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Some of Washington’s Grievances – NO VOTES, YET NO GRIEVANCE? Editorial by Theodore W. Noyes, Washington Evening Star, March 10, 1888
|| 2/9/2011 || 3:21 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

“When Theodore Noyes began the expression of such aspirations, he almost stood alone. His series of articles published in The Washington Star in February and March 1888, entitled “Some of Washington’s Grievances,” and particularly the fourth of the series [below], aroused considerable interest on the subject in the local civic groups. The fourth of the series, published March 10, 1888, bore the headline: “No Votes, Yet No Grievance? Washington Needs no Elective Franchise in Municipal Affairs, But Right to Vote for Representative, Senator and President.” Apparently the immediate effect was a letter by a civic leader, Appleton P. Clark, Sr. dated March 19, 1888, requesting Senator Henry W. Blair of New Hampshire to introduce in the Senate an enclosed draft of an amendment to the Constitution conferring representation in Congress and the electoral college upon the people of the District of Columbia. This appears to have been the first time that a proposed amendment for such purpose was presented in Congress.” — James Waldo Fawcett, pages 20-21, from the biographical sketch of Theodore W. Noyes in his posthumously published book “Our National Capital and its un-Americanized Americans” (1951).

scan of the book from the Library of Congress

Some of Washington’s Grievances


NO VOTES, YET NO GRIEVANCE?


Washington Needs no Elective Franchise in Municipal Affairs–No Repeal of "Exclusive Legislation" Clause–But Right to Vote for Representative, Senator, and President.


From the Washington Evening Star, March 10, 1888.
[via The National Capital – Newspaper Articles and Speeches Concerning the City of Washington by Theodore W. Noyes, 1893]


The idea of withdrawing from state power and the control of its residents a portion of territory to serve as the seat of government under the exclusive jurisdiction of the people of the whole Union, as represented by Congress, seems to have obtained a strong hold upon the minds of the founders of the Republic. Many desired to strengthen the notion of a Union by giving the general government an exclusive territory, a center of federal action, controlled by it alone. State jealousies had some influence in the matter. The jurisdiction of any one state over the seat of government would, it was thought, give that state, to some extent, control over the general government itself. Exclusive jurisdiction and the power to call out the militia would also, it was considered, enable Congress to protect itself in case of riot or other disturbance. The fact, now worn threadbare by constant allusion, was remembered, that Congress, while meeting at Philadelphia, October 21, 1783 [actually June 21st, 1783], had been insulted and forced to adjourn to Princeton. The opposition to the plan of giving Congress exclusive jurisdiction over the seat of government seems to have been feeble. No debate upon the clause is reported to have taken place in the Constitutional convention. Objection was made in the Virginia ratifying convention that the District might become an asylum for political criminals or violators of states’ rights. But the clause was adopted without much opposition. By its terms Congress was given the power of exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over this national territory. The legislature of the Union has an authority over the District incompatible with the exercise of the full elective franchise by its citizens. Without an amendment to the Constitution Washington can never vote for President or Senator or Representative. If there is a political grievance, the Constitution is responsible. The city’s complaint against Congress is not that it has deprived residents of the right to vote, but that it has failed to take this disability sufficiently into consideration in its treatment of the city. If the United States had attempted to assume no particular control over the capital, and the seat of government as a city of Maryland had legislated for itself, and had improved and developed itself only in proportion to the means of its citizens, then the indifference of Congress, and the frantic efforts of legislators to avoid a few hours’ consideration of its affairs might have some ground of justification. But Washington protests against the application of a theory and practice which, in combination, have denied it the privileges while burdening it largely with the responsibilities of independence.

In the performance of its duties as guardian of the capital’s welfare, four courses are open to Congress. First, it may leave the relations between the District and the general government unchanged, but give more time and consideration to the capital and its affairs, remodeling its laws in accordance with the wishes of its citizens and providing liberally for the improvement of its appearance, for its general development and for its relief from the heavy debt inequitably imposed upon it. Congressmen should look upon themselves as the representatives of a national district as well as of their own local districts. It should be remembered that the so-called congressional appropriations for the capital’s ordinary expenses are not gifts or beggar’s alms, but merely a disbursement of the District revenues, one-half coming from individual tax-paying citizens, the remainder from the United States as the untaxed holder of one-half of all Washington property, and much should be done by the government beyond the contribution of this quota. If the capital is to be deprived of privileges which would belong to it as the city of its citizens, it should be made worthy of admiration as the city of the United States, representing in miniature its growth in population, wealth and power.

UNLIMITED ELECTIVE FRANCHISE IN MUNICIPAL CONCERNS.

Secondly, Congress may give to the District local sovereignty and the elective franchise to the limited extent which the Constitution will permit. It has been urged by many that Congress has the ability to delegate its power of general legislation; that the exercise of exclusive authority does not forbid a choice of agencies; that the government provided for the District should be assimilated to the theory of republican institutions; and that the natural right of men to govern themselves should be recognized as far as that is possible. And to show that it was never intended by the framers of the Constitution to deprive any portion of the people of the United States of local representative government, the words of Madison in the 43d number of the Federalist are quoted. The other side of the question has been argued with equal ability, and the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia have adopted it. In Roach et al. vs. Van Riswick (Washington Law Reporter, November 10, 1879), it was decided that Congress has no capacity under the Constitution to delegate its delegated powers by bestowing general legislative authority upon the local government of the District, and an act of the so-called legislative assembly of the District, upon which the suit was brought, was declared inoperative and void. For the present, then, in the absence of an overruling decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, such a delegation of power is unconstitutional, and only the unsatisfactory privileges of a municipal corporation can be conferred. But experience has taught that if the decision in Roach against Van Riswick were reversed, and if the most extensive powers of voting were bestowed, which any reasonable construction of the Constitution can grant, the gift would be not merely valueless, but objectionable. The judiciary committee of the House of Representatives, in a report made June 1, 1874, stated the following truths: "In a strict legal sense there can be said to be no such thing as a local government of the District of Columbia, for there can be no government within the District independent of that of the federal government, and whatever local authority there may be now existing, or which may hereafter be set up within the District, it can only be regarded legally as an agency of the federal government, and whatever authority this local government may exercise, it must be regarded as the act of the United States through their delegated representative." The District legislature would in any event act under the restrictions suggested by these words. Its general laws would be mere petitions, void without the assent, express or implied, of Congress. A delegate without a vote has little weight in a "log-rolling" body like the House of Representatives. The other officers would be petty town officials, and a voice would still be denied the city in the choice of the executive and legislative officers of the nation. In short, the exercise of suffrage thus limited would be an expensive farce. Without representation suffrage is of no value; and, shut out from the bodies which make its laws and impose taxes upon it, representation of the District under the Constitution in its present shape can be only a sham.

