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of the

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

of the

STATE OF ALABAMA

May 21st, 1901, To September 3rd, 1901

_____________

FIFTY FIFTH DAY

_______

MONTGOMERY, ALA.,

Friday, July 26, 1901.

The Convention met pursuant to adjournment, was called to order by the President, and opened with prayer by the Rev. Dr. A. L. Andrews, as follows:

O Lord, our Heavenly Father, we thank Thee that through another night Thou hast watched and cared for us, and that in health and strength we see the duties and face the responsibilities of another day. We realize, our Father, how little we can do in ourselves. Our own weakness is constantly proven to us. We also realize that while in ourselves we can do nothing, yet in Thy strength we can accomplish a great deal. We therefore pause before we begin this day's proceedings, and pray the help that Thou alone canst give. O give Thy presence, our Father; give us Thy help; give us Thy counsel; and O help us that we may be guided by Thy wisdom and that we may be qualified for the duties of this day, by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and by the gracious presence of our Lord and Father. We ask Thy presence upon this Convention, upon its work today. Help Thy servants in all that they may say, and in all that they may do. May wisdom, temperance and truth prevail in all that is said and done. May it be a day of good fellowship and perfect harmony, and may a desire be evinced upon the part of every delegate to do that which it is right to do, that which will be well pleasing in the sight of God, and which will be acceptable to their people. To that end, our Father, we beseech Thee that each of them may be prepared for this day, that God may help them, and bless them, and lead them all in the performance of their duties. We pray Thee to bless our State. We thank Thee for the prosperity which has attended us in the past. O Lord, may this year be a year of great financial prosperity, may it be a year of great spiritual power, and may the people look unto God, from whence cometh all their help, and may they in their lives and in their conversations honor and glorify Him that hath created them for His own glory. And may the Lord bless the young manhood of our State; grant that the work of this Convention in as set before them an example that shall be an inspiration to them to ever do that which is right, to be just and honest and true in all that they do and say; and may the Lord grant that our people may be a noble, upright people, and a people whose God is the Lord. We pray, our Father, for all for whom we should pray. Bless our land and country. Continue to give us peace peace at home and peace abroad. May the Lord God Almighty hold us in His loving care, and keep us under the shadow


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of His wing. We pray for all the loved ones at home– those whom the Convention feel an interest in and may the Lord watch over and take care of them. And, O Lord, may this work that is done here continue to be guided of Thee ; may all of our days be ordered of Thee, and may we live our allotted time in Thy fear and Thy service, and may the Lord so help and guide us as that when we come to the last river we may have no misdeeds to haunt us in that last hour, but that our last moments may be moments of happiness and peace, and that we may sink out of earth into the everlasting arms of the Son of God, and be everlastingly received into the house of many mansions, and there, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; we will give to Thee everlasting praise, through Christ, our Redeemer. Amen.

Mr. Graham of Talladega took the chair.

Upon the call of the roll 119 delegates responded to their names.

Leaves of absence were granted as follows:

To Mr. Jenkins of Wilcox for today; to Mr. Graham of Montgomery for today; to Mr. Kirkland for tomorrow: to Mr. Mulkey for tomorrow; to Mr. Carmichael of Colbert for today; to Mr. Lomax of Montgomery for today.

The report of the Committee on the Journal was read, stating that the Journal for the fifty fourth day had been examined and found correct, and the same was adopted.

The roll was called for the introduction of resolutions, ordinances, etc.

MR. MURPHREE I will ask the Secretary to read the following petitions, the body of the petitions, not the names.

The Secretary read the petitions as follows:

To the Constitutional Convention, Montgomery, Ala.:

We, the undersigned citizens of Pike County, Ala., do petition the Constitutional Convention, now in session at Montgomery, to incorporate in the proposed Constitution a provision abolishing forever the Tag Tax on fertilizers in this State.

Name, with occupation or employer:

W. R. White, Judge of Probate; R. B. Parks. County Commissioner, Second District; S. A. Williams, County Commissioner, First District; J. A. Anderson. County Commissioner, Third District; W. T. Green, County Commissioner, Fourth District ; W. L. Fleming, farmer and ex member of General Assembly; V. A. Gibson, T. C. P. C.; R. N. McLure, farmer and Justice of the Peace;


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CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

Dr. L. M. Turvelemn, J. H. Lawson, Justice of the Peace; W. H. Bolker, Marshal; M. Lightfoot, Fox Forleich; F. C. Bass, E. A. Butler, undertaker; B. H. Lightfoot, Alex Griffin; C. W. Helms, J. L. Reynolds, W. T. Saw, Rolph McGehee; W. E. Fleming, R. C. Dickinson; W. T. Owens, merchant; J. F. Flowers; J. Wood, merchant and farmer; L. A. Monery, farmer; J. R. Boone, Justice of the Peace; C. B. Douglas; J. K. Harris, salesman, A. M. Copeland, dentist; Josh Copeland, bookkeeper; J. B. Young, telegraph operator; J. D. Carter, farmer; John O. Brown, broker; J. L. Carwell, salesman; R. J. Flinn, merchant; T. E. Murphree, D. A. Pevell, salesman; J. G. King, stock dealer; Key Murphree, bookkeeper; O. B. Douglas, Jr., salesman; J. D. Murphree, Jr., John Reddock; D. S. Carrall, C. G. Casdell; John A. Park, R. J. Miller, merchant; M. F. Johnson; J. M. Connor, Andy J. Callor, Jr., W. J. Parrish, R. L. Grantham; A. S. Parrish, J. W. Oliver; W. H. Connell, R. K. Kirkland, A. S. Dickinson, J. E. French; F. A. Waters, L. L. Locke; M. A. Hever, J. J. Kendrick; G. H. Kimbell, F. M. Logan; T. J. Allen, Dr. H. Foreman; J. M. Logan, A. W. Brazel; John Gamble, W. A. Smith; W. W. Logan, J. L. Logan; J. J. W. Flowers ,Tom Smith; B. W. Wood, J. E. Laverette; Dug Flowers, G. B. Fryer; J. P. Dozier, W. I. Rotton; Fred Phenix, S. W. Bowden; J. F. Miles, J. S. Carroll.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM– The petition will be referred to the Committee on Taxation.

To the Constitutional Convention, Montgomery, Ala.;

We, the undersigned citizens of the State of Alabama, do hereby offer our protest against the railroad pass evil, and do hereby declare our desire that it be made an unlawful act for either State, county or municipal officials to accept railroad passes from any railroad company or for any such company to give such passes.

We further petition the Constitutional Convention now in session in Montgomery to incorporate in the proposed Constitution, some effective, self operative provision to that end.

Troy and Brundidge, July 23, 1901.

Troy J. H. Lawson. Mayor; W. H. Bulger, Marshal ; M. Lightfoot, merchant; F. C. Bass banker; B. H . Lightfoot, merchant; C. W. Helms, salesman; H. W. Catgen, farmer ; W. T. Shaw, farmer; H. P. Griffin, merchant, W. L. Fleming, ex Representative ; B. H. Pryor, farmer : L. M. Fleming, farmer ; W. E. Fleming, farmer ; J. F. Flowers, farmer ; J. C. Johnson, merchant; J. M. Cannon, merchant; John A. Park, bookkeeper: R. J . Miller. merchant; John Bryan, salesman; W. T. Owens, merchant: H. W. Wambles, farmer; L. G. Wambles, farmer ; A. S. Parish, farmer; W. I. Parish, farmer, R. L. Grantham, farmer; M. J. Johnson. merchant: Fox French, merchant: A. L. Johnson, merchant; E. A.


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OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

Butler, merchant; Alex. Griffin, merchant; A. S. Dickinson, merchant; J. L. Reynolds, merchant; Ralph McGhee, farmer; E. R. Jordan, farmer; E. A. Waters, merchant; M. A. Mall, farmer.

Brundidge– G. H. Kimbell, W. W. Logan, farmer; J. M. Logan, merchant; J. I. Flowers, farmer; B. W. Wood, farmer; D. G. Dozier; Fred Phenix, farmer; J. F. Miles, farmer; J. J. Kendrick, farmer; F. M. Logan, farmer; L. L. Locks, farmer; J. E. French, salesman; Dr. H. Foreman; A. W. Brazil, merchant; W. A. Smith, farmer; J. L. Logan, farmer; Tom Smith, farmer; A. G. Colans, farmer; J. E. Levereth, farmer; G. B. Fryer, farmer; W. D. Rotton, farmer; Andy J. Collier, Jr., Marshal; S. W. Bowden, farmer; W. H. Connell, J. M. Oliver, J. W. Wood, merchant and farmer; J. S. Copeland,, merchant and farmer; F. A. DuBose farmer; L. A. Money, farmer; J. R. Boone, Justice of the Peace; C. B. Douglas, J. K. Harris, Josh Copeland, bookkeeper; J. B. Young, telegraph operator; J. D. Carter, farmer; John O’Brien, broker; R. J. Flinn, merchant; D. W. Peacock, salesman; J. L. Carroll, salesman; Key Murphree, bookkeeper; T. E. Murphree, bookkeeper; J. G. King, stock dealer; C. B. Douglas, Jr., salesman; J. D. Murphree, Jr., cashier; D. S. Carroll, teller; Charles S. Carroll, merchant; A. H. Rainer, merchant; W. B. Rainer.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM The petition will be referred to the Committee on Corporations.

On the call of the standing committees, the following report was offered

MR. HARRISON (Lee) I desire to submit a report for the Committee on Corporations, to be read the first time.

The Secretary read the report as follows:

Mr. President, the Committee on Corporation, to which was referred Article 14 of the Constitution of 1875, except that part under the heading of “Banks and Banking,” and various ordinances, resolutions and petitions, have had the same under consideration and after due consideration of the said article, ordinance, resolutions and petitions (all of which are herewith returned), instruct me to report the ordinance hereto attached. The following indicates the changes made:

Section 1 has been so amended as to deprive the Legislature of the right of creating corporations, and to provide laws general in their character for the formation of such corporations as may be necessary or desired. Also to require the Legislature to pass laws by which charters obtained under the general laws may be altered or amended.

Section 2 is amended so as to allow corporations which have not completed their organization twelve months within which to do so.


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CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

Section 3 is practically unchanged from the old Constitution, except in verbiage in order to meet the views of some members of the Committee and of the Convention.

Section 4 is changed to require foreign corporations to file their articles of incorporation and the law under which they are incorporated with the Secretary of State in order that any citizen of the State of Alabama in making investigations as to the character and standing of such corporations may do so by applying to the Secretary of State; and also to require foreign Corporations to pay the same franchise tax as is required of domestic corporations. it provides further that strictly benevolent and religious corporations shall not pay such franchise tax.

Section 5 is changed so as to make clear the rights of corporations. In the Constitution as it now is the word charter is used. In the new section the words “declaration or application” are submitted in its place. In other words it is intended that the corporation shall only have those rights which are set out in its declaration or application.

Section 6 is unchanged.

Section 7 of the old Constitution is so amended as to and after the word “compensation” in the third line the following “to be ascertained as may be provided by law”; and also by adding after the word “otherwise” in the 9th line, the following: “But such appeal shall not deprive the person who has obtained a judgment or condemnation from a right of entry, provided he shall have given bond with good and sufficient sureties to pay such damages as the property owners may sustain.”

Sections 8 and 9 are unchanged.

Section 10 is changed so as to simplify the action as it is now set out in the present Constitution, and also to make it conform to the amendment to Section 1.

Section 11 is amended by adding “telephones.”

Sections 12 and 13 are unchanged.

Section 14 is old Section 21 renumbered, and is unchanged.

Section 15 is practically the same as Section 22 of the present Constitution, but it is enlarged in order to be more comprehensive and effective in its purposes and intentions.

Section 16 corresponds to old Section 23 in the present Constitution, and is so amended as to prescribe a penalty for its violation and defining the persons to whom free transportation shall not be granted.


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Section 17 is a new section and is inserted for the purpose of preventing railroads and others engaged in the common carriage of freight and passengers from giving rebates.

Section 18 is substituted in lieu of Section 24 of the Constitution of 1875 and is enlarged so as to include all public utilities; in other words, to prevent anyone using the streets of the city for any purpose without the consent of the local authorities.

Section 19 is old Section 25 renumbered and is unchanged.

Geo. P. Harrison, Chairman.

MINORITY REPORT

Mr. President

We the undersigned members of the Committee on Corporations feel impelled from a sense of duty to offer a minority report to the majority report of the Committee on Corporations, for the following reason

Under the present law, building and loan associations are authorized to collect a much greater rate of interest than is granted to individuals or any other corporation.

We think this is a special privilege, which is wrong in principle, and should be prohibited.

We therefore offer the following as an additional section to be known as Section 13 1 2 and recommend its adoption.

Section 13 1 2. After the ratification of the Constitution, no corporation, society, organization or association shall be allowed to charge or collect for, or upon the loan or forbearance of money, goods or things in action, either in the way of interest, fines, forbearance is obtained or in any other way connected with such loan or forbearance as a charge, a greater amount than the legal rate of interest provided for by the general laws of the State upon the loan or forbearance of money, goods or things in action; and all such sums of money, paid such corporation, society, organization or association in excess of the legal interest provided for by the law, by whatever name called, shall be credited on the principal of the loan made by said corporation, society, organization or association, and every such loan made in Alabama shall be governed by the laws of this State.

Respectfully submitted,

John F. Proctor,

W. T. L. Cofer,

. J. Lee Long.


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CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

An ordinance to provide for the organization and regulation of corporations in the State of Alabama.

Be it ordained by the people of Alabama in Convention assembled. That Article XIV of the Constitution of 1875, except that portion thereof under the head of “Banks and Banking,” be stricken cut and the following be inserted in lieu thereof:

Section 1. The Legislature shall pass no special act conferring corporate power, but they shall pass general laws under which corporations may be organized and corporate powers of every nature obtained, subject, nevertheless, to repeal at the will of the Legislature; and shall pass general laws under which charters heretofore granted may be altered or amended. The Legislature shall, by general law, provide for the payment to the State of Alabama of a franchise tax by corporations organized under the laws of this State, which shall be in proportion to the amount of capital stock.

Sec. 2. All existing charters or grants of special or exclusive privileges, under which a bona fide organization shall not have taken place and business been commenced in good faith, within twelve months from the time of the ratification of this Constitution, shall thereafter have no validity.

Sec. 3. The Legislature shall not remit the forfeiture of the charter of any corporation now existing, nor alter or amend the same, nor pass any, general or special law for the benefit of such corporation, other than in execution of a trust created by law or by contract, except upon the condition that such corporation shall thereafter hold its charter subject to the provisions of this Constitution ; and every amendment of any charter of any corporation in this State, or any special law for its benefit, accepted thereby, shall operate as a notation of said charter, and shall bring the same under the provisions of this Constitution; Provided, that this section shall not extend to any amendment for the purpose of allowing any existing road to take stock in or aid in building of any branch road.

Sec. 4. No foreign corporation shall do any business in this State without having at least one known place of business and an authorized agent or agents therein, and without filing with the Secretary of State a certified copy of its articles of incorporation or association, and of the law and authority under which it is incorporated. Such corporation may be sued in any county where it does business, by service of process upon an agent anywhere in the State. The Legislature shall, by general law, provide for the payment to the State of Alabama of a franchise tax by such corporation, which shall be the same as that required of domestic corporations and in proportion to the amount of its capital stock.


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but strictly benevolent or religious corporations shall not be required to pay such a tax.

Sec. 5. No corporation shall engage in any business other than that expressly specified in its declaration or application.

Sec. 6. No corporation shall issue stock or bonds except for money, labor done, or money or property actually received; and all fictitious increase of stock or indebtedness shall be void. The stock and bonded indebtedness of corporations shall not be increased except in pursuance of general laws, nor without the consent of the persons holding the larger amount in value of stock, first obtained at a meeting to be held after thirty days notice given in pursuance of law.

Sec. 7. Municipal and other corporations and individual invested with the privilege of taking private property for public use, shall make just compensation, to be ascertained as may be provided by law, for the property taken, injured or destroyed by the construction or enlargement of its works, highways or improvements, which compensation shall be paid before such taking in- jury or destruction. The Legislature is hereby prohibited from depriving any person of an appeal from any preliminary assessment of damages against any such corporations or individuals made by viewers or otherwise, but such appeal shall not deprive the person who has obtained the judgment or condemnation from a right of entry, provided he shall have given bond with good and sufficient sureties to pay such damages as the property owner may sustain, and the amount of such damages in all cases of appeal shall be determined by a jury according to law.

Sec. 8. Dues from private corporations shall be secured by such means as may be prescribed by law, but in no case shall any stockholder be individually liable otherwise than for the unpaid stock owned by him or her.

Sec. 9. No corporation shall issue preferred stock without the consent of the owners of two thirds of the stock of said corporation.

Sec. 10. The Legislature shall have the power to revoke any charter of incorporation now existing any revocable at the ratification of this Constitution, or any that may be hereafter created, whenever, in their opinion, it may be injurious to the citizens of this State; in such manner, however, that no injustice shall be done to the stock holders.

Sec. 11. Any association or corporation organized for the purpose or any individual shall have the right to construct and maintain lines of telegraph and telephone within this State. and connect the same with other lines, and the Legislature shall, by general law of uniform operation, provide reasonable regulations


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to give full effect to this section. No telegraph or telephone company shall consolidate with or hold a controlling interest in the stock or bonds of any other telegraph or telephone company owning a competing line, or acquire, by purchase or otherwise, any other competing line of telegraph or telephone.

Sec. 12. All corporations shall have the right to sue, and shall be subject to be sued, in all courts in like cases as natural persons.

Sec. 13. The term “corporation,” as used in this article shall be construed to include all joint stock companies, or any associations having any of the powers or privileges of corporations not possessed by individuals or partnerships.

Railroads and Canals.

Sec. 14. All railroads and canals shall be public highways, and all railroad and canal companies shall be common carriers. Any association or corporation organized for the purpose shall have the right to construct and operate a railroad between any points in this State, and connect at the State line with railroads of other States. Every railroad company shall have the right with its road to intersect, connect with, or cross any other railroad, and shall receive and transport, each, the others freight, passengers and cars, loaded or empty, without delay or discrimination.

Sec. 15. The power and authority of regulating railroad freights and passenger tariffs, the location and building of passenger and freight depots, correcting abuses and preventing unjust discriminations and extortion, and requiring reasonable and just rates of freight and passenger trains, are hereby conferred upon the Legislature, whose duty it shall be to pass laws from time to time regulating freight and passenger tariffs to prohibit unjust discriminations on the various railroads, canals and rivers of this State, and prohibit charging other than just and reasonable rates and enforce the same by adequate penalties.

Sec. 16. No railroad or other transportation company or corporation shall grant free passes or sell tickets or passes at a discount other than as sold to the public generally to any member of the Legislature, or to any officer exercising judicial functions under the laws of this State, and any such member of officer receiving such pass or ticket for himself or procuring the same for another, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be fined not exceeding $500, and at the discretion of the court trying the case in addition to such fine may be imprisoned for a term not exceeding six months; and upon conviction shall be subject to impeachment, and removal from office. The courts having jurisdiction shall give this law specially in charge to the Grand Juries, and when the evidence is sufficient to authorize an indictment the Grand Jury must present a true bill.


