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At the annual election in August, 1816, George Madison was elected Governor, and Gabriel Slaughter Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky. Madison took the official oath, but died in October, 1816, before he had entered on the duties of his office, which having devolved, under the constitution, on the Governor elect, Slaughter undertook the performance of them, and appointed John Pope Secretary of State. Mr. Pope, as a prominent politician, had become obnoxious to the prejudices of the dominant party, under the banner of his former rival, Henry Clay. That party manifested general and violent dissatisfaction at the appointinent of Pope, who they feared would control the State administration and dispense its executive patronage. To get clear of him, some of his leading opponents proposed the election of a new Governor to fill the office during the resi due of the term for which Madison had been elected; and that purpose engaged the attention and agitated the passions of the people of Kentucky with extraordinary fervor for more than a year.
At the first legislative session succeeding Madison's death. on the 27th day of January, 1817, Mr. J. Cabell Breckinridge, a member of the House of Representatives, submitted the following resolution:
"Resolved, That the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky provide by law for electing a Governor to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of our late Governor."
For that resolution, after elaborate discussion, in committee of the whole, the following was substituted:
"Resolved by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, That the present Lieutenant Governor is entitled to hold, by constitutional right, the office of Governor during the residue of the term for which his late Excellency, George Madison was elected, and that no provision can be made by law for holding an election to supply the vacancy."
On the 30th of January, 1817, the House adopted the substitute by the following vote:
Yeas-Messrs. Barret, Birney, Blackburn, Booker, Bowman, Caldwell, Carson, Cook, Cotton, Cox, Cummins, Cunningham, Davidson, Davis, Dollerhide, Duncan, (of Lincoln) Elleston, Ewing. Ford, Gaither, Garrison, Gilmore, Given, Goode, Grant, Green, Grundy, Harrison, Hawkins, Helm, Holeman, Hornbeck, H.Jones, Logan, Love, Marshall, Mercer, Mills, Moorman, Monroe, McConnell, McHatton, McMahan, McMillan, Reeves, Robertson, Rowan, Rudd, Shepherd, Slaughter, Spilman, S. Stevenson, Stapp, P. Stevenson, Todd, Green, Underwood, Ward, P. White, Weir, Wickliffe. Woods, and Yantis--63.
Nays--Messrs. Speaker, (J. J. Crittenden) Armstrong. Barbour. Breckinridge, Clark, Coleman, Dallam, Davenport, Duncan, (of Daviess,) Fleming, Gaines, Hart, Hickman, Hopson, Hunter, Jamison, Irvine, J. Jones, Lackey, Metcalfe, Owings, Parker. Rice, South, Trigg, Turner, Wall, and W. White--28.
On the same day the Senate concurred by the following vote:
Yeas--Messrs. Speaker, (Ed. Bullock, of Fayette.) Bartlet, Bowmar, Chapline, Churchill, Ewing, Faulkner, Griffin, J. Garrard, W. Garraid. Hillyer, Hardin, Jones, Lancaster, Mason, Owens, Perrin, Sebree, Sharp, Simrall. Smith, Thompson K. Taylor, Worthington, Wickliffe, Wood, Waide, Welch, and Wil
Nays-Messrs. Chambers, South, and Yancy--3.
To carry the question at the August election in 1817, the defeated party effected a thorough organization, brought out candidates in all the counties, and agitated the State as it had never been moved before. At that election the following persons were elected members of the House of Representatives:
Nathan Gaither and Cyrus Walker, of Adair; Anach Dawson, of Allen; Cave Johnson, of Boone; John Porter, of Butler; Thomas Fletcher, of Bath; Joseph R. Underwood and Hardin Davis, of Barren; William Jewell, of Bullitt; Edward R. Chew, of Breckinridge; Larkin Anderson, of Bracken; John L. Hickman, George W. Baylor, and Samuel G. Mitchell, of Bourbon; Jessee Coffee, of Casey; Alfred Sanford. of Campbell; John Mercer, of Caldwell; William N. Lane and John Donaldson, of Christian; James Gholson, of Cumberland; John Bates, of Clay; Wm. Glenn, of Daviess; Stephen Trigg, of Estill; Joseph C. Breckinridge. John Parker, and Thomas T. Barr, of Fayette; Alexander Lackey, of Floyd; William P. Fleming and Michael Cassedy, of Fleming; Charles S. Todd and George M. Bibb, of Franklin; John Cunningham, of Grayson; Thompson Ward. of Greenup; Robert P. Letcher and James Spilman, of Garrard; Robert Barret and John Edmonson, of Green; William O. Butler, of Gallatin; Aaron Hart and Benjamin Shacklett, of Hardin; William K. Wall and John Givens, of Harrison; David White and Charles H. Allen, of Henry; Fortunatus F. Dulany, of Union and Henderson; Wm. R. Weir, of Hopkins; Richard Barbour and James Hunter, of Jefferson; William Walker, of Jessamine; Joseph Parsons, of Knox; Benjamin Duncan and Samuel Shackleford, of Lincoln; Boanerges Roberts and Presley N. O'Bannon, of Logan; Christopher Haynes, of Livingston; Thomas Marshall, of Lewis; John Adair and John B. Thompson, of Mercer; Samuel South, John Tribble, and Archibald Woods, of Madison; Duvall Payne and Walker Reed, of Mason; Moses Wickliffe, of Muhlenburg; Eli Shortridge and John Jamison, of Montgomery; John Rowan, Samuel T. Beall, and Henry Cotton. Nelson; Thomas Metcalfe, Nicholas; James Johnson, of Ohio; John Dollerhide and Joseph Porter, Pulaski; William Clark, of Pendleton; William Smith, of Rockcastle; John T. Johnson and Garrett Wall, of Scott; John Logan, George B. Knight, and Berryman P. Dupuy, of Shelby; Willis Field and William S. Hunter, of Woodford; Solomon P. Sharp and Cornelius Turner, of Warren; Walter Emmerson, of Wayne; Fleming Robinson, H. H. Bayne, and Richard Cocke, of Washington.