It is extremely doubtful whether popular suffrage is desirable in the choice of those who are intrusted with purely municipal functions, even in cities where its adoption is not opposed by the peculiar objections which confront it in its application to the affairs of Washington. Experience and observation do not teach that a municipality which is reasonably well-governed will display wisdom by demanding a change of system in order to assimilate itself to ordinary American cities. The latter are notoriously misgoverned. Incompetent and dishonest officials have been too often chosen in partisan contests, immense municipal debts have been contracted, and excessive taxation has been imposed. Statistics show that while state indebtedness has decreased between the last two censuses, municipal indebtedness has vastly increased, far more rapidly than population and valuation, and its amount in American municipalities is now estimated at a billion dollars. The deplorable financial condition of so many of our large cities is due, in the main, to unlimited popular suffrage, which has given to non-taxpaying, irresponsible voters

THE POWER TO EXPEND, EXTRAVAGANTLY AND CORRUPTLY,

the money supplied by tax-payers. It has placed the contributors and non-contributors to a fund upon an equal footing in the matter of deciding how and by whom the fund shall be disbursed. It has enabled the latter, under the guise of taxation, to make a division of the contributions of the former. It has legalized the virtual confiscation of accumulated wealth by aggregated paupers. Under its workings, robbers at the head of organized bands of destitute and desperate followers, have been permitted to seize, through mere force of numbers, the purse of more than one city, and to spend its contents at pleasure. The intolerable misgoverment of many American cities has not only caused the suggestion of such schemes of reform as the limitation of suffrage to tax-payers, and minority representation, but it has led even to the bold proposition that all power of self-government be withdrawn from these municipalities, and that the management of their affairs be intrusted to the state legislature–a plan which, if adopted, would place them in respect to their internal administration in a condition similar to that of Washington. In theory the powers exercised by the officers of cities are by delegation from the people of the whole state, in whom the ultimate sovereignty, as modified by the Constitution of the United States, resides. In New York, from 1777 to 1821, the officers of municipal corporations were appointed by the governor and four senators chosen every year by four subdivisions of the assembly. Instances of the intervention of the state government into the affairs of cities, amounting in some cases to indirect disfranchisement, have not been lacking in later years. There are serious objections, however, to the plan of granting exclusive control over cities to the state government, and it is not likely that the proposition can muster many advocates. But the mere fact that the suggestion has been made indicates that the evils which our municipalities endure are so great that the condition of Washington is viewed by some as preferable. The capital may well hesitate before it demands a privilege which its possessors are eager to resign, before it seeks to bind upon its own shoulders the burden of which other cities are making desperate efforts to relieve themselves, before it asks, as a boon, the main source of municipal woes. If the doctrine were generally accepted that universal suffrage is demanded by republican principles only in the choice of those officers who exercise purely governmental functions, and not in the selection of agents by municipal corporations to perform duties affecting private property interests, and if Congress might be depended upon to grant to the tax-payers of the District the financial administration of the capital, some of the objections against an elective system would be removed. But there is no probability of such action by Congress. The same spirit which would force republican forms of government to be observed in the District, though republican rights are not granted therewith, would deny a property qualification for voters. The municipal affairs of the city are now managed by a Commission appointed by the President, and compared with the manner and cost of the performance of similar duties in other cities the work is well and cheaply done. If this method of government should be abandoned, and the universal-suffrage system adopted, there is no reason to believe that Washington would escape the maladministration which prevails in other large cities. The conditions which cause popular suffrage to be baneful in the latter exist to a considerable degree at the capital, and in one or two respects
WASHINGTON HAS ADDITIONAL DISADVANTAGES

with which to contend. The character of the voting population of the city, though it would not be a proper ground of objection if it were proposed to invest the residents of the District with the full rights of American citizenship, may be noted when the evils of suffrage are offered without its substantial benefits. About one-third of the inhabitants of Washington are colored, and this number includes thousands of the worst as well as the best specimens of the race. In addition to the permanent colored element an army of recruits would be attracted by elections to the city from the farms of Maryland and Virginia, to be used as voting material by political "bosses," and to be supported as loafers, partly by the wages of politics, partly by charity and partly by jail nourishment. The floating population of non-tax-payers will always be large at the capital, where office-seekers most do congregate, but with the accessions that elections bring the solid citizens would almost certainly be overwhelmed.

An objectionable result of the choice by general vote of minor officers only, with insignificant powers, is the small-bore politician developed by small-bore elections. In the states the politician may hope to rise, step by step, to the governorship of a wealthy, populous and powerful community, to a seat in the national legislature, or to the presidency. In Washington he must confine himself to petty affairs and limit himself by petty ambitions; and, naturally, few able and upright men would be tempted by the prospect.

