Kentucky. Constitutional Convention (1849-1850).

Report of the debates and proceedings of the Convention for the revision of the constitution of the state of Kentucky, 1849 [microform] online

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canism, in any shape or form, than myself. And
if there be any language contained in my reso-
lution that couM be construed into sucli a thing,
I am willing, when tlie ])rinciplc shall have been
adopted, to place it in language so clear that no
such construction can be placed upon it.

The section, by general cgnseut was then pass-
ed over.

The seventh section was then read, and adop-
ted without amendment.

The eighth section was then read as follows:

"Sbc. a. Every free, white male citiz«>n of the
age of twenty one years, who hiM resided in this

slate two years, or in the county ,' town, or city^,''
in whicli he offers to. vote, one year next prece- '
ding the election, shall be a voter, but siich vo-
ter shall have been, for sixty days next preceding
the election, a resident of the precinct in which
he offers to vote, and he shall cast his vote in
said precinct, and not elsewhere. Voters, in all
cases except treason, felony, breach, or surety of
the peace, shall be privileged from arrest during
their attendance at, going to, and returning from

Mr. McHENRY moved to strike out the word
"precinct,"' and insert "county," so that it should
require a residence of sixty days in the county
instead of the precinct, before the citizen should
be entitled to vote.

Mr. DESHA moved as an amendment to the
amendment, to strike out all of the section ex-
cept the clause requiring a residence in the state.
He had no desire to disfranchise a citizen of the
state merely because he removed from one county
to another, a couple of months before the elec-

Mr. CLARKE. I will briefly state the rea-
sons which influenced the committee to repoit
the section. They were aware that in some in-
stances it might operate as a hardship upon citi-
zens of the state, Avho had removed to another
county a day or two before the election, but there
were evils suggested, the necessity for the remo-
val of which, for the purpose of preserving the
elective franchise from imposition, was so pow-
erful as to outweigh the consideration of these
little sacrifices. When counties are nearly equally
divided, so far as parties are concerned, itveiy fre-
quently occurs that voters are colonized there
from other counties, and it intended to guard
against this. And where one would be disfran-
chised by the operation of this section, every
gentleman at all acquainted with politics will
bear me out in saying that three now come into
a county and give their vote where they are not
entitled to. Again, the committee assumed as
the sense of the convention, that the different
counties in the state, should be laid off into dis-
tricts,andthattherewouldbe election precincts in
each district, and the very same reasons which in-
fluenced them in the firit instance, induced them
to say that no voter should vote out of the limits
of his district. If this thingof colonizingvotes in
districts was not restrained, it would allow dis- '^
tricts where parties were strong to send their sur- '
plus vote into other districts whore they were not
ho strong, and determine wrongfully the result of
their elections. These wci\; among the reasons
which influenced the committee in reporting the
section as it stands,

Mr. MACHEN. I go with the gentleman from
Harrison, (Mr. Desha,) in striking out the re-
quirement of a residence of sixty days in the "'
precinct; but I am in favor of requiring him to 2
vote in tlie precinct in which he resides. Is that
the purport of the gentleman's amendment?

Mr. DESHA. My object is to leave the con-
stitution in this respect, as it noAv is, and as I
stated before, to give to every citizen of the state
wlio proposes to become a permanent resident
of any county, the right to vote there, even if
he lias come only a day before tlio election.

Mr. PRESTON. This vote is to decide wheth-
er the votere shall vote within or without


their precincts. The amendment of the gentle-
man from Harrison gives them tlie right to vote
anywhere in the county or in the precinct as
heretofore provided under the old constitution.
This section restricts the voter to his precinct,
and the object of this xras explained by my
friend, the chairman of the committee, (Mr.
Clarke,) to be to prevent what lias frequently
been complained of, pipe-laying and frauds up-
on the elective franchise in this state. If, as it
seems to be contemplated, the counties shall be
divided into convenient districts for voting,
nothing is so sure as that, if you give the elector
the right to vote any where in the county or at
the county seat, it will, in excited elections,
retard the operation of fair voting by crowding
the polls, rendering it difficult to take the votes,
and leading to great disorders. But, if the section
is to be stricken out, I desire tliat Louisville shall
be made an exception. Otherwise, should the
city be divided into assembly districts, the voter
would, under the proposed amendment, be al-
lowed to vote out of his district, and where ever
he chose in the city.