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Any county into or through which such member or officer is transported by the use of such prohibited pass or ticket, shall have jurisdiction of the case, provided only one prosecution shall be had for the same offense; and provided further that the trial and judgment for an offense shall not bar a prosecution for another offense when the same pass or ticket is used, and provided further

that nothing herein shall prevent a member of the Legislature who is a bona fide employee of a railroad car other transportation company or corporation at the time of his election from accepting or procuring for himself or another, not a member of the legislature or officer exercising judicial functions, a free pass over the railroad and other transportation company or corporation by which he is employed.

Sec. 17. No railroad company shall give or pay any rebate, or a bonus in the nature thereof, directly or indirectly, or do any act to mislead or deceive the public as to the real rates charged or received for freights or passage; and any such payments shall be illegal and void, and these prohibitions shall be enforced by suitable penalties.

Sec. 18. Rights, privileges and easements for public utilities over, along and under the streets of incorporated cities and towns shall not be granted, except by the proper legal authorities of such incorporated cities and towns.

Sec. 19. No railroad, canal or other transportation company in existence at the time of the ratification of this Constitution, shall have the benefit of any future legislation, by general or special laws, other than in execution of a trust created by law or by contract, except on the condition of complete acceptance of all provisions of this article.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM Under the rules 300 copies of this report will be printed, and lie on the table until it comes up in the regular order for consideration.

MR. SAMFORD (Pike) I understood there was a minority report.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM It has already been read.

MR. OATES At the time the Committee on Legislative Department was called my attention was otherwise engaged. I wish to make two or three reports from that Committee. Before they are read I have one ordinance here, referred to that Committee, No. 470, and the Committee find that it was not properly referred. but that it ought to go to the Committee on Amending the Constitution and Miscellaneous Provisions, and I am therefore instructed to return it and ask a reference to that Committee. The ordinance is in regard to the method of amending the Constitution, and ought to go to that Committee.


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The reference was so made.

The report of the Committee upon the following ordinances was then read as follows:

Mr. President, your Committee on Legislative Department, to when was referred Resolution No. 194, to require the next Legislature to reduce the tax on fertilizers to 10 cents per ton and

to provide for support of the Agricultural Schools out of the general fund of the State, having carefully considered the same, instruct me to report with the recommendation that the same be adopted by the convention.

Respectfully submitted,

Wm. C. Oates, Chairman.

Resolution No. 194, by Mr. Morrisette.

Resolved by the people of Alabama, in Convention assembled that the next General Assembly of Alabama shall reduce the tax on fertilizer to 10 cents per ton.

Resolved, further, that the General Assembly, at the same time, shall provide for the support of the various Agricultural Schools in this State, out of the general fund of the State.

Mr. President, the Committee on Legislative Department, to whom were referred ordinances Nos. 405, 411, 420, 422, 432, and resolutions Nos. 223 and 269, have carefully considered the same, and instruct me to report back said ordinances and resolutions with the recommendation that the same do not pass. Said ordinances and resolutions are herewith respectfully returned.

Respectfully submitted,

Wm. C. Oates, Chairman.

Ordinance No. 405, by Mr. Reynolds (Chilton):

Whereas, the newspapers of the State are highly influential in molding public sentiment, and

Whereas, newspapers as well as individuals are biased necessarily in favor of those from whom they receive gratuities,

Be it ordained by the people of Alabama in Convention assembled, that no newspaper in this State, or representative thereof, shall receive or accept a pass, or other free transportation, from

any railroad company, doing business within this State. That the newspaper, in the event that it or its representatives receives, accepts, and uses such free pass or transportation, shall be fined not less than $500, for each violation of this section of the Constitution, and that the railroad company who itself or through its agent, issue such pass, free pass, or transportation, shall be fined a like sum for each violation of this section.


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Ordinance No. 4111, by Mr. Reese:

Be it ordained by the people of Alabama in Convention assembled

Article IV:

Sec. ____ The Legislature shall enact penal statutes to suppress the evil habit of using obscene and profane language in the hearing of children.

Ordinance No. 420, by Mr. Burns:

An ordinance. The General Assembly or Legislature shall enact laws for the purpose of effectually enforcing the lien of agricultural, mechanical and railroad employees upon the product of their manual labor.

Ordinance No. 422, by Mr. deGraffenreid:

An ordinance to repeal sections 8 and 9 of the article heretofore adopted by this Convention on the subject of Banks and Banking :

Be it ordained by the people of Alabama, in Convention assembled, that sections 8 and 9 of the article heretofore adopted by this Convention on the subject of Banks and Banking be and the same are hereby repealed.

Ordinance No. 432, by Mr. J. W. A. Sanford:

An ordinance to empower the Legislature to construct a canal from the city of Birmingham to the Warrior river, by the employment of convicts on such work.

Be it ordained by the people of Alabama in Convention assembled, that the Legislature shall have power to authorize the construction of a canal from the city of Birmingham to the Warrior River by the employment of persons convicted of crime on such work, and to provide for the collection of tolls on freight and fares from passengers, for the benefit of the State.

Resolution No. 223, by Mr. Mac. A. Smith, of Autauga :

Resolved that the people of Alabama in Convention assembled, that it is the sense of this Convention that the General Assembly should, as early as practicable, so amend the laws of said State as to more certainly punish the offense of vagrancy which is becoming such a common and alarming evil in many sections of Alabama.

Resolution No. 269, by Mr. O' Neil of Jefferson:

Be it resolved by the people of Alabama, in convention assembled, that the Legislature may provide that the general election


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CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

immediately preceding the expiration of a term of United States Senator from this State, and electors may by ballot express their preference for some person for the office of United States Senator. The votes cast for such candidates shall be canvassed and returned in the same manner as for State officers.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM Rule 47 is the only rule the chair can find which relates to this matter, and that provides the reports of committees shall be reported and lie on the table until they come up in regular order.

MR. OATES There is no provision in the rule that I am aware of making provisions for adverse reports.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM The chair does not see it in the index.

MR. OATES I move that the report and ordinances be laid upon the table, where the authors or others dissenting from the action of the Committee can move to take them from the table. I think that would be the proper disposition of them.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM. It is moved that these resolutions and ordinances which have been adversely reported by the Committee, shall lie upon the table until it may be the pleasure of the Convention to take them therefrom for consideration.

Upon a vote being taken, the motion prevailed.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM The special order is the continuing order of the report of the Committee on Suffrage and Elections, Section 4, and the minority report thereto.

MR. OATES I rise for the purpose of correcting a statement I made on yesterday when my colleague from Montgomery (Gov. Jones) was addressing the Convention. He seemed to be at a loss for the time at which the Federal government began the enlistment of Negroes as soldiers, and I rose and stated it was after President Lincoln's proclamation of emancipation went into operation, the first day of January, 1863, but by a slip of the tongue I said 1865, or was so understood. I desire to further state that when that went into operation the enlistment began, but it was not at all consummated in Alabama until the fall of Mobile, which went into the hands of the Federal authorities late in the spring of 1865. I merely wanted to correct the statement of the historic fact.

The chair recognized the gentleman from Calhoun (Mr. Knox.)

MR. SAMFORD (Pike) I have observed, Mr. President, that in extending the time of speakers on this question so far, that we have had to interrupt them in the midst of their argument,


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and I therefore move that the rules be suspended, before the argument begins, and that the gentleman's time be extended until he can complete his remarks.

Upon a vote being taken the motion was carried.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention:

The sudden enfranchisement of a large mass of ignorant voters, just emerged from slavery, by the adoption of the fifteenth amendment, has been recognized almost everywhere as the mistake of the nineteenth century. The consequent evils that we have suffered, in common with other States, need not be dwelt upon. They go to make the history of reconstruction in the South, and represent the darkest days through which our people have ever, and I trust will ever be called upon to pass.

The practical question, Mr. President, is what can we do, within the limits imposed by the Federal Constitution, to ameliorate and remove the unfortunate conditions which the creation of an ignorant, vicious and incompetent electorate has brought upon us.

The distinguished gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. Jones) who spoke in opposition to the majority report of the Committee laid down some principles which he said were fundamental, and upon which he assumed there would be no dispute among the lawyers in the Convention. He read from the cast of Au Kow vs. Noonan. He said he thought there would be no dispute among the lawyers in the Convention as to the principles which would govern in the case.

I grant the proposition so far as the Chinese queue case cited by him is concerned. The distinguished gentleman admitted upon this floor that the fourteenth amendment had no effect upon the right of suffrage, and if the case stood upon the fourteenth amendment that the State would have the absolute right to disfranchise the negro. In the light of this admission, there need be no dispute between us. The Au Kow case arose under the fourteenth amendment. The personal right which was invaded there was protected by the terms of the fourteenth amendment, but this does not involve or affect the right of suffrage.

Another proposition which the gentleman laid down, and upon which he said there would be no dispute, was that the State had no right to impose a condition upon suffrage which would not apply alike to all citizens that is to say, to quote him more accurately that the State had no right to impose a condition on suffrage to which all citizens could not attain, or which was not within the reach of all citizens. This, I understand. Mr. President, to be the proposition asserted in the minority report where they say : "We submit that the test required is not a rule or condition to which all citizens similarily situated, may conform. This, we un


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derstand, from the decision of the United States Supreme Court, is necessary to make it valid." I would inquire of the distinguished gentleman from Jefferson, who discussed this question if that is the proposition of the minority, and if I am correct in my interpretation of that clause in the report?

MR. WHITE I suppose the gentleman can get quite as good an answer from the majority report, because they assert the same proposition.

MR. KNOX Where?

MR. WHITE--On the first page of the report they say this : "We are of the opinion that the fifteenth amendment of the Constitution of the United States does not interfere with the sovereign right of the State to prescribe the qualifications of voters, further than to prohibit discrimination on account of "race, color or previous condition of servitude," and this limitation in no way interferes with the sovereign power of the 'State to fix a standard of fitness, applicable to all alike."

MR. KNOX–Oh. The proposition asserted by the majority of the Committee is that the qualifications which they prescribe are applicable to all alike, because every man who is a soldier is included. and this is a provision which applies to all citizens alike. Every man who is a soldier, or the descendant of a soldier whether white or black, comes within the provision, and the privilege granted by the report of the majority Committee. Every man who is a man of good character, comes within the provision of the report of the majority Committee, but the proposition which the minority here assert, and which the distinguished gentleman from Montgomery argued yesterday, is that the State is without the power to set apart a class of citizens because they were soldiers, and set apart another class because they are the children of soldiers, because all citizens could not attain or reach that qualification, and the qualification must be such as that all citizens might attain. Does the distinguished gentleman from Jefferson deny that proposition?

MR. WHITE–I think that is right.

MR. KNOX You think that is right. That is the point I. wanted to come to because I wanted to understand the minority report.

Now, then, I deny that proposition, and I submit to this Convention that the whole argument upon it is built upon a false premises. The only two authorities which the gentleman from Montgomery has cited is this Chinese queue case, which arose under the fourteenth amendment, and the Catholic Priest case, which arose under the declaration of rights. What has the declaration of rights to do with the power of a State to regulate the right of


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suffrage: "That no State can pass an ex post facto law." 'That is the Chinese queue case, and the proposition of the decision of the court is asserted in this head note, "an ex post facto law, is one which imposes punishment for an act which was not punishable at the time it was committed. Here a Catholic Priest was being proceeded against under the provisions of the constitution that were retroactive, that operated retrospectively, “or impose additional punishment to that then prescribed, or changes the rule of evidence, by which less or different evidence would be sufficient to convict than was then required."

The proposition here asserted rests upon a false premises, for it is not true that the State cannot, in the exercise of its sovereign powers, prescribe a condition to suffrage which is not within the reach of every class of her citizens Every State in the Union almost, Mr. President, confines the right to vote to male citizens, and yet women are just as much citizens within the meaning and protection of the Constitution as are men. And yet, constitutional provisions which limit the right to vote to males and exclude females are not unconstitutional. This was directly decided in the case of Minor vs. Happersett, (21 Wall. 162), where the opinion of the court is thus stated in the head note.

"The Constitution of the United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon any one and the Constitution and of the several States which commit that important trust to men alone, are not necessarily void."

Upon the same principle, I contend that a sovereign State has a right to say that any class of citizens, that those who have fought the battles of the State, those who have risked their lives in the defense of the State, may be admitted to the right of suffrage, and the same power which will enable the State to confer this right upon the soldier will enable the State to confer the right upon the son

of the soldier. It is not a discrimination on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude, but a recognition, on the part of the State, of services rendered in its behalf.

What are the powers of the State in this matter of Constitutional reform? A great many seems to go upon the principle that the State has no power in this matter except what it secures by grace of the Federal Government. Mr. President, this opinion is founded upon a misconception of our Government. The State is not the creature of the Federal Government, but the Federal Government is the creature of the States. The Federal Government is a government of limited powers. It possesses no power except such as has been granted by the State. The right of suffrage is not given by the Federal law or Constitution. It comes alone from the State. Save in the matter of discrimination against the voter on account of his race, color or previous condition of servitude,


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which is a limitation not imposed by the Federal Government, but which the States, by the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment, imposed upon themselves the State may impose any condition upon the exercise of the right of suffrage which it chooses, and the validity of these conditions, in my judgment, are not controlled by the circumstances as to whether they are reasonable or unreasonable. The State is sovereign. Sovereigns may, if they choose, be capricious. They may be unjust. They may be unreasonable. Mr. Jameson, in his work on Constitution Conventions, says:

“Which, then, is the true theory of suffrage? Is its exercise that of a natural right or is it merely the performance of a duty resting simply upon positive law? . . . Suffrage considered as a natural right would be universal suffrage; and universal suffrage is an utter impracticability. For, admitting the force of the argument which attributed, by the law of nature, an equal right to vote to every citizen, nevertheless, when the statesman comes practically to establish the right, insuperable difficulties arise. Some are too weak, or too young, to exercise it at all, or with the requisite intelligence. A line must be somewhere drawn. Where it shall be drawn is a question of expediency to be determined by the existing government, like any other measure involving mixed questions of justice anti of policy. The principle of exclusion being once established, whether it shall be confined to consideration of age, or to be extended to those of sex or social conditions, is matter of practical detail, to be settled by the political power . . . . Thus viewed, it is evident that in the present condition of mankind, in which, fear the public good, the principle of exclusion must be exercised, there is no such thing as right of suffrage. Suffrage is not a right at all; it is a duty, a trust, enjoined upon, or committed to, some citizens and not to others." Jameson on Constitutional Conventions, page 329 et seq.

The fourteenth Amendment does not confer the right to vote, nor is the right conferred by the Fifteenth Amendment. The Fifteenth Amendment operates only as a limitation upon the right of the State to discriminate upon the specified grounds of "race, color or previous condition of servitude." It was so held by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Minor vs. Happersett (21 Wall. 178) and United States against Reese et al. (92 U. S. 214). This is made exceedingly clear in the case of the United States vs. Cruikshank. (92 U. S. 555). In this case, the court, speaking by Mr. Chief justice Waite, says:

"In Minor vs. Happersett (21 1 Fall. 178) we decided that the Constitution of the United States, has not conferred the right of suffrage upon any one, and that the United States have no voters of their own creation in the States. In the United States vs. Reese et al. (92 U. S. 214), We held that the Fifteenth Amendment has invested the citizens of the United States with a new constitutional


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right, which is, exemption front discrimination in the exercise of the elective franchise on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude. From this it appear; that the right of suffrage is not a necessary, attribute of national citizenship; but that exemption from discrimination in the exercise of that right on account of race, etc., is. The right to vote in the United States comes from the States; but the right of exemption from the prohibited discrimination comes from the United States. The first has not been granted or secured by the Constitution of the United States, but the last has been."

It seems clear to me, both upon principle and authority, that while the State cannot discriminate against the voter on account of his race, color or previous condition of servitude. It may discriminate against him on any other ground, and it is not material whether the discrimination made is reasonable or unreasonable. It is competent for the State, in the exercise of its sovereignty, to say that only those who fought in the Federal or Confederate armies shall be entitled to vote. It is competent for the State to say that only those who fought in the Federal or Confederate armies and their lineal descendants shall be entitled to vote. It would be competent, in my judgment, for the State to say that only married men should vote. As remarked by Mr. Jameson, “A line must be somewhere drawn. Where it shall be drawn is a question of expediency, to be determined by the existing government, like any other measure involving mixed questions of justice and policy. The principle of exclusion being once established whether it shall be confined to consideration of age, or be extended to those of sex or social conditions is a matter of practical detail, to be settled 1)y the political power.” Jameson on Constitutional Conventions, page 329 et seq.

When the State has acted and promulgated its Constitution, the motives of the legislators, except so far as they appear from the Constitution itself, cannot be inquired into. It is the province of the courts to declare the effect and operation of the law, but it is not their province to investigate the ulterior motives of those who framed the law. This principle is declared and enforced by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Soon Hing vs. Crowley (113 U. S. 759). In that case, the court, speaking by Mr. Justice Field, says:

"The rule is general with reference to the enactment of all legislative bodies that courts cannot inquire into the motives of the legislators in passing them, except as they may be disclosed on the face of the acts, or inferrable from their operation, considered with reference to the condition of the country and existing legislation. The motives of the legislator, considered as the purposes they had in view, will always be pursued to be to accomp-


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lish that which follows as the natural and reasonable effects of their enactments. Their motives, considered as the moral inducements for their votes, will vary with the different members of the legislative body. The diverse character of all such motives, and the impossibility of penetrating into the hearts of men and ascertaining the truth. precludes all such inquiries as impracticable and futile."

Our purpose is to establish the supremacy of virtue and itelligence in this State and to eliminate front the electorate the ignorant and the vicious. In this we are not alone. It has been the aim and end of every government based upon popular suffrage since the world bean. Why by does Massachusetts have an educational qualification for the voter? It is a mere expedient to purify and elevate and electorate. Why does Rhode Island have a property qualification for the voter? It is a mere expedient to elevate the standard and confine the right of suffrage to those to whom it may be safely entrusted. And so, in speaking of the plan adopted in the State of Mississippi, the Supreme Court of the United States. in the Williams case (170 U. S., 111) says that the Convention in that State swept the field of expedients to accomplish the disfranchisement of the negro, but adds that the expedient adopted was a permissible one, in that the provision made was not limited by its terms or effect to any one race.

Mr. President, it is much easier to find objections to any plan than it is to furnish a better. It is impossible to understand the difficulties which stand in the way of a solution of this question until you undertake it, and the closer you come to it, the more difficult it will appear. Taking the plan recommended by our Committee on Suffrage and Elections, it seems to me it is better than any that has been adopted by any of the State which have dealt with this subject, and it is letter than any one plan which has been recommended, because it combines the best features of all the plans.

The conditions in this State are exceptional, being composed, in one part, of what we term white counties and in the other of what we term Black Belt counties. One plan night operate admirably in one part of the State, while it would not at all meet the demands of another. Hence, the Committee has been compelled to deal with the subject in a comprehensive manner, with a view of meeting the needs and demands of our people in every section of the State.

