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night, which was an essential part of the penitentiary system. The number of convicts was so great that often six and eight were lodged in one room for the night; which was a great defect, and must forever prevent the good effects of confinements, so far as the reformation of the prisoners was concerned. At a subsequent period, a remedy was provided for this evil, by providing an additional number of rooms, so as to have only one person in a cell during the night; and when at labor through the day they were attended by a guard to prevent all conversation among the prisoners.
Governor Strong continued in office several years-Mr. Jefferson President -His Policy and Measures-Political Opinions and Parties-Finances of the state-Public Debt-Electors of President and Vice President-Governor Sullivan-His Character and Opinions-Political Parties-Policy of General Government-Non-intercourse and Embargo-Letter of Mr. Pickering Complaints of the Embargo-Additional Act, affecting the Coasting Trade.
GOVERNOR STRONG was re-elected in 1802, and continued to receive the suffrages of the majority of his fellow-citizens till 1807. The spirit of party rather increased than abated, during this period. The policy of the federal administration, under President Jefferson, was not deemed favorable to commerce, and was therefore warmly opposed in the New England States. In the southern and western parts of the union, his measures were more acceptable. War was continued between the two great maritime powers of Europe, France and England; and in their efforts to annoy and distress each other, they both, at times, disregarded neutral rights, and inflicted great injuries on the commerce of the United States. President Adams had been charged by the democratic party with unfriendly feelings towards the French rulers, and with too much partiality for Great Britain. And Mr. Jefferson and his cabinet were charged by the federalists, with unjust antipathies against the government of England, and with undue regard for France. This was the more unaccountable, as the French rulers had become very arbitrary; and republicanism in that nation was merely nominal. The charges, in both cases, might have been only proof of prejudice and party spirit in those who preferred them. But they were believed by the respective parties to be well founded in a degree; and therefore were the causes of the party feelings which prevailed. The people took a deep interest in the measures of the general government, at this period, and ex
pressed their opinions, not only with frankness, but often with unbecoming asperity; and, probably, their opinions were, in some degree, dictated by their individual interests. chants suffered more immediately than the land holders, and therefore complained the more loudly. And though all foreign concerns were in the hands of the general government, the members of state legislatures considered that they had the right to discuss the policy of the federal administration. In Massachusetts, the general court repeatedly passed resolutions disapproving the measures of congress, and the policy of President Jefferson; and complaining, that more decisive and energetic measures were not adopted to resist the maritime aggressions of France. Governor Strong, while he faithfully discharg ed his duty to the state, abstained from all severity of remark on the general government, and appeared studiously to avoid all appeals to the passions of the people, which might tend to undue party excitement. This was a commendable trait in his character. He was resolved to discharge his own high duties, and to leave to the rulers of the federal government the responsibility which justly belonged to them. He had a settled opinion, also, that all foreign affairs belonged exclusively to congress. The political party in favor of President Jefferson's measures, however, increased in Massachusetts, during 1804, '05, and '06; and in 1807, James Sullivan, the attorney general, and who had before been a candidate, in opposition to Mr. Strong, was elected governor. In 1806, indeed Governor Strong was chosen by a small majority; nor was his election admitted and declared (the general court being anti-federal) till ten or eleven days after the court had convened. Various difficulties were made, by his opponents, to his election, founded in the omission of a letter in his name, in some of the returns, and of the informality of others, compared to the strict letter of the law.
While Governor Strong was in the chair, the internal concerns of the commonwealth were faithfully attended to; the finances of the state were prudently and ably managed; and a large part of the public debt was paid. In 1801, this amounted to a large sum; for congress did not assume the whole debt incurred by the several states during the war of the revolution; and for this reason Massachusetts was indebted in a large amount for moneys borrowed in and soon after the war, to meet the current expenses necessary to support its credit, and to discharge demands against it. The state tax, in 1803, was $143,000, which was appropriated for the ordinary expenses of government, and the payment of interest on the remaining debt of the
commonwealth. The pay of the representatives, for that year, was only $20,000.