The commission government, which a sham representative system would displace, has the advantage of bringing the United States and the national capital into those close relations which were anticipated in the plans of our forefathers. The members of the commission are appointed by the President, to whom they report, and the nominations of two of them are approved by the Senate. The Treasurer of the United States is treasurer of the District. Congress alone is responsible for all general legislation. The true relations of Washington to the general government are thus suggested at every turn. If the city were permitted to elect local officers and pass local laws it would remove itself to that extent from national consideration, members of Congress would be permitted fewer opportunities of learning their full responsibilities in respect to the nation’s ward, while the privilege gained would have no compensating advantage.

It is true that commission governments are not unobjectionable, but it is believed that the most serious of their evils may be avoided more readily than those of the alternative system. Among the possible dangers of such a government for Washington are two that are prominent: First, that the executive may appoint as commissioners, not bona fide citizens of the District, interested in its welfare alone, but his own favorites, on the score of personal friendship, or as a reward for political services. Secondly, that such commissioners, when appointed, will use the minor positions under their control as similar political rewards to aid the party or the political "boss" in whose interests they have been given office. If the city’s government is ever debased into a mere political machine, a death blow will be given to the interests of the District. The capital is the ward, not of a party, but of a nation; it requires the friendly legislation of both parties; and to obtain such legislation its government must be non-partisan. The affairs of Washington are in certain respects confided to the President and commissioners appointed by him as trustees. If President or commissioner takes advantage of this position to benefit himself, or a clique, or a political party, and is not influenced solely by a consideration of the interests confided to his protection a sacred trust is betrayed.

Thirdly, Congress may propose an amendment to the Constitution

EXTINGUISHING ITS OWN POWER OF EXCLUSIVE LEGISLATION

and placing the residents of the District upon the same footing in regard to all elections as the citizens of the several states. The prosperity of Washington as the national capital would be endangered by the grant of local sovereignty to its citizens. Even if the nation might be induced to surrender the control of its property interests in the District entirely to the residents, which is hardly conceivable, it would not be willing to pay one-half of the expenses of the capital with no power of management in respect to its affairs, and with not even a voice in its government. But it is absolutely essential to the welfare of the city that its present financial relations to the United States shall be preserved. The manner of Washington’s development renders it utterly unable to meet, unassisted, the expense of sustaining itself as a magnificent national capital. What was said in 1878, when the question was whether the government should pay a fixed proportion of District expenses, might be repeated if under any circumstances the attempt were made to withdraw the support then provided: "As in the beginning the federal city was without population or resources to which its founders could look for its development and improvement, so also at the present time it is wholly without the means either in property, commerce or manufactures, to meet the enormous outlays which the magnificence of the plan requires. One-half of its property, and the best half, is owned by the United States, and pays no taxes, and the other half is mortgaged for one-fourth of its value by a debt contracted in exhausting and paralyzing efforts to make it what its patriotic founders designed it to be–a national capital, worthy of the name it bears." If deprivation of suffrage is the only condition upon which citizens of the District are partially relieved from their heavy burdens, they evidently prefer to remain "political slaves" rather than become bankrupt freemen.

The arguments, already recited, which led to the establishment of an exclusively national district must also be weighed when it is attempted to reverse the decision then made.

The sentiment which identifies the fate of the Union with that of the capital should not be disregarded. Washington has planted the roots of its existence and prosperity in the spirit of American nationality. It has flourished in proportion as this spirit has been strong. The grand designs respecting it were neglected by those, not its enemies, who resented the substantial embodiment of a power superior to that of the state. It again revived when civil war developed the patriotic national sentiment, and Americans learned that the Union is a substantial something to love, to live for, and to die for. The bloodshed of the Revolution gave birth to the spirit of nationality and created the city; the bloodshed of the civil war revived the spirit and regenerated the city. The imagination may conceive that the soul of the Union is enshrined in this exclusive territory, and that if ever its peculiar existence shall be extinguished the event will be a forerunner of the dissolution of the Union.

Fourthly, retaining exclusive jurisdiction, Congress may propose

A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT GIVING THE DISTRICT REPRESENTATION

in the bodies which legislate for it and tax it, a voice as to the President, who is to appoint the commissioners to manage its local affairs, and, in general, except as to the privilege of choosing town or county officers, to place the residents of the District upon the same footing as the citizens of the several states.

A minor discrimination against inhabitants of the capital which needs to be thus remedied is that which denies them the right of bringing suits in the federal courts in those cases where the privilege is given to the citizens of a state, and which puts them before the national judiciary in a less favorable attitude than that of aliens. (Hepburn vs. Ellzey, 2 Cranch., 445.)