The most strenuous opposition offered to the report of the Committee is directed against that part of the plan commonly known as "the grandfather clause." This part of the plan has been criticised and attacked from unexpected sources. and with an amount of intemperance which seems to me wholly unwarranted.


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This is a great question with which we are dealing. It is one which affects the very life of the State; and I do submit that those who have been charged with the responsibility, and who have labored so faithfully to discharge the duty, had a right to expert sympathy from some sources where, instead, they have received opposition and antagonism.

Much has been said in this debate as to the attitude of our senior Senator, Hon. Joe. T. Morgan on this question, and while it seem; that the distinguished Senator is opposed to the hereditary right of the soldier and his descendants to vote, he is in favor of the hereditary right of the white race to hold office.

MR. WHITE May I ask the gentleman a question?

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM.–Does the gentleman yield?

MR. KNOX Certainly.

MR. WHITE I would be glad if you would make more plain wherein Senator Morgan has ever insisted upon the hereditary right to hold office?

MR. KNOX He asserted it in the plan which he submitted to this Convention for its consideration, that the right to hold office, if I recollect it correctly, should be confined to white citizens and their descendants.

MR. OATES I will ask leave to propound a question.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM -Does the gentleman consent to the interruption?

MR. KNOX Certainly.

MR. OATES Is it not a fact that Senator Morgan puts that on the ground that the Fifteenth Amendment does not contain any declaration of the right to hold office, but only to vote as to the negro, and maintains, therefore, that the State may deny to him the right to hold office?

MR. KNOX That is true, but Senator Morgan is not objecting to our platform upon constitutional grounds, but upon the great right that was fought for by our revolutionary fathers, in opposition to the English system of hereditary rights. (Applause.)

MR. OATES Except in this. That is true so far, but the delegate will remember that I read from a letter which I received from him, dated the 2nd day of July, in which he said he entirely concurred in the minority report and in the views of the minority committee.

MR. KNOX Yes, he did.


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MR. OATES And that included the unconstitutionality of the measure.

MR. KNOX Yes. that is true, and I was greatly surprised. I was profoundly astonished when the gentleman read that letter, because I remember when the Flying Squadron was organized to conduct the campaign of the distinguished gentleman for Senator in this State the reason for its organization was assigned to be that the duties of the Senator required him to remain in Washington, and among the important duties which engaged his attention, and made it necessary for him to remain there, was to make an argument in the Senate of the United States against the Pitchard resolution, and I want to read you that resolution. It was introduced by Senator Pritchard for the purpose of thwarting a similar movement to that which we now have on hand, in the State of North Carolina, anti his resolution reads as follows:

"Resolved, That an enactment, by Constitution or otherwise, by any State, which confers the right to vote upon any of its citizens because of their descent from certain persons or classes of persons, and excludes other citizens because they are not descended from such persons or classes of persons having all other qualifications prescribed by law, in the opinion of the Senate is in violation of the fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States and of a fundamental principle of our republican form of government."

He could not come to Alabama to conduct his canvass for the Senate because he had to remain in Washington and combat that proposition.

MR. WHITE, Will the gentleman allow a question?

MR. KNOX Certainly.

MR. WHITE Have you anything from Senator Morgan saying that was the reason that kept him there?

MR. KNOX I have. (Applause.)

MR. WHITE, On the contrary, I understand he was there trying if possible to obtain the construction of the Nicaraguan Canal.

MR. KNOX–I have it from a member of the "Flying Squadron" who went to Washington to induce him to come to Alabama and engage in the canvass, and be there stated to him that he could not leave, that among other important duties he must stay there to combat the Pritchard resolution and at the same time read to that member of the Flying Squadron the able address which I hold in my hands and a part of which I propose to read to delegates. (Applause.)


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Now, upon the constitutionality of the much abused grandfather clause, and as to which the distinguished gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. Oates) says that Senator Morgan in a letter to him concurred in the minority report, in the Senate in a much more deliberate statement of his position than he could make from Warm Springs, he said (referring to the Pritchard resolution):

"The substituted resolution I have just read is not true in point of law. It is not a discrimination on account of race, color or previous condition of slavery, unless the act exclude, them by its terms, or by necessary intendment from its terms, for such causes. The exclusion of certain persons or classes or persons or their descendants can be lawfully made in many cases and for many reasons that have no relation to race or color or previous condition of servitude."

Again, in speaking especially with reference to the suffrage plan adopted in Louisiana, he says:

"It must also be such a discrimination as appears on the fact of the law that is complained of, and must relate alone to race, color or previous condition of servitude. It is not enough to invoke the interference of Congress that such discrimination is possible. or even probable, under the administration of the law. It must be found in the legal construction of the law and in its legal effect. In this view of the law that governs in these matters the decision in the Mississippi case is conclusive to show that the text of the Louisiana Constitution is not a discrimination against the negro on account of his race, color his previous condition of servitude, and the act is valid against the power of Congress to interfere with it."

MR. OATES I desire to read from the letter just that paragraph so you may see the exact language that Senator Morgan used.

MR. KNOX I remember the letter very well. You read it on yesterday and Mr. White read one from him.

MR. HOOD (Etowah) Did not the Senator, in his letter to Mr. White, the gentleman from Jefferson, make the statement that the Fifteenth Amendment had no more to do with this descendant proposition than any other clause or section in the Federal Constitution?

MR. KNOX I do not remember that statement. I was simply discussing the question of his---

MR. WHITE, I will answer the question if the gentleman will permit me. He certainly made that statement, yes, and he meant to say that it was vicious as against every proposition in the Constitution.


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MR. KNOX Well, I will state further, that in this speech of his -he certainly did oppose in that letter the policy of transferring the right to vote from father to son----

MR. COLEMAN (Greene) Will you allow a question?

MR. KNOX Certainly.

MR. COLEMAN (Greene)–Did he not say also in that letter that his main objection to it was that it let in too many negroes and excluded too many whites?

MR. KNOX I think the gentleman is correct.

Now in discussing this North Carolina plan, which allowed not only the whites and their descendants to vote, but free born negroes and their descendants who were also entitled to vote under the Constitution as framed in North Carolina, he says:

"If such a qualification could then be applied to free negroes who fought for the United States in aid of the Revolution that succeeded in that struggle, without creating a discrimination as to race, color or previous condition of slavery, it would equally apply to the class of negroes who aided in putting down the revolution of 1861 65. There is no more reason under the Constitution for refusing to extend these privileges to the children of negroes who were soldiers in either war than there would be for refusing to extend their pensions to their descendants."

In view of the position which he then deliberately assumed, and ably defended it is surprising to find that he now contends that the adoption of a similar plan in his own State would be followed with such disastrous consequences. How can he expect us, or the people of this State, with his able argument in the Senate before us, to accept the conclusion which he emphasizes in his letter to the delegate from Jefferson, Mr. White, where he says:

"The transmission of the electoral power by the blood of inheritance from father to son would destroy all distinction between regal government and democracy, and would throw the door wide open for a return to the system that the American Revolution abolished. The steps would be few, and would be rapidly taken to the complete restoration of monarchy so soon as we give to any class Of voters the power to qualify their sons as voters by inheritance. In this case, it is the first step that tells, with fatal and irrevocable effect."

It is surprising that the distinguished Senator would indulge in expressions like this when he must know that, in large part the affect of the descendant clause, as applied in our suffrage plan, is to save from disfranchisement the sons of those brave and patriotic men who sacrificed their lives and their fortunes in defending the


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cause of the Southern Confederacy. No one has been found who questions the right of the State to confer the right of suffrage upon those who have fought the battles of the State: and if it is within the power of the State to single out a class of patriotic citizens and confer upon them special privileges, it is impossible for me. to understand how it can be denied that the State has the same power to extend the privilege to their children and to their children's children. In dealing with the power of a sovereign State, we must distinguish between the propriety of doing a thing and the power and authority, of the State to do it. While some may question the propriety of conferring this privilege upon the solider as many do question the propriety of the State's making provision, by pension or otherwise, even for the support of the soldier it seems clear to me that when you concede the power to confer the right upon the soldier himself, it follows that the sovereign may, if it chooses extend the right for his children, and, if you please, to his children's children.

The distinguished gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. Oates) who signed the minority report, seen is to think it would be something awful should we adopt a suffrage plank which would exclude practically all the negroes. Mr. President, no plan which has been suggested has contemplated the exclusion of all the negroes. The end and object of the plan which is reported by the majority of the Committee does not contemplate the exclusion of all the negroes, but the elimination from the electorate of the ignorant, incompetent and vicious negroes who, so long as they remain voters, stand as an everlasting menace to good government and to the peace and prosperity of our State.

Mr. President, I listened to the eloquent protest which the distinguished gentleman from Montgomery made against the disfranchisement of the negro, and as he spoke, I could not fail to ask myself, what has he done in this Convention, or what does he propose to do, to prevent this. The report of the Committee on Suffrage is unanimous, with the single exception of the proposition supported by four members to strike out the clause giving to the descendants of soldier; the right to vote. Suppose the supporters of the minority report are successful in striking out this provision. In what respect are the negroes benefited? This clause protects a right to vote in the hands of those who possess it, and includes the negro and it is impossible for me to understand how he expects to benefit the negro by striking it out of the Constitution.

Mr. President, I have been surprised, in the interesting review which the gentleman has given us of his dramatic experience in the military service, to note that the only heroic conduct which seems to have impressed him as on the part of a negro body-


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servant, while one of his own race is described as climbing saplings in his mighty strides to escape the bullets of the enemy. I deem it unjust to the white man. Mr. President, when a comparison of the races is being made, to select an exceptional instance of depravity as the white man’s exemplar, to be set over against an exceptional case of valor on the part of the negro. In contrast to the conduct of the miserable creature of whom he speaks, I beg to refer you to the conduct of Poker Miller, a green country lad, who enlisted front that portion of the State which I have the honor, in part, to represent. He was wholly without education, and when he signed the roll, he signed it with his mark. In the thickest of the, fight, the standard bearer of his company, fell mortally wounded, and even the veterans around him seemed to hesitate to take his place when this mere lad seized the colors, and, waving them aloft, advanced upon the enemy. His comrades shouted, "Bring the colors back to the men," an the answer came back, "Bring the men to the colors," and they did, and as a consequence the ramparts were taken and the enemy completely routed.

MR. OATES–Will the gentleman allow me to interrupt him just there?

MR. KNOX-- When I get through, General.

MR. BEDDOW I rise to a point of order. A number of people are on the floor of the Convention through courtesy, and they are continually applauding in violation of the rules of this House.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM-The Chair will state to the gentleman from Jefferson that it is against the rules of the House to applaud, and the Chair will again request all gentleman in the House to be seated, and remain quiet, so that the gentleman can proceed with the argument.

MR. KNOX When the gentleman from Jefferson (Mr. Beddow) was speaking of his union labor resolution, and there was applause, I heard no objection raised by him. (Prolonged applause.)

MR. BEDDOW–Mr. President—

MR. KNOX–I think I have the floor Mr. President–

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM---The gentleman from Calhoun has the floor. The gentleman from Jefferson will be seated.

Mr. Hinson sought recognition.

MR. KNOX–I hope my argument will not be interrupted–

MR. HINSON—I want to have the rules suspended and that applause be allowed.


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THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM It seems to the Chair that the applause will take care of itself.

Another picture, Mr. President. A beardless Southern boy lay dying upon one of the battlefields of Virginia. His comrades leaned low to catch the last words from his lips, to know if there was any message which they might take to his mother and sisters at home. "Yes," he said, “tell them that when I fell. I fell with my face to the foe." He was not climbing saplings.

I now consent to the interruption at this point.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM—The gentleman yields to the gentleman from Montgomery if he desires to ask a question.

MR. OATES–The purpose for which I rose was to ask the speaker if he thought it was a fair illustration of my argument to pick out, or to claim that it was a discourse and a presentation to this Convention of my career in the Confederate Army, because I saw proper to relate one or two incidents? My friend, as gallant as I know he is would have been there, if he had been as old as I was, and if he had been where I was and all along through the scenes that I went through, he would know that these were only two small incidents in the many which occurred while I was in that army. Now I was making the argument, as a principle in favor of individualism, and not as a comparison between the two races at all, but as a mark of individualism, wherein I showed that in a particular instance a negro had displayed so much more gallantry and patriotism than a white man. That was only to illustrate my point of individualism that every tub should stand upon its own bottom in the matter of political rights rather than any contention of all equality of the races. I never presumed to say anything of that kind.

MR. KNOX I am sure that the gentleman did not intend anything of the kind, but it seemed to me and many other delegates that he did, in the argument which he submitted, in his efforts to magnify the importance of the negro, and of his rights as a citizen, and in his anxiety, that he should not be deprived of his right to vote, he did seem to forget, to some extent, the other race, so far as his illustration was concerned.

The principle of inherited capacity for citizenship is recognized by Senator Shelby M. Cullom, a distinguished Republican, Chairman of the Hawaiian Commission, in his report on the Hawaiian Islands on pages 2 and 3 of Senate Document No. 16, third session Fifty fifth Congress, where he used this language:

"An important subject of our investigation was that of the adaptability of the several races of the people who inhabit the islands for American citizenship, and their ability to sustain the ob-


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ligations which attach to the right of suffrage. The American idea of universal suffrage presuppose, that the body of citizens who are to exercise it in a free and independent manner have, by inheritance or education, such knowledge and appreciation of the responsibilities of free suffrage, and of a full participation in the sovereignty of the country as to be able to maintain a republican government."

That the Southern man is sceptical as to the ability of the negro to become a good citizen, and to exercise the responsible duties of citizenship in a manner which would justify their extension to him, is scarcely to be wondered at when we remember that Mr. Lincoln the negro's greatest and truest friend, held similar views himself. In his speech at Charlestown, Ill., on September 18, 1858, Mr. Lincoln said:

"I will say that I am not, and never have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying their to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say, in addition to this, that there is a physical difference between the white and black race; which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they, cannot so live, while they remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior and I, as much as any other man, an in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” (1 Complete Works, 369.)

While we regret, Mr. President, that in the suffrage plan we have not the support of either of our Senators, we remember that those who battled with these difficulties in Louisiana and North Carolina were in a like condition. They, too, had the opposition of both of their Senators, but they were not deferred on that account from establishing constitutional reform, and saving the State from the domination of the ignorant and vicious element. But no great reform movement like this has ever been accomplished except by beating down obstacles which confront it on every hand. If we are right, as I believe we are, let us stand by our guns, no matter how virile the criticism or how prominent the objectors. If our position is founded, as I believe it is, upon the bedrock of truth, and meets the wishes and needs of our people. it will be accepted, and, despite all opposition, whether from within or without, it will stand like the granite promontory in the deep. The high billows may roll around it, and the mad waves may beat upon it, only to fall harmless foam at its base.

The distinguished gentleman from Jefferson (Mr. White) in the course of his remarks on yesterday , made a touching allusion to the disaster which he predicted would befall the report of the


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majority when it encountered the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, when he described the final obsequies of the off spring of the Committee, at which he said he might appear, merely as a friend of the family, but in no way connected with the deceased.

Mr. President, when the people are heard from the people about whom the gentleman from Jefferson has had so much to say during the deliberations of this Convention and the old soldiers and the song of the old soldiers come to pass judgment on the course which the gentleman has taken with reference to this suffrage plan, there may be another funeral in which the distinguished gentleman will appear not as a friend of the family, merely, but as the principal in the case, when some new Byron may be inspired to sing:

Unhappy White when life was in its spring.

And thy young hope waved aloft its wing,.

“Twas thine own hand that struck the fatal blow,

And helped to plant the wound that laid thee low.

Like the struck eagle stretched upon the plain.

No more the rolling cloud to soar again

Viewed his own pinion on the fatal dart,

And winged the shaft that quivered in his heart,

Keen were his pangs, but keener far to feel.

'Twas his own pinion that impelled the steel

`'While the same plumage that had warmed his nest,

Drank the last life drop from his bleeding breast.

Now, a word with reference: to the good character provision of the plan and the criticisms which have been made upon the powers vested in the registrars.

No intelligent suffrage scheme has yet been devised which does not make careful provision for the registration of the voter. It is the only means whereby a check can be obtained against manipulation and frauds in elections; and if it is said that this system confer, great power upon the registrar, the answer to it is that without constitution of some authority which is invested with some discretion in the premises, unless you grant universal manhood suffrage, there is no means known whereby the State may purge the electorate and separate the fit from the unfit.

So far as the exclusion of the negro race is concerned, any scheme which could be devised for the purpose of separating the competent from the incompetent voter would exclude largely more negroes that white men for the reason that the negro is so unfortunate as to be wanting in those qualities which go to make a good citizen. If you select the test of education, if you select the test of ownership of property, if you select the test of patriotism, if you


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select the test of freedom from the commission of crime every such test, when properly applied, will exclude largely more of one race than the other. The plan which requires the payment of a poll tax as a condition to the right to vote will exclude more negroes than white men. The plan which requires the voter to be a person of good character and understanding will exclude more negroes than white men. The plan which requires the voter to have served in the armies of the State will exclude more negroes than white men, but such a plan, in my judgment, cannot, on that account, be said to be unconstitutional.

If a plan is unconstitutional because it operates to exclude more of one race another, then it is impossible to frame a plan of restricted suffrage which would be constitutional.

An alleged prominent citizen, who omits to disclose his identity, in attacking the plan of registration recommended by the Committee, in one of our leading papers, seems to assume that the appointment of registrars and the plan recommended by the Committee presupposes that they will abuse the trust and use the power corruptly.

Mr. President, I believe that it was Tallyrand that said that "every man had his price."

MR. SANFORD (Montgomery) Walpole.

MR. KNOX–The gentleman suggests that it was Walpole.. I thank him for the suggestion, because I have always received such valuable information, and this Convention has, too, from the distinguished gentleman from Montgomery. His facts and his information have been of great benefit to us. Walpole, then, it was, who said that "every man has his price" which led Macauley to remark "that only proved that Walpole had his."

The gentleman from Jefferson (Mr. Lowe) seems to be very much alarmed. I pass from the prominent citizen to take up the argument of the gentleman from Jefferson.

Some plan of registration, Mr. President, has been found in all the States to be absolutely essential for the prevention of fraud. The gentleman front Jefferson, Mr. Lowe, who spoke yesterday against the Committee’s plan seemed especially indignant that it should be proposed that the registrars should be appointed by the Governor, the Auditor and the Commissioner of Agriculture. He seems to think that there is some deep laid scheme on the part of the committee in omitting to select the State officers consecutively, whereas, the fact is, Mr. President. that these particular State officers were selected to discharge the duties of appointing the registrars under the temporary plan recommended by the Committee because, geographically, they happened to represent


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different parts of the State. The Governor resides in Barbour County, in the eastern part of the State; the Commissioner of Agriculture resides in Marengo County, which is in the southwestern part of the State; while the Auditor resides in Walker County, which is in the northern part of the State; and so, in these three officers, every part of the State is represented, as near as may be. Under the law now in force the county registrars are appointed by the Governor, and I can see no occasion for alarm because it is now proposed to confer the right upon the Governor, the Auditor and the Commissioner of Agriculture.

