網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

1

PREFACE

In the first volume of the series devoted to Wisconsin constitutional beginnings the popular discussion and official proceedings attendant upon the movement for statehood in 1845-46 were presented. The present volume deals with the first constitutional convention, held at Madison in the autumn of 1846. In the laborious sessions of this body the ideas with respect to a framework of government for the commonwealth about to come into being were reduced to tangible form. That the members of the convention performed their work in a spirit of sober earnestness will be questioned by none conversant with their proceedings. Nor will anyone question that the people of the territory were aware of their dependent political status and overwhelmingly desirous of entering upon statehood. Yet the convention's labors had a curious and for the time being a disappointing issue. Notwithstanding the electorate was predominantly Democratic and the Whig membership in the convention was small to the point of insignificance, the electorate repudiated the handiwork of its representatives by a decisive majority. The reasons for this are set forth in the historical introduction at the opening of the preceding volume. They find abundant illustration in the pages of the present volume.

Whatever their characteristics in other respects may have been, the constitutional fathers of Wisconsin were chary of devoting state funds to the printing of a record of their proceedings. The first convention preserved no record of its debates, while the official journal comprises a modest volume of 500 pages. The second convention hesitantly ordered, after its sessions had been in progress for some time, the making of a record of debates, with the proviso, however, that any member might direct the reporters to make no record of his contribu

5

451692

[ocr errors]

tion to the discussions. Journal and debates combined, therefore, run to but 600 pages of print. By way of contrast it may be noted that the debates alone of the Ohio convention of 1874 fill 3,600 pages of print; those of the Kentucky convention of 1890 run to 6,500 pages; journal and debates of the Pennsylvania convention of 1873 fill eleven volumes totaling 9,000 pages; while the official records of the New York conventions of 186768 and 1915 in each case fill twelve volumes containing 12,000 pages of print. That the parsimony of the fathers of Wisconsin was unwise seems scarcely to admit of question. Because of it administrators and scholars alike have been for seventy years compelled to content themselves with most imperfect sources of information concerning the origin of our state constitution. Now a painstaking effort has been made to reconstruct the debates and to assemble the other pertinent records pertaining to the birth of our commonwealth—with what degree of success, each reader may determine for himself. To a considerable extent the convention debates are of course gone forever. Yet, to the editor at least, the approximation toward their reconstruction offered in the present volume seems well worth the making. Although it necessarily falls far short of perfection, it assembles once for all the records that are extant and these afford a fair idea of the course and spirit of the debate which accompanied the forging of our constitution of 1846. Additional light will be shed by the reports from and editorials on the convention proceedings which considerations of space and practical convenience rather than of strict logic have led us to reserve for presentation in the succeeding volume of the series.

A few words of explanation may be in order concerning the physical arrangement of the volume. The official journal is printed in ten point solid type. Whenever a point is reached upon which a record of debate has been preserved, the presentation of the journal is interrupted to give place to the debate; this is distinguished by being set in eleven point leaded type. Since the debate has been recovered for the most part from the newspaper reports of the day (in large part from the Madison newspapers), it has been necessary, in order to

set this forth with all possible fullness, to repeat at times in one extract information already given in a preceding one. The extent of this, and the necessity for it, will be apparent to him who reads the proceedings; to make it evident to others is perhaps unnecessary here. Instead of printing the numerous roll calls of aye and nay votes throughout the journal (as they occur in the manuscript journal and in the printed one of 1847) these are presented in tabular form in Appendix I. This arrangement gives the record as truly as does the conventional one, while it conserves to a marked degree paper stock and printer's composition, and contributes, also, to the convenience of the user of the volume.

Acknowledgment is cheerfully made of continued obligation to Daisy Milward of the Society's editorial staff for painstaking preparation of the copy for the press and supervision during the processes of publication. The biographical sketches comprised in Appendix III are the work of Dr. Louise P. Kellogg, who also has compiled the index to the volume.

M. M. QUAIFE. Madison, 1918.

« 上一頁繼續 »