While the District is not a state, and while its citizens, in addition to the denial of the benefits of the federal courts, are forbidden representation, it is subject to direct federal taxation, although the Constitution says that "representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states of the Union according to their respective numbers." These words are held to furnish merely a rule of apportionment, and not to limit the power of taxation. (Loughborough vs. Blake, 5 Wheaton, 317.) The District paid its proportion, some $50,000, of the twenty-million direct tax of August 6, 1861, the last of the four direct taxes. It has also paid into the national treasury from the commencement of the excise-tax law in 1862 $6,454,907.03, a larger amount than that derived from Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina or Vermont. "Taxation without representation" thus prevails at the capital. It is alleged, in justification, that the District (when nearly uninhabited) voluntarily resigned its right of distinct representation, and irrevocably adopted the whole body of Congress (including its bitter enemies and its lukewarm friends) as the representatives of its interests. Washington was in existence only a few months when its residents began to bemoan their prospective disfranchisement, their exclusion from participation in national elections. In a pamphlet concerning the "government of the territory of Columbia," published in 1801 by A. B. Woodward, it is said: "This body of people is as much entitled to the enjoyment of the rights of citizenship as any other part of the people of the United States. There can exist no necessity for their disfranchisement, no necessity for them to repose on the mere generosity of their countrymen to be protected from tyranny; to mere spontaneous attention for the regulation of their interests. They are entitled to a participation in the general councils on the principles of equity and reciprocity." From the beginning of the century, too, members of Congress who have viewed the condition of the capital with other emotions than that of indifference have either "felt their hearts bleed" over the enslaved condition of the people, or have denounced the disfranchised as selling their republican birthright for a mess of pottage. In a debate in the House, December, 1800, Representative Smilie said: "Not a man in the District would be represented in the government, whereas every man who contributed to the support of a government ought to be represented in it; otherwise his natural rights were subverted and he was left not a citizen but a slave. It was a right which this country, when under subjection to Great Britain, thought worth making a resolute struggle for, and evinced a determination to perish rather than not enjoy." In 1803 the "unrepublican" condition of the District was again a matter of comment, and it was proposed to recede to Maryland and Virginia jurisdiction over the parts of the District originally ceded by them. John Randolph, Jr., in February of that year, said in the House: "I could wish, indeed, to see the people within this District restored to their rights. This species of government is an experiment how far freeman can be reconciled to live without rights; an experiment dangerous to the liberties of these states. But inasmuch as it had been already made, inasmuch as I was not accessory to it, and as at some future time its deleterious effects may be arrested, I am disposed to vote against the resolution." A proposition to recede the territory of Columbia outside of the limits of Washington, caused Representative Clark to say, in 1805, that he spoke of the inhabitants whenever he had occasion to allude to them with pity and compassion, and he most devoutly wished to see them placed in a condition more congenial to his own feelings, and the feelings of every true lover of civil and political freedom. Alexandria was retroceded in 1846, her "galling disfranchisement" being referred to in debate. Georgetown had sought retrocession in 1838, but unsuccessfully.

Many of those who favored the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress over the District on the same grounds that caused such a District to be established were yet

PREPARED TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION

when the proper time should come, in order to give the people of the capital a representation in Congress, the body which, in theory, constitutes their legislature. As early as December, 1800, Representative Dennis said: "If it should be necessary the constitution might be so altered as to give them a delegate to the general legislature when their numbers should become sufficient." A territorial delegate, which did not then exist, could not have been intended. The time suggested by Mr. Dennis seems to have now arrived. The difficulty of providing Congressional representation for an isolated collection of people, insufficiently numerous in themselves to be entitled to a representative, is no longer to be met. The population of the District is increasing with extraordinary rapidity. In 1880 it numbered 177,638, and in 1885, 203,459. The census of 1880 was the first enumeration which showed it to have acquired a population that would entitle it to ask admission as a state if it were upon the footing of an ordinary territory. The number of persons to be represented by each member of the House of Representatives is, according to the last apportionment, about 152,000. The House committee on territories reports in favor of granting representation to Montana, which, it thinks, will have 170,000 population next November; to Washington territory, which is expected to contain 160,000 people at that time, and to New Mexico, which had 134,131 persons in 1885. One representative in the House and one, at least, in the Senate, should be granted the District. This arrangement is found to be equitable when the population and growth of the several states are considered. The District, by the showing of the census of 1880, already surpassed in point of numbers Nevada (62,265), Delaware (146,654), and Oregon (174,767); and the advantage over Delaware and Nevada is likely to be retained. In addition to these three states, Colorado (194,649), Florida (267,351), Rhode Island (276,351), Vermont (332,286) and New Hampshire (346,984), had less than double the District’s population, making the assignment of one Senator to the latter equitable.

In view of the comparative rate of increase and other considerations, the District is likely to be found in the future ahead of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, and, perhaps, Connecticut, of the original states, and Vermont and Nevada of the new states.

The adoption of the fourth plan by Congress would be a compromise between granting only local, qualified suffrage, which is highly objectionable to the District, and consenting to absolute self-government, which involves a surrender of national control over the capital, and to which the United States, as the owner of one-half the city, and the virtual payer of one-half its taxes, would never consent. The wisdom of this course is sustained by all the arguments which go to show that the constitutional power of "exclusive legislation" by Congress should not be hastily yielded, and also by those which maintain that taxation without representation and inequality of citizens before the law should not be allowed to exist. The District would be placed in certain respects on a level with the states. Taxed like them, it would have like them a voice in the disposition of the general taxes. It would not, however, stand upon precisely the same footing with them, for the states are subordinated to the general government only in certain defined particulars, whereas the District would be subordinate in all respects. This inferiority would be indicated, it has been suggested, by giving the District

ONE INSTEAD OF TWO SENATORS

and by a corresponding reduction in its electoral vote. Enjoying representation in Congress and participation in the choice of the President, who appoints its local officers, Washington would resemble in its municipal government a city which, after voting for the governor and legislature of a state, is managed by a commission appointed by the former and approved by the latter. Under this fourth plan the suggestions made in respect to the duty of members of Congress as the exclusive legislators for the capital would still be applicable; the present financial arrangements between the District and the general government would be maintained; the expensive transportation of office-holding voters to the states from Maine to Florida and from New York to California would, after the abolition of the office-apportionment system, be avoided; the rights of residents of the District as American citizens would be recognized in a manner which would inflict the smallest possible injury upon the interests of the city as capital of the United States, and this spot of national territority with all its patriotic associations would be preserved to the Union.

If at the time of giving the District the substantial representation suggested it should also be decided that Congress can manage the minor concerns of the District more satisfactorily by modifying in details the present form of municipal government, such changes may then be conveniently made. But every alteration should be based upon a full recognition, first of the absolute necessity of a retention by the general government of such representation in and control of the management of city affairs as will enable it to protect its vast interests here; second, of the frightful warning from the experience of other large cities against recourse to unlimited popular suffrage as a factor in the decision of purely municipal and financial matters; and, third, of the vital importance to the District that its local government shall be non-partisan.

