeth Cady Stanton read congratulatory letters from other state and national suffrage leaders and began organizing a multi-tiered campaign consisting of state, county, and township level suffrage associations. These associations would recruit and host competent lecturers, print and distribute documents, frame convincing arguments and conclusions, and fundraise for the cause. In addition, following the protocol of the time, the MSWSA would need to furnish ballots for every polling place, as actual units of government did not yet print their own.

In the months that followed, local suffrage advocates continued to meet in the wooden Capitol, which had long served Lansing as a sort of unofficial town hall. Towards the end of October, the Ingham county chapter of the Friends of Impartial Suffrage met with other likeminded area groups back in Representatives Hall. Together they reaffirmed their campaign work and resolved to encourage the formation of &ldquoa committee of five or more ladies be appointed in each township or ward to present the question of Woman Suffrage at the polls at the coming election.&rdquo

Despite the best efforts of both local and state level volunteers, the proposed amendment to the constitution failed dramatically, with 40,077 yes votes and 135,957 no votes.

The Constitution of Michigan with Amendments Thereto as Recommended by the Constitutional Commission of 1873. Lansing, MI: W.S. George & Co., State Printers and Binders, 1873.
Fairlie, John A. &ldquoThe Referendum and Initiative in Michigan.&rdquo In The Initiative, Referendum and Recall, p. 156. Philadelphia, PA: American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1912.
Jenison Woman&rsquos Suffrage Scrapbook, Rare Book Room, the Library of Michigan, an agency of the Michigan Department of Education.
Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Michigan Extra Session 1874. Lansing, MI: W.S. George & Co., State Printers and Binders, 1874, pp. 94, 172-174.
Journal of the Michigan Senate of the State of Michigan Extra Session 1874. Lansing, MI: W.S. George & Co., State Printers and Binders, 1874, pp. 128-129.
Proceedings of the Michigan State Woman-Suffrage Association at Its Fifth Annual Meeting. Kalamazoo, MI: Daily Telegraph Book and Job Printing House, 1874 .

On March 29, 1875, J.N. Potter of Romeo, Michigan, deposited an item known affectionately as &ldquoThe Pendell Watch&rdquo in the State Library, which also acted as a museum for important Michigan objects and relics. The watch had been donated to the suffrage cause by Mrs. Pendell of Battle Creek during the 1874 MSWSA meeting in Lansing. Throughout the course of the 1874 campaign, Mrs. M. Adele Hazlett, a popular suffrage speaker, repeatedly &ldquosold&rdquo the watch at her lectures to raise money for the cause. It remained on exhibit in the Capitol for many years.

&ldquoThe Pendell Watch.&rdquo Lansing Republican, March 30, 1875.

The Michigan Legislature took a tiny step towards enfranchising women when, in 1881, they passed a new law that permitted every person (twenty-one years of age and over) who paid school taxes in a district to vote on all school related questions at school meetings. In addition, parents and legal guardians of school age children who were on the local school census could vote during school meetings on questions that did not involve raising monies via taxes. This extremely limited gain was a reminder that, by the late 19th century, the education of children fell into the so-called &ldquofeminine sphere.&rdquo Moral mothers were encouraged to extend their reforming influence to the schools in order to improve their children&rsquos educational prospects.

Public Acts and Joint and Concurrent Resolutions of The Legislature of the State of Michigan Passed at the Regular Session of 1881. Lansing, MI: W.S. George & Co., State Printers and Binders, 1881, p. 168.

After organizing in Flint in May of 1884, the new Michigan Equal Suffrage Association (or MESA) sent a petition to the Legislature asking for municipal suffrage. Their argument was based, in part, on the fact that the Legislature had already granted women the vote at school meetings.

&ldquoIf municipal suffrage to women would be unconstitutional, then is the law allowing them to vote at school meetings unconstitutional. That is a part of municipal suffrage, and quite as important a part as that of voting at town meetings.

&ldquoOnce admit that the Legislature has power to grant suffrage at all in municipal affairs, to women, and you admit that they have the power to grant in full. And this is admitted in the act giving them municipal suffrage at school meetings.

&ldquoThe power you undoubtedly have, and in giving them a vote at school meetings you admit that you have it, and you must find some other pretext for the refusal, or admit you are wrong if you defeat the measure.&rdquo

MESA clearly saw municipal suffrage as the next step in the march towards full female enfranchisement. So did the Woman&rsquos Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), whose State Superintendent of Franchise sent a memorial to the Legislature a few days after MESA. Soon dozens of supportive petitions poured in to the Capitol from numerous counties.

Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Michigan 1885. Vol. I. Lansing, MI: W.S. George & Co., State Printers and Binders, 1885, pp. 374-376.
Journal of the Senate of the State of Michigan 1885. Lansing, MI: W.S. George & Co., State Printers & Binders, 1885, pp. 172-175.

The Michigan Equal Suffrage Association met at the Capitol for its third annual convention on January 13 and 14 in 1887. They convened on the fourth floor in the rooms used by the Michigan Pioneer Society while the Legislature met in their chambers two floors down. Mrs. Mary Doe, the President of MESA, was no doubt familiar with these spaces, as in the mid-1880s she was working in the Capitol as an extra clerk in the Secretary of State&rsquos Office. Mrs. Doe had also presided at an organizational meeting of local Lansing area suffragists in the Pioneer Rooms the previous March.

MESA hosted two of the nation&rsquos most prominent suffrage advocates at the 1887 conference - Rev. Anna Howard Shaw and Susan B. Anthony. They were both granted the use of the House Chamber where they spoke on January 13 and 14th, respectively.

For Shaw, the event must have seemed like a homecoming of sorts, as she had spent much of her youth in rural Michigan. She pursued her education at the high school in Big Rapids and then Albion College before leaving the state to attend Boston University&rsquos divinity school. Shaw eventually received both her license to preach in the Methodist Protestant Church and then her M.D. from Boston University in 1886.

Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Michigan 1887. Vol. I. Lansing, MI: Thorp and Godfrey, State Printers and Binders, 1887, p. 20.
&ldquoProgramme of the Third Annual Convention of the Michigan Equal Suffrage Association,&rdquo 1887. Rare Book Room, The Library of Michigan, an agency of the Michigan Department of Education.


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