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

. (page 197 of 294)
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 197 of 294)
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lieve to be of much more importance than the
soul;) thus the tbree professions, by the same
reasoning, would be excluded. How much more
anxious men often are, when fever is preying
upon their vitals, to cure the body than the soul;
and yet these very men tell us that as preachers
are appointed to cure the soul, therefore they
should not be eligible to the legislature. Con-
sistency, thou art a jewel.

The man who does not intnide himself upon
public notice, who pursues the even tenor of his
way, who leads the peaceful and quiet life, and
who is not a political brawler, has rights Which,
although unexercised, are dear to him; and it is
the exercise of might unaccompanied by right,
when those rights are taken from him. It is sir,
trampling upon the rights of an honorable, gen-
tlemanly, useful, and learned class of Kentucky
ekizeus, to incorporate this prohibition in thie



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constitution. As has been justly observed, in
other states where tliere is no prohibition, you
will but seldom see a preacher in the legislature.
On the otlier hand, where restrictions exist as in
this state, you will frequently find preachers in
the legislature. Viewing tlie' subject in all its
attitudes, the conclusion is forced upon my mind
that Ave arc violating a great fundamental princi-
ple without deriving the least possible benefit
from that violation.

I have been induced, sir, to offer these remarks,
not from any personal motives, but because I
wished to see tliat old relic of the dark ages re-
moved from our organic law, and every freeman
placed upon a level, making character, integrity
and qualification the only prerequisites to of-
fice.

Mr. TAYLOR. I am told that "pure and un-
defiled religion consists in visiting the widows
and the fatherless, and keeping oneself unspot-
ted from the world." I will substitute the above
quotation as a preamble to the clause, if it will
suit my friend from Fleming any better. I can-
not see how a man can keep himself pure and
un.spotted from the world, if he mingles in the
ardent and bitter political conflicts of the day.
When I was first up, I spoke of the turmoil, con-
fusion and strife engendered by political excite-
ment, the retaliation, recrimination and fanati-
cism of party. There are men engaged on eith-
er side who answer Philips' description of a big-
ot, "one who has no head and cannot think, and
no heart and cannot feel." The gentleman from
Fleming (Mr. Garfielde) made one true remark,
"that it was not becoming in a minister of the

f:ospel, nor was it his duty to mingle in the po-
itical strifes of the country, that his calling
was elevated as far above this, as the heavens
are above hell." It is to keep him above these
influences and to preserve his character pure; it
is that lie may stand like Moses on Mount Pis-
gah and point us on to the promised land; it is
to prevent him from coming down to the base of
the mountain to mingle in the beggarly ele-
ments and pollutions of the world, participa-
tion in which unfits him for the great vocation to
which he is called by his divine master. These
are some of the reasons which induce me to vote
for their exclusion from political life. I desire
that they may indeed be "burning and shining
lights," and so desiring, I intend to vote for the
prohibitory clause reported by the committee.

Mr. WALLER. I cannot see from all I have
heard from my friend from Mason, (Mr. Taylor,)
but what his argument applies as pointedljr and
as powerfully against all professors of religion,
as against preachers. His preamble last react
certainly applies to all christians indiscrimin-
ately. But I appeal to the candor of this Ivouse,
if the position he assumes, and especiallv the
amendment which he read, does not strike at
the foundation of the very principle he opposes,
and favor the union of church and state. If
government may regulate any of the oflSces of
the church, it has a right to regulate all, and if
you say a man who speaks in favor of religion
shall not be eligible to office,you restrict the free-
dom of speech, and you strike a fatal stab at the
right of man's speaking on tlie most important of
all subjects to himself. I tliink you should not
attempt to iutcrfcre with religion in any way.



The gentleman has read history to little pur-
pose if he has failed to learn this lesson, that it
was an efi^ort of politicians to regulate the church,
and not of the church to regulate the state, which
brought about that union he now so justly con-
demns. But for regarding the ministers as a dis-
tinct class by the Justinian code, to subserve
the purposes of state, there would have been no
union of church and state. It is the right of the
state to interfere in matters of religion, against
which I most emphatically protest. The gen-
tleman's modern history is at fault likewise in
anotlier respect. He alluded to the " blue laws"
of Connecticut. I supposed every reading man
had long since learnt that these laws are mere
fictions, and that no such code ever existed in
any state upon earth. If the gentleman's histo-
ry is of the same kind, it is of little consequence.
I remember one record however given in sacred
history to which I may refer. The prophet was
once rebuked by an animal not accustomed to
speak; but it seems a slightly diff"erent fate has
been my portion on this occasion.

Mr. HARDIN. I expect I shall have to give
a vote against a majority of the convention, and
I shall make only a few remarks before doing
so. I have, for the last forty years, from time to
time, noted the exclusion from the legislative
halls of Kentucky, of the ministers of the gos-
pel; and I could never see any good reason for
it. I recollect when there were efforts made to
force the president of the United States into a
recognition of the independence of Spanish
America. In some remarks I made in"congiess
on that subject, I said I did not believe they
could establish a republic there. They wore
all of one religious denomination. And it turn-
ed out to be true. Our government is very hap-
pily balanced. All our foreign relations, all
our matters and things belonging to the nation,
tlie army and the navy, are managed by the
government of the United States; and that gov-
ernment is divided into three departments — the
legislative, the executive and the judicial. They
check and balance each other. But it would
soon become a consolidated government and a
despotism, were it not the municipal regulations
of the country belong to the state government,
and they are divided into three departments —
the legislative, executive and judicial. Tliey
check and balance each other. The state gov-
ernments balance the general government, and
the general government balances the state gov-
ernments. And the state governments check
and balance each other. But the great check
is this: we have in the United States, and in
all the states and territories, religion, and a great
many religious denominations have sprung up.
They are all Avorshipping God and their Savior
in the manner their conscience points out to
them. And it is fortunate for the United States
that no one sect has, perhaps, one twentieth part
of the people. I have some statistics of the
difterent religious denominations in Kentucky,
which I think correct, Avhich were taken about
three years ago. Of method ists, there are about
one hundred and fifty ministers, thirty thousand
white members; united baptists about fifty
tliousand; reformers, from forty to fifty tliou-
saud, white and bla



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 197 of 294)