It is conceded that the best method by which Congress can regulate the capital as a city may vary somewhat in details, with altering circumstances, but there is no urgent, present necessity for a change in this respect. The more important question is, Shall not the people of the District, who now largely exceed the number of persons represented by each member of the House, be

ADMITTED TO THE UNION

as citizens of a quasi-state, and be granted representation in the national legislature, and the privilege of voting for President? Without disputing for the present the proposition, proved absurd by experience, that they do not need, as citizens of the District, distinct representation in Congress as a local legislature because they are represented in that capacity by all Senators and Representatives, do they not, as citizens of the United States, assembled in sufficient numbers in a limited space and paying national taxes, require representation in the body which imposes and disburses these taxes?

The people of Washington do not wish an unlimited elective franchise in municipal concerns or a repeal of the "exclusive-legislation" clause, with a change of the financial relations between the city and the United States, and many of them, in view of the dangers to be faced in the discussion by Congress of changes of any description in the present government, will continue to favor the first or do-nothing policy on the part of Congress, which was unquestionably wisest as long as the fixed population of the District, not in government employ, was insufficient to entitle it to a representative in Congress, and which is still wisest so far as the municipal government is concerned. These citizens will doubtless for the reason suggested hesitate to ask the additional fights to be secured by this constitutional amendment. But while the asking and granting of these fights may be in various ways reasonably delayed, they can not be indefinitely postponed. Though representation in their national and local legislature, which alone makes laws for them and taxes them, and may send every man of them to war to be wounded or killed, be denied to the 225,000 District residents of the present, will the same denial be given to the half million of the near future, or to the prospective million toward which figure as a goal the District’s population is pressing?


This newspaper article was obtained from the The Capital and the Bay: Narratives of Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Region, ca. 1600-1925. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Scan & Text of the 23rd Amendment to the United States Constitution
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Scan of the 23rd Amendment from the National Archives

Scan of the 23rd Amendment from the National Archives


S.J. Res. 39

Eighty-sixth Congress of the United States of America

AT THE SECOND SESSION

Begun and held at the City of Washington, the sixth day of January, on thousand nine hundred and sixty

Joint Resolution

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States granting representation in the electoral college to the District of Columbia

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is hereby proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution only if ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission by the Congress:

“ARTICLE —

“Section 1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such a manner as the Congress may direct:

“A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

“Sec. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”


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Map of the Ratification of the 23rd Amendment to the United States Constitution
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A recolored wikipedia map of the ratification of the 23rd Amendment to the United States Constitution

The 23rd Amendment to the United States Constitution allows residents of the District of Columbia to vote for the President, but denies them any representation in Congress.

The Twenty-third Amendment was sent to the States on June 17, 1960 and was ratified by 3/4’s of the State Legislatures on March 29, 1961, which was faster than the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment.


The following states ratified the amendment:
1. Hawaii (June 23, 1960)
2. Massachusetts (August 22, 1960)
3. New Jersey (December 19, 1960)
4. New York (January 17, 1961)
5. California (January 19, 1961)
6. Oregon (January 27, 1961)
7. Maryland (January 30, 1961)
8. Idaho (January 31, 1961)
9. Maine (January 31, 1961)
10. Minnesota (January 31, 1961)
11. New Mexico (February 1, 1961)
12. Nevada (February 2, 1961)
13. Montana (February 6, 1961)
14. South Dakota (February 6, 1961)
15. Colorado (February 8, 1961)
16. Washington (February 9, 1961)
17. West Virginia (February 9, 1961)
18. Alaska (February 10, 1961)
19. Wyoming (February 13, 1961)
20. Delaware (February 20, 1961)
21. Utah (February 21, 1961)
22. Wisconsin (February 21, 1961)
23. Pennsylvania (February 28, 1961)
24. Indiana (March 3, 1961)
25. North Dakota (March 3, 1961)
26. Tennessee (March 6, 1961)
27. Michigan (March 8, 1961)
28. Connecticut (March 9, 1961)
29. Arizona (March 10, 1961)
30. Illinois (March 14, 1961)
31. Nebraska (March 15, 1961)
32. Vermont (March 15, 1961)
33. Iowa (March 16, 1961)
34. Missouri (March 20, 1961)
35. Oklahoma (March 21, 1961)
36. Rhode Island (March 22, 1961)
37. Kansas (March 29, 1961)
38. Ohio (March 29, 1961)
The amendment was subsequently ratified by the following states:
1. New Hampshire (March 30, 1961)
2. Alabama (April 16, 2002)

The New Hampshire ratification was somewhat irregular; a vote for ratification was taken on March 29, 1961 but was immediately rescinded. On that same day Kansas and Ohio ratified the amendment making New Hampshire’s second vote that was taken on the following day unnecessary for enactment.


The amendment was rejected by the following state:
1. Arkansas (January 24, 1961)


The following states have not ratified the amendment:
1. Florida
2. Kentucky
3. Mississippi
4. Georgia
5. South Carolina
6. Louisiana
7. Texas
8. North Carolina
9. Virginia



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Americanize the Capital as a Wise Measure of War Preparedness by Theodore W. Noyes, Editor of the Evening Star – The Washington Times, June 29, 1917
|| 11/7/2010 || 6:32 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Americanize the Capital as a Wise Measure of War Preparedness by Theodore W. Noyes, Editor of the Evening Star -  The Washington Times, June 29, 1917

Washingtonians have been urging a constitutional amendment which shall give them the status of citizens of a State, for the purpose only of representation in Congress and the Electoral College. They now urge only amendment which, as an irreducible minimum of justice, shall empower Congress in its discretion to give them this status.

War is upon us. World issues and vital national questions absorb attention.

Is this a time to redress the Capital’s political grievances?

Yes, says Washington. To Americanize the political aliens of the District of Columbia is to do justice and to relieve the nation of reproach and shame- achievements which, like the motion to adjourn, are always in order. And not only in a general but in a special sense is this Americanizing process peculiarity opportune, in that it reflects the very thought and spirit of the times and is an integral part of the legislation which springs naturally from the patriotic toward true preparedness.