For the first time, in Massachusetts, the electors of president and vice president of the United States, were chosen in 1804, by a general ticket. In 1800, they were appointed by the legislature; which was considered improper by a large portion of the people. On three previous occasions they had been elected by the people, in districts, though not in exact conformity to the districts for choosing members of congress. All these various modes of appointing or choosing the electors had been adopted in different states; and had not been opposed as unconstitutional, though it was contended, that the fairest and most republican mode was for the people themselves to vote, and that in separate districts, as numerous as the number of electors. The constitution had prescribed no particular manner of choosing them, farther than by saying, that they should be appointed in each state, as the legislature thereof should provide. Either mode, therefore, was constitutional; whether by the people, in districts; by a general ticket, when every citizen might vote for the whole; or by the legislature.
The spirit of the constitution is that each state should have a voice in the election of president, according to its number of representatives and senators. But this principle is controlled or qualified by another provision; that, in case no one is chosen president by the vote of the electors, each state shall have a single vote in congress, to be made according to the majority of its representatives. Ultimately, therefore, the object of the constitution seems to be, that every state should have a vote, or the declaration of its will, in the election of president. And this is done most simply and effectually, certainly most agreeably to republican principles, by a general ticket, or by the legislature; for in that case the vote would be for one and the same person; and it would be an expression of the will of the majority of the state. But if a state is divided into several districts, the vote of the state may be divided also. The measure of a general ticket, as it had not before been adopted in Massachusetts, was considered to be dictated for party purposes. It was peculiarly a measure of the federal party; which was then the dominant party in the general court; and their opponents complained loudly against it, and made every effort to defeat its success. The democratic party triumphed, much to the disappointment and mortification of the federalists, who had proposed and urged it. Such is frequently the result of party projects. The moderate men of all parties will give their influence and vote in favor of what appears just and proper, rather than to support
the plans of those with whom they have usually acted, when they find them adopting particular measures, merely to secure their object. Honest and independent men never sanction the maxim, that the end justifies the means; or that all is fair in politics, which is attended with success.
Governor Sullivan had been long in public life. In the beginning of the revolution, he was decided and active in support of the liberties of the country. He was a useful member of the provincial congress of Massachusetts, in 1775; and in 1776, was appointed a justice of the highest judicial tribunal in the state. After a short period, he resigned that office, and was made attorney general. The federal party opposed Mr. Sullivan, because they preferred Governor Strong, who had their entire confidence, and because he approved generally of the policy of Mr. Jefferson. The writings in the public papers, relating to the candidates for governor, were uncommonly bitter and virulent. Moderate and candid men of both the great political parties regretted the temper which was manifested. Governor Strong was represented as an enemy to liberty; and Mr. Sullivan as opposed to order and virtue, and destitute of moral principle. No circumstances could justify such asperity and vituperation. Much was exaggerated, and much was charged, wholly unfounded. Mr. Sullivan administered the government with ability and impartiality. Some of the party who brought him into the chair, urged him to acts of intolerance and proscription. But he declared, "he would act as the governor of the state, and not as the head of a party." And by his impartiality and candor, he gave offence to some of his political friends, who expected office from him, as the reward of their services, on his elevation to the chair.
Governor Sullivan was equally the friend of education and of religious institutions, as his virtuous predecessors. They had all given their decided support to the means of religion in the state, and had recommended common schools for the instruction of children of every grade and condition, as essential to the peace of society and the preservation of a free government. Governors Hancock, Bowdoin, Adams, Sumner, and Strong, were exemplary professors of religion, and zealous advocates for providing means of education for all the rising generation. Mr. Sullivan was no less the consistent and uniform friend to these institutions. But it was his lot to fill the chair of the commonwealth, when party feelings were greatly exasperated, by long political disputes, and when the administration of the general government had adopted a policy very