Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (Jan. 31, 1913)
Speech of . Henry F. Ashurst
Tho Bonato having under coimidemtlon the fol
lowing rcnoluLlon: M ,, . , . .
"IloHoIvod, That nuch a Hyfflam of direct loRiHla
tlon an tlio Inltiutlvo and roforondurn would C8tal
llali In in conflict with tho roproHonlutlvp principle
on which thiH roptihllo wn founded, and would, ir
adopted, inovltulily work a latllcal cliuntfo In tho
charactor and Hlructuro of our government
Mr. Anburst said:
Mr. President: As I have tho honor in part
to represent a otato in which the people have
roBorvod to thoniHolvos a part of their power
undor tho initiative and referendum, I feel it
incuinheiit upon mo liero and now to nialco
roply to tho distinguished Henator from Texas
(Mr. Bailey), whom tho senate is always pleased
to hear, and as I sat in my seat and listoned to
tho singularly sweet and flexible voice of tho
sonator and hoard him swoll the moat common
place subjects and oven untenable propositions
into rich eloquence, I thought how apt was tho
Btatemont of Boswoll, "that tho object of ora
tory was not truth only, but persuasiveness as
well." Indeed, tho allurement of tho senator's
oratory reminded mo of the lines which Swift Is
Bald to have Indited to Pope:
"From him I can not hoar a lino,
iOxcept I sigh and wish it mine.
For ho can in one sentence Ilx
Moro things than I cm say in six."
During his address tho sonator from Texas
advorted to Hon. William Randolph Hoarst, and,
if I understood tho sonator's words aright, ho
intendod to impute somo questionable motives
to Mr. Hoarst. I would bo false to tho conduct
I havo marked out for myself, and false to a
valuod friond, If I did not in this place say that,
while I know nothing of the differences which
exist betwoon Mr. Hearst and tho senator from
Texas (Mr. Bailey), I am ablo to say that I
know Mr. Hoarst to bo a loving fathor, a faith
ful husband, a loyal friond, and a man whoso
namo is honorably associated with the auspicious
commencement and successful conclusion of
hundreds of movements that make for tho
strength of the state, tho happiness, tho pros
perity, tho glory, and tho greatness of our na
tion. I believe, moreover, that Mr. Hearst is a
sincoro patriot, a true friond of the people, and
n, man of great courage and foresight. On this
subjoct moro than this need not be said; less
than this by mo could not bo said.
Tho sonator from Texas has proceeded upon
A falso hypothesis in assuming, as ho seemingly
haB all through his argument, that tho advocates
or direct legislation intend to destroy represen
tative government. Such is not tho intention of
tho advocates of direct legislation, but they do
take tho pdsition that whilo diroct legislation is
not intendod as a substitute for the lawmaking
power It is Intendod to supplement tho lawmak
ing power and to supply tho dellcioncles and
delinquencies which tho people's chosen repre
sentatives sometimes exhibit in tho state legis
latures. During tho courso of tho brilliant speech of
tho senator from Toxas, ho stated that frequently
a largo percentage of the voters do not go to
tho polls, and therefore do not vote upon con
stitutional amendments, referred laws and
measures proposed by initiative petition.' Mr
Presldont, admitting for the sake of argument
thm i u ,er1ltlclBm is Pt and just, I ask, where
will relief bo found? Certainly not in the sen
ate, for hore wo have, when all tho states are
roprosentod, 9G senators, oach paid a salary of
$7, GOO per year to remain hero and vote unon
measures, yet somotimos wo find that we are
without a quorum, and frequently legislation is
determined by a vote as low as 30 per cent of
tho entire membership of tho senate, with only
G5 per cent, GO per cent, or 70 per cent of the
membership of he senate voting on the measure
In other words, a close investigation wil 1 dlT
close that there is as large a percentage of tho
senators not voting on various questions as there
is percentage of voters in a state who fail o?
decline to vote upon constitutional amendments
referred laws, or measures proposed by Initia
tive. I have at some labor investlM to! i if
?f ufo'SKtS? U!at T1
of tho Sixty-second congress there was an as
tonishingly largo percentage of nonvoting L
tors, so that the argument that IhS people do
SfLu ?nd?P th0 lnativo and referendum
must fall to the ground when it is remembero
that tho percentage of persons no? in w .
greater than tho xmvoXll Ll0 ltin is no
are absent or paired, and who therefore , doVn?
vote, and 1 shall here read Into fheRerd a Hst
.. . ... x, r,fo nf
of various roll calls snowing iu 1'?"
senators not voting. The list is as follows.
