were unable in the country towns, where their strength lay, to command a majority, and many of the towns were thus left unrepresented.
Towns also falling below a certain population were allowed a representative only a certain number of years in a decade, and were disfranchised during the remaining years, with the effect of still further increasing the relative power of the Whig
The reform of the representation was the main motive for the convention; but in some other respects the State
was believed to have outgrown the form of government which had been established nearly three quarters of a century before.
The delegates to the convention, four hundred and twenty-two in all, were chosen March 7, 1853.
Each town, however small in population, was allowed a delegate, while the cities and large towns were allowed the number to which they would be entitled in the election of representatives.
The Free Soilers and Democrats were not in this election subject to the same political embarrassments as in more strictly political elections, and they outnumbered the Whigs
in the convention by more than one hundred.
While, however, this composite majority might act as a unit on the basis of representation, there was not likely to be the same cohesion on the lines of parties with regard to most of the other questions which were likely to be the subject of contention.
The Free Soilers entered into the campaign for the election of delegates with energy and enthusiasm.
, as usual, was their leader in organization.
He did his best, taking advantage of the exceptional right given to towns to elect nonresident delegates, to bring into the convention eminent Free Soilers, even some who had not looked in a kindly way upon him. He wrote to active men in towns sure to elect anti-Whig delegates, suggesting for candidates the names of distinguished Free Soilers or Democrats who could not be chosen in their own towns or cities.
Most of the constituencies preferred to elect one of their own number, and only nine towns accepted non-resident candidates; among whom were R. H. Dana, Jr.
, G. S. Boutwell
, Anson Burlingame
, E. L. Keyes
, B. F. Hallett
, and Whiting Griswold
The voters of Marshfield
, the home of Mr. Webster
, were radically antislavery, and the names of Sumner
and Horace Mann
were suggested to them.
They preferred the former, as more sure to carry the Democratic