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thousand, the Club seems to have met and solved the difficult task of safeguarding tender points of racial, religious, political belief, and personal antipathies and prejudices, largely because, as the Club grows older, its power as a social and political melting pot is better understood; and the fact appreciated that, as this is a real gathering place for mutual benefit for the men of Boston, prejudices should be restrained and a more tolerant attitude towards the other fellow's ideas substituted.
The BULLETIN has increased from four pages in 1906 to an average of nearly sixty pages each issue. As a record of speeches on civic matters, it is sought for by public libraries throughout the country. Individuals and high officials at home and abroad make requests for copies to secure the information given before the Club by experts on the topics discussed. The idea of its founders to create a community group of a more elastic and expansive nature than ever before attempted in Boston - has been justified.
The Boston City Club has proved its excuse for existence. It is helping to deliver Boston from its tendency to a too rigid and conservative crystallization. The only wonder, as we look back at what has been accomplished in ten years, is, that Boston was ever able to get along without an institution of this kind.
END OF THE FORUM SEASON
Before this BULLETIN is issued, the last Forum meeting in the series will have been held. There have been eight in all. Every speaker has fulfilled his engagement. We have had to present no substitutes nor make any apologies. And in spite of the presence of an old-fashioned blizzard in town on the day of Father Ryan's meeting, the weather did not interfere with our having generous audiences every night. Beginning in the smaller banquet hall, we were very soon driven by increasing numbers into the large auditorium.
Prof. John A. Ryan handled his topic, "The Right and Wrong of the Labor Union," in such a fair-minded way and took such pains to be perfectly just and reasonable in all his statements, both pro and con, that his audience could not fail to recognize the judicial quality he displayed even when they could not agree with his judgments. Leading labor union officials were present and participated in the question period. Altogether it was as sane and searching an examination into the intricacies of this question as one ever witnessed before so many capable men and in such a limited space of time. If such occasions could be multiplied indefinitely throughout the country, the worst features of our industrial strife would disappear like melting snow before the sun.
Prof. Edward A. Steiner had the closing night in the series and talked on "Immigration and Nationalism" in a most serious and inspiring manner. All through his discourse the audience was in hearty sympathy with him and his message. It was a splendid presentation of
true patriotism for these difficult and dangerous days in the life of America, and a most fitting close for this first series of Forum meetings.
We want to make acknowledgment to every member of the Club who by his interest and coöperation has contributed to the success of the Forum gatherings. The Board of Governors gave us a reasonable appropriation and a free hand to start with, and the committee has been able to work together with complete harmony from the very outset.
Our fellow member, Mr. Thomas Dreier, has handled our publicity work for us without compensation, and Mr. John G. Bliss certainly struck twelve with the posters he prepared announcing each meeting.
Your committee has heard many favorable comments on the Forum idea among the members of the Club. This might indicate a general desire to have the experiment continued next winter, and possibly on a little larger scale. Perhaps instead of eight meetings we might have twelve or twenty. Is once a fortnight through a long season, beginning, say, the middle of October and continuing until the middle of April, the better way, or would you prefer a Forum meeting every Monday night, say from the first of November till the first of March?
This would also be a very good time to give the committee your ideas as to topics and speakers for next season, for a first-class program has to be arranged a long time in advance. We shall not be able, of course, to use all these suggestions, and it remains to be decided as yet whether we shall have another Forum season, and how many meetings there will be.
Now is the time to tell us what you think.
Address communications to the Forum Committee, care of the Boston City Club.
GEORGE W. COLEMAN, Chairman.
WILLIAM C. EWING. FRANKLIN T. KURT. MOSES S. LOURIE. CHARLES J. MARTELL. JOHN R. SIMPSON.
HENRY S. Dennison.
JAMES E. DOWNEY.
FRANK V. THOMPSON.
LAW LECTURES FOR BUSINESS MEN
The course of law lectures for business men that began in November is now nearing its close, and it is not too early to make a partial review of what this course has accomplished. It has given the business man an insight into phases of the legal profession that he thought heretofore would not be of interest to him for the reason that he was seldom called upon to appreciate the fascinating intricasies of the law.
These have been presented in a manner most attractive to the layman. The lectures were arranged with a view to eliminating many of the technical terms and phrases that are so familiar to lawyers, but near "Greek" to the average business man. They have been primarily for instruction, but have been most interesting. All the lectures, treat
ing of various questions of the law, have been presented by an authority upon the specific subject under discussion.
Dinners Precede the Lectures
The Entertainment Committee has arranged a dinner to precede each of these lectures, as has been the custom since the formation of the Club. These dinners have been a source of great enjoyment to the members attending, and the brief speeches made here, before going to the auditorium, have been gems of wit and instruction.
Below is the list of subjects, dates, and speakers for the balance of the course.
Thursday evening, March 15.
Introduced by HENRY F. HURLBURT,
William G. Thompson, Esq.
Wednesday evening, March 28.
Hon. Nathan Matthews, LL.D., former Mayor of Boston. duced by B. N. JOHNSON, Esq. Subject: "Public Service Company Valuations and Rates."
REVIEW OF RECENT EVENTS
MASSACHUSETTS CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
At the dinner preceding the formal meeting in the auditorium, Hon. Robert Luce served as toastmaster. A paper on principles of constitutional reform especially dealing with budget procedure, prepared by Dr. Frederick A. Cleveland, of the Bureau of Municipal Research, New York, was read by Mr. Harvey S. Chase. Speeches were made by Hon. Charles S. Bird, Hon. Joseph Walker, and Rev. Harold Marshall.
