MONTGOMERY, ALA., September 6, 1875.

This being the day fixed by law for the assembling of the Constitutional Convention, under the provisions of an Act entitled “An Act to provide for the calling of a Convention to revise and remodel the Constitution of this State,” approved March 19, 1875, the Delegates elected thereto assembled in the Hall of the House of Representatives, in the State Capitol.

At the hour of 12, m., the Convention was called to order by Mr. Garrett, delegate from Coosa, on whose motion, Hon. F. W. Sykes, delegate from the 2d Senatorial District, was made temporary Chairman, and Mr. C. D. Whitman, temporary Secretary.

On motion of Mr. Little, Patrick Doran was made temporary Doorkeeper.

The following delegates then came forward, filed their certificates, and enrolled their names:



1-E. A. O’Neal,                        17-James L. Pugh,

2-F. W. Sykes,                         18-D. B. Booth,

3-Thos. B. NeSmith,                19-S. F. Rice,

4-L. P. Walker,                         21-John F. Burns,

5-J. E. Brown,                          22-A. H. Curtis,

6-James Aiken,                        23-J. T. Foster,

7-W. S. Mudd,                         24-E. D. Willett,

8-A. A. Sterrett,                       25-Jonathan Bliss,

9-E. A. Powell,                        26-F. S. Lyon,

10-John T. Heflin,                      27-S. T. Prince,

11-C. B. Taylor,                         28-C. C. Langdon,

12-John B. Kelly,                       29-R. C. Torrey,

13-W. J. Samford,                      30-Geo. S. Gullett,

14-C. A. Battle,                          31-John Gamble,

15-F. A. Nisbett,                        32-J. C. Robinson,

16-R. H. Powell,                        33-W. C. Oates.



Autauga-H. J. Livingston,                   Jackson-John H. Norwood,

Baldwin-Henry C. Lea,                       Jefferson-Alburto Martin,

Barbour-John A. Foster,                     Lauderdale-R. O. Pickett,

Bibb-E. H. Moren,                              Lawrence-Charles Gibson,

Blount-S. C. Algood,                          Lee-George P. Harrison,

Bullock-G. W. Delbridge,                   Limestone-R. A. McClellan,

Butler-S. J. Bolling,                             Lowndes-H A. Carson,

Calhoun-W. M. Hames,                      Macon-B. F. Johnston,

Chilton-William A. Smith,                   Madison-W. M. Lowe,

Chambers-E. G. Richards,                   Marengo-Henry A. Woolf,

Cherokee-J. N. Swan.                        Marion-M. T. Akers,

Choctaw-William Greene,                   Marshall-Montg’ry Gilbreath,

Clarke-Samuel Forwood,                     Mobile-Leroy Brewer, T. H.

Clay-J. H. White,                                 Herndon,

Cleburne-T. J. Burton,                         Monroe-John S. Dickinson,

Coffee-J. E. P. Flournoy,                     Montgomery-Robt. H. Knox,

Colbert-John D. Rather,                       Morgan-J. W. Jones,

Conecuh-John Greene, sr.,                   Perry-Greene S. W. Lewis,

Coosa-William Garrett,                        Pickens-Lewis M. Stone,

Covington-John B. Hudson,                 Pike-Joel D. Murphree,

Crenshaw-I. H. Parks,                          Randolph-B. F. Weathers,

Dale-P. M. Callaway,                           Russell-S. S. Scott,

Dallas-Sumter Lea,                              Sanford-M. L. Davis,

DeKalb-David Nowlin,                       Shelby-R. W. Cobb,

Elmore-W. C. Bulger., jr.,                   St. Clair-J. W. Inzer,

Escambia-W. J. O'Bannon,                  Sumter-W. G. Little, jr.,

Etowah-Dr. J. P. Ralls,                        Talladega-A. W. Plowman,

Fayette-Wm. A. Musgrove,                 Tallapoosa-Jas. A. Meadows,

Franklin-William Burgess,                  Tuscaloosa-A. C. Hargrove,

Geneva-H. W. Laird,                          Walker-John Manasco,

Greene-Wiley Coleman,                     Washington-Robert A. Long,

Henry-A. C. Gordon,                          Winn-Andrew J. Ingle.

The oath of office was then administered to the delegates present by the Hon. W. S. Mudd, one of the Circuit Judges of this State.

The Convention then proceeded to the election of a permanent President.


Mr. Powell, of Tuscaloosa, nominated Leroy Pope Walker.

Mr. Moren moved that Mr. Walker be elected by acclamation, which motion was unanimously carried.

On motion of Mr. Stone, a committee, consisting of Messrs. Stone, Moren and Oates, was appointed to wait upon the


President, notify him of his election, and conduct him to the Chair.

The Committee having discharged that duty, the President then said:

Gentlemen of the Convention:

I beg you to accept my sincere thanks for the distinguished honor you have conferred in electing me to preside over your deliberations. Its duties I shall endeavor to discharge with fairness and impartiality, and with such ability as I may command.

