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[330] or State militia.1 He spoke briefly, July 15, against a provision limiting the power of the Legislature to lend the State credit for works of internal improvement, maintaining generally that the power had hitherto worked no harm, and specially that the proposed restriction might defeat the enterprise of the Hoosac Tunnel, the promoters of which had already begun to lay siege to the public treasury.2 His wisdom in this action may well be questioned, as the absence of this provision in the Constitution opened the way to a heavy expenditure and a burdensome debt.3 His speech of July 25 explained the action of his committee, and the principles upon which it had made some changes and forborne to make others,—tracing the history of bills of rights in this and other countries, and indicating their proper scope and limitations. It is a compact and instructive statement on the subject.4

His principal speech was made July 7 on the representative system and its proper basis.5 The Democratic and Free Soil leaders, for the purpose of reducing the undue power of the cities, without at the same time impairing the corporate unity of the towns, had devised a compromise which retained and modified the existing system of town representation. It discarded the general-ticket system, and required a division of the cities into districts for the choice of representatives,—changes generally admitted to be wise; but it allowed the cities less than their numerical proportion of representatives, and perpetuated the non-representation of small towns during a part of a decade, except where they arranged among themselves for a union as a

1 Works, vol. III. pp. 216-227.

2 Debates in Massachusetts Convention, vol. III. pp. 20, 21. On June 6 he offered a resolution for codifying the law and simplifying practice in courts. He was one of a minority of six of his committee of thirteen which submitted, July 18, a report making the jury the judge of the law and the facts in criminal cases. The arbitrary rulings of the judges of the United States courts in prosecutions for resisting the Fugitive Slave Act led him to this position.

3 He presented. June 20, 1854, in the Senate a memorial for a grant of lands to the enterprise, commending it as one which ‘in its very conception reflects credit upon our age, and which, if accomplished, will constitute an epoch in the achievements of science.’

4 Works, vol. III. pp. 258-268. The latter part of the speech, as printed in the Works, was not delivered, as he was cut off by a fifteen-minute rule which was made late in the session. The correspondent (Robert Carter) of the New York Evening Post, July 14, describes the points of the speech and its effect on the delegates. (Debates, vol. III. pp. 373-375.) Later, Sumner explained briefly certain phrases in the Bill of Rights; namely, time one relating to the limitation of legislative powers (Debates, vol. III. p. 381),—the words ‘subject,’ ‘man,’ and ‘person’ (pp. 417, 418, 422); and the clause relative to freedom of religious opinions (p. 417)

5 Works, vol. III. pp. 229-257.

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