Mr. GHOLSON. Upon this subject at least, I
came here instructed fully. It was fully dis-
cussed in my section; and if the people there
want any thing, it is that the voter shall be con-
fined to his county and his precinct, and that
this pipe-laying shall be put an end to. If there
was any objection to the section in my judgment,
it was perhaps to the length of residence requir-
ed in the state, and in the county. Where a man
moves into a county, pays taxes, and becomes a
bona fide resident, he should be entitled to the
right of suffrage. However. I shall vote for the
section as it stands, believing that the voter
should be required to vote in his precinct, and to.
have resided sixty days in it. Otherwise, men
might ride all over the county and vote in as
many precincts as they choose. Such tilings have
been done.

Mr. GRAY. The amendment of the gentle-
man from Ohio, (Mr. McHenry,) if I understand
it, does not alter the operation of the section,
but merely allows those who may remove from
one district to another in the same county, the
right to vote wherever they may reside, and be-
fore the end of sixty days, if they are bona fide
citizens of the precinct, and have the requisite
residence of sixty days in the county. Then
the amendment does not permit, as suggested
by the gentleman, the voters to go from one pre-
cinct to another to vote. If a gentleman has
resided sixty days within a county, there clear-
Iv can be no reason why he should be deprived of
tlie right of suffrage. If he has that residence, it
makes no difference in what precinct he votes,
so that he does not vote in more than one. But the
amendment of the gentleman from Ohio is a suf-
ficient guard against fraud, in that it requires
him to vote in the precinct in which he resided.
The words '"and not elsewliere," should be
stricken out as mere surplusage, a fault not to
be desired in a constitution. The restriction is
sufficiently explicit without it.

Mr. Turner, it was the necessity for re-
form in the legislative department of the gov-
ernment that mainly induced the region of coun-
try in which I live, to go for a convention. It
was an every year's practice in the upper part

of the state, and I presume all over the state, for
young men to migrate from one county to an-
other in contested elections for the purpose of
influencing the result. For instance, there
might be a contested election in Franklin, and a
very easv race in Anderson. Well, the candi-
d.ates in franklin would get young men to come
from A.nderson into their county, and tliey
might reside or even work there for a few day.s
before the election, and vot« there and thus con-
trol the result. This is an abominable abuse of
the elective franchise, and is practised to an
outrageous extent. It is so in other elections.
I could allude to an election in my congressional
district, which made a figure in the national
councils some years ago, in which more than
twelve hundred votes were cast that did not re-
side in the district. This clearly was all wrong.

It is very seldom that I differ from the gentle-
man from Ohio, and I always doubt my own
judgment when I do, for he is a gentleman of
most clear and dispassionate judgment, but on
this occasion I feel constrained to do so. Be-
sides members of the legislature, it should be re-
membered that we have to elect magistrates,
constables, and other officers, to do the public
business. It is necessary to distroy this corrupt-
ing influence to which I have referred in refer-
ence to them, for there will be a strug-
gle for those offices, and if pemiitted in the choice
of these minor officers, they will extend to other
and greater ones. This colonizingpractice would
therefore be likely to be increased, from the fact
that there would be more persons interested in it,
who, by their combination, would carry it to a
greater extent than has yet been known. I hope
therefore the section, as reported by the commit-
tee, will be retained, and that not a word of it
will be changed. It is a proposition which will
carry out correctly and thoroughly the true prin-
ciples of the government. Every voter should
be confined to the precinct in which he resides.
If you allow them to vote at any point hi the
county, all this corruption which now arises
from the congregation of a large body of men at
the court house, and their often illegal and im-
moral proceedings, will continue to go on. Let
us have cool and deliberate elections. Let every
man vote in his own precinct, and then all the
votes can be taken in one day, and the result will
be a cool, deliberate, and dispassionate one. But
allow all the floating votes to collect at one
place, as heretofore, and you keep back the old
staid citizens, and allow all the young, passion-
ate, and daring in spirit, to go forward and con-
trol the elections. Such has been too much the
case in Kentucky, and I would prevent such a
thing hereafter. The people desire a govern-
ment based on the free, uncontrolled, and delib-
erate expression of opinion, and not one based
on brute force and outrage. I think therefore we
ought not to vary even in a word from tlie propo-
sition as report-ed bv the committee.

Mr. MERIWETHER. It will be perceived
by the convention, that if they adopt either the
amendment of the gentleman from Harrison, or
that of the gentleman from Ohio, the great evils
complained of in one section of the country
will not be remedied. Now, we have some ex-
perience in Jefferson, which goes to show the
utility of confining voters to their precincts.


