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alone that exempt on account of its public ownership or relation, are to my mind a fundamental principle of democratic government so ingrained that no plausible theory or tempting scheme can grind it out. It does not prevent license taxes for carrying on any business, whether it be railroading or practicing law.
It does not prevent a franchise tax, for a franchise is property and often of great value, and the new Constitution recognizes franchises as property in requiring the municipal governments to offer them for sale.
Neither does uniform and equal taxation stand in the way of any reform movements to realize any just tax whatsoever out of a corporation based on its properties, its earnings or its busi
I dislike to dissent from so important a work of my Conventional colleagues as the Article of Taxation and Finance, but the fact that other States have adopted such a system is not conclusive, and I had rather stand in the ancient way with a good example than follow them in a new and doubtful one. Time will test the new system. I hope it may work well, and I recognize some of its benefits. But however it may work, be it well or ill, my opinion is not likely to be changed, that uniformity and equality is the eternal base of righteousness and fairness in the distribution of public burdens, and the only one that in the long run will protect the weaker portion of society from discriminations against them.
ECONOMICS, REFORMS AND ELECTIONS.
Amongst the economic reforms are: The reduction of taxation 25 per cent. on real and personal estate; the levy of a tax of 1 per cent. on the gross receipts of railroads; the abolition of the County Courts; of one clerk in the counties that had two clerks; the levy of $5.00 on every corporation annually as a license tax; the abolition of Spring elections in counties; the prohibition of county and municipal subscriptions to corpora
tions; and the institution of machinery that will increase revenues and keep down taxation. It is estimated by an able member of the Convention that the economic reforms will save the State not less than $1,000,000 per annum.
The elections of county officers that used to take place in the Spring are transferred to the Autumn and consolidated with the elections of members of the General Assembly on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
The Secretary of State, the Treasurer, the State Superintendent of Schools and the Commissioner of Agriculture and Immigration are chosen by the people at the same time that they elect the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor and AttorneyGeneral. There will, therefore, be seven candidates upon the general State ticket. This scheme will relieve the General Assembly of the thankless task of selecting four State officers, and places their selection in the hands of the people. Whether it will be of that benefit to the people which it imports upon its face remains to be seen, for it makes the opportunity of the class of men who rise by expert combinations. Not all is gold that glitters. There are some miscellaneous changes that I might mention, but I will pursue the course that General Lee did on one occasion when there were many adjectives in an article prepared by another for his signature. "Strike out those adjectives," he said to his amanuensis, “and leave some for another time."
ORDAINMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION.
The Constitution was ordained on Thursday, the 29th day of May, 1902, by a vote of 48 to 38, two Republicans voting in the affirmative. Although my constituents in Campbell county were strongly for ordainment, I could not so vote, because I was a party to the expression of the Norfolk Democratic Convention of May, 1901, stating "its sense" in favor of submission of the Constitution "to the people for ratification or rejection," and, as an exponent of that doctrine, had spoken accord
ingly from Norfolk to Washington county. My people, recognizing that I could not properly recede, refrained from instructing me.
I never questioned the constitutional power of the Convention to ordain this work, and I deem it the duty of a good citizen to submit to the powers that be. It will be recalled by those present that the debate on the subject, held in the hall of the Monticello Hotel just previous to the Norfolk Convention in 1901, opened with the dispute of the right of the Convention to submit the Constitution, and that the contention made by Hon. J. W. G. Blackstone, a distinguished Circuit Judge, largely led to the reverse expression of opinion favorable to submission.
There was undoubted force in Judge Blackstone's argument against the power to submit, for it is in line with the letter of the Underwood Constitution. But it should be remembered that while the power of a Constitutional Convention to ordain the instrument passed by it has been recognized throughout our Virginia history, and was exercised not only by the Revolutionary Convention of 1776, but also by the peace-time Conventions of 1830 and 1850, which did effectually proclaim their suffrage articles, while providing for the submission of the residue to the proclaimed suffragans; it must be remembered that in Virginia conventional power has been all along recognized as co-extensive with the object and purpose for which the body is called, and as scarce less than supreme. It was from the plentitude of power, in excess of that conferred in terms by the Underwood Constitution, and not from any limitation upon its power, that the Convention could have been justified in submitting to a popular vote.