I do not emphasize the unique patriotic service which Washingtonians have rendered, far surpassing in this respect all other Americans, in the creation, maintenance and upbuilding of the National Capital. I compare them with other Americans solely on the basis of the degree in which they and others have respectively met the general patriotic obligation that is common to all.

Washingtonians have paid their proportion of every national tax, direct or indirect, from the birth of the nation. The only national taxes that fall directly and in ascertainable amounts upon Americans are the internal revenue taxes, including the excise and income taxes. In total contribution in 1914 to these taxes Washington exceeds twenty-two of the States, though it exceeds in population only six of them. Its contribution is greater than those of nine of the States combined. The Washingtonians’ per capita contributions to these national taxes are greater than that of the citizens of thirty-six of the States.

Washington’s Blood Sacrifice.

Washingtonians have risked life and shed their blood in every national war. To preserve the Union the volunteers came from the Capital, and Washingtonians supplied a greater percentage of troops in excess of their quota than nearly every State in the Union. In the war with Spain they sent to Cuba a fine regiment exceeding their quota in numbers. The same response was made when the summons to the Mexican border came. At that time the percentage of men of military age enrolled in the organized militia was greater in the District than in any State of the Union. Washington sent more soldiers to the border than twenty-two of the States.

To every demand of devotion and self-sacrifice made upon Americans Washington has rendered, is rendering, and will always render full, hearty, and unstinted response.

National Burdens Impose; Rights Denied.

In a genuine representative government rights and privileges are inseparably wedded to obligations and responsibilities. How do Washingtonians, thus burdened with national obligations, fare in respect to American rights and privileges?

Before the judicial branch of the National Government they are, the United States Supreme Court says, less than aliens in the right to sue and be sued.

In relation to representation in the legislative branch and by the executive branch of the National Government they are on the same footing as aliens.

They are good enough Americans to pay taxes and go to war, but not good enough Americans to be represented in the Congress which taxes them and sends them to war.

In relation to national taxes their sole function is to pay. They have nothing to say, like other national taxpayers, concerning the amount and kind of taxes they shall pay and how the tax money shall be spent.

In relation to national war their sole function is to fight in obedience to command. They have no voice, like other Americans, in the councils which determine war or peace. They have no representation in the Government which requires them to fight, to bleed, and perhaps to die.

In all the expense of the continental and contiguous United States from ocean to ocean, from Canada to Mexico, every Territory has been exalted into Statehood, and the District of Columbia is the only remaining American community whose people are still compulsory occupants of the National Hospital for Politically Defective and Delinquent Americans.

No Excuse of National Necessity.

These gross discriminations against the Americans of the District of Columbia find no excuse in national impotency or national necessity.

These discriminations are not necessary to the constitutional control by Congress of the ten miles square. Correction of them, Americanizing the District of Columbia, does not destroy or diminish that control. Representation by one out of 436 in the House and by one out of ninety-seven or two out of ninety-eight in the Senate would obviously fall short of giving the District control of Congress. So small a tail could never wag so large a dog.

To give this national representation to the Washingtonians works no change in the local government or in the financial relation of nation to capital. Exclusive power is still in the hands of Congress representing the nation, and the change merely makes the District politically a part of the nation and gives the 360,000 Americans in the District representation in that Congress.

The present condition convicts the nation of paradoxical inconsistency. Inequality, un-Americanism, unpatriotic unpreparredness.

It involves injustice to the Capital and shame to the nation.

Saviors Abroad; Crucifiers at Home.

In the impressive and inspiring words of Present Wilson:
“We are glad * * * to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German people included. * * * The right is more precious than peace and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts- for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments.”

Washingtonians are among “those who submit to authority.” Are not all Americans then fighting in this war for the Washingtonians’ right “to have a voice in their own government?” Or is there an implied proviso in our proclamation which causes us to fight in this war to establish representative government everywhere in the world except in the capital of the great representative republic?

Amendment Timely and Vital.

Consistency and justice; national pride and self-respect; the will to efface a shameful blot from the national escutcheon; the spirit of true Americanism and righteous hatred of autocracy in any guise; the patriotic impulse toward full preparedness of the nation as the champion of democracy and representative government everywhere in the world- all combine to make irresistible at this very moment our appeal for the adoption of a constitutional amendment giving suffrage to the citizens of the District.

Should not the nation, irrespective of the just pleas of the Washingtonians and purely as a national concern, abolish the evil and injury working paradox of non-representative un-American government of the National Capital territory under exclusive national control? At a time when all Americans are thrilling in response to the appeal for purer, higher, stronger Americanism and for more devoted and self-sacrificing spirit of American nationality will not the nation insist, in accordance with the spirit of the times and in its own vital interest, that there shall no longer exist at the very heart of the body politic this foul abscess of non-Americanism? Surgical relief to the nation from this threat of blood poisoning is an essential war measure, an urgent patriotic task. Cut it out unflinchingly? Cut it out at once.



This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article on Chronicling America. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



GOVERNORS PLEDGE AID IN FIGHT FOR D.C. VOTES – The Washington Times, March 5, 1919
|| 10/4/2010 || 10:32 am || + Render A Comment || ||

GOVERNORS PLEDGE AID IN FIGHT FOR D.C. VOTES - The Washington Times, March 5, 1919

The governors of twenty-eight States and the mayors of virtually every large city in the country today are preparing to carry Washington’s fight for votes throughout the nation.

These State and city executives here in reconstruction conference, have heard Washington’s appeal, and have been enlisted in the national campaign to win the right of suffrage for the people of the National Capital.

No poll has been taken yet to ascertain officially the views of each and every governor or mayor, but a meeting last night indicated that Washington can expect unanimous support by these governors and mayors in the suffrage campaign.