The Governor of this State is empowered to appoint justices of the Supreme Court, Circuit Judges and Chancellors. He is empowered to appoint United States Senators, and to fill numerous other places of less importance, and certainly. in view of this, the Governor, assisted by the Auditor and Commissioner of Agriculture, might be safely entrusted with the appointment of registrars. In a republican form of government the people cannot act collectively, but must act through agents. They must confer power upon someone; and I deny that there is any warrant for the assertion that this power cannot be safely left with the Commissioners whom the Committee has recommended.

Designing and evil disposed persons, Mr. President, before this Convention was called, suggested that the people could not safely trust the delegates to this Convention to discharge the duties for which they were appointed, but I believe the sequel will prove that in so doing, they did well.

The gentleman from Jefferson, in his argument against the grandfather clause, as showing the uselessness of that clause, argues that a person who would be unable to register under the good character clause will be so unfit and incompetent as that he ought not to be allowed to register under any, and yet, with singular inconsistency, proceeded to argue that the liberties of the people would not be safe if left to be administered by the registrars under the good character clause, because they could abuse their power and use it to defeat the ends for which it was created.

I was surprised, too, Mr. President, to hear it insinuated, if not asserted, by the gentleman from Jefferson, that there is danger that this power might be used by the registrars under the good character clause to register all the negroes whether fit or unfit to exercise the right of suffrage. The main objections urged to plans of this kind heretofore, Mr. President, have been that they tended to disfranchise the negro, but the gentleman from Jefferson, in his startling originality, springs upon us the suggestion that he fears the power will be used to protect the negro in his right to vote. If that is the deep laid scheme which the Committee has in view, the immense amount of sympathy which has been expended in


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the negro's behalf has been wasted. But, Mr. President, I hold it to be absolutely preposterous, in the light of the fact that representative, from the counties to which the gentleman refers, have labored so long and so earnestly to be rid of the menace of this ignorant and vicious element, that they should come here and seek to fasten these chains more permanently upon them. If they wanted the ignorant and vicious negro to continue to vote, why did they come here at all. In contemplation of law, he is now a voter, and as the gentleman from Jefferson testified as a willing witness to the point that they were able to control his vote very much as they please, why then should they have worked so hard and contributed so materially to the calling of this Convention for the accomplishment of that which, so far as they were concerned, needed no improvement.

The only reason why the committee recommends a plan of registration at all is to save an extra session of the Legislature. The plan of registration recommended by them is temporary merely, and is enforced up to and until the next session of the Legislature; and the justification for the committees recommending a plan of registration rests in the fact that it saves to the State the cost of an extra session of the Legislature, which it is estimated would be not less than fifty thousand dollars.

But the gentleman from Jefferson (Mr. White) would have us believe that the maintenance of good government is in no danger under conditions now prevailing in this State. Mr. President. if our own insight will not enable us to see this danger, we have an object lesson in our sister State of North Carolina. They, too, thought that after overthrowing the carpet bag government and establishing white supremacy they were safe; and they were able to maintain good government for something like twenty years. But when the white men divided, a large mass of ignorant and vicious voters found their opportunity, and the people of that State were subjected to such humiliation as I sincerely trust our people may be forever spared.

Time will not allow me to dwell upon the conditions which prevailed in that State, but I will quote a paragraph from the testimony of Hon. John D. Bellamy, member of Congress from that State, given in the contest election case of Dockery vs. Bellamy, which will give you some idea of the conditions which prevailed in Wilmington, the principal city in the State, where the negro was in full political control. He says

"And the result of it was that a horrible state of misgovernment had been brought about; that night after night burglaries and robberies took place in town, without any detection; that within about eight hundred feet of the city hall six burglaries had been committed in ten days without a detection; that one burglar had been arrested in a lady's residence, a negro burglar, was captured


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and held by the ladies until a police officer arrived; and that, although the offense was punishable by death and not bailable, he was taken to the city hall, and there let off on his own recognizance, or a straw bond, I have forgotten now which, and the negro escaped."

Again he says: "I recollect especially an incident of my own experience, where I prosecuted for Mr. Hamme, a very gallant and reputable citizen, a hat merchant of this city, who was assaulted in his store in broad daylight by Richard Holmes, a negro policeman, and struck between the eyes with a pair of brass knuckles, and felled senseless to the floor; and that on three trials, although the defendant himself, Holmes, did not take the stand and the evidence was uncontradicted. the jury failed to agree a single one of the three times, standing the first time nine whites for conviction and three negroes for acquittal; the second trial taking place at the next term of court all the white men on the jury stood for conviction and the negroes on the jury for acquittal; on the third trial, which took place at a subsequent term, it likewise took eight or nine-- I have forgotten the number whites for conviction,. and three or four negroes for acquittal, according to the number of negroes on the jury and finally the Fusion Solicitor, although I my self was associated in the prosecution nol prossed the case without even consulting me."

I will pause. too, to cite to you the editorial written by a negro editor of a negro paper published about this time in Wilmington, which he was emboldened to write because of his reliance on the protection he supposed the existing government would furnish, and the publication of which resulted in a riot causing the loss of many citizens:

"Poor white men are careless in the matter of protecting their women, especially on farms. They are careless of their conduct toward them, and our experience among poor white people in the country teaches us that the women of that race are not any more particular in the matter of clandestine meetings with colored men than are the white men with colored women. Meetings of this kind go on for some time, until the woman's infatuation or the man’s boldness bring attention to them, and the man is lynched for rape. Every negro lynched is called a 'big, burley, black brute,' when in fact many of those who have been thus dealt with had white men for their fathers, and were not only not 'black' and `burley' but were sufficiently attractive for white girls of culture and refinement to fall in love With them, as is well known to all." The publication of this letter in connection with other acts of aggression on the part of the negroes, led to the Wilmington riot which resulted in the loss of many lives.


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The conditions which prevailed in the city of Wilmington were such that eight thousand of her best citizens were forced, for more than ten days, to suspend business and patrol the streets with Winchesters.

Mr. President, the negroes in Alabama greatly exceed in numbers those in North Carolina, and he who would believe that there is no danger to us in leaving the ignorant and vicious element of this race in this State possessed of political power, would be of a very innocent and confiding nature indeed!

The great work of this Convention should be to establish the supremacy of virtue and intelligence in this State to imbed it deep in the Constitution, so that future generations, when they come to view the work that you have wrought, will revere and bless the memory of those who framed it. Thomas Jefferson, the great commoner, who was twice President of the United States, and honored as it falls to the lot of few men to be, when he came to die, turned his back to all this pomp and glory, and counted as the greatest achievements of his life what he had done to benefit his fellow men. "Let it be written," he said, "upon my tomb, 'Here lies Thomas Jefferson, author of the Statute of Religious Liberty in Virginia, the Founder of the University of Virginia and the Author of the Declaration of Independence.’ “

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM–The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Jefferson, Mr .Ferguson.

MR. REESE---I rise to offer a short resolution to provide for the printing of the speech that has just been delivered by the gentleman from Calhoun. I will ask the gentleman to yield.


THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM–Will the gentleman yield?

MR. FERGUSON–Yes, sir.

The resolution was read as follows:

Resolution No. 270, by Mr. Reese:

Resolved, That five thousand copies of the remarks of Hon. Jno. B. Knox be printed in pamphlet form.

MR. REESE I move the suspension of the rules that the resolution may be put upon its passage.

MR. OATES Mr. President

MR. REESE The motion to suspend the rules is not debatable.

MR. OATES I supposed you wanted to shut me off I have no doubt about that.



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A vote being taken, the rules were suspended, and a further vote being taken, the resolution was adopted.

MR. FERGUSON Mr. President and gentlemen of the Convention, I feel very much in the position of Sergeant S. Prentiss when in one of the great campaigns between the Whig, and Democratic parties before the war, he made a great speech in the city of New Orleans. In response to the clamorous calls of the multitude that were there to hear Mr. Clay speak, there were various futile efforts to get him to speak, finally he appeared on the gallery of the St. Charles Hotel and said to the multitude in front of him: "When eagles are in the air, it is time for the lesser birds of the feathered tribes to go to their roosts," and retired to his room. I hardly know, Mr. President and gentlemen, whether to consider it a compliment or not, to follow the distinguished President of this Convention, one of the ablest lawyers and debaters in the State of Alabama. The Committee designated this time for me to speak, but I do not know or did it out of compliment to me or did it for the purpose of snaking a contrast and saying here is the Hyperian to the Satyr, a Royal Bengal tiger to a singed cat, or the towering peaks of the Maeterhorn to the foot hills beneath it. I am unable to say, but being of a charitable disposition. I am willing to assume that this Committee, in assigning me this position, meant to compliment me.

Now, like Flannigan of Texas, "Gentlemen, for what purpose are we here?" It is, as outlined in the enabling act of calling this Convention, to amend and revise the Constitution of the State of Alabama. They had to put it that way in order to make it constitutional under the Constitution of the State, but gentlemen, we know the purpose for which it was called. There is not a man upon this floor but what knows the great supreme purpose for which this Convention was called. and that it was to reform the suffrage of the State, and to reform it in such a way that the white people might remain supreme in the control of its affairs, and to prevent the possibility, even though at remote times, of negro domination in this State. Let me in the beginning say that I am in full sympathy with the movement. I am glad, however, that this Committee in its wisdom put a plank in its ordinance by which negroes of good character in this State should be recognized and given the right to vote, and I am glad that embodied within the provisions of this able instrument, that these able gentlemen have furnished for our consideration, are measure, which will prevent the vicious of that race or any other race in the State of Alabama from casting ballots at our election.

Gentlemen, I dislike to appear in opposition to the article reported by this Committee, which as has been said upon this floor, is one of the ablest State papers that was ever drawn up. It is in my judgment, an able document with one exception, and that is,


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what is known and called "The Grandfather Clause." In the magnificent peroration made by the gentleman in closing his speech, as to the inscription on the tombstone of Thomas Jefferson, he might well have added, "Who struck down the law of primogeniture in the United States of America, making it impossible to ever have any class or hereditary distinctions." That is the meat in this provision.

Fellow delegates, the Committee and its champions say that this provision is constitutional. Some of the opposition say that it unconstitutional. I believe that it is so doubtful it ought not to be embodied in the organic law of the State of Alabama, because we cannot tell, gentlemen, what a hostile court may do or a hostile Congress will do even though it be constitutional in one aspect of the case. If we should have a close presidential election, the result of which depended upon the vote of the State of Alabama, with a court unfriendly to us, but friendly to the views our opponents, they would find the means of saving that it was unconstitutional. Governor Jones and Captain White have ably argued to you that the courts will not necessarily look at the face of the instrument itself for the purpose of determining whether it is constitutional or not. They will look at the purposes which actuated the Convention that passed it. They will look at it to see whether it is a scheme devised for the purpose of depriving citizens of the United State of the right to vote on account of race, color or previous Convention of servitude. Do not forget, gentlemen, that in the history of past decisions, and past congressional enactments in this country growing out of reconstruction. that they will put the X rays upon it. They will use Roentgen rays to discover an infirmity in the body of the enactment. Being some, what of a reader, if not a student of history, I have taken occasion to look into the question .to ascertain for what purposes the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments were enacted. I knew that there must have been some purpose in view in enacting those amendments. The war had closed, and the thirteenth amendment had been passed emancipating the slaves of the South. Two or three years later the fourteenth amendment followed and the fifteenth amendment followed shortly afterward. I have looked into the question and students of history upon this floor will bear me out in the statement of the reason for the legislation. Mr. Blaine, whom they say was an unfriendly historian, in his look, gives a reason. Samuel S. Cox, a friendly one, gives identically the same reason, and they say that it was on account of the antagonistic, and as some of them classed it, diabolical legislation of the Southern States, towards the negro, as a freed man. In discussing the question, Mr. Blaine lay particular stress upon the character of the legislation that was leveled at the negro in a state of freedom by the legislature of Alabama, which had not yet been abolished by reconstruction enactments. I have here the penal code of 1866, passed


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by that legislature, and in it I find the acts that Mr. Blaine and Mr. Cox refer to in their histories of that period, and it is so encumbered by enactments for the purpose of keeping the negro in a species of slavery, that the sentiment of the North was outraged. They felt that the four years of deadly struggle had accomplished nothing; that the legislature would override what they had done, and they immediately got together and as soon as possible passed the fourteenth amendment, that forbade any State to deprive any citizen of the United States of his rights or to abridge his privileges or immunities, to deprive their of the equal protection of the law. The enactments that had been passed by the legislatures of the Southern States immediately fell to the ground, and the negro had all the rights of citizenship before the law that the white man had. Thereafter they passed the fifteenth amendment to prevent these unfriendly legislatures from depriving the negro of the right to vote on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.

Now, you may ask what bearing that has upon the question at issue here today. It shows that if they consider that this strikes at the general government, and its powers, they will look at the purpose that animated this Convention, as much so as they did at the legislatures in passing those laws that sought to override the will of the Northern people. We should proceed with great care in this, matter, so as not to give them the opportunity to declare unconstitutional what we shall enact here. The champion of this Committee says that it is not unconstitutional. Why? What reasons do they give?

They say because there were negro soldiers in the army of the United States which fought against the Southern States. They say that there are 5,000 negro pensioners in the State of Alabama today. It is true that the negro was enlisted in the forces of the North. That is the evidence upon which they rely to make this a constitutional enactment. Well, perhaps it may do so, but as a vote getter, I tell you, when it is argued throughout this country, it is not going to gain the Constitution many votes. For what purpose, may I ask, is this grandfather clause placed in the Constitution, and why the necessity of it? Is not the prime purpose of it to get votes for the Constitution? Gentlemen argue here that the people in the hills want it. Well, so far as I know, gentlemen, there was no discussion of it on the stump. It never became a live question until the Convention met; and yet, gentlemen get up here and say that they know that the people want it. Well speaking for the greatest white electorate in the State of Alabama, I have tried to find out what their views were on the subject. My county has in the neighborhood of 23,000 voters, the biggest county in the State, and, strange to say, the largest negro county in the State of Alabama, as shown by the reports of the last census:


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but I tell you, gentlemen, I never saw such an overwhelming sentiment against a proposition in my life, as there is in the county of Jefferson, against this grandfather clause. Now they say, though, that this is not a hereditary distinction. One gentleman quoted to me the other day a Latin maxim, which I have forgotten, but the English of it is that there can be no heir to the living; that is, that the descendants of those living now won't get in, but he would get a heritage from his dead father, or grandfather, or great grand father, or some other ancestor that fought in any of these wars. Now, that is hereditary, and as has been said on this floor, that is inconsistent with the provision of the Bill of Rights. The gentlemen lay a great deal of stress upon that, but I say it is dangerous, for a people under a republican form of Government, to establish within it a class of voters to which other voters may not attain and cannot attain. Whether there are many white people within the State of Alabama that cannot attain to the position here that vote seek to establish, it creates a distinction in the State, and will have the effect of creating classes. We know what comradeship will bring about. We see it every day in life. If a man serves in the Legislature with another, he feels it to be his bounden duty to vote for him, should he ever run for office again. . Men in this Constitutional Convention, all things being equal, will vote for each other hereafter for any position they may aspire to, simply upon the ground that there is a comradeship established. They served together in the Constitutional Convention, and. therefore, they will support him. This feeling grows stronger in the army. As we already see, the Spanish American war veterans that have been established for more than two and one half years. We have the Mexican war veterans organized in some places; Confederate veterans and the Grand Army of the Republic. The Grand Army in its incipiency was organized for a noble purpose; they met together and discussed the scenes of the war, and the dangers they had gone through, but politicians discovering the strength of their numbers, began to use them. They discovered the power of the soldier vote, which is a controlling factor in every State north of the Ohio and west of the Mississippi. The pension list calls for $140,000,000, more than it takes to support the army and navy of the United States, and more than it takes to support the great Imperial Army of Germany of more than 2,000,000 of men. Here is where the danger comes about these class distinctions. You have a provision in here under Section 7, that at primary elections these qualifications must be possessed by the voter. Well, what is more natural than that this class should get together to nominate officers from their particular class. We pay our old Confederate veterans a pension I am glad of it; I wish we were able to pay them more; but I would regret to see the day when their sons or their descendants should ask for a pension from the State of Alabama for services that their fathers had performed in the defense


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of their country, and yet, if you establish a class, there is great danger in the cohesive power of its members. There is danger, gentlemen, that they may try to secure laws for the purpose of getting pension legislation passed in their favor. Because there have been numerous negro soldiers in the Federal army that lived within the State of Alabama, does that commend this plan; does that give it any strength before the people? Will that give it any strength when it is argued upon the stump? Something was said about arguing this thing in caucus, so the people would not get hold of it. I was in favor of the argument seeing the light of day, because I know that there are men on the other side who will be in opposition to the Constitution who are smart enough and able enough to get up arguments themselves, and who will spring arguments against the work of this Constitutional Convention that have been presented here, and some that have never been thought of, so we might as well speak our sentiments and let the people know that we were not afraid to discuss it in open Convention. There are able men in the Republican party, one of my friends in Montgomery found that out.

Now, as to this good character clause, I want to ask gentlemen who have practiced law, and many of you are lawyers, what is easier to establish anywhere than good character? If a man has got good character everybody in his community knows it, and it need not be by positive evidence, either, but the most of it is proved negatively; that is, if he ever did anything that was wrong, I never heard of it. `There is nothing so susceptible of proof as good character. Then, what machinery do you provide in this instrument for proof of the fact that an ancestor has served in one of the wars of the country? What do you propose along that line? Are you going to ask so and so about it, or are you going to allow a man to walk up and take the oath that his father fought at Gettysburg, or fell at Chicamauga, or his great grandfather ,was with Washington at Valley Forge? Are you merely going to allow him to say so, and put him in the list of hereditary life time voters, or list of peers. In the Parliament of England they have hereditary peers and another class called life peers, but in America we have no hereditary distinctions, and cannot have any, unless this Instrument passes and becomes ratified. If it does, then in the State of Alabama, a sovereign State of the American Union, we will have a class of life time voters, men who can vote the balance of their life, segregated out of the mass of their fellow citizens.

MR. OPP The gentleman's time will soon expire. I move it be extended half an hour.

A vote being taken, the motion to extend the time was adopted.


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MR. FERGUSON I thank you, gentlemen, very much for extending the time, but I had well nigh gotten through anyhow. However, with your indulgence, I will make a few more remarks upon the subject. I want to know what good purpose can be subserved by placing this provision in the Constitution. I want to know if every man who comes in under this grandfather clause could not as well come in under the character clause. If not, why not? The fact that he was the son of a Confederate soldier ought to be a presumption in his favor that he was a man of good character. That was the tendency of every argument made upon this floor. Good character is so easily proved. Now there is no machinery whatever for establishing the fact that a man had an ancester that served in some of the wars of the country. Addressing myself a little further to that proposition, the distinguished Chairman of the Committee knows the difficulty of convicting for perjury even in ordinary cases. The burden would be upon the State, as in every other case. The defendant would not have to open his mouth, they would charge him with having sworn falsely before one of these registrars, that he had an ancestor in some one of the wars of the country. They would read the indictment to the jury, and he would sit there and not say a word. Would it not be hearsay evidence in ninety nine cases out of 100? His own evidence would be hearsay in claiming to be the descendant of a soldier. I have been reading the papers about the good ladies of the land desiring to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. The Atlanta Constitution and The Montgomery Advertiser are full of all sorts of inquiries and answers as to who John Smith was, and Bill Jones, and whether he fought in any war or not. Then somebody else will come back and say in some history of North Carolina they say Bill Jones was in a North Carolina Regiment, and in some instances upon that they predicate descent from a revolutionary soldier, and maybe join the Daughters of the American Revolution.

