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enacted prescribing a period of residence in the township or precinct. This condition fostered widespread election frauds. Under a Supreme Court interpretation of the common school provision of the Constitution, the General Assembly was prohibited from authorizing local school authorities to levy supplementary school taxes for the support of common schools after the State tax was exhausted. The fact that the two houses of the General Assembly were of opposite political faith in 1855 prevented the adoption of an amendment correcting the qualifications for suffrage. In 1857 an amendment passed the House but was never acted upon by the Senate where the party division was very close. The failure to secure amendments promptly led some observers to conclude that the amendatory provision of the Constitution was unworkable. On December 18, 1858, during the special session, when several abortive attempts had been made to secure amendments, the Indianapolis Journal, in an editorial comment said: “The most ridiculous and impracticable feature of our present Constitution" is the method of proposing amendments. They advocated the calling of a constitutional convention, which they insisted could “meet and make a new constitution and adjourn in three weeks, with little cost to the State and infinite profit. The present legislature should pass a law calling a constitutional convention next summer, so that at the fall election the people may ratify or reject their work.'
This suggestion was not adopted at the special session but at the ensuing regular session a law was passed submitting the question of calling a convention and at the ensuing election was decisively defeated.
On January 10, 1859, Mr. Davis 69 introduced a bill?to provide for taking the sense of the qualified voters of the State on the question of calling a constitutional convention to alter, amend or revise the Constitution of the State. 71 On January 11, the bill was referred to the Committee on Judiciary.72 On January 27, the committee reported an entirely new bill and recommended its passage.73 With the following exceptions this bill was exactly in the form in which it finally passed: (1) The bill provided for holding the election to determine whether a convention should be held at the annual election in April, 1859; it was amended to provide for holding the election at the annual election in October, 1859. (2) The bill provided for holding the election to select delegates on the second Tuesday of October, 1859; it was amended to provide for the selection of delegates on the first Monday of April, 1860. (3) The bill fixed the date of the assembling of the convention on the second Tuesday in November, 1859; it was amended to provide for the assembling of the convention on the second Tuesday in May, 1860. (4) The bill provided that the Convention should consist of fifty delegates, one to be elected from each senatorial district, who must be residents thereof at the time of their election; it was amended to provide that the Convention should consist of one hundred delegates, apportioned among the several counties of the State in the same way that the members of the House of Representatives were apportioned. 74
69. Republican of Floyd Co.
H. B. No. 1.
House Journal, 1859, p. 34; Brevier Reports, p. 14. 72. House Journal, p. 61; Brevier Reports, p. 25. Committee consisted of 6 Republicans and 1 Democrat.
73. House Journal, p. 246 where bill is given in full.
The debate on the composition of the convention was not very animated and there was a general disposition to compromise. Three plans were proposed:
The plan recommended by the Judiciary Committee was the Republican plan, as six of the seven members of that committee were Republicans, among which was Mr. Davis, the author of the bill. It provided for a membership of fifty delegates, one to be elected from each senatorial district. It was argued that a convention of one hundred and fifty members was too large and unwieldy and would be too expensive; while a convention of fifty delegates was sufficiently representative and more economical, and would agree on important propositions more expeditiously, though as Speaker Gordon said, “so restricted a number might cut off many of us smallfry politicians, but in this he was willing to resign his claims to worthier hands.” The sentiment against 150 members, the number of delegates in the Convention of 1851, seems to have been unanimous. The proposition for fifty members was supported in the main by the Republican representatives, the chief arguments being made by Mr. Davis, the author of the bill, and Speaker Gordon. Gordon attempted to show that grave inequalities would result from giving one delegate to each senatorial district.
A second plan was proposed by Mr. Shull for one hundred detegates. Mr. Shull, a Democrat, wished a large representation and proposed to amend the bill so as to provide for one hundred dele
74. Laws, 1859, p. 97.