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(Sections 3 and 4, dealing with Local Government and the
THE PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF CONSTITU
United States Senator from New York
HERE is an interesting parallel between the present constitutional convention and the one that preceded it. The last one ought to have occurred in 1887, twenty years after the convention of 1867. It did not please the party which happened to be in power in 1887 and for a number of years afterward to have the convention, because they could not get the arrangements just to suit them. At last, in 1892, everything was right and the convention was brought on; delegates were elected in 1893, and a convention was held in 1894. But, lo, after everything was right and the convention was determined upon, there came a revolution in the politics of the state, and the other party elected a majority of delegates and controlled the convention.
At this time it seemed to some one-I don't know to whom -that it would be a bright stroke of politics to advance the convention, and so a special election was held, and the convention was brought on by a narrow majority, composed in part, we already know through judicial decisions, of fraudulent votes. But lo, after the convention was thus determined upon a revolution occurred and the other party controls the convention.
And the lesson is that it does not pay to be too acute and adroit and cunning in American politics. The best way is to go on in a simple, direct, honest, faithful effort to help the working of our free self-government. Whoever does that will go ahead of the very smart politicians every time.
I wish to mention another parallel, or contrast, between the two conventions which I think is cause for great satisfaction.
'Address as presiding officer at the dinner meeting of the Academy of Political Science, November 19, 1914.
In September 1894, the convention of that year had substantially completed its work, and had taken a recess for a few days to enable the committee on revision to give the last careful consideration to the terms or form of the work. I went up from Albany to Saratoga, where the Republican convention was held. I found myself put upon the committee on resolutions; I attended the meeting of the committee, and some one produced a platform which had been prepared and which was handed to the chairman of the committee. The platform was read, or run through hastily, and the chairman was about to put it to a vote. I noticed that no mention was made in this platform of the work of the constitutional convention-a convention the majority of which was composed of Republicans, nominated and elected by Republican votes. We thought that the convention had done some good things; but it was not considered of sufficient consequence to mention in the resolutions of the Republican convention which met immediately after the work was completed. I made some observations upon that subject, and was very loyally seconded by a gentleman for whom I have always had the kindliest feeling, the late Timothy Woodruff, and a clause was put into the platform approving the work of the convention. This year I went to Saratoga to attend the Republican convention, and there were present between twenty and thirty of the ablest leaders of opinion from all parts of the state of New York, who spent three days in discussing the question as to what position the Republican party ought to take in regard to the work of the constitutional convention. That marks a change in the public attitude towards questions of government.
And this meeting is something which twenty years ago never had a parallel. The members of that convention evolved out of their inner consciousness the provisions which seemed to them to be good for the state; and they had little help from anybody except the people who had a particular ax to grind. I don't care much whether people when they start are thinking right or wrong; I don't feel any apprehension about the people being too radical, or being too conservative. So long as the thoughtful people of the republic will take a real interest in