MR. WHITE--We are going to have Sons of the Revolution under this Section.

MR. FERGUSON-- Sons of the American Revolution, hereditary voters in a class to themselves, that other citizens will not and cannot attain. I never heard of a negro being in the war of the revolution, and when the Supreme Court of the United States, that is liable to be hostile and antagonistic, especially if the Northern heart is fired. look at it, they will put their X rays on it and say, this is a palpable scheme upon the face of it for the purpose of disfranchising citizens of the United State, because they must know history as we do; they must have known, as we do, that there were no negroes of the Revolutionary War, and that there were no negroes in the war of 1812 with Jackson and Coffee and others. They will say, though, that there were negroes in the


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Federal army in the war between the States, because they know it and we know it. But there is many a man in the hills that you think is going to break his neck to vote for this grand daddy clause who will say, "I will never vote to enfranchise one of those fellows, never in this world."

I have been struck by this clause distinction. I was struck when we first came down here, with the disposition of men to swell up and be proud on account of certain things. We have its this Convention 100 delegates nominated from the counties. We have fifty five delegates nominated from the State at large, the Congressional districts and the Senatorial districts. I could observe a superior air about the fellow who was nominated from the State at large the House of Lords, or the Upper House of this Convention. 'They would sort of rear back and look down upon us fellows who stood right next to the people, and were nominated by the people. (Laughter.) It is so easy to establish class distinctions, gentlemen. But they soon discovered that the fellows who had the ear of the people and who were nominated by the people were in the majority and that they would not submit to subordination.

I want to say, gentleman, that Senator Morgan wasn't so far wrong after all. It is true, they have introduced the record against him here, and have shown somewhat inconsistent statements, but there is this distinction between his position to admit the white race to hold all offices and setting aside a particular class of voters whose fathers did certain things.

MR. OATES I want to suggest to my friend that Senator Morgan is able to handle any side or any question.

A DELEGATE–Or both sides.

MR. FERGUSON Well, I think so myself.

Well, now, gentlemen, a few more words and I will have concluded. If we can, Yet all these voters in under the third division, if they are of good character, I ask you in all common sense and reason, what is the use of weighting down the Constitution with a provision that may be declared unconstitutional and that may carry down with it all the other provisions on the suffrage question?

But the answer will be, and the argument has been, that this is a temporary class: that it only lasts until January 1. 1903, and that the Supreme Court of the United States could not act upon it within that time. That has been the argument, but in the meantime, a class would have been established by the Registrars. They will have made this hereditary class of voters. But mind you, a Presidential election comes on in 1904, another one in 1908 and every four years thereafter, and there are Congressional elections


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every two years. If there should come a close Presidential contest will not Congress be apt to say that by reason of this fraudulent enactment you have made this particular class that other citizens could not aspire to, and you have destroyed the republican form of government in Alabama," and they will overthrow it or they will throw out the vote of Alabama in the House of Representatives. Now, unless we want to yield all interest in the Presidential and in the national elections of this country, in the humble judgment, it would be unsafe to put this provision in the organic law.

I want to say that there is no man on this floor who has more veneration, respect, love and regard for the Confederate soldier than I have, and none who love, his descendants more.

A DELEGATE----Their daughters?

MR. FERGUSON Yes. I have loved their daughters and may perhaps do so again. Mr. President, I never see an old grey jacket that it does not raise emotions in my breast. I am not so old as to take a retrospective view of life and to indulge in memories of the past, but I am old enough to remember when these same soldiers went forth to war in bright glittering uniforms, golden stripes and with fife and drum gaily playing and banners fluttering in the breeze, as they marched up to the train to go off to Virginia. It was a glorious sight and it thrilled my boyish heart with pride to see the soldiers as they were going out to do battle for their country. But gentlemen, Linden saw another sight, when four years later they came back, not banded together in companies and regiments, but singly and in little squads, dirty and bedraggled, ragged and torn by the misfortunes of war, and it was a sad sight, gentlemen. My every sympathy goes out to them. I love them for the deeds of valor that they did upon many glorious fields of strife during the war. I have no objection to saying that they shall vote because they did that, but I am opposed to making a class distinction in the organic law of the State of Alabama, because I see no necessity for it. Under the good character provision and the other restrictions and means provided therein. I think the ballot will be safe in the hands of the best people of Alabama, the white people of Alabama, who love the State and want to see good government within her borders. This is a great plan, a great instrument. and with that single exception, I would be glad to see it adopted, but I am afraid of the ultimate consequences. I thank you, gentlemen, for the attention you have given me.

MR. HOWELL (Cleburne) I had intended at the opening of this discussion not to open my mouth, pro nor con, but to study the question through discussions of the various gentlemen who have so ably argued it and would therefore by my best judgment,


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and by my conscientious duty, make up my mind and vote, but I feel, sir, that it is a duty that I owe to myself and to my constituents to give a few reasons which shall govern my vote on this question. I regret very much that I am not in accord with the report of the majority of the committee on the suffrage question. I would be very grateful and very glad if I could be in accord with them, but to be honest with myself, and to be led by my honest convictions of duty, I must dissent from Section 4 of than report. There are two reasons which bring about this dissent. The first is that, although not a lawyer, I think I have some capacity to interpret and understand my mother tongue. I believe it is violation of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. You remember, sir, and we all remember, that in the organization of this Convention on the 21st of May last, every man of us of our own accord, stood up in this historic hall, and with uncovered head and uplifted hands and with bated breath, deliberately took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, and in my judgment, we are undertaking to do a thing indirectly that we cannot do directly, and it is a great principle in law, in morals and in religion, and everything that is high and right, that it is wrong to do a thing indirectly that we cannot do directly. I must confess, sir, that ever since these States have taken this step, while it was done by Democrats and by white men, in spite of myself, it has lowered them in my estimation as a great, honorable, high-toned class of men. I allow no man to excel me in my loyalty to the Democratic party. For forty long years I have never scratched a, name from the Democratic ticket. I allow no man to excel me in my admiration and esteem of the Confederate soldier, because no man that lived through the war left more blood upon the field of battle than I did. Yet, when I am confronted with this solemn oath, not only registers here in the archives of this State. lout registered by the recording angel on high, and which you and I must meet at the end, I am not prepared to join here in doing a thing indirectly which I have sworn not to do directly. I cannot vote with the majority, on conscientious scruples.

I cannot vote with them for another reason. I believe the grandfather clause is wrong in principle. As I have said, no man would accord to a Confederate soldier, or to any other soldier. and his descendants, down through all the coming years, more than I would. I have five sons who are voters, and some grandsons who are voters and while they may be proud, possibly, of the record of their father and their grandfather, as a Confederate soldier. I risk nothing in saying that they would not appreciate in any degree the privilege of going side by side with their neighbor to the polls, and being allowed to vote because they were sons of a Confederate soldier, and their neighbor who was not in that condition, be required to come up to other qualifications. These, Mr. President, are the reasons for my dissent from the majority report, and I re


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CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

gret it, because I esteem its members very highly. The Committee is composed of men of distinguished ability, men whose honesty, integrity and patriotism I have no reason to question, but these are questions, my friends, which every one must decide for himself. I will not detain the Convention longer. These are briefly some of my reason,. and the main ones, why I dissent from the report of Section 4 of that Article.

Mr. KYLE (Etowah) It is only fifteen minutes before adjournment, and as I have not occupied the time of the Convention for a moment during these fifty-odd days, I desire to make a few remarks, and state the reasons why I cannot support the pending question. As I understand it, we were sent here to amend the Constitution, so as to have a franchise clause which would allow every white man in the State to vote, and at the same time not to violate any provision of the Constitution. Now, sir, I desire to speak on this question from a business standpoint, and the point of public policy. I shall not attempt, not being a lawyer, to go into the question of the constitutionality to any degree. I will leave that to the able gentlemen who have discussed the question on both sides. I will say, however. that if I were sitting here as a juror, and the question had been presented as this has been presented, I should certainly be one of the jury that would bring in a mistrial. When we go before the people, sir, for the ratification of this Constitution (and all of our work here amounts to nothing unless it is ratified), what is the condition that confronts us? As able men as there are in the State, men learner as lawyers, and as constitutional lawyers, tell us sir, that the adoption of this grandfather clause will probably bring about difficulties in the future that will arrest the progress of the State, and her grand development which is now in progress. Capitalists, not only of this State, but of other States, are looking to us in relation to the fundamental law we are about to establish, and they will say the question is so doubtful in Alabama, as to the result of this grandfather clause, I would rather not invest my money there until the question is settled by the Supreme Court of the United States. It will thereby intimidate capitalists from investment. When we look upon it from this standpoint, it does seem to me, sir, if the could allow every white man to vote in the State under the third clause of this section which we are now discussing, it \would be impolitic to engraft upon the Constitution a provision that would bring up these untold difficulties which the learned gentlemen of the minority report have told us about. Now, sir, it is only on that point that I want to draw the attention of the Convention. Shall we weight it down with a clause that imperils not only the liberties of the people of Alabama by a reconstruction measure, by the appointment of a provisional Governor and all those untold horrors we have had in the past, when we can carry out our pledges, and ful


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fill every obligation that we have entered into with the people who sent us here, by the third section of this article? It occur to me, sir, it would be unwise to do it. As I view the question, sir, the body politic of the State of Alabama has a festering sore, and we have been sent here to relieve the State of that difficulty. We have called in the doctors; they have diagnosed the case; about one half of the learned gentlemen each side have differed in their opinion. One has said that you must use the knife: another has said you must have a milder remedy. The people say we do not want to take any risk of losing the patient; we will adopt a milder method, or we will not have the case treated at all. Now, if we can cure this difficulty without the use of the knife, without putting upon us this grandfather clause, which might disturb the commercial relations of the State, and bring about distrust and anxiety on the part of capital, why should we do it? No man is more averse to disfranchising any white man than I am, but I am fearful, if we engraft this clause upon the Constitution, capitalists will be intimidated, and a large influence that would otherwise be for the ratification of the Constitution would vote against it. Therefore, sir, I have thought it proper to submit my views from a business standpoint without regard to the legality of the question, leaving that feature for the other gentlemen who have discussed it. If we accomplish anything it will be by the ratification of the Constitution. If the enemies of the ratification are enabled, by the arguments that have been made by the gentlemen here, to show to the people of the State at large that they take a great risk in doing it, will not the people be timid and refuse to ratify the Constitution? These are questions I think should be considered, and these are the reasons why I oppose the grandfather clause in the fourth Section.

MR. GREER (Calhoun)—I will state that I will not detain the Convention beyond the hour of adjournment. It had not been my purpose, Mr. President, up to five minutes ago, to open my mouth on this question. To my mind the question has been discussed as ably as any question during the session of this Convention. and I would not even now submit any remarks whatever, but for the fact that my, distinguished friend, the delegate from Cleburne, one of the counties I have the honor to represent, has taken a stand which was very much of a surprise to me, knowing as I do the desire of his constituents and of mine, in the county which he has the honor to represent. I will say, Mr. President. that I have made a canvass of that county and in that canvass I made a pledge to those people that I would defend just such a measure, and I want to say, before the Convention was called, I talked with a large number of people of that county and I know, after making a personal canvass of the county, and talking personally with the people of that county, that they are overwhelmingly


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in favor of the grandfather clause as reported by the majority of the Committee.

MR HOWELL--- May I ask a question?

MR. GREER (Calhoun) I yield. I have but a few minutes, Mr. President, but I consent.

MR. HOWELL--- How long has it been since you were in Cleburne County?

MR. GREER (Calhoun) I was in Cleburne last Tuesday and talked to a member of the gentlemen from Cleburne during last Tuesday.

MR. HOWELL—I will say further, Mr. President, that I was in Cleburne County a number of days since this Convention began, and never heard a single man in favor of the grandfather clause in Cleburne County.

MR GREER (Calhoun) I will ask the gentleman if he made a canvass of the county before the Convention was called?

MR. HOWELL--- I did in part.

MR. GREER----I will state, Mr. President, I made a canvass of the comity, and was in part responsible for the gentleman having no opposition for the seat he now holds. I made pledges for myself, and made pledges for him, that he would support this very clause that would allow the sons of the old Confederate soldiers of Cleburne County to register and vote under such a clause. I want to say, Mr. President, that I never will, by my vote, go back on the pledge that I made his people for myself, and I want to say, further, Mr. President, I believe, and I know, after a canvass of that county, that the people of Cleburne County will applaud my action when I vote in favor of the report of the majority of this Committee. There is no use to go into a discussion of the question ; it is not my purpose to do so; it has been discussed ably, and you have been told that when the fathers were at the front in the battles of the country, the boys were at home working to support their mother and the smaller boys there, and after the war, the privileges in country districts for education were limited indeed, and they did not have the opportunity of receiving an education ; and to deprive them of the means of an education, and then to deprive them of the right of suffrage would, in my mind, be an unpardonable sin, if committed by this Convention, in view of the pledges made to the people of Alabama.

MR. HOWELL----Do you understand because a man opposes this grandfather clause, that he is in favor of disfranchising a single white man?


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MR. GREER I understand when a man opposes this grandfather clause he is certainly opposing a measure that will allow the sons of Confederate soldiers in Alabama to qualify and vote under the provisions of this report; and it was a very strange. thing that I heard a few moments ago, that because Alabama proposes to, and will adopt white supremacy in the State of Alabama, that capital would become timid and refuses to come here for investment. It seems to me the very fact that Alabama proposes to put her affairs in the hands of white men of Alabama and forever place it out of the possibility of its going elsewhere, should be an invitation for capital to come to Alabama because capital wants virtue and intelligence to rule, and they will applaud the actions of the people of Alabama in placing her in line with other States, in eliminating the vicious, and - I started to say Mr. President, and will say largely, the criminal element of the State.

Now, I have said more than I expected to say. I feel very much like the gentleman who was elected to the Legislature in Georgia once, a farmer, like myself, and not an orator. Some gentleman made a telling speech on the floor one day and he got up and said, "Mr. Chairman, I am no spokesman, but I think just what that 'ar man thinks." Now, I am no orator, and no lawyer, but I want to say, in conclusion, I think just what the distinguished gentleman front Calhoun, the President of this Convention, has expressed on this floor today.

MR. FITTS-- Mr. President, I move a vote upon the pending question be made the special order for Monday at 12 o'clock, and that a vote be taken at that time. I make that motion because tomorrow is Saturday, and I have every reason to believe we will have the usual thin house of Saturday here.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM. That would require a motion to suspend the rules, and the motion to suspend the rules is not debatable.

MR. deGRAFFENREID I move to lay the motion on the table.

Upon a vote being taken, a division was called for and by a vote of 24 ayes and 31 nays, the motion to table was lost.

MR. GREER (Calhoun) I rise to a point of order; there is not a quorum voting.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM The Chair thinks he could count a quorum if he had time.

MR. FITTS Now, I move that the rules be suspended, and that a vote on this question be made the special order for 12 o'clock on Monday.


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CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

MR. O'NEAL I move to postpone that question until the evening session.

MR. PROCTOR I make the point of order that 1 o'clock has arrived and that this Convention noun stands adjourned.

THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM.-- The point of order is well taken.

Thereupon the Convention adjourned.

____________

AFTERNOON SESSION

The Convention was called to order by the President, and the roll being called showed the presence of 136 delegates.

Leaves of absence were granted as follows: To Mr. Sorrell for tomorrow and Saturday; to Mr. McMillan for Saturday, Monday and Tuesday ; to Mr. Foshee for this afternoon and tomorrow; to Mr. Kyle for tomorrow and Monday; to Mr. Fitts for tomorrow ; to Mr. Davis (DeKalb) for tomorrow, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; to Mr. Eyster for tomorrow and Monday ; to Mr. McMillan for tomorrow and Monday; to Mr. Craig for Saturday, Monday and Tuesday: to Mr. Burnett for tomorrow and Monday; to Mr. Graham (Talladega) for tomorrow and Monday; to Mr. Leigh for tomorrow, and Monday; to Mr. Banks for tomorrow afternoon; to Mr. Sloan for tomorrow and Monday.

THE PRESIDENT-- The special order for this afternoon is the consideration of the report of the Committee on Suffrage and Elections.

MR. PROCTOR In the forenoon there was a motion made that a vote should be taken on this matter at 12 o'clock Monday. I move that that be amended so as to read 5:30 this afternoon.

MR. deGRAFFENREID-- I rise to a point of order.

THE PRESIDENT—The gentleman will state his point of order.

MR. deGRAFFENREID The motion of the gentleman cannot be made without a suspension of the rules for that purpose.

THE PRESIDENT The Chair is advised that the rules were suspended.

MR. GRAHAM (Talladega) The pending motion was to suspend the rules. The rules had not been suspended.

MR. HEFLIN (Chambers) I move for a suspension of the rules.


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MR. PROCTOR I will ask the Secretary to read the journal of this forenoon. I think the rules were suspended.

MR. deGRAFFENREID There was a motion to table, and a refusal to table the motion.

THE PRESIDENT The Chair understands there was a motion to table, and the Convention voted it down, and the question would recur on the motion to suspend the rules.

MR. HOWZE I rise to a point of inquire. Is it necessary to suspend the rules to fix the hour to vote upon a measure that is pending? There are no rules that I know of requiring a suspension of the rules to fix the time of voting and I will ask if that is necessary?

THE PRESIDENT --The Chair will consider the question and amendment under the rule. It seems to the Chair that the Convention might, pending consideration of the question before the Convention, decide on a certain hour when the previous question should be considered on this order, without a suspension of the rules.

MR. PROCTOR Then I have a motion, Mr. President, that the vote be taken not later than 5:30 o'clock this afternoon.

MR. HARRISON I move to amend that by making it five o'clock.

MR. PROCTOR--- I accept the amendment

THE PRESIDENT It is moved that at 5 o’clock this afternoon the previous question shall be considered as ordered on the pending question.

MR. deGRAFFENREID-- Is that motion debatable?

THE PRESIDENT The Chair will be glad to hear suggestions from the gentleman from Hale.

MR. deGRAFFENREID I simply rise to oppose the motion for one reason, Mr. President, that when we took us this matter for discussion-----

MR. PROCTOR - I make the point of order a motion for the previous question is not debatable.

MR. LOWE (Jefferson) I move to suspend the rules to allow the gentleman to continue his remarks.

MR. deGRAFFENREID A point of inquiry, Mr. President

THE PRESIDENT It would seem that the motion of the gentleman from Jackson would be equivalent to a motion that th


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previous question be ordered, which would not be debatable, but the Chair was glad to hear a suggestion from the gentleman from Hale, which don't go to the extent of the debate.