April 2G, 1912. Being a bill (S.2234) to pro
vide for primary nominating election for presi
dential candidates in District of Columbia. Yeas,
23; nays, 18; not voting, 54. Less than quorum
voted. Only 45 per cent of the membership
voted on this bill.
March 19, 1912. Amendment
f t -... -kP flirt
salaries oi commissiunuib ui - --
Columbia. Yeas, 3G; nays, 13; not voting, 4s.
n.,i ao ot. nntif nf tim membership of tne
senate voted on this amendment. Carried by
38 per cent of the membership.
March 19, 1912. Amendment relating to dis
position of fees collected for permits in Dis
trict of Columbia. Yeas, 35; nays, 13; not vot
ing, 43. Only 53 per cent of tho membership
voted on this amendment. Passed by vote of 38
per cent of membership.
May 31, 1912. II. R. 18960. Conference re
port on agricultural department appropriation
bill. Yeas, 27; nays, 3G; not voting, 32. Only
GG per cent of tho membership of the senate
voted on this report. Rejected by 38 per cent of
August 14, 1912. A bill (H. R. 25034) to re
duce tho duty on cotton. Mr. La Follette's
amendment: Yeas, 14; nays, 46; not voting,
34. Only 64 per cent of membership voted on
this amendment. Defeated by 48 per cent of
membership of senate.
August 14, 1912. Mr. Oliver's amendment:
Yeas, 29, nays, 31, not voting, 34. Only 64 per
cent of membership voted on this amendment.
Rejected by 33 per cent of membership of senate.
August 14, 1912. Mr. Kenyon's amendment:
Yeas, 51; nays, 9; not voting, 34. Only 64 per
cent of membership voted on this amendment.
Carried by 54 per cent of membership.
August 14, 1912. On passage of bill: Yeas,
3G; nays, 19; not voting, 39; only 59 per cent
of membership voted on this bill. Passed by
3S per cent of membership.
January 31, 1912. A bill (S. 252) to estab
lish a children's bureau; Overman substitute:
Yeas, 30; nays, 46, not voting, 15. Only 84
per cent of membership voted on this substitute.
Defeated by 48 per cent of membership of senate.
January 31, 1912. Mr. Thornton's amend
ment: Yeas, 30; nays, 42; not voting, 19. Only
80 per cent of membership voted on this amend
ment. Rejected by 46 per cent of membership.
January 31, 1912. Mr. Culberson's ' amend
ment: Yeas, 39; nays, 34; not voting, 18. Only
73 per cent of membership of senate voted on
this amendment. Passed by vote "of 41 per cent
of membership. On the passage of the bill:
Yeas, 54; nays, 20; not voting, 17. Eighty-two
per cent of membership voted on the bill
Passed by 57 per cent of membership
July 31 1912. A bill (S. 4862) to investi
gate certain accounts growing out of construc
tion of Corbott Tunnel, Wyo.; over veto: Yeas
42; nays, 17; not voting, 35. Only 63 per cent
of membership voted on this bill. Passed by a
vote of 45 per cent of membership.
July 2, 1912 A bill (H. R. 20182) to fix
duty on chemicals. Amendment: Yeas 3R
S,ayB,i S?0t 7tIng' 59 0nly 37 W cent of
membership of senate voted on this amendment.
Passed by 37 per cent of membership.
July 3, 1912. An amendment to: Yeas 58
lLot tm 3G- Only 65 per cent of
iUKiuuuiwiui ui senate voted on 11.
by 65 per cent of the membership of
July 3, 1912. On passage of bill: Yeas 27
nays 32; not voting, 35. Only 63 per ceAt of
membership voted on bill. Defeated by vote of
34 por cent of membership.
