The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959 Page: 152
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
adverting to jurisdictional questions, it seems that the essential
unsoundness in the court's opinion lies in overruling and not
accepting the argument on the other side. It appears quite ob-
vious as a matter of common sense and elementary logic, particu-
larly when viewed from the standpoint of 1869, that the reason
for allowing four voting days at an election was because of the
requirement that all ballots must be cast at the county seat. With
one polling place in the county, four day voting is not unreason-
able, although it seems strange to us today. When each justice
precinct is made a voting precinct, however, the four day voting
provision becomes patently absurd. When faced with a choice
between obvious reason and absurdity, the court should not have
submitted to the tyranny of punctuation and phrase arrange-
ment. The constitutional clause should have been interpreted
as if it read that: "Until otherwise provided by law, all elections
for state, district, and county officers shall be held at the county
seats of the several counties and the polls shall be opened for
four days from eight o'clock A.M. until four o'clock P.M. of
each day." By this construction no words are deleted and by the
permissible rearrangement of the position of a phrase, the sensible
meaning of the constitutional convention could be given effect.
This is the normal arrangement of clauses and the one which
might be expected. To those who have seen clerks and secretaries
scurrying about legislative halls and who have experienced some
difficulty in getting a bill copied exactly right, the fields of specu-
lation are broad indeed, particularly when we consider that the
Constitutional Convention of 1868 was an unusual one to say
the least. It convened on June 1, 1868, and eventually, on Feb-
ruary 6, 187o, Davis as presiding officer declared the Convention
closed and the secretary was ordered to turn over the "constitu-
tion, ordinances, declarations, resolutions, books and records to
the adjutant general of the Fifth Military District, as fast as the
same could be arranged, written out and enrolled."21
The chief criticism of the Semicolon decision was not, how-
ever, based upon the legal reasoning contained therein but grew
out of the charge that the whole case was a trumped-up affair to
get the court to pass upon the legality of the election.
21Wooten, Comprehensive History of Texas, II, 179.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959, periodical, 1959; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/m1/194/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.