History, 1838–1856, volume E-1 [1 July 1843–30 April 1844]

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction
Page 1711
image
<​August 30​> in her constitutional capacity, or could claim under the broad folds of the Constitution of the .
When I first read the charter, I supposed it was circumscribed by the Statutes of the State; but upon a second reading, I saw the beauty of that ‘Magna Charta’. I saw that the Legislature of had ceded to the city council of the city of , the power to legislate for the common weal of , For a part of the 11th Section of that Act, reads as follows:—
“The city Council shall have power and authority to make, ordain, establish and execute all such ordinances, not repugnant to the constitution of the , or of this State, as they may deem necessary for the peace, benefit, good order, regulation, convenience, and cleanliness of said city.’
Now, if words mean any thing, here certainly are vested rights, as sacred as substantial, and, according to the terms of the Charter, (perpetual succession) as durable as those of the , or , for the ‘benefit and convenience’ of the citizens of , and her posterity, ad infinitum. It is a wise, liberal and substantial foundation for those who may be so fortunate as to share the salutary effects of its ordinances, and to partake of its growing blessings. If has power to enact laws for the benefit and convenience of her inhabitants, so has for her citizens. If the Constitution of the protects in her vested rights, has the same claim, and the same power to control it. And, if the city council of should pass an unconstitutional act or ordinance, literally repugnant to the constitution of the or of this , all that could be done would be to declare it void by some court having competent jurisdiction, and there the matter ends, without any recourse upon the charter any more than there is recourse upon the constitution of the for unconstitutional acts that so frequently disgrace the statutes of the several states.
When I heard that the legislature, last winter, was laboring to repeal or modify the said charter, it put me in mind of a father and a son who owned a horse which they were too lazy to prove, and bring out his good qualities; but a gentleman observing him, purchased, and in a few days passed by with the noble animal in full mounted harness attached to an elegant carriage, attracted the attention of all that saw him. The son immediately sought the father to sue and get the horse back, but the old man drily replied— ‘It takes two to make a bargain’. So if the legislature should repeal or alter the charter of , without the consent of the citizens, they have only to put a quietus on the act, through the Supreme Court of the ; as many other cases have been according to her Reports.
Reserved rights and vested rights are very different, and had the legislature reserved any important point in the charter, and the city Council used it, without the consent mutually of both parties, they would have held amenable to the supreme court for the usurpation of that power. But when the ‘benefit and convenienceof demands ordinances no broader than the Constitution of the and that of justifies, no matter whether there is any law on the subject or not, the city Council has only to shew their wisdom by their ordinances, and their power of their virtues, and how beautifully the world will behold imperium in imperio. [p. 1711]
August 30 in her constitutional capacity, or could claim under the broad folds of the Constitution of the .
When I first read the charter, I supposed it was circumscribed by the Statutes of the State; but upon a second reading, I saw the beauty of that ‘Magna Charta’. I saw that the Legislature of had ceded to the city council of the city of , the power to legislate for the common weal of , For a part of the 11th Section of that Act, reads as follows:—
“The city Council shall have power and authority to make, ordain, establish and execute all such ordinances, not repugnant to the constitution of the , or of this State, as they may deem necessary for the peace, benefit, good order, regulation, convenience, and cleanliness of said city.’
Now, if words mean any thing, here certainly are vested rights, as sacred as substantial, and, according to the terms of the Charter, (perpetual succession) as durable as those of the , or , for the ‘benefit and convenience’ of the citizens of , and her posterity, ad infinitum. It is a wise, liberal and substantial foundation for those who may be so fortunate as to share the salutary effects of its ordinances, and to partake of its growing blessings. If has power to enact laws for the benefit and convenience of her inhabitants, so has for her citizens. If the Constitution of the protects in her vested rights, has the same claim, and the same power to control it. And, if the city council of should pass an unconstitutional act or ordinance, literally repugnant to the constitution of the or of this , all that could be done would be to declare it void by some court having competent jurisdiction, and there the matter ends, without any recourse upon the charter any more than there is recourse upon the constitution of the for unconstitutional acts that so frequently disgrace the statutes of the several states.
When I heard that the legislature, last winter, was laboring to repeal or modify the said charter, it put me in mind of a father and a son who owned a horse which they were too lazy to prove, and bring out his good qualities; but a gentleman observing him, purchased, and in a few days passed by with the noble animal in full mounted harness attached to an elegant carriage, attracted the attention of all that saw him. The son immediately sought the father to sue and get the horse back, but the old man drily replied— ‘It takes two to make a bargain’. So if the legislature should repeal or alter the charter of , without the consent of the citizens, they have only to put a quietus on the act, through the Supreme Court of the ; as many other cases have been according to her Reports.
Reserved rights and vested rights are very different, and had the legislature reserved any important point in the charter, and the city Council used it, without the consent mutually of both parties, they would have held amenable to the supreme court for the usurpation of that power. But when the ‘benefit and convenience’ of demands ordinances no broader than the Constitution of the and that of justifies, no matter whether there is any law on the subject or not, the city Council has only to shew their wisdom by their ordinances, and their power of their virtues, and how beautifully the world will behold imperium in imperio. [p. 1711]
Page 1711