Our county seat ia at Louisville, and by law, for
the last eight or ten years, the voter has been
required to vote in his precinct, because by law
he was not allowed to go to the county seat.
Now, if a man resides in Louisville, he is also
a resident of the county of Jefferson, and if a
sixty days residence iu his precinct is not re-
quired, he has but to change his residence to
Jefferson, and then he becomes a legal voter.

Mr. GRAY. He ought to be so.

Mr. MERIWETHER. Then it ought to be in
the power of the city of Louisville to control
the election in Jefferson county, if that principle
is right. I have seen an occasion when three
hundred voters were thus moved in Jefferson,
and I do not attach the blame to either party; but
if you look at the vote for and against a conven-
tion in the year preceding, you will find that there
were only one hundred and seventy-four votes
for a convention in 1837. In 1847, after these
frauds were committed, it would be found that a
large majority iu the county went for a conven-
tion, and oue of the principal reasons for it,
■was a desire to corect this thing. If you re-
quire the voter to reside sixty days in a precinct,
the judges of the election or "the clerk will
know the voter, and whether he is entitled to
vote or not, and they can permit him to vote or
not, as he may be authorized under the constitu-
tion. But if you permit a man to come in but
yesterday, and vote to-day, you put it in the
power of either candidate who may so wish to
obtain the election by fraud, to succeed in the
county of Jefferson, more particularly perhaps
than elsewhere, because the sixty days residence
in the county would also include a residence in
Louisville. As to the remark of the gentleman
from Harrison, that the voter changing his resi-
dence immediately preceding the election,
should not be deprived of the right of suffrage.
It is true there may be some liafdships thereby
produced, but it must also be recollected that
there are very few bonajide residents of the state
who change their residence at that season of the

f'ear. And as for the few who do, it is better to
et them submit to that deprivation, than to
open the flood-gates to "pipe-laying" throughout
the state.

Mr. HAMILTON, if in order, desired to offer
an amendment, reducing the requirement of
residence from sixty to thirty days.

The PRESIDEN T ruled it out of order at that

Mr. IRWIN called for a division of the ques-
tion, so that the vote could be taken first on
striking out.

Mr. APPERSON. I was at first disposed to
go for the amendment of the gentleman from
Ohio, but on reflection I am satisfied that it
■would lead us into difficulty. The counties are
to be districted for the election of justices of
the peace and constables, and experience proves
to us that there will be just as much excitement
about the election of those officers as any other.
Now, if the voter is only required to be sixty
days in the county, without reference to the pre-
cint, will they not rnn over from one precinct to
another, fortne purpose of electing a magistrate
in a particular district? Therefore, it seems to
ine we had better stick to the text, as presented
to OS by the committee.

Mr. COFFEY. I ain against striking out, and
for the best reason in the world. I came here
tied hand and foot, and for the very reason as-
signed by my friend from Madison, (Mr. Turner)
that there is a class of young men iu the coun-
try, that change their residences, and come into
counties to influence the election. It was this
that brought me here tied hand and foot. I
speak, therefore, from my own knowled,^e.
There were some six or eight votes of tliis de-
scription polled, for and against me, and this led
to the tie. Let the section stand as it is, re-
stricting every man to voting in the precinct
where he resides and is known.

Mr. McHENRY changed his amendment to
meet the views of some gentlemen, so as to sub-
stitute for county, the words "city or county."
He called for the yeas and nays on his motion.

Mr. DESHA. I shall vote for the amendment
of the gentleman from Ohio, but I shall vote
against the adoption of the section, unless it is
further amended, as I have indicated.

Mr. NESBITT. Like the gentleman from
Ballard and McCracken, if I have been instruct-
ed on any thing, it is to vote to require a man to
have a residence some length of time in the
county, before he is entitled to vote. The
ground upon which I ran the race was, that he
should be required to live there nine months,
and the people, by a strong majority, ratified it.
I would like to enquire of the gentleman from
Harrison if he desires to perpetuate what we
call importing votes and frauds on elections, by
allowing a candidate and his friends to go to an
adjoining county, where they do not have so
much use for the voters, and bring them over by
scores to determine the election? I have seen
the people so outraged by transactions of this
character, that they have come to the polls arm-
ed, and driven off these imported voters. I
know in one particular instance, where to the
number of twelve; and I could call the names
of every one of them, and where they live.
They were brought into my county from the ad-
joining counties- They were taken to one pre-
cinct, where the old precinct law was rung in
upon them, and they were refused the right to
vote. They then came to the court house, where
every body has a right to vote, and nothing but
the force of arms drove them off. And they
went to another precinct, and my friends and
the friends of good order generally, had to in-
tercede to prevent the people from going and at-
tacking them on the highway, as a band of po-
litical robbers.

