The Argument in 1860.
We have frequently shown that the republican press and the republican leaders of the state were among the most zealous for holding a convention for the amendment of the state constitution. We have recently quoted from the speeches of leading republicans in the legislature, showing their arguments in behalf of a convention. We have shown that one of the principal reasons urged — indeed the leading one, was the absolute necessity of relieving the people of some of their burden of taxation, by the abrogation of the two-mill tax. Below we copy from the Chicago Tribune, the great bell-weather of the present opposition to the new constitution, an extract from an article of that paper, published a few days before the election in 1860, at which the people were to decide for or against holding a convention. The Tribune, on the 1st November, 1860, thus discoursed:
We trust that every republican to whom this paper will come will see to it that his republican neighbors, and as many democrats as he can influence, vote for calling a convention to amend the state constitution. That amendment is necessary — 1st, To get rid of the onerous and unnecessary two-mill tax, which is levied by the present constitution, and cannot be touched by the legislature as long as that constitution is in force.
2d, To give the people a new judiciary in place of one that is notoriously unable to do the business of the state; and
3d, To make the law taxing the Illinois Central Railroad seven per cent. of its gross earnings a part of the constitution, so that no future legislatures, influenced, by corrupt appliances, will be able to repeal it; so that all occasion for connection between the road and the politicians of the state will be necessarily destroyed.
These are the three principal objects of the proposed change. For some reason, we know not why, the democracy fight shy of all these questions. No democratic paper has vet declared for the reform. But, never mind, if every republican votes for "convention," we shall not need pro-slavery aid. The republicans alone will do the job. Relieve the people of a heavy and unnecessary load, reorganize the judiciary so that justice may be done, and put the Illinois Central Road out of politics, by making its taxation a part of the fundamental law.
In the heat of the presidential contest, the subject was overshadowed by the national questions, yet the Tribune, determined that republicans, at least, should not forget to vote on the question, remarked as above. It was not a party question then and should not be now. The Tribune in the extract above, truly presents three of the leading reasons for a convention: To take off the two-mill tax — to reform our judiciary system, and to secure the state's Central Railroad revenue, which, it was becoming more apparent at every legislative session, was in danger of being plucked from the people, beyond redemption. The convention was called. The Tribune's three great measures were incorporated into the new law, with many others of a salutary character, but where do we find the Tribune and its masters? Howling themselves hoarse against it, and even going so far as to assert that the legislature, under the present constitution, can repeal the two-mill tax, which they, time and again, have asserted "cannot be touched by the legislature as long as the present constitution is in force!" This same cry has been caught up by the Journal and the Tribune's other echoes, and they all now as lustily repeat this falsehood as they did the Tribune's statements, quoted above, in 1860.
The Tribune's second great measure, judicial reform, urged in that year, has been provided for, and instead of costing the people, annually, over $20,000, our judiciary will, under the present constitution, cost not more than $75,000.
The Tribune's third great measure, the securing of the state's revenue from the Central Road, has been provided for. By the adoption of the new constitution this large fund, now reaching $180,000 annually, and bound to increase, is effectually secured — beyond the reach of corrupt legislation.
Yet, with these loudly called for amendments engrafted in the new law, the Tribune and its followers labor to defeat it. In 1860 they assumed that "the republicans would alone do the job" of thus improving our condition. Now they lash every republican that dares to resist their opposition to the completion of that "job!" In the pay of the bankers and the Central Railroad, the Tribune out-does itself in mendacity — in shameless falsehood, and unblushing misrepresentation.
With such a record in this connection, what confidence can voters, of any political party, place in such teachers of political duty? What reliance can be placed in their statements or in their honesty of purpose?
If it was well in 1860 for republicans to "do the job" of taking off the two-mill tax, reforming the judiciary, and to protect the state against the wily machinations of the great corporation in our midst (the Central,) why is it not so now?
To-morrow the question is to be settled, and he is a blind follower of partisan leaders, indeed, who cannot see in the course of the Tribune and its echoes, on this subject, a turpitude — a reckless dishonesty, having no parallel in partisan politics in Illinois, at least.
Go to the polls, to-morrow, and teach these unscrupulous hirelings of bankers and monopolists that Illinois freedom know their duty and will perform it.