Harper Jubilant

“The friendship of the governors and mayors will do much influencing Congress to give suffrage to the District,” said Col. Robert N. Harper, president of the Chamber of Commerce, today. “With the support of these men, Washington may feel confident of a tendency on the part of the next Congress to grant suffrage to the District.”

The justice of the District’s appeal for suffrage was explained at a dinner in the New Washington Hotel last night in honor of the governors and mayors. The Washington Chamber of Commerce was host.

Every argument brought out by the speakers in favor of granting a franchise for the people of the National Capital was eagerly absorbed by the conferees.

Many of the governors and mayors made notes of the points scored by Colonel Harper, Henry B. F. Macfarland, Commissioner Brownlow, and other speakers for suffrage, and it was evident that they were storing up knowledge concerning Washington’s voteless condition for future use.

“We find sentiment in support of the District suffrage plea almost unanimous among the governors and mayors attending the conference,” said Colonel Harper today.

“Many of the men were at first almost unable to believe when they were told that Washington is the only capital in the world without representation in the National Government.

“But they have been told of the existing conditions, and District residents may feel sure that these governors and mayors will go to their States and their cities and spread the cry of Washington for ‘Suffrage.'”

Why British Laugh

Henry B. F. Macfarland struck a responsive note in the minds of his listeners last night when he said:

“No wonder the visiting Britisher laughs up his sleeve when we tell him we fought in the Revolution mainly because King George III tried to tax us without allowing us representation in Parliament– ‘taxation without representation is tyranny’ we cry; and then the Britisher smiles because he knows that Washington, the greatest capital of the greatest democracy in the world, the people are taxed without being represented.

“And the Englishman probably whispers to his countrymen, Is the United States living up to the principles of Americanism when 400,000 citizen– no, not citizens, inhabitants– of the National Capital of the United States, are deprived of the right to vote!”

“What is your answer going to be Mr. Governor and Mr. Mayor? — you Americans. Is it going to be taxation without representation for the people of your National Capital?”

There was silence for a moment: then a storm of applause swept through the room.

“No!” came the response.

Retain Present System

Mr. Macfarland also urged the audience to discourage any movement to remove the present half-and-half fiscal system from the District.

“The present system should be retained unless some plan better than that followed out since 1878 be evolved,” said Mr. Macfarland.

Colonel Harper told the governors and mayors during the meeting that it was not the intention of the people of Washington to appeal now for local self-government.

“Washington now wants only representation in the Electoral College and in Congress,” said Colonel Harper. “There has been some objection to the suffrage movement in Washington on the grounds that self-government in the District would result in misunderstandings between Federal and municipal governments; but we do not wish to urge, at the present time, more than District representation in Congress, the Senate and in the Electoral College.

“Representation in the affairs of the Government is the birthright of all American citizens. Why should the residents of the National Capital be deprived of a right which is given to Alaska, the Philippines, and the Hawaiian Islands? There is no just reason!”

Brownlow Speaks

“We obey the laws passed by Congress; we pay taxes; and we respond with nothing but love of country in our hearts when asked to give of the life of our home on the battlefields,” said Commissioner Louis F. Brownlow. “We do all this because we are proud of being Americans. And since we are Americans why should we not have our constitutional rights?”

“In righting this obvious wrong we need the help of the American people; in the fight for a franchise we cannot help, but have the sympathy of every Congressman, every Senator, every voter in the country- for they are Americans and they do not wish to begrudge to others the rights which they themselves possess.

“There has been some criticism throughout the nation of the congested conditions in Washington during the war 1/8 but the National Capital handled the situation as best it could. In the space of twelve months, 90,000 persons came to Washington from all sections of the country.

“It was difficult to care for all these people, but the District responded to the emergency in a way, which I know, ultimately caused universal satisfaction throughout the nation.

Fed Have Gone Home

“Conditions in Washington are not quite as congested as before the signing of the armistice, but the need of further building in the District is still apparent. Of the 90,000 war workers who came here in the space of twelve months, but 4,100 have gone home since the armistice was signed.

“I have hear that all the war workers want to stay in Washington; so it is evident that living conditions in the National Capital are not as bad as you may have sometimes heard.

“About 17,000 District men have served or are serving in the army, navy, or marine corps during the present emergency. Of these 3,500 have returned and all have them have received back their jobs.”


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article on Chronicling America. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



VOTE PLEA TO CONGRESS – Americanize 400,000, Urges D.C. Joint Citizens’ Committee – The Washington Post, February 13, 1918
|| 1/29/2010 || 12:45 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

The Constitutional Amendment contained in this transcribed newspaper article is quite beautiful. It shows nearly 100 years of compromise and the remains of a civil rights struggle that affects 600,000 American citizens. Only a shred of this original Constitutional Amendment exists today and its in the form of the 23rd Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was ratified 43 years after the publication of this newspaper article in 1961. Unfortunately, the 23rd Amendment only allows the residents of the District of Columbia to obtain Presidential Electors (to be able to vote for the President) on par with the least populous state and provides no representation in Congress. The portion of the Constitutional Amendment below that was not ratified remained unfinished business for another 17 years when in 1978 the District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment was passed by Congress. After seven years only 16 states of the needed 38 had ratified the amendment and the time window of ratification expired, leaving the residents of the District of Columbia without representation in Congress. There has not been a Constitutional Amendment passed by Congress since and I urge my delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to introduce Constitutional Amendment similar to the one below. If not now, when?



VOTE PLEA TO CONGRESS


Americanize 400,000, Urges D.C. Joint Citizens’ Committee.


NO VOICE ON WAR OR TAXES


Proposed Amendment Would Give Power to Congress to Grant Franchise on President and Fix Representation in Both Houses– Statehood Not Contemplated.