The people of Kentucky, are in my opinion
en Twasse honest, and they do not desire that a
man from another county should be allowed to
step into another, and there first cast his vote,
and step back again. Some gentlemen seem to,
think that under the report of the committee," 'i
some honest bona tide voter of the county will
be deprived of voting. That difficulty can be
remedied very easily, by every man who desires
to retain the exercise of the right of suffrage
taking the spring of the year, about the time he
intends to plant a crop, and raise something for
his family, for the period of his removal. The
sixty days then would not touch him. But those
fellows who dodge about and come in to cut
wood, or get out iron ore, and who vote for th«


dollar, and nothing else, and whose residence it
■would be hard to fix ; these are the men I desire
to guard against. I am opposed to pipe-laying,
and against it out and out. I therefore hope
that the convention will adopt the report of the
committee just as it stands. It is, to be sure,
not quite as strong as I am instructed to go,
but I \rill take it, believing that it will do.

Mr. MACHEX. These things are certainly
new to me. We have nothing of this kind in
my county, and I should like to hear tlie experi-
ence of other gentlemen on the subject of pipe
laying, and see if it corroborates that of the gen-
tleman last up. I certainly am disposed to act
for the good order of the country.

Mr. NESBITT. I merely ask' that Uie gentle-
man should suspend his vote at the next election,
and I think I can carry him where he will have
ocular demonstration of these facts.

Mr. DIOSHA. I am as much in favor of guard-
ingthe purity of the elective franchise, as any gen-
tleman can be, and notwithstanding I have been
engaged in several canvasses, the citiaens of my
county and all who know me, will attest that 1
abhor corruption in elections, and have never
resorted, to it. My amendment was only to guard
the bona fide innocent residents from being de-
prived of the right of suffrage. As to the re-
mark, that verv few would change their resi-
dences, except in the spring, this would apply
very well to tliose engaged in agricultural pur-
suits, but there are many in other professions,
mechanics and others, that would come within
that two months requisition, and thus be depriv-
ed of their votes. It was these that I desired to

Mr. DIXOX. I regard the amendment of the
gentleman from Ohio as proper and right. It re-
q^uires that the voter shall reside in the county
sixty daj's before the election, which is a safe-
guard against fraud. If a citizen has lived that
length of time in the county, why not let him
vote at any point in it? It can do no wrong.
The object was to prevent those who live out of
the county from coming in and voting. I shall
Tote for the amendment of the gentleman from
Ohio and excluding an honest citizen
from voting merely because he may cliance to
remove from one precinct to another.

Mr. RUDD. The amendment of the gentle-
man from Ohio, in my view, would promote
those very practices against which the commit-
tee are seeking to guard. The object of *he sec-
tion was to prevent this immigration from one
precinct to another, by requiring a fixed term of
residence in the precinct. Without such a re-
quisition, voters would be transferred from one
ward to the other in the citv of Louisville, as
candidates might desire to effect a particiUar ob-
ject. It was to prevent occurrences like those
referred to by the gentleman from Jefferson (Mr.
Meriwether) that the section of the committee
■was designed. It was hard, to be sure, for a
man to lose his vote for want of the requisite

time, but it was a greater hardship for the people j Coleman, Garrett Davis, James Dudley, Chas-
of a county to see a man foisted upon them ' teen T. Dunavan, Benjamin F. Edwards, Green
against their will, by voters from other counties. | Forrest, Nathan Gaither, Selucius Garfielde, Jas,
I know an instance where one of the parties had i H. Garrard, Richard D. Gholson, Thomas J.
forty voters concealed in the neighborhood of { Gough, Xinian E. Gray, Ben. Hardin, Vincent
the city, with the intention of having tiemvote S. Hay, Andrew Hood, James W. Irwin, Alfred
the next day in a certain precinct. That night, ' M. Jackson, William Johnson, George W. John-

however, men of the other party Went out and
stole them, if you please — took every one of
them off and voted every man of them. Well ,
it was perhaps all fair, seeing that they were
brought there for a fraudulent purpose. This is
the kind of practice tliat I desire to prevent.

Mr. DIXOX. I desire to present this amend-
ment : — "Provided, That when any city or town,
shall be entitled to a separate representation the
sixty days residence here required, shall be in
the city, and not in the county, and when any
town or city shall have been divided off into
separate election districts, the same period of
residence shall be required in such district.

