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In May, 1841, after the legally constituted government of Rhode Island had called a convention to draft a new constitution for the State, Thomas W. Dorr and those who acted with him, were engaged in holding meetings in various parts of the State, and at a meeting holden in Providence in July, "they resolved," to use the language of another, "by their own sovereign authority, without any sanction of law or usage, and without having been even nominally appointed or delegated by the towns to perform such an act," that a convention of the people at large should be called for the formation of a republican constitution.
A convention accordingly assembled in pursuance of such call. The members of this convention were chosen without the slightest authority of law, and of course any measures which they adopted could not be binding upon the citizens of Rhode Island.
The meetings at which the delegates composing this convention were chosen, were conducted without any legal formalities, and every person so disposed was allowed to vote. This convention was in all respects a self-constituted meeting, and its doings so far as it went to change the form of government of the State of Rhode Island, were illegal, unconstitutional, and therefore void. A convention of citizens of the State of Maine, called by the recommendation of a mass meeting, would have just as much right to frame a new constitution and refer it to the people for their ratification, as had the "People's Convention," so called, to change the form of government then existing in Rhode Island. If the doings of this so called "People's Convention," were legal and binding upon the people of Rhode Island, then there is not the least security under or permanency to any constitution of either of the States of this Union, or of the United States itself.
This self-constituted convention prepared a constitution which they referred to the people of Rhode Island, and on the question of its acceptance, determined, that any American citizen, twenty-one years of age, and having a domicil in the State, had a right to vote, "but without any limitation of sex, color, place of nativity, or any fixed period of residence whatever." This constitution, Mr. Dorr
and his friends claim was adopted, although it is notorious that the grossest frauds were practiced in obtaining votes for the same. Under the constitution thus prepared and adopted, Thomas W. Dorr claims to have been elected Governor of the State of Rhode Island. A Legislature was also chosen under said constitution and assembled in May, 1842, to assume the reins of government, the history of which is too well known to need any further notice from the undersigned. We deem it proper to state, that in 1843 the General assembly of Rhode Island authorized the calling of a convention for the purpose of framing a new constitution, the "dele gates to which convention were to be chosen by all the male citizens of the United States of the age of twenty-one years or up wards, who had had a permanent residence in the State for three years or more. That convention submitted to the people a constitution which was adopted by a very large vote-a constitution liberal in all its provisions and recognizing the great principles of liberty and equality. Under it, the right of suffrage is extended to any male citizen of the United States after a short residence in the State; a representation is secured to towns and cities in the Legislature thereof, according to their population. The present constitution of Rhode Island will well compare with that of any other State in the Union, and we consider it not out of place to express the opinion that it is more liberal and republican in its provisions, than that of the State of New Hampshire, which State has undertaken to interfere quite unceremoniously in the "internal police and regulations" of Rhode Island.
The undersigned do not consider it necessary to go into a detailed history of the troubles which transpired in Rhode Island after the formation of the "People's Constitution," so called, which had the support of T. W. Dorr and his friends. It is well known that Mr. Dorr organized an armed force composed in part of the most abandoned and desperate characters from adjoining States under the significant watchword of "The Banks and the Beauty of Providence." And had it not been for the prudence and the firmness of the friends of "law and order," in that gallant State, Rhode
Island would have been the theatre of scenes as bloody and brutal as any which were enacted in France during the reign of Jacobinism.
In view of the above facts we very respectfully ask leave to submit the subjoined resolves.
All which is respectfully submitted.
R. F. PERKINS,
E. WILDER FARLEY.
STATE OF MAINE.
RESOLVED, That this legislature approve, "heartily 2 approve," the course taken by the legally constituted 3 authorities of Rhode Island, in vindicating its honor 4 and dignity; in preserving its peace and protecting 5 the lives and property of its citizens against the law6 less mob who were enlisted under the black and trea7 sonable flag of Thomas W. Dorr.
RESOLVED, That this legislature enters its "solemn 2 protest" against the unwarrantable interference of the 3 State of New Hampshire with the "internal police 4 and regulations," as unconstitutional, and insulting to 5 that State.
RESOLVED, That it ill-becomes the State of New 2 Hampshire, to countenance the citizens of other 3 States, in their illegal efforts to overthrow their estab4 lished constitutions, on account of any anti-republican 5 features they may contain, so long as the constitution 6 of New Hampshire contains the obnoxious provisions, 7 "that a representative to the legislature of that State 8 shall have an estate of the value of one hundred 9 pounds, and shall also be of the protestant religion; and 10 that a person to be eligible to the senate of said State 11 or to the council, must possess an estate of the value
12 of two hundred pounds and also be of the protestant 13 religion; and to be eligible to the office of governor 14 of said State shall have an estate of five hundred 15 pounds and be of the protestant religion.
RESOLVED, That this legislature "heartily approves," 2 of the course which was taken by the general govern3 ment, in obedience to the requirements of the consti4 tution of the United States, in protecting Rhode 5 Island in the enjoyment of a republican form of gov6 ernment.
RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be directed 2 to send a copy of this report with the resolves, to the 3 governor of each State in the Union and to each of 4 our senators and representatives in congress.