In well ordered governments Constitutional Conventions should be, as indeed they are, of rare occurrence, as changes in the fundamental law ought only to be made when demanded by the progress and needs of civilization. Hasten slowly and change gradually, is the highest wisdom of government. The Constitution framed by our fathers in 1819, was made for a new State, and under it our people prospered and grew into a great commonwealth. The war came and the sacred edifice builded with such care amid the primeval forests of the Mississippi territory was dismantled and razed to the ground by alien hands in a spirit of ruthless iconoclasm. What is called the present Constitution of the State of Alabama, is a piece of unseemly mosaic, composed of shreds and patches gathered here and there, incongruous in design, inharmonious in action, discriminating and oppressive in the burthens it imposes, reckless in the license it confers on unjust and wicked legislation, and utterly lacking in every element to inspire popular confidence and the reverence and affection of the people.

We have met to-day, not indeed to reclaim the scattered fragments and rebuild the old temple, but to construct a Constitution not wholly unworthy, we trust, to succeed it.

The truest statesmanship is that which so generalizes principles as to give them flexible adaptability to the purposes and needs of civilization. Let us endeavor to give to our proceedings this characteristic of wisdom.

Let the organic law we are to frame be comprehensive, consistent, enlightened and non‑partisan; alike just to all classes, protective of all interests, and equal in its burthens as in its benefits.

The events of the last decade have eliminated from our institutions the only element of sectional controversy. Let us recognize this fact with a broad significance, and incorporate into the Constitution the National spirit and the National law of the perfect political and civil equality of all men, of whatever race, color, or previous condition.

Republican institutions rest upon the common intelligence


of the people; therefore, one of the high duties of Republican Government is the education of the masses-for there can be no progress without education as there is no civilization without intelligence.

An eminent statesman has said, “the power to tax is the power to destroy.” Governments should provide against possibilities, as possibilities often become facts. Limit, therefore, the legislative power of taxation; and yet so impose this limitation as to shield from suspicion the honor and credit of the State.

The spirit of the age is licentious and extravagant. The old economies have become disreputable by desuetude. Individual characteristics have been made the habits of Government, and government has degenerated into a mere instrumentality for the advancement of personal ambitions, and the promotion of personal aims in ways that would have shocked the primitive simplicity of the men who conceived and illustrated in their lives the great problem of free Government on this continent. As far as may be, in due deference to circumstances, let us limit the duties of government to the ends of government, which may be summed up in the general phrase, “The full protection of the rights of person and of property.”

The simplest government is the best. The complications of a multiform machinery, however suitable to the development of the special sciences, only aggravate the burthens, which more or less attend every form of civil administration.

Abstract from the fundamental law every useless instrumentality, so as to have as few intermediaries as possible between the Government and the people. We thus secure both responsibility and economy; and the harmony of protection and dependence, which is the great law of order, is placed beyond the hazards of fluctuations or disturbance.

Abstinence is a cardinal virtue, and should be as potent in the law of States as in the conduct of individuals. Govern as little as possible, and only by general laws, is the rule of wisdom sanctioned by experience. Discriminations, whether protective or punitive, are always invidious and therefore always unjust.

The growth of corporations is one of the marvels of the age in which we live. Their power, like that of King George, “has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.” Great as they are, they are simply the representatives of individual interests, and are never organized except to promote personal ends. The dignity of government is always compromised when its credit is surrendered and its honor committed to other custodians than its own agents and servants. Con-


stitutional prohibitions should protect the State against the contingencies of legislative departure from this principle.

Special limitations should be placed upon counties, towns and other civil municipalities; and they should be restrained from lending their credit to ventures of private speculation, however plausible in theory and possibly profitable in results.

Local legislation, though sometimes seemingly exigent, should be absolutely forbidden. Its enactments are insidious, its excuses specious, and its aims often illegitimate and sometimes demoralizing and corrupt.

The liberties of the people can only be preserved through an incorruptible judiciary. It is the interpretation of the law by the courts, even more than the law itself, that gives to legislation its character for wisdom or folly. Independence in action, except to just public criticism, should be secured to the judges who administer the laws by extended terms; thus removing them, as far as possible, from sudden explosions of popular clamor on the one hand, and the temptations to seek popular favor by unworthy means on the other.

Gentlemen of the Convention, it is neither my province nor my purpose to do more than suggest some general principles for your consideration-leaving their value to be determined by our higher and better judgment.

With a salubrious climate, a generous and productive soil, mineral wealth in boundless profusion, and water power of vast capabilities, our State lacks nothing to make it great except good government-honest and economical, just and fair, frugal in the bestowal of power, rigid in the exactions of duty, and temperate, conservative and rational in all of its provisions. This great trust is confided to us. That our deliberations to this end may be harmonious, our labors successful, and the final consummation all that our people could wish, is the hope with which I accept the onerous and responsible position you have assigned to me. Again thanking you for the distinguished honor, I am now ready to take the oath of office.

On motion of Mr. Garrett, the oath of office was administered to the President of the Convention, by Hon. F. S. Lyon.

Mr. Oates offered a resolution adopting rules of House of Representatives for government of this Convention.  Lost.

Mr. White, a resolution for selecting seats with a reference as far as possible to Congressional districts.  Lost.

Mr. Foster, of Barbour, a resolution that a committee of seven be appointed to draft rules for the government of the Convention.  Lost.

On motion of Mr. Langdon, the Convention adjourned until 10 o’clock to-morrow.