MR. deGRAFFENREID-- I wanted to get the ruling of the Chair. My recollection is that the Committee on Rules

MR. COBB If the gentleman will allow me a moment?

MR. deGRAFFENREID-- I am addressing my remarks to the Chairman a moment on a question of inquiry. My recollection is that the Committee on Rules reported a rule for this Convention at the time the suffrage matter was taken up, and that this Convention, so far as the suffrage matter was concerned, adopted a rule which was in conflict with the general rule of the Convention, namely, that the rules of the Convention should be suspended pending this discussion, and that every delegate should be allowed to address himself to the subject, and that he should be allowed thirty minute, within which to do so. That is my recollection of the resolution that was reported and adopted by the Convention.

THE PRESIDENT-- The Chair is ready to rule on the point. In the opinion of the Chair a majority of this Convention can close debate whenever they choose to do so, and the rule reported had no other effect than that to change the time of the debate from ten minutes to thirty minutes, and the question is for the Convention to decide. If the Convention wish to close the debate, it is within the province of the Convention to do so. I will submit the question on the motion of the gentleman from Jackson.

MR. SOLLIE-- I rise to a question of inquiry.

'THE PRESIDENT` The Chair is of the opinion that this question cannot be debated in the form of an inquiry. Does your inquiry relate to this question?

MR. SOLLIE-- Yes, sir, to this question, and the motion itself, as to whether or not the motion is in order.

THE; PRESIDENT The question is in order.

MR. SAMFORD (Montgomery) It seems to me a hard case. There are gentlemen here desiring to speak, to be cut off from speaking, when it was understood when the matter began that they should have thirty minutes. It is too important a matter, Mr. President. The committee has had ample time to discuss it and nobody else has. It seems to me that other gentlemen here should be heard who are desirous of speaking, they ought to be given an opportunity.

MR. LOWE (Jefferson) The motion now as I understand it is to take a vote at a certain hour.


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THE PRESIDENT at five o'clock.

MR. LOWE And that does not require a suspension of the rules?

THE PRESIDENT The Chair thinks that it would not.

MR. LOWE Then I ask the Chair, I will inquire would another motion for a different hour have a precedence as a motion to adjourn?

THE PRESIDENT It seems to the Chair that any member can move to amend.

MR. LOWE If I may be pardoned a moment, perhaps I am trespassing, but this is the most important matter before the Convention, and there are others who desire to be heard, and I think if we can have a vote on the question at noon on Monday we could consider the question in a better spirit than we could do this afternoon. Therefore, Mr. President, I move that 12:30 o'clock Monday as the time to take first vote on this question.

MR. COBB Make it Tuesday.

MR. LOWE-- I will be perfectly willing to accept the gentleman's suggestion for Tuesday.

THE PRESIDENT The motion is to strike out five o'clock this afternoon and insert 12:30 o'clock Monday.

MR. GRAHAM (Talladega) I move to lay the motion on the table.

MR. SANFORD (Montgomery) I move an amendment by saying Tuesday because members will not be here in time on Monday having gone home, many of them.

THE PRESIDENT The Chair will state for the information of the gentleman from Montgomery that before he submitted his suggestion for Tuesday the gentleman from Talladega moved to lay the amendment on the table, and the pending question is the motion to table. It is not debatable.

MR. COBB Well, now, some things are debatable which are not debatable. Now I want just about two minutes to say why we should not be in any haste about this matter. If you will give me just two minutes?

THE PRESIDENT The gentleman from Macon asks unanimous consent for two minutes.

MR. LOWE (Jefferson) I move that the rules be suspended and the gentleman from Macon be accorded five minutes.


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A vote being taken, the rules were suspended, and on a further vote the motion to extend the time was adopted.

MR. COBB Now there seems to be some feeling ejected into this matter. We have under consideration the most important matter that is before this Convention by long odds. We all recognize that and while every one of us believe that this Convention is ready to vote, I don't suppose there will be many changes made, but I do believe that every man upon the floor of this Convention who wants to be heard upon this question for a reasonable length of time, ought to be heard. That is my view about it, and whether we change anybody or not, let us have our say, and let it go to the country, let the people see where we stand and what we think and what we believe ought to be done. Now a day or two, what does it amount to on this great question?

MR. GRAHAM (Talladega) I would like to ask the gentleman if he does not think that the speeches would sound just as well made in the campaign as being made now?

MR. COBB No, sir; I believe that the record that is being made here will go to the country, and have more influence upon the people who are to vote upon this question than the speeches we will make in the campaign. That is my view about it, and whether it be for or against let these delegates be heard and let it go to their constituents and let the people of Alabama see where we stand upon this question. I believe the people of Alabama will have made up their minds upon this question, even before the campaign opens those who are reached by the proceedings here. I think it indecent haste to cut off debate and bring this question to an issue immediately. I am ready to vote, perhaps all the balance of us are ready to vote, but our people do not know anything about what we are thinking about, they don't know anything about the situation as we see it, and why be in such haste to save a day or two. We have saved enough on the pages of this Convention to have paid for that. Let it go to our constituents. I don't care what view we take of it, it will do good. I don't care to make a speech, I have a speech and perhaps I could make a good one, I don't want to praise myself, I and a modest man, and I would rather sit here and listen to these sage counselors, these gentlemen who know all about constitutional law. I would rather hear them than speak myself. I am willing to sit here and listen. Who was not entertained and enlightened by the able and forcible speech of our President, we would not have liked to cut him off, but there are others, Mr. President. You are a very great man, and all that, but there are others! (Laughter.) Now let us hear from these others. Let us make haste slowly on this matter. We have plenty of thunder here to be let off, I tell you this air around us can be made lurid yet by eloquence that you are not dreaming of, if you will but give the members time to let it off. Let us make haste


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slowly, tomorrow is Saturday and then comes Monday, two days more.

A VOICE Yes, I want to go home tomorrow, but I am not going home pending this matter. I am going to vote on it.

MR. WEATHERLY May I ask the gentleman a question?

THE PRESIDENT Will the gentleman yield to the gentleman from Jefferson?

MR. WEATHERLY Will you say how you are going to vote?

MR. COBB I am going to vote for the majority of this Committee, and if you will give me ten minutes

MR. HEFLIN I move that he have ten minutes.

MR. COBB Not now, but if you will give me ten minutes at the proper time. I will show all these dissenting brethren that they ought to vote for the majority report of this Committee. I hope we will put it off until 12 o'clock Tuesday.

THE PRESIDENT As the gentleman from Macon seems to have been addressing his remarks to the Chair, the Chair would state that he did not make a motion, but will submit it to the Convention.

MR. COBB To be sure, to be sure. I have observed that the Chair generally submits his motions to the Convention. That is all right. I want this Convention to be patient in this matter. Now that you have heard from the siege guns

THE PRESIDENT If the Chair would be allowed to express his wish he would hope that nobody would be cut off.

MR. COBB We have heard from the siege guns, but in modern artillery these rapid firing fellows have a good deal of effect in the ultimate result.

MR. REESE I have a motion to make, that all the motions before this Convention, except the one made by the distinguished gentleman from Macon be tabled.

MR. LOWE (Jefferson) The gentleman who is so often making points of order will, perhaps, recognize the propriety of the suggestion that his motion is out of order.

MR. GRAHAM (Talladega) I make a point of order that the gentleman from Dallas cannot make a motion to table a motion to lie on the table.

THE PRESIDENT The gentleman from Jefferson made the same point of order and the Chair will sustain it.


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CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

MR. deGRAFFENREID Can you amend a motion to table?

THE PRESIDENT No, sir.

MR. deGRAFFENREID I want to amend it by tabling both of them.

THE PRESIDENT The Secretary will read to the Convention the record as it appears on the journal.

The Secretary read as follows: “Mr. Proctor moved to stay in session and take a vote by 5 o’clock. Mr. Lowe (Jefferson) moved to make it 12:30 Monday instead of 5 o’ clock this afternoon.

THE PRESIDENT – Thereupon the gentleman from Talladega made a motion to lay on the table.

MR. LOWE I understand the gentleman from Macon to amendment by inserting Tuesday, and I accepted the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT– Yes, the question will be on the amendment of the gentleman from Macon.

MR. GRAHAM (Talladega) My motion was made before the motion of the gentleman from Macon.

THE PRESIDENT I think the gentleman is mistaken.

MR. LOWE I think the matter is the other way, but in order to bring it to an issue I will offer to accept the amendment of the gentleman from Macon.

MR. GRAHAM Then I withdraw my motion, and make one to table that.

THE PRESIDENT The gentleman from Jefferson asks to withdraw his motion, and accepts that of the gentleman from Macon. Thereupon the gentleman from Talladega moved to lay that motion on the table. The question is on the amendment of the gentleman from Macon, to which there is a motion to table.

A vote being taken, the motion to table was lost by a vote of 32 ayes and 69 noes.

MR. LOWE– I move the adoption of the amendment offered by the gentleman from Macon, and on that I demand the previous question.

A DELEGATE– No.

The call for the previous question was withdrawn.

Upon a vote being taken the motion was carried.

MR. GRAHAM (Talladega) I have an amendment.


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The Secretary read the amendment as follows: “Amend so that the entire Article on Suffrage shall be concluded at 12 o'clock Tuesday.”

THE PRESIDENT The question is on the amendment of the gentleman from Talladega to the amendment of the gentleman from Macon, so that the vote on the entire Article shall be made Tuesday.

MR. deGRAFFENREID I move to lay the amendment of the gentleman from Talladega on the table.

A vote being taken, the motion to table was carried.

THE PRESIDENT The question will recur upon the motion as amended.

MR. BURNETT I ask that it be read.

THE PRESIDENT It is not in writing. It is that the previous question will be considered as ordered on Tuesday at 12 o'clock.

A vote being taken the resolution was adopted.

MR. COBB I ask leave of absence for tomorrow.

There were loud cries of “No.”

THE PRESIDENT– The Chair hears no objection and the leave of absence is granted. (Laughter.)

MR. GRAHAM (Talladega) I have been requested to ask leave of absence for all the gentlemen who do not desire to speak until Tuesday at noon.

THE PRESIDENT The special order for this afternoon is the Section of the Committee on Suffrage.

MR. DAVIS (DeKalb) I ask leave of absence for tomorrow, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Leave granted.

Leave of absence asked for Mr. Eyster for tomorrow and Monday. Leave granted.

Leave of absence asked for Mr. McMillan for tomorrow and Monday. Leave granted.

Leave of absence asked for Mr. Burnett for tomorrow and Monday. Leave granted.

Leave of absence was asked for Mr. Graham (Talladega) for tomorrow and Monday. Leave granted.

MR. SAMFORD (Pike) As it seems they all want to go home for tomorrow and Monday, I move we adjourn to meet on Tuesday at 9:30 o'clock.


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MR. PILLANS That is pretty hard on us who do not travel on free passes. I hope the gentleman will withdraw that. I don't want the Convention to leave me.

THE PRESIDENT The question is to adjourn until 9 o'clock Tuesday.

MR. HEFLIN (Chambers) I wish to amend by making it 11 o'clock Monday.

A vote being taken there were 60 noes and 33 ayes and the amendment was lost.

Mr. Smith (Mobile) was recognized.

MR. PETTUS In order that the gentleman from Mobile may not be interrupted. I move that his time be extended thirty minutes beyond the regular time.

A DELEGATE I move an amendment that he be allowed to finish his remarks.

MR. PETTUS I accept that amendment.

A vote being taken the motion was adopted.

MR. SMITH (Mobile) While not in entire accord with the view of the remainder of the Committee, as to the necessity either for the soldier or descendant clause, in order to accomplish the purpose of the Committee and of this Convention, I am heartily and thoroughly in accord with them as to the constitutionality and validity of each and every clause in the report of that Committee, and if it be deemed by the majority of this Convention that the descendant clause is necessary, or that it is in the interest and welfare of the party, or that it will advance the interest of such Constitution as this Convention may recommend, then I shall not only vote for a Constitution embodying that clause, but I feel that I am willing and ready and able to go before the people and not only justify each and every clause in it, but to contend that under the circumstances it was the wisest and best thing that this Convention could do. I was requested by the Chairman of the Committee to make all argument at this time, and in the meantime to take notes of the various arguments that were advanced against the validity and constitutionality of this clause, and answer them and during the debate I have carefully taken note of every argument that seemed to be worthy of it, and I thought I was prepared this morning not only to answer many of those arguments satisfactorily to myself, but also to do justice to the Convention, but as I sat here and heard our able and learned President proceed with the discussion of these various questions, I saw one after another of the arguments that had been made, rapidly disappearing before his skill and ability, until before he took his seat I thought that, so far as that portion of the world assigned me was concerned,


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I was like Othello without further occupation. In this State, circumstances have thrown together two separate and distinct races, as different as races could be made. The African race was placed in the incipiency of its history in one of the richest and most productive continents of the world. It lived and abided there, a race of barbarians, without making the slightest progress, to material welfare and without the dawn of civilization ever breaking upon it, even in the rudest form. From that dark continent the ancestors of those who are now with us were brought in slavery; they came to this country, and were tutored in the arts of servitude, and in the duties of obedience, but the arts of free government, the principles of liberty and freedom have never been instilled into them and they are today, after a period of thirty years of freedom, almost as ignorant of the use of those arts as they were when they were brought from their own native land. These people have been forced in almost equal number upon the other race that occupies with them this State. The Anglo-Saxon race was planted in a much less productive country than that which was occupied by the African. As far back as we can trace, the Anglo-Saxon race had some rude form of free government : from its very incipiency it has been upon a steady march to progress, until it has reached a civilization as high as the world has ever known and has formed the greatest republican government that is known to mankind. These people were as it were, made equal partners in this fair land of ours, each with an equal right to rule, and a struggle necessarily ensued; a struggle that was sharp, short and decisive. The Anglo-Saxon race, by force of character, obtained the control of the government which it was created and fitted to manage and control, and it has held that control from that day to this, and will hold it for all eternity.

The question is not whether the Anglo-Saxon race will maintain its supremacy over the African race. The question is whether the State of Alabama will confer upon it by fair and proper laws the legal right to maintain that supremacy. To maintain it, as it has been , has cast a shadow over the name of one of the fairest countries that ever lay beneath the sky, and we have assembled to pass a law not to give to our people that which they are entitled to by inheritance, but to give to them the right to deal lawfully with that they have owned and possessed for all time– that which they have bought and paid for, and that which was only wrested from them for a brief period by a superior force and power. You, gentlemen, have selected a committee for the purpose of suggesting a proper Article upon Suffrage and elections. That Committee was composed of as good men as we had in the Convention, though no better. It has labored diligently, carefully, and honestly not for the purpose, as has been said, by some of the members of the Convention, of depriving all negroes of the right of suffrage, not


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to avoid depriving any white man of it, but to frame such an Article as will place the ballot, as was said by our President, in the hands of those who are competent to wield it, and take it from the ignorant and the vicious. It so happens that the great majority of the negro race belonged to the latter class, and it so happens, therefore, that any provision that we may formulate that would properly accomplish the lawful ends that we seek, would necessarily take that ballot from a very much larger portion of the negroes than of the whites, and this particular Article will so operate. The grandfather clause has been attacked as unconstitutional. So far as I am concerned, I think the good character clause is broad enough, and sufficient, to admit every man that will be admitted either under the soldier clause, or the descendant of soldiers clause. I believe that the number of soldiers that do not bear a good character and do not understand the obligations and duties of citizens under a republican form of government is not appreciably large: that it is so small that it can hardly be taken into account, even under the pledge that the Democratic party has made not to exclude any white man from the ballot. I believe, too, that the descendants of soldiers practically all of them– would be admitted to the electorate under the general clause and I believe, therefore, that the addition of the descendants clause is not necessary for the accomplishment of our purpose. So far as the soldier clause is concerned though I believe that, too, is unnecessary. I would not, even if the majority of the Convention was with me, strike down that clause, because I believe that it is fitting, now that the people of Alabama have assembled in their sovereign capacity for the first time after those who have defended her liberties have, to a great extent, passed from active scenes, some memorial of the State's gratitude for those who have laid their lives at the foot of the alter of patriotism on behalf of their State and their country, should be written in the very Constitution of our State.

The particular county that I represent is and has been opposed to the descendants clause, not solely upon the grounds that I have mentioned, but because they have been taught that the descendants clause is unconstitutional and void and that the adoption of that descendants clause will throw down and overturn the entire work of this Convention. That teaching, gentlemen of the Convention, was by those who leave ventured upon this subject, without any study or consideration of it. They have well this particular clause in various Constitutions. They have heard of the attack that is being made upon cane of them in Washington now and of the attack that has commenced in Louisiana on another and they have jumped to the conclusion that they are unconstitutional. But I believe that if the majority of this Convention adopts the soldiers clause and the descendants clause, as I believe they will, and those of us who represent my county go back and say to those people “not only have we considered the constitutionality of that clause,


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but 155 of the leading men of the State of Alabama have had it under deliberate consideration and have come to the conclusion almost, though not quite, unanimously that it is constitutional,” and if we say to them further that the mere fact that you do not need the aid of that clause is no reason why you should object to it; that there are other portions of the State that want and demand it; that you have obtained in the third clause of the fourth paragraph everything that is necessary to protect you and keep your ballot pure, and that the balance of the State is entitled to these other clauses if they believe them to their interest– then, I doubt not for one moment that no further controversy will be made over it, and I am satisfied, that properly explained, my people will adopt whatever Constitution this Convention recommends. (Applause.)

Mr. President, the attack that has been made upon the constitutionality of this provision seems to me to have been utterly demolished by the presentation this morning made by the President of this Convention, and I would not feel that it is necessary for me to add one word to that clear and masterly explanation of the subject that was made by him except for the fact that our respective counties and the people we are personally acquainted with and personally deal with– the people who have sent us here to represent them, look in some measure, at least to the views of their own representatives in the consideration of these matters and in coming to a conclusion upon them, and for that reason I think it proper that I should go on record in a clear and definite statement that I have not the slightest doubt in the world as to the constitutionality of either of these provisions. (Applause.)

MR. WHITE Will the gentleman allow me to ask him a question?

MR. SMITH Yes, sir.

MR. WHITE Are you of the opinion that the grandfather clause in the Louisiana plan is constitutional?