And the following members constituted the Senate of Kentucky:
Anthony Bartlett, of Henry county; Harman Bowmar, of Woodford; Jesse Bledsoe, of Bourbon; Wm. T. Barry, of Fayette; John L. Bridges, of Mercer; Samuel Churchill, of Jefferson and Bullitt; James Crutcher, of Hardin; Joseph Eve, of Knox and Clay; John raulkner, of Garrard; Dickson Given, Livingston and Caldwell; Thomas G. Harrison, of Washington; James Hillyer, Henderson, Ohio, and Daviess; John Griffin, Pulaski and Casey; Wm. Ilardin, of Breckinridge, Grayson, and Butler; Francis Johnson, of Warren and Allen; Humphrey Jones, of Madison; James Mason, of Montgomery and Estill; Wm. Owens, of Green and Adair; James Parks, of Fleming and Nicholas; Josephus Perrin, of Harrison and Bracken; James Simrall, of Shelby; Ben. South, of Bath, Floyd, and Greenup; Richard Southgate, of Campbell, Pendleton, and Boone; Richard Taylor, of Franklin and Gallatin; Hubbard Taylor, of Clarke; David Thompson, of Scott; Joseph Welch, of Lincoln; Martin H. Wickliffe, of Nelson; Wm. Wood, of Cumberland and Wayne; Wm. Worthington, of Muhlenburg, Hopkins and Union; Joel Yancy, of Barren.
On the 2d of December, 1817, upon the motion of Mr. Reed, a select committee, consisting of Messrs. Baylor, Bibb. Sharp, White, J. T. Johnson, Fletcher, Reed and Shortridge, was appointed to prepare a bill for a new election; on the 4th the committee reported a bill providing for an election of a Governor to supply the vacancy occasioned by Madison's death, and also for an election of a Lieutenant
Govermor for the same fractional term; which bill passed the house on the 15th of the same month by the following vote:
Yeas-Messrs. Speaker, (Breckinridge), Allen, Anderson, Barbour, Barr, Baylor, Bibb, Butler, Cassedy, Chew, Clark, Davis, Dawson, Donaldson, Dulany, W. Emmerson, Field, Fleming, Fletcher, Gholson, Givens, Glenn, Haynes, Hickman, Hopson, J. Hunter, W. S. Hunter, Jamison, C. Johnson, J. Johnson, Parsons, Patton, Payne, J. Porter, Reed, Roberts, Sanford, Sharp, Shortridge, South, Todd, Tribble, Trigg, Turner, W. Wall, G. Wall, Ward, White, and Weir--56. Nays-Messrs. Adair, Barret, Bates, Bayne, Beall, Cocke, Coffee, Cotton, Cunningham, Duncan, J. Emmerson, Gaither, Hart, Jewell, Knight, Letcher, Marshall, Mercer, J. Porter, Robinson, Rowan, Shacklett, Shackelford, Spilman, Smith, Thompson, Underwood, C. Walker, Wickliffe, and Woods--30.
But, on the 18th of the same month, the Senate refused to order the bill to be read a second time, and thus defeated it by the following vote.
On the question, shall the bill be read a second time?-
Yeas-Messrs. Barry, Bledsoe, Bowmar, Chambers, Given, Johnson, Parks, Perrin, South, Southgate, H. Taylor, Thompson, Wood, and Young--14.
Nays--Messrs. Speaker, (R. Ewing,) Bridges, Crutcher. Eve, Faulkner, Griffin, Hardin, Harrison, Hillyer, Jones, Owens, Simrall, R. Taylor, Welch, Wichliffe, Wilson, and Worthington--18.
