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ous systems, and all systems proceeding from different sources are liable to be opposite or inharmonious.
Now, Sir, let us apply this reasoning to the matter in hand. In Massachusetts there exists, and has for a long time existed, an anomalous system, familiarly and loosely described as the Volunteer Militia, not composed absolutely of those enrolled under the laws of the United States, but a smaller, more select, and peculiar body. It cannot be doubted that the State, by virtue of its police powers within its own borders, has power to constitute or organize a body of volunteers to aid in enforcing its laws. But it does not follow that it has power to constitute or organize a body of volunteers who shall be regarded as part of the National Militia. And, Sir, I make bold to say that the volunteer militia - I prefer to call it the volunteer military companies — cannot be regarded as part of the National Militia. It is no part of that uniform militia which it was the object of the early Act of Congress to organize. It may appear to be part of this system, it may affect to be, but I pronounce it a mistake to suppose that it is so in any just constitutional sense.
As a local system, disconnected from the National Militia, and not in any way constrained by its organization, it is within our jurisdiction. We are free to declare the principles which shall govern it. We may declare, that, whatever may be the existing law of the United States with regard to its enrolled militia, — and with this I propose no interference, because it would be futile, --I say, Massachusetts may proudly declare that in her own volunteer military companies, marshalled under her own local laws, there shall be no distinction of race or color.
THE PACIFIC RAILROAD AND THE DECLARA
TION OF INDEPENDENCE.
LETTER TO THE MAYOR OF Boston, FOR THE CELEBRATION OF
JULY 4, 1853.
Boston, July 1, 1853. EAR SIR, -- It will not be in my power to unite
with the City Council of Boston in the approaching celebration of our national anniversary; but I beg to assure you that I am not insensible to the honor of their invitation.
The day itself comes full of quickening suggestions, which can need no prompting from me. And yet, with your permission, I would gladly endeavor to associate at this time one special aspiration with the general glad
Allow me to propose the following toast. The Railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific. - Traversing a whole continent, and binding together two oceans, this mighty thoroughfare, when completed, will mark an epoch of human progress second only to that of our Declaration of Independence. May the day soon come! Believe me, dear Sir, faithfully yours,
CHARLES SUMNER. Hon. BENJAMIN SEAVER, Mayor, &c.
THE REPRESENTATIVE SYSTEM, AND ITS
SPEECH ON THE PROPOSITION TO AMEND. THE BASIS OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES OF MASSACHUSETTS, IN THE CONVENTION TO REVISE AND AMEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THAT STATE, JULY 7, 1853.
eration were less important in its bearings, or less embarrassed by conflicting opinions, I should hesitate to break the silence which I have been inclined to preserve in this Convention. In taking the seat to which I was unexpectedly chosen while absent from the Commonwealth, in another sphere of duty, I felt that it would be becoming in me, and that my associates here would recognize the propriety of my course, considering the little opportunity I had enjoyed of late to make myself acquainted with the sentiments of the people on proposed changes, especially in comparison with friends to whom this movement is mainly due,
on these accounts, as also on other accounts, I felt that it would be becoming in me to interfere as little as possible with these debates. To others I willingly left the part which I might have taken.
And now, while I think, that, since our labors began, weeks, even months, have passed, and that the term is already reached, when, according to the just expectations and earnest desires of many, they should be closed,
I feel that acts rather than words, that votes rather than speeches, - at least such as I might hope to make,
are needed here, to the end that the Convention, seasonably and effectively completing its beneficent work, may itself be hailed as a Great Act in the history of the Commonwealth.
But the magnitude of this question justifies debate; and allow me to add, that the State, our common mother, may feel proud of the ability, the eloquence, and the good temper with which it has thus far been conducted. Gentlemen have addressed the Convention in a manner which would grace any assembly that it has been my fortune to know, at home or abroad. Sir, the character of these proceedings gives new assurance for the future. The alarmist, who starts at every suggestion of change, and the croaker, who augurs constant evil from the irresistible tendency of events, must confess that there are men here to whose intelligence and patriotism, under God, the interests of our beloved Commonwealth may well be intrusted. Yes, Sir, Massachusetts is safe. Whatever the result even of the present important question, whichsoever scheme of representation may be adopted, Massachusetts will continue to prosper as in times past.
In the course of human history, two States, small in territory, have won enviable renown by genius and devotion to Freedom, so that their very names awaken echoes: I refer to Athens and Scotland. But Athens,
even at Salamis, repelling the Persian host, or afterwards, in the golden days of Pericles, --- and Scotland, throughout her long struggle with England, down to the very Act of Union at the beginning of the last century, - were each inferior, in population and wealth, to Massachusetts at this moment. It belongs to us, according to our capacities, to see that this comparison does not end here. Others may believe that our duty is best accomplished by standing still. I like to believe that it can be completely done only by constant, incessant advance in all things, — in knowledge, in science, in art, and lastly in government itself, destined to be the bright consummation, on earth, of all knowledge, all science, and all art.
In framing our Constitution anew, we encounter a difficulty which at its original formation, in 1780, perplexed our fathers, - which perplexed the Convention of 1820, — which with its perplexities has haunted successive Legislatures and the whole people down to this day, — and which now perplexes us.
This difficulty occurs in determining the Representative System, and proceeds mainly from the corporate claims of towns. From an early period in the State, towns, both great and small, with slight exceptions, have sent one or more representatives to the Legislature. In primitive days, when towns were few and the whole population was scanty, this arrangement was convenient at least, if not equitable. But now, with the increased number of towns, and the unequal distribution of a large population, it has become inconvenient, if not inequitable. The existing system does not work well, and we are summoned to reform it.
And here, Sir, let me congratulate the Convention, that, on this most important question, transcending every other, all of us, without distinction of party, are in favor of reform. All are Reformers. The existing system finds no advocate on this floor. Nobody here