Ordered Liberty: A Constitutional History of New York

By Peter J. Galie | Go to book overview

of the state, particularly with regard to canal policy and the judiciary. The 1821 Constitution, by allowing for the local election of justices of the peace, sheriffs, county clerks, and coroners, reduced legislative influence not only on the politics of local government but also on the administrative processes of those governments. The constitution gave increased recognition to locality by guaranteeing one assemblyman to each county. Such reforms, coupled with the decisions made at the 1846 convention, would lead to the reinvigoration of local governmental institutions.

On the other hand, the delegates' decision to ensconce key legislative policies such as those concerning canals and lotteries in the constitution indicated a distinct distrust of the legislature and made it difficult for future legislatures to deal flexibly with changing economic and financial conditions. Such provisions meant that change in those policies could be made only by further constitutional amendments. Escalating resort to the constitution for policy changes when conditions demanded inevitably created a more detailed and cumbersome document. The decision to treat the state constitution as a repository for the public policies of the state, first made in 1821, opened the way for future groups to use that constitution and its successors to insulate their policy goals from alteration by ordinary legislative process.


NOTES
1.
Alvin Kass, Politics in New York State, 1800-1830 ( Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1965), pp. 18-22.
2.
Helen Young, "A Study of the Constitutional Convention of New York State in 1821" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1910), pp. 24-25.
3.
John Antony Casais, "The New York State Constitutional Convention of 1821 and Its Aftermath" (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1967), p. 11.
4.
Albert Street, The Council of Revision of the State of New York. . . and Its Vetoes, p. 390 (hereafter cited as Vetoes)
5.
Ibid., p. 391.
6.
See above, p. 42.
7.
Vetoes, p. 391
8.
Report of Select Committee of the Assembly, Assembly Journal, 44th Sess. ( 1821), pp. 80-84, reprinted in Vetoes.
9.
Ibid., pp. 466, reprinted in Vetoes.
10.
Gordon Wood, The Creation of the Republic, pp. 162, 164, 273-282; Donald S. Lutz, Popular Consent and Popular Control: Whig Political Theory in the Early State Constitutions, pp. 6, 13.
11.
Report of Select Committee of the Assembly, Assembly Journal, p. 456, reprinted in Vetoes.
12.
Young, "A Study of the Constitutional Convention of New York State in 1821" pp. 2-4.

-91-

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