Over the meeting in the auditorium Mr. Luce presided, and used his opportunity to inform the audience as to some of the fundamental facts concerning the composition of the coming convention and some of the problems of procedure that it will face. He said:
"This convention, the first in our time, comes after a long period of apparent contentment with the state constitution. It comes, no doubt, through an awakening of interest in public affairs, the result of ten years or more of earnest agitation on the part of a small group of men who have felt very keenly that we are not keeping pace with the rest of the world in our governmental development. And so now we are face to face with the possibility of a change more or less radical in our form of government. The possibility of such a state of affairs was not anticipated by those who framed the constitution. The original draft of John Adams contained not even any provision for amendment, and after he had reported it only was the provision inserted that there should be a vote on the question of a convention fifteen years later.
The people then were satisfied and declined to have a convention, and at the same time made no provision for any other way of changing it, or for a subsequent convention. In 1820 a convention was held by force of necessity, almost, the district of Maine having been set off, and various questions having come to such a point that even the conservative men of the state yielded and a convention was held. That convention provided a method of amending the constitution. And, should you take down a volume of its debates, it would interest you to find that Daniel Webster, speaking for the committee which considered a method of amendment, told the convention that the committee did not believe there would ever be any occasion to revise the constitution — that there might be occasion for changes, but never for a revision. And Webster was one of those who are to be found in every age, who seem to think that the institutions developed at the time of their lives have reached the highest good, and that there is nothing more beyond.
"Quite different was the opinion of Thomas Jefferson, who felt that each generation has a right to work out its own problems and face its own difficulties. A generation later came another convention, which was held without any constitutional warrant, because our constitution does not provide for the holding of conventions. In 1833, indeed, the Supreme Court was asked if it were possible to change the constitution in any way except by amendment, and the court held in general terms that within the scope of the constitution no other method was allowed, on the legal principle that the expression of one thing is the exclusion of another. Nevertheless, in 1853 a convention was held, in spite of this opinion of the court.
"And now again the people of the state have voted for a convention, with express authority to revise and to alter or amend this document. And here arises — and it has already come into sight - one of the interesting and important legal questions that will confront the coming gathering, for we find our friends, the suffragists, asking the legislature to direct how the questions shall be submitted, to the extent of determining who shall vote upon them. The question is already before the legislature in other respects, as to the pay of members and the possibility of serving in two capacities, and in other regards. Curiously enough, precisely the same question was brought before the convention of 1853, and you may find there more than one hundred pages of its debate devoted to the controversy. Henry Wilson, fearing that he could not be elected from the town of Natick, was also a candidate for the town of Berlin. He was elected from both places, and resigned his election from Berlin. Thereupon the convention had to decide whether it could fill the vacancy or not, and it also happened that between the time of the calling of the convention and the time of the vacancy the legislature had changed the law relating to elections — precisely the same thing that the suffragists now ask in the legislature. And the question before the convention of 1853 was, Should this vacancy be filled under the old law or under the new law? Marcus Morton, who had been congressman, governor, and judge of the Supreme Court, held that the legislature could control the convention. In this he was supported by Rufus Choate. Professor Parker, of the Harvard Law School, went so
far as to say that the legislature could abolish the convention if it saw fit. On the other hand were the champions of the people, Henry Wilson, Benjamin F. Butler, Hallett, and others, who felt that the people were embodied in the convention and that it was supreme. For days the struggle went on, and at last the demands of the people won, by a vote of 220 to 118, and they decided that the convention could devise its own methods, could submit questions as it saw fit, and in principle decided that the convention was the people.
"There is precedent on the other side. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island has taken the opposite view. But, on the other hand, the Supreme Court of New York has taken the view that the convention of 1853 took, the question having been submitted to them for opinion in 1845. And they said that the convention met under a law passed by the people, and that the convention had the right to determine for itself. This is a type of the legal questions that will come before this convention. There are many other questions, some of which will be presented to you this evening.
The relation of the convention to the issue of direct control of legislation by the people was discussed by Prof. Lewis J. Johnson, of Harvard University. He said:
The Initiative and Referendum
"Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen, - If I were to express my notion of the neatest, most acceptable thing which this momentous constitutional convention could do in this Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I should express it about like this, that I observe in the declaration of rights of the Commonwealth we have a statement of government and its purpose which it is hardly possible to improve upon to-day, even though a century and a third has passed since that declaration of rights was adopted. But I would add that in that century and a third there have been developed possibilities for carrying into effect the finest idealism involved in that great declaration which we may very well entertain and adopt, and thus fill out the work of John Adams and the rest in a spirit entirely in harmony with their views. I venture that is precisely what was meant by those gentlemen who thought there would never need to be revision of the constitution. They did not say that details may not be capable of improvement without violation of the eternal fundamental principles. Those eternal principles I believe are to be found in the declaration of rights, but I believe we now can provide means for securing their realization worthy of an age that has developed so much since a century and a third ago.
"It strikes me that those who study the whole situation will realize, as Professor A. V. Dicey did many years ago, as did also many thoughtful students, that there has been a disappointment with parliamentary and so-called republican government. Professor Dicey said, in the Harvard Law Review in 1900 [Harvard Law Review, Vol. 13, p. 73], something to this effect:
Faith in parliaments has undergone an eclipse; in proportion as the area of representative government has extended, so the moral authority and prestige of representative government has diminished.'