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I am informed-in fact, I know—that this particular act had the support of the women's club of this State, and no doubt the presence of so many of the “fair” in lobbying for it was so pleasing to the members of the legislature, that they cut out of the Mississippi act the words “in expectancy,” that there might remain something else for the women of Tennessee to ask for, and thus secure their return to the next session or sessions of the General Assembly. It is not to be believed that the married women of this great State will remain in such thralldom when those of Mississippi are fully emancipated therefrom. However, there yet remain battles to be fought and laws to be put upon our statute book if we are to go to the extent which Mississippi has gone, for we have yet to enact a law that gives to the husband and wife the right to sue each other, and that abolishes dower and curtesy as in our sister State.
Whatever effect this law may have upon the marital state I could only prophesy, but I do know that it opens up for you, my fellow members of the bar, a fertile field of litigation where I trust you will reap rewards commensurate with the questions involved, as well as the estates conserved or dissipated, as the case may be.
Passing to the acts of Congress of a public nature and of general interest, I shall again refer you to the appendix. Mark Twain omitted from one of his books all reference to weather, and from introductory to finish nothing is said of beautiful moonlight nights, or summer zephyrs, or winter snows, but that the reader should not suffer for wants of weather news, he collected in the appendix the choicest productions of the greatest authors, beginning with Genesis, “and it rained forty days and forty nights,” and coming down to Ouida, to which he invites the reader to turn whenever he feels so inclined. I extend the same invitation as to the acts of Congress, and the other acts of the present General Assembly during the year just closed.
I do desire to bring to your attention two changes in the fundamental law of the nation, both of which are worthy of your consideration, and which I could not in a paper such as this, even at the expense of your patience, omit, the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. The first, that is, the Sixteenth, gives Congress the power “to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without opportionment among the several States and without regard to any census or enumeration.” This amendment has been some eighteen years in the making. I do not mean that it has been eighteen years since it received the necessary assent of both houses of Congress and was submitted to the several States for their ratification or rejection, but I do mean that it has been eighteen years since the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Pollock v. Farmers Loan & Trust Company, 157 U. S. 429, held unconstitutional an act of Congress levying a tax upon certain incomes, from which time there has been a growing sentiment in favor of such amendment. The older members of the bar remember this decision, how it was received throughout the country, and the comments then made in attack and defense. It is a tribute to this country as a Government of law under the Constitution, that when, in the fullness of time, there arose in this country a sufficient popular demand for such law, that by constitutional methods the power which Congress then sought to exercise, but which the highest court of the land, by a divided bench, held had not been granted by the States, was given. The difference between an amendment to the Constitution thus made when public sentiment crystallized so as to demand it, and the overturning of the decisions of the court upon constitutional questions by a majority of the voters, is the difference between a government of laws and a government of men, a government of a majority under the constitution, and a government at the caprice, prejudice or whim of a shifting and temporary majority of the electorate, unfamiliar with the question presented to the court, and ready to throw off all restraint on legislation, if one law conceded to the benefit of the people should be held without the power of the law makers. It is the difference between a stable government or freemen, and the rule of the mob.
Congress now has before it a bill providing for a tax upon incomes, prepared by a committee presided over by a distinguished Tennessee lawyer as its chairman, Hon. Cordell Hull. That law, when enacted will, like all other tax laws, be popular or unpopular, according to the viewpoint of the one passing thereon. No doubt there can be applied to it the story of the Irishman who, when explaining what socialism was to another of like faith and order:
Mike: Pat, are you in favor of socialism?
“Well,” says Mike, “if you have two farms, and I have none, then you give me one of your farms."
Pat replied, “And shure I would, Mike, and if that is socialism, I'm in favor of it."
“Then,” says Mike, “If you have two horses and I have none, you give me one?”.
“Faith, Mike," says Pat, “if I had two horses I would give you one."
“And Pat, if you have two goats and I have none, you give me one,” says Pat.
“Now, see here, Mike,” says Pat, "you're pushing this thing too far. I've got the goats, and I'll do no sich a thing."
If Congress will keep the scale high enough to exempt the members of this Association, as no doubt it will, I am sure that the income tax will find high favor with us.
The other amendment to the Constitution, the Seventeenth, provides for the direct election of senators of the United States by the people of the State, the qualifications of the electors being those requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures. That amendment is as follows:
“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislatures."
“When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies, provided that the Legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the Legislature may direct.”
From 1826 there have been from time to time agitations more or less for the direct election of senators by the people rather than by the legislatures of the several States. The history of the Constitution Convention of 1787 discloses the fact that with the single exception of James Wilson of Pennsylvania, not one of the great men of that convention advocated election of United States senators by the people of the several States. It was thought that the Senate should be chosen by a refining process and that the members of the State legislatures would be better fitted to pass upon the qualifications of one to represent the State in the United States Senate than the people themselves, and it is but recently that any considerable portion of the people of the several States have held a different view. In May, 1912, this amendment, having secured the necessary vote in both houses of Congress, was transmitted to the several States for their action. By the 3d of February, 1913, three-fourths of the States had ratified the proposed amendment and it has become now a part of the fundamental law of the nation. Thus, in nine months an amendment to the Constitution of the United States was made and that by the consent of the legislatures of more than three-fourths of the States of the Union, which by their act of ratifying this amendment to the Constitution took away from themselves a power heretofore highly prized, and if some charges are to be believed, in some few instances of pecuniary benefit.
It is unnecessary in this distinguished presence to refer to the cause which led up to the adoption of this amendment. It has the hearty approval of the great majority of the people of the United States, who do not look upon its enactment as a lessening of the power of the States, or of their dignity under the Constitution, but who are persuaded that the people are better able to pass upon the qualifications of the senators to represent their States than the legislatures.
As to the effect of this amendment I can say that it will divorce State and National issues in the election of the members of the legislature who, in the future, must stand alone upon State issues, and not seek their election because the fortune of some candidates for the Senate, or of a political party, is bound with their own. In addition to this, it will prevent the deadlock in legislatures which in recent years have become more and more common. It will permit the members of the legislature to devote their time to the general good of their several commonwealths, and let us hope that in the future there will be less of corruption and of intrigue in the selection of senators than there has been in the recent past.
These, gentlemen, are the noteworthy changes in the law, State and Federal, which I bring to your attention. I have already transgressed too long on your patience. I thank you for your attention.
APPENDIX TO ADDRESS OF PRESIDENT.
CHAPTER 2. AN ACT to create the office of State Auditor; to define and prescribe the powers and duties thereof; and the repeal of all laws or parts of laws in conflict with this Act.
CHAPTER 3. AN ACT to amend Section 4576 of the Code of Tennessee, 1858, increasing the compensation of County Surveyors of the several counties of the State of Tennessee.
CHAPTER 4. AN ACT to be entitled “An Act to improve the public school system of the State by authorizing Boards of Education to consolidate schools, provide for the public transportation of pupils, and to employ supervisors."
CHAPTER 5. AN ACT to amend Chapter 156, Acts 1901, entitled "An Act to prevent the spread of communicable diseases among domestic animals in the State of Tennessee, and to provide greater protection to the live-stock industry of the State, and to provide penalties for the violation of this Act; and to repeal Chapter 424 of the Acts of 1899, and to amend Chapter 46 of the Acts of 1897."