MR. SMITH I am not. I am not enough of a politician to know whether it is proper or not proper, but, as the gentleman knows, I was probably the first man in this Convention to speak out on that subject. He probably knows that I was appointed on a committee with two of the most learned men, not only in this Convention, but in this State, for the purpose of suggesting what might and what might not be lawfully done in the way of reforming this article. He knows that, with all the respect that I had for the learning and ability of those gentlemen, I took issue with them upon that question and made that fight in the incipiency of the Convention before I knew whether there was a man in the Convention who agreed with me or not. But, gentlemen, the mere fact that I believed and said, and now believe and say that in my opinion what is known as the sixty seven grandfather clause


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is the slightest degree against the opinion that I here expressed that the clause which admits soldiers and the descendant of soldiers is absolutely constitutional. The line that divides the two is as clear and distinct as any line that marks on the one side a decidedly fraudulent scheme and on the other a scheme based upon proper principles, well established law and honesty, good faith and integrity. Take the provision of 1817, and what does it do? It provides that every man who could vote in 1807 and his descendants shall have the right to vote under the existing Constitution. It is usually associated with a clause that prescribes qualifications so high that nobody can reach then, and what have you got? You have a provision that says, when viewed in the light of the history of this country, that every white man can vote and no negro can vote. You simply take a period when every Constitution in the United States with but one or two exceptions said male white citizens might vote, and no other persons. You then say that everybody who could vote at that time, that is, all male white citizens of the United States, and all of their descendants can vote, and nobody else call vote. When you say that, whether you say "negro" or “white man” or not, you say in plain language you will permit all white men to vote and thereby denied and abridged the right of suffrage “on account of race, color and previous condition of servitude.” and not for any other cause. Take, on the other hand, the scheme this committee has presented, and what do you say? You say that very man of good character who understands the duties and obligations of citizenship under a republican form of government may vote whether he be a negro or a white man, and, when you have said that, you have said that every negro who has the proper qualifications for the exercise of the elective franchise, every negro who is capable of participating in free government may vote, and when you have permitted every Negro who is callable of properly exercising the franchise to vote, you have deprived no negro of the right of suffrage, nor have you abridged that right, because of his “race, color and previous condition of servitude.” Now, if your soldier clause and your descendant clause simply admitted a number of white men without admitting a single, solitary negro, you would not have deprived any negro of the right to vote, nor would you have abridged his, right, because of “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” Suppose under such a condition as that, a negro was to apply for registration, and was asked whether or not he was a man of good character. No, I am not. Do you understand the duties and obligation, of citizenship under a republican form of government? No, I do not. Then you are not permitted to vote. Why am I not permitted to vote? Not because of your race or color but because you are not a man of good character. Could he do as a man has attempted to do in the State of Louisiana, go into the courts and say, “It is true, they ought not to have let me vote,


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it is true I was not fit to vote, it is true I was a man of bad character and would have been a stench in the electorate, but still they did not exclude me for that reason. They excluded me because I was a negro. How do you know it? I know it because I am a negro. The soldier and descendant clause does not simply admit white people. All of my friends on the other side of this controversy admit the character clause is constitutional. All of them admit if you wipe out the soldier and descendent clauses, this plan would be free from attack on that account. Every one of them admit that every negro who is entitled under the Constitution of the United States to the right of suffrage would have the right of suffrage under that clause. If that is so, what does the adding of the soldier clause do? As the President of the Convention told you this morning, you have the right to fix any qualification upon voting you see fit, provided only, that there is no exclusion on account of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” What, now, does the soldier clause do? Does it exclude a single solitary negro? Is there a negro than can complain that he is not admitted to the suffrage when he confesses that he is not qualified to exercise it? If it does not exclude a single negro, from the electorate, then it does not deprive him of his right of suffrage nor does it abridge that right; far from depriving him of it, it absolutely adds to the number of negroes that can vote under what the gentleman admit would be an entirely lawful plan. How then can it be said that a provision that grants to a race a right of suffrage that they would not possess except for that provision, denies either the race or the individual the right of suffrage or abridges it in the remotest degree? My friend from Montgomery, Governor Jones, announced a principle that the President of this Convention showed to be entirely untenable. I had supposed that the gentleman knew what there were only five or six decisions bearing directly upon this question, and that all of the earlier decisions to which he and others have referred were confined exclusively to the treatment and discussion of the fourteenth amendment and that the question of inequality was one applicable only to the provisions of the fourteenth amendment which is to the effect that the equal protection of the law shall not be denied to any person within the jurisdiction of the United States. It is not a provision that is confined to the male citizen of the United States. It is not a provision that is intended to protect the negro or the Chinaman of any other particular class. It is not a provision that relates in the remotest degree to race, color or former condition of servitude. It is true that the danger of inequality between the two races actuated Congress in adopting it, but when adopted, it was so not to be confined to the negro race but to cover every person, white or black, male or female, citizen or foreigner within the jurisdiction of these United States. It did not protect them in their political right. It related solely and exclusively to civil rights, to the rights of liberty and


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property; rights that inherently belonged to all men, not rights of suffrage which are necessarily under the law, gifts of the several States. The President has called your attention to the fact, that in one case absolute equality is demanded and in the other the only restriction is that one particular exception can not be made against one particular class of people. Now, the most extreme decisions that there are upon this subject are the Kruickshanks case and the Reese case, “which are based upon the case of Minor against Happersett. Those are the decisions that define and limits the rights of the State towards this race, and the furthest they have ever gone is to say that wherever a white man having named qualification is permitted to vote, a negro having the same qualifications shall also be permitted to vote. What those qualifications may be, outside of the question of race, has been left entirely and absolutely to the arbitrary will of the State. My friend over here from Jefferson (Mr. White) instanced as a qualification all persons with flat noses, and, Mr. President, while it is true that if you simply pass a law that no man with a flat nose shall vote, and that everybody else shall vote, that law, taken in connection with the characteristics of the negro, might be construed as intended, or as another way of saying that, all white men may vote, and all negroes may not vote, regardless of every other circumstance, and if it was so construed and so operated, the Supreme Court might say, as was said by my friend from Barbour, that we will act upon the operation of the statute and assume that you intended the natural result of your action and that you intended to pass a law which did deprive the negro of the right to vote on account of “race, color, and previous condition of servitude.” But, if, as this Committee has done in this article of this report, you were to pass a law giving the right of suffrage to every negro in the State of Alabama who was properly qualified as a voter and fit to exercise that privilege and were to then say that no other man having a flat nose should vote that law, in spite of its absurdity, would be absolutely constitutional in my opinion.

So, too, with the gentleman's curly head illustration. If it stood alone so as to draw a dividing line between the white man and the black man, so as to operate to exclude from the electorate every negro, and admit every white man, it would be held unconstitutional. But, as I said a moment ago, in regard to noses, if every negro who was properly qualified for suffrage was permitted to vote, and then it was said that no other curly headed man or no other negro, for that matter, would be allowed to vote, it would be perfectly constitutional. The fact that you exclude even by race every negro who was not fit to exercise the right of suffrage, would not render that law unconstitutional. My friend from Jefferson told us a pig story and asked if you put a sow and pigs in a pen, as we put the black and the white in the character clause of this article, and then left a crack big enough to allow the


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pigs to get out, wouldn't that be a discrimination in favor of the pigs and against the sow? Another gentleman from Jefferson replied, yes, but not because she was a hog. Now, if that old sow happened to be black and happened to have one black pig and nine white ones, and you made that crack so that the black pig could get out as well as the white ones, then it would not be a discrimination against the sow because of her race or color, she would not be denied her liberty because she was black.

MR. WHITE I will ask you now if the grandfather plan you have adopted does not operate to let one crowd in and keep the other crowd out when the law says you shall not do it?

MR. SMITH It operates to let one crowd in and keep the other crowd out, but the law does not say you shall not do it. One crowd is a crowd of white and negro soldiers, and the other crowd are not either white or negro soldiers, and it lets in the white and negro soldiers and descendants of white and negro soldiers and keeps out those who were not soldiers.

MR. WHITE You admit that if there were no descendants or negro soldiers that would be bad?

MR. SMITH I do not.

MR. WHITE Then I misunderstood you.

MR. SMITH The gentleman seems to imagine when he asks a question, that it is not sufficient to answer the question, but I must go further and presume that he asked an intelligent question also. (Laughter.)

Therefore, gentlemen, I am perfectly satisfied with the constitutionality and validity of both of these clauses. I believe that the people have been taught that they are necessary by the enemies of this Constitution. I believe there have been insidiously whisper into the ears of the people throughout the country that there is a sinister motive beneath the desires of portions of the people of this State, and that it matters not what sort of clause they get up, there will be some fraudulent scheme to rob the white men of their right of suffrage. I believe that many people have been made to believe it, and therefore they are demanding this descendant clause, not because it is necessary, but because they fear this unknown something that has been whispered about. They are demanding these soldiers and descendants clauses, because they know the registrars cannot say their fathers were not soldiers and that they are not the sons of their fathers and I believe that is the sole necessity for it, and as I said in the beginning, while no such necessity exists in my portion of the State, still if you gentlemen knowing the people of your portions of the State say it is necessary, put it in, for it is certain that there will be no harm


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done to the validity of the Constitution, and I fear no court's decision upon the subject.

As to the proceeding in Louisiana, if you have had an opportunity to examine the petition, you know that they must have been instituted for your especial benefit. You know, further, that in taking that proceeding for your benefit, they have failed to observe a that a large proportion of the membership of this Convention are lawyers, because from a legal standpoint they leave filed a ridiculous petition. The petition is this: They took a full blooded negro, 45 years of age that came from Tennessee in 1860, and had him apply for registration. In reply to the question that were asked him he said that he could not read, nor could not write, that he had no property of any kind, and paid no taxes; that he was not a soldier nor the descendant of a soldier, and that he had not one single qualification required by the laws under which he offered to register. The registrar declined to admit him to register because he had none of the qualifications, but he contended in his petition that the entire law providing for franchise in Louisiana is unconstitutional and void, and he therefore prays a mandamus to compel their to register him under the law that he says is an absolute nullity. In other words, he claims that no legal registration can be had by any man and still he is in court with proceedings seeking to have himself registered. I care not what may be the merits of his controversy as to the legality of the suffrage clause, the proceedings he has taken must necessarily fail. If the law be held to be valid, then he admits that he has not a single, solitary qualification named in that law. If it be void, then it is absolutely impossible for them to register him, for there is absolutely no law to register anybody, and the petition that the gentleman spoke of as having been filed in Louisiana was therefore necessarily filed to enable the gentleman of the views of the minority of the Committee to threaten this, and the Virginia Constitutional Convention, with the action on the part of the negroes to amend the Constitution. I had intended to say something in regard to the position that General Morgan and General Pettus have taken. As far as General Pettus is concerned, I have discussed this matter with him. He and I have talked over the “sixty seven” clause from one end of it to the other; talked over the very authorities that I have called your attention to. We were in thorough accord upon the subject. Not upon any such idea as was presented by the ex Governor, the gentleman from Montgomery, not because he imagined for one moment that the decisions applicable to the Fourteenth Amendment were applicable to the Fifteenth Amendment, but because, as I have said in the outset, the “sixty seven” clause is used to circumvent the Fifteenth Amendment. His views, so far as I have heard them, have not touched in and degree upon the validity of the clause admitting soldiers and their descendants



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to suffrage in this State. Certainly, he expressed no opinion that would justify the inference that he believed that these clauses in connection with the good character clause we have introduced, violated any provision of the Constitution.

So far as the senior Senator is concerned, for my part, I will only say this: That as learned as he is, (and I believe he is next to the most learned man that I ever knew), as able as he is, if he had never made but one declaration and that declaration had been adverse to this provision and had been made after thorough study and consideration of the authorities, with great deference to him, I would nevertheless say that he was absolutely and entirely mistaken about the law. I will not criticise him. I think our President in the discussion this morning said all that ought to be said. I think he called attention to enough of the remarks of the senior Senator to show that the senior Senator's objection to this clause does not arise from any well settled or grounded opinion that it is unconstitutional. As to the hereditary part of it, it seems to me that the President of this Convention disposed of the Senator's discussion of that. As to the claim of the other gentlemen that it is hereditary, I beg to say that in my opinion, it is based on as firm a foundation as it the argument that they made against the Constitutionality of the provision, and upon a foundation which is no firmer or broader.

That which is inherited must necessarily belong to the ancestor during life and pass by inheritance after death. The mere fact that the law points out a class of people and grants to them the same rights as another class, passes and designates the classes by their relation of parents and children, or by any other relation, is not granting a right on inheritance, but is merely giving, as is said in the books, a right by purchase that is, it is granted to them in their own right and they are simply designated as a certain class. How? Not by name, not by color, but as the children of a certain class the descendants, be it child or grandchild, of soldiers, not to the descendants for all time, but simply to those descendants who are now twenty one years of age, or who will be twenty one years of age before the first day of January, 1903.

MR. FERGUSON May I be permitted to ask the gentleman a question?

MR. SMITH Yes, sir.

MR. FERGUSON Why not confer this privilege upon the early settlers of the State of Alabama?

MR. SMITH (Mobile) Because I think it would be ridiculous.

MR. FERGUSON Why is one more ridiculous than the other? I will ask the gentleman to answer that question.


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MR. SMITH I know of no more difficult task that any gentleman could assign to me than to say why is one thing he does more ridiculous than another ridiculous thing that he does, but really I know the gentleman wants a little information, and I will give it to him. The only reason that I see for not giving it to the early settlers is because those who, like the gentleman, are opposed to this Constitution, or the provisions that we are framing, have not gone over the country and induced the people to believe that it is absolutely necessary to give it to the descendants of the first settlers to keep somebody from defrauding them, and therefore, it is not necessary to make any such class to meet an emergency that does not exist.

As far as I am concerned, I said in the inception, that I did not believe it is necessary to accomplish our purpose that we should give the right of suffrage either to soldiers or to descendants of soldiers. I believe that every soldier and every descendant of a soldier would be admitted under the good character clause, but as the admitting of the soldier is a compliment and a tribute that is due to them as the defenders of this country, I am in favor of writing that compliment in the very Constitution of the State of Alabama (applause), and let it be known of all men, and for all time, that we are proud of and thankful try those men who have served us; as to their descendants. I believe we have a right to confer the right of suffrage upon them and I believe there is no law that stands between us and that right. These people demand it, and if a majority of them say they believe in it, then let them have it. That is why I think one proposition is ridiculous and the other is not.

Now, on that proposition of inheritance, as I was saying; it dues not descend from the father to the son. No man upon whom it is conferred by this law can transmit that right to any one. It is given to a certain class of our soldier citizens, who stand here today already possessed of that right, and to sons of soldiers who are either twenty one years of age, or will be twenty one years of age before the first day of January, 1903, and it never descends to another generation, and, therefore, it is not a right of inheritance. If the law said that we could give this right of suffrage to these, and if a majority of the citizens of the State of Alabama say they want it, I would give it to them, whether it was giving them an inheritable right, or was not giving them an inheritable right, although Thomas Jefferson or anybody else once may have said, under difficult conditions, that it is not proper; that would never bind me when that state of affairs has changed and the people of my State are demanding from me as their representative that or anything else that they are entitled to.

Passing now to the clause that has not been attacked, so far as its constitutionality is concerned; that one that says that only


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a person of good character, who understands the duties and obligations of citizenship in a republican form of government shall have the right to qualify. In the first place, it has been whispered around, and said here in this Convention, and I believe by a lawyer, that the word “good character” is a comparative term; that a man might be of good character in China, and not a man of good character in America, and vice versa; that is an uncertain term, that no man knows the definition of it; that it was, therefore, put in here as an instrument of fraud, and will be so used. It is true gentlemen, that a man might bear a good character in America and yet not have a good character under the same circumstances in China. It might be that a man might bear a good character in

China and yet not bear a good character in Alabama. What difference does that make, if he was in China and bore a good character, according to the understanding of those people? He would have the right to vote there. And if he was in Alabama and bore a good character, according to our definition and understanding, he would have the right to vote in Alabama. And, while it is a variable term, it varies according to the people who have the right of suffrage; the qualifications for suffrage varies, and ought to vary, according to the people among whom he lives. Is it a definite term; it is a term that has been used, defined and understood in our jurisprudence since its earliest dawn; it is a question that comes up at every term of the court, and it is a question that is established at every term of court, and every lawyer and solicitor, more than anybody else, know clearly and distinctly what the terms is and how it is proven. Why, I have heard the question asked: “Suppose a man did this, would the Registrars say that he was a man of bad character?” Or “suppose he did that, would they say that he was a man of bad character?” Why, every lawyer in this Convention knows that character is not made by a single act in life, that there is no act that a man can do that will necessarily stamp him with a character either good or bad. Character is the verdict of the people among whom he lives. Character is what his neighbors and friends and associates say of him as the result of a consideration of the whole life that he has lived in their midst, and as the result of that life the community characterizes one man of good character and another man as a man of bad character. It seems to me that there is no test, when considered in connection with the electorate, that ought to be adopted or treated as better than the verdict of the people among whom a man has lived, but how is it to be proven say some. Why, it is presumed in the first place. No man has to prove that he is a man of good character; the presumption is that he is a man of good character until the contrary is shown. What is the duty and obligation of citizenship? Taken in its broadest terms, I apprehend that it is the duty to support and obey the Constitution and laws of the government under which one lives. Taken in a more restricted sense, it means


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that a man should understand the duties he is under to exercise his right to participate in the government by the use of his suffrage franchise for the good and the welfare of the whole people, and not for a fraudulent or sinister purpose. It is the obligation to perform such duties as may be entrusted to him by the ties as may be entrusted to him by the benefit of the people, and not for selfish motives, and to bear his burden of taxation. Is it uncertain in any respect? If it is, then so, too, is the qualifications that have been adopted by the entire United States by which to determine the fitness of every foreigner for citizenship in the United States, for the provision of the act of Congress that has stood for years, without criticism, either as to its validity or propriety, is that he must have lived in the United States five years, and must show to the satisfaction of a judge, by his behavior, that he is a man of good moral character, and is attached to the principle, of the Constitution. and well disposed to the welfare and happiness of the same. The same character qualification is there. A man that is admitted to citizenship in the United States must have a good moral character, and the man that is given the right of suffrage under this report must have a good character; the man that is admitted to citizenship under the laws of the United States must be attached to the principles of the Constitution, and not merely attached to them, but must have shown by his conduct and behavior during the period of five years of his residence that he is attached to the principles of the Constitution. How can any man who does not understand the duties and obligations of citizenship under that Constitution so conduct himself with regard to it as to show that he is attached to the principles. So, Mr. President, this is no new scheme. This is no trick of the black belt to arrange a fraudulent scheme by which to swindle the hill counties. It is the adoption of a well known test, a test applied by all the people of these United States, to the right of citizenship, long before this race issue had arisen to plague any to annoy us. Besides that, way back in 1786, I think it was, Connecticut had substantially the same provision. At that time a man had to own a certain amount of property, and had to be of peaceable and quiet behavior, and in addition to that, had to be of civil conversation. Will my friends say that at that time there was probably a black belt in Connecticut, and that they expressly got up the expression “civil conversation” in order to get all of the negroes into the electorate and exclude and defraud the white men of the hill counties?

Why, Mr. President, nobody ever heard any criticism of this Connecticut provision. Not only was that provision in the Connecticut Constitution, but identically the same provision existed in Vermont; afterwards it was provided that a man must be of good moral character, and after he was admitted to the electorate, if he then walked scandalously, or was guilty of a scandalous offense he was thrown out of the list. That was walking scandalous


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ly, and what was being guilty of a scandalous offense? Read the books as much as you will, you will not find where any particular class of people have taken this as a subterfuge for defrauding anybody else. But you say, “your registration is all wrong.” Well, that is not without example.

MR. OATES Mr. President, I do not want to break the continuity of the discourse of the delegate. The very question of the constitutionality of this, or any similar measure under the Fifteenth Article has never been tested by the Supreme Court. Is it not left for every lawyer to draw his own conclusion?

MR. SMITH From the discussion of the Fifteenth—

MR. OATES But not on the point. That was my conclusion.