The Hon. John Randolph Tucker, better versed in our Constitutional lore than any lawyer of his day, jealous of popular rights, and distinguished in their defense as in their elucidation, has expressed his opinion in his able treatise on the Constitution in favor of the power to ordain. And apart from the historical, traditional and professional views that sustain
that power, it is plain that the Underwood Constitution, under which the Convention was called, confers it.
That instrument provides two methods of Constitutional amendment—the one by legislative procedure at two sessions of the body, and then a direct popular vote on the proposed amendment. The other method is through a legislative enactinent, and has two popular votes, first on the question, "Shall a Convention be called to revise the Constitution and amend the same?" and, second, an election by the people of the delegates to the Convention. So that the people in both instances control the subject matter.
When the people of Virginia conferred on the recent Convention power not only to "revise," but also "to amend" the old Constitution, they gave it plenary authority.
What means "revise"? To review, to look at again, to re-examine, to reperuse, and derivatively to alter, and amend.
What means "amend"? Let the Century Dictionary answer: "To make a change or changes in the form of; as a bill or motion or constitution; or to alter either in construction, purpose or principle." "Revise" is tentative, "amend" is decisive and conclusive. One house of Congress or Assembly may amend a bill, but it remains a bill, for that is its nature. Both houses of Congress or Assembly may "amend” a law, and a Convention in Virginia may amend a Constitution.
It matters not that the General Assembly provided for the future submission of the new Constitution, for the reason that the old Constitution is not silent on the subject, but gives clear, specific and express power to the Convention to do the amending itself; and for the further reason that the Convention had been called by the people, and their power was conferred without restriction before the Legislature acted on the subject, and nothing that a Legislature could do could override or contravene the superior Constitutional provisions.
It matters not that Judge Jameson, or judge anybody, has written an essay against the power of a Convention to ordain. Jameson in 1862 was in opposition to a Convention in Illinois, and his writings on the subject, admitting their ability and
honesty, were prompted by and saturated with the popular feelings of the time, and he was, as it were, the advocate of a party issue.
Besides, every sovereign State has its own jurisprudence, which is respected not only in its own courts, but as well in the Supreme Court of the United States and in foreign courts, whatever be their abstract views of the question presented; and, however the matter be regarded in Illinois or elsewhere, the Virginia view of it is recorded history.
Those who love truth and right should be slow to impute any kind of perfidy to the members of the Convention because of Democratic utterances on their platform. I felt bound by them, as well as by my own utterances; but others—amounting in number to forty-eight-were differently situated. Some had notified their constituents before election of their intention to vote for ordainment in whole or in part of the new Constitution; others felt themselves obliged to act according to the view of their constituents in favor of ordainment; others were controlled by primary meetings and elections; and it is not to be forgotten that public sentiment in the largest portions of the Commonwealth manifested itself in favor of ordainment, while there were but few expressions, comparatively, against it.
Louisiana, Mississippi and Delaware have in recent years preceded Virginia in similar action without any serious question being raised as to the validity of their course, which has been matured, ratified, confirmed and rendered irrevocable by all manner of acquiescence and recognition.
When some one said to Judge Culberson, of Texas, "Judge, do you think the United States has any right to annex the Philippine Islands?" he answered, "They have done done it.”
No court in the world's history has ever undone the ordained Constitution of a State, and no one need apprehend that the Constitution of Virginia will ever be undone save by the sovereign act of her own people, who may rescind and remould it by their own free will. Recognition placing it beyond peradventure has been made of it by the Governor, the executive