Renewed appeal to Congress to Americanize the 400,000 inhabitants of the Capital by granting them a voice in the national government was made yesterday by the citizens’ joint committee on national representation for the District of Columbia. Every senator and representative was urged to support the constitutional amendment which will empower Congress to give the disfranchised citizens of Washington the right to representation in Congress, and to vote for President and Vice President.

The citizens’ committee mailed to the members of both houses of Congress a copy of the joint resolution providing for amendment of the Federal Constitution as the preliminary step to conferring the vote and representation on the District populace. With the resolution now pending before Congress went two circulars outlining the rights and privileges which its adoption would make possible to the long disfranchised citizens of the nation’s Capital.

Voice in Electoral College.

One circular explains what the proposed District suffrage amendment would do, and also what it would not do. This leaflet sets forth that by enabling Congress to give the District voting representation in Congress and the electoral college, it will become possible to–

Make Americans of 400,000 people– soon to be 1,000,000- whose present political prospects are less than those of aliens elsewhere in America.

Put in force the principle of “no taxation without representation” at the center of the American republic.

Add representative participation in government to the duty, always borne, of paying taxes and bearing arms.

Remove the present stigma resulting from permanent political impotence of a people more numerous than the population in each of six American States (1910 Census).

Statehood Not Proposed.

Make the heart of our own nation “safe for democracy” while engaged in the world crusade to that end.

Make it possible for the District boys fighting in France to look forward on their return to a voting right in the government they have fought to defend.

Make it no longer possible to say that the American Capital city the only national capital that has no voice in its national government.

Showing the other side of the shield, the circular then sets forth that a constitutional amendment does not propose statehood for the District; does not propose destruction of the “ten mile square” provision of the Constitution or lessen in the slightest degree complete control of the nation over the District; it is not a measure for local self-government, and does not disturb in any way the financial relation of the nation and Capital, either by the abolition or perpetuation of the half-and-half law.

Gives Congress Power to Act.

The joint resolution proposing the amendment necessary to the Constitution as a condition precedent to the granting by Congress of District suffrage, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Chamberlain, of Oregon, while in the House it was offered by Representative Austin, of Tennessee. This resolution when passed by a two-thirds vote of the Senate and House and ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the States provides that:



“The Congress shall have power to admit the status of citizens of a State the resident of the District constituting the seat of the government of the United States, created by article 1, section 8, for the purpose of representation in the Congress and among the electors of President and Vice President and for the purpose of suing and being sued in the courts of the United States under the provisions of article 3, section 2.

“When the Congress shall exercise this power the residents of such District shall be entitled to elect one or two senators as determined by the Congress, representatives in the House according to their numbers as determined by the decennial enumeration, and presidential electors equal in number to their aggregate representation in the House and Senate.

“The Congress shall provide by law the qualifications of voters and the time and manner of choosing the senator or senators, the representative or representatives, and the electors herein authorized.

“The Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing power.”


Low Court Standing.

Under the caption “Americanize Washingtonians,” the citizens committee in the other circular sets forth that the 400,000 Americans in the District constitute the only community of intelligent, public-spirited citizens in the United States which is denied representation in the national government.

“As a suitor in the courts of the United States,” runs this appeal for congressional support, “the District resident has, the Supreme Court says, a lower standing than an alien.

“In relation to national laws the sole function of the District resident is to obey. They take no part in making the laws which they must obey.

“In relation to national taxes their sole function is to pay. They have nothing to say, like other taxpayers, concerning the amount and kind of taxes they shall pay and how the tax money shall be spent.

No Voice in War Declaration.

“In relational to national war their sole function is to fight in obedience to command. They have no voice, like other Americans, in the councils which determine war and peace. They have no representation in the government which requires them to fight, to bleed and perhaps to die.

“National representation is a distinctive, basic right of the American citizen- in a government of the people, by the people, for the people- in a government which roots its justice in a consent of the governed- in a representative government which inseparably couples taxation and arms-bearing as a soldier with representation.

“Since the 400,000 Americans of the District pay the national taxes, obey national laws and go to war in the nation’s defense, they are entitled on American principles to be represented in the national government which taxes them, which makes all laws for them and which sends them to war.

Not to Disturb National Control.

“The constitutional amendment which we urge empowers Congress to correct this inequity without disturbing in the slightest national control of the Capital or the present form of municipal government. Congress retains every power in these respects that it now possess. All that happens will be that the District becomes a small fractional part of that Congress, and politically an integral part of the nation which that Congress represents.

“National representation will clothe the Washingtonian with a vital American privilege to which he is undeniably in equity entitled; will cleanse him of the stigma and stain of un-Americanism, and, curing his political impotency, will arm him with a certain power.

“It will relieve that nation of the shame of un-Americanism at its heart and of impotency to cure this evil.

“It will inflict no injury or hardship upon either nation or Capital to counteract these benefits.

“Consistency and justice; national pride and self-respect; the will to efface a shameful blot from the national escutcheon; the spirit of true Americanism and righteous hatred of autocracy in any guise; the patriotic impulse toward full preparedness of the nation as a champion of democracy and representative government everywhere in the world- all combine to make irresistible at this very moment our appeal for the adoption of this amendment.



This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the Washington Post archives and is in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Third Party Presidential Ballot Access in the United States of America [updated]
|| 10/16/2008 || 12:24 am || Comments Off on Third Party Presidential Ballot Access in the United States of America [updated] || ||

At the beginning of September I posted a similar graphic showing the third party presidential ballot access in the United States of America. In the month since, the final deadlines have passed and the updated graphic above shows the final state by state (plus the colony of the District of Columbia) listing of the candidates who have the statistical chances of winning the electoral college and becoming president of the United States.

What is sad about American democracy as it’s presented on television and in the print media is that America consists of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, and only those parties and no mention of the ones above. All the third parties above are either completely ignored or they are incorrectly lumped together into Independents. The result is a marginalization of all other parties who might contribute to the political discourse.


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