Memorial on Personal Representation, Addressed to the Constitutional Convention of the State of New York, by the Personal Representation Society.
Voter representation as advocated by abolitionists, lawyers, journalists, a civil service reformer, a future mayor of New York City
Political reform pamphlet issued by the Personal Representation Society at the time of the New York State Constitutional Convention held in Albany in 1867–1868.
Prominent among the Executive Committee of the society were two of its organizers: law reformer, David Dudley Field (1805–1894), and lawyer and proponent of proportional representation, Simon Sterne (1839–1901) (seen here as “Stern”).¹
The society’s Memorial objected to political machinations by “party-managers”:
“By our present system, we thus entrust to the ‘wirepullers’ of the parties the power of choosing the men by whom the people shall be represented, and we virtually compel all citizens to enlist in the ranks of a party, and to submit to the control of its leaders, by providing, as we do in fact, that those who do not choose thus to subject their individuality to the control of men they distrust, must abandon all hope of securing any representation; since it is only by the powerful machinery of a compacted party organization, that a local majority can be secured for any candidate unless under very exceptional circumstances.”
Other Executive Committee members whose names are appended to the report: abolitionist and philanthropist Francis George Shaw, journalist and abolitionist Sydney Howard Gay, future mayor of New York City Edward Cooper, journalist David G. Croly (author of Miscegenation, an anonymous pamphlet which attempted to discredit the abolitionist movement), and civil service reformer Mahlon D. Sands.
Description: Memorial on Personal Representation, Addressed to the Constitutional Convention of the State of New York, by the Personal Representation Society.
New York: A. Simpson & Co., 1867. 10, [1 (mis-numbered “9”)]pp. 8vo. Printed wrappers. Some foxing to wrappers; brief rubbing or creasing to lower corners; Very Good.
Note. 1. Hoag and Hallett, Proportional Representation (New York, 1926): “From 1865 until his death in 1901 Simon Sterne championed proportional representation strongly in New York. With David Dudley Field and others he organized the Personal Representation Society of New York. Though this organization also was formed under the inspiration of [Thomas] Hare and [John Stuart] Mill, the system which it advocated for the New York legislature when it presented a ‘memorial’ and a ‘report’ to the Constitutional Convention of the state in 1867 was not the Hare but the proxy 36 system.”