Mr. PRESTOX'^ moved the previous question,
which was seconded, and the main question was

The amendment of Mr. McHEXRY was then
rejected — the yeas and nays being demanded by
him — yeas 30, nays 60, as follows :

Teas — William Bradley, Thomas D. Brown,
William Chenault, James S. Chrisman, Benja-
min Copelin, William Cowper, Edward Curd,
Lucius Desha, Archibald Dixon, Milford Elli-
ott, Selucius Garfielde, X^'inian E. Gray, John
Harris, William Hendrix, Tho. J. Hoocl, Mark
E. Huston, Thomas James, Geo. W Kavanaugh,
Charles C. Kelly, Willis B. Machen, George W.
Mansfield, Alexander K. Marshall, John H. Mc-
Henry, Thomas P. Moore, Hugh Xewell, Thom-
as Rockhold, Ira Root, John W. Steven-son,
James W. Stone, William R. Thompson — 30.

Xats — Mr. President, (Guthrie,) Richard Ap-

f>erson, John L. Ballinger, John S. Barlow, Wu-
iam K. Bowling, Alfred Boyd, Francis M. Bris-
tow, Beverly L. Clarke, Jesse Coffey, Henry R.
D. Coleman, Garrett Davis, Jas. Dudley, Chas-
teen T. Dunavan, Benjamin F. Edwards, Green
Forrest, Xathan Gaither, Jas. H. Garrard, Rich-
ard D. Gholson, Thomas J. Gough, James P.
Hamilton, Ben. Hardin, Vincent S. Hay, Andrew
Hood, James W. Irwin, Alfred M. Jactson, Wil-
liam Johnson, George W. Johnston, James M.
Lackey, Peter Lashbrooke, Thomas W. Lisle,
William C. Marshall, Xathan McClure, David
Meriwether, William D. Mitchell, John D. Mor-
ris, James M. Xesbitt, Jonathan Xewcum, Eli-
jah F. X'uttall, Henry B. Pollard, William Pres-
ton, Johnson Price, Larkin J. Proctor, John T.
Robinson, John T. Rogers, James Rudd, Igna-
tius A. Spalding, Albert G. Talbott, John D.
Taylor, John J. Thurman, Ho-vvard Todd, Philip
Triplett, Squire Turner, John L. Waller, John
Wheeler, Andrew S. White, Chas. A. Wickliffe,
Robert X^. Wickliffe, George W. Williams, Silas
Woodson, Wesley J. Wright — 60.

The question was then taken on the section
as reported, and it was agreed to — ^j'eas 66, nays
24, as follows :
Yeas— Mr. President, (Guthrie,) Richard Ap-

f>erson, John L. Ballinger, John S. Barlow, Wfl-
iam K. Bowling, Alfred Boyd, Francis M. Bris-
tow, Thomas D. Brown, James S. Chrisman,
Beverly L. Clarke, Jesse Coffey, Henry R. D.


ston, James M. Lackey, Peter Lashbrooke, Thos.
W. Lisle, Willis B. Machen, Wm. C. Marshall,
Ifathari McClure, John H. McHeury, David Mer-
iwether, William D. Mitehell, John D. Morris,
James M. Nesbith, Jonathan Newcum, Elijah
F. Xuttall, Ilenrv B. PoUarcl, William Preston,
Jonathan Price, tarkin J. Proctor, John T. Kob-
inson, John T. Rogers, James Riidd, Ignatius
A. Spalding, James W. Stone, Albert U. Tal-
bott, John D. Taylor, John J. Thiirmau, How-
ard Todd, Philip Triplett, Squire Turner, John
L. Waller, John Wheeler, Andrew S. White,
Charles A. Wickliffo, Robert N. Wickliffe, Geo.
W. Williams, Silas Woodson, Wesley J. Wright
— G6.

Nays — William Bradlejy, William Chenault,
Benjamin Copelin, William Cowper, Edward
Curd, Lucius Desha, Archibald Dixon, Milford
Elliott, James P. Hamilton, John Hargis, Wm.
Hendrix, Thos. J. Hood, Mark E. Huston, Thos.
James, George W. Kavaiiaugh, Charles C. Kelly,
George W. Mansfield, Alexander K. Marsliafl,

Online LibraryKentucky. Constitutional Convention (1849-1850)Report of the debates and proceedings of the Convention for the revision of the constitution of the state of Kentucky, 1849 [microform] → online text (page 162 of 294)