AEr11 ll 1912' H- r- !8956, Army annro
priation bill. Vote on amendment: Yeas 47'
nays 6; not voting, 42. Only 56 per cent of the
membership of the senate voted on this ampmi
"Tune ?0aT9dl2byo49 &&
.June 10, 1912. On conference renort voV
27, nays, 24; not voting, 43. Onl?PBi per cent
of membership of senate voted on report Re
SSibS!nirptad by votG of 28 per
membership voted on this measure Defeated
by 29 per cent of membership. seated
May 20 1912. A bill (S. 6864) to conarrnnt
a railroad in Alaska: Yeas, 31; navs J
voUng 41. Only 60 per cent of tlfe 'member
ship of the senate voted on this bill. The bill
VOLUME 13, NUMBER 4
was passed by a vote of 32 per cent of the
membership of the senate.
The system of direct legislation, commonlv
designated "the initiative and referendum," has
been .in various ways and- different forms as
sailed as being opposed to a republican or rep
resentative form of government, and many who
argue against the initiative and referendum take
the position that there is only one kind of re
publican form of government.
In discussing what was "a republican form of
government" the supreme court of the United
States, through Mr. Chief Justice Waite, in the
case of Minor v. Happersett (21. Wall., 17 5)
said, speaking of the guaranty clause of the
"The guaranty is of a republican form of
government. No particular government is
designated as republican; neither is the exact
form to be guaranteed in any manner especially
designated. Here, as in other parts of the in
strument, we are compelled to resort elsewhere
to ascertain what was intended."
And Mr." James Madison, in No. 43 of the
Federalist, wrote as follows:
"Whenever the states may choose to substi
tute other republican forms, .they have a right
to do so and to claim the federal guaranty for
Thus we observe that the states may substi
tute other republican forms, and in doing so
they do'not forego the right to, claim the federal
protection as to the substituted form; in other
words, no particular form is prescribed.
The edition of 1785 of Dr. Johnson's diction
ary contains the following: .
"Republican (adjective.) The placing of
government in the hands of the people."
The 1791 edition of Walker's Dictionary con
tains the following:
"Republican (adjective.) Placing the gov
ernment in the hands of the people."
"Republican (substantive.) One who thinks
a commonwealth without monarchy the best
Charles Pinckney, who served in the federal
constitutional convention, in a speech on May
14, 1788, in the debates in "the legislature and
in convention of the state of South Carolina on
the adoption of the federal constitution, said:
"We have been taught here to believe that all
power of right belongs to the people; that it
flows immediately from them, and is delegated
to their officers for the public good; that our
rulers are the servants of the people, amenable
to their will; and created for their use. (See
Elliotts Debates, vol. 4, p. 319.)"
'And in the same speech Mr. Pinckney, quoting
Paley, a deacon of. Carlisle (vol. 2, pp. 174-175),
in- enumerating the three principal forms of gov
"A republic is where the people at large,
either collectively or by representation, form the
Qeog0SMture' (See EHHott's Debates, vol. 4, p.
0i 8. )
It might further illuminate the discussion as
to what is a republican form of government by
stating that under the now deposed "President"
Diaz of Mexico was republican as to form, but
there was some difference of opinion as to
whether it was republican in substance; but I
only use this illustration to emphasize the fact
that there are a number of different forms of
In the case of Chisholm v. Georgia (2 Dallas,
u. b., p. 419 et seq,) the judges delivered their
opinions seriatim, and Mr. Justice James Wil
''Asa citizen I know the government of that
state (the state of Georgia) to be republican,
and my short definition of such a government
is one constructed on this principle, that the
supreme power resides in the body of the people.
(See p. 453 ot seq.)"
This opinion was announced in 1793, and
only six years after the drafting of the federal
constitution, and it may be considered at least
as a contemporaneous definition of the phrase
republican form of government;" and no
authority, not even Alexander Hamilton or
James Madison could be followed with more
safety than this eminent James Wilson, the same
James Wilson who in the constitutional conven
tion of 1787 advocated the election of senators
by direct vote of the people. This same James
Wi son was one of the great lawyers of his day,
and became one of the most illustrious judges
of the supremo court of the United States, for
under the judiciary act passed by congress in
1789 President Washington appointed him as
one of the associate justices of the supremo
court, naming also as associate justices John
Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, and
James Iredell, naming John Jay, of New York,
as chief justice; and I might digress to say that
Powered by Open ONI