When the canvass for 1817 began, it was believed that such a torrent of popudar sentiment for a new election had been gotten up as to leave scarcely a hope of arresting its progress or diverting its course. But the leading men who believed that the constitution would be violated and Slaughter's rights outraged by a new election, determined to resist it to the utmost. It became an all-absorbing topic, and no subject ever produced more intense or pervading excitement in Kentucky. At the request of some friends at Frankfort, Mr. Robertson, then just elected to Congress from the Garrard district, before he was 26 years old, wrote the following constitutional argument, signed "A Kentuckian." Those friends, though it was written on the spur of the occasion, thought fit to publish it in a pamphlet, entitled, "The Constitutionalist, by a Kentuckian," and circulated it extensively through the State. It was, at the time, supposed to have had a very great influence on the public mind, and to have contributed, more than any other means, to that recoil in the popular sentiment which resulted in an abandonment of the project of a new election by act of assembly. A review of the scenes of that year would be interesting and rather profitable to all who desire to understand the history of Kentucky measures and men.
TO THE PEOPLE OF KENTUCKY.
AN humble and obscure fellow-citizen feels and a constant theme of inflammatory declam1 it his duty to address you on a subject which ation. It has been so entirely metamorphosed has become interesting to us all; and one by distortion of features, deceitful attitudes, which, as men possessing personal rights, and and tinsel dress, that many honest men, not as citizens duly appreciating our civil and po- well acquainted with it, and not being conlitical privileges, it is equally our duty to in- noiseurs in political physiognomy, have been vestigate impartially and deliberately, and our grossly deceived in its character. Hence, a interest to decide correctly and independently. non-descript Drama has been set on foot in Since the universally lamented death of our this country, by a few men, for what purpose late venerable Chief Magistrate, the question we say not, which, although, in the first has frequently presented itself to every think-scenes, it so much excited the derision of the ing mind, "How and by whom shall this chasm in our state government, which we so deeply deplore, be filled?" In the solution of this question it will, on a thorough and impartial investigation, be found there is no intrinsic dif ficulty. And had you turned to your Constitution, and read it, and expounded it by your own common sense for yourselves, disregarding the pathetic appeals that have been so dexterously made to your feelings and prejudices, there would have been no contrariety of opinion on this much abused and agitated subject; and instead of the commotion which now pervades this country, and not only degrades us in the estimaton of our astonished neighbors, but threatens to ruin our dearest rights, there would have been perfect repose, harmony and content. But some of those who ought to have been among your best friends have availed themselves of the confidence you had reposed in their intelligence and political integrity-not to give you sound and wholesome counsel, nor to enlighten your understandings, nor to lead you to the truth-but to distort and misinterpret the Constitution, to seduce you of your judgment, and drive you into error, anarchy and confusion. Instead of addressing your reason, men from whom we should have expected better and wiser things have vociferously appealed to your feelings-instead of legitimate argument, they have resorted to noisy declamation-instead of ever mentioning our own constitution, they take us with a gigantic stride across the Atlantic to Greece, and Rome, and Africa, to speculate on the ruins of Athens, Rome, and Carthage. Instead of showing us what our constitution is, they assay all their ingenuity to show us what it might have been; and instead of telling us what artificial rights we now enjoy, since the organization of our political machine, they discant in swelling strains about our natural and primitive sovereignty and equality, which every man in Kentucky understands, and no one ever did or will deny. It is thus that a question which, of itself, would never have created any difficulty or excited any zeal, has become an electioneering hobby,
auditory, that it was deemed a Farce, and has only yet so far changed its aspect as to induce some to think it a harmless Comedy, will, it is feared, unless the principal dramatis personæ are hissed from the stage, end an afflicting Tragedy. By those few men are meant the noisy few who have been writing, speaking and becoming candidates for office, to prove that we must have a new election of governor before the expiration of the deceased governor's constitutional period of service, or in other words, to prove that they are on the side of the people against their constitution; in other and still plainer words, against the people. When this constitutional question was first propounded, there was an unprecedented unanimity in the State. It was almost universal. ly believed that there was no room for a rational doubt. We all believed that Gabriel Slaughter would administer the government under the constitution, until the expiration of the term for which Madison was elected; but as some circumstances occurred shortly after the introduction of the Lieutenant Governor into the gubernatorial chair, which provoked a few men, it is natural to suppose, (even if we had not witnessed it) that they would put their ingenuity on the Rack to torture from it a device by which affairs might be revolutionized and they might triumph. An election of another governor was the spurious offspring. Although there had been no doubt on the constitution, and although they themselves could not doubt, they must have hoped by sophistry, denunciation, and adulation to the people to induce others to believe what they could not themselves believe-and in trying to convince others they have, as is very common, almost convinced themselves.— Under false colors they have without a solitary argument, but merely by flatery, and pretty names induced many honest, unsuspecting men to join them in their unholy crusade against the constitution. And though the advocates for a new election have been miraculously convinced without one solitary argument that will stand scrutiny, it is feared many are so firmly enlisted and have so far committed them