University of Hawaii at Manoa Library

Home: The Annexation Of Hawaii: A Collection Of Document

Hawaii Organic Act: Congressional debates on Hawaii Organic Act

[ Previous Page ] -- [ View PDF ] -- [ View in MS Word ] -- [ Next Page ]

several times to change, bat our efforts have been defeated by the 
Democrats. Mr. CLARK of Missouri.   I will tell you about that, too, 
a little later on. Mr. CAPRON.   That was repealed years ago. Mr. 
CLARK of Missouri.   Wait; I am making this speech.   I yielded for 
a question; not for a speech. Governor Davis stated further that 
under the present unfair and un-American arrangement it could be 
shown by mathematical demonstration that about 36,000 people out of 
over 400,000 elect a majority of both branches of the legislature, and 
thereby absolutely control the political affairs of the State. Yet, we 
hear loud lamentations about unfair election laws in the South. In 
Rhode Island they still have that relic of barbarism known as a 
"property qualification." If a man owns $134 worth of real estate, he. is 
a voter for all purposes. If he does not own that much realty, but owns 
and pays taxes on $134 worth of personal property, he is a voter for all 
purposes. The almighty dollar and not intelligence is the qualification 
for full suffrage. Then they have what they call registered voters, who 
are voters for certain purposes and are not voters for certain other 
purposes. Yet we hear a great deal of hypocritical whining about 
the suppression of voters down South. I commend to these 
philanthropic doctors the Scripture, which says, "Physician, heal 
thyself." Under this outrageous Rhode Island apportionment for 
legislative purposes the Democrats would have to carry the State 
by 23,000 or 30,000 majority in order to have a majority on joint ballot 
in the legislature, whereby they could elect a Senator of the United 
States, and by a much larger majority in order to control both houses 
of the State legislature. I was told by Mr. Green, chairman of the 
State Democratic committee, that the Republican supreme court 
judges had given the Republican governor an opinion to the effect 
that there is no power lodged anywhere to authorize the people of 
Rhode Island to hold a constitutional convention to frame a new 
constitution to cure this outrageous apportionment and other ills and 
oppressions from which the people of Rhode Island now suffer! The 
only way they can secure a constitutional convention to form a new 
constitution is first to submit and adopt an amendment authorizing 
the calling of such a convention! Here is the peculiar modus operandi 
of adopting a constitutional amendment: The proposed amendment 
must be passed by a majority of each house of two different 
legislatures and then be adopted at the polls! As the little towns now 
elect a large majority of each house of the legislature, and as such 
amendment would deprive the small towns of a large portion of 
their present unjust power and unfair representation, the chances are 
that no such amendment can be parsed through each house of two 
succeeding legislatures.   It looks like nothing short of a revolution 
would give Republican Rhode Island a fair and modern system of 
voting - such as we have in Democratic Missouri. I was told that in 
the city of Woonsocket 400 men begged the assessor to put them 
on the tax list, offering to swear and to prove that they possessed the 
8134 of property necessary to entitle them to vote under Rhode 
Island's mediaeval constitution.   The assessor, who was a 
Republican, refused to put them on the tax list.   They were 
Democrats and undertook to mandamus the assessor and compel 
him to do so, but the judge, a Republican, decided that they were 
too late in their application, as the tax lists had already been made 
up!   [Laughter.] The next time they endeavored to compel the 
assessor by mandamus to put them on before he completed his lists: 
but the judge decided that the assessor was not required to put them 
on on any particular day of the designated time, and that he might 
intend to put them on the next day or the next, and again denied 
them the prayer of their petition - the right to be taxed and to 
vote. Once they were too late.   Next time they were too early.    [Laugh-
ter.] I guess that that is the only instance in the entire history of the 
human race where men asked, begged, and instituted a lawsuit to be 
permitted to be taxed.  The gentleman from Connecticut says that 
the government of the District of Columbia, where nobody can vote, 
is a model government - the best in the United States, as I 
understood him.   I deny that proposition.   It is a carpetbag 
government, for the most part.   1 am not criticising the individuals 
who compose it.   They may be good and efficient men. or they .may 
be the reverse; but the people who fill the District of Columbia offices 
- not the Federal offices, but the local offices - ought to be bona fide 
citizens of the District and not broken-down politicians from the 
States fastened upon this people to eat up their substance. Congress 
sits here two days in the week as a common council