MR. SMITH I believe the provision we have here embodied in the report of the majority are in their present association original and we have not yet had time for them, by any possibility, to have reached the Supreme Court of the United States, or any other court. There is not, therefore, and there could not possibly be any decision of the United States upon the questions here involved, and I frankly admit it. There has never been any provision touching any of these exceptions recently made in the Southern States, except in Mississippi and in Mississippi they simply held that the provisions in themselves were not unconstitutional, and that it had not been shown that they had been so operated as to exclude the negroes on account of race, color, or previous condition. etc. That is the only decision upon any question that has arisen directly in any of the Southern States, but the limitations of the meaning of the term “suffrage” shall not be denied or abridged on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude, has been discussed and defined in the slaughter house case, the Kruickshanks case, the Reese case, the Williams case, and in Minor against Happersetts, and it is upon those definitions, and our deductions from those definitions under well set principles of law, that I draw one set of conclusions as distinguished from another set drawn by the minority of the Committee. The gentleman from Montgomery, however, has not drawn his conclusions, so far as his argument indicates, from these decisions. He drew his from decisions upon entirely a different subject, providing entirely different things.

MR. OATES You don't call them by name. There are so many of us.

MR. SMITH I could not call him ex Governor. That would not be definite. I refer to Governor Jones.

MR. FERGUSON I want to ask another question. If the right of franchise were conferred upon the early settlers of Ala


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bama and their descendants I will ask the gentleman if he would consider that a class distinction.

MR. SMITH If, as I have said several times, on several occasions, you admitted those descendants to vote, and admitted nobody else, then that would be saying the white man can vote, and the negro cannot, but if you do it in association with a provision like our good character provision, which says that every negro can vote who has the proper qualifications to vote, who has any business voting and who knows anything about the exercise of suffrage and them in addition to that every descendant of a first settler can vote, I think it would be constitutional. I think it would be a class distinction as strong as the distinction against the sow of the gentleman from Jefferson, but I think it would be a lawful discrimination, and not an unlawful one. To return to where I started is a matter left entirely to the discretion of the registrar. I know of no scheme that has ever been adopted for the purpose of registering voters, whereby a lot of machinery is arranged for a court trial, in advance, before the registrars have acted. In nearly every State it is a system of registration. In Connecticut, ‘way back in 1639, here is the way they did it. “The freemen of the town– there were three towns in that State at that time Hartford, Weatherford and I think the other was Westford – I am not sure. There were three towns. They met at the town hall, and they simply elected those who should have the right to vote. It was not a question of qualification, the people already having the right to vote, got together and said whether they would let anybody else vote, and if so, who they would let vote. Was that arbitrary? No qualification, no discrimination. What was the next step they took? They adopted as qualification a property and behavior basis. They said this man could go around among the freemen, and get them to certify that they thought he ought to vote; then he carried that certificate to the selected men, and they said he could vote, and if they said he could vote he did vote. What was the next step? It was to require every man who wanted to vote to send a certificate of good character to the legislature, and the legislature passed an act that Jones, Smith and Brown might vote, and they were thereby admitted to the electorate. What was the next step they took, and that is the final one? They held meetings of their select men, there are from three to seven of them, and applications were made to them for admission as a free man, which gave the right to vote and those select men determined who should vote and who should not vote. After a similar course, Vermont has come to the same result. Nobody has ever heard of this being a scheme which was never been declared unconstitutional or fraudulent. What are the provisions here? The provisions in the first place are not that any registrar as said by Chancellor Kelly, can come along with a book in his


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hand and register a man on the high road. The provision is that very man must be registered in the first place by the Board of Registrars not by an individual member of that board. He must be registered either in his own precinct, or in his own county site. If they refuse him the right of registration, he can, by simply filing a petition in the Circuit Court, take an appeal and have his right to vote tried by a jury. That body of men that has been organized ever since this country existed, and long before, to pass upon the right, the life, liberty, and property, of every citizen. It is given the same right, but with less expense, than you are given when your liberty is at stake, that you are given when your property is at stake. Is this opening the doors for fraud, or is it treating it and throwing around it the safeguards that are thrown around the clearest rights of our race? If not satisfied, if the judge has fraudulently charged the jury as to what constitutes good character, or the duties and obligations of citizenship, or as to what the qualifications really are, he can take an appeal to the Supreme Court of the State, and have the correctness of the charge determined.

MR. SANFORD (Montgomery) Won't that cost him money ?

MR. SMITH Yes, sir; beyond any question. It costs him money to preserve his life, it costs him money to preserve his liberty, it costs him money to preserve his property but this is no hardship if his franchise is as dear to him as it is claimed to be by those who are trying to carry this question to the United State Supreme Court, in order to keep the white people out of this country, out of their own. Men can stay for the determination of that right as they pay for all other justice in this world. So it seems to me that while it may be open to fraud, everything is open to fraud, and this right is guarded as fully and completely as it is possible to guard and protect a human right. A man may forge my note; a man may burglarize my house; a man can commit any class of fraud. The human mind can devise a plan to evade every safeguard that the human mind can devise, and if we sit here and discard one remedy after another until we find one that will close out all possibility of fraud we will sit here forever and forever.

Now, in conclusion, I want to say that I do not join in the belief that the people in the Black Belt intend or expect to perpetrate these frauds, that they are suspected of. You and every one of you know they have been seeking the occasion that has now arisen for striking the shackles from them that have heretofore bound them. You and all of you know that they were in full charge of their elections, you know that they control the vote of their country, or their section of the country, and that there is not half the danger of the negro vote controlling politics in their particular section that there is of their controlling politics where


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he merely holds the balance of power. Why have these people sought this occasion for relief? Did they hope or expect that by purifying the ballot and lawfully restricting the number of negroes who can vote, that they could get a larger representation or can more completely control the negro than at present? Certainly not. If they wanted to operate through the negro so as to defraud the balance of the State, they had no occasion to call this Convention, and passing constitutional provisions such as these. Now, why do you believe that they have taken this trouble; that they have cried for this relief for years; that they are here aiding us in obtaining some method by which the vicious and illiterate negro will be excluded, if behind it all you believe it is their purpose to do just what they could do, just what they have been doing, without the convening of this Convention? I believe, and I think any thinking man will believe, that the black belt is as earnest and serious as we are in the desire to rid themselves of these frauds. I believe the measure which has been recommended to you by the Committee on suffrage will accomplish that purpose. I believe they will live up to the purpose so accomplished, and they will be thankful that they can rest assured that their children can abandon the paths of fraud and trickery, in political affairs, and live as pure and undefiled in that respect as any other part of the State. It is for their children, the purity of their children, and the honesty and integrity of their race, that they come here, and I think that we can trust any citizen of this State, whether from the southern end of the State or from the hill countries, or any other counties, and I think that in this matter we can trust the gentlemen from the Black Belt.

MR. SPEARS Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention: Our fathers had to deal with the negro as a slave, we have to deal with him as a citizen of the United States. By what power, by what authority, was the negro made a citizen? By the National Government. By what power, by what authority, was the right of suffrage, or the right to vote conferred upon the negro? By the National Government. Suppose that the State of Alabama had never given her assent to the Fifteenth Amendment. Suppose the State of Alabama had never held a Constitutional Convention. Suppose that the State of Alabama had never changed her Constitution and her laws in regard to the negro as a citizen. Could he have voted? Most assuredly he could. Then, gentlemen, you must admit that the negro got his right to vote from the National Government, and not from the State of Alabama. Can the State of Alabama, undo what the National Government has done? Can the State of Alabama tear down and destroy what the National Government has built up? Can the State of Alabama take from the negro that which the National Government conferred upon him? You answer the question. Now, gentlemen of the convention, there is one fearful thought that must necessarily come up


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in the mind of any sensible man when he contemplates the practical operation of the ordinance that we have under consideration. What will be the practical effect if we adopt this ordinance? It will be to disfranchise every voter in Alabama temporarily at least. It will be to deprive 375,000 citizens that are now voters of the right to vote, and turn them over to 198 registrars that may be appointed by the Governor, and all those registrars are to be Democrats. Disfranchise all the Republicans, all the Populists all the Democrats, all the white men, and all the black men, and turn them over to 198 partisan registrars, that is the proposition before the Convention. Now, Mr. President and gentlemen, while we are discussing the suffrage question, we should not forget that all the qualified voters in Alabama have taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States. They had to take that with before they could register as voters. The law requires it. The white people of the State through their white representatives, made the law. They made it freely and voluntarily without any constraint or coercion on the part of the Federal Government or any other power. When we first entered this hall as delegates—

MR. deGRAFFENREID– May I ask a question?

MR. SPEARS I do not want to be interrupted.

When we first entered this hall as delegates, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State required all of us to hold up our right hand and solemnly swear that we would support the Constitution of the United States, we had to do this before we were allowed to enter upon the discharge of our duties, before we were allowed to commence the work of framing a new Constitution. The Enabling Act required it; the General Assembly had thought it necessary. This oath, gentlemen, had been registered in heaven, where the angels will keep it and guard it until judgment day; then when all the people in all the races of humanity that have lived in all the ages shall have gathered together; when the old clock of time shall strike her last stroke; when the President of the Universe shall call that great convention to order; when the clerk shall open up the great journal, and call the great long roll, you and I, Mr. President, and all of us will either have to stand up or fall down on our faces and answer how we have kept this oath. Let us hope, let us trust, let us pray, that no delegate of this Convention will have to fall down on his face. Now, Mr. President and gentlemen, since we have so solemnly bound ourselves, since our constituents, since all the qualified voters of Alabama have so solemnly bound themselves not to do anything that will in any way conflict with the Federal Constitution, it becomes our most serious duty to inquire into and acquaint ourselves with every provision and requirement of that instrument on the subject of suffrage, and all other subjects with which we may have to deal.


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The first section of the Fourteenth Article of the Federal Constitution reads as follows: “All persons born, or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States, are of the State wherein they reside. No such State shall make or enforce any, law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United State. Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.” That is the Fourteenth amendment. There is nothing obscure or mysterious about it. It is written in plain language of the common people. They understand it. They do not need judge, or any court, or any United States Senator to interpret for them these old familiar words of their mother tongue. In that first Section the National Government by constitutional enactment has defined and made clear to the minds of all men the terms “citizens of the United States.” In that Section the National Government has declared in the most solemn manner known to men that no State in this Union shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor to deny to any citizen within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law. Now the queries comes up, is voting a privilege? Have courts held that voting is a privilege rather than a right? Not many days ago when this Convention had under consideration the Declaration of Rights, we adopted this Section which declares that voting is a privilege. If voting is a privilege then the ordinances that we are now considering is clearly in conflict with the first Section of the Fourteenth Amendment which I have just quoted. Under the present Constitution and laws of the State of Alabama, all men, all male citizens of the United States, 21 years old and upwards, who have resided in this State one year, three months in the county, thirty days in the precinct or ward, are entitled to vote, unless they have been convicted of some infamous crime. We have never had in Alabama any poll tax, educational or property qualifications for voting. In this ordinance we have all these qualifications and many obnoxious embarrassments and restrictions thrown around the citizens to hinder and delay and in many cases prevent him from voting. A Registration Board is created for each county, to be composed of three men. They are given unlimited, arbitrary power. They may refuse to register the very best citizen with impunity. They are relieved from all legal liability. They are given a judicial character for the purpose of shielding them from prosecution in any court, civil or criminal, for any wrong or any remedy that they may see fit to perpetrate against any citizen by refusing to allow him to be registered. Now, gentlemen, will any delegate stand up and contend that the ordinance we are now considering does not abridge the privilege of voting, that the citizens have exercised and enjoyed in the State of Alabama ever since 1819. Some men say


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we have nothing to fear, for a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, except that Congress may exercise its right and cut down our representation in the Lower House of Congress and in the Electoral College. Congress may or may not exercise this power. Whether it does or does not, can have nothing to do with making valid any violation of the Federal Constitution, and if the ordinance that we have under consideration is in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court of the United States on the proper application of any citizen of Alabama, whose constitutional privilege of voting may have been abridged, will so decide. The Fourteenth Amendment was enacted for the protection of all men without regard to race or color. The Fifteenth Article of the Federal Constitution, more familiarly known in Alabama as the Fifteenth Amendment, reads as follows:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.”

Some men say they believe that this amendment was aimed only at the Southern States. That those persons who prepared it and procured its adoption were actuated by a desire to humiliate and degrade the Southern people. With this view, gentlemen, I cannot agree. In my judgment the Fifteenth Amendment is not sectional, but national in its character. It belongs to all the States of this Union with equal force North, South, East and West. It not only prohibits the States from disfranchising them on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude but it prevents and prohibits the United States Government of depriving them of the right to vote on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude. It prohibits the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court of the United States, they are as much bound by the Fifteenth Amendment as the State of Alabama. This Fifteenth Amendment, gentlemen, protects the naturalized Chinaman from being disfranchised by the State of California. It prohibits the State of North Carolina from disfranchising the Indians, who are citizens of the United States and living within their jurisdiction. It prohibits the State of Alabama from disfranchising a negro because he belongs to the African race, because of his color, or because he was once a slave. It will prevent the State of Massachusetts as well as the State of Mississippi from disfranchising the Filipino when he come to live in this country so I say that the Fifteenth Amendment is not sectional, but National in its character.

MR. SAMFORD Will the gentleman permit himself to be interrupted?

MR. SPEARS I don't want to be interrupted.


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Some gentlemen say that this ordinance is not in conflict with the Fifteenth Amendment. Do they believe what they say. They seem to be in earnest and I would ask the gentlemen in all sincerity pray tell us by what process of reasoning you have been able to bring yourself to this conclusion. The common people of the State see the discrimination at a glance. The women and children know it and it is common talk everywhere that this ordinance discriminates against the negro as a race. Some gentlemen say that they hope to live long enough to see the Fifteenth Amendment repealed. I would ask them if they hope to live long enough to see the death of this Republic. We have only had fifteen amendments added to our National Constitution since it was signed by Washington and the fathers of this Republic, and in my judgment, with all due respect to every man in this Convention, the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendment, that have been pinned to the beautiful Goddess of Liberty from time to time, these three last amendments have added more to her beauty, more to her strength and more to her glory than all the others, notwithstanding they were pinned upon her beautiful form by the bloody hands of war.

Now, gentlemen, I want to take up this Board of Registration, and I hope that you will give me your attention. There has been considerable interest aroused throughout this State by reason of the publication of the letter of Senator John T. Morgan against the grandfather clause. The effort of the Senator and the gentlemen comprising the minority of the Committee, reminds me of some old ladies striking at the tail of a snake. If the Senator and the minority of the Committee want to do harm to this hideous monster if they want to kill this serpent that is about to beguile this Convention, why do not you hit it on the head. Why do you not strike at the seat of poison, why do you not hit the Board of Registration? What a beautiful system is this Board of Registration, composed of three partisans appointed by partisan Governors on the recommendation of a partisan County Committee, and to do what. O, they say if this board don't register every man that wants to be registered he can take an appeal to the Circuit Court or courts of like jurisdiction by filing a petition in thirty days. That makes it necessary for him to employ a lawyer. He has to go to Circuit Court. He cannot appeal to a jury and have the case tried near his home, where his witnesses are necessarily bound to live. No, he must go to the Circuit Court, at the court house, it may be 25 miles from where he lives. He has got to take his witnesses with him and when he gets there all the presumptions are against him. The whole scheme is against him. The clerk of the court has informed the solicitor who represents the State and who is there to contest the citizen's right. The burden of proof is upon him. He is presumed not to be entitled to vote. He goes before the court and the jury under a cloud, has to be tried by twelve


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men and he must convince all twelve of them that he is entitled to vote. Notwithstanding that eleven of the jurors may be convinced that the citizen is entitled to vote, yet if one is not so convinced he is thrown into costs and disgraced and disfranchised in his county. If you want to purge the electorate, if you want to purify the ballot, if you want to do the clean thing by the people why did you not appoint a board of three honest men and tell them to go into each county and take the list of registered voters and whenever they came to a man that was not entitled to vote to strike him from the list and give him notice and let him take an appeal to the court, and let the burden of proof be upon the State. Let him go to court with a presumption in his favor and let the burden of proof be on the State, and let the State be required to make out its case against the citizen. That is what you should do if you want to do the fair thing. Why, here you have reserved the whole machinery of the common law. You have turned back the hands on the clock of civilization a thousand years. I am astonished at you. No man will be envied by anybody after he has cast his vote for this Registration Board. When he does it, melancholia will seize him and claim him for its own. He will never occupy his seat in the United States Senate. The cruel hand of fate will write across his forehead in great big black letter: "Political Failure." The hand of destiny will take him up from off the floor of this Convention and pitch him over into the pest house of Alabama politics and there he will be left on the political scrap pile. There he will remain for the balance of his days in a state of miserable political quarantine, and when the hour of dissolution shall overtake him, when the cold but welcome hand of death shall be laid upon his aching head to still and quiet his painful heart, sad and disappointed loved ones will carry him out and at the dead of night inter him in a political potters field. On his grave no flowers will bloom, about his grave no bird shall sing.

MR. FREEMAN Will the gentleman yield for moment?

MR. SPEERS I don't like to be interrupted. My time is going on----

MR. FREEMAN I want to make a motion to extend your time forty minutes in order that you may finish your argument.

MR. SPEERS I don't know what time it is by the clock. I may finish in a few minutes.

MR. FREEMAN It is only about two or three minutes of six o'clock.

MR. SPEERS I would like for the Convention to give me the time. I have not bothered this Convention since I have been here and have not tried to make a speech since I have been here.


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MR. FREEMAN– I move to extend the gentleman's time forty minutes in the morning.

MR. GRAHAM (Talladega) I would like to ask the gentleman a question. I would like to ask the gentleman if he is in favor of disfranchising any white man in Alabama.

MR. SPEERS I am not.

MR. GRAHAM (Talladega) I will ask the gentleman if he is in favor of disfranchising any negro?

MR. SPEERS– Some of them I am, but most of them I am not.

Upon a vote being taken the motion to extend the time of the gentleman forty minutes in the morning was carried.

MR. SPEERS I thank you, gentlemen. I have certainly tried not trespass upon the patience of this Convention. I have a right to express myself upon the great questions before the Convention. I would not be true to myself. I would not be true to my convictions; I would not be true to the people who sent me here if I hesitated to present my clews upon these questions.

The gentleman from Talladega has seen fit to ask me a question here in a white Convention, in a white country, under a white government, if I would be in favor of disfranchising a white man. He had no right to make any such insinuation. I have my convictions in regard to the disfranchisement of the negro. I do not believe it is right to disfranchise any man simply because he is a negro, but I think it is right and proper to disfranchise any man who will sell his vote or commit any other crime. I have always stood that way and I stand that way today. I will defer my further remarks until tomorrow morning.

MR. PORTER I move that this Convention do now adjourn.

Indefinite leave of absence was granted Mr. Freeman on account of sickness: leave of absence was granted Mr. Thompson for tomorrow and Monday; Mr. Carmichael (Coffee) for Saturday; Mr. Malone for tomorrow and Mr. Henderson of Pike for tomorrow.

The Convention thereupon adjourned.