the Legislature to provide for submitting to a popular vote the question whether a convention should be called to revise the Constitution
whenever requested by the towns or cities containing not less than one third of the legal voters.
Many interesting discussions took place in the convention,— involving the substitution of the rule of plurality for that of majority in elections; the term of the judiciary; the qualifications of voters; the relation of Harvard College to the State
,— indeed almost every provision of the existing Constitution or of the proposed plan; during all of which Sumner
Irksome as was the confinement, his service in the convention was an advantage to him by bringing him into more familiar relations with the active men of the State
; and to the extent that he had mingled in the debates and business, he impressed the members with his ability, candor, and good sense.
Many hitherto antipathetic to him, and regarding him solely as an antislavery agitator or scholar living apart from men, were surprised to find him accessible and genial, and ready for conversation with any who came in his way.
The convention adopted the division of the State
into single districts for the election of senators and councillors; legislative discretion in determining the rule of elections, majority or plurality; the election by the people of a considerable number of officers hitherto appointed by the governor or the Legislature; the limitation of the judicial term, after the present incumbents, to ten years; the election of judges of probate by the people; various minor changes which were not the subject of contention; also, certain propositions submitted independently as to habeas corpus
, the right of the jury in criminal cases, the appropriation of public money for sectarian schools, and other matters.
Several of the changes were shortly after made by amendments proposed by the Legislature, and approved by a popular vote.
On the final day of the convention, August 1, Sumner
attended at Plymouth
the celebration of the embarkation of the Pilgrim
fathers at Southampton
His tribute to the English Puritans
, known as Separatists or Independents in English