for the city of Washington - a duty for which it is unfit by reason of 
ignorance of the wants of the people and of the proper relation of one 
thing to another. The fact that under the shadow of the nation's 
Capitol 800.000 American citizens, white and black, are completely 
disfranchised, not permitted to vote, on any proposition under the 
sun, are reduced to the low estate of being the nation's wards; have no 
more voice in the government under which they live than have the in-
habitants of Africa, is the saddest commentary to be found anywhere 
on the theory of representative government.                         "Why 
should they not vote?"   It is a manly, invigorating exercise.   I would 
like to be here the day they elect the first Delegate to Congress.    It 
would double discount a Donnybrook lair. There would be 800 
candidates at least.   [Laughter.] During the Fifty-third Congress there 
waste be a meeting down-town to agitate for the restoration of self-
government.   I was invited to speak.   I accepted the invitation.   It 
was so announced in some of the papers.   A delegation composed of 
Democrats and Republicans waited on me to protest.   I asked them 
why the people of the District should not enjoy the right of suffrage.   
A Re-publican answered: "The damned niggers and poor whites would 
vote us into bankruptcy!" A MEMBER.   Do you say that a Republican 
said "damned niggers?" Mr. CLARK of Missouri.   Yes; I was told by 
one who claimed to know that he was a Republican. It appears to me 
that it is rather late in our history to give color to the absurd and 
unjust proposition that a poor white is not fit to vote by 
disfranchising a whole populous city and district. The refusal of the 
right of suffrage to the people of this District turns back the hands of 
the clock more than a century.   It is a dangerous performance, 
because the plan may be copied in some other part of the Union and 
in every other part.   It is an open confession in the face of the world 
that pro tanto our experiment in representative government is a 
failure. I want to say here and now that if a colored man is good 
enough to vote in the Ninth Congressional district of Missouri, he is 
good enough to vote in the District of Columbia and to say how his  
taxes shall be levied and disbursed - to take a hand in running his 
own government. I am not in favor of making ah experimental 
governmental political station of the Sandwich Islands, as you are 
making one out of the District of Columbia.   The truth is that for 
sixty years every bad piece of legislation that Congress wanted to 
adopt was first tried on the helpless people of this District. If it did not 
destroy them, then they extended the experiment to the rest of us.    
[Laughter.]   I agree fully with my distinguished friend from Illinois 
[Mr. HITT] that we can not bind the future.   I wanted to bind the 
future when we annexed the Hawaiian Islands.   We can not bind 
future Congresses by saying that we will not make a State out of 
them; but we can say that those people, being ours now, shall have a 
chance to educate themselves in the difficult art of self-government, 
and that we will not treat them in the outrageous manner in which we 
treat the people of this District. I want to say further that every time 
we take in a new island, so far as I am concerned, you will have to 
extend to it the Constitution of the United States and the liberties that 
we enjoy.   [Applause.]             The CHAIRMAN.   The gentleman 
from Missouri [Mr. CLARK] asks unanimous consent to print as a part 
of hid remarks the bill in regard to the District of Columbia and to 
extend his remarks in the RECORD.   Without objection, it will be so 
ordered. There was no objection. Mr. SPERRY.   Mr. Chairman, I 
should not arise at this time to say anything concerning this matter, 
but I want to set one thing right which has been said by the gentleman 
from Mississippi [Mr. WILLIAMS] about the State of Connecticut. The 
State of Connecticut has been alluded to here, and so has , the city of 
New Haven.    When the State of Connecticut was formed, it was 
formed of the little towns which made up the State. Those little towns 
were unlike any other towns that I know of in the United States.   
Those little towns were 1ittle republics of themselves, and when the 
constitution of 1818 was formed a provision was inserted in the 
preamble that all the rights, privileges, and immunities which the 
people of Connecticut had received from their ancestors were 
vouchsafed to them under the new constitution, besides all of the 
original towns were given two representatives.  Now, some towns have 
increased largely in population.   At the time our constitution was 
formed the towns were substantially equal in population.   There 
was but little difference; but since then a town here and there has 
arisen, like New Haven, like Hartford, like the towns up through the 
valley of Nangatuck.   Those towns have increased, but the original 
towns have their two representatives in the general assembly.   The 
small original towns which have not greatly increased in population 
still have their

Return to Top

Terms of Use  |  UH Mānoa  |  UH System  |  Ask Us
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Library  |  2550 McCarthy Mall  |  Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 USA
808-956-7214 (Reference)  |  808-956-7203 (Circulation)  |  808-956-7205 (Administration)
808-956-5968 (fax)  |