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Why Tennessee Needs a-New Constitution
An Elaborate Review of the Whole Subject by James H. Malone-A
Discussion ot a subject or tne most vuai importance 10
Every Man, Woman and Child in the State.
All Should Read It.
Early Hlttorj of tbe State.
The early history of Tennessee reads
like a leat torn from the book of ro
mance. Much of its lato history reads
as dull as a scrap from the "Idler's Col
umn" in yesterday's newspaper. The
victory obtained by pioneer Tennessee
ans at the battle of King's Mountain,
over the veteran British columns, is
now admitted to have been ouo of the
mo3t decisive battles of the American
Revolution, and marked a turn in the
tide which eventuated in the Independ
ence of the American colonies. In 1772
the first settlors on Tennessee soil
formed a government for themselves,
the celebrated Wautauga Compact,
which was the first distinctively repub
lican form of government established
by native-born Americans upon this
continent The growth of the State in
population was phenomenal, so that in
1840 and 1830 it stood fifth In comparison
with the other States of tbe Union. Its
growth in agrlculiural and industrial
wealth and commercial prestige kept
pace with the increase in population.
How natural was it under such favoring
circumstances for the people of the
United States to seek amonff Tennes-
floeana men to cruide tbe destinies of
this crreat republic.
The State, young, vigorous, progres
sive, and seemlnglv conscious of its
commanding position, gave to tho Union
three chief magistrates Andrew Jack
son, the soldier and statesman, ana po
lltlcal saint of the Democratic party;
James K. Polk, that eminent statesman
whose trreat ability has not been fully
recognized: and then, Andrew Johnson,
the ereat commoner, who lived so near
our own tiroes that justice has not yet
been accorded his memory.
But from her former commanding po
sition Tennessee has sunk like a plum
met of lead to near the bottom. Who
ever even thinks of Tonnessee or Ten
nesseeans leading in the conflicts of the
nation? But aside from this question,
how can the State expect any except a
downward career when she is so far be
hind bor sister States in tho material
things which go to make up the great
ness of a people?
The General Policy.
But it is frequently asked, what can,
be done or what snouia do uono wim
marmot to a change in the fundamental
law so as to turn the tide and again put
our people upon the highway ol pros
nfirltv. It is to be expected, of course,
that, differences of opinion will exist as
to what changes should be made in the
organic law, and even where it is agroed
rhuncros are necessary we may expect
differences of opinion to arise with re
spect to dotalls, but such proDiems
hould in no manner deter us from a
full discussion of the subject, or from
Bntorlncr uoon tho actual worK or iorm
latln n. new constitution. I do not
believe in filling the constitution with
statute laws. The trouble is that wo
have a rigid hide-bound constitution.
We want a more flexible organio law
Tlntlo the hands of the legislature so
that the people, speaking through their
representatives, may enact such laws as
ha tmcosslt.ies ol tbe limes may uo
ma nil. This is the correct policy.
in Tennessee, no man who has
read a newspaper account of a given
case and has formed and expressed
an opinion is a competent juror, not
withstanding the man may declare on
oath that he can lay aside any such
preconceived opinion, if chosen as a
Jurcr, and give the defendant a fair and
impartial trial. Our State stands almost
alone on this all important subject In
practice the effect of the law is to ex
clude from the jury box the intelligent
and educated classes and generally all
men who road newspapers, and have
sense enough to form and express an
On the other hand, the man
who can neither read or write, or who if
Via can. never indulges in such a luxury,
or If he haDDons to read a paper, has not
sufficient gray matter to form an opin
ion, la hailed as a man especially tte
nrlnir the confidence of the State; the
jury box Is thrown open to him, and for
the time helng be is a nero ana new u
important part in a farce orten piayea
upon the stages ol our criminal courvs,
.honnr mpn of larire means or high
nnnnpo.tions aro uron trial charged with
icrirae. That in such cases, mlscarriaeos
lot justice is the ruje should be expected.
Under a ruling made by tho Suprome
Court in 1873, in the case of Eason vs.
the State, 6 Baxter, page 460, no relief
;an bo had without a change in theCon-
.j.teiu Hoth ExtravaB"t and Corrupt.
Annually thousands of men are
icedlessly summoned to 'appear in
ourt, when it is well known before
and that the whole proceeding is
farce, but the clerk and sheriff re
lire their respective fee for each man
uumoned. The men summoned ro
,iv6 no per diem unless selected as
rorbi but how unjust Ji It to summons
ousands of men to appear at court
naally, many of whom aro poor, living
a preat distanco from the courthouse,
J not only compel them to quit work,
t tobparthenselcssexpenseof travel
ed Ho county Beat ia order that Ij
raking over the whole county a lot of 1
ignoramuses may be secured to admin
ister the criminal laws of tho State.
Last summer the criminal court room
at Memphis and the corridors of the
courthouse, and all available space, was
crowded with countrymen, six hundred
of whom had been summoned to appear
as jurors in a sensational case, but after
waiting a few hour3, it was announced
the case was continued and the dis
gusted farmers returned to their re
spective homes. One of the dally pa
pers, after investigation, estimated that
the court costs and tho exponses of the
persons summoned would easily reach
the sum of $1,500, for which thero was
absolutely no necessity. Under tbe pres
ent Rvatem. where thousands of men
of hiirh and low degreo are summoned,
and where the sheriff in desperation
goes upon the streets and highways and
summons every man he seos, how easy
is it for corrupt men to work their way
on the jury, and as tbey never fail to
"duality." and as one juror can hang
tbe jury, the administration of the law
is made a howling farce.
Mnglstratei Should ltemaln at Home.
But there are other features of our or
canic law along these linos which im
rjeratlvely demand a change, and one is
the necessity of justices of the peace to
remain and administer tneir otlloes in
the district for which each was elected.
Under the present constitution and
rulings of the supreme court (Strain
vs. Hefloy, 94 Tenn., 608), they can flock
to the cities and open ofHco for the
ostensible purpose of administering jus
tice, but for the real purpose of plying
the nefarious vocation of stirring up all
sorts of strife and fomenting petty liti
gation, thus filling their pockots and
those of their deputies wttu ui-gotten
gains, wrung for the most part from the
negro and poor and ignorant white pop
ulation. Around many of these omces
there is a retinue of special deputies,
who bear the soubriquet of "pikers" at
Chattanooga, and whoso especial voca
tion is to seatoU out any little difficulty
or rupture among the Ignorant classes
and at onco worm themselves Into tbe
confidence of one side or the other, and
posing as officers of the law, the supposed
wrongs of tho person are magntnea ana
dwelt upon, and finally advice is given
to swear out a warrant ana issuo suu
noonas for witnesses, all of which is
done npon the assurance that tbe party
will have nothing to pay as tne Mato
and county is expected to loot tbe Dins,
- . ....
even where the defendant is discbargea
Supreme Court Should Sit Only at Nana
The organic law should bo changf d so
as to have the supremo court sit at JNasu
ville for many cogent reasons. l irst, at
the boiinning of each term, and say
three times a year or oftener, the entiro
criminal docket from every county
should be called through, it no other j
business is transacted. TJiis cannot be
done under the present constitution.
TbOje not guilty should have speedy
vindication. As to the guilty it is
well-known that delay and postpone
ment is the great point sought
by criminals. Witnessos move away,
or are spirited away, bullied or
cajoled, and sometimes die, or their
memories fail them, papers are lost so
many changes occur, that II an aucusea
has money or influence, and can get tbe
delays he seeks, he is more than apt tc
escape punishment This speedy trial
of criminal appeals would also keep tbe
lall fees and exponses down and thus
lessen tho burdens of government, it Is
estimated at least S2o,000 per year
In this connection 1 think all, excepi
those directly interested, wll agree
that the permanent location ol tbe su
prome court at Nashville would be of
incalculable value both to the judges
and tho people. Tbe judges couia be
with their families and enjoy tbe com
forts of home life and save useless ox
pense in wandering over the State, and
moreover they could have tbe oeneut oi
the State library at Nashville, for the
necessary law books are not to be bad
either at Jackson or Knoxvllle.
We Uve Too Many Courts.
I also wish to observe here that a
carefully prepared report made to the
Stnte Bar Association in 1894 showed
that Tennessee had more courts than
any adjoining State and probably more
proportionately than any otner otaie in
the. Union, and yet tho legislature in
the succeeding year created five new
judges, because it was said tee aaminis
tratlon of justice was delayed. Mr. J.
II. Cantreli of Chattanooga pointed out
in a ronnnt ninor that while Georgia
. . i i
and Uorth Carolina each had substan
tially the Bame population and woalth
as Tennessee, yet Tonneso has more
judges than both tho other States com
bined, and pays over $23,000 more for
salaries than do both or tbosa Mates
combined. Who can defend such a sys
tem? The great trouble U that our
constitution requires tho maintenance
of a dual svstom, that is courts of law
and courts of equity. This old fogy
idoa has long since been abolished in
all progressive States, but Tennessee
here. 3 elsewhere, truo to old fo?y
ideas and fossil theories, is at least fifty
years behind the procession. Eight and
justice should be administered In all
courts upon the same rules and princi
ples, and no man should be turned out
of any court where he may plead or be
impleaded and compelled 'to seek an
other court to vindicate his just cause.
To protend to administer justice upon
any other principle is to sacritlce tne
spirit and soul of tbe law to mere
shadow and form.
Fee-Grabbing Criminal Coats System.
Prior to the nassano of the late law
known as the Jams act the btate paia
all felony costs and the counties an
misdemeanor costs. Wo know the
amounts paid out by the State, but not
what is paid out by all the counties.
After obtaining reliable reports from
nearly all the counties, it is computed
that the costs paid for criminal prosecu
tions in Tennessee by the state ana
counties exceed 51,250,000 annually,
while less than 810,000 is paid out in
Georgia for the same purpose! But
then a few years since Georgia remod
eled her constitution, and when the
convention had exhausted the fund ap
propriated to cover the costs of its
deliberations, one of its most distin
guished members, Robert Toombs, came
forward and pledged his private estate
for tho extra costs of the convention,
hence it finished its labors before ad
journment to the . great delight of Mr.
Toombs, who declared that In so doing
they had locked the door upon extrava
gance and thrown the key away.
Ilere are tbo figures showing what tho
Shelby county criminal court cost the
tieople for 1806:
Paid by county lor misdemeanors $ 8C.418 38
Paid by county for workhouse v,sai u
Paid by State felonies (est.) 28,076 79
, j - -" ftT r
AND DEALERS IN
Steinway, Kershner, Vose & Sons
Hardman and Standard Pianos,
Mason & Hamlin 1 Packard Organs
No Advance in Price for Easy Payments.
359 Haiti Street - - Memphis, Tenn.
BROOKS,. NEELY & CO.
V7"II OIiEBA T sII3
367 Front Street, Memphis, Tenn.
B. LOWENSTEIN & BROS.
IMPORTERS AND DEALERS IN
Total paid by State and county $ioo,42 29
It will be seen the county pays out for
her part of thos'o costs $71,815.50, while
the entire property tax for the county
for 1S00 was only 830,000, of which tbe
trustee says he wll collect about 05,-
000, or not enough to pay the county s
criminal costs. '
Snare forbids further details. , but I
will ndd that while a very great 'saving
could be made by the adoption of what
is called the "Georgia criminal cst sys
tem," yet thorough and lull reiiei can
not be crranted with respect to the
several reforms mentioned above, with
out constitutional changes. I see from
the naners that the new criminal costs
laws are already under fire. No less
than five different laws passod by tho
last legislature have been declared un
constitutional. In fact tho old docu
ment sets on the State like an Incubus.
The Tax I.nw.
The organio law permits not only
double, but even triple and quadruple
taxation. In view of which we cannot
condemn the sagacity of the committees
appointed by northern and eastern capi
talists, when it reported adversely upon
the tax laws of Tennessee, and thus
caused capital to pass around Tennessee,
and seek investment in States having
wiser and more just laws. While some
Interests aro thus subjected to double
and even more taxation, other Interests
escape, thus making unjust distinctions.
Some slicrbt reductions in taxation wero
mado bv the legislature of 1805, but
this reduction has threatened a dencit
in the State treasury for 1897, and a
still greater ono in 1898, and tho word
has trone forth that the tax rate as well
as the number and amount of privilege
taxti will be greatly increased for the
voars 1897 and 1898.
If ojir people are to compete on equal
terms with citizens of other states, men
there must be a reform in our constltu
tion on the subject of taxation, which
must be less and properly distributed,
so as to encourage enterprise and capi
tal to build up our waste places, and
thus create values which in the future
will vleld their just proportion of reve
nue, to the- relief of our present over
taxed people. We must either Keep up
with the m'ocession or fa.l behind and
be cast under foot; we must either pro
gress or stagnate, and stagnation is
staring us in tho face.
Paradoxical as It may seem, the clause
of our constitution which declares that
taxes shall bo equal and uniform
throughout the State, has been so
constructed by the supremo court as to
admit not only of double but of triplo
taxation: and then again so construed
as to deny the right of the legislatuta
to tax a part of a given public improve
ment uoon tho abutting property most
imnroved according to the benefits re
ceivod, thus not only placing Tonnessee
alono on this proposition, but practl
cally vetoing a large class of publio
improvements. Then aeain when the
legislature in 1375 passed an act to tax
railroads a per contage on their cross
incomes as they aro quasi public cor-
porBtions, iii3t as they and telephone.
telegraph, express companies and the
liko are taxed In Wisconsin, Illinois
and other States, tho supreme court
ouotinz this clause declared the law
unconstitutional, (Ellis vs. L. & X. R.
R., 8 Has., KO.) What is tho result?
In Wisconsin the railroads pay into tho
Suto treas-Jrv fl,75i.no) per annum.
HANKS, PHILLIPS & CO.
WHOLESALE GROCERS, .
306 Front Street, Memphis, Tenn.
M. J. CLARK.
E. M. GAVIN.
Grocers and Cotton Factors
. Terms Sharp Gasii or its Equivalent,
232 and 234 Front Street, - - Mempnis, lenn.
for hundreds of miles around
Memphis should know, that everything useful, ornamental and elegant can bo had in
our house in larger variety and at lower prices than elsewhere.
. -i . a P X ! , I muni, ti'nmnr Iwr ltmnr
Purchasers in our house are savcu a great ueai ui ume aim mum nuuj u"ub
able to supply all their wants in one store. It may be an old story to some, but as it's
true it will bear repetition the fact that since we have enlarged the field and opened
up new departments we have mlllu umn nyww mm io .
Furniture, Carpets and Chinaware.
We have raised the standard of qualities, and give better goods for less money. We
Imv largely direct from manufacturers for cash, and therefore can buy cheaper than
alieiMlealers, conseauentlv can ailord